Monday, December 30, 2013

Florida Highlights

We've been having a great time in Florida with Grandma!  Best of all I've employed quite a few frugal ways to make this a pretty inexpensive trip, especially with paying for our adoption!  Olivia and Liam's "big" gift from me this year was a day at Magic Kingdom.  With my Disney credit card which I pay some of my monthly bills on and then pay off monthly, I earn "reward dollars".  Those dollars helped me to save HUGE on our one day at Disney.  For all three of us, all day, including parking, entrance, and food, it was just under $100!  When you consider food by itself would normally cost a portion of that even if we just sat at home, we did well! :)  Today we went to one of the Disney resorts and ate a character brunch free with Grandma using HER reward dollars!  :)  Our return visit day at Give Kids the World cost NOTHING.  And most of the rest of the time we've been having at the house!  It's been a great relaxing trip!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

This past weekend we traveled to FL to spend the holidays with my mom.  It's been a wonderful time, even if Braeden has been somewhat thrown off and not himself.  It was harder last year though so I do see progress.  A very blessed Christmas for all of us in oh so many ways!

Our tradition on Christmas Eve is to dress up and go out to eat at Red Lobster.  May seem like a silly choice, but when I was small it was the only place open.  We would go to our family church service, eat there, go to look at lights, and then sometimes go to the late service.  I've gone almost every year since.

This year we came back and made cookies for Santa!  We had one tub of dough purchased through our school fundraiser, and made a gluten and sugar free sugar cookie as well!

Christmas morning was filled with excitement as the kids opened presents.  Even Macy who isn't with us yet wasn't forgotten by Santa and the kids each had one gift for her that they opened.

The only thing Liam would tell Santa he wanted was a gumball machine!  Not sure where that came from, but Santa didn't disappoint!

Braeden asked for a Power Rangers ?Zord? that Santa had to order all the way from Japan!

Olivia was THRILLED that Grandma gave her all of the Harry Potter books in hard back!

This summer the kids discovered and loved the old tv show Full House.  They watched some at Grandma's but we don't have cable so haven't seen it since.  They couldn't believe Santa gave them ALL EIGHT SEASONS of Full House on DVD!  (I have it on good authority that while the seasons each were quite pricey on Amazon, Santa found the whole set, most brand new, from a seller on a Facebook garage sale page VERY CHEAPLY!)  Santa ROCKS!  (And I LOVED all of Olivia's expressions!!!)

It's been a blessed holiday!  I have definitely felt the missing piece today though and pray that next Christmas Macy will be home with us to celebrate!
Monday, December 02, 2013

Thanksgiving Blessings

This was my very first Thanksgiving where I've been planner, cook, and cleaner upper.  And I LOVED it!  The past few months I've been back at getting healthy again (another post worthy discussion in itself!) and so my Thanksgiving menu was geared toward being as gluten free, processed food free, and sugar free as possible.  I had LOADS of fun looking for recipes and how I could work them and everything turned out fantastic!

We picked up this little beauty for our first ever turkey at Whol*e Foods...

And used THIS RECIPE to make it into the glorious bird it was!

In addition to the turkey, we had SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE, Stuffing from a box mix from W.F., Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Amazing CREAMED CORN, MASHED POTATOES, Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin Pie, and Chocolate Pumpkin Trifle!  (YES!  We had leftovers!!!!)

With the Sweet Potato Casserole I made the recipe as stated with the exception of the almond flour.  There I subbed in oat flour instead and left out the nuts.  Next time I will add the nuts, I just had forgotten to pick them up.  

The Creamed Corn and Turkey I made as stated and they were amazing!

The Mashed Potatoes I subbed greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.  So good! 

For the cranberries I had really wanted to make a relish like the one I grew up eating.  My mom used to hand grind cranberries and it was amazing!  This RECIPE that I found was what I had planned on using, subbing Xylitol for the sugar.  However, I didn't have anything to grind the cranberries. :(  I DID pick up a mini food processor on Zulily recently that I think is going to be getting a LOT of use, but it came about five days too late!  So... I set out to find another option and came across THIS RECIPE which we used instead.  SO GLAD I DID!!!  Although the texture was different, it was easy to make and tasted JUST THE SAME!  Delish! I subbed Xylitol for the sugar and did not use the nuts or Grand Marnier.

Pumpkin Pie!  Couldn't forget the pie!  But I wanted gluten free.  There are quite a few recipes out there but since I am new to all this and had never even made a regular pie crust let alone a gluten free crust, I chose an easier route and bought a package of two frozen GF pie crusts at W.F.  For the filling, I used THIS RECIPE.  When I was making out my shopping list however, I misread the ingredients and instead of maple sugar, I read maple syrup! :(  So... upon researching online a bit, I ended up subbing in a portion of maple syrup with a portion of Xylitol.  It turned out SO TASTY!!!  We absolutely LOVED it!

The trifle was a total creation of my own.  I used THIS RECIPE for a coconut flour chocolate cake for the cake sections.  To make the cream, I took heavy whipping cream, whipped in two packets of stevia, a few drops of liquid vanilla Sweetleaf Stevia, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin puree.  It was perfect and Olivia and Braeden couldn't get enough!

They were all so excited to eat at home and have such great food, the pictures speak for themselves!  And while I was exhausted, it was SO WORTH IT!

We are so blessed this Thanksgiving!  Not only to have one another, but also for all of the love and support we felt this week as we were the featured family on Give One, Save One!  In total we raised just over $400!  I'm in awe and so thankful!  Here is what Liam shared at school for his Thanksgiving list...

Percy and Peeta (our dog and cat)

And I concur!
Monday, November 25, 2013

Fundraising Goal

Our first days of fundraising have gone exceedingly well!  We have raised just over $256!  We are SO BLESSED!

You can go HERE to watch the video we created, donate just ONE DOLLAR if you feel led, and then PLEASE share the link to our YouCaring page!!!

Introducing... Us!

This post goes out to all those coming in from Give One Save One, and anyone else semi new here who don't know much about our family... yet.

I'm Lisa, a single mom to three who were each adopted separately through different foster care journeys.

Olivia is 12 and is amazing.  Olivia came to live with me when she was 3 1/2, the same age our Macy is now.  She was finally adopted at age 6.  Olivia LOVES to read, excels at sports (currently focusing on track and trying volleyball soon), LOVES God and church, and is devoted to friends and family.  Her hope is to one day move to a third world country and open an orphanage!  Oh, and she also has HIV.  If you don't know much about HIV in the past 20 years or so, it's become completely managable!  She takes medicine every 12 hours, has three month check ups, but other than that is my healthiest child!  She rarely gets sick and is always on the go!

Braeden is 9 and ALL BOY! :)  Braeden came to live with me right from the hospital at 3 days old.  A good friend was caring for his biological brother and sister at the time (ages 2 and 1 then) and was unable to take a third so I volunteered.  We have now adopted them and are able to see each other from time to time which is SUCH a blessing for them all!  Braeden was adopted at age 2.  He has a few initials which follow his name around in educational settings (ADHD) but he has worked SO HARD to overcome some of his deficits in those areas lately and is becoming a real advocate for himself!

Liam is 7 and came to live with me at 9 months.  He had already been through a few months of living with his bio mom and then a few months with a not so good foster parent.  At nine months he couldn't stand, sit up, crawl, and was making only one sound.  Within ONE WEEK he had met his physical goals and could stand, sit, crawl, etc.  Speech and language have been slower coming and learning is difficult for him.  You wouldn't know it though!  He is feisty and charming and sucks everyone in with his LONG eyelashes!

Each of my kids has such a story of redemption and resilience!  They inspire me daily!

Lately I've been working on myself and getting healthy... and even since I made that video I've lost almost 25 pounds.  Better than that though, I feel great!  I can't wait to have even MORE energy when bringing home Macy and having another little one to run around after and have fun with!

As I said in our video, we are very close to bringing her home.  I first will be taking a two week trip to meet Macy very shortly.  This is a new and unexpected part of the process.  Originally is was to be one week and they have increased some of their expectations.  I'm excited to be able to see her for a longer period of time, but it also means more money is needed since I will be off work longer and will have more expenses in country.  Until now we have budgeted like crazy and remained debt free with a few small fundraisers.  I am nervous about our added expenses with our trips but know that God will provide!

Thank you for taking time to find out more about us.  Please remember to pray for our journey!

You can find our video and donation information on our You Caring site or can donate with the sidebar donation button here on our blog.
Sunday, November 24, 2013


Tomorrow is coming and I realized I have been so busy and so quiet lately I almost FORGOT to tell you all about what is happening tomorrow!!!  Eeeeek!

Well, for those of you who have never heard of the blog Give One Save One, it's an amazing blog/organization!  Each week they feature one special family in the midst of an adoption to help them spread their story and aid them in raising some much needed funds for their adoption.  The premise being that if everyone who sees their story (through watching a video the family creates) would give just ONE dollar, all those dollars together would help to save ONE orphan!

Well... as if you couldn't already guess... WE are that featured family tomorrow!  And it being Thanksgiving week, how appropriate is THAT!?  We have SO much to be thankful for coming through this process!  And we are SO VERY CLOSE to our first trip to meet Macy, where we'll be in Haiti for two weeks (an unexpected and new part of their adoption process).

So tune in tomorrow when I will be able to share the link and will ask you ONE huge and EASY favor... SHARE our link and story!!!  PLEASE! :)  And let's all help bring Macy HOME!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

SECRET Healthy Chocolate CAKE!

Chocolate cake that is gluten free, flour free, dairy free, and sugar free?!  Yep, and it's SO GOOD!

And you'll never guess what the secret is!  Neither did my boys when they tried this today!  Of course I probably shouldn't have told them in the end because now I don't know if they'll ever eat it again!  Oh well... more for Olivia and I.  (I know she'll love it even though she's gone for the day with friends!)

The secret?

BLACK BEANS!  Can you even believe it?!

This recipe was adapted from the recipe found at Healthy Indulgences.

For the ingredients, there are many adaptations listed on other recipes as far as sweeteners.  I used what I had and what was easy to obtain quickly and locally.  (This will make one round layer, double to make two and stack your cake.)  (I made one, cut it in half, and stacked the halves.)

For the CAKE you'll need:

one can 15 oz unseasoned black beans
5 large eggs
1 Tbs pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt (I use pink himalayan - also a great natural headache help!)
6 Tbs unsalted organic butter
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs organic honey
1/2 tsp pure stevia extract
6 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
parchment paper
olive oil cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 325.  

Spray a 9″ cake pan with olive oil cooking spray. Dust cocoa all over the inside of the pan, tapping to evenly distribute. I left this part out!  DON'T!  - Cut a round of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan, then spray the parchment lightly. 

Drain and rinse beans. Shake off excess water. Place beans, 3 eggs, vanilla, and salt into blender. Blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. No lumps! 

Whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl. 

In large bowl, beat butter with honey and stevia until light and fluffy. Add remaining two eggs, beating for a minute after each addition. Pour bean batter into egg mixture and mix. Finally, stir in cocoa powder and water (if using), and beat the batter on high for one minute, until smooth. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top. Grip pan firmly by the edges and rap it on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles.

(I made my cake with no mixer, just hand mixed and it turned out fine.)
Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done with the top is rounded and firm to the touch. After cooling 10 minutes, turn out cake from pan, and flip over again onto a cooling rack. Let cool until cake reaches room temperature, then cover in plastic wrap or with cake dome. For BEST flavor, let cake sit over night. This cake will not have a hint of beaniness after letting it sit! 

Frost immediately before serving.

Because I didn't have parchment paper and didn't realize I needed any when I was out buying other ingredients, I did not line my pan.  This is what happened, so line that pan! :)  Of course, once it's frosted no one knows or cares what it looks like underneath!

When you're about ready to frost you'll want to make the frosting.  If you are doubling your cake recipe, be sure to double this one too!  As above, there are options for ingredients.  I really didn't want to use sugar but could not find one of the other sweeteners to use for this frosting at the store I went to locally so I used organic powdered sugar.  

Frosting ingredients:

1 stick softened organic unsalted butter
1/4 cup powdered organic sugar
5 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbs coconut milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
pure stevia extract, to taste

Cream the butter in a small bowl until fluffy.  Stir powdered sugar into butter with a spatula, then beat until smooth. Slowly blend in the cocoa powder, vanilla, and sea salt. Beat in the coconut milk. Add stevia to taste, starting with 1/16 teaspoon.

Frost and enjoy!

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About Me

I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!

Olivia - 14

Olivia - 14

Braeden - 11

Braeden - 11

Liam - 9

Liam - 9

Macy - 5

Macy - 5

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Blog Archive

What you should know about HIV

-HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles). - HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives. - People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do. Additional information on transmission of HIV can be found on the Center for Disease Control website:

Other Awesome Blogs

Orphan Crisis

• 147 million orphans in the world
• 50 million orphans in Africa 
• Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS
• 16,000,000 have been orphaned by AIDS
• Every week, AIDS claims as many lives as American fatalities in the Vietnam War
• 854 million people do not have enough to eat
• Malnutrition is associated with the deaths of 5 million children under the age of five
• Every 2 seconds an orphan dies from malnutrition

Hence the title of my blog

Little Did I Know

Little did I know that the road would be so rocky
Little did I know that the trip would take so long
Little did I know that my heart could hurt so much
Little did I know that God is never wrong

Little did I know that love could be so powerful
Little did I know that a dream so far could go
Little did I know that God would place the right ones
Little did I know that my heart, so large, could grow

Little did I know that a dream has it’s own timing
Little did I know that this day would finally come
Little did I know that four souls would be sent to guide me
Little did I know that they would choose to call me mom

But God knew all along and He had a plan to follow
God knew all along that my dream would soon come true
God knew all along that we five should be together
God knew all along that I’d share it all with you