Saturday, March 27, 2010

"My" kind of diet!

Seriously, why can anyone come up with an all carb diet? I might actually diet then!
This cinnamon roll is 3 POUNDS! And it actually tasted really good. I'll be eating of it for a whole week and will LOVE every bite!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sea World with Gigi

My Mom came into to town this week because it's Oregon's spring break. We had a blast visiting the capital, Adam's work, painting the boy's room, and then we drove down to Sea World for the day! The weather was absolutely perfect and we had a blast! Check out the pics...
The girls are ready for a day at Sea World
We loved climbing the ropes and crawling through the tubes to get to the "pirate's ship"
Waiting for the Shamu show to start, which was really good. They let a baby killer whale follow her Mommy around while she did her tricks. It was cute to watch the little girl. Bryce and Connor loved the show and "had" to get a Shamu whale stuff animal to take home. Luckily their Gigi loves them very much and bought them each one.
We got to ride 2 rides as a whole family(minus Alexis). Bryce is a little too short to ride any of the others. We rode the Shamu rollercoaster and the Texas spash down. The boys had a blast and Adam and I were thrilled to learn that both of them enjoyed the rides so much. (Adam and I love BIG rides) We would have bought the pictures they take when you're on the ride EXCEPT that they were $20! That was the cheapest package. DANG! I don't remember those pictures being that expensive.
It was so special that we saw this race car.
1) That Gigi who is the BIGGEST race fan in the family got to be there to take a picture with the boys.
2) That it was Jimmy Johnson's car who is Connor's favorite driver. (He's even wearing JJ's hat)
Gigi and Alexis got to spend lot's of time in the shade while the boys, Adam, and I went off to ride rides or play on the giant playground! Aren't they so cute??
It even got hot enough so we could play in the Sea World waterpark! It was a PERFECT day!
Thanks for coming and visiting us Gigi, we love you!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Family Night #4

We practiced living in community this week. We talked about working together as a family and that we work together to lift one another up. So to practice working together our family activity was to make dinner together.
We made homemade pizza for dinner. It was really fun and actually tasted REALLY good!
Alexis was more interested in standing and watching the dogs play outside.
Then we made chocalate chip cookies. The boys "stirred" the flour while I did the rest. They were such a big help.
Bryce loves being Mommy's little helper. "I help Mommy cause I nice"

We finished family night with some playtime upstairs and a nice long bath to wash away all the pizza and cookies. Although I had to spend some extra time cleaning and mopping later on that night, we had fun. I pray that we never get too busy to have fun family nights like this one often.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

This is how I spend my St. Patrick's Day now......
Yup no green drinks, no dancing, no fancy dinners, no downtown just a normal day.....But look at those cute little leprechauns I got the spend the day with.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


SXSW is a crazy week at our house. Especially this year because we are smack dab right in the middle of it! Last year here's what we did while Daddy was at SXSW. Gowalla was THE BIGGEST thing at SXSW this year and so it was extra busy. Adam had to constantly be on alert to deal with increased traffic and make last minute updates. He was up most nights until after 2am. We saw Daddy 2 times last week.
I'm not a good Mommy when I'm by myself, especially at dinner time. I'm exhausted and I already don't enjoy cooking. SO that means we ate "interesting" dinners. Two nights we went to local parks and had picnic dinners. One night we ate at the gym cafe. Another night we went downtown and met Daddy for dinner. And one night I cooked breakfast for dinner. Monday night was the first REAL dinner we had had in over a week and my kids ate those veggies, chicken, and organic mac & cheese like it was the best meal ever made (I felt a little bad that I had been so lazy.)
BUT we had a blast all week long. Yeah Adam was really busy but the kiddos and I had fun. We made forts, took long bubble baths, watched a new veggie tales movie, ate jelly beans, and even went shopping. We visited whenever we could downtown and even got to be right in the middle of all the fun one afternoon. (We got to march in a real life marching band.) On Saturday, we stole Daddy for a night and went to the gym for family swim. We had a blast swimming, riding down the slides, and enjoying the hot tub (Alexis even got in the pool.) Then we took showers, grabbed some of our favorite tacos, and headed downtown to enjoy some SXSW fun. We pushed the boys in the double stroller while I got as many check ins as I could on my new smart phone. The boys loved talked to everyone on the streets, playing at Daddy's work, and getting to drink some organic peach tea. Alexis fell asleep on Mommy so she too was in heaven.
Monday night was the big Gowalla party. AND I ACTUALLY GOT TO GO! I bought a dress, wore make up, and washed and dried my hair. I felt pretty cool when I showed up and got to walk past the 2 block line and get in VIP. I worked the t-shirt table for a lot of the night which was so fun cause I got to meet and talk to everyone! Then we spent the rest of the night rolling in the VIP room. I can't say much, but this is going to be a big year for Gowalla and I'm so proud of the whole team for all the hard work. It's such a blessing to have your husband working at something he loves doing and with this group of people. We're like a big family and I love them all.
It was a crazy week and I apoligize cause I got like NO pictures. Here's the best I can do....
The only picture I got this whole week.
My Gowalla passport!
My hot date and me at the Gowalla party.
My little girl. This picture was taken by one of Adam's co-workers at one of our favorite taco trucks. GET THIS: One Taco was one of the Gowalla sponsors for the week. So, when you checked into places downtown you could randomly win a free taco. How cool is that?!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sometimes it's how you say it

This post is all about Potty Training!

Yup some of your heart rates just jump up a little. No worries I am not one of those super Mom's who potty train's their kiddos when he or she is 1 or even 1 and 1/2. (I have some great friends who are those Moms) I potty trained Connor when he was 2 and 1/2 and it was really easy. I asked him if he was ready to learn how to go in the potty every once and a while and one day he said "yes". So I put him in underwear and after a few accidents he was potty trained. No secret potty chair (although I had bought some) no fancy words, nothing I just took him every once and a while until he could do it all by himself.
Then I had the Bryce-man. Oh how I love that little man. When he turned 2 and 1/2 I started asking him if he wanted to learn how to go to the potty. I kind of thought it would be even easier because I thought Bryce would want to do what Connor was doing. I WAS WRONG. This child never ever seemed interested in the potty. Well he turns 3 in May and I began to think "Crap um I better potty train this child". I freaked out and rethought how I did it with Connor because I was afraid that Bryce was going to be really hard to train. I talked to a friend and found a program called "Potty Training in 3 days". It was an interesting read and I'm sure it works. But there is one BIG PROBLEM with it. You have to FOLLOW your child around for 3 straight days.
Well umm I can't do that. I did take one thing that seemed to really work.

Instead of saying "Bryce do you have to go potty?" or "Bryce, wanna try to go potty?" Because I would have ALWAYS gotten a sweet "No". I said "Bryce remember to tell Mommy or Daddy that you have to go potty." I gave him control and HE LOVED THAT. I started training him last Friday, he had one accident and has been dry ever since(It's been a week now.) If I start getting worried that he hasn't gone is a while, I simply say "Hey Bryce...remember to.." And then he finishes "tell Mommy or Daddy that I have to go potty" and then he says "I have to go potty." And then ACTUALLY GOES! He is my independent little child and loves that he is in charge (he also loves that he gets M&Ms when he goes). He loves control so much, that he won't even let me help anymore.

I'm actually shocked that it worked. All I did was change how I said it to him. I let him have control (which is important since he needed to learn when to go.) I just hope I remember this valuable lesson in the future when I'm trying to teach that STRONG WILLED child something else.

How about you, what worked when you potty trained your little one(s) or EVEN better what didn't?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alexis is 9 months

My baby girl is growing up so fast. 9 months have never gone by so fast! Alexis you are such a blessing to our family. You have every member of this family wrapped around your little tiny finger. You're still a Mommy's girl, but man you love the men in your life. You smile at any stranger and are beginning to put some big girl sounds to your constant babbling. (Dadada and Babababa are your current favorites) You love eating like a big girl and now that you have 2 little teeth coming in cheerios are your absolute favorite. Apples, sweet potatoes, avocado, and peaches are also favorites. You pull up on anything you can and are determined to learn how to walk as soon as possible. You're also a very petite little thing. I kind of thought that you would have grown out of your "preemie smallness", but now I'm beginning to think that your just a little girl. You weigh 16 pounds and are 26 inches long compared to your brothers who were 19 pounds and 31 inches (Connor) and 18 pounds 28 inches (Bryce). We love you so much little Alexis! Keep those beautiful smiles coming, you make our days so joyous!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Adoption Journey: Foster Class #4

Alright I admit it, I'm a question "asker." Especially when I'm learning about something that I'm very passionate about. And, well, we're going to adopt from the foster care system, and I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM. Our class this week started with a time of Q&A and I loved it. (And might have asked a really lot of questions). I learned a lot more about the "process" and this whole "legal system." Here's a couple highlights:

-Once we are licensed we will be put on a list of families ready to foster. When a child is removed from their home, CPS calls agencies and finds a placement that could work. We then get a phone call from our agency and are asked if we are willing to take the child in. The information we will get about babies is not always reliable. So, Adam and I will to have to be ready to make a decision without knowing the hows, whats, timeline, sometimes age, etc. Will need lots of prayer during these hours. Yes, you usually have less than a couple of hours to decide.

-When a child is placed in our home, our door then becomes a "revolving" one so to speak. Here's the crew that we can expect to "drop in" at least once a month while the child is in our home.
1) CPS has to come and check in on the child and set up visitations with the birth parents. Their number one goal is to reconcile with the birth family no matter what.
2) Our ambassotor from Arrow (our agency). This person will be our ally, friend, confidant, etc. We will love this person very much. They could be in our home more like once a week.
3) RCCL rep from the state fostercare licensing. We were told that this person is not a friend, someone we must not joke with and we must do everything they say. (glup)
4) Ad Litem the court appointed lawyer for the child. They are supposed to fight for what's best for the child.
5) CASA is an adovatcate for the child that usually has a law background. They also work hard for what's best for the child.
6)Behavior or Physical Therapists if needed.

-We can and sometimes will be expected to appear in court. To be honest, THAT COMPLETELY FREAKS me out.

-We can and will have the opportunity to meet the birth parents when they have visitations. We want to do this because we do want kids to go back "home" if it's safe and loving. We also want to be able to tell our kids about their birth parents if his or her rights are given up or terminated by the state.

-We can't post ANY pictures of our foster kiddos. We have to protect their safety and so no published pictures whatsoever. I can send pictures to family over email, but that's it. This is a little sad cause I'm a picture LOVER.

Told ya I ask a lot of questions! But, it was all good information, and although there were moments when I felt overwhelmed, I know that God's plan for our family is ABSOLUTELY perfect. So, I check off another class that's required and realize that we are another week closer in our adoption journey.

Family Night #3

So I was sitting here planning "Family Night #4" when I realized that I never posted about #3. Sorry it's SXSW this weekend and that means all the geeks in the world are going nutty batty getting ready to launch new interactive products. Adam and the Gowalla Inc team have been working really hard the last couple of weeks preparing. It was Adam's birthday last week too so we did family night that night. We ate at Torchy's Tacos our favorite restaurant here in Austin.
Then we came home and played. This week the family primer lesson was all about giving. So we talked to the boys about how many toys they were blessed to have. We asked them which were their favorites and why. (Always an intersting conversation) Then we talked about kids all over the world who don't have a lot of toys. We asked the boys if they would be willing to pick out some of their toys to give away to kids who don't have a lot or any at all. They immediantly said "YES". They were very excited about going through all their toys and I was excited about reorganizing everything again. (I know, I'm sick) They were very generous and I think they understood the concept of giving to others as much as they can understand at this age.
We also had a great talk about the little babies we are going to have in our house soon and why we were going to have them staying with us. We talked about how the little babies Mommy and Daddy's were "sick" and going to get help to get better. The boys were excited about the idea of helping me feed the babies with bottles (I nurse so they have never been able to do this). I'm super proud that my boys hearts are so open to love and help others.
Stay tuned for this week's family night. We have to cook a meal together. YIKES!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ever have one of "those" days?

It was a special day at the McManus Castle. We were about to go on a playdate (yeah I hate that word too, but that's what we were doing!) with two of our favorite Gowalla families; the Critz's and the Williams'. We were suppose to be there at around 10:00am and it takes about 20 minutes to get there. Should have been easy, throw the kids in and go. Yeah well life is never easy with 3 small kids and 3 huge dogs and life.

Here's how it went down:

9:36: Get everyone's coats and shoes on.
This is always way more difficult that it should because we have 20 different hoodies/coats the boys can choose from and it's always some heated debate. Shoes aren't so bad as long as they can find them. (But they are boys and well finding things especially when they are right in front of their face tends to be trouble)

9:38: Go get dogs from the backyard and put them in the garage
Realize dogs are not in the backyard and have not been let out of the garage since the night before. CRAP! Adam always lets the dogs out when he leaves for work in the morning. (He went to work super early that day and didn't) DOUBLE CRAP! They haven't eaten yet. Call Adam and calmly yell at him and then ask him to text me directions to the Critz's too.

9:41 Let dogs out to go to the bathroom and load kids in the van
Remember that I forgot the boy's lunch on the counter in the kitchen. Unlock front door and grab food. Explain to the 2 now "starving" children that we don't eat lunch at 9:42 in the morning.

9:44 Go get dogs from the backyard and put them in the garage (part 2)
This time I need to grab their food and put that in the garage too. Grab food and dogs and walk around the outside of the house to the garage. Realize the GARAGE is not open. Run around the van to open it. Front door is locked! Open the side down and push the garage opener. Just then a 60 pound half great Dane decides that she wants to come to and leaps into the van spilling the 3 DOG FOOD BOWLS all over my baby, the boys, and the van. Alexis starts screaming. I start panicking. I yell at Rhea and have her sit down outside in the grass with the other two. Calm Alexis down and try to pick up as much dog food as I can. Make a mental note to give RHEA the demon-dog the bowl with the smallest amount of food now.

9:50 Put dogs in the garage (part 3)
Finally finish and turn around. CRAP There are only 2 dogs sitting there. Rhea has ran off. (Now I'm about to cry) Put the other two dogs in the garage and give them their breakfast. Yell for Rhea. For a moment think forget her and just drive off. I see the neighbor across the street with her. She starts walking my way. OH GREAT it's the REALLY REALLY REALLY chatty neighbor. Put Rhea in the garage and give her the small reject bowl of dog food. I glare a real mean glare and shut the door. Chatty neighbor is now practically in the van talking to the kids. She won't shut up. Finally she leaves. I get in the van. REALIZE I forgot Alexis' baby food.

10:00 Grab baby food
Unlock the front door and grab the baby food out of the fridge. Drop it on the floor and it breaks open and spills out. I SCREAM! Clean up mess. Grab a applesauce to-go out of the pantry. Run out the door.

10:05 Can't find my cellphone
Unlock the front door again and grab the cell phone by the stairs. Jump into the van AGAIN. Alexis is asleep and boys are excited to go and play. I now need a nap or a really good drink(I was thirsty). I have a moment when I realize that I did sign up for this and just laugh. I turn up the Toby Mac song that's playing (the one we have listened to a million times) and sing at the top of my lungs. 20 minutes later we made it and had a wonderful time.

Sometimes I think my life would make a good reality TV show. How about you, ever had one of those days?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Adoption Journey: Foster Class #3

This week was a little different. We started the evening off talking about building family relationships and bonding. It was good stuff cause it was a lot of practical "how to" and "what to do" and I love that kind of information. I like lists and checking things off that list. We also talked about how kids might react when they are dropped off at your home and how you can help them cope. It was rich and heavy and good.
We got a very quick run through of the whole "legal" process. We talked about each step that CPS, our agency, lawyers, judges, and us have to take once a child is removed from their home. (That was hard to keep up with) This process is messy and unpredictable, and all I kept thinking is that God is perfect and that we will need lots of prayer and support.
The last half of the evening was a Q&A with current foster and adoptive parents. This was a rich and enlightening time. I loved hearing stories about families who opened their home to foster babies and had two newborns placed into their home in 2 weeks (They ended up adopting both). It broke my heart to hear stories about families having to "give up" the babies and kids they had welcomed and loved so much. It was good to be reminded that this journey for me and our family will be trying at times and that I HAVE to be ready to depend solely on my Heavenly Father when it gets really hard.
I remember having a moment when I thought "Jen why the heck are you signing up for this? Are you freakin' CRAZY?" But I was quickly reminded that God wants to use our family to love and help these babies and their families. That might mean we have a baby in our home for a short amount of time or a really long amount of time before they go back to their biological families. But if it means that for the time they are in our family they experience Jesus love and are prayed for daily then it will be worth it. It will be worth if it means one little baby and family gets to see Jesus in our little family. All the possible and probably inevitable tears will be worth it when I get to hold and pray for a baby who has never been prayed for before(like EVER).
The weeks are going to continue to get heavier and heavier, but Adam and I continue to feel at peace with our decision to adopt through the foster system and continue to see God's perfect hand in it.

Here's what you can be praying for us:

1) Organization of the tons of paperwork and appointments we need to finish
2) Continue to pray for our kids and their hearts as they try to understand this process
3) Adam and I continue to talk about our fears and frustrations and JOYS
4) Please begin to pray for the families and the babies that we will have in our life sooner than later

We're still aiming for being certified in April and that could literally mean we get a call for a placement THAT DAY! (That means I could have another newborn or older baby in 2 months.)

*There are over 118,000 children available for adoption in the US Foster Care System.
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