Friday, September 28, 2012


I promised 1 of my 4 fans that this next post would not be a sad one, but after this it's fair game ; )  

*Todd's Aunt and Uncle have a cat named "Precious", whom she adores!   Her Grandaddy, however, calls Anna precious to which she responds: "I'm NOT Precious, I'm Anna!"
* She calls her "CareBear" "Scary Bear".   (For no other reason than she thinks the names sound similar)
*While in the kitchen with her Grandaddy she accidentally put her Nonny (blanket) on the stove top and it...burned.   She woke up the next morning asking for ' HOT 'Nonny.
*When we went to Broken Bow Lake this past summer (in which we spent majority of the time on a boat), we finally were able to get her to go potty on the various islands.   When we came home my friend Rachel watched the kids while I taught.  Well, we trained Anna well because she went potty (Not #1!) in her backyard :(  We still owe Rachel a steak dinner!
*When blinking her eyes she said "Look Mom!  My eyes are lightening."  (Try it, she's right)
*She has a little bow on the back of her swimsuit that she refers to as her "little wings".  
*She has begun putting her life to song...sharing her fears, joys and general randomness...proceed to video below.

*In the kids' bathroom I have Mickey Mouse Soap dispensers (Method brand found at your Target!) and Eli said, "This soap even smells like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!"
*While at his 5 year check up we were making animal noises to try to calm Anna down (she apparently had remembered what happened last time she was there) and Eli pulls out a really strange noise.  I said, "What is that Eli?"  He responded (in front of his Dr.), "It's a MACHINE GUN and its shooting the bad guys that are coming".  Niiiiiiice.  The Dr. now thinks I let him play video games with guns all day long.   (Now that I think about it his Star Wars Wii game may have a bit of that)
*When he turned five he made comments all day like, "I can reach Dad's sink now!" and "I can fit into these shoes now!", like he'd grown overnight : )
*One day while driving he said, "Mom I think your tires are flat."  I responded, "Why do you think that, Eli?"  He said, "because your driving so Slowwwww".
*He showed us a craft he made one day and said, "This is from SOB".  It took me a second to process. Finally it occurred to me...VBS (Vacation Bible School).   (DONT ask where he pulled SOB from, maybe that's in his Star Wars game too...)
*Todd was in the middle of telling me while in the car that I was being too loud (go figure).   After a second of silence Eli said, "Awk-ward".   Ha!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

We are growing...

...our family, but not in the traditional sense.   The Warren family is planning on growing through adoption from the state of Texas.   Yes, we are planning to "foster to adopt".   I want to answer some big questions that you may or may not have.

1) Why?  (or as my father in law put it fantastically...'you guys are out of your friggin minds' : ) We loved him so much in that moment for being honest.)   

- It starts out quite simply.   Ever since Anna ( and the miscarriage) I have not felt "done" with our family.   I felt like we were missing someone.  Todd felt "done", like he didn't want to grow our family but he always added, "If we were to have another child, I want to adopt".   Yep, he said it first.   So over a year later after grieving our loss of a third child, and praying through why I wanted another one we continued our discussion.   We were at the same crossroads: Leah: "I want to grow our family"... Todd: "I don't want to, but if we do I want to adopt".   I started to focus on his BUT : )  (Get your head out of the gutter...) I continued to pray about it and so did he..."God please change one of our hearts so we are on the same page!".   Well he put us on the same page, but def. not the page I was looking for.  I thought we would either biologically have a third, or say "done!".  

I always applauded people that could adopt or foster parent, but never thought I was capable.  I'm still not!  I am, however, completely trusting in the one who has said over and over to me this past summer, "I am capable".  (That's Jesus, of course.) Even when the thoughts started entering my head I would try to swat them away with reasons why it's not a good fit for our family.  Todd doesn't like chaos, I like to be in control, what about our 2 biological kids, who's going to help me when I go crazy, financially it won't work, will I never sleep again, what if the damage that has been done to this child will make my life hard for 18+ years, what will our extended family think, what will our friends think, I am not capable.  
 One way God showed me truth was: "What do you mean how will your extended family take this?!?   Look at these 2 precious nephews, and 2 beautiful sister-in-laws that I have that are...adopted!  Your family loves these kids.  That was one of the crazy questions that didn't take long for me to look foolish : )  My sister, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law that have gone before me will be a HUGE support system as well!  


I am NOT saying that everyone should do this and if you don't you should feel guilty.   I put it in the same category of ministry, being a doctor, being a teacher, being a mother, and plenty of other things... you have to be called to do it or you are going to be joyless and bitter while doing it.  Again, everything came down to "I am not capable", or was rooted in fear, selfishness or trying to please others.

2) How do I know I am "called" to do it?   

-I not only sought out Jesus in this decision through prayer, but had conversations with my husband that reconciled that the same was going on to him.   You find books that lead you to think about it, you find blogs that make you think about it, you meet random people in line that make you think about it, you hear sermons about it, you hear songs about it (can you say HOME by Philip Phillips?), you overhear conversations about it...ITS EVERYWHERE.  It's like you can't turn it off.   When I shared our 'why' to the foster agency last night he laughed and gave me a perfect analogy.  He said, "Its like the story of Jonah.  He's asking you to do something uncomfortable and no matter how hard you try to escape it God finds you. "   Yep, that sums it up, and before I get swallowed up by a whale I am going to trust him.  I can honestly say I did not seek this out.   It sought us out.

3) So what now?   

-We have a series of 8 classes that we have to take to train us on how to become a foster parent.  These are required by the state, and most states are the same.  We have decided that instead of working directly with the state we are going to work with an agency...Covenant Kids.  I typically like to stay out of a Christian bubble, but for something like this I need someone who has the same belief system I do and I am soooooo thankful that there is an agency here like that.  Covenant Kids will teach our classes (each one is 3-8 hours long!) and supposedly there is paper work a mile long (I thought the application was bad, but apparantly that is just a drop in the bucket).  Once we are done with those classes (they say on average it take 3 months) we will be put on a list to accept foster kids.   Supposedly the wider the window we give them, the faster the calls will come in.   As of right now we want this child to be younger than Anna and other than some extreme disabilities we are willing to take either sex and any race.  So this child will be our youngest child.  They also tell us that for parents that want to adopt it could take up to 3 years : ( One thing I remind myself is that at least I will be there for the "in between" for our child's life.  While they won't technically be ours, we are the ones that have cared for, nurtured and made memories with this child.  Yes, I know I will potentially have to give children back that I've mothered but as they explained to us last night, I have to go into this with a fostering ministry/mentality.   As a foster parent I am not only to care for this child to the best of my abilities but pray that they are restored to their families!  That's going to be a tough prayer at times, but ultimately that is a GOOD thing for the child if their parents begin to fight for them and do what they need to be parents again.  I should celebrate for that child, still grieve losing them, but celebrating for them.  (Yep, that's gonna suck.)    

I plan on blogging throughout this process not only because they strongly encouraged us to keep our friends and family in the loop (God knows I need the support system to encourage me through this) but I want our 3rd child to know that they were thought of and prayed for often just like Anna and Eli were.  I will update what we learned in our fist class in a few days, but didn't want to write an essay for my first blog entry (oops, already did).     

Thursday, September 13, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things


Those of you that know me well, know that I love food.   Some would call me a "foodie", some would call me "obsessed" and others call me "Ms. Leah, or Mrs. Warren".   Regardless, food is my thing.  One thing I am NOT though is a food snob.  I just love good food.  As I've "matured" I've been wanting to  look beyond just the way food tastes, and what it does for my body.   I'm also wanting to stop focusing on the "bad" side of food (calories, fat, pounds on my booty) and wanting to focus on it's good can it help my body?   I've been evolving and there is now a name for where I'm at in my relationship with food: clean eating.  According the Livestrong website:

"Clean eating is a diet program based on the idea that the best way to eat is to abundantly enjoy whole foods -- that is, foods as close to their natural state and you can get them. This means eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins instead of pre-packaged, processed foods or fast food. Clean eating is also committed to replacing saturated fats with healthy fats. Many on the plan don't count calories, but instead trust in good quality, healthy food."

Here are some lifestyle changes I've been making as a result in this shift of thinking: 
1) Buying less products with a UPC code.   In other words FRESH fruits and veggies, FRESH meats and grains in bulk.  (ok, they all still have a UPC code technically, but you know what I mean)
2) The things we eat a lot of, trying to make it as true to it's original state as possible.   ie. peanut butter and jelly (and yes, they are more expensive this way, but you do save costs in other areas)
3) Trail mix and popcorn are great snacks that don't need to be "Fresh"
4) Dusted off my bread machine.   It's like the discovery of the crock pot all over again : ) 
5) Replacing Sour Cream and Cream Cheese with Greek Yogurt
6) Making hearty breakfasts on weekends that we can munch on throughout the week (granola, pancakes, breakfast burritos, muffins) 
7) Where I shop.  It just is the nature of the beast...whole foods, sprouts, and farmers markets really do have the most variety.   I do love that when I shop at Kroger (they are the best after the above here in Mckinney) they don't know what it is I'm buying (i.e. fennel and leeks) so they just charge me 99 cents : )  
7) Trying to limit high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and anything that I can't pronounce on a label.   While these things make our food taste good (they are designed to make our brain think that), they can be pretty harmful to our bodies.  
8) Piggy backing off the ladder change, trying to give ourselves some grace.  All food is fine, in moderation (I would hate to be without my Chik fil A) .  I'm just trying to change the "everyday" things we eat.   I DO NOT want to be a food snob, nor do I want my kids to go off the deep end when they aren't with me.   

It's no secret that I <3 eMeals.   Their "clean eating" plan is A-MAZING.  Here are my fave meals that we had this week.  Hope I've tempted you!     

Marinate 4 - 8 Hrs
Cumin Rubbed
Pork Chops
Black Bean, Orange, Feta
and Cilantro Salad
(3 t cumin)
(2 T apple cider vinegar)
(2 T honey)
(2 T olive oil)
(2 t salt)
(1 t pepper)
6 pork chops
15 oz can black beans, drained
1 Navel orange, segmented and cut into small
1/2 red onion, shaved
4 T feta, crumbled
4 T cilantro leaves
(3 T olive oil)
(2 T apple cider vinegar)
(Salt and pepper to taste)
Combine cumin, vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Rub spice mixture on pork chops and marinate for 4 - 8
hours. Grill over medium heat for 8 - 10 minutes.
Combine black beans, orange segments, red onion, feta
and cilantro. Toss with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Mushroom Tart
Spinach and Pear Salad
(2 T butter)
1/2 c chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 c sliced mushrooms
2 c Greek yogurt
6 eggs
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
1 T whole milk
(1/2 t salt)
(1/4 t pepper)
(1 t Tabasco sauce, optional)
3 c fresh baby spinach
2 Bosc pears, sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
(4 T olive oil)
(2 T sherry vinegar)
(1 t Dijon)
1 garlic clove, crushed
(Salt and pepper to taste)
Heat oven to 350° F. Heat butter in skillet over medium
heat. Add onion and cook for 7 - 10 minutes or until soft. Add
garlic cloves and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add
mushrooms and cook for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring often.
Combine yogurt, eggs, Parmesan, milk, salt and pepper.
Add mushroom mixture and mix well. Add Tabasco if
desired. Pour into a greased pie dish. Bake for 25 - 30
minutes. Cool for 5 - 10 minutes before slicing.
Toss spinach, pear and shallots. Whisk olive oil, vinegar,
Dijon, garlic, salt and pepper. Dress salad lightly. Serve
alongside mushroom tart.

Herb Roasted Salmon
Caramelized Leeks
Red Lentils
11/2 lb side of salmon
2 T chopped dill
2 T fresh thyme
(1 t salt)
(1/2 t pepper)
(2 T softened butter)
(2 T salted butter)
1/2 lb leeks
(Salt and pepper to taste)
(2 T olive oil)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
11/2 c red lentils
3 c chicken broth
Heat oven to 400° F. Remove bones from salmon.
Combine dill, thyme, salt, pepper and butter. Rub herb
mixture on salmon. Bake for 18 - 22 minutes.
Heat butter in skillet until slightly bubbling. Add leeks and
cook over low to medium heat until soft. Add salt and pepper;
cook for an additional 10 - 15 minutes. Heat olive oil over
medium heat. Add red bell pepper and shallots; cook until
soft. Cook lentils according to package directions, substituting
broth for water. Add peppers and shallots to lentils 5 minutes
before cooking time ends. Season with salt and pepper to

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Missouri Tour: Part 2

Continuing on with our tour, we went to St. Louis to visit old friends and to hang with my parents.  The weather continued being awesome and (despite allergies) we thoroughly enjoyed it!   

Our first day there we decided to check out all of the hype at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens and see the Chinese Lantern Festival.  It was GORGEOUS...I can only imagine what it must look like at night.   

Seeing our friend Emma at the Botanical Gardens

Blue Water!   

The next day we went to an oldie but goodie...the Museum of Transportation!   My kids (and mom) love this place and we always seem to have a good time.  

That night we met our friends Annie and Julie for dinner and even though Annie and Anna are only days apart Eli and Anna seemed to really get along :)  Supposedly Annie keeps on calling him "Elijah James" and giggling...

We then headed to the St. Louis Zoo to see the new Sea Lion exhibit (and of course see Bailey, Penelope and Arie). 

That night my friend, Emily, graciously invited us over for a yummy dinner and the boys got along so well!   They played with toys, baseball and even worked together digging a hole to who-knows-where in their backyard ; ) 

We all really started to feel under the weather (103 temp for Eli!), and while recovering we had to miss out on seeing some folks and revisiting our beloved church, Riverside.   After getting some cuddle time we were on the road to recovery.   The kids and I ended up staying some bonus days in St. Louis and used that time to recover and see some sights with my Mom.  

Anna on her first Carousel ride

The Butterfly House

Seeing the Magic Tree House (Eli's fave books!) exhibit at the Magic House
 We then rallied on our last morning and met some friends at a playground for an impromptu play date.  
Katrina and Me

Arie selling Anna acorns

Getting some snuggle time with Grandpa
We then headed to Buffalo, MO to see our Nana and hang out on her farm.   It is so beautiful and peaceful out there and the kids LOVE the animals.   Anna would not leave their cat, Radar, alone.   (yes, we are in trouble.)

Feeding their new horse.

Loving on Radar.
While it is always a good time visiting with family and friends, we couldn't wait to get home to see our our Daddy (and Grandaddy).   Apparently, they missed us too : )  

Our 'Welcome Home' sign, candy and flowers :)