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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ramya's Adoption is Officially Official

Though we left India with Ramya fully adopted, it is recommended that you re-adopt in your state to make sure that everything is done correctly in the US as well.  Some states require you to re-adopt, and even though Arizona doesn't, going through the process is still a good idea, just in case you end up moving to another state where they would want it done.  For us, though, it was really important to go through with the re-adoption because none of the paperwork we have has her full name.  Everything just said "Ramya FNU" (full name unknown).  When we tried to get her a social security card and birth certificate, not having a last name was a problem.  This means we cannot apply for long-term care for her, as she doesn't have paperwork verifying her last name. 

Today was our official re-adoption day.  We headed down to court, which just so happens to be the same court building my parent's brought me to when I was adopted, and were granted a full adoption through the state of Arizona.  I didn't think I would get emotional, as it's been final for so long now, but just hearing the judge say that she was fully ours and hearing her full name read out loud brought tears to my eyes.  I had, of course, read on paper that she was ours, but hearing those words out loud really impacted me. 

The judge was really sweet and really went above and beyond to make it special.  They had so many families in and out, but she still took her time with us.  They asked us all the "legal" questions, and then the judge told Ramya that she had read her entire folder of information (and trust me, it was a big one!) and that she was a very lucky girl.  She told her that she could tell our family really wanted her and that we were the perfect for each other.  She then looked at David and I and told us that she knows we are very lucky too. 

Here are a few pictures from our special day...


Oh, and the middle name we chose for Ramya is "Lynn".  My dad's name is James and my mom is Lynda, so I was named Jamie Lynn.  When we were naming Madi, we named her Madilynn Joy (Joy is my mom's middle name), so she would have "Lynn" in her name as well.  To keep going with the family name of Lynn, we decided to go with Ramya Lynn.  I think it's just perfect for her!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free (Vegan) Apple Pancakes

Today we got a bunch of apples with our Bountiful Basket, so I decided to try making apple pancakes.  They turned out yummy and the kiddos really liked them.  I had to modify them to be gluten, dairy, and egg free to fit our family's needs, so I will put the modified recipe below for you.  The original recipe I used was Veronica's Apple Pancake Recipe found at  They didn't look beautiful, so don't be turned off by my photo below (and keep in mind I use cast iron, not a non-stick griddle, so it's harder to flip them without mooshing them a bit ;)).  I promise they were yummy.

- 1/4 cup butter, melted (I used a vegan butter, but next time will probably try organic unrefined coconut oil)                                                    
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour  (I used 1/4 cup ground flax seed, ground very fine, 1/2 cup ground gluten-free oats, ground very fine, and 1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free flour mix.  You could use any flours you like and are used to using.  If you have celiac's disease, or a big sensitivity, even dedicated gluten-free oats can cause a reaction, so you may not want to use gluten-free oat flour if you do)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I added a dash of nutmeg too)
1 tablespoon white sugar (I used organic cane sugar, which still isn't amazing, but is a bit better than white sugar)
**I also used a teaspoon of xanathan gum as this helps bind the flours together.  If you are not making gluten free, you wouldn't need the xanathan gum)
  1. In a large bowl, combine butter, egg, milk and apple. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar. Stir flour mixture into apple mixture, just until combined.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake (I used less per pancake, and tried to keep them thinner, so that they would cook faster as my flour blend takes a little longer to cook). Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

I've been craving chicken and dumplings (like the kind you get at Cracker Barrel), but have never tried to make them gluten, dairy, and egg free before.  The recipes I was finding either used lard, which I didn't have on hand, egg, which we can't have, milk and/or butter, which again we cannot use, and wheat, which is totally out for us.  So.... I searched for the recipe that was the easiest to modify.  I ended up using a recipe from that you can find here:  I was very worried about the dumplings holding together and turning to mush, but they actually did great!  I found that the taste of the thicker dumplings wasn't my favorite, but the thin ones were pretty good.  I think next time I might add a little salt and pepper to the dough to flavor them a bit more.  Anyhow, here's the recipe I used and how I changed it:

  • 2 cups Flour (so for this I wasn't fully sure what to use, but thought I need a flour with a little starch in it, so I ended up using 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free flour mix, and 1 teaspoon of xanathan gum.  The flavor was pretty good, but I think I'll try something else next time and see if I can get an even better flavor  ;)). 
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter (we used a vegan butter)
  • 1 cup Milk, A Bit Less Than A Full Cup (I actually used chicken broth instead of milk.  I added it slowly and found letting it be slightly sticky, but then working with a floured surface and floured rolling pin worked well)
  • 2 quarts Chicken Broth (I used a whole chicken and cooked it in the crockpot, so instead of using canned chicken broth, I used the broth I got from cooking my chicken)
  • 3 cups Cooked Chicken (I cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot, so I just shredded that and used that)

  • **  Additions- I cooked my chicken in the crockpot with a bay leaf, then later added carrots, celery, garlic, and onions.  I took these out when I took out the chicken but saved them (minus the bay leaf which I threw away) and added them back in after the dumplings were cooked, when I was adding the chicken back in.  I also made a slurry of corn starch and water that I added once the dumplings were cooked, before I put in the chicken and veggies, just to thicken the broth a little more)


    In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt (and xanathan gum if GF). Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender. Stir in the milk (or chicken broth), mixing with a fork until the dough forms a ball (I liked using my hands better).

    Heavily flour a work surface. You’ll need a rolling pin and something to cut the dumplings with. I like to use a pizza cutter. I also like to use a small spatula to lift the dumplings off the cutting surface.

    Roll the dough out thin with a heavily floured rolling pin. Dip your cutter in flour and cut the dumplings in squares about 2″x2″. It’s okay for them not to be exact. Just eye ball it. Some will be bigger, some smaller, some shaped funny.

    Use the floured spatula to put them on a heavily floured plate. Just keep flouring between the layers of dumplings. (I didn't do this.  I put them straight in to the pot to boil.  However, I did thicken the sauce a bit with a cornstarch slurry later after they were done and I had decided it wasn't thick enough)

    To cook them, bring the broth to a boil. Drop the dumplings in one at a time, stirring while you add them. The extra flour on them will help thicken the broth. (For gluten-free ones, don't stir too much!!  Drop them in carefully one at a time, and stir minimally to keep them together).  Cook them for about 15-20 minutes or until they not doughy tasting (you really do want to cook them enough, but be careful not to over cook them.  I think I cooked about 15 minutes.  This is also when I stirred in my slurry of cornstarch and water.  I used maybe 1/4 cup water and a few tablespoons of corn starch.  I whisked that together first, then added it to the broth and gently stirred to mix). Add the cooked chicken to the pot and you’re done (I also added the veggies, salt, pepper, parsley, and a little more minced garlic)!

    I hope they turn out yummy for you!  My husband LOVED them and requested I make them more often :).  I've also heard you can use gluten-free Bisquick, but haven't tried it yet.  That makes it more of a biscuit chicken and dumplings, whereas this is a bit more like doughy noodles.

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    Ramya's MRI Went Well

    A big "thank you" to everyone who prayed for Ramya today.  Though an MRI is not a big procedure, undergoing sedation is never fun on a little one, and looking at those big machines can be scary. 

    We got to Phoenix Children's Hospital (PCH) right about on time, at 6:00 a.m..  We were taken back about 5 minutes early and Ramya was prepped.  The MRI started at about 7:10 and lasted a little over an hour and a half.  I had prayed for a wonderful anesthesiologist, as I found that makes a big difference, and God gave us one for sure.  He was very understanding and made sure that I was there to make her comfortable while she was falling asleep.  Ramya was not too happy when the anesthesiologist tried to hold the mask to her face, so I held it instead while I held her hand.  I also sang to her to help calm her, which worked like a charm.  She was out before my first round of "Twinkle Twinkle" (her requested song) was over. 

    When I had told the anesthesiologist I wanted to be there when she was waking up, he told me he thinks it's so much easier and less confusing on kiddos to have their parents there when they wake up.  I totally agree and wish all anesthesiologists agreed, because I've had to argue with them more than once!  After the procedure,they brought me to see her.  I got there when she was just starting to wake up but was still very out of it and hadn't opened her eyes yet.  After she started coming out of it, she cried quite a bit, and I just held her.  Once she fully came out of it I gave her apple juice and then she felt much better! They were able to start her IV in her foot after she was asleep from the gas, and I was so thankful for that (she needed contrast for the MRI).  It didn't bother her one bit when they took it out, which I was very happy about.

    After the MRI we headed upstairs to visit a friend and her sweet baby who are at PCH right now.  Jemma is a week old and will have her first of many major heart surgeries some time early this week.  Please keep this beautiful little blessing in your prayers.  Please also pray for strength, endurance, and wisdom for her momma, who is there staying with her. 

    After visiting, we headed home.  Ramya was very excited to be reuniting with Conner, David, and Madi.  She said she missed them at least 10 times while we were gone.  Tonight she was helping me set the table and I told her we needed 5 forks because we have 5 people in our family.  Then I asked her who was in our family, and she shouted, I AM!  Yes you are, sweet girl; always and forever!  I am so thankful that Ramya is home with us now and that I'm finally able to be there to hold her when she is upset and soothe her during her procedures.  It's a blessing to be her momma!

    Sunday, October 13, 2013

    Our Tomachoff Farms Pumpkin Patch Fun

    We have a yearly tradition to go to the Tomachoff Farms pumpkin patch and have a blast each year!  This year we got to get in free for posting on our blog, and considering we are cutting out all "extras", I was very excited about that!  There are a lot of fun things to do there and the kids love it every year.  My only complaint is that it's not very wheelchair accessible.  It is flat, which is nice, but it is dirt and bumpy grass.  If you had your freewheel on your chair (we can't get ours to attach to Madi's chair unfortunately), I think you would be fine, but without it, it's not idea.  Anyhow, here are some photos of our fun...

    This is David's younger brother Mark, his wife Kim, and their two sons Nathan and Caleb.  We go with them every year :)

    (I think Madi kissed the pony 200 times.  That girls needs to get in a therapeutic riding program!)

      We look forward to going again next year!

    And in other news.... Ramya has a sedated MRI tomorrow morning bright and early.  She needed an MRI of her brain to make sure she doesn't have any cysts/growth prompting her early puberty.  I knew that Dr. Moss, our neurosurgeon, was wanting an MRI of her head and back soon, to check for tethering as well as shunt placement, so I had the two MRIs coordinated so that she would only have to be sedated once.  Anyhow, please pray that they will let me be with her when she falls asleep and when she wakes up and please pray that she does well with everything.  Thanks so much!

    Saturday, October 12, 2013

    The Walk and Roll for Spina Bifida was a BLAST!

    Today was the Walk-and-Roll for Spina Bifida through our local Spina Bifida Association, and we had a blast!  A HUGE "thank you" to all of our friends and family who came out to walk and helped make the day so special.  We also want to thank those of you who couldn't be there to walk with us, but who donated and were with us in spirit.  Team Double Trouble earned $750 for the Association!  WOW!  Here are some photos from our day!

    When there is music, there is dancing....

    This Year's Crew...

    And We're Off...


    Other Photos and Fun...


    Hill Rolling is a Tradition...

    What a Fun Day!

    Wednesday, October 9, 2013

    A Yummy Cornbread Recipe, and even a gluten, dairy, egg free (vegan) one!

    Now that it's getting cooler, I'm taking advantage of the weather and making lots of yummy soup.  That, of course, leads to cornbread.  Yum!  I grew up very spoiled with yummy cornbread.  The problem, though, is that the recipe I love is not allergen-friendly for us at all.  I've been experimenting with it and was pretty happy with how the last batch turned out.  I thought I would share the recipe, because a good cornbread always hits the spot!

    My modifications to make it gluten, dairy, and egg free will be in red.


    - 2 eggs (for us I used ground flax seed ahead of time.  I put two tablespoons of flax seeds in 6 tablespoons of water and let it sit for 5 minutes before I mixed it in)
    - 4 tablespoons sugar
    - 1/2 cup milk (we used an unsweetened coconut milk)
    - 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
    - 1 can cream style corn (make sure to read the label to ensure it is gluten and dairy free)
    - 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix (we used 1 1/2 cup Pamela's gluten-free corn bread mix.  I've used Bob's Red Mill and it works ok too, but it doesn't have as good of a flavor and is a little drier than the Pamela's)

    Heat oven to 375*.  Mix everything together, except for the Jiffy mix.  After mixing, add the corn muffin mix and blend.  Put into a lightly greased casserole dish and cook for 45 minutes (it seems to take longer, so plan ahead!!) until the top is lightly browned. 

    *** Update, today instead of flax seeds, because I was out, I used chia seed, in the same ratio.  It turned out great!

    Tuesday, October 8, 2013


    Lately I feel sort of blah, like I'm going through the motions, but like my life is lacking in passion.  My kids are well fed, but I don't enjoy the craft of creating the meals.  My home is clean, but cleaning it feels like a chore, not a privilege.  My prayers and devotions have felt "routine" and lacking in zeal.  I love my family, my life, those every-day mundane things we do and call life, but lately I just haven't felt that passion and joy that I normally do. 

    Life has felt busy and rushed lately.  David is struggling at work.  Money is tight.  I've had doctors appointments for myself, on top of what I have for the kids.  Yet there is still just so much to rejoice in; so much to be thankful for.  Tonight I was reading a book I really like called Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe and the words on the page really spoke to me, as they often do when I am reading this book.  I rarely cry, yet I found myself brought to tears, because it spoke so well to exactly how I am feeling.  I thought I would share those words with you, in case any of you are feeling how I am.

    "God lives in my home, but sometimes I ignore Him and don't hear the music He is playing just for me.  This journey of mothering is a challenging marathon of moments, hours, days, months, and decades.  And yet, in each moment, God has sprinkled across our paths beauty, love, and joy.  We have only to cultivate eyes in our hearts to observe this Artist's work of life...  All of these moments and passages have the mystery and grace of God in them, just waiting to be unpackaged as evidence of His love."
    - Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, pg. 160
    I pray that God will help me to see the joy in all of those little tasks and duties that make up our life.  I pray that I will not only go through life, but that I will live it with purpose and with zeal.  I pray I find the beauty in the mundane and pray that I will be thankful for every little moment I have, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.  Today I am praying that I live each day with purpose, joy, and passion.