February 9, 2017

5 Favorite Meatless Meals

On the lookout for healthy, budget-friendly dishes?

Meatless meals can be a great way to go!

I love trying new recipes and sharing ones that we really like with friends! Here are some meals that have become favorites that we make time and time again ...



1. Veggie enchiladas

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/black-bean-veggie-enchiladas

You can adjust this recipe to your taste! I skip the mushrooms and green chilis, and the result is delicious.  :)





2. Sweet potato quiche

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/vegetarian/sweet-potato-quiche-crust

I just use 6 large eggs for this recipe (instead of the 4 regular and 2 egg whites it calls for), and as you can see, it still turns out great!





3. Blueberry baked oatmeal cups 


These make great quick breakfasts. If you have time, make a spinach & feta omelet to pair with your oatmeal cup!






4. Sweet potato & bean quesadillas


Sorry I don't have a picture for this one, but it's a super-simple recipe and SO GOOD. I could eat these every week.


5. Spicy chickpea & broccoli soup


You can adjust the level of spiciness easily with red pepper flakes. I personally like to double the amount the recipe suggests. It's delicious! (Video below shows my soup cooking.)


September 28, 2016

Adoption: Where are we at in the process?

"So, where are you guys at in the adoption process?"

Lately, we've gotten a lot of questions like this!

Well, the paperwork and interviews are done. The home study is done, too. And now we are waiting for an expectant mother to choose us to be her baby’s family!

We’ll most likely bring our baby home from the hospital … what an exciting day that will be! We have requested an open adoption, which is how most domestic infant adoptions are done these days. What this means is that the expectant mother will choose us, and we’ll keep in touch either through letters/photos or regular in-person visits. Research has shown that keeping this communication open and having a relationship with the birth family is really beneficial to kids … and we are all about what is best for our son or daughter!

We know that open adoption may feel a little scary, especially if you don't know much about it. But let us assure you that open adoption is NOT co-parenting. The birth parent(s) surrender their parental rights in court one month after the baby is placed with us (this is law in Michigan). After that time, we will be our baby’s legal parents and make all decisions regarding their health, education, discipline, welfare, etc.

If you have any questions, we are more than happy to talk about these next steps in our journey. But honestly, we probably won’t have much by way of updates until we are matched with an expectant mother and bring our baby home!

This waiting period is a lot like a pregnancy, except that we have no idea how long it will last! We could be chosen next week, or it could take several years for the right expectant mother to come along. In the meantime, your support and prayers mean the world to us. We're excited about growing our family, and we know you all will welcome our baby with open arms when he or she finally arrives!

With love,

Laurel and Dave

P.S. In case you missed the news, we now have TWO "fur babies" at home. Say hello to our rescue Chihuahua mix, Bella!


August 1, 2016

The More Painful Side of Adoption

We have seen God move in tremendous ways over the past year as we began preparing our hearts and lives for the arrival of Baby Dykema. Dave and I saved about half of the $21,000 we need for our adoption. And the rest has been coming in through various fundraisers and out-of-the-blue gifts from friends and family. We only have about $1,300 left to raise. Praise God! As I reflect on this year, there’s so much to be grateful for!

At the same time, honestly, this road hasn’t been all roses and butterflies. There have been plenty of tears and pangs of heartache, too …

  • There are nights I sit alone in my rocking chair in our silent house, aching to hold my baby … longing to rock and sing him/her to sleep. 
  • When we get information about an expectant birth mother, trying not to get too excited … reminding ourselves that even though there’s a chance she could pick us, many couples wait a year or more before having a baby placed with them.
  • Seeing Dave make silly faces and sit right on the ground to play with kids at family events. Thinking about how amazing it’s going to be when he gets to be a dad and how excited I am to parent with him.
  • Sometimes, when I open Facebook to pictures of friends’ babies … I feel a pang wondering how long it will be until our baby comes home.

And while many people are excited about our journey of adoption, not everyone is. I have been pretty blown away by how many people … even near-strangers … will offer up their opinions about how you are “supposed” to build your family. Most of the time, we are able to shrug off these comments, but they do sting. We know these people usually mean well. And we try to be helpful and gracious, understanding that not everyone shares our heart for adoption.

I thought it might be good to share some of the common questions we are getting and how we answer them, so I have listed some of them below: 

“Well, there’s just nothing like having one of your own.” AND “Having a baby who looks like you is so special. Why wouldn’t you want that?” 
RESPONSE: Yes, we know that many couples’ first choice is to have biological kids. Maybe we will someday … maybe not. We both strongly feel God’s call on our lives to adopt, and we are so excited about this method of building our family. Ridiculously excited! It’s not important to us to have kids that look like us or share our DNA.

“So, what’s the problem? Are you struggling with infertility?”
RESPONSE: This is probably the #1 question I have been asked over the past year. What bothers me about this question is that many people assume that adoption is a “second choice” ... something that you pursue only if you can’t have biological kids. This is not the case for us. We have determined that adoption is our first choice … something that we are more interested in doing than having biological kids. And you know, that is a tremendously special thing to be able to share with our adopted child someday!

“It’s wrong to use any kind of birth control. Have you prayed to God about this?”
RESPONSE: Everyone is entitled to their opinion about birth control. But please don’t try to make us feel guilty about choosing to grow our family through adoption, even if it’s not how you would choose to do things yourself. (And yes, over the years, we have been praying hard about God's direction for our family, and God has put the passion to adopt a baby in both our hearts.)

“Why would you want to go through the expensive process of adopting an infant? You know there are so many kids in the foster care system who are just waiting for families! And that’s free!”
RESPONSE: This is something Dave and I have had a LOT of conversations about. Adopting from foster care is certainly much less expensive. But because we will be first-time parents, we thought it would be wonderful to start out with a baby. (We have no parenting experience … and we figured starting with a newborn would be a good way to get that! That’s how most people get parenting experience, right?)  :)

“Why on earth would you choose to do an open adoption? Aren’t you afraid that the birth mother might try to take him/her back?!”
RESPONSE: Believe it or not, there are very few closed adoptions these days. Research shows that it’s healthier for kids to have some connection with their biological family, and we would love to be able to provide that to our kiddo. It might be through letters and pictures … or in-person visits. Either way, whatever is best for our son or daughter is definitely what we want to do. PLUS, just think about how easy it is to get an abortion these days! This birth mom is making a tremendously self-sacrificial and loving choice. First, in giving birth to her baby. And second, in creating an adoption plan for a little one that she is not prepared to parent at this time. Dave and I have a huge respect and love for birth parents, and if possible, we want them to know their son or daughter. (This doesn’t mean they co-parent or something like that … and they cannot take the baby away from us. It’s just more people to love on our child, and who doesn’t want that?!)

I hope this is helpful and shows you a different side of our adoption process. As always, we appreciate your prayers for us … as well as our baby and any of his/her biological family that may be involved in the process. We are so excited to see what God does this year … and hoping that this is the year that brings Baby Dykema into our lives!

Much love to you all,

Laurel

April 30, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 30

A Beautiful Dead End

Kicking up dusty dirt
The path ends in lush, dewy grass
A colorful tree canopy conceals the sky
A hush descends in the twilight
As a fairy peeks out

Some dead ends are beautiful.



April 29, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 29

Things I Like

Lima beans, strings, wings
Open doors, dinosaurs, crawling on all fours
Fluffy stuff, muffs, and cream puffs.

April 28, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 28

Important Day

Celebration
Happy, bright
Eating, singing, dancing
Balloons, smiles, candles, cake
Aging, clapping, cheering
Annual, happy
Birthday

April 27, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 27

Into the Blue

Take off into the blue
Ocean with silky strokes
Swim to a nearby dolphin
Laughing together in the waves


April 26, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 26

I Loved You Before You Were Born

Did you know I loved you
Before you were born?

While you were still tiny
And growing in a tummy
My love for you grew and grew in my heart
I couldn't wait to be your Mommy!

After we got married,
Daddy and I knew
Our family wasn't complete yet
We needed you!
We waited and prayed
And got your room all ready
With a bed, clothes, and shoes
And a bear named Teddy.

I was so excited to meet you
And hug you close
To hold your little hands
And count your little toes
To whisper in your ear
Mommy loves you
Forever and ever
And as you grew,
To read bedtime stories
And sing you to sleep
Bake cookies together
And make sand castles on the beach.

God had a special purpose
In mind when he created you
I'm so happy you're in our family
Part of the Dykema crew.

April 25, 2016

April PAD Challenge: Day 25

Exercise for Kids

Jumping rope
Rope climbing
Climbing to the stop of the slide
Slide down that tree like a monkey
Monkey bar swinging
Swinging the bat at baseball practice
Practice hopscotch.