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Welcome to My Venture!

Although my approach may be a bit unconventional, it is my greatest desire for this online journal to be a unique place where we can share life lessons learned from the many wonderful people–past and present– who profoundly touch our lives!

I sincerely hope you will feel inclined to comment and pay tribute to these great mentors by sharing your thoughts with me and this community.  It’s my goal for all who visit here to benefit as we participate and read one another’s insights.

I’ve learned that everyone has something to teach and something to learn!

A Blessing Named Elliot…An Adoption Journey!

A Blessing Named Elliot…An Adoption Journey!

As our family celebrated Thanksgiving this past week and expressed gratitude for the many things we have to be grateful for, I couldn’t help but consider the divine intervention in our lives that brought us a very special blessing named Elliot!

A Blessed named Elliot...An Adoption Story!

Elliot born September 28, 2016

“Babies are the beginning of a dream of possibilities!” Eda LeShan 

You might recall my daughter-in-law sharing her struggles with endometriosis in this past journal entry.  For those of you who have expressed love and concern for our family as my son, Jake, and his wife, Whitney, faced the challenges of infertility, I’m so thrilled and indeed humbled to share with you their adoption journey!

Our adoption journey began with trying to conceive for nearly five years without success.  Due to Jake’s career as a dentist in the Army, our road with fertility treatments included doctors and specialists in Oklahoma and Germany.  When our last IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatment in 2014 was unsuccessful, without any explanation as to why, we felt adoption was the path for us to take.  It is amazing how right adoption felt as we made this decision together!

A Blessing Named Elliot...An Adoption Story!

“Babies are a link between angels and man!”  Author Unknown 

The process of finding an adoption agency, along with the subsequent paperwork and home studies, is overwhelming; it has its own set of challenges, but we relied on each other’s strengths as we worked through it all together.  The waiting period to be chosen was a difficult time, and the year and a half  it took seemed to have no end in sight, but our primary case-worker always said that when it is meant to be, it will be the right baby that will come into your arms.

A Blessing Named Elliot...An Adoption Story!

“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on!”  Carl Sandberg

When you least expect something–that is when it is bound to happen…..and that is exactly how Elliot came into our lives!  Due to the time difference between Germany and our agency in Utah, we received the surprise of our lives at 2:00 am in a one sentence email with the subject line, “Great News!”  The body of the email read: “Birth mom and her mother want to place baby with you!”

Coincidentally, Whitney’s dad and mom were visiting at the time they received the email that they’d been picked for adoption.  When Jake and Whitney realized that they only had eleven days to prepare and be in Utah, the decision was quickly made to cut her parent’s trip short and book flights back to Utah with them.  They landed in Utah at 8:00 pm the night before Elliot was due to be born.  As they anxiously awaited his arrival the next morning, they spent the last few hours of their time together as just the two of them, baby shopping, going to lunch, and even getting pedicures.  When at last they received the text that their baby had been born, they rushed down the hallway of the hospital and knocked on the nursery door.

Throughout the adoption process, we often wondered if we would feel a connection with the baby right away or if we would feel as though he wasn’t ours, but those worries were quickly dissipated when the nursery door was opened and we saw Elliot for the first time–we instantly knew he was our son; we truly believe that God intended for him to be in our family.  As we drew closer and saw how sweet and small Elliot was at 6 pounds, 4 ounces and 19 inches long, we’ll never forget how surreal and perfect that moment was in our lives!  Elliot stayed in the hospital for three days, and during that time we were able to pray for him and have him receive blessings to ensure his continued good health.  When the pediatrician finally gave us the green light to take him home, we couldn’t have been happier!

A Blessing named Elliot...An Adoption Journey!

“Having a baby is to decide forever to have your heart walking around outside your body!”  Elizabeth Stone 

After Elliot joined our family, we were amazed at the outpouring of love and generosity from family and friends.  It has been remarkable to see the power that a newborn baby has to bring people together!  Each day is an exciting adventure and learning experience, as well as a blessing, now that Elliot is home with us.  We are humbled to be his parents, although the titles of mom and dad are still novel to us.  We want to express our gratitude to all those who helped to bring this joy into our lives.  Our goal is to ensure that Elliot will grow up learning that the Lord loves him and that he also has a birth mother who loves him, and that she made the ultimate sacrifice to place him with a family who will always strive to do everything within their power to ensure his happiness and give him every opportunity to grow and progress in this life!

A Blessing named Ellito...An Adoption Journey!

A Blessing named Elliot...An Adoption Journey!

(Two photos above via Green Apple Photography)

“It is not a slight thing when those so fresh from heaven love us!”  Charles Dickens

In closing, I’d like to say that it is so heart warming to see two wonderful people survive the ups and downs of this journey together, leading them to form stronger bonds of commitment to each other, making their ability to love their new baby, without reservation, so endearing!  There truly is no greater joy than watching your own children become parents!

All our best wishes to you, Jake and Whitney, and precious little Eli!

Have you had any personal experiences with adoption or know someone who has?  Please, please share any insights you might have on this amazing process

–Mary

The Cookbook Challenge! Homemade With Love!

The Cookbook Challenge!  Homemade With Love!

It’s that time of year when we start pulling out all our favorite family recipes so we can make some for the upcoming holidays.  I thought it also seemed like a good time to try a few new ones in my ongoing Cookbook Challenge quest!

The Cookbook Challenge!

For this challenge, I chose the cookbook Made With Love by Jennifer Perillo that my husband and I picked up at a charming little bake shop on a recent trip to Catalina Island near San Diego, California.  I can’t think of anything better than a little “homemade love” to ease the stress of our busy lives!  Besides, it seems like the world needs a collective group hug–maybe if we could all gather around a really, really big table and enjoy some great food together…sigh!

"Homemade with Love" cookbook by Jennifer Perillo

As if the picture on the front cover of this cookbook isn’t enticing enough–I was further drawn to this cookbook when I read the author’s introduction page….. “I’ve taken some time-consuming, scratch recipes and crafted them into shortcuts to make good eating easier!”

♦ Roasted Vegetable Pizza ♦

This is an easy one-dish meal that is perfect for some of those last vegetables you might have recently harvested from your garden.

Start with one batch of Jennie’s pizza dough: (Makes two 12-inch thin crust or one 16-inch thick crust.)

3 cups unbleached flour

1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

1 tsp. fine sea salt

1 tsp. granulated cane sugar

1 cup warm tap water

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

In a bowl whisk 2 cups flour with yeast, salt, and sugar.  Add the water and olive oil.  Stir together to form sticky dough.  Sprinkle remaining flour onto clean counter, then scrape the dough out and knead in the flour until it is soft and smooth.  Let the dough rise in covered glass bowl in warm spot until it is double in size–about 1 1/2 hours.  Knead again for a few minutes.  Let it rise for another 30 minutes, then form into the desired crust sizes you want.  

Homemade with Love! Veggie Pizza

Spoon on homemade marinara sauce: (You can make this ahead.)

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic (your preference) 

1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

Handful of fresh chopped basil leaves

Sea salt & ground black pepper to taste

Heat thoroughly in a sauce pan, simmering for approximately 15 minutes; be sure to squeeze tomatoes over pan when adding them to sautéed oil and chopped garlic or puree them in blender if you want a smoother sauce. 

Top with roasted vegetables: (Meat condiments can be added too.)

After spooning marinara sauce on shaped pizza dough, top with a mixture of vegetables, olive oil and a little salt that has been roasted in the oven until tender.  I have used sliced zucchini, button mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, a few broccoli florets chopped small, and a little red onion.  Sprinkle pizza top with 8 oz. of fresh crumbled mozzarella, Italian seasoning and some sliced olives.  Bake for 20 minutes in 400-degree oven until cheese is bubbling; let it cool for a few minutes, then slice and serve up dinner yumminess!!

Homemade With Love! Roasted Vegetable Pizza!

And remember…happiness is having last night’s left over pizza for breakfast!

My next go-round with this cookbook is going to be making the Lemon Buttermilk Doughnuts that are featured on the front cover.  I’ll let you know as soon as I do!

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(via Homemade With Love)

Best wishes to everyone for a very happy Thanksgiving as you gather together with family and friends and share good food accompanied by great conversation!

Jim Rohn quote on giving.

What family recipes are a mainstay to your holiday season?  Any new recipes you are thinking of trying?  Please share!

–Mary  

Leather Chair Reading! Books That Celebrate The American Spirit!

Leather Chair Reading!  Books That Celebrate The American Spirit!

I think it’s fair to say that we may all be a little weary of the grueling political process we’ve experienced in the past several months as we anticipate the election of a new president of the United States.  Sometimes it seems that the very principles our founding fathers fought so hard for in establishing this great country are being compromised.  The campaign rhetoric got so bad one night, that I found myself browsing my husband’s expansive library of American history books to find a few that would help restore my faith in everything I love about this great land of America.  For this Leather Chair Reading journal entry, I have chosen a few of the books I love that helped me remember, more intimately, the immense sacrifices of past generations as they fought for the many freedoms we now enjoy, as well as reenergize my belief in the great American spirit!

Leather Chair Reading! International Children's Book Day! www.mytributejournal.com

“There is nothing so wrong with America that faith, love of freedom, intelligence and energy of her citizen’s cannot cure!”   Dwight D. Eisenhower  

“1776” by David McCullough

1776 by David McCullough

“The eyes of all America are upon us as we play our part; posterity will bless or curse us!”  Henry Knox

If you are a fan of Pulitzer prize winning author, David McCullough, like my husband is, (don’t even get him started on John Adams, McCullough’s book written just prior to this one) you know he always does extensive research.  In 1776 McCullough focuses on a single momentous year in the fight for American independence, rather than any one individual, although George Washington definitely takes on a starring role.  If you have ever wondered how a bunch of unruly farmers, so to speak, end up defeating the great monarchy of England, you’ll learn from this book that it was done with a great deal of suffering, determination, ingenuity…and perhaps a bit of divine intervention!  McCullough details both sides of the conflict, and how England underestimated abiding hunger for victory.  Besides a new respect for George Washington and his ability to garner an unwavering loyalty from those he led, you’ll also see that he had the rare gift to learn from the criticism he received from other commanders.  When Washington learned that other military leaders considered him to be hopelessly indecisive, he considered their views, agreed with them and made himself more decisive.  An unlikely hero in this book was Henry Knox, a small, rotund Boston bookseller, who trekked over wintry, frozen terrain to bring much needed ammunition from Fort Ticonderoga to help American soldiers be victorious in the battle at Yorktown, a pivotal turning point in winning the Revolutionary War.  On the book jacket it states that 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history.  In reading this book, I was in awe of all the players that, by no small coincidence, came together to help America gain its freedom!

“A More Perfect Union” by Dr. Ben Carson with Candy Carson

A More Perfect Union by Dr. Ben Carson

“Our founding fathers wrote the Constitution for ordinary men and women, in clear, precise language; they intentionally made it short enough to read in a single sitting.”  Dr. Ben Carson

My husband and I picked this book up long before Dr. Carson made his bid for the 2016 presidential race.  I had read his autobiography, Gifted Hands, and liked his thoughtful, determined approach to life.  We read a few chapters after purchasing the book, then got busy with other projects, so it sat neglected on my nightstand.  But when the constitution became such a focal point of the current presidential race, we decided it was time to become better versed on this document drawn up by our founding fathers as a fundamental directive that helps to define key points that promise to protect the rights of the citizens of the United States of America…even amid all their varying viewpoints.  Dr. Carsen so profoundly states, “I wrote this book to encourage every citizen to read and think about the Constitution, and to help defend it from those who would misinterpret and undermine it in our age of political correctness…it’s so important to defend the Bill of Right, which guarantees our freedom to speak, bear arms, practice our religion and much more.” 

The Constitution. A More Perfect Union!

The Preamble to the Constitution says, “The purpose of this document is to create a more perfect union of this blessed nation!” 

May we all be empowered, in some small way, to protect that union and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves.  I also loved the insights from Dr. Carson’s wife, Candy, as she put a female spin on the privileges we are afforded as a result of upholding the Constitution.  (If you really want to treat yourselves, get the audio version of this book, Dr. Carson’s kind voice is such that listening to him read this book can’t help but restore any lacking faith you may have in the great American Spirit!) 

“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I actually read this book some time ago with a neighborhood book club; and while I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of a dedicated learner about World War II, I have to admit that I found I wasn’t too knowledgeable on the Japanese element of this horrific war.  Unbroken is the true story of Louis Zamperini who learns to channel his youthful defiance into being a world-class runner who eventually makes his way to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  But when World War II breaks out he finds himself enlisting as a United States airman.  I found this book to be a hard read sometimes as it documents Zamperini’s perils of being lost at sea after his plane is shot down over the Pacific Ocean and the brutality he eventually faces as a Japanese prisoner of war.  I loved learning that the author was able to interview Zamperini many times as she wrote the book, and was able to find out first hand that his character, even in old age, exemplified hope and humor amid his memories of the most desperate of human conditions!  I later saw the movie based on the book that was produced by Angelina Jolie, who said Zamperini taught her about having faith.  “There’s just something greater than all of us…and it’s uniting and beautiful!”   Wonderful wisdom to keep in mind as we each face life’s challenges, whatever they may be.  

The great American spirit of Louis Zamperini!

(Louis Zamperini in 2014 at 97 years old.)

“When he thought of his history, what resonated with him…was not the pain he had suffered, but the divine love that he believed had intervened to save him.”  Laura Hillenbrand on Louis Zamperini

I  hope I can learn to love deeper when facing adversity…and may we all learn to truly cherish those who have forged the way for America to exist as it does today, and honor its greatness by the way we live!

I Love America quote.

Please share what books you’d recommend about American History and its great spirit that are a “must read”?     

–Mary