Wednesday, January 27, 2010


A friend of ours gave us this cookbook as a wedding gift.  (Thanks, again Becky!)  I've been using it about once a month lately.  I used it on Monday night.  I like it.  The recipes are simple, and call for easy to find ingredients.  It has recipes for appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes, and desserts.  Most of the ones we have tried have been really yummy.  It has little notes in the margins that give facts about women of historical interest.  So you get to learn a little history while you are preparing a meal.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Facebook Etiquette

I've had a Facebook account for a few years now, and for the most part, I like using it.  It is an easy way to share photos and keep in touch.  There are some things are, let's say a little problematic with it.  For example, you've had a frustrating day and want to vent.   So you turn to you Facebook status update.  You spew out your frustrations. . .you feel better. . .but wait, maybe you shoudn't have said that. . .but it's right there in black and white for your closest 300 friends to read.  Yes, you can delete it, but what if someone reads your regretable words before you can find the delete button?

Here's a few tips to keep from embarassing yourself

1.  Think twice before you post something disgusting.  I really don't want to know that you washed a dirty poopy diaper in the washing machine with your white linen tablecloth from Great-aunt Betty.  If you want to mourn the loss of you table cloth, maybe say "I accidentally washed my tablecloth from my aunt with some garbage and I'm afraid it is ruined."  See there, that's better.  That doesn't elicit a gag reflex.  This also applies to finding doggie poop in the bed on the down duvet and anything else that has to do with poop or vomit!

2.  Restrain yourself from saying disparaging things about kids.  Ok, so you've had a bad day with Junior.  He/she has (all in one day) drawn on the wallpaper in the dinning room with a sharpie, decided to go exploring the in garbage can and threw trash all over the kitchen and torn the towel rack off the wall in the bathroom and played frisbee with your china.  BAD day, so you turn to your Facebook status update to vent. I think your child would be mortified to find out that you shared all that information with your 300 closest friends.  What if your kid finds that and reads it himself one day? Be respectful.  Say, "It's been a long day with Junior.  I need a girls' night out." 

3.  Restrain yourself from saying disparaging things about our spouse.  If you have a problem with them, resolve it privately.  The rest of us don't need to know that you've had an argument that was so loud it attracted an audience outside your front door.

4.  Respect your child's right to privacy.  Be careful with those bathtub pics that you post of your little person.  No one wants to see him in his birthday suit with his unmentionables exposed, and it they do they are a sicko and shouldn't be on your friend list to begin with!  The strategic placement of toys, bubbles, or washcloths greatly improves the decency of these kinds of photos.  Before posting any photo ask yourself, "If that was me in that photo instead of Junior (or whoever), would I want my 300 closest friends to see it on the internet?"  If they answer is "no", then you are probably better off not posting it.

5.  Do not use Facebook as a place for confession.  So, you went out last night and drank like a fish and you woke up in the middle of your driveway with nothing but your underwear on.  Keep it to yourself, for your own sake!  Posting things like that can come back to bite you.

6.  Do not send multiple friend requests to the same person.  Get the hint.  They do not want to be your Facebook friend!  I've gotten requests from people that I either didn't know or didn't know well enough to want them on my friend list.  So, I reject the first request, but they just keep coming.  Maybe the sender doesn't remember if they sent the first one.  May they think it got lost in cyberspace.  It didn't get lost in cyberspace, people.  So I reject the second request.  I get a third one.  Then I block the person.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The end of the paperchase . . .for now.

We got a large package in the mail from our adoption agency today.  It was a copy of our completed dossier.  I was unfamiliar with the word "dossier" before we started this process, so here's the definition.
dos-si-er :  (dos-ee-ey, -ee-er, daw-see-ey, -see-er; Fr. daw-syey) noun, plural dos⋅si⋅ers  
a collection or file of documents on the same subject, esp. a complete file containing detailed information about a person or topic.

We found out the our dossier was sent to our agency's National office yesterday. From there it will go to the Embassy in DC where it will be legalized. It will then shipped to Ethiopia where it will be translated and sent to MOWA (Ministery of Women's Affairs) and the various orphanages that our agency works with to await a referral.  We are at a point where we won't hear much information from our agency.  It's just a waiting game now.  Thanks again for all your prayers.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Turning 30

My birthday was yesterday.  Thanks for all the birthday wishes.  I had a good day, but put off the party until Friday night since I had to work overnight.  We are going out for Ethiopian food with some of our friends and having cake at our house Friday night.  Here are a few pics from yesterday.

James takes the time to wrap gifts that he gives me, and I really do appreciate the effort. It's just that he's not so good with paper and scissors.  Here are some shots of his handwork.  I will say that the small item was in a odd shaped box.  He could have just bought a gift bag to put it in, but I appreciate his frugality.  He used wrapping paper and a bow that we already had.

This is what was in the small box.  Love this!  It is from this Etsy shop.  The seller has better pics on her page.  It is a necklace with a sterling silver charm shaped like Africa.  This is a cross in the general area of Ethiopia.  The following bible verse on the back.  Well, just the address - the whole would never fit!
Isaiah 41:9-10 (NIV)
I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, 'You are my servant';
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

In the larger package . . .

Mariokart.  Fun game!  We spent about an hour playing it yesterday.

James also gave me a bouquet of flowers. . .30 carnations.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Laundry Room

A friend of mine from church recently began selling products from Uppercase Living.  I ordered a few things from her.  It is an interesting product.  It's basically vinyl embellishments that will adhere to your walls, hard floor (not carpet, of course), plates, plaques, and so on.  We put the pictured embellishment up in our laundry room on Saturday.  I does take some patience and the ability to read and follow instructions to get these up on the wall, but it certainly wasn't a difficult project.  We had to stand on top of our washer and dryer, which was a little tiresome.

Why I chose that phrase . . .
Doing the laundry is not my favorite chore.  It takes a while to do it, and it's never completely finished.  It has to be carried downstairs and then back upstairs.  Ugh.  I saw this phrase in my friend's catalog, and it caught my eye.  Maybe it will help me have a more positive attitude about doing the laundry.

The other thing I got . . .

This picture is blurry - I took it with my iPhone, but you get the idea.  It is a platter.  I got four or five of these and gave most of them as Christmas gifts.  This one was given to James' mom by my brother-in-law and his wife for her birthday.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Adoption FAQ

I get questions rather often about what the adoption process is like, sometimes from people who are thinking about adopting in the future.  Sometimes the questions just come from nosey people, but for those who are looking for some help, here are some of the most common questions I get.

How long does it take?
This depends on what road you take.  Domestic vs. international, private adoption vs. working an agency, special needs vs. healthy.  Domestic adoptions can go rather quickly (less than 1 year) if you don't have a racial preference.  If you do have a racial preference, it can take much longer.  We attended an informational meeting almost one year ago that was held by our adoption agency.  The projected time line for domestic adoption of a Caucasian child was 3 years.  If you adopt internationally, the time line is dependent upon which country you are adopting from.  It can take about 4 years to adopt a child from China.  We are looking at a time line of about 2 years.

How did you decide on what country to adopt from?
Our agency has a preliminary application that you have to fill out if you are interested in pursuing international adoption.  It asks for some basic information about your age, health, income, and length of marriage.  You will then be given a list of what countries from which you could adopt.  We were given our results just a few days after we submitted our prelim app.  We were not old enough to adopt from several of the countries that our agency is licensed in - you had to 30 and we were 29.  We didn't want to wait another year.  Some countries require that you be married for a least 5 years before you can adopt there.  Your health is another thing that can disqualify you.  If you are disabled or being treated for certain conditions, you will be not be allowed to adopt from certain countries.  We had a few countries to chose from.  The process doesn't take quite so long in Ethiopia, and you can adopt infants from Ethiopia.  Not all countries will allow infants to be adopted internationally.

How did you decide which adoption agency to use?
We knew others who had previously adopted through the agency we chose, and we had gotten positive feedback from them.  That's the agency that we first looked at, and it is the one we ultimately chose.  We found a list a questions to ask an adoption agency that an adoptive mom had posted online.  Here it is. And, yes we did ask these.

1. Are you currently licensed to handle adoptions from Ethiopia?  Since when?
2. Have you ever had your license suspended?  Why?
3. How many Ethiopian adoptions have you completed?
4. Do you run an agency list-serv – a forum for pre- and post-adoptive families to converse online?  If not, is there a way for your families to communicate with one another?  This may sound trivial, but it is really helpful to make connections with other people who are going through the same thing you are going through.
5. Can I have a hand in choosing my child, or will I be “matched” with a child by you?
6. What kind of information is available about children you place?  Will I see medical reports, photos, videos?  Will I learn about the child’s history prior to placement at the orphanage?
7. Have you, the director, met the children?  Will you have met my prospective child personally?  If not, on whose word are we relying about the condition of the child?
8. What is a typical time line from the time I accept a child to completion of the process?
9. How does the time line for baby-adoption compare to the time line for older child adoption?
10. May I travel to meet my child before the process is complete?
11. May I travel to pick up my child or do I have the child escorted?  Which do you recommend?
12. Is it possible to adopt two or more unrelated children, or do you discourage it?
13. Is it possible to meet my child’s birth-relatives?  Does my child have a living parent? 
14. What is the cost for an adoption of one or more children?  Are there hidden costs?  Will I be charged for foster care while my child awaits completion of the process?
15. What kind of post-adoption support does your agency offer?  If we have a difficult transition, will you be able to help me through it? 

How much does it cost to adopt?
I usually tell people that it cost about as much as car.  Is some cases, it costs as much as a very nice car.  It depends on what state you live in and what country you are adopting from and how many children you are adopting. 
Did you have to find an adoption attorney?
No.  We did have to give power of attorney to an agency staff member in Ethiopia.

Why does it take so long?
Details.  Details. Details.  It takes about 6 months just to fill out the paperwork.  No stone is left unturned.  You have to turn in your bank records, proof of employment, medical history, tax returns.  you have to go through background checks.  You have to go through a medical exam and have blood work done, and get tested for TB and other contagious diseases.  You also have to have a drug test done.  We had to get fingerprinted twice - once for the state and again for immigrations.  You have to provide 11 letters/forms of reference - one from your doctor for each spouse, one from both your employers (if you both work outside the home), one from a family member that doesn't live with you, and the rest from friends.  Everything you turn in has to be notarized and sealed by the secretary of state.  Once you get your documents sent, to the country you are adopting from, every last page has to be translated.  There are a finite number of people in the country to process the applications and translate.

Do you have the option of indicating the gender/age/medical concerns of the child that you are open to adopting?
You will have a form to fill out where you can indicate what medical issues you are open to.  Ours was about 2 pages long, and it had everything on from a missing finger to HIV positive.  It was difficult to fill it out because each time you check "no" you wonder what real live child that check mark effected and how many more days in an orphanage that it bought them.  You will also be able to specify what age range you are open to, but that doesn't mean that just because you said you wanted a newborn you won't get a call from your social worker wanting to know if you'd like to adopt an 8 year old.  You can specify gender in some situations.  I don't think our agency will allow you to specify gender if you are adopting domestically.  Some countries will allow it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Adoption related gifts

For Christmas, we received a couple of adoption related gifts from out  parents.  My mom and dad gave us a book called I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla.  The book discusses what children understand about race and how to talk about race with them in a positive manner.  I have not gotten very far into, but I really like it so far.

James' parents gave us these cute Christmas ornaments.  We are hoping to adopt a pair of siblings and we'd both love it if we got sisters, but we're open to what God has for us.  We didn't get to see James' family until after Christmas this year, so we didn't get to put these on our tree this year.  They will be on it next year though!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Three Bean Chili

I've been trying to get my chili recipe ironed out, and I think I've settled on this recipe.  I made it on Sunday for dinner, and it was a success.  Chili and other foods that are supposed to be hot, are a bit challenging for me.  I want those foods to be spicey enough for my husband, but that usually means that it'll be so hot that it makes me sick.  It is hard to find a balance.  He did put some Tabasco sauce in this, but not until he was almost finished with his bowl of chili.

2 lbs ground beef
1 large white onion, chopped
1 (10 oz) can original Rotel
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 oz) can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (12 oz) can tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tsp. sugar

In a large pot, brown ground beef.  Drain and return to pot.  Add chopped onions and simmer until onions are transparent.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mardi Gras wreath

Here's a photo of our Mardi Gras wreath that I made yesterday.

I spent less than $20 on the materials! I got everything at Michael's, and I had to return a couple of items that I had purchaced a few weeks ago. The return gave me a $20 credit. The cost of the materials does exclude the mask. I found it in my box of Mardi Gras decorations. I used it on the mantle last year.

I'm pretty pleased with the way the wreath turned out. It is much nicer than what graced our front door last Mardi Gras. Some of you may remember that tacky plastic green and purple sign I had put up. Don't worry. I threw it away after Mardi Gras last year. Ha!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Taco Ring

I think this is an old Pampered Chef recipe.  I made it Thursday for dinner, and we both really liked it.  I found it in a cookbook that was put together by the employees at the office James worked at when we lived in AR.  It was incomplete though.  There were no instructions given for two of the ingredients, so I decided to document what I did so I'll know the next time I make this.

1 lb cooked ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 c. shredded Mexican  cheese
2  Tbls. water
1/2 cup black olives
1/2 medium sized white onion, chopped
2 packages refrigerated crescent rolls
serve with salsa, shredded lettuce, and sour cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl combine beef, taco seasoning mix, cheese, water, black olives, and onion.  Unroll crescent dough and separate into triangles.  Arrange triangles in a circle on round baking stone with wide ends overlapping in center.  Scoop meat misture evenly onto widest end of each triangle.  Bring points of triangles up over filling and tuck under wide ends of dough at the center of the ring.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Slice and serve with salsa, shredded lettuce, and sour cream

Friday, January 8, 2010

Poppyseed Chicken Casserole

1/2 stick butter
2 Tbls. poppyseeds
2 (14 oz) cans cream of chicken soup
6 boneless/skinless chicken breast
16 oz reduced fat sour cream
1 sleeve Ritz crackers
1/2 cup french fried onions

Boil chicken and chop into very small pieces.  Mix soup, sour cream, and poppyseeds together.  Add chopped chicken.  Place in 9 x 13 casserole pan.  Crush crackers and mix with onions.  Melt butter and mix with crackers and onions.  Spread crackers mixture on top of chicken mixture.  Cover with foil.  Bake for 25- 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove foil and cook for another 5 minutes so crackers will brown.

This freezes well.  Just get it prepped and put in freezer.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ethiopian Coffee

One thing I've learned about since we've been working through our adoption paperwork and educating ourselves about Ethiopia is their coffee.  Ethiopia is where coffee was first cultivated.  According to national folklore, the origin of coffee is firmly rooted in Ethiopia's history. Their most popular legend concerns the goat herder from Kaffa, where the plants still grow wild in the forest hills. After discovering his goats to be excited, almost dancing on their hind legs, he noticed a few mangled branches of the coffee plant which was hung with bright red berries. He tried the berries himself and rushed home to his wife who told him that he must tell the monks. The monks tossed the sinful drug into the flames, an action soon to be followed by the smell we are all so familiar with now. They crushed the beans, raked them out of the fire, and distilled the stimulating substance in boiling water. Within minutes the monastery filled with the heavenly aroma of roasting beans, and the other monks gathered to investigate. After sitting up all night, they found a renewed energy to their holy devotions.

There is a local coffee shop called Kaldi's here in the STL area that sells Ethiopian coffee.  We thought it would be a fun gift for our parents at Christmas, so we got them a small bag of beans and a coffee grinder.  We got the same for ourselves - or for me rather, since James doesn't care for coffee.  It is very good.  It had no bitter taste, no bite.  I usually end up dumping a lot of flavored creamer in coffee to hide the bitterness, but I don't need it with this coffee.  I like to put just a small amount of milk in it.  It smells so good too! Kaldi's does sell bags of these bean online.  A 12 ounce bag of whole beans is $9.49.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tying up loose ends

We are finally practically finished with our paperwork.  We mailed the last of our documents and payments (for now) to our social worker's office today.  This has taken 6 months.  I hardly know what to do with my free time now!  Much of my free time since June has been consumed with letter writing, required reading and online training, and other adoption related paperwork.

Our social worker has to get the documents that we just turned in sealed by the MO Secretary of State.  Then the next step is sending our completed dossier (the mound of paperwork) to Bethany's national office.  Then it gets sent to DC then on to Ethiopia.  The offical word from Bethany is to expect a wait time of 12-15 months, however they have recently added more orphanages in Ethiopia to their network and some families have gotten referrals in as little as 8 months.  So we will see!

Thanks to those of you have or been praying for us, and huge thanks to those of you who have written letters and served as references for us.  You played an essential role in helping us bring our child(ren) home.