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Archive for November, 2009

Advent

A new year begins today in the Christian calendar — with the season of Advent.

This is the Advent wreath I made over the weekend to mark the four weeks until Christmas. It’s not always easy to live Advent when Christmas is already everywhere. I make a wreath every year to help us enter into the spirit of the season.

Advent is all about waiting…. about preparation, anticipation, and hope for what’s to come. For the Christian, this culminates in the celebration of the birth of Jesus on December 25th. Of course, these are also states of being that parents-to-be know very well.

I think the hardest part about waiting is to live fully in it. When you’re waiting for something or someone, you’re focused on the future — the not-quite-yet, and my, how time can stretch out. But it seems to me that how we live in the now determines who we’ll be when we get to what we’re waiting for.

Over the years, as I’ve dealt with the agony of waiting for this or that, I’ve learned that waiting can be a blessed state — a very formative place. It can teach you a lot about yourself, about God, about letting go. It can be painful, too, and pain is also a teacher if we let it be. I think God waits for us, just as we wait for so many things we long for.

If you celebrate Advent — or if you’re in a waiting state of any kind — I wish you a truly fruitful season.

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Another blog award!

I was given a blog award by Coffeemom, who runs a site I frequently visit called Another Espresso Please. This was a surprise since I’m always shocked to discover anyone actually reads my blog. Coffeemom is the best, even though I’ve never met her, so I’m touched by the fact she mentioned me. Here are the official rules for the “Kreativ Blog” award:

1. Thank the person who awarded it to me, and link the person’s blog on mine.
2. Identify seven things about myself.
3. Award seven bloggers with the “Kreativ Blogger Award,” post links to their blogs, and leave a comment on each of their blogs, to let them know of the honor. Not sure what a Kreativ blogger is… and why can’t it just be spelled right? Or is that just me not being very “Kreative,” thereby proving I don’t deserve this award?

So a big thanks to Coffeemom, who linked to my blog and called me a “youngster.” I think she looks way too young to have such a brood (and one in college!). Actually, I’m willing to bet we’re close in age, which makes me feel like a total loser, but who’s counting? I think she really picked me because of my blog banner — she loves it, as I do. I keep thinking I should change it… something different… but those Ethiopian angels are just cool.

Okay, now seven things about myself…

1) As a child I used to make to-do lists and would schedule “thinking time” into my day. I’d then lie on my bed or go for a walk and think about all the deep questions of life. Sometimes it made my head hurt.

2) My first paying job was as a waitress at the only restaurant in town — a little Chinese place attached to a gas station. Since the owners were having marriage problems and the wife was trying to keep everything afloat, I was soon running the restaurant and cooking food for the customers. I was 15.

3) When I was 7, I climbed New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington with two of my aunts — all the way to the top. Afterwards I felt empowered, like I’d done something monumental.

4) I’m the oldest of 10 and always loved having so many siblings. We have a blast together and would choose each other as friends if we weren’t related.

5) I don’t like exercising, but wish I did. I make myself do it for the benefits, but get bored very quickly. It’s time to try yoga again…

6) I once had a pony named Peanut, and he died in a big barn fire the first winter I had him. Never did get another horse.

7) I don’t remember ever being told the truth about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or the “facts of life”… I just always seemed to know the real deal on that stuff from as far back as I can remember.

Now on to those I’m giving this Kreativ Blogger award to… I think I gave some of these folks an “Honest Scrap” award a while back, so if I did that to you, please don’t hate me or feel like you have to do this again…

1) Kelly at Uninterrupted Prosperity. I visit Kelly’s blog a lot. We’re in the same place in our adoption journeys and live in the same city. Kelly writes well even though she’s a lawyer, go figure 🙂 She’s a lovely, supportive, honest woman, with a good sense of humor and a kind soul. I’m grateful to know her in person now and to be following her path to building a family.

2) Harmony at Fermember When. I’ve been following Harmony’s blog for a while and she’s just the kind of woman you wish lived next door. She’s multi-talented and has a beautiful open heart she’s not afraid to share. Her name definitely suits her.

3) Sara at Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet. I discovered Sara’s blog fairly recently. She and her husband adopted two beautiful siblings so her experiences interest me. She’s an excellent writer and many of her posts read like a spiritual diary — her longing for God comes out clear and strong.

4) Kristin at Irishopian. I’ve been wanting to meet Kristin and maybe I will some day because we live in the same state. She’s got a bustling family life, lots of irons in the fire, and now she’s getting ready to go build some wells in Ethiopia. I like this woman already and always enjoy stopping by her blog.

5) Sarah at Much Has Been Given. I’ve been visiting Sarah’s blog for a while. She’s a gorgeous California babe who interrupted her DINK (dual income, no kids) life to adopt two adorable toddlers. She’s got a huge heart for orphans and strikes me as a get-it-done kind of girl. Her stories about being a new mom are fun to read and make me laugh. I often feel like I’m reading stuff I’ll be saying in another year or two.

6) Jenni at Sclater Scribbles. If there’s a creative blog out there, it’s Jenni’s. She’s a mom of three active boys and an award-winning photographer-to-be, no doubt about it. I’m inspired by the originality and creativity of her blog and the incredible moments she captures of her sons’ lives. Some day, they’ll be amazed, too.

7) Lindy at The Young Journeys. I just discovered Lindy through Kristin’s blog (see above). Since I’m a girl with two countries and many friends scattered around the globe, I’m interested in the adventures of people living abroad. Lindy and her husband are from Montana, live in Senegal, and adopted a child from Ethiopia. They’re going back for number two soon and l look forward to following their journey. Right now they seem to be in Spain. Jealous!

Phew. Almost done my award duty now. I just have to let all the above bloggers know about this. Hope they’ll forgive me.

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Day After Gratitude

I wish I had some photos to show you of our terrific Thanksgiving day. (How can I be so bad at remembering to TAKE PICTURES? Argh!)

Anyway, take it from me it was a fantastic day. Fifteen adults, 10 kids, two beautifully laid-out tables, and a feast fit for kings. It was community cooking at its best. Abby has an enormous kitchen, which really helped. She and her family make hospitality look like a breeze. The 21 lb turkey, from am Amish farmer, was incredible. It was such a treat to have my brother, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephews with us for the celebration. Mags and her contingent joined us, too. (My mouth is still watering thinking about her pumpkin bread pudding and homemade caramel sauce.)

I’m grateful for all of it.

If I listed everything for which I’m truly thankful, you would get mighty tired. Like so many of you, I don’t have the words to express the deep gratitude I have for my husband, family, faith, friends, the two countries I call home, our little house, the food I get to eat, good health, our work and colleagues… so much…

It’s all undeserved, really. Not because I’m a schmuck, which I am at times, but because most of the blessings in my life I did nothing to warrant. Providence granted them, and I know that means I’m not only to cherish them, but to be generous in return. And not simply with what I have, but with who I am — my very self. Which is part of reason I’m choosing to be a mother through adoption. “For those who have much, much is expected.” I shall have a lot to account for, no doubt.

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A bad Slow girl

It’s a busy week and tomorrow I start cooking. This year, Thanksgiving is a collaborative affair, which is the way I like it. Some of my family will be coming from Philly and New York City and we’ll join my friend Abby’s clan down the street (and other friends) for a giant spread. I assigned myself the homemade cranberry sauce, a roasted pear salad, corn souffle, and Brussels sprouts. (My husband, though he’s the better cook, will play sous chef this year.)

I’m going to confess something: The Brussels sprouts above? They turned into green beans at the grocery store today. Which means I might as well turn in my creds as a Slow Food girl. I don’t know what I was thinking. Well, yes I do… I was thinking that the corn souffle will take all the oven space leaving no room for the sprouts to roast, but beans can be blanched and sauteed on the stove top. Plus they’re those skinny French beans, which I like with almonds. But they’re not seasonal, and they traveled miles to get here. Which is all very bad.

Please don’t tell Alice Waters.

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National Adoption Day

November is “National Adoption Month” and November 21st — today — is National Adoption Day. I don’t know what that really means, but I guess it’s an opportunity to draw attention to adoptive families and to children in need. Which is a fabulous thing to do.

A friend of mine is married to a U.S. congressman and sent me a briefing given yesterday by Michele Bond, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs. Although there’s nothing in there I didn’t know, it gives an idea of the state of international adoption at the moment. Ms. Bond touches on the sharp increase in Ethiopian adoptions and the attention being paid to the process by both the Ethiopian and American governments right now to ensure ethical procedures.

Actually, there was something I didn’t know… Over the past year and a half, 71 American children were adopted by Canadians, Australians and Western Europeans. Most of the these children were in our foster care system and were not babies. Although the U.S. adopts more children than any other country, we don’t often think about American children being adopted by non-Americans. Very interesting.

Anyway, it so happens that I spent part of today with about seven families at an Ethiopian restaurant here in Baltimore. I was looking forward to this event and it didn’t disappoint. I regularly visit other adoption blogs and email back and forth with adoptive parents and parents-to-be, so it’s great to put faces to names.

This evening, I was happy to see my new friend and blog buddy, Kelly, and to meet her husband, Craig. I also met Megan, who (along with her husband) is using our agency. And I finally got to meet Ellen and her husband, Riley. I’ve emailed Ellen for over a year now and there she was tonight with their two children who came home in August. Amazing.

I really love talking to other parents and parents-to-be about their experiences. But the real treat, of course, is seeing the kids. They put me in touch with what’s at the end of this long process.

Our large group took over the entire second floor of the restaurant and the staff held a coffee ceremony after we finished dinner. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to next time, when hopefully my hubby can come along, too.

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It’s another boy!

Well, the boys have now pulled far ahead in the gender tally of grandchildren…

My sister Olga, the wonder woman (all of my sisters are wonder women… seriously), finally gave birth very early this morning to a little boy — Maxim. (He doesn’t have a middle name yet.) He weighed in at 9lbs, 10oz. All natural childbirth, too. Ugh. Anyway, he’s gorgeous, just like his cousin Cameron who was born six days ago.

Maxim is numero four — and the third boy for them. Big sister Sadie (7 yrs old) apparently said, “So, I’ve got another little monkey to contend with?!”

What a gift new life is.

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Mourning my crafty side

When I think about having kids, I can’t help but wish I were more crafty. It would be so cool to start whipping up some quilts or making little sweaters or crocheting blankets. Not that I have the time, but still.

Sadly, I’ve never mastered anything like that. I was the girl who found Home Ec boring and barely finished my ruffled prairie skirt for sewing class. I had no desire to cook or bake, and no interest in domestic activities. Instead, I wanted to sing and dance, recite plays and wear costumes. I preferred organizing events, discussing philosophical ideas, being outdoors, and leading groups of one kind or another.

That’s all fine, of course. And though I’m no artist, I am creative. It was when I left the theater that I started to cook, and looking back, l think it was because of my desperate need for a creative outlet. What kept it going was my interest in health and love of food.

Eventually I began to write — a creative endeavor to be sure. Still, I miss being able to make something concrete with my hands. Maybe I’d feel better about my deficits if I had some carpentry skills, but alas…

On numerous occasions I’ve tried knitting and crocheting, but I always got stuck somewhere and I couldn’t find help. Pretty soon I’d given up. I have so many half-knitted/half-crocheted things in boxes, it’s pathetic! Now I kind of forget how to do both. Sewing requires a machine — a big investment for something I’ll probably never master. I’ve thought about taking a pottery or sculpture class. But they’re expensive, and frankly, when I look at my to-do list for 2010, who has the time?

Come to think of it, I did design some cards once. I even made some impressive earrings for friends one Christmas. I guess I’m not utterly hopeless. (Okay, I feel a bit better having remembered that!)

Being a good daughter, I used to blame my mother. She’s not crafty either. She’s a great cook, but doesn’t enjoy it. She’s a formidable mind, an excellent organizer, a good writer — so many talents. But she was left-handed, and back in her day if you couldn’t learn something the right-handed way, that was it.

The truth is, however, some of my sisters are very crafty… and they taught themselves or sought out neighbors or friends to teach them. So, it’s not my mother’s fault. I was more interested in planning what I would wear to the Academy Awards and saving starving children in Africa. The Oscar win is looking less likely now, but that second interest is coming full circle in an interesting sort of way.

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