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Archive for February, 2011

Dabble in Ethiopia

My dear friend, Beth, recently became a contributor to a new Canadian lifestyle magazine called Dabble, which is focused on design, travel, and food. The inaugural issue just arrived (it’s an online publication) with Beth’s first article about her recent trip to Ethiopia.

I had told her to bring back our children, by the way, but she was too busy exploring Lalibela rock-hewn churches, eating injera, and learning how to do the native head and shoulders dance.

Here‘s her article. Well, it begins on page 111 — this link doesn’t take you directly to the page. Don’t those angel faces painted on the church walls look familiar?

The rest of the magazine is lovely to look at, too. I think those zucchini muffins at the very back are now on my baking list.

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Thursday nothings

Hmmm, I wish I had something interesting to say today, but I don’t. Everything on the adoption front is very quiet, and our days are busy right now, mostly with work related matters.

I do have an exciting project I’m working on that I look forward to telling you about soon.

I wish I at least had a photo to throw up here, but I’ve been badly neglecting my camera. Strangely enough, the course I took to help me learn how to take better photos ended up taking some wind out of my sails. It made me feel more stuck than I was before I went. Don’t you think that’s weird? Spring will hopefully inspire me to get going again.

Last weekend I made one of my favorite cakes for a birthday celebration. It’s the same cake my friend Abby made for my birthday back in December. I think Abby chose it because she was looking for something chocolately that my friend Irene could eat. This triple chocolate mousse cake has no flour and very little sugar and is so good I think I could eat a whole one by myself. I’m not kidding. That’s saying a lot because while I like sweets, I tend to like them in small doses. This cake has a flourless chocolate bottom layer, a light mousse layer, and then a cream and white chocolate layer on the top. It is cruel for me to even tell you about it because the recipe isn’t online. But you can find it in the November-December 2009 issue of Cooks Illustrated.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all I’ve got for you today.

Oh, wait, I do have a picture. Abby’s cake. Mine didn’t look quite as good, but almost.

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Another one bites the dust

For a while, I’ve had a twin of sorts named Meg.

Meg and her husband live in a big old American city, like us. They’ve been married for a while, like us. They have no children, like us. They’ve been waiting for siblings in the same age range as us and went on the waiting list the same date as us –November 5, 2009. The only difference is that they’re using a different agency — one we almost chose.

So we’ve had this parallel journey, Meg and I. And last night, when I went to her blog, I read that she and her husband accepted a referral of a boy and girl on Friday! Like me, Meg felt it would never happen. But it did, at last.

I think both of us wondered who would get a referral first, and I had a strong suspicion they would. And I wanted it to be the case because they were so ready, going-crazy-ready, and we… well, we’ve had one major challenge after another around here and I can’t help but think God is being gracious with the timing.

Still, the one thing about waiting so long is the solidarity you build with other long-time waiters and as each one finally graduates to the next stage of the process, you find yourself thrilled for them — and also a bit lonesome back here in the dust.

Congrats, Meg and hubby!

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Wednesday

I’m happy to report that the form I mentioned in my last post — the one in which the USCIS spelled my name wrong — came two days ago with my name corrected. The USCIS contact I have is quite responsive by email and resolved it quickly. It always feels like a major victory when this kind of things gets righted in a timely fashion.

Now we’re waiting on the updated home study to be sent by our social worker and then, along with some new paperwork, we’ll send everything in again for a new I600A. Which will be good for another 18 months, I think. By that time if we don’t have two munchkins in here, you can look for me wandering a deserted highway somewhere, mumbling swearwords to the universe.

It has been very busy, with my creative energies going everywhere but this little blog. I can’t say I’ve cooked up anything fabulous worth sharing, though I made a great pear tart last night and chicken pot pie is on the menu for later today or tomorrow. In a moment, I’ll be making myself a health shake, which I do most days. Do you ever make shakes? They’re so easy, and a great way to get antioxidants. Mine go something like this…

1 banana, a handful of frozen organic blueberries, raspberries, or cherries, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, and about 3/4 c of hemp, almond or rice milk.

Then I might add a scoop of whey protein, some maca powder and cocao powder, and maybe a little cinnamon. I might toss in some chia seeds.

Sometimes I add a bit of juice or fresh fruit. Or I throw in something green. Lately I’ve been making one with almond butter and flax seeds. Combined with the cocoa powder, it’s totally yummy.

I should really make up some recipes because I realize all of this might be confusing. Believe me, though, you can keep it really simple. Start with the basics and experiment from there.

Speaking of which, I have yet to start experimenting with the Ethiopian dishes I wanted to make. Brian was advised to stay away from spicy food for a while so I held off. Now it’s just a matter of getting the spices and ingredients. I need to get on that soon.

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Round two

Did I mention that we began renewing our adoption paperwork before Christmas?

Our home study has to be updated before we can apply for a renewal of our I600A, which has to be done before May.  The crazy thing is how quickly I blocked out all the paperwork details from 18 months ago. And how much money I would have put down on the fact that we wouldn’t need to do such bothersome things because our bambinos would already be home and graduated from college.

Brian and I had to get our fingerprints renewed in early December. I guess that’s because in one year our fingerprints may have somehow morphed into someone else’s. Seriously, I think this is why the paperwork part is the worst for me–I can’t stand doing things that don’t make sense and seem to just feed inefficient bureaucracy.

It was extra fun to receive notice in the mail that the FBI couldn’t process my fingerprints and I’d have to go in again. Which I did, last month.

A few days ago, we got the piece of paper from the US Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) (which comes after the fingerprints are processed) — and my name is wrong. They have my middle name as “Amanda,” when it’s “Alexandra.” This, of course, is not okay when dealing with foreign countries and both our social worker and case manager say it must be changed. Now I’m trying to rectify it. You’d think that when it comes to such an important document, the person in charge of our case would look twice and make sure the name matches everything else. He or she has my name in front of them when typing up this document. Sigh.

Once it’s fixed, we’ll fill out some more paperwork, get the updated home study from our social worker, and send it all off to get our I600A renewed. Sounds pretty straightforward, but the key word there is sounds because the god of paperwork, which is really a devil, has caught on to the fact that I don’t like him at all, so there may be more obstacles. I’ve come to assume them, but the key is to try not to pay much attention.

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15 months

Here we are at the 15 month waiting mark. Wow. It really is true that the closer it gets, the further away it feels.

There’s a mixed blessing in the health and work stressors we have faced of late… they’re keeping us very distracted.

Still, there isn’t a day when it doesn’t cross my mind, when I don’t wonder who those little people are who will soon be connected to us forever. What are they doing right now? Are they okay? It’s weird to ponder the decisions and timing that will make all of our paths cross and unite.

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Roller coaster

I’m one of those boring people who waves adios to loved ones at theme parks while they belt themselves into contraptions that look to me like death traps. My strong dislike of anything resembling a roller coaster overwhelms any desire I have to be cool.

This aversion to roller coasters is rather unfortunate because international adoption is like one giant, unpredictable ride… ups and downs, moments of exhilaration and sheer panic, never knowing when it may zig or zag — or end. In between, the pit of your stomach doesn’t always feel so good.

The Ethiopian adoption process continues to be tweaked and changed, and that’s a good thing. Corruption has no place in the system and while it’s practically impossible to eradicate entirely, it’s certainly possible–and necessary–to clean things up. In efforts to do that, things keep changing. Now the American Embassy in Addis will be handling visa appointments differently so for our second trip, we will only get 1-2 weeks notice to travel. Doesn’t make for cheap tickets for 4-5 people that’s for sure.

The Embassy has to initiate an investigation before they’ll give you a visa appointment. That’s a little scary because you’re already the legal parents of the children as far as Ethiopia is concerned before the American Embassy investigates. I’m not sure what happens if the Embassy refuses to issue your child a visa. Apparently that rarely happens, but I did hear of a couple in that position. Being with a reputable and professional agency reduces the risk greatly.

It’s these things you try not to think about too much, while at the same time you do want to think about them so you can be as prepared as possible. Or maybe that’s just the way a person who hates roller coasters operates.

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