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Friday, September 30, 2011

If Martha made Vietnamese-- Thịt Xá Xíu (Barbequed Charred Pork)

You see I have still been cooking Vietnamese food!  Just haven't posted a new recipe in a while!
You know my head has been in China.  But when it comes to food, we just adore Vietnamese food around here!  Hoping I'll be able to find some Chinese dishes that I can cook and love just as much.  To be honest, I kinda worried poor little Mazie will come home and wonder why it's all about the Vietnamese food!  If anyone has some awesome Chinese recipes to share, or a good Chinese cook book to recommend to a Caucasian soccer mom, please let me know!

Coincidentally, this dish is a popular Chinese and Vietnamese cross over dish!  Kinda like the crazy 9s themselves!  This pork dish is often seen in Chinese restaurants with red food coloring in the marinade resulting in the pink outer layer around the pork, (You know what I'm talking about right?  The pork bits in the fried rice that have a red/pink hue on the outside?)  No need to actually add food coloring.  It's just as tasty without it.
Ignore the fish sauce in the back.  It was for another recipe. 
Ingredients
2-3 lbs of pork shoulder trimmed and cut into pieces about 1 1/2" thick and about 6" long
3 clove garlic - finely minced
2 T brown or white sugar  (will probably opt for brown sugar next time)
1/2 t Chinese five-spice powder
3 T hoisin sauce
3 T honey  (Oh ya baby!  The honey makes it sooooo good!)
1 1/2 T vinegar
3 T soy
1 t oil (sesame, vegetable, canola...)

Prepare marinade by combining all ingredients except pork.
Add pork pieces, cover, and let marinade over night, or at least 6 hours.
I think you could easily cook the pork outside on the grill, but this worked better for my purposes.  (it is still 100+ degrees outside and I simply am not going out there unless I have to!)  Be sure to line to cookie sheet with foil.  The head dish washer in charge will thank you!
Position the meat in the upper rack of the oven and grill at 475 degrees.  Baste every 5-10 minutes with left over marinade.  (I actually dipped each peace back in the marinade.  Cook 30-35 min to 145 degrees.  Don't over cook it, or it will really dry out.  But do try to char the meat a bit!
Oh the outside crispy charred bits were HEAVEN I tell you!!!!
Slice very thin and serve on white rice!
And enjoy!

Livy had a football game to attend and got to eat early.  Gotta support the JV team!
But she had to share.

(Wonderful new Vietnamese soup recipe coming up soon.  It's going to be a regular in our house!  And it had few ingredients, quick to make, and easy peasy!)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Miss Spider and we

PPS--(Pre Post Script)
See the post below--but I'm really serious...(And now SO nervous we won't get even close to 100) 
...an email wish would be awesome!!!!
now... back to the story...


Everyday after Tess and Jude get off the school bus, we have a routine of hopping on the couch and reading books together before lunch.  They quickly abandon their backpacks in the middle of the floor, race into their room, and each select a book.  Good Night Moon, is a favorite.  So is Jude's life book.  Arnie the Doughnut, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, Guess How Much I Love You, and Runaway Bunny among others.  These are favorites that come and go as time passes.  You know how favorite books go... kiddos are perfectly happy reading the exact same book day after day after day.  Again and again and again.  Till they know each character and word by heart.  Eventually they trade their favorite for a new favorite.


Tess and Jude have never had the same favorite... till now.


These days, both babes have become obsessed with David Kirk's Little Miss Spider.
It unexpectedly appeared in our after-school read pile one day.  I remembered a little about it.  Not enough.
I flipped through the pages with it's sing-song rhymes.  A little spider enters the world and can't find her mama.  She wonders where her mama is.  I was choking up on page 2 already wondering if I should have preread the book.  Got to page the 3rd to last page, and remembered the gravity of this book with such depth.  How could I forget?
Big stuff.
Big stuff in little guy format.
Little Spider's birth mama never makes an appearance in the story.  But another mama, Betty, loves Little Spider so very much, and they become a family.


It struck me like a ton of bricks.  The depth of what the content was saying to my children.  That they are loved and welcomed into this world.  And a mama, me, took a bit longer to find them.


On that first read in a long time, by that last page, I was holding back my emotions, my tears.  As I read the last page, Jude turned to me and asked, Is that the mama? pointing to Betty.  There was so much confusion in his question.  I could see his wheels turning.  How could a beetle be a mama to a spider.  Especially when they didn't look alike.


Tess and Jude have asked that this book to be read to them at least once a day for weeks now.  The binding is now coming off, and we all know the words by heart now.


I find myself still fighting back the tears when I read it, and I know it has something to do with my own little China spider still waiting for a mama to call her own.  I want the book to be a catalyst for Tess and Jude, not scary stuff that makes mamas cry.


They ask questions every. single. time.  Tess is fascinated by Bity, (or Bettle Betty) and gets so excited and smiles broadly when Betty saves Little Spider from the birds.  Tess keeps asking about Betty.  Where is Bity?  Bity is very pretty! she adds.
Jude asks more in depth questions, mostly things like, Where is spider's mama?  Why isn't her mama there?  Whose home is that?  

You can see the processing so clearly that I'm surprised there isn't smoke pouring our their ears.


I am fully aware of the controversial messages some folks think this book sends to adoptees.  Some of you adoptive parents may like this book and others may not.  I can see both the pros and the cons.  For us, I will say that this book is working as a catalyst for my littles to express themselves and ask questions.  I'm going to continue sitting there right next to them, discussing the issues.  So for now, I think this is good stuff, so we'll keep reading it to them and talking about it as long as they ask.

Is this book in your library?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Soliciting 100 Wishes - 百家被


Dear Family and Friends,

While we are waiting for the arrival of Mimi, we are working on a project in which we would really really love your participation!  We are creating a 百家被 or "100-Good-Wishes Quilt" to welcome our lil potsticker home!
There is a tradition in China that helps embrace a new child into a family and a community-
To welcome and celebrate a new life, there is a tradition in China to make a Bai Jia Bei, or 100 Good Wishes Quilt. It is a custom to invite 100 people to contribute a single square patch of cloth. The 100 patches are sewn together into a quilt that contains the luck, energy, and good wishes from all the families and friends who contributed a piece of fabric. The quilt is then passed down from generation to generation.
I mean can you imagine it?  Wrapping a child, whose beginnings certainly did not have much "welcoming," into a new family and a new home and community, with such love?!  The quilt will be the literal embodiment of f all the love and welcoming that every single child deserves.  That our Mazie deserves!
So ,if you'd like to participate in literally wrapping our potsticker in luck and energy, good wishes and love, we'd like to invite you to contribute to her own 100-Good-Wishes Quilt.

To participate:

You can send an 6"x6" square of fabric, 100% cotton.  The fabric square can be something you purchase new or pieces cut from clothing or other item of significance.  The print may be something that represents you or where your from, just something you fancy!  Fabric squares may be embroidered, adorned with fabric paint, (just the middle please as we'll be cutting the squares down.) or left perfectly plain.  
Please include a "wish."  A wish could be written on a card, stationary, index card, scrap paper, or even a post-it if that's what's handy!  What ever is convenient!  Wishes could be your greeting, a prayer, favorite bible verse, future advice, poem, favorite quote, song lyrics...  If you'd like to explain the significance of the chosen fabric or print, or include a picture of who it is from, please do.  Please email me, nancyvnjourney@hotmail.com, for our address if you don't have it already.


My mom, who has made a quilt for each of her grandchildren, has agreed to put the quilt together.  Lucky me!  And I'll be compiling the "wishes" into a scrapbook.  I will scan each fabric square and match it with your corresponding wish, so that when Mimi is older, she will be able to look through her scrapbook and match each square on her quilt with its message from you.  


I plan on keeping y'all updated with how the quilt project is going, and there is a little box over there on the right sidebar that I'll be updating.  And I'll be posting pics of the squares that come in!  I am really hoping that we can make the goal of 100 squares!  Surely I'll be posting as my mom and I start piecing the quilt together.  And of course I'll show y'all the finished product, with Mazie wrapped up in it!


We hope that you'll choose to participate.  100 is a lot, and I'm hoping that I'm not dreaming too big!  
Maybe, {optimistically she says} just maybe 100 is possible.  It will be something from you that our li'l potsticker will have and cherish forever, knowing that ultimately she was welcomed with abundant well wishes and love.  


I can imagine her being covered by all those good wishes every night!

Our youngest 4 each wrapped in their own quilts.

PS-I'll gladly reciprocate a good-wishes quilt square and/or wish!  Give me a holler if you'd like.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Conrad

Meet Conrad.
Beloved, tattered, dirty, patched, and resewn Conrad.
Jude's Conrad.
Jude has kept one of his self-soothers from the orphanage.  When he is tired he used to stick his thumb in the collar of his shirt and rub his thumb underneath with his fingers.  With the introduction on Conrad, he now sticks his thumb in Conrad's shirt as he doses off each afternoon and evening.
We don't go anywhere without Conrad.

the long road

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Qwirkle

More neat stuff worthy of passing on.  
We had this game, Qwirkle, in our cupboard, and I honestly have no idea where it came from!  If you happen to be the person that gave it to us, ('cause I can't remember buying it for the life of me!) and I forgot to send a thank you note, I am so very sorry.  You see I was abducted by aliens and didn't get around to writing my thank you notes.  Jackie Kennedy is surely rolling in her grave!  But please rest assured, we LOVE this game!
Grammy visited last weekend and this game was played no less than 4,309 times.  And the shocking part was that by Sunday we were still playing and still enjoying the game!
It took a while to get the hang of it.  But as soon as we figured out that it was a cross between Scrabble and Dominoes it was so fun!   Some good thinking going on and strategy too.
Boo just turned 9 and is in 3rd grade, and he picked it up SO quickly.  But fun for adults too, cause if I have to play one more game of Chutes and Ladders or Hi Ho Cheerio you might have to commit me somewhere.  Which sounds kinda nice actually.
See Grammy... no pics!  I'm true to my word!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

万玟

She has a name!

It was fun.  But it was also so much more difficult that I had imagined.  Both bio and adopted, we've never named any of our children prior to holding them in our arms, and there is still something about that I have a hard time with.  

But last night, I finally got around to opening many lengthy attachments in an email from my agency.  Contained were several documents that needed her new name, like now!  And the docs needed to be forwarded to the agency yesterday.  Oops.  Guess I should have opened it earlier.  We had the first name kinda settled on at that point, but the middle name wasn't even close to being settled.  Nothing seemed to "go" with the first name had we picked.  I left it up to the big girls at the breakfast table, but they couldn't agree.  Papa was so done with any talk of names at that point.  Patch decided her middle name should be Felizitas.  Not a clue where he came up with that, but I looked it up, and it's actually a name.  
Then a lovely email from a bloggie friend that offered to help translate her given Chinese name.  It was a perfect fit.  Amazing how that happens.

So here is the name perfect for our new little precious gem-

Mimi Jade Wanwen

Mimi-  Mimi was my paternal grandmother's {my very favorite grandmother's} name.  I can not tell you how much I miss her.  She was an amazing, incredibly strong, women that someday I will gain the strength to write about.  She only had 2 grandchildren, me and my brother, and you can imagine how we were adored.  The feeling was mutual.  She passed away unexpectedly 3 days after we returned home with Tess and Jude.  Now Mimi is her not her given name.  It is her blog name that we'll use here since I feel this way about names and all.  But Mimi is actually a nickname that we'll actually use since is a actually a name my grandmother went by too.  

Jade - See below.  Again, our precious gem.
Wanwen  Her given name in China.  
The first part of her name, Wan (pronounced "won") means "ten thousand" or "a great number."  The second character in her given name is Wen. (pronounced "wen")  It refers to the texture or the vein of jade, a precious stone of course.  It indicates that the child is precious to his/her parents and whoever cares about her.  
In China the two names are put together, (as we might call someone RoseMary or JimBob) and more importantly the two names are interpreted together as one meaning, both literally and figuratively.  The two meanings come together to help interpret and modify one another and emphasize the significance.  I've interpreted her China name (hopefully not incorrectly) to mean an abundance of something precious and treasured.  Oh yes,  that would be very very accurate indeed!

My grandmother, Mazie, explained that when I was a bitty girl, that I couldn't pronounce Grandma and she never liked her name Mazie anyways, so she had me call her Mimi, as it was easy for a little one to pronounce.  I falsely assumed for at least a couple decades that Mimi was a diminutive of grandmother like Grammy or Nana.   I never knew it was a name in it's own right.  I always called her Mimi, as others did too.  I'm not sure if our Mazie will end up adopting this nickname as well, but it's a likely scenario.  


This one from just after her 1st birthday, toothless grin, with a couple owies that make me want to scoop her up and make it all better.
Our beautiful and precious girl,  shaved head and all!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {Payback}

My mom got tired of my prom dresses taking up valuable space in her closets!  I mean it's only been 25-ish years!
So what's a middle age woman to do with her prom dresses?

Torture her teenage daughters of course!
Will you humor me girls and try them on?

What's that you say?  You're not going to put them on?
I feed you!
I put a roof over your head and food on the table!
I birthed you in 90 minutes without the aid of pain relief I'll have you know!
I control your social life!
I pay your cell phone and texting bill!
Oh that's better, Sunny and Liv!  I thought you'd see it my way.
Yes, there's a hoop skirt under there!
Yes, that's yards of cheap pastel pink satin.
Yes, that's a lot of polyester lace.
Yes, that's a heavy dose of Jessica McClintock-esque design.
I believe matching lace gloves, a head full of ringlets, and a bitchen 1984 Corvette completed the look.
My faltering memory says the pink dress was just under $100, and the cream one was around $60.
Watching my girls embarrass themselves have fun... priceless.






Sunday Snapshot

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chapter 3 - Alphabet soup

PA!  We now have it!  The official date is 9/7/11!   And yes, the best part about that is that we are already 9 days into our LOA wait!  Good stuff indeed!

Ok, I assume the audience of this blog falls into 2 camps.
Camp 1 are folks who know exactly what a PA and LOA are and could explain verbatim what those letters stand for and their implications, because they've been in our adoption shoes,
-or-
Camp 2 are our friends and family who love us to pieces but have no clue what all the alphabet soup means.

So, for camp 2, here's the run down of what's coming down the shoot and a timeline to getting our China Potsticker home!
(Camp 1, please feel free to indulge in chocolate or treat yourself to a pedicure during this segment of the blog.)

------LOI - Letter Of Intent - A letter Papa and I wrote to China expressing our interest in adopting Potsticker.  Ours was already sent to China on 9/6/11

------PA - Pre-Approval - After China authorities looks over our LOI, they issue this official document specifically for us to adopt Potsticker.  PA usually takes about a week.  Ours took 1 day and was issued on 9/7/11

------LOA - Letter Of Acceptance - This is the official approval from China for our family to specifically adopt Potsticker.  The China gov't will translate our dossier and combine them with Potsticker's dossier.  They look them all over to make sure it's a good match and that we meet all the requirements to adopt her.  The wait for LOA varies significantly, from 14 days to 136 days. We are currently on day #9.  Average wait time is usually around  2 1/2 months.  (Fingers crossed for sooner!)  LOA is a big deal!

------I800 approval - Immediately after LOA, we will apply for a visa from the US gov't to bring our new daughter home.  This process takes about 2-3 weeks.

------NVC - After our application for Potsticker's visa has been approved, US officials of the USCIS, will cable this approval to the US Embassy in Guangzhou, China.  The USCIS will also forward us a letter stating that they have cabled the approval to the China Embassy.  We expect this part of the process to take 1-2 weeks.

------Article 5 - Our agency will take the above letter we received and forward to China for us.  An agency rep will take the letter (and a pile of other docs we submit) to the US Embassy in China, so US officials can look it all over.  They will then issue the ever-coveted Article 5 letter which allows to get get physical custody of Potsticker.  Getting our Article 5 letter will take 2 weeks.

------TA - Travel Approval - Our agency rep in China will pick up our Article 5 letter from the US Embassy and deliver it to the China gov't agency, who will issue Travel Approval giving us approval to finally get on the plane to get our new daughter!  It usually takes 2-3 weeks to get TA.

------CA appointment - The last step (finally!) is for our agency to make an appointment with the US Embassy in Guangzhou, China, for us to attend in person, with Potsticker and get her actual visa, which is just a sticker and is really quite anti-climactic!  Appointments are scheduled about 1-2 months out.  We will actually get Potsticker about 1 week prior to this appointment date.  As soon as this appointment is made, plane reservations will be made and the hotel booked!

Anybody nauseous yet?  Add it all up and you get 5-8 months till we travel.  Right now we are praying that we'll be able to meet our sweet baby girl before her 2nd birthday in March.  There's a chance that's possible.  But it could be as late as May.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

BFFs

Do you remember that friend you had when you were 15?
The one you passed notes to, about the cute guy in your chemistry class?

The one who slept over at your house every other weekend and you talked and giggled into the night with?
The one you were so grateful to have freshman PE with?

The one who knew the combination to your locker?
The one you went shopping with for homecoming dresses, then got ready for the dance together?
The one who gave you a hug when that cute guy didn't ask you to dance?

The one you learned to drive with and sang to the radio at the top of your lungs?
The one you wanted to share a dorm room with in college?

The one who stood by your side at the church alter as you married?
The one who held your babies in the hospital hours after they were born?

The one you still call for advice when your 15-year-old daughter gets in trouble for not paying attention in chemistry class?

I need to go make a phone call.
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