slide show

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

LOA in pictures

The LOA was only in our house about 4 hours.  Papa and I signed and happily checked the box yes, saying "We accept the adoptee."  
Jude and Tess helped me ship it off to the US gov't, and now we wait for Mimi's visa approval.  
Hurry up and wait.  
Another wonderful day!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Day #83 of waiting, and it has finally finally come!!!!!!  The LOA, or letter of acceptance, is basically a letter from China authorities that say that they have looked over our paperwork and looked over sweet little WanWen's (Mimi's) paperwork, hooked them together and approved us to adopt her!  
It's a huge freakin' deal!
It's official, she's ours!  
She's ours!  
We have a new daughter!  

The funny part, is that out of our 5 phones in this house, we have not a single blasted phone that works.  We're down to only one that actually works (the others are broken or MIA) and of course over the holiday weekend, the battery went dead, and now we can't find it either!  Now every time the phone rings, I have to run back to our bathroom, sit on the commode and answer the only phone in the house, the one that's attached to that wall.  Sobbing tears of happiness and praise on the commode as I received this glorious news!  
Yes, it was closed.  
The kiddos are so so excited too!  Patch and Boo keep telling the littles,  Baby Mimi is coming!  Jude is ready to get in the car right now and go get her!
Wonderful wonderful news today!  Thank you, God!
Little WanWen, we're coming eventually!  Coming to wrap you in love and kiss your adorable cheeks and squeeze the stuffin' out of you!  

PS- I think I'll take Papa phone shopping tonight to celebrate!


Thanks to the holidays, I've been a cooking and baking fool these days.
And I went out on a limb this year... I tried brand new, unproven recipes for Thanksgiving for company!  I know!  Scary stuff, but that's just how I roll!  Livin' life on the edge!  Ya, I'm a rebel!

Wanted to share some of the new recipes that I've tried the last few weeks in case you need some new ideas.  None of these recipes are hard. I don't do hard mostly because I just don't have the time for it.

Hello Lover!  
If you love it so much why don't you marry it?  
I think I just may!  Crazy Mrs. Peanut Butter Pie has a nice ring to it.  
This pie is so rich that a very very small slice was plenty.  Easy enough to make, and even though I'd never made a chocolate ganache before, that was easy too!  Skipped the garnish and just used a store-bought ghram cracker crust because I'm that lazy.  Use the hot knife trick mentioned in the recipe!

Oh yes, will definitely add this to our dinner menu.  I did add chicken to this to make it a bit heartier for dinner, and cheap ol' Roma tomatoes were just fine instead of cherry.  I also liberally added the balsamic vinegar that the recipe says is optional.  Severed with a salad and a loaf of crusty bread and everyone at the dinner table loved it and said I should make it again.  

I will never purchase already baked rolls for a holiday supper again.  Ever.  I promise.  These rolls were almost as wonderful as the second coming.  It was the hit of the meal.  We all gained at least 5 extra lbs each... and it was worth it.  

Was looking for some new ideas to expand our breakfast menu, and these did the trick.  Fast and easy enough to do for the kiddos before school and well liked.  I need to play with the amount of the time they spend int he oven to make sure they're not over or under done, but definitely will be adding to our menu.  I might precook the bacon to make it even easier in the morning.  (PS-Love love to cook bacon in the oven! So easy and far less mess.)

My kiddos adore pumpkin butter, and I adore anything that get pumpkin in their diet.  Pumpkin is so so good for you!  Think apple butter, but no apples, pumpkin instead.  We spread it on toast, or pancakes, or biscuits, or when I'm not looking Sunny tries to eat it directly from the spoon.  I've tried a few recipes for it, and I like this one because it doesn't have pectin and it doesn't have as much sugar as other recipes.  I do cut back the cinnamon a bit.  It's super easy to make and makes a great hostess gift too... unless your kiddos eat it all first.  

I was sick and tired of buying canned chicken broth at the grocery store.  It's stupidly expensive, and it seems every soup recipe I need it for calls for 8 cans at least.  So my sister in law and I decided to give-'er-a-go and I'm never buying that expensive yellow water again.  It's ridiculously easy to make chicken stock.  Fiddle with the herbs and veggies to what you have on hand.  Then I can a whole bunch of it and save it in the pantry.  I only make it when I have a chicken carcass on hand, after some kind of chicken meal.  (Turkey carcass is in the freezer as we speak waiting for next week's stock making.)  And I discovered that stock makes the most amazing rice when used instead of water!

Wonderful appetizer that isn't served hot so you can take it to a potluck!  Bite sized, these were eaten as fast as I could make them on Thanksgiving day!  Will so so so so make again.  The girls and I made them days ahead time and froze them, then put them int he fridge to thaw the day before.  Garnished with cream cheese and bacon last minute, (and sage since I had some fresh in my garden) and they didn't take up much time at all.  they were possible one of the top 10 appetizers ever!!!

I'm totally not a fan of these Pillsbury rolls, except for that part when you pop open the can and the rolls come bursting out of the can!  That's always fun even when you're 43!  But this was made from Sunny's request in lieu of a cake for her birthday brunch.  How could I say no?  So I made it and it was a sugary hit!  I'll do it again for sure, but I think I'll find a recipe that uses regular bread dough instead.  The younger kiddos had fun making it though and popping open the cans!
Another one we'll definitely add to our dinner rotation.  It has cream in it!  What's not to love?  Coming from my Irish-American heritage, finding some whiskey in the back of a cupboard wasn't hard.  The recipe calls for heavy whipping cream.  I substituted 1/2 and 1/2 just fine.  Served with a tomato-basil salad and again, some crusty bread.  There were no left overs.  

Saved the best one for last.  I'm not a fan of tomato soup.  Never have been.  But Sunny, our foodie-in-training, kept going back to the same restaurant to get a particular tomato soup, and asked if I could try and make something similar at home.  This has been made multiple times since.  I cut the veggies very small and add zucchini or some kind of squash too.  Again, I substitute 1/2 and 1/2 for the cream cause really, who needs the extra fat, and this soup is still quite rich.  And I substituted about 1/2 of the canned tomatoes for fresh since they were on sale for 33cents a lb.  No, I didn't peel them either.  Serve totally alone, or with grilled cheese sandwiches, and you'd think I was Julia Child!

Holler if you try any of them.  Would love to know what your family thought!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {Sunny turns 18}

She was born on Thanksgiving.  Just a few minutes after midnight she made her arrival.  And I was discharged from the hospital just after noon that very same day, so I could host Thanksgiving dinner at my home that day.  Oh to be young again!  I didn't do much but sit in a chair with my less-than-24-hour-old newborn and said hi to the family as they came in with the food.  
It's hard to believe that was 18 years ago.  
She was my first.  
That makes her special in many ways. 
How old are you today?   I 'm a whopping eighteen...can you imagine that?  It was just yesterday I was a youngin!
What did you pick for your birthday dinner?  Weeeeeelll I don't like dinner, I like lunch and breakfast, so I had a birthday brunch.  My mommy made me some pumpkin monkey bread :)

What are your favorite foods and why?  I loveeeee french fries, pho, peanut butter, brie, oooo and tomato soup.  O yah and why..hmmm... just cause that's what my tastes buds fancy!
What's your favorite color? Yellow, enough said. O wait and teal and a bright orange....o and maybe red and pink.  O yes and purple.  Maybe a little blue.  Well I guess I can't leave out brown and black and white too.  What did I forget...O yah and green!

If you could live anywhere, where would you live and why?  I would live in a big house outside of a big city in southern California.  That would be amazing!  That would be the best of both worlds.  It's a nice place to live, and it's by the beach.  

Do you like school?  I don't like the stairs at school, but the actual buildings?  Yah I guess they are pretty nice, I mean they are very architecturally sound!
Who are your best friend(s)? Livy and S (and my mommy...shhhh don't tell her!)

What do you want to do when you grow up? don't think I care what I do as long as I can provide for my family and can afford the lifestyle I want.

What is something you do well?  EVERYTHING! No!  'm just kidding, I would like to think I'm someone people can look to for help.  I think that maybe those are some of the best qualities a person can have.  I think I acquired those from my parents.
What is something you'd like to do better? I would like to learn to be a better listener.  I think that if I could listen and hear and understand other peoples views and opinions I would learn a lot about the people I have known my whole life.  I think that would be really cool if i could learn something new about someone I spend everyday with if all I had to do was listen.
Who is your role model? I'm not sure I have found my one person that is my ultimate role model.  I look to a lot of people in my life for guidance, but I don't have one person I go to.  Maybe my idea of who I want to be is my role model for me today.  More of a goal than someone to lean on in order to get there.

Sunday Snapshot

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

For no other reason that it makes me smile...

Yep, still a hoarder.
Still so insanely cute it's helping me not dwell on the bullying stuff for now.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


One of my kiddos has been the target of some bullying.  Because several of my children and several of their friends, and several of my friends read this blog, it's probably best to not say which one.  If you're close to us, you probably know which one it is.

So we've known that there has been "issues" and "incidents" in the past.  Like over the past few years.  And we have chosen to deal with them at home.  Discussing appropriate ways to deal with name calling.  Who to tell.  Discussing what a man of character really looks like.  And until now, we've always felt we had a handle on it. But unbeknownst to us, things haven't really changed.  We've given sweetie pie some methods to deal with bullying, but it's continued.  And as a child ages, these things start to impact one's soul.  We could narrow it down to a couple specific kiddos as the source of the problem, but to be honest, it sounds as if there is a bigger issue at hand.  One where our sweetie finds themselves at the bottom of the pecking order.

Today's after-school homework session escalated into a very angry child.  Too angry.  Something told this mama that there was more at play than a forgotten assignment.  Up to my elbows in pies and gravy and cranberry sauce, all the turkey-day prep was literally put aside so I could do some active parenting.  We talked, I dug a bit, some of it came out.  I dug about a bit more.  Then the tears started to flow. Anger gave way to sadness.  Depression.  More details.  It's so hard to say the names aloud, even to your mama.  Even school "friends" getting in on the action.

In the end I heard, Thank you, Mama.  Thank you for helping me with this school stuff.  Ya, then my tears welled up.  This child is simply amazing.  Rising to a challenge.  Finding their place in the world, with a heart for God and a spirit I truly envy.

So we're taking the next step.  We're reaching out for help.  Asking the school to step up.  Maybe we should have done so sooner.  I'll resort to one of my mantras.  I do the best I can with what I have at the time.  Now I know.  Now I'll do better.  For my child.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'll take 'em.

I have no dinner prepared tonight.
And the house is a disaster.
And company is coming tomorrow morning.
Oh well.
Some things are more important.

Bullying Part II

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {Jude in Black & White}

He has learned how to surf the web.  Papa has installed some safety precautions, and we regularly hear the "bing" on Papa's cell phone alerting us when Jude has stolen away somewhere (usually behind a closed door in a end table) with Papa's tablet and is trying to make a purchase.  Spider man movies and videos games are his favorites.  

He still has to sleep with Conrad.  And even though we've repaired him many times, Conrad continues to get holes.  And is pretty ratty in general.  I'm not sure he's going to survive another round with the washing machine.  And I'm not sure Jude would accept a newer version of Conrad, although I'm pretty sure Build-a-Bear still sells them.
He knows how to operate NetFlix way better than me.  It's scary.  

He's all boy.  He's pretty consumed with weapons and all superheros, but especially Spider Man and Ice Man.  I have no idea who Ice Man is, except that Boo told me he's Spider Man's friend.  According to Jude, Ice Man shoots ice out of his wrists or fingertips... I'm not sure which.  And I guess this ultimately culminates in abducting bad guys, and securing world peace.  And despite that we've never had gun-type toys in our home, he's almost always making gun sounds.  
Left to his own, he'd be a vegetarian.  The boy loves loves loves fruits and vegetables.  Tell the boy we're having a salad for dinner, and he's seriously excited.  Probably his favorite is tomatoes.  He'll eat 2 at every sitting if I could keep that many in stock.  

He's one of the shyest children I have.  If approached when we're out and about, he'll pull his head in his shirt then bury his head in my leg.  Thus his preschool teachers are still concerned about developing his vocabulary and language skills, which is pretty tough with a child that won't talk to you.  At home, he's a chatter box.  Seriously I can not shut him up.  
He's asking questions.  With Mazie's upcoming arrival, he's asking where he was before we came to get him and about the folks that cared for him.  Questions I will never have the answers to.  He's especially consumed with the man that is holding him in these pictures.  He wants to know his name.  I have to say again, that I don't know, but surely this man loved him.  I know big questions are still to come.  Why didn't we come sooner?  How did he get there?  And one of these days we will surely run into a pregnant lady, and his wheels will start turning.  

Sunday Snapshot

Saturday, November 19, 2011

In honor of National Adoption month


Once there were two women who never knew each other
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother
Two different lives shaped to make you one
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun
The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it
The first gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name
One gave you a talent, the other gave you aim
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried you tears
One made an adoption plan, that was all that she could do
The other prayed for a child, and God led her straight to you.
Now, which of these two women, Are you the product of?
Both, my darling, Both, Just two different types of love.

---- Unknown

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The cutest smile in the whole wide world!

A surprise.
An update of our sweet gorgeous ever-growing Mimi Jade!
Compete with modestly stuffed animal to cover up split pants.  
Did you see all the teeth?  10 of them to be exact!
And who, by the way, is finally walking!
It appears that there might be a serious cowlick issue.  
She is described as "easy going" and very attached to her foster mama and likes to be held by her!

She is still tiny!  Which Tess will likely be happy about because Tess keeps thinking Mimi is about the size of a hamster, and I don't know how to explain to her that at 2 years old Mimi might be bigger than her.  

Proud papa and mama, and brothers and sisters waiting half way across the world.
the long road

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I grew up in a van down by the river.

Ok, not really.

It was actually a 1967 Volkswagen Westfalia pop-top bus.
And it wasn't the river... it was the Sea of Cortez.
And ok... coming clean, I didn't literally "grow up" in that van.  Although there was a long stint of my childhood where we did live in said Volkswagen bus.  Say... around the age of 3.  There was a little built in kitchen.  And a bed.  And curtains.   It was the early 70's after all.  Think kinda hippie-esque.  Think clothing optional.
Santa Cruz, Jalisco, Mexico, 1972
This river feeds into a bay that goes out to the ocean.
I guess literally this time it is "a van down by the river."

Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico, 1972
Typical camp set up.  Gotta love the sunshade on the windshield.
And the way the doors were always open for maximum ventilation. 
That car was a part of my childhood.  That car was my friend.
There certainly was no air conditioning.  No McDonald's french fries and goldfish scattered about.  No cup holders.  No GPS.  No video player.  No car seats, seat belts, or restraint system of any form.  I'm sure there was no satellite radio.  Or a cell phone at an arm's length.  No moon roof.  Surely no traveling at 65 miles per hour.

Like I said, I was quite little, so I don't remember much.  I do remember some things vividly, although I'm not sure accurately.
Central Baja, Mexico, 1972
Camping surely because the top is popped.  
There was a collection of seashells.  There was a constant rattling of canned food.  There were open windows and wind in my hair.  And Joni Mitchell.  And lots of Loggins & Messina, although I can't tell you how the music actually played.  And a mini fridge we had to put ice in to keep things cold.  And a little fold up table we ate breakfast at.  And the tiniest little closet.

I remember the sunsets even way back then.
Outside Guadalajara, Mexico, 1972
Eating watermelon on the side of the road.
I'm the little one.  Don't miss the surf boards on the roof rack.  
There was fresh fish and shrimp for almost every meal.  And amazing fresh fruit everywhere.  And there were carved sticks to roast marshmallows with at night.  And I think I remember wild flowers lying on the dash.  And sand between my toes in the morning and the heat of sunshine on my skin.  And a little Instamatic.  And of course the ocean that I learned to skin dive in at the ripe age of 3.  And the most amazing papa, that set out to intentionally raise his daughter, alone.  He was 23.  I was 3.  There was a roof rack which I rode on for hundreds of miles at the thrilling speed of 15 miles per hour because we couldn't travel any faster on those roads.
These are the things of my childhood.
1st Estuary outside Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico, 1971
My very favorite part is the bandanna around my waist turning the too-big shirt into a dress.  
Or maybe it's the little closet.
Or my dad's sunhat.
No wait... it's the fact that neither of us have shoes on.  I don't think we wore shoes for a couple years.  
Maybe I did grow up some in that van.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sunday Snapshot (Misty-eyed}

I've been a little misty-eyed these days.
Sunny getting ready to head out for good.  She's so excited.   So proud.  Me too... but still misty eyed.
Patch left to hike the Grand Canyon this weekend, and my heart felt like he was going away for months.  I made sure he had sunblock and Chapstick before he went out the door.  And Tiger Milk bars in his pockets.  That's what mamas do.

Waiting for this LOA seems to be taking an eternity.  66 days so far.  Hoping, praying they'll say yes to this crazy family.  Do they ever say no?  And why is it taking so long?  There are no answers.
Maybe it's the change of seasons and cooler weather.  There's been lots of cloud cover these days and the almost ever-present Arizona sunshine is gone.
Or maybe it's the recent stream of music on my iPod, like here.  Kind of melancholy and saying the things I'm feeling.
Not sure what it is, but I see my life changing, my brood getting older, a little more grey and a few more wrinkles.  Praying for the wisdom that they say accompanies such changes.

Hoping I didn't scar any of them permanently.
Hoping they won't go too far and will come back to the nest now and then.
Not sure what I did to deserve the richness of the blessings I've been given.
Falling short, but still trying hard to earn it.
PS-These photos have little to do with this post.  Kinda.
Baby girl is just getting older.
When the flip did that happen?
I wasn't looking, and it just seemed to happened.
Someone make it stop!

Sunday Snapshot

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