Sunday, March 29, 2009

Its a Spaceship!! (can't you tell??)



Who knew that an empty toilet paper box could be so much fun?!?! Today this box was a spaceship AND a pirate ship. Apparently there's a fascination with ships around here....

Last Weekend...

This was happening at our house. That's right...two brothers...one SMALL space...a toilet and a sink. We got ourselves a new bathroom! We are now the proud owners of a 1 1/2 bathroom house!! Which means we have a bathroom on our second story. WooHoo!!


Thank you big brother for spending your weekend helping us. And thank you "little" brother for donating your weekend to help, too. We owe you. And we all love you.

In case you were wondering...

Jellybean has now lost 3 of his front teeth in the past 2 weeks (the third one came out today - "on accident" - after Peanut "crashed" into him during a game). At this rate he won't have any teeth left to bite into anything.

I was joking with him this afternoon that he wouldn't be able to eat any food if he kept losing his teeth. And he just simply told me he'd "eat soft food". LOL!

I'll try to get a photo of his tooth-less grin tomorrow!

Tonight I just have to remember that the Tooth Fairy has an appointment tonight!

Uncertainty

Today was one of "those days". When you're in the midst of an emotional journey, some days are ok and others are tough. Today was a tough day...precipitated by the fact that I got two emails regarding the death of a certain little girl in an orphanage across the ocean. This little girl was special to us...important to us...an unoffical part of our family. Unfortunately, she wasn't officially a part of our family and so we are being told we can't find out anything about her or what caused her death. And the agency director was a bit "snippy" in her last email, which only makes me want to get defensive and really tell her what I actually think about this whole situation. I've restrained myself all weekend; mostly because I am sure that I would say something that I would eventually regret...and because I also know that it likely wouldn't do any good to speak my mind anyway.

This whole situation has made me feel less and less certain about our adoption plans. It isn't that I don't want to adopt again; I just am feeling less sure about adopting from Ghana again. Now I have to say before I launch into this discussion that we have been totally and utterly happy with our agency (AAI). They are doing great things in Ghana (and elsewhere)...they strive to do all the "right" things...and we know when we work with them that the focus of their energy is on the kids and doing what's right by them.

I can't say for sure what it is that's making me think Ghana might not be where child #3 is. It isn't that I don't love Ghana...because I do. Its just that I sort of feel like that door is closing inch-by-inch for us. Maybe things will change. And maybe I'm just in that fickle "I have no idea what we are doing" stage. I don't know.

But today I read this post by my friend Carolyn at Project HOPEFUL. And my first thought was "hmm...Eastern Europe...maybe we could do that..."

At this point there's no knowing where we'll end up, or if we'll end up taking the plunge to start another adoption process. But right now, there are infinite possibilities.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jail. Again.

On Tuesday morning, I went to jail. Again. To get my fingerprints done. Again.

Apparently, the fingerprints I had taken two months ago weren't good enough for the FBI and they were rejected. So, I had to head back to the local Sheriff's department to get my fingerprints re-done.

When we adopted the boys, this step wasn't necessary for our homestudy...and I would happily by-pass it again if I could. Two months ago when I got my fingerprints done, Z and I went in together...there was lots of laughing and joking with the officer who did the fingerprints...and by the end of our appointment he was telling Z he needed to apply for a job there. This time around, I got an officer with some clear anger-management issues. He was frustrated with the machine, he was frustrated with my fingers...he was frustrated with the FBI for not clearing my prints last time when clearly "that's as good as their gonna get!"

After 40 minutes and SEVERAL scans of each of my fingers, I left the jail booking area with a new fingerprint card that I am fairly certain will have the same fate as the last one - rejection by the FBI. After a couple of months of processing, of course.

So this means we'll have to sit on our hands for another couple of months with no homestudy approval and no decision about our adoption plans.

When we began this adoption process, we honestly thought there was a real possibility that Twinkie could be coming home to us this summer. At this rate summer will pass by and we won't even have a completed homestudy. There have been so many starts, stops, pauses, and "putting things on hold" during this adoption process as we waited for things in Ghana to figure themselves out. We didn't think this is where we would be several months in. Its frustrating and overwhelming to think about how long we've been at this.

It all makes me think I should just throw up my hands and say "I get it! I'm done already. This is the end of our adoption journey."

But the problem is, in my gut it doesn't FEEL like this should be the end. Not yet. Maybe I'm just in denial.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Today's Calendar Post

"The state of one's soul is more important than outward appearance."
-Tanzanian Proverb

Help

An update about how you can help with caring for the children who are now motherless (again) without Haregewoin. She had more than 50 children in her care; 42 of which are HIV+. GO HERE for information on how you can help.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sad News from Ethiopia

For those of you who have read Melissa Fay Greene's There Is No Me Without You, you will recognize the name Haregewoin Teferra. She passed away today. She was an amazing woman with an amazing story. The world is a better place because she lived in it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

African Wisdom

I have a calendar on my desk at work that has a daily African Proverb.

My favorite proverb so far has been:
"A wise monkey is a monkey who does not monkey with another's monkey." -Sierra Leonean proverb


Here's the proverb from March 14th (it seems fitting at this period of my life):

"Too many bends on a footpath do not prevent one from reaching one's destination."
-Cameroonian Proverb

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Red Red

I've made this a few times now, and everytime I make it the boys have LOVED it. If I go too long without making Red-Red, I start getting requests for it. Tonight I made it and the boys each ate 3 helpings!! I'm not sure how they manage to pack that much away, though...I think its pretty heavy and I get full after 1!!

This is a Ghanaian dish that is pretty mild in flavor, is filling, and still has that distinct African taste.

I've modified this recipe a bit from one that I saw on another blog and quickly borrowed for my own use (was it Emily who posted it first??)

Red Red
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup Red Palm oil
red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 can diced or stewed tomatoes
2 cans black eyed peas, rinsed
2 shrimp maggi cubes

In large skillet, saute the onions in the red palm oil until translucent. While onions are cooking, add garlic and red pepper flakes. When onions are cooked, add the tomatoes and shrimp maggi cubes. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas and continue simmering for 10-15 minutes (on medium-low heat).

Serve over rice. I also serve Fried Plantains with our Red Red.

This time, I added fish to our Red Red. When I was at the grocery store this week, I noticed that frozen Tilapia fillets were on sale, so I grabbed a bag of them thinking they might be a good addition to the Red Red. While the mixture was simmering, I added 3 thawed Tilapia fillets. After about 10 minutes they were cooked through and when I stirred the mixture, they just flaked apart. I have to admit this addition was a GREAT one - we all really enjoyed the added fish this time.

Fried Plantains
2 very ripe Plantains (like almost black)
Oil for cooking
Salt to taste

I know that to be authentic Ghanaian fried plantains I would have to pan fry them in Red Palm Oil. But...I have tried this a few times and always have trouble with it. In order to get the oil hot enough to fry the plantains, it starts smoking in the kitchen and then the smoke detectors start going off. Every time. And then the whole house smells like burning red palm oil for a few days. While I like the flavor, it just isn't worth it to me...so I use a different method.

I peel the plantains, and cut them diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces. Pan fry them in vegetable oil until brown, turning over to fry the other side after a couple minutes. At this point, I remove them from the oil, sprinkle with salt, take a fork and squish them flat. Then quickly fry them again for a couple minutes. This makes them extra crispy and yummy!

Sinking In

Yesterday the boys and I spent the morning running errands (and getting the boys haircuts). On the way home, I overheard the boys discussing some important issues like who they should listen to and how Jellybean thought that Peanut should listen to him because he's older and he's just trying to help him not get into trouble. You know, deep big-brother type conversations. After a while they started discussing who Twinkie should listen to. They thought for sure that Twinkie should listen to mommy and daddy and grandma and grandpa...and Jellybean...and finally they decided that because Twinkie is younger he should also listen to Peanut.

As the conversation continued, I felt the sharp pain in my heart as I realized I was going to have to talk with the boys about how Twinkie was not going to come live with us as we had hoped he would.

Me: "Boys, how would it make you feel if Twinkie didn't come live with us?"

Peanut: "Sad...and mad"
Jellybean: "Really sad"

Me: "Why would it make you feel that way?"

Peanut: "Because...."
Jellybean: "Because we love Twinkie. And we want him to live with us in the new house."

Me: "I know you do...and mommy and daddy do, too. But sometimes things don't work out the way you want them to. Mommy and daddy said we would try to bring Twinkie to live with us...but he might not come."

Me: "How would you feel if Twinkie stayed with your Ghana mommy?"

Peanut: "Sad...I want Twinkie to live with us"

Me: "I know you do. But I think its really hard for your Ghana mommy to say goodbye to Twinkie. And I think if Twinkie came to live with us it would make your Ghana mommy really sad. So if Twinkie doesn't come to live with us we'll just have to pray for him and ask Jesus to watch out for him. Do you think that would be ok?"

Jellybean: "Yes. I guess so."

The conversation continued just a bit...and the subject changed to whether or not we should have a different little boy or girl come live with us instead of Twinkie. Somehow the boys came to the conclusion that if Twinkie can't come live with us then we should get them a different little brother...and a little sister. Go figure. For some reason, I don't think they will be the ones making the decisions around here.

I know this will be an ongoing discussion in our home for the next few days, weeks, and months. But at least the conversation is started. This morning at breakfast Peanut declared sadly that "I don't think Twinkie is coming anymore." Right you are kiddo, right you are.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Yesterday I lost my front tooth. But, my mommy forgot to remind me to put my tooth under my pillow. I hope that you didn't come to get my tooth. If you did, could you please come back tonight? I promise to remember to put my tooth under my pillow.
Thank you,
Jellybean

Cuteness x10


Cuteness



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Loss

Today we learned that Twinkie, our boys' little brother, will not be joining our family after all.

To be honest, I've been trying to prepare my heart for this news for a while now. Something just seemed "off" with the situation for me...and something has been telling me not to get my hopes up. But the truth is, even with the preparation, it hurts. I ache to hold that little boy in my arms. I wanted so badly to see those 3 brothers playing and wrestling and sleeping all nestled in their beds. I could already see it in my mind and now I have to let it go.

Losing any child would be difficult, but Twinkie has a biological connection to our boys...a connection that we wanted our boys to keep intact.

Tonight we are confused about where we go from here. We are grieving the boy we never had...and are wondering what we do now. We've already started the adoption process...we've already paid a large sum of money. We can't just "replace" Twinkie with another child. The process to adopt Twinkie has been intense and stressful. Do we want to continue this process right now? Do we want to walk away and think about adopting again in a couple years?

The truth is, we wouldn't have started the adoption process again so soon if it hadn't been for Twinkie. The fact that it was a biological sibling we were pursuing made it easier for us to justify the debt we'd have to take on to bring him home. It made it easier for us to beg and borrow from friends and family...they would understand the need for us to keep this connection for our boys.

But now? Can we justify continuing the adoption process to bring another child home?

I don't know.

We're tired of the rollercoaster tonight. And we're confused. We thought we were following the right path.

We'd appreciate your prayers as we say good-bye to Twinkie and as we figure out where we go next.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Bear

Everyone, meet Baloo.

Baloo, meet everyone.