Saturday, April 28, 2012

Getting Closer!

Yesterday marked a great step forward in our journey to bring L home--after several delays, we were finally submitted to the Ethiopian court.  In a few weeks we should hear when our court date is scheduled and we can begin to make travel plans.  To meet L for the first time!

"Excited" doesn't come close to describing how we feel.

I can't wait to hear what his voice sounds like.  To see how tall he is.  To see his smile.  In his referral photo he looks so very sad.

In the meantime, Brad and I are keeping busy getting everything ready for him.  And each morning when we wake up and head downstairs for coffee, this is what we pass by:


I love the way his room is coming together.  And I look forward to the day when we walk by this room and the bed is rumpled and unmade, and toys are strewn about.

Ruby giving L's bear a kiss.  Or contemplating eating it.  I guess time will tell.


Who, me?  Eat one of L's toys?


Never.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Grilled Salmon and Brown Butter Couscous

I'm a sucker for anything with browned butter.  To me, the deep, nutty richness of browned butter far surpasses the flavor of Paula Deen-style butter drenching.  And to get more flavor using less butter?  Well, that's an easy one for me.

And every time I make couscous I think to myself "why don't I make couscous more often?" Seriously.  Add boiling water and wait five minutes, there's practically nothing easier.  This recipe from Cooking Light is a tiny bit more involved, but so worth it.


Fresh, wild caught salmon is one of our favorite things to eat around here.  Gosh, I hope L likes fish.  Anyway, we're starting the countdown to Copper River season.  There's a great article in this month's Bon Appetit about it, check it out here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sweet Shot Tuesday


This photo has convinced me to knock it off with auto focus.  I loved the way the tree in our front yard looked as the sun was setting behind the house, with the leaves at the top lit golden.  And I think this could've been such a great shot if I'd have manually focused on the cluster of leaves in the center. A good reminder, generally, to focus on what's in front of you?

Try again another day, right?

Sweet Shot Day

Monday, April 23, 2012

Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet

Yesterday was one of those perfect 80-something degree spring days in Denver.  The sun was shining, the park near our house was overflowing with people.  It was the kind of day that makes you wish you could add about five more hours between two and six o'clock in the afternoon.

I made some Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet, a really simple recipe from Cooking Light.
 

The recipe calls for whole buttermilk, which I was unable to find.  I was tempted to substitute with low-fat buttermilk, but I figured if Cooking Light specifcally called for "whole" buttermilk it's probably important to the texture of the sherbet.  So I made "buttermilk" by adding just under two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to a cup and a half of whole milk.



The sherbet mixture comes together really fast, and while it was chilling Brad and I did some of our own chillin' on the front porch.  Gin and tonic for him, wine for me.  Pure bliss.


(Brad reading The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis.  Probably THE best parenting book for adoptive parents.)


Sunday, April 22, 2012

He Sets the Lonely in Families

In so many ways, God has had His hands all over our adoption journey.  I feel sort of strange writing that because I've never been a particularly religious person, but I guess seeing God so unmistakably at work in your life will do that to you.  I'll probably share more details at some point in the future, but until our adoption is done and L is sleeping in his room upstairs down the hall from ours, I'm just afraid to completely exhale.

As compared to most adoptive parents, Brad and I have not been on this journey long.  But already I feel as though my world has grown exponentially and I finally see my life through clearer eyes.

One of the things I've been struggling with is how most of what I read and learn about how to parent our adoptive child, who comes from a really hard place, brings up so much about my childhood.  I'll be honest, it's been very painful for me times.

Because I've not only been struggling with some trauma and loss from my past, but with feeling as though I'm really selfish and self-centered because THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME.  

And then at the Empowered to Connect conference on Friday, one of speakers told us we have to examine our past and how we were parented (good and bad) before we could truly connect with and lead our child to a happier future.  He gave me permission to--no, he told me I must--do exactly what I'd been doing. In the name of good parenting.  

Hallelujah.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families.  Psalm 68:5-6

That's an often repeated passage in adoption literature, for obvious reasons.  And I truly believe that God is placing L in our family for a reason.

But you know what?  I finally realized that passage doesn't just apply to L; God also placed me in a family.  It took me a long time to let Him do that, but now here I am.  With a family so unbelievably wonderful and supportive, starting with Brad and branching out from there, sharing a life I never believed I was meant to live.  

And I've never been more thankful for anything in my life.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sweet Shot Tuesday -- Cowboy Style


My friend Erica has a friend who is a painter.  She paints cowboy boots.  And then she sells the paintings for tens of thousands of dollars.  Which is why I'll probably surely never own one.

Erica asked me a few months ago to take some pictures of some of my cowboy boots, and I finally did this past weekend.  I took almost 100 shots and liked three; this is one.  I think this would've been a great time to use manual focus, but I haven't been able to wean myself off auto focus.

Sweet Shot Day

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lemon Curd-Pistachio Sundaes

Back by popular demand on the cooking blog:  Food.  And a recipe for dessert, the best kind of food.

Brad and I had some friends over for dinner last weekend for a little pre-Easter celebration. These are the friends who brought the two of us together, so they'll always be very special to us.  But sometimes life gets in the way, and suddenly we realize it's been weeks months since we've seen them.

Robin made a beautiful salad with asparagus, prosciutto and goat cheese.




Brad made Leg of Lamb with Flageolets in a Thyme Jus from Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook.


By the way, last night I had a dream I was talking on the phone with Thomas Keller.  Just chatting, no bigs.  And suddenly I realized I was eating potato chips while talking on the phone with Thomas Keller.  Even in my dream state, I was horrified with myself.

Anyone care to analyze that for me?

Anyway, back to our dinner. . . .

Alane spent the evening trying to avoid my camera lens.


Ah, here we go; much better, Alane.  I've learned my first photographer's secret:  put a glass of wine in your subject's hand.


Robin and Mark brought an adorable stuffed cow for L.  And a Vizsla (not for L).


We ended the meal with this awesome dessert, and another bottle of Andrew Geoffrey.


Not exactly the perfect pairing, and not the fanciest dessert I've ever made.  But sometimes when you're with people you really, truly love all you really need is a simple dessert and more Andrew Geoffrey.

After dinner, Muga got to meet L's bear.



And the evening wrapped with promises all around not to let so much time go by.

Lemon Curd-Pistachio Sundaes

From Martha Stewart Living, April 2012 issue.  You can find the recipe on here, on her web site.  This was one of the best desserts I've made in a long time.  Everyone loved it.

I used vanilla bean paste (instead of vanilla extract) in the ice cream, which made it extra tasty. And if, like me, you've never used grated lemon zest when making lemon curd, you have to try this.  It really brightens the flavor.

But if you're pressed for time, you can buy vanilla ice cream and jarred lemon curd.  It might not be quite as good, but my guess is nobody will complain.

And if they do, just give their sundae to me.  Because they're clearly not worthy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sweet Shot Tuesday

In anticipation of our trip to Ethiopia (soon, please!!), Brad and I bought a fancy new D-SLR camera that I have no idea how to use.  But I've been taking lots of pictures anyway.

Here's one that I really liked, taken in our front garden.


Have a great day!

Sweet Shot Day

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sacrificing Consumerism

Although I was baptized Catholic, my family rarely participated in organized religion while I was growing up.  As an adult I dabbled here and there with religion, but it wasn't until recently that I really felt drawn to the church.

Brad is Catholic, and attended Catholic school.  And, honestly, Brad's parents did such a great job of raising their three children that I pretty much look to his childhood as a road map for "L."  So when we began the adoption process, Brad and I started attending mass regularly to establish that foundation for our family.  We already have "L" enrolled in pre-K at our church, which we're both really excited about because it's a fantastic K-8 school.  And the staff at the school is delighted (their word!) to have him at the school, which I hope will help him make a smooth transition.

As Lent approached, I contemplated what to sacrifice.  There are plenty of areas in my life that could use a little sacrifice, but I really wanted to relate it to bringing "L" home.  Our journey to "L" wouldn't be helped by my giving up wine or chocolate or any of the other (many!) vices I have, so I gave up all discretionary spending on myself.  Since, as you may or may not know, adoption is quite expensive.

I had a few struggles along the way, mostly with trying to figure out what was "discretionary."  A haircut?  No, that was safely a necessity; I can't show up at work with raggedy hair.  Having my eyebrows waxed?  Discretionary.  Massage?  Discretionary.  Road race entry fees?  Definitely discretionary.  And, by the way, I'd never before realized how much money I spend on races!

I couldn't buy books for my Kindle, so I blew the dust off my library card.  Ok, so I actually had to get a replacement card because I hadn't used it in so long I had no idea where it was.  But I have it back now, and I'm excited to take "L" to what was one of my favorite places as a child. 

Another dilemma: I had a gift certificate to a local running store, Runners Roost, that I'd won by finishing third in my age group at a 10k race in December, which was set to expire March 31st.  Since I couldn't buy anything for myself, I used it get Brad a new dri-fit shirt.  He hardly ever buys himself new workout clothes; whereas, me, um, yeah . . . I have almost thirty pairs of Nike tempo track shorts alone.  I definitely didn't need anything from the Roost, but I also couldn't bear letting my hard-earned winnings be wasted.

Then, about a week into Lent, I accidentally sent my iPod nano through the wash and it quit working.  I listen to podcasts while I run; it's one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.  And I was horrified at the thought of running with just me and my thoughts for company.  Gah!  Brad quickly volunteered to buy me a new one (what a sweetheart), but I declined.  It just seemed like cheating to let him do that.  Well, after a few days on a windowsill in the sunshine the iPod started working again, but I know in my heart I would've made it through with or without my iPod.  And it was such a great feeling, not immediately filling my desire for something.

Although, let's be real, I probably would've shown up at the Apple store on Easter Sunday for a new one!

Overall, the experience has really revealed a lot to me about me--how I was pretty much a constant consumer, buying stuff I really don't need and spending money that could be put to better use.

















Since I haven't been spending money on myself, I've been thinking more about others.  Many adoptive families must raise money to fund their adoptions, so I've sent some support to fellow adoptive parents for their journey.

I stumbled across a great website called Give1Save1, which features a new family every week that is adopting from Africa.  (And Haiti and Asia, but I've focused on the African adoptions, at least for now.)  These families don't ask for much, just a dollar; it's the power of many helping one.  How awesome is that?

Oh, and I bought a cow for some women in Uganda.  Yes, seriously.  That's going to get it's very own blog post when the pictures come, so stay tuned.  Because you'll want to buy a cow, too.