December 31, 2007

Best News Of The Year On The Last Day Of The Year!

We should have known that the best news of 2007 would be delivered to us on December 31st. We woke up this morning to an email from CHI confirming that our dossier is on it's way to Ethiopia! It was express shipped on December 26th so will arrive any day now. We already know what the best news of 2008 will be, so for now will just hope that it's the best news of January or February 2008!

(I know I know, hoping for a referral in 1-2 months isn't probable but it is possible so that's what we're running with for now. We're well prepared to wait 3, 6, 12 months or longer if we have to - we'll just be 20 pounds heavier from all of the injera we'll be cooking!)

December 28, 2007

We Made Injera (And It Was Good!)

We did it! Our previous Ethiopian meal preparations have included injera and berbere made by a local grocer, but this evening we made our own injera and berbere...and IT WAS GOOD! Various Wats may now be staples in our weekly meals...

We've got loads of pictures to post of some fabulous Christmas gifts for the rock star formally known as Bean (Ashton/Isabel) and will hopefully get them up soon - in the meantime happy new year to all!

December 27, 2007


We LOVE getting mail from CHI - pretty much anything that arrives in the mailbox from them is something that has been very anxiously awaited. The package that arrived from their office yesterday was even better because it was unexpected! We originally thought that our travel guide would arrive once we got our referral for baby Ashton/Isabel, but it was a very happy and welcomed surprise when we opened our mailbox to see that it had arrived yesterday. The travel guide includes information regarding our trip to Ethiopia and the attached letter from our agency includes sentences like:

"You will start a wonderful trip very soon, to bring your child home from Ethiopia."


"As you get closer to your travel date you will receive a packet containing forms and documents..."

Seeing these words put together by our adoption agency brings huge smiles to our faces because it confirms that all of the planning, gathering, chasing, certifying, and stamping will soon produce a referral, court date, and travel date. Soon! And I love that the word "soon" was included in the letter sent from our Program Director so I'm not just dreaming this all up, it really is happening soon!

December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas To Our Forever Family

Ashton McGregor


Isabel McGregor

There is a good chance that our baby is born. Baby Ashton/Isabel could be breathing the same air we woke up to this morning. I can't even begin to describe the feeling knowing that it's possible that s/he's a part of Earth right now, but even harder is the realization that the chances are that hunger and cries for needed attention are part of everyday life. Not just for the child, but for the birth parents as well who need the same nourishment, love, and attention to guide them through what is certain to be one of the most difficult times in their lives. We are here, and we await the great challenge of parenting baby Ashton/Isabel through the grandest of lives.

December 23, 2007

Christmas In MN - Ethiopian Style

Tonight we enjoyed a traditional Ethiopian feast at my parent's home with Mike's mom and stepfather. My sister has several girlfriends who recently moved to the USA from Ethiopia who had planned on joining us and guiding us through the meal preparation, but unfortunately they were victims of Minnesota weather so last minute improvisation was necessary. Thank goodness they had shared the location of an African grocery store with us earlier so we were able to find the all-necessary berbere and injera, and they even hooked us up with special spiced ground beef for sambusa! I must say that we did alright with tonight's meal - we made sambusa for appetizers and followed with traditional Ethiopian entrees of tibs wat, a berbere potato dish, and a red lentil dish. They were all delicious! We all sat around the dinner table enjoying a traditional Ethiopian meal, soon to be known as a traditional McGregor meal.

Despite a welcoming Minnesota Christmas snow we made it in to MSP on time yesterday. Mike and I have ALOT of family in Minnesota, in fact between the two of us we are Hall's, Campanaro's, McGregor's, Tull's, Anderson's, and Roberts. Thanks to an unknown source of scheduling magic we're able to spend quality time with all of them during most of our visits to Minnesota. We need to start buying stock in scheduling magic...

So what did we do on day #1 in MN? Naturally, we went bowling! Based on our performance my mom and sister should probably join a league and my husband and I should stay as far away as possible from those three-holed balls that aren't supposed to go in the gutters.

Today we had our McGregor/Roberts Christmas (Mike's dad and stepmother) where Grandma and Grandpa were the center of attention. They are without a doubt the couple that Mike and I aspire to be. Grandpa is 98 years old (3 months shy of 99) with a plethora of health issues, yet the two of them are so obviously in love that it's fun to watch. Seriously, fun.

Baby Bean's Godmother was there as well!

December 21, 2007

A New York Christmas

We fly to Minnesota tomorrow to be with our family for Christmas so celebrated our New York Christmas today. My husband got up early and made my mom's famous Swedish almond coffee cake for breakfast (sorry love, but mom's is still better!) then we blasted Christmas music and did the "tree thing". For those unfamiliar, the "tree thing" is when we sit around our Christmas tree in the worlds most comfortable pajamas eating Swedish almond coffee cake while drinking coffee with Baileys Irish Cream and open presents. Our cats spend the morning playing with crumpled up wrapping paper and then we retire to the couch where we watch various holiday episodes of The Simpson's. The only way this morning could possibly be better would be if our little baby Bean was there to enjoy it with us. Thank goodness that time is fast approaching!

We received word from CHI today that our dossier has received certification from the US Department of State and the Ethiopian Embassy, so as soon as it arrives back at CHI's office will be sent on to Ethiopia where (thank goodness) no further certification will be necessary, just a bit of wait time before the all important match is made.

Off to watch Christmas movies and pack - as you may have noticed Bridger has already made himself quite comfortable in his box, and I'm sure Bode is sure to follow!

December 18, 2007

The #1 McGregor Christmas Tree Ornament, 2007

We already knew that Cindy from Pink Bottom Creations was fabulous, but today she topped the cake. We can't quite divulge how we've been working with her lately as the gifts under the tree are yet to be unveiled, but we can share that she created our most favorite ornament of Christmas 2007. In November she created the most wonderful piece made with Ethiopian prayer beads for my husband's birthday and we're so excited to now have an ornament to place on our tree of equal importance.

Cheers to Pink Bottom Creations!

Good Things Happening

We haven't received an update recently (our dossier should be arriving in Ethiopia this week!) so I thought I'd share some of the other good news out there:
  • Anna & Ben are traveling to Ethiopia in 5 days to pick up their beautiful twins!
  • The Forsberg's have a court date!
  • Brian & Noelle are in Ethiopia meeting their adorable little girl!
  • Jill is set to leave for Ethiopia on December 31st to meet Amari!
  • Tinsae is home from the hospital!
  • Puppydog Tales got their fingerprinting appointments!

Congratulations to everyone!

December 16, 2007

Christmas Cookies

I'm terrible at baking cookies and most other baked dishes. I'll admit to being a bit talented in the kitchen, but I don't seem to be able to bake a decent batch of cookies to save my life. So, when my husband suggested that we bring Christmas cookies to our neighbors I was less than anxious to oblige. I eventually gave in and spent the afternoon baking and decorating sugar cookies and white chocolate chip cookies with dried cranberries.

Sounds good right? Not so much. The sugar cookies turned out crispy and flat, and despite our best efforts to cover this up with festive green and red frosting they would still score a distant 2nd in the grocery-store-bought cookie competition. And even that's being generous. As for the white chocolate chip with dried cranberry cookies, I'm really at a loss. How on earth could something with two full sticks of butter (I don't remember the last time I even had that much butter in the fridge!), and multiple CUPS of sugar, brown sugar, and other tasty ingredients possibly turn out bad? Well, it did. The hockey pucks of the bunch have been placed in reserve as the "dunking bunch" for my husband to have with coffee, but really I think I'll just stick to the bakery for cookies from here on out. Unfortunately for our neighbors this year they'll have to do with our homemade batch...

So the point of this post you ask?

1) I baked. (And there are pictures to prove it!) They are definitely not the most scrumptious cookies on Earth, but that just solidifies the well known fact first introduced to my husband at an early age that ONLY grandmas bake cookies. Grandma Camp and Grandma Hall, preheat those ovens!

2) We're waiting for our referral and baking cookies helps pass the time. It's a good thing that baby Bean has fabulous grandmothers to bake the fabulous cookies that only grandmothers can make!

December 13, 2007

Dossier Update

Well, not really - but kind of. Our CHI Adoption Consultant emailed me on Tuesday and told us that she receives weekly dossier updates from St. Louis (CHI's main office) but hadn't received this week's update yet. If everything has gone according to plan then our dossier should be arriving in Ethiopia as early as next Tuesday, December 18th, so we're really hoping to be on the DTE (dossier to Ethiopia) list very soon! Some agencies consider families to be officially waiting upon submission of the dossier to the agency, in which case we have been waiting now for one week and two days. I don't think that's how CHI works however (I get the impression that their wait times begin when the dossier is officially in Ethiopia) so let's all hope that it arrives on Tuesday!

Also, I updated my list of Ethiopian adoption blogs to the right and there are a few new ones - check'em out!

December 9, 2007

Tibs Wat

We were recently given an amazing new cookbook (thanks M&P!) that I highly recommend to anyone interested in learning about African cuisine. The book, "The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa" was written by Ethiopian chef Marcus Samuelsson and includes everything from spice & sauce preparation to elaborate stews and of course injera. Today we prepared our first Ethiopian dish, Tibs Wat, and it was delicious! I think we spent the most money ever at the grocery store solely on spices (note to self: bring back LOTS of cardamom from Ethiopia!) but it was so worth it. Tibs Wat is a slightly spicy, gingery, garlicky, beef stew which is traditionally eaten with injera. We didn't tackle our first try at injera today but plan to in the near future.

Cheers to fabulous friends and fabulous cookbooks!

On the adoption front, we haven't heard back from our agency regarding the status of our dossier but at this point no news is good news - it just means that they don't need any more documents from us. So, hopefully their original estimation of the dossier arriving in Ethiopia somewhere between December 18-22 still holds. The last 4 CHI families to receive referrals all got their calls within 2.5 months of the dossier arriving in Ethiopia which means we could realistically receive ours late February/early March! Our first Amharic class with our Ethiopian tutor is scheduled for January 7th and we can't wait to get started - A March referral & May travel date leaves us with 5 months to learn as much of the language as possible - hopefully we'll catch on quickly.

So, for the next several months we'll be attempting to master (or at least moderately succeed at) the art of African/Ethiopian cooking and doing our best to learn the basics of the Amharic language. There's nothing better to pass the time than taking on a few new hobbies!

December 8, 2007

Six Degrees Of Separation, Blog Style

Wikipedia says, "Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that, if a person is one "step" away from each person he or she knows and two "steps" away from each person who is known by one of the people he or she knows, then everyone is no more than six "steps" away from each person on Earth."

Translate this in to blog language and the following scenario plays out:

Wake up, check comment area on own blog, follow links to profiles/blogs of commenter's and read their blogs. Check out their blog rolls and find a a handful of interesting blogs. Visit those. Realize you've gotten off track and return to own blog to check in on your blog roll for updates posted on your most frequently visited blogs. Notice new links added to their blog rolls, visit those. Comment area in one of the new sites contains huge list of profiles of other waiting families, visit those. As of 12:00PM on Saturday I've officially squashed any doubt that I'm now connected by six "steps" (or less) to the entire adoption blogging community.

December 5, 2007

Making A List, Checking It Twice

Our dossier arrived at CHI's main office in St. Louis yesterday and was reviewed by the Ethiopia Team Program Director. Short of a few missing documents (all of which we faxed over this morning) it passed initial inspection! I say "initial" because I have a feeling that the revising, reviewing, and resubmitting of documents is one of those things that is never ending in this process. The prefix "re" is commonly used when preparing a dossier! This list has been made, checked, rechecked, and re-rechecked so many times I've lost track - we definitely put Santa Clause to shame in that department.

Of the documents that were missing most of them had to do with CHI's additional requirements and not necessarily dossier requirements. CHI is very dedicated to ensuring that their waiting families are well educated and prepared for the adoption and parenting journey so they mandate things like DVD courses, online testing, parent education classes, reading specific books and engaging in self reflection activities, etc... This part can be a little overwhelming when you're in the process of gathering so many other documents, but it's important to remember that at the end of all of this we're going to be parents and you can NEVER over-prepare for that job!

CHI emailed me that our dossier should be in Ethiopia in 2 - 2.5 weeks which lands in the December 18 -22 range. Merry Christmas!

December 3, 2007

FedEx And An Interesting Article

After notarizing, county certifying, and state certifying a copy of our I-171H this morning I bundled our now complete dossier and sent it on it's way to CHI's main office in St. Louis! The clerk at the FedEx location where I dropped it off thought I was a bit odd for taking a picture, but little does he know how valuable this package is!

A friend send me a link to this New York Times article which I think is an interesting read, especially the comments that people posted in reaction.
New York Times: A "Normal" Family

December 2, 2007

Amharic Lessons & Organic T's

Our agency (CHI) researched and organized an Amharic tutor for interested families in the NY area recently and we're now in the final stages of scheduling the classes. As it currently stands we'll begin meeting with her in early January for one hour a week on Monday evenings. Her typical class consists of ten one-hour sessions, so hopefully by March we'll be well on our way to having a basic understanding of the language. As I've mentioned earlier I LOVE languages. Although I've always felt that for any country we visit we should have at minimum the basic pleasantries and restaurant/taxi/tourist vocabulary down pat, with this situation it feels so much more important. When we travel to Ethiopia I want to be able to greet our hosts properly, say I love you to our child with familiar sounds, and chat with the local taxi drivers and shop owners. I know that it's unrealistic to think that my husband and I can be conversation-fluent in Amharic by the time we travel to Ethiopia, but we can do our best to get as close as possible. I can't wait to start classes and am so thankful that CHI dedicated resources to find a capable Amharic tutor.

On my way back to Brooklyn today I stopped by the holiday market in Union Square. For the most part this is a huge tourist trap stuffed with booth after booth of knit hats, candles, hand-made jewelry, and gingerbread cookies that I SWEAR have a chemical scent added to them that was engineered somewhere in New Jersey...but I did find a fabulous woman who makes 100% organic baby wear that made the whole trip worth while. Her shop is called Farmer Kids, check it out! I fell in love with this little set:

December 1, 2007

The Mailman Is OFF The Naughty List!

GOT IT!!!!! Only good things come in envelopes sent from USCIS. Now that our dossier is complete with our I-171H the whole package will be shipped to our agency first thing Monday. Hooray!!!