March 27, 2008

Hooked Up

Our Amharic tutor Hooked Us Up!!! We had our 9th Amharic tutoring session this week and although I still have to repeat new phrases a thousand times to myself on the way to class so that I can remember them once I arrive, I'd say we're doing a solid OK. Perhaps even better than learning a few new words this week was the part of the lesson where she offered to call a family in Harlem who prepares proper injera to let them know that we're legit clients interested in purchasing injera from them on a weekly basis! I'm not sure how it works in other cities/states, but in NYC there are a handful of families who prepare injera in their homes to distribute to families and/or restaurants in the area. We've been dying to meet one of these families and now we have our "in"! Fresh weekly we come!

It didn't stop there, however, as she continued to hook us up with other resources. She invited us to attend her Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Sunday! It starts at 8AM so in addition to looking forward to meeting her friends and church community I'm also looking forward to (??) seeing what the outside world looks like at 8AM on a Sunday. I know I know, once our Baby Bean comes home 8AM is going to feel like sleeping in - but for now I must be truthful. Sunday mornings are strictly reserved for reading the NY Times cover to cover and catching up on the ridiculous amount of magazines we subscribe to while indulging in copious amounts of cappuccinos and cuddling with the cats. Then eventually 12PM or 1PM rolls around and we muster up the energy to...go to brunch. I love the northeast, brunch is such an excuse to not start your Sunday until 4PM at which point you can convince yourself that it's too late to start any projects and therefor can justifiably sack out on the couch with a good book, movie, or game that ends up being the extent of what you do for the day. I have a feeling I should revel in that "normalcy" as often as possible for the time being...something tells me the times they'll be a changin!

And now for the status update:
It's almost be April and we're approaching month #10 of a process that initially had realistic hopes of being completed in 5-11 months and we have yet to hit 2 huge milestones: referral and court date. Our agency estimated 3-6 months for dossier preparation, 0-3 months wait for a referral, and 2 months wait for a court date placing the hope of a 5-11 month process in our minds. But alas it did take us the full 6 months to prepare and submit our dossier, and the 0-3 months wait has turned into a 3-9 months wait (and could realistically extend further), so although we're "officially" at wait month #3 I again find myself searching for ways to enjoy being 9 months pregnant for another 6-8 months... This translated means that the initial 5-11 month estimate is now more like 10 - 18 months, and we're just now arriving at month #10.

If you were actually able to follow the math in that last paragraph congratulations, you're either a stats geek or also in the adoption process.

March 24, 2008

Merkato 55

Marcus Samuelson is brilliant. We've been attempting to replicate his dishes via the recipes in his cookbook "The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa" for a few months and thought we were doing an OK job, but tonight's meal at his newest NYC restaurant set the bar to a height I had forgotten existed. You may know Marcus as the Ethiopian-born Swedish-raised chef and mastermind behind NYC's acclaimed restaurant Aquavit, and his latest restaurant venture Merkato 55 is nothing less than genius. Seriously, if you live in the area or happen to have a trip planned to NYC in the near future - make reservations. Now.

We started with an assortment of African breads with hummus that was absolutely addictive. Seriously, had they allowed me access to the pastry chef I may have been tempted to comondere his services with the request that he make these delicious buttery spiced flavored breads and the most creamy wonderful hummus I've ever had...amazing. Next on the menu were oysters, and not the typical NYC Meatpacking District "here's an oyster a piece, enjoy" rather they actually split the dish between my husband and I and we each enjoyed three! Again an amazing spice filled dish that left us satisfied and wishing we were born with the talent required to recreate. The meal was topped off with a spicy doro wat and a mustard seed venison kebab dish, and "smiles all around" would be the understatement of the century. Yum, yum, yum, can't wait to go back.

I never take pictures in restaurants and I think my husband was thoroughly embarrassed when I insisted on taking a quick pick of our entrees, but the food was just so good!!

March 23, 2008

Weekend Bliss

* It's always a good idea to celebrate Christmas during Easter weekend.
* A weekend with no preplanned events will result in more getting done, more fun being had, and more rest being caught up on.
* When cooking with garlic and wondering how much of your head of garlic to chop, a good rule to follow is "use the rest".
* Lamb chops on the grill rock.
* When the grill is lit and the sun is out the cats will attempt to escape and chase after the creatures they've been hunting through the windows all winter. If you're lucky you'll catch the cat before it sprints under the deck, and if not you're in for a long afternoon of cat catching...
~And most importantly, you can never get enough of Israel Kamakawiwo Ole's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow~

March 21, 2008

A Few Twists

A seasonal twist: Its the 2nd day of spring and it's Easter weekend, so naturally...we're avoiding all responsibility and have decided to celebrate Christmas. It's been a bit of a week so a Christmas in March is definitely called for. We do that sometimes, it's just nice every now and then to end a stressful week with Christmas movies, Christmas music, Christmas food, and one fun gift to each other. This year's Spring Christmas will be the first one where we get to paint Easter eggs to the tunes of the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas album. There's just something fabulous about those songs!

An adoption twist: We had to set our wait time ticker at the top of the blog back by a few weeks. We found out that CHI starts the official "wait count" on the day your dossier leaves for Ethiopia, not the day it arrives to their St. Louis office as originally thought. New wait start date = December 26th. This still keeps us right around the 3 month marker though and from what I can tell the wait times have hovered around 3-5 months pretty stably, so we'll see. I'd be lying if I said we aren't at all worried about not being able to travel to Ethiopia before the courts close on August 8th though, in fact quite the opposite is true. This year the courts will be closed August 8th through sometime in October and although referrals can be given out during this period no court dates can be held which means no traveling families. So, there is a chance that even if we get our referral in May, June, or July we wouldn't be able to travel until after the courts reopen in October.

Alright I just finished staring at the cursor at the end of that last sentence for about 10 minutes...I don't know what I could possibly say to wrap the idea that we may not be traveling until next fall with some semblance of confidence that this would be both ok and completely frustrating. Ok because we're going to wait as long as it takes - period. And we're going to do it as patiently as possible - period. And we trust and respect that this will all come to fruition the way that it is meant to - period. Frustrating because, well, that one's kind of obvious I guess.

A tagging twist: I've been double-tagged by Brooke and Amanda to post 10 events that happened at half my current age and 100 interesting things about myself. Honestly right now I'm having a hard time wanting to do anything other than celebrate Christmas. Count that as one of the 100 interesting things about me. So sorry to be a little lame here, but I need to knock the zeros off of those numbers and settle for 1 thing that happened at half my current age and 1 interesting thing about me. I promise not to avoid tags like this in the future, but the modified list will have to do this time.

* Half my current age: 1993 & 1994 mark the years of the official end of apartheid in South Africa and the election of South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela.
* An interesting thing about me: I can logic my way through anything. I once convinced myself that it is normal to celebrate Christmas in March and sing Christmas carols in June. Oh wait...

Happy egg painting, basket finding, and chocolate bunny eating!
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

March 16, 2008

Signs Of Spring

St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time - a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.
~Adrienne Cook

* It's St. Patrick's Day, a sure sign that tulips and garden fresh herbs and open toe sandals and long walks through Central Park and the Shawangunk Ridge are right around the corner!

* Here's an obvious one - It's 6PM and the sun is still shining!

* Our neighborhood animals are slowly returning, (birds, squirrels, possums, groundhogs, chipmunks) and along with them free entertainment for our cats! We woke up to our cats going absolutely nuts over something downstairs, so we went down to investigate. It turns out a small bird had found it's way into our screened in porch and couldn't figure out how to rejoin his friend on the outside. Once my husband opened up the screen door and the bird eventually found it's way out our cats quickly lost interest. No worries though, it didn't take them too long to find another outdoor creature to amuse them!

* Given our recent car "luck" we spent all day Saturday shopping for a new car, but that's not the sign of spring I'm talking about - the sign was that we did it with NO JACKETS! It was a beautiful sunny afternoon so we were able to walk the lots in light sweaters and just enjoy the day.
Side note: We signed our first ever lease on our first ever brand new car. Our version of a "new" car has typically been 4-10 years old and usually ends up having a better relationship with our mechanic than we do with the local vineyards (not easy) so we're very excited to have a vehicle that requires zero maintenance aside from oil changes. Although now our mechanic is going to need to seek out other resources to fund his children's college educations...

* My husband installed a new mailbox. Why is this a sign of spring you ask? Well, it's become an annual tradition for the snowplows to knock over our mailbox every time we have a significant snowfall and it wouldn't do us any good to install a new one until we're fairly certain there snowstorms are over for that winter (knock on wood). A new mailbox is definitely a sign that winter is on it's way out!

May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.
~Irish Blessing

March 14, 2008

Red Light Green Light

Today was kind of like this: Red light, stop and take care of a random out of the blue inconvenience. Green light, stop and enjoy a random out of the blue happy surprise. We're pretty sure the green lights outweigh the red lights, but just to be certain we're ending the day with a slamming dinner of garlic rib eye steaks with a touch of cayanne complimented with a fantastic new cotes du rhone we discovered on our way home (one of today's green lights).

Green light
  • My meeting to discuss a new client implementation was scheduled to begin at 1:30 so I didn't need to leave home until after 10:30 to begin the 160 mile drive which means I got to have a relaxing morning enjoying coffee with the hubby. Day off to a good start!
Red light
  • About 90 miles into the trip I start to hear the exact same noise I heard oh, say 3 weeks ago, when car #1 died on the side of interstate 87. After a quick (and out loud, even though I was solo in the car) shout of ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I let car #2 slowly decelerate and pull to the side of interstate 87 and die. Only this time I was prepared (having recent experience with this situation) and took note of the mile markers so that I could appropriately inform the state troopers of the location to send a tow truck. Yeah.
Green light
  • My client completely understood needing to reschedule our meeting (although the 5 Assistant Superintendents and one Superintendent weren't exactly thrilled...) and I think the relationship is OK. And, the tow truck came within 20 minutes and I was able to pull far enough off of the busy interstate traffic to not fear for my life as semi's whizzed past. Ok, this might not sound like much of a green light but given the circumstances I was very happy to be in a safe location with help on the way. The 2 hour ride in the tow truck home was OK as well, Walter is a good man.
Red light
  • When we arrived at our mechanic (where broken car #1 has been living for the past few weeks awaiting a complete engine overhaul) we received confirmation that car #2 is officially dead. Off to the rental car shop...
Green light
  • The weekly update we received from CHI today had some very good news! They confirmed partnership with another orphanage in Ethiopia with contracts in the works to begin working with others. CHI does an amazing amount of humanitarian and developmental work with the orphanages they partner with so this is excellent news for that reason as well as the fact that this will likely result in more referrals. They also announced that birth family visits are back on the OK list! They're going to be extremely well regulated and monitored, but we're happy to follow whatever regulations are put in place for the chance to meet our child's birth family.
We think that the last green light might just be enough to overshadow those other red lights that happened today. I'm happy to play red light green light as long as the green lights are adoption related!

March 12, 2008

Grilling Through

*Update below.

There are certain activities in life that comfort each of us and just seem to take the edge off of any stressful or busy events that may be occurring in our lives. For some it's yoga, others shop, and still others may pray, exercise, cry, scream (I found this one useful while teaching middle school math), or rush to the nearest spa for an afternoon treatment. For us the activity is cooking, and more specifically grilling. We tend to grill our way through things and in more cases than not it seems to do the trick. Right now we're grilling our way through a couple of things.

We're grilling through winter and into spring. I realize it's early March and the temperature hasn't reached 40 degrees for months, but tonight we're going to grill our dinner. I don't care that there is still ample snow on the ground and our porch steps are still lethally slick from the last ice storm. Tonight I will arm myself with grill tongs and a special sage & lemon sauce and grill us some chicken for dinner. Spring is a mere 9 days away, I hope we have enough propane...

We're grilling our way through the babywait. I hate complaining about waiting but let's get real, it stinks. We started this process (and even had most of our dossier docs ready) way back when the wait times averaged 0-3 months. So of course when we announced to our family, friends, and colleagues that we were "expecting from Ethiopia" that was the time frame we told them all. So naturally, now more than 3 months since completing our dossier, the frequency of the question "any news yet?" is growing exponentially. I don't mind them asking, in fact sometimes it helps keep my mind on the thought that it might actually happen sometime soon. But still, I kind of feel like I'm in my 9th month of pregnancy but instead of being bombarded with questions about what day in the next 2-3 weeks I'm going to give birth I'm faced with the very real possibility that I might be in my 9th month of pregnancy for another 6-9 months... Deep breath. And another, and another...

OK, we may need some more chicken and a few new recipes to grill our way through these. Any fabulous grilling recipes or ideas you'd be willing to share? Let's think of the comments to this post as "A Griller's Guide to Spring and Babywait" cookbook of sorts. Please share!

Thank you Amanda and Andrew for sharing your (what sounds to be delicious and will definitely be tried in the near future) grilling recipe!

March 11, 2008

She's Hard Core

I really enjoy being impressed. Not that my opinion should mean anything to those that impress me, but it still stands to reason that being truly impressed by something is just fun. It means that something you might have expected to go in one direction took a sudden turn that resulted in an ending not attainable by most. To me this makes you truly hard core.

I've met several hard core individuals recently, and although they vary widely in the industries they represent they are all hands down impressive people who inspire me to kick a little a** every now and then.

Cheers to people who challenge us, mentor us, inspire us, and belong on the wall of Hard Core. And cheers to being challenged and inspired to be hard core, may we all attain it one day.

March 8, 2008

Wait, Work, Wine

Sometimes I wish that the adoption process was the only dominating "thing" happening in our lives, but then I quickly come to my senses and realize that that this is most certainly not the case nor do I really wish it were. Beyond waiting for our babe to come home there are the daily realities of life, work, finance, and thankfully plenty of other events to celebrate and be happy about. Life hasn't, and shouldn't, stop because we're adopting. In fact we're lucky to say that it has only gotten more interesting (and along with that more challenging) on almost a daily basis. We wait, we work, we wine.

Wait: We've always known that we would build our family through international adoption, so I suppose you could say we've been thinking about the process for 12.5 years now. (High school sweethearts, dating and married for forever already - I think most in the NE refer to us as a freak of nature, being under 30 and already married for almost 7 years...) But have been actively pursuing the adoption process since May 2007 which puts us at the 10 month mark now. Then there's the "official" list which we were added to in December 2007 when we finally completed the hoop-jumping process of document preparation, notarization, certification, and authentication and were actually added to a list of waiting families. So interpret it as you may, whether we've been waiting 12 years, 10 months, 3 months, honestly I can't even place meaning on the number anymore. I take a deep breath every morning and pray for safety and love for our family.

Work: Challenges in this area will never cease (nor do I wish them too, as work without challenge would naturally push us to seek other work) but sometimes it would be nice if there were fewer challenges. My husband loves his work, and my work is our health insurance...oh wait, I mean...nope, my work really is just our health insurance... But the bottom line is that my passion lies with education and his with photography and both of us could think of nothing better than busting our humps to pursue the good of those causes for the rest of our lives. Sure there will be interruptions, breaks, maybe even a change in direction here or there - but the end goal for both of us is pretty darn clear. (kind of, to us at least ~ or maybe not...)

Wine: We enjoy sharing the occasional glass of good red wine that actually warrants looking at and enjoying the color and varying shades of red that change almost instantaneously from pour to pour. Other than that we are two completely different people, which for us is part of what makes things work. We can't wait to be the 80 year old couple who have been married for 59 years yet still argue over what seem to be the simplest parts of a marriage. Like the vines of a strong growing vineyard our marriage will learn to weave through the vines toward the sun.

For after all, it's the sun that's coming.

March 4, 2008

3 Months

Today marks 3 months "officially" waiting. Deep breath....

PDN Online!

PDN finally published PDN's 30 2008 online today so I finally have a link to this year's "30 Photographers to Watch" (one of whom I might have a little bias towards...) so here's one more (I promise my last for a while) plug of blatant self promotion - check out the 2008 PDN Top 30, of course my personal favorite, and another I really dig. Also, thanks for all of your very kind congratulations - Mike is constantly humbled by the natural sweetness of this community.