Wednesday, December 31, 2014

An Almost Chinese American New Year

Chinese New Year isn't until February and quite honestly, we don't do a lot of celebrating holidays specific to Haiti or China, but I thought this was a catchy title for a meal that was almost Chinese dim sum on New Year's Eve.  It was kind of one of those meals that was problematic all around.  I had made Char Siu  (Chinese barbequed pork) in the crockpot a few months back and knew that at some point, I wanted to make bao with it.  (Bao are Chinese filled, usually steamed, dumplings.)  But dumplings are time consuming and I don't own a steamer so I'd been putting it off.  Fast forward to today and I figured that this week, when D was off from work, would be a good time to try out a new, time consuming recipe.  I found a couple of dough recipes online that I thought might work for us.  Both baked the dumplings instead of steamed, and the first used a bread machine to mix up the dough.  I thawed out the char siu and made a bit of extra gravy following David Soo-Hoo's recipe.  I opted for the bread machine version, with plans to start the dough around 3 in order to give myself enough time for it to raise and to roll out and fill the dumplings.  I ended up starting about 3:30 so I was already feeling pressed for time.  My plain was to have the kids help me roll out the dough and assemble the dumplings around 5 so we could eat around 5:45 or 6.  About 4:50, I decided to double check everything only to realize that the dumplings have to rise again after they are stuffed.  That second rise takes 45 minutes.  No way I could make those for supper tonight with that second rise.  So I went ahead and had the kids make them, figuring I would let them rise while we ate and then bake them after supper with plans to eat them the next day.  The bread machine recipe didn't have you roll them out like I thought they ought to be so I switched over to recipe number two for the rolling out part.  I followed that plan pretty well until I pulled them out of the oven and realized that I forgot to put the egg wash on them.  Oh well...they were still super tasty!  I had to sample one tonight just to be sure.  The dough was super light and fluffy.  Not exactly the steamed dumplings most are used to but still yummy.  Given the number of times I said opps while making it and the number of recipes I consulted, I'm just amazed that it's not a big nasty glob of dough.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Pics

Nothing says Christmas like a baby in reindeer ears
Best part of going to Grandma's?  Empty ice cream containers that usually hold toys.
They can be drums for a band.
Or drums for a solo act.
And they make awesome hats.
All the big kids got a kids Kurio tablet.
What have they enjoyed the most about their new tablets?
Taking photos, making videos, and recording their voices as stories.
Kai was big enough this year to actually get the hang of opening gifts.
Our resident ocean expert scored quite a few ocean gifts, including this game.

And a giant stuffed manta ray.

And two shark t shirts embellished by Grandma.

Conleigh got not one but three Barbies.

And some crazy glittery cowboy boots.  (But she says they are cowgirl boots, not cowboy.)

Kenson was super excited to open this huge gift.  It was an inflatable kickboxing trainer.  Something he had always/never wanted, but in the moment it was definitely something he always wanted.  =)

My mom was very thoughtful in her book selection for each kid.  Kenson received this book on Haiti, Conleigh received a book about girls and friendship, and Zeke received a book on China.

Kai was of course captivated by the boxes.  

Still enjoying the cardboard.

Playing Headbandz with the cousins.
No Pitch since Travis and Michelle were sick...well mostly since Michelle was sick and she's really a fierce Pitch player.

Yes, that's my cousin squashing my husband.

So many lovely gifts this year including a plastic parakeet to memorialize a dead bird that my aunt once stored in her freezer and some fake boogers.  But none could top the plastic containers of Flarp aka Fart in a Can.  You push your fingers in and it makes a very flatulent sound.  The kids loved it.  As did the grown ups.  In fact, my three spent 30 minutes playing with it in a bedroom on Christmas night.  Which then resulted in fart getting tossed around.  So we had fart on the sheets, fart on the clothes, and fart in someone's hair.  It was slightly funny, a bit annoying, and of course messy.  Thanks, Aunt Sheree!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Snowman Candy Bars

The kids made their teacher gifts yesterday.  If it's possible and doesn't make me too crazy, I try to have the kids give something that they have some sort of investment in.  This year, we opted for snowman wrapped candy bars.  Easy peasy.  The big kids did almost all of it themselves.  Zeke cut all of the noses for his, glued that hat together, added the buttons, drew his faces, and wrote his name. He may or may not have made one that has a mustache.  However, his smile is a bit squiggly so I'm not sure the recipient will know that's what it is.
Looking serious

Finished products.  I should have added a bit of blush to the cheeks for added cuteness but I forgot.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Toe to Finger Transfer, Take Two

The Monday before Thanksgiving, Zeke had an appointment at Mayo to remove his cast.  This followed the revision done on his new finger since it was healing incorrectly and had to be repositioned and then recast.  Just like before, the x rays said it was healed and aligned well.  But this time, Mayo make Zeke a custom splint from orthoplast to help protect the new finger during recess and rough play as well as during sleep.  We're now a few weeks past the cast removal and so far, so good.  He seems to have more mobility in it than he did last time.  He's still pretty limited in it's function but he's had a few "aha" type moments.  At Walmart last week, he had his hands in his pockets and as we were walking down the aisle, he suddenly exclaimed, "Hey!  My thumb just touched my new finger!"  (It's hard for him to make them come all the way together on their own, without some extra help from his other hand so this was a spontaneous event, where they touched all on their own.)  Then at snacktime the other day, I encouraged him to try to use his finger while eating his pretzels.  He didn't pinch the finger to his thumb to grip, but kind of used the new finger to "help" the other fingers as he ate.  That was probably the first time where he saw his new finger as a functional part of his body.  His body still has a lot to do in terms of healing and nerve regeneration.  I would feel a whole lot better if I knew for sure that this new digit were working 100%.  (Already called the hand surgeon once for a "talk me down from the edge" type call.  An x ray said all was well.)  So wait, and wait, and wait some more, I guess.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Flat Twist Mohawk with Locs

Photo bombed by the Basset...this is how she wore the back on Sunday.  I talked her into letting me braid the ponytail into piggyback braids on Monday so she now has a braid running down the center instead of the ponytail.  I think you could do several treatments of the ponytail like curling it with pipe cleaners so it was super curly or mini buns, maybe even some type of knot.

The flat twists up the sides actually look really really good.  So proud of myself.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mom's Amazing Timer

My kids lost their tablet privileges this week.  No tablet until Wednesday for anyone.  As fate would have it, I was starting to cook supper when this decision was made.  As I reached over to start the oven timer, Kenson heard the beep and looked alarmed.  "What are you doing?  Setting the timer for Wednesday?"  I probably ruined a great thing by telling him no and ruining the delusion, that yes, Mom has an amazing timer that keeps track of things for days.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


It is not a neatly packaged present, a perfectly square box, wrapped in striped gift wrap, with a matching bow, symmetrically placed across the top.  Nope.  Adoption is a gift and a blessing, a burden and a wound, all at the same time.

If it feels that way for me, I can only imagine what it must feel like for my kids.

I'm a grown up and I don't know what to do with my own feelings.  There's the news today that reeks of coercion or at the very least, a large sin of omission.   It's news that seems to indicate that one of my children's birth parents thought her child would return to Haiti at 18.  There's news about the absent father and his fate that is hard to sugar coat.  There's no news from another birth mom, no news that creates a void for one child. There's another birth family whose very existence is a huge question mark.  And a foster family who was most certainly crushed by the departure of their foster son but yet chose not to parent him.

Real people drug into complex, hard situations.  Single moms feeling all alone and without options.    Perhaps a birth family scared to death to parent a child who looked different, unaware of how smart and adaptable that same child would grow to be.  Complex cultural situations that are hard for an outsider to understand.  Who knows the comments each family was influenced by?  Comments about adoption giving their kid a better life.  Questions about their abilities to feed and clothe and provide for their child.  Words from other family members, from friends, from well meaning orphanage staff. 

And so they all chose a choice that really wasn't a choice.  Because for so many birth families, it is simply the only choice they feel like they have.  Now their child is oceans away, safe and sound, loved and adored, but oceans away.  

I am not a guilty party in that.  I did nothing to cause these situations.  Yet, my heart is guilty.  Guilty of being the mom they could not be and will not get to be.  

That knowledge breaks me a bit.  It for sure humbles me since I will probably never face such situations.  But mostly it grieves my heart because it's very possible that tonight , three other moms may be missing and longing for the very children I've just tucked into bed.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Skydiving and Zeke

"Mom, I really, really, really want to go sky diving sometime."

"You do?   That would make me worry about you since it's kind of scary."

"Well, maybe I'll wait until I'm bigger."


"Yeah, like maybe when I'm ten."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas is up!

Yes, Conleigh is holding a random sticker set.  No, I don't know why.  The tree is up and out if Kai's reach as is the nativity.  Lowe's had poinsettias for .99 so I couldn't pass them up despite their poisonous nature.  A few things I love:1.  We started getting each kid an ornament each year to represent something important from that year.  From ornaments where my kids wrote their own names to learning to ride a bike to having a new sibling, I write the why behind each ornament on the back and read this to each kid as he puts his ornament on.  We also have picture ornaments of family members who have passed away and two awesome hand made garlands made from gum wrappers and paper clips.  2.  My mother in kaw's vintage sled and 3.  The vintage stuffed Santas that were a part if my husband's childhood.  My kids cart them all over the house, playing who knows what with the Santas.