Thursday, December 23, 2010

Braxton Hicks Contractions... NEWS... Christmas perspective!

This morning I checked email as usual... hoping for a photo or something about our little man. Today I got more than a photo (though no photos for a long time ): We got an email from our case worker saying that we were ready for the embassy and that we could travel for a DECEMBER 29th Embassy date. As you read this many thoughts are filling your heads. You are deciding right now if you were us what you would do... when I tell you what we did, your mind will want to pass judgment on us. I pray that you will recognize our deep prayer and wisdom that went into this decision.

Immediately we sprang into action with phone calls to the guest house, travel agency, parents etc. We heard first from the travel agent and it was still possible to book tickets for Sunday! We then heard from the guest house, and sadly they didn't have room for us for our entire stay. We prayed that God would make our decision very clear, and He did!

We choose to wait for the next embassy date and will travel in just couple of weeks!!!!! This is the best option for us as we will get to see our families, have baby showers, buy what is needed, take down Christmas decos, clean, call Dr's, start taking elevation meds, and so much more. Even though we KNOW it is the best decision, it is hard to be super excited about it at the moment... though hopefully those emotions will come soon! Our time before we head to ET will be VERY FULL so it will fly by!

The January embassy date is the one we have been praying for so please join us now in PRAISING GOD for opening the door for us to bring M home! He is always faithful!

Other good news:
We received a grant from Gift of Adoption for 2500. This is VERY exciting, though we are not sure if we will really be able to use it! It saddens me deeply that we applied for this grant in MARCH and updated our info every month faithfully. Now, after we passed court and paid our final agency fee they are offering us money to go to the agency. Please join us in praying that this money could be used for our airfare! It would be a HUGE help for us!

So it is almost Christmas. It is easy to feel blue if you are waiting for a child this Christmas. Praise God we don't have to wait for THE child! I was reminded recently by a fellow blogger (thanks Heather) that Christmas IS NOT about family! It is almost a novel concept to reflect on, but it is true! Christmas isn't about gifts, about food, about travel, about carols, about cards, about decorations, about classic movies, about cider and cocoa in front of the fire, about snow on the ground, about good health, about wealth, OR FAMILY! No, I am not a grinch... far from it! I actually enjoy many of the things I listed. The thing is... Christmas is about God becoming FLESH in Jesus! God sent His Son to earth... to die... for us! This is amazing! This is the Gospel! This makes every Christmas "awe"some! You see, we can never has a "bad Christmas" because the joy of Jesus coming to earth is so great that our momentary "blueness" pales in comparison so the company of angels proclaiming the birth of the long awaited Messiah!
Happy Birthday King Jesus!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

One Step Closer!!!

We got great news today from our agency! They have received the adoption decree (I am not sure when they received it, but we learned of it today) and things can begin to move forward for an embassy date! If you remember when I posted HERE about this important step!

So, now we wait again!
Here is the document list:
1. The decree needs to be translated and legalized!
2. The new birth certificate listing us a parents will be issued!
3. A passport will be needed for M to come home
4. Background documents need to be translated and legalized.
5. A letter from MOWA is needed (A letter from Ministry Of Women's Affairs is what held us up on the court date)!
6.All of these documents must be submitted to the embassy by December 29th in order to get the January 12th embassy date we are all praying for!

This means we essentially sit and wait until December 29th (maybe) although we might hear of something before that date! We hope so! Our agency closes around Christmas, so we REALLY hope that we will get Embassy confirmation before they close so that we can book our plane tickets!

I also got to see some new photos of our handsome son today! Here he is eating with the nannies! I swiped this photo from a facebook account so I am not sure how it will transfer to a blog.

I have written about a very special Christmas song for the last two years at Christmas time. The song is entitled "Merry Christmas" and is on the Third Day Christmas Offerings CD. The last two years the song has made me cry, this year, I think if any of you who know us well will share in our tears as you listen!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A month ago... a month from now...

A month ago we boarded a plane naive to what one week could do to our hearts and lives! On November 9th we began our journey to Ethiopia. A month later we are at home and trying to get "back to normal" while wondering what exactly normal is! Is it "normal" to have a child who is legally yours live on another continent? The "is it normal" list could go on and on, but I will spare you the pitiful details :)

A month from now... IF God chooses, we could (major miracle needed) be on a plane back to Ethiopia to reunite with our sweet son, meet with the Embassy, and BRING HIM HOME!!!

Yes, the chance might be slim, but we are "Faith Like Potatoes" people, right? Please join me in praying that every step between court and embassy would be happening as efficiently as possible! Please also pray that our sweet M could stay in his current room as long as possible. While we feel so blessed by the care at "L" we are begging God to allow M to stay in the room he currently is until we return. His nannies are so wonderful, and if he moves he would meet another whole nanny team, have his little routine changed and so much more. This would be a lot to handle one month before coming home to MAJOR changes!

Much more to come on attachment, but if you want to start praying for that it would be great! Our son is very social and we are quite aware that he believes EVERY traveling family is his mom and dad! It will take major cocooning to show him that we are not "some of many" but his actual parents. Please pray that we will transition and attach well, and that those around us will understand the measures we will go to, to provide the best environment for attachment possible!

We know that our son is a gift for us to hold, love, nurture, point to Jesus and much more, but that we must hold him with open hands before the One who sustains his little life and mine, our God and King!

Monday, December 6, 2010

And He Shall Be Called...

Yes, we have chosen a name for our little man. This was so hard for us for many reasons. Even now I sort of wonder if our decision was right, but we are going to walk in it!

Sadly, I will not be disclosing his name of the blog. I will post it on FB, but I feel strange about any random person finding his name in a search. However, if you know us in real life and you read this post you will most likely be able to figure it out.

We have chosen to stick with his full Ethiopian name. No, this isn’t the name we were calling him before court, this is his full name. However, we are changing the way it is pronounced to make it a bit easier for Americans to say. The spelling will remain the same, so if he ever wants to go back to the Ethiopian version that would also be great This ET name is from the Bible, check out the "M" book after the book about the man who was in a fish :)

The reason it was so hard for us to decide on a name was that the name we have really liked now for well over a year was SO close to his ET name. Check out chapter 17 and 18 of 2 Chronicles and read of an “M” who was a missionary true to the Lord.

Many people told us to choose our favorite name as a first name and use his ET name as his middle name. Well, you can see how that would not work out very well.

Because our former favorite name has a unique spelling we decided to stick with the ET name and spelling and pronounce it much like the 2Chron name. We recognize that we can even call him the 2Chron name as a nick name, or a whole host of other nick names that come easily from his name. I am a HUGE nick name fan. Some don’t like them, but I have been a nick name “Shelly” my whole life and I see nothing wrong with it, but appreciate the option to go back to my full name as needed.

Another neat thing is that the meaning of the 2Chron name and our son’s name are the same. I personally believe that if we looked up 2Chron in an Amharic Bible our son’s name might be there. Yes, God has planned for him to be in our home with this name for a long time! We will continue to call him “M” on this blog for privacy purposes, at least until the adoption is final in the US, after that we will re-visit the issue.

His middle name is quite simple. We knew that “M” needed to be matched with a simple middle name, and when a first name ends with a strong “s” sound middle names are hard. Some people like to choose middle names based on a person in the child’s life like a grandparent. I personally have never been a huge fan of this, and will freely admit that while our son’s middle name is the same as my dad’s dad’s middle name and my mom’s, dad’s, dad’s first name, that was not a primary or secondary reason for the name choice. You see, I have long wanted to name our children after people in the Bible who walked with the Lord their whole lives. We are blessed that “J” (the disciple Jesus loved) sounds great with “M” :) The disciple Jesus loved is not the only special J! J is also the one who baptized Him and prepared the way for His ministry. There are MANY special theologians and pastors (Calvin, Edwards, and Piper to name a few) who also share this simple name. The writings and teaching of these men has helped us better understand God’s Word. Then of course there is the oldest son in our favorite TV show (Walton’s) who I have joked for months would share a name with our son. Don’t worry “boy” will not be added to our son’s middle name.

So as you can see, our son was named after

1. His Ethiopian Heritage
2.Men in the Bible who walked with the Lord (first and middle name)
3.My grandpa and great grandpa
4.Godly men who have ministered to us
5.AND (only joking) the oldest son in a certain TV show family!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What is next? Questions answered!

Before Brandon and I got married we held out our hands to the Lord and told Him that we surrender all to Him!

Six years God dropped a blessing into our outstretched hands!

What an amazing Thanksgiving we had. Our hearts are still skipping a beat as we realize that we are parents! We have loved our son since referral day, but always there was a feeling that something could go wrong. SO EXCITED that the court hoop is now over!
Talking with our agency director on Wednesday was such a great moment of joy! Sharing the news with all of you and being encouraged by your emails, comments, FB messages, etc was such a gift! If you wrote a longer personal email I will try to respond, but each of you, please know that your comments have all been saved and each is so special to us!

We are so in AWE of our Great God!

To answer your questions:

What is his name?
Great question! We are still deciding this... hopefully we will reveal something soon! We are working really hard on this, and I am losing sleep over it!
Did you have to go back to Ethiopia for the second court case?
No, our power of attorney represented us and did a great job! We will return for our embassy date and to bring M home!
When do you get to bring him home?
Well, just because we passed court doesn't mean we can ho on a plane tomorrow to pick up our son. Yes this is torture, knowing he is legally ours and so far away. The agency will be working with the US embassy to get M's papers in order for an embassy date. After the embassy date (which we will be present for in ET) a visa will be issued, and once we get that, we can hop on a plane WITH our son and fly to the US!

What steps need to take place to bring him home?
Step One: Typically, after you pass court, the clerk’s office releases the hard copy of the adoption decree 5 -20 days later.

Step Two:Once our agency has the decree, it is translated and legalized.

Step Three: The agency then will process a new birth certificate listing our family as the adoptive parents.

Step Four: Next, the immigration process is completed for the Ethiopian passport and a letter of support is obtained from MOWA.

Step Five:All of these documents must be submitted to the embassy two weeks in advance of an embassy interview. Remember, the embassy interview is when we travel to Ethiopia.

When are your agency embassy dates?

Each agency is given a day of the week for embassy appointments (ours is Wednesday) about twice a month. I think in general it is every other week, though sometimes holidays play into things.

In December, our agency has embassy interviews on December 1st, 15th, and 29th.
In January, our agency has embassy interviews on January 12th and January 26th.

So, which date is yours?

We passed court on November 24th. Since we need to complete all 5 steps two weeks before the embassy date we know that December 1st and 15th are out. December 29th is most likely 99.99% out as that would be both very quick turnaround time and also with all of the holidays the ET agency director told us (even before our first court date) that very few families would travel then and not to count on it. January 12th is also quite unlikely (less than 10% I would say) due to closure of things around ET Christmas which is in early January. We are hoping for a miracle 12th embassy date, but we are thinking that most likely we will travel for the 26th date. Yes, there is a chance that we won't make the 26th date and have to travel in February. We are hoping that is not the case! Please pray we are able to bring M home in January. *Note, even with the December 29th date we would land in the US in January :)
When do you know your embassy date?
Another great question! We might not find out for a long time. People sometimes don't learn of an embassy date until 2 or even 1 week before travel. We will have some idea in a few weeks as to the general date, but we are guessing we won't get a confirmation until very close to the date. We will not be able to order tickets until we get a confirmation to travel. Hopefully the tickets will be available and there will be room at the place we want to stay!
Can you share some more photos of your son with us?

Of course! I had to save them for the end of the post as a reward for reading the whole thing :)

My facebook profile photo: Just so in love with my sweet son!

Scooting on the floor of his room!

This photo was taken in the last hour we spent with our son. We were humming his cough away. Oh those eyes... Oh how I miss his weight on my chest... Oh the empty arms that were once filled... Oh the peace in knowing my loving Father is meeting every one of my son's needs and always will! Oh the joy in knowing we will return to that room and bring our son home!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

He is OURS!!!!!

We "passed court" and we officially have a son! I will smother this blog with photos soon, but since my house is in shambles and guests arrive soon, here is a photo of our son taken in the first five minutes we saw him!

And here are two photos of my brown eyed beauty that I stared at for months waiting to meet him!

updated donation list

No, we have not heard anything about the court case yet... waiting on the Lord, waiting on the phone call or email.

Here is the updated "needs" list from our care facilities in Ethiopia. We have received MANY clothing donations and hope to receive some of these as well. If we get second hand clothing which can't fit in out suitcases we will donate it on to a local thrift store which helps to support a Christian school in our town

The new List:
any and all arts and crafts (stickers, elmers glue, glue sticks, and pre-made
craft kits specifically)
7 and 8 year old sized pants for boys and girls
KG sized shoes
KG clothing (pants especially)
construction paper
nail clippers
disposable diapers
hair ties
fly tape
sanitary pads
I would like to add a couple of things that we noticed (I hope that is OK with the agency):
-Toddler swings (the safe bucket kind)
-Vicks (every baby is coughing)
- Toddler toys which don't require batteries!
-Board books (used are fine)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Court try #2 is tomorrow!!

Actually, court will be happening tonight while America sleeps. That is right, America will be sleeping and Shelly will be wide awake! I just can't believe that we will or will not officially become parents while we sleep tonight. Please, please, please, say a prayer for us as you go to bed tonight. If you happen to be up in the night, say another prayer. Note: even if we don't pass court, we will eventually become parents, it just means we have another court date and a longer wait to bring M home.

We won't get to find out the news right as it happens. We have to wait until we get an email from our agency, which is in the west coast. The agency opens at 11:00am our time. I will most likely give them until 1:00 to send an email. If I have not heard anything by that point I will call them. If they don't know by the end of the day, we have been given permission to call Ethiopia since the agency isn't open the rest of the week. Of course by that time it will be the middle of the night in Ethiopia so we will have to wait until almost mid-night to call and hear the good or bad news. I will post on here as soon as we know something!

We have received updates from Americans in Ethiopia that Baby M is doing so much better. Thank you all for your prayers. We also got word that he started saying a new word, "momma" :) Seriously, the little guy waits until I leave to learn that word... oh well, as long as he connects it to me when he sees me I will be fine!

We are both still fighting a cold bug, but I think we are on the mend. We have had no tummy problems since Ethiopia so we are rejoicing greatly in that! We are very excited to be celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends. What a special season! I am looking forward to decorating for Christmas this Sunday!

How are we doing emotionally?
Well, I can go through the motions really well! We had a funeral today and I was able to serve and help and not get emotional at all. Then at night, when M's bed is empty my heart gets heavy. Thank you for all of your prayers for sustaining grace in this. As much as special Christmas things will make the time go by quickly, they will also cause the heart to ache as we watch other children having fun and think about the fun that M would have with them. We continue to cling to Jesus, who is so very near to the broken-hearted. He is always with me, but something about this time makes me depend on Him more and makes my relationship with Him especially sweet. He truly is the giver of every good gift. We will officially become parents in God's perfect time. We are praying that is tonight and trusting our Great God who sees the whole picture to answer our prayers in the perfect way that He desires!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ethiopia in Photos!

*Sorry, I fully recognize that you want to see photos of our sweet Baby M. Sadly, until we pass court (we are praying we will pass tomorrow) you will have to settle for general Ethiopia photos!

Our 4 Star Ethiopian Hotel.

Our hotel room! The walls and carpet look so much better in the photo than real life.
The bathroom we spent plenty of time in. It actually looks so much nicer in the photo than in real life.

Brandon and I ready to eat!

I am about to eat my first bite of Ethiopian food!

Eating my first bite of Ethiopian food!

The amazing dancers. We have some great video footage of them doing things with their bodies that are very incredible.

Enjoying Traditional Ethiopian food with friends.

Wonderful friends at Kaldi's after we all failed court!

This is a taxi in Ethiopia. A boy or man usually has his head/body out the window yelling to everyone where they are headed. This way walkers know which taxi to take!

Friday, November 19, 2010

It was the best of times...

It was the worst of times. We got on a plane November 9th and landed in Ethiopia. We got on a plane November 17th and LEFT OUR SON IN ETHIOPIA. I want to tell you all about our trip, trust me, but after being home 12 hours, all I want to do is get a ticket back to Ethiopia and hold my sweet son!

I know sometimes these entries about travels can be long and boring. Sadly, if you don’t know us well, Ethiopia well, or adoption well, I am pretty sure these entries will be just that. It is so hard to know what to say, and what not to say. It is hard to know where to begin.

First of all, I am SO SO SO in love with my son! He is beyond beautiful. He is adorably silly. He is a babbler (much like I am here sometimes:) He does NOT like to smile for photos or laugh for the camera. Seriously, now I know why he always has a “deer in the headlights” look in snapfish albums. This kid does not like the camera. We have almost no good photos of him. We do have some good video of him as we had people sneak up on him with the camera. All I can say is, whatever footage you get to see of him before he come home, know that he is a million times more amazing in person.

We are so blessed by the families we traveled with and those we met in Ethiopia! We met many “famous” families in our agency! It was amazing!

As a disclaimer: I am writing everything post trip. I fully recognize that I flip flop tenses throughout. I am sorry. I better write quickly so I can blame the jet-lag for all errors. Also, I started writing this in the middle of the night since I woke up at 1:30 am wide awake! The most recent entry will be at the top of the screen, so scroll all the way down to the one entitled “November 9-10” and then work your way up.

After writing everything note from Shelly: I am sorry if all of these entries have been boring, but many of you asked for details, and this is surely the long version of the story. I realized that for better or worse I have been working on this for MANY hours. The day today is gray and my body is telling me it is bedtime! I guess since I have been up for over 12 hours, I should start getting productive!

One more note: Sweet M is doing much better. I received an email from two women in ET who said he is improving!

November 18th: Getting home

Technically, November 18th started for us 30 minutes after our first plane left the ground. It was a long day. As I said, thankfully the first 7 or 8 hour flight felt like 15 minutes as I slept so much. Landing in Frankfurt was hard because I slept literally until we had to get off the plane. Have you ever had to wake up from a deep sleep and walk a long ways carrying luggage? I could not make my body work. We had so much time between flights. Every time we passed a set of chairs I begged Brandon to sit in them. Finally, after passing all the “great chairs” we rested a little while. The whole security check time is a blur as I was so tired. The liquid rules are such a pain, esp in countries where you can’t drink the water, so much water is wasted... also the little ziplock bags that you have have to return the hand sanitizer to over and over again. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but in my sleepy state it seemed so hard. They also thought something was suspicious in my bag, turns out it was salt and pepper. The guards got a kick out of it! My heart was so sad as I began to wake up and hear the shallow conversations around me. I was now around English speakers who made me sad. It was nicer when I didn’t know what others were saying.
The flight from Frankfurt to Chicago seemed long, well, it was. I did sleep some. The last flight was quick and painless and we got home to our house shortly after 5:00pm. The shower felt great and I was falling asleep before 7:00. I went to bed before 8:00, which is part of the reason I have been up since 1:30 this morning. Hopefully I will be able to stay up tonight and then take something to help me sleep through the night tonight.

November 17th: Our Last Day in Ethiopia

We got up early and packed, got ready, ate, and checked out of the hotel. A taxi came and took us and our stuff to a guest house (so we could park our bags there for the day) and then to L. We tried to spend as much time with sweet M as we could. He was OK in the morning, but really wasn’t doing well in the afternoon. During our lunch break (napping time) we went to Kaldi’s and internet place and then Kaldi’s again for one last ice cream treat from Brandon. The afternoon was hard, good, but hard. Baby M was very sick. He had a horrible cough that just wouldn’t stop. It was agony to see him want to go to the caregivers as we were un-able to soothe him. Sadly, his special caregiver, “Orange” (that is the English translation of her name, and if you know us, it is pretty special) could not bring him comfort. I was holding him in the hall. I started walking and humming hymns to him, and the coughing stopped. Brandon and I then took turns for several hours walking the halls and humming hymns to our son. Oh how I pray when we hum those songs to him again his little heart will remember us. I tried to sing one special hymn (I am not saying as I don’t want any other traveling parents to accidently sing it to him) several times each day we were there in hopes that he will remember it when we return. It was one of the songs I sang to “two sweet boy” each day at nap time. As the time grew closer to leaving, I got more and more choked up at I hummed. Little M’s hair was getting quite wet at times as the tears fell. Amazingly, he DID NOT COUGH while we were doing it. Speaking of his hair, it is hilarious! He has a natural mohawk, I am serious!

The time for leaving was drawing near and my heart was breaking. We went into a back hallway and prayed over him and then I walked with him more. Almost like magic (yeah right, thanks for being awesome God!!!) right as it was time to leave our beautiful son fell asleep in momma’s arms. I then passed him off to daddy who laid him in his crib. We then said good-bye to the other children, gave him a last kiss and left. We hugged the nannies as we left. The tears were flowing freely and even Brandon who is the thinker in this marriage got a little misty eyed.

As we waited outside the blue doors Brandon reminded me that next time we go in them it will be to bring our son home. Trite as that thought was at the moment, it was true and hopeful.

I then went into “get to the airport on time” mode and turned off the tears. We went to the guest house and changed clothes and then took a taxi to the airport. It was AGONY seeing the happy families in line with babies going through security. I could not believe how icky my thoughts were towards them, talk about the jealous momma bear. Luckily God is gracious and they didn’t know. Their children were beautiful and it was helpful to observe what works well and what doesn’t in traveling home with babies.

Once through security I had many “TIA” moments. TIA stands for (This Is Africa). First of all, there are no clocks around the airport... seriously, no clocks in the restaurants, no clocks on the walls... TIA. Then the restaurant was confusing, ordering etc and we were right next to a coffee ceremony place with incense going. My head was aching... TIA. Then we realized that there are like 40 chairs outside of security, but that once you go through security you can’t go to the bathroom... TIA. While finding a place on the floor waiting I was overwhelmed with the smokers surrounding me. SO MANY SMOKERS... TIA. Actually, this is Ethiopia being nice to other countries, because our whole time in ET I think I only saw 2 smokers max. I was in such a bad mood and went for a walk. I went into the bathroom by the prayer rooms and it was squatty potties (really stinky ones). I was heading back to tell Brandon that I was going through security and “holding it” until I got on the plane when I stopped at another bathroom that had normal toilets. Nothing like a normal toilet to change my perspective and convict my heart. The only time I was agitated in ET was in the airport. Soon we were through security and on the airplane. It was on the airplane that I really lost it. I was leaving my sick baby in Ethiopia and flying 10,000 miles away from him. I felt like the worst mother in the world! Sure, this “two trip rule” did allow us to meet M earlier, see his routine, see beautiful Ethiopia, do more shopping etc, but seriously, leaving my baby was killing me. I truly and honestly thought about running out of the plane, then I thought about jumping out the door. Then as we were off the ground I just cried and cried and cried. Brandon held me and I fell asleep. It turns out I am a great plane sleeper... who knew?

November 15th: Entoto Mountains/Sabahar and November 16th: Karibo and Cipro

I spent the day in the hotel room. It was miserable. I slept a lot and spent time in the bathroom. We do believe that the children made us sick. M had his fingers in our mouths and we were kissing him. While he wasn’t showing the same symptoms due to immunities, he was carrying germs that Brandon was feeling better and was able venture out quite a bit!

Brandon went to L in the morning and then after a simple lunch of bread and bananas (good for his tummy) he went with another family up Entoto Mountain. They were able to see many interesting things including a September 11th memorial (strange to see there I am sure). On the way down they were able to stop and buy scarves at a place that makes them. Brandon bought 5 and amazingly he chose one I might actually wear. I am not sure if anyone will like the others, but the money will help women who go up and down the Mt. carrying firewood so it is a good thing no matter what and he was so sweet to buy the scarves. Yes, moms and grandmas you will be offered the scarves first!
After the Mts they went to the silk factory, Sabahar. Brandon took lots of photos. It sounds fascinating. They then went back to L and then to Kaldi’s for dinner.

November 16th: Karibo and Cipro
I was vertical, yahoo! We went to L in the morning, but I had very little energy. I will have lots to crackers, rice cakes, and other bland foods on trip two, but I was running on low fuel during much of this trip. M was not feeling well either. He had been getting worse each day, but today he was not his smiling self. It was so painful to see him sick, though I was amazed by how deeply I loved him in his sickness, how beautiful he still was to me! By this time I could trick myself into thinking that he knew there was something special about us, but I know that he gets excited for all people. I really do pray that he understands that we are different.

Brandon had a cold when we left the US, but it was getting much worse. We decided to stick to American food for the rest of the trip. We ate lunch at Karibo, a place many adoptive families eat at. Brandon had pizza and it looked good. We then went to check email and head back to L.

We learned that M has an ear infection and was given medicine. He never rubbed his ears, and his symptoms seemed to be mainly in coughing and breathing, but we hoped it would help. Throughout the afternoon he was feeling worse and worse. We took him to the clinic once and he had no fever. We also weighed him and learned he is a little over 18 pounds. Before we were ready to leave for the night he was so hot and some older boys insisted that he go to the clinic again. He did have a fever over 101 and they gave him meds. It was sad to leave him sick.

Durning our afternoon at L I was given a great gift... CIPRO! Someone leaving hadn’t needed it and passed it on to me. I was still feeling horrible, but amazingly after only a few hours I was feeling better! I REALLY recommend every family take it with when traveling to ET. I also recommend taking it as soon as you begin getting sick, not after a week of being sick.

That night we had dinner at Kings. I was able to order white rice. We had to send it back once as it had butter on it, but the second time it was right and it was great! I wish I had known of that option all week. Warm food is such a treasure!

After dinner we said good-bye to our friends who left that night and headed upstairs to pack. It was surreal to think we would be leaving the next day.

November 14th: International Evangelical Church

Today was the only day it rained while we were in ET. Every other day the weather was in the 70’s and mostly sunny. It was beautiful and the warmth was inviting!

Brandon stayed in the hotel room all day while another family took me under their wing. The day started with a shower in our room! We then went to International Evangelical Church which is located right across the street from Kings. It was such a sweet experience! Having the opportunity to sing praises to God with people from SO MANY countries was a little taste of heaven. Singing songs like “Your grace is enough” and “The Stand” gave me chills and tears!

After church we went to L to spend time with the children. We then went to lunch with a group at Island Breeze. It is a great place to eat (with American food) that is run by an adoptive family. It has very fun island atmosphere. After lunch we went back to Churchill area for more shopping. I was able to get spices to make Ethiopian food (a LONG time from now when we can no longer remember what it tasted like coming up) and other great things.

When we got back to Kings I crashed. I was feeling worse and worse all day and I just fell into the bed. After hours of laying in bed feeling awful Brandon finally convinced me that holding back the vomit was not the best idea. Our new bathroom, while working, was not too nice. It had a STRONG sewer smell, so strong that I often plugged my nose when in the bathroom. The floor and walls were quite dirty and the shower was mildew central. It was livable and with a bucket of clean and hot water, some floor cleaner etc. we would have been set... anyway... So, I did end up throwing up, all night in fact, most likely once an hour... I lost track of how many times I made trips to the bathroom. I too had a fever. I was feeling like I was going to die in Ethiopia. It was so miserable. I just wanted to go home. Each time I popped out of bed I had to slip on my flip flops and then squat by the toilet. The floor was too dirty to sit on. All I wanted to do was lay on our bathroom floor at home!

November 13th: Churchill Street and Yod Abysinnia

This morning we woke up not knowing where we would shower. We met a housekeeper on our way to the reception desk. She wanted to take us to a room on the 3rd floor when I asked her to please show us to a room on the 2nd floor. They always want to fill the 3rd floor as the rooms are much nicer, esp the bathrooms. She took us to a very small room with a pretty nasty shower. What the room lacked in style it made up for in a HUGE way with hot water! Yahooo!!! We both got to take a much needed hot shower! After showering we got ready for the day and went upstairs to back. We had arranged with some friends to move into their room when they left as it had a working shower. The front desk was confused, but after much discussion we did move into their room later that day. I was feeling much better and it was a beautiful day!

Finally we were also to go back to L to see our sweet son. The walks to and from L are always interesting. Watching the traffic, watching the animals in the traffic (it is not uncommon to see a herd of goats or a cow or two on the way to the butcher), watching the exhaust from the cars (major pollution), watch the people...there is so much to see, to hear, to smell. One day on a walk Brandon and I talked about the beautiful Ethiopian people. Truly, they have a much better ratio or beautiful to not as beautiful (outwardly, I know this sounds shallow, but is meant in a great way) than any other place I have been. Everyone is beautiful! For months I have stared in awe at Ethiopian people and now I am surrounded by them. Another thing about the walk that amazed me is how comfortable I was in Ethiopia. I am a tall pale woman married to and walking with a tall pale man. Yes, we did stick out. The strange thing was, it didn’t fill like we did. I never felt out of place, I never felt like I looked different. I can’t explain it well, but it was pretty amazing.

After the morning with M we had lunch across from L with another family. It was a very cool little place and each person ate for about 1USD. After lunch Dawit took us to Churchill street. Dawit is great, so great! Churchill street is a market like street filled with shops where you can buy Ethiopian things. Dawit took us to his friend’s shop first and we were able to get great deals with out having to haggle for better prices which is good since I stink at it. How do I know we got good prices? Well, after that store we went to others and we paid half or less than half of the “foreigner price” the others were asking. We spent a long time in the first store and bought so much stuff! It was exciting to open the bags that night and see everything spread across the bed. If you want us to get you something on the next trip let us know and be specific. After much shopping we wend back to L for a little while.

For dinner we walked to a special Ethiopian restaurant called Yod Abysinnia. It was a place with food and coffee, but also lots of cultural entertainment. We were blessed to go with the volunteer group from our agency. The biggest blessing was to go with an Ethiopian who spoke great English. She sat next to me and talked with the servers.. AND... I GOT TO EAT ETHIOPIAN FOOD!!!! I knew that teff is gluten free, but as teff prices have gone up places are starting to use some teff and some wheat in injera. This injera was pure teff and nothing else had gluten in it. Normally all of the “wats” have butter in them, but if you order a “fasting tray” they are dairy free. Nothing has sugar in it, so I was set! It was SO SO SO GOOD! I think I just glowed all through dinner. It had been heartbreaking to not be able to eat the food of my son’s country and I was so thankful to finally be eating it. What a special gift! The entertainment was awesome. We have some great photos and video. The dancers were SO talented! This was by far the nicest place we ate at and cost 12.00 a person which included the show and food!
That night Brandon didn’t feel well. It seemed like it was the dinner, but it was starting earlier and we know it was from the babies. He woke up twice in the night to throw-up and had a fever.

November 12th: Court Day!

The day the whole trip was about was finally here. We were up early and ready to head down to our second floor room for a shower. We were about to put the key in a door when a housekeeper stopped us and informed us that someone was now staying in the room. That was a close call! She then brought us to a 3rd floor room and turned on the shower for us. Nothing came out of the shower so she led us to another room on the second floor. Note: Most showers on the 3rd floor have very little pressure, or very little warm water, or both. The room we were led to shower in today had a bathtub and a shower head (the removable kind) but no curtain. Already we knew this would be an adventure. I showered first and learned that there wasn’t enough pressure to get the water up the hose out the shower head so I was forced to kneel and take a pretty cold shower out of the bath tub faucet. Showering is made even harder when you are trying to make sure no water gets into your mouth. I was not sure if I was cleaner after this shower.

We were told we would have our court appointment in the afternoon. We got a ride to see M today along with another family and all of our donations. During the ride we asked the ET director many questions about court and other things. Once with M we began playing and Brandon was about to feed him some bananas when someone came to the room to say, “court is now.” The director was willing to drive us back to the hotel so we could change clothes and not have to appear at court in jeans and T-shirts. We quickly changed and then headed back to the center to meet other families. We all traveled together and we were all nervous.

Once at the courthouse we learned the sad news that because none of us had letters written that were needed (basically a 5 lined cover letter) we would not be passing court. This news was so sad, yet because we were all in this together and because we all knew ahead of time, the blow wasn’t as bad. Honestly, I didn’t even cry. We did get a chance to meet with the judge. She is a very soft spoken women who asked us several questions. We were with her about 2 minutes. She was very nice. I answered most of the questions, mainly because Brandon could not even really hear her.

We learned that we will have a new court date next week on November 24th. PLEASE pray that we pass court. Please pray that the letter from MOWA will be submitted. Also, we learned that the orphanage that M was first brought to (not affiliated with our agency) did not follow through on what they need to do as far as relinquishment. PLEASE PRAY that they will do what needs to be done also so that M will officially become ours on Wednesday. This would be the best Thanksgiving present we could ever imagine!

We also learned that our case is not embassy ready. I will be calling the NBC soon to try to hurry things along. It turns out our new homestudy/171-H which was done in July has not been forwarded to the embassy in Ethiopia. I hope to nag until it does!

After court we headed back to the care facility to see M. After a very short time we had to leave so he could nap. We then went to Kaldi’s for lunch (keep in mind that unless otherwise noted, only Brandon ate and I ate Larabars, fruit leather, and other Shelly safe foods). After lunch we were able to email some people and then even hear back from some people before we left the internet station.

We then went back to L to spend time with Baby M. He continues to show us all his cuteness until we get out a camera and he stares! Trust me, he is CUTE!

After leaving L for the day we headed back to Kaldi’s for dinner (yes you are noticing a pattern). We enjoyed time there as a large group and even met the Sr. Pastor of the International Evangelical Church which we were planning to visit. We were so blessed to be traveling with so many amazing Believers! Truly a gift! This was also the night that the ice cream creations began. We were drowning our court failure sorrows in dairy:)

November 11th Meeting our son!!

We were up early and excited to meet Baby M. After showering in our room on the 2nd floor, we went down for breakfast and I was able to have a hard boiled egg and some fruit. The fruit was really warm. We met our agency’s volunteer coordinator and many members of her team. She seems famous to me. It was an extra blessing to be there with her. The team all told us how lovable our son is and I was so excited to meet him. We also got to meet more great friends who were also staying at the hotel. We all decided to walk over together. It was about a 10 minute walk. As we walked my tummy churned. Yes, I was nervous, but this was an intense churn. We still don’t know if it was elevation (Addis is about 8000 ft) or the fruit (pretty sure I was suffering cross-contamination) but I was not feeling great. When we got to the care center I went straight to the bathroom, a place I sadly spent much time. Going to the bathroom a lot in a place that has no working water is a humbling experience, but by God’s grace I survived. We were led into the baby area and we were finally able to meet our sweet baby. He was stunned to meet us. There were lots of people in a small hallway and lots of cameras going (remember how I told you of his dislike for them) and he just stared. He was so beautiful and I am so thankful it was on tape as it was so surreal (like engagement, wedding day etc) that I have no idea what I said or did or how I acted.

Because of my MANY trips to the bathroom Brandon had to step up to the dad role in full force. He is amazing with M! M says “dada” really well which is a nice reward for Brandon. M does say “dada” when most men enter the room, but it won’t be long before he really knows who is daddy is!

We had to leave the care center from lunchtime until 3:30 each day so the babies could rest. On the walk back to the hotel (and the earlier walk too) we saw so many things my eyes have never seen. Some things very beautiful, some things very devastating. We saw a man laying partially in the gutter who appeared to be very ill. We stopped and tried to get others who were also stopping to move him safely away from the road. He was just a boy, less than 14 I would guess. He looked so sick. My heart broke. Many were trying to help him which warmed my heart. Once at the hotel we had lunch with dear friends! One friend hooked me up with “Cell-Power” which helps the body adjust to elevation. I took some other meds (yes, I have popped more pills in the last week than I have in the last year) and actually started to feel a bit better.

We took a little time to organize our suitcases. We packed prepared to lose luggage so that meant that all of our things were in every suitcase. It was a nightmare to find anything and it felt so good to get things in order. Even in Ethiopia, I needed to organize.

We went back to see M after his nap. We learned from friends that when they walked back to the care center the boy (from earlier) was laying back in the gutter, dead! This means we saw him in the last hour of his life. My eyes and heart will never forget this.

The afternoon was much better than the morning, with almost no trips to the bathroom. Thanks Imodium, you rock! M was babbling like crazy. He is so smart (biased, I know) and knew where his nose was when a nanny asked him. Speaking of nannies, M has the BEST! They love him! I feel so thankful knowing where he is and the care he is getting. He is surrounded by loving women who are standing in the gap for us and I am grateful beyond words! Just as I cried when we walked out of the blue door this time, I know I will cry next time as they will all have to say good-bye to him. It is so amazing how frequently pain and joy meet in adoption.

Later, we walked over to the agency guest house to visit some other families and check things out. It is a very nice and cozy place. Brandon was able to eat there as well. On the way back to Kings we stopped at Kaldi’s Coffee (Ethiopian version of Starbucks). They might be trying to copy the American coffee house, but we all know that coffee was BORN in Ethiopia! Kaldi’s has amazing ice cream (according to everyone who had it) and the staff got a huge kick out of our American appetites for ice cream. Not only did we go there often, but we ordered big. Brandon always got two scoops (which honestly is very little as the scoop is small and it is two literal scoops) and then others in the group ordered more and more and even tried to make speciality ice cream treats. I don’t think the staff will ever forget us!

After ice cream we discovered a great internet place above Kaldi’s. We used it several times during our trip!

We learned that 3 of the families with our agency didn’t pass court that day. This was very sad for us as our court day was the next day!

Nov 9-10th Heading to Ethiopia

We left our home on November 9th. We flew to Chicago, then Frankfurt, then Addis Ababa. We arrived in Addis late on November 10th. The travel was made more bearable as we met other adoptive families along the way. It was such a blessing to travel with them and share our adoption journeys together. Once in Addis we had to get visa’s (this took a long time), change money (which Brandon did while I was in the visa line), get our luggage (which was there waiting for us after our long wait in the visa line), and head to Kings Hotel. We took our luggage all the way to the airport shuttle when we were met by men who carried our luggage up the shuttle stairs. They then wanted to be paid by each of us. The hotel driver should have stopped the men and we didn’t know what we were doing. Be prepared on this.

We arrived at Kings and they had a room for us on the 3rd floor. We were so tired that we decided to just go to sleep and shower in the morning, but I wanted to at least wash my feet. I tried to turn on the shower and nothing happened. There were many buttons (new showers on 3rd floor) and I could not figure it out. We went down to the desk and they came up and discovered we had pretty much no water coming out of the shower (like less than a drinking fountain). The man took us to a shower on 2nd floor and that worked well. He then gave us the key to that room too, and told us to shower there the next morning. Yes, that is right, we did have to go downstairs to take showers. (Note: more to come on this in other days, but if you are leaving soon, request a room on a lower floor as the water will more likely work and be warm) We fell into bed exhausted, but praising God that we were so close to our son!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Time to Register!

*Update after registering* The Target I went to is a very small Target. I hope to get to a bigger Target next week which will have Pack N' Plays and other things I am excited to add to the list!

The day I truly thought would NEVER come has indeed come! After attending DOZENS of baby showers, printing off all those lists at Target... it is my turn! I really never thought I would be blessed with the opportunity to scan baby items. Brandon is very busy right now, so he might want to add some things to the list when he returns home, but I will get it started today! I am nervous and excited!

I will not be scanning any clothes (OK, maybe a few things if they are REALLY cute) as we don't know the exact size, and we were just given LOTS (3 huge totes) of hand-me-down clothes! They are so beautiful! We even got 4 pairs of Robeez slippers! Wow! Other friends have send us hand-me downs, and we even got some super cute brand new baby clothes this weekend from my parents! We are very blessed in the clothes department!

Off to Target to get a price gun!

Agency Donation Request List!


If you would like to contribute some gently used items you would otherwise toss to the children waiting for forever families that would be awesome! This is something you don't have to spend money on and you know know it is blessing children around the world!

We will be taking two trips so if you would like to send something but can't get it to us soon we can take it over for trip two! We will be seeing our families (most likely) before trip two so you can give them donations as well!

Here is the list of items our agency is requesting we bring. This is a VERY new list and I realize it is more updated that I told some of you previously:

Paint brushes,
bubbles, (we are a bit nervous to travel with these)
cloth diapers/diaper covers (THIS IS A BIG ONE!) (OLD SCHOOL KIND, not Bum Genius)
A &D ointment,
and KG/Todd clothes. (4-7)

Remember to give us things that have lots of life left in them so they can be used by many!

He Sits!!!

We received a new photo of our son on Monday morning!! He received his "welcome bag" last week and was wearing the little "I love mommy" shirt we sent. He was holding FROGGY (read story by clicking here)! It was such a special photo. The photo will always be a miracle photo for us as he is sitting on his own in the photos! Traveling families who saw him two weeks ago know he wasn't sitting at that time! God has answered our prayers and he is getting stronger! He is still quite tiny and the 9month little shirt is huge on him. I am OK with him being a bit tiny at first as I will then get to see him as a little guy! We feel so blessed and are so excited to think that 2 weeks from right now we will be on Ethiopian soil!

Our tickets have been purchased, our hotel is reserved... we are getting closer each day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BIG NEWS! Three weeks from today...

we will be holding our sweet Baby-M. We will meet him in person. We will know him in more than two dimensions! Even as I type I am in total shock! This is news we knew would come sometime, but for it to come now, so quickly, is causing us to just fall on our faces before our great King who has a plan so much bigger than ours!

So are you curious for details?

We had been praying that we would hear of a court date by the end of the month. We didn't think it would really be possible, but we we hoping and praying big prayers. Last week we learned that we would be able to travel to Ethiopia for either court date. In the past (since the two trip rule) two dates were given to families. The first court date was where the bio family could come and much other legal things. The second court date was for the family to say they did want to adopt the child. They now decided that families can come to the earlier court date. This will also speed up the process to the Embassy date when we will actually get to take Baby-M home.

What, you don't get to take him home?

It is true, if you are new to following this blog you might not know that we indeed have to make two trips to Ethiopia. We will be home for a month or two between trips. Yes, that will be the hardest thing I have ever done, to meet and then leave my son, but by God's grace I will be able to do it!

How did you find out?

After a great two day retreat I was hoping to come home to a phone message or email. Sadly, we received neither. Last night, just as Brandon headed to a meeting, I checked my email and we got the best email ever. It was entitled "court" and told us that we indeed had a court date!!! I then was shaking like crazy and had to wait almost 2 hours to tell Brandon. I did as much research as I could in that time though we still have SO MUCH to do!

When do you travel?

Our court dates are in mid-November, actually pretty early November. We will give you specific dates in you really want to know (to pray). We will be in ET for about a week so we can see the beautiful country of our son and get to know him!

We have much to do now as we count down the days. My "to-do" list is so long (flights, places to stay, things to do etc) that I can't write too long! Please join us in praising God for this great news!! We will post prayer requests soon, but now, just praise God with us!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Time passes so quickly... time is standing still... adoption update!

Celebrating our Referral of Baby M with a candlelight dinner!

Most days I feel like I blink and it is bedtime! Our fall schedule is so packed that the days fly by! This has really helped the last month since our referral of Baby M go by very quickly... THEN AGAIN...

sometimes it seems like Baby M is growing up so fast and we are missing it! Today we were blessed by photos and video of Baby M. Oh the videos are amazing! I just keep saying over and over as I watch them, "there is my son" but the thing is... THERE is my son... not here! I just want to jump on a plane and never leave his crib (yes, I know that I can't do that and yes, I am a rule follower and would never really do that).

Brandon and I signing our acceptance papers before a notary!

Baby-M update and general update:

-Baby M is now 14 months old! I keep wondering how old he will be when we meet him and how old he will be when he comes home!
-He is most likely currently wearing 9 month clothing. I am not sure if this means he will be in 12 month when he gets home or still in 9 month.
- Our case was submitted to court! We don't know the exact date (though hope to find out this week) but are thankful that we are "in line" for a court date!
-Our agency said that we would learn of a court date by the end of the month, though we are going to give a little grace on this and recognize it could still be a month from now before we hear of a date!
-When will the court date be? Great question! Sometimes families receive a court date 2 months away or sometimes less than 3 weeks away! We are praying for one trip before Christmas!
-Baby M's welcome bag should be arriving in ET in about a week. When he receives it we will get a photo of him in his new gear, and hopefully hugging Froggy!
-We learned that the way we have said Baby M's name is different than the way the nannies say it. Yet another thing to figure out! We are still TOTALLY up in the air in the name department!
- In the video Baby M is out of the Bumbo which is a HUGE PRAISE!!!! Baby M has spent a lot of time in the Bumbo seat. This is something that a few years ago I would have been pumped about as I thought they were so cool, but I now know that they do nothing for posture or back and tummy muscles and when your 14 month old can't sit, you want him in positions that stimulate his muscles. Anyway, he was on his tummy in the videos and photos. We saw him roll to his left side and on to his back. He was also putting much weight on his arms and almost seemed to put some weight on his legs as well! We are praying that we get to see him sit on our court trip!

There is so much else I want to say! We are so in awe of God's hand in our lives right now! We feel so blessed to be in this wonderful place and part of such a wonderful church! I wish I could say more, but know that we are thankful!

We appreciate your prayers for our son and also for my grandma F. Some of you know that my grandma has been dealing with some scary medical stuff! She seems to be having good and bad days! She is an amazing woman and we are praying that the medicine would start to work well with her body. It is sad when the very thing that can heal you does scary things!

Grandma and I at a family reunion Summer 2008

Our house: Our yellow house is now red!!! It looks great! We are excited to landscape in the spring, but we think the improvement in every area is amazing!

One final note: Our agency is dealing with an interesting situation right now. They have many waiting young children. Many boys who are between 4 and 6 years old. They are healthy, beautiful, young, and need forever families so badly. Please pray for these sweet children and the millions they represent all over the world who yearn for a mother's embrace and a father's encouraging word!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What is for supper in September? Day 30: Pakistani Kima

I can’t believe it, but I actually caught up! This is my 18th post of the day! I was very committed to finishing what I started. I am really good at starting things, but honestly, I stink at follow through. I am not sure how many people will enjoy these recipes, but for me it has become a project I can actually say I completed! Hmm, maybe I WILL get some of my projects completed before Baby-M comes home. Speaking of Baby-M, we were able to see 5 new photos of him on snapfish this morning! He is growing! Oh how we long to meet him!!

This recipe this my favorite recipe from the “More With Less” cookbook. I have modified it slightly. I would really recommend this cookbook for those who like hearty food made from scratch! Not that many recipes are totally Shelly friendly, but many can be easily modified.

Pakistani Kima
1 pound ground beef
1 onion chopped
1-2 garlic cloves or garlic powder
2T curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
1t cinnamon
1t ginger
1t tumeric
2 cans diced tomatoes or equal of fresh ( I will use fresh tonight)
2-3 potatoes diced
1 can green beans drained (or frozen)

Brown meat with garlic and onions
Add spices tomatoes, potatoes, and green beans and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
Serve over rice.
I might :) add more seasoning than this as I taste!

What is for supper in September? Day 29: Sweet and Sour Pork

This is another meal we like to bring to families desiring meals. It has a cozy comfort food type of taste. It is modified from a recipe from Brandon’s mom. We do eat more pork that this September shows. We also grill it or bake it from time to time. We actually did have this for dinner last night! I can’t believe I have caught up!

Pineapple Pork
Two large pork chops (I buy the kind that is boneless and skinless)
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 can chunk pineapple
1/2 cup water
3T vinegar
2T corn starch
2T soy sauce (San-J GF)

Cut pork into bite size pieces
Brown pork in lightly oiled pan
Once browned add onions and peppers and saute slightly
Mix juice from pineapple, water, vinegar, cornstarch, and soy sauce in bowl until not lumpy
Pour mixture into frying pan and cook on medium until sauce boils
Then simmer for 40 minutes
Add pineapple chunks and cook for 5 more minutes
Serve over rice!

What is for supper in September? Day 28: Tamale Casserole

This recipe was found in a gluten free cookbook and has been modified only slightly from Bette Hagman’s recipe. I have added a few extra things and lovingly refer to this casserole as “rainbow casserole” as it has so many colors.

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 can drained sweet corn (watch labels)
1-2 cloves garlic or garlic powder
1 8oz can Hunts tomato sauce 110% natural Basil, Garlic and Oregano flavor (usually I am not picky with brands, and yes their are generic sauces which are GF, but the seasoning blend in this is great)
1 cup almond milk (or other kind)
1/2 cup cornmeal (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1T chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat with onions, peppers, and garlic in a large wok (or frying pan).
Add tomato sauce, corn, and heat
Add milk, cornmeal, salt and pepper, chili powder.
Pour into greased (use a bit of olive oil) casserole container
Bake covered at 350 for 45 minutes
Remove cover and bake 20 minutes
Let stand 5 minutes.
Serve with yellow corn tortilla chip and taco sauce if desired. Brandon of course like to add sour cream and cheese to his servings.

What is for supper in September? Day 27: Meatloaf

This is one of the only meals that I made in our early days of marriage (before I really figured out how to cook) that I still make and we still enjoy today! We really like eating the meatloaf with boiled red potatoes served with olive oil and herbs de provence sprinkled on top. We also enjoy edamame with this meal!

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1 medium onion chopping very finely
1 8oz can Hunts tomato sauce 110% natural Basil, Garlic and Oregano flavor (usually I am not picky with brands, and yes their are generic sauces which are GF, but the seasoning blend in this is great)
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup puffed rice (gluten free, cheap in ethnic markets)
1-2T chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients (besides tomato paste) in a mixing bowl and knead together with hands until mixed well.
Form and ball and lift out of bowl and into 8x8 baking pan (bakes faster and easier than loaf pan)
Spread tomato paste on top of meat mixture and re-season if desired
Bake at 375 for 60 minutes!

What is for supper in September? Day 26: Mustard Chicken

This is one of Brandon’s families favorite things to cook on the grill. You can also bake it in the oven, which tends to be easier for me so that is how I will write the recipe

Mustard Chicken Thighs
10 chicken thighs- skinned
1 cup mustard (read label)
1/2 cup lemon juice (squeezed or 100% juice from bottle)
1.5 sticks of Willow Run margarine
Salt and pepper to taste

Arrange chicken bone side UP in baking pan.
Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer.
After 25 minutes, turn chicken bone side DOWN
Brush, rub, or pour half of the sauce on the chicken.
Bake for 25-35 minutes more until cooked.
Reheat remaining sauce and serve with chicken!

This meal is a great summer meal served with corn on the cob, watermelon, and other messy foods!

What is for supper in September? Day 25: Grandma’s Beef Stew

This is one of my favorite meals of all time! All the F-Family cousins remember the taste and smell of this classic. Recently I learned that even though we often ate it at grandma’s house, it was my mom who introduced it to her family. This recipe was given to my mom in her Home Ec. class and has now become a family favorite. I believe I may have written about it in the past. Sadly, I do modify the recipe a bit, but our family can find the non-modified recipe in the family cookbook!

Beef Stew
1 round steak (1 1/2 pounds typically) cut into small chunks
1 box of beef stock (read label)
2 stalks celery chopped
3-5 carrots (large ones cut into pieces, not baby carrots)
4-5 potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 c. cooking wine (read label)
water to cover veggies
corn starch

Brown meat chunks.
Mix cornstarch (2T) with some of the beef stock.
Add beef stock and veggies.
Add cooking wine.
Add a bit more water if veggies are not fully covered.
Cook on low heat 2-4 hours
Season with salt and pepper as desired

What is for supper in September? Day 24: Breakfast for dinner!

Every once in a while it tastes so good to have breakfast for dinner. We honestly don’t do it often as pancake ingredients are expensive, but we always enjoy it when we do!

Pancakes and Omelets - Shelly Style

Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free Pancake Mix
Eggs (some for pancake mix and however many you want for omelets)
Olive oil
Almond milk
Maple Syrup (only the REAL stuff)
Trader Joe’s Salsa red or green

For pancakes: Heat griddle or pan and follow instructions on package. I tend to add a lot more milk than they say. This makes the mix g a lot further and the pancakes still work I also add almond milk, not soy, and olive oil, not canola.
Serve with syrup

Pancake ideas: I sometimes add banana to make the mix go farther, or I add cinnamon and raisin for different flavor. When doing these choices, I do not serve syrup over pancakes.

Omelets: For each omelet:
Mix two eggs and 1 or 2T Almond milk
Pour into heated and oiled small frying pan
Cook one side completely constantly scraping around the edges and turning pan so raw egg fills in the sides
Flip omelet and cook other side
Pour salsa on half of omelet and fold other half over
Top with more salsa (and cheese for Brandon)

What is for supper in September? Day 23: BBQ Chicken Thighs

This is a tasty meal that is baked and causes the whole house to smell great. We usually eat this with baked potatoes!

BBQ Chicken Thighs
6 chicken thighs - skinned
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves or powdered garlic
1 T olive oil
2 cans tomato paste
3T honey
3T soy sauce (San J GF)
2T mustard (read labels)
1T Vegenaise (Shelly safe version on Mayo)
1/2t crushed red pepper
1 or 2T chili powder (to taste)

Arrange chicken bone side UP in baking pan.
Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, for sauce, in a saucepan cook onion and garlic in oil until tender.
Stir in the rest of ingredients and heat through
After 25 minutes, turn chicken bone side DOWN
Brush, rub, or pour half of the sauce on the chicken.
Bake for 25-35 minutes more until cooked.
Reheat remaining sauce and serve with chicken!

What is for supper in September? Day 22: Tropical Beef

Brandon says this tastes like dessert! We often serve this with stir fry veggies which I make separately but we combine on our plates. We like snap peas, peppers, mushrooms, carrots etc with this one! There are frozen stir fry veggies (we used to get them in Chicago-land) available that don’t have any added ingredients. They are a simple fix for this meal. Now that I am typing this out, I need to search for them around here!

Tropical Beef

1 pound ground beef
1 onion
Garlic powder
San J soy sauce (GF)
Salt and pepper to taste
One can crushed pineapple
Sugar free coconut pieces (natural food stores or sections of grocery stores)

Brown meat with onions
Season with garlic, salt and pepper
Add generous amounts of honey, soy sauce
Add all contents of crushed pineapple
Heat through
Sprinkle generous coconut on top
Serve over rice

What is for supper in September? Day 21 Beef Stroganoff

This meal works great for us on a Sunday morning since the meat can cook in the crock pot while we are at church. Coming home to warm food after a long Sunday morning is one of my favorite simple joys!

Beef Stroganoff (1/2 crock pot style)

1 round steak
1 medium onion chopped
2 cans coconut milk
1 or 2 can(s) mushrooms
1 package fettuccine noodles Pasta Joy (look for the rabbit on bag, remember)
corn starch (as needed)
salt and pepper to taste

Place round steak, onions, mushrooms, and one can coconut milk in crock pot.
Season with salt and pepper
Cook on high about 3 hours (I pop home before the second service :)
Mix a bit (1T) of corn starch with second can of coconut milk until dissolved
Add mixture to crock pot and turn to low
Cook 2 more hours (total, this includes time with noodles)
Cook noodles following instructions on package
Break apart steak (should be tender and break easily with a fork)
Drain noodles and add to crock pot and cook 20 minutes (add more spices if desired)

What is for supper in September? Day 20: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Well, this soup isn’t totally chicken tortilla soup. It is a hybrid between that and a spicy corn chowder, and possibly a couple other soups. I just mixed things until this soup happened. It is winter favorite at our house!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 split chicken breast - skinned (I bet you can guess where this is going)
1 can of corn -drained (read labels... they sneak sugar in there sometimes)
2 cans coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock (Trader Joe’s box stock or other, read label!)
1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies (Aldi variety)
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
4 potatoes peeled and cut into small chunks
Corn tortillas
Spices: garlic powder, chili powder, bay leaves, basil, salt and pepper

In order to cook this the fastest I have several things happening at once!
In one pan boil chicken breast in water for 45 minutes or until done.
In another pan I combine all other ingredients. I bring to a boil and simmer.
When chicken is done; debone, shred, and add to soup pot.
Taste as you cook and add spices as you desire. I usually put in about 4 bay leaves and guess on the rest.

When serving, lay a tortilla in the bottom of bowl before adding soup. Shred more tortilla on top if desired!

What is for supper in September? Day 19: Norwegian Meatballs

This is a meal that we didn’t have this month, but that I love so much. This is what my family eats each year for Christmas Eve. Well, I should say, this is part of what we eat on Christmas Eve! This makes a lot. but it is recipe I always use, and I just hope I have a crowd to serve it to!

Norwegian Meatballs and Gravy
3 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup crushed puffed rice
3/4 cup almond milk (or other)
2T minced onions
2t salt
1/2 t pepper
3/4t allspice
1/4 t oregano

5 cups beef stock (this is where I use my beef stock saved from pot roast if I have any or box stock, be very careful with labels)
5T corn starch
Spices: minced onions, salt, pepper, allspice, and oregano

Mix well; form into balls
Brown in a frying pan and place in a large casserole container (or two)
Mix one cup of stock with corn starch to dissolve starch
Add starch mixture, rest of stock, and spices to taste to frying pan juices
Simmer until a gravy forms
Pour gravy over meatballs
Cover and bake for 2 hours at 350
Yields about 20 meatballs

We serve this with mashed potatoes, veggies, and oh so much more on Christmas Eve!

What is for supper in September? Day 18: Mango Chicken

We first learned of this recipe when our dear friend Renie made it for us. I am not sure if we have modified it from its start, but we give her credit and we really enjoy it!

Mango Chicken
1 split chicken breast
1/2 bag of carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 bag of celery, chopped
1 large mango cut into small bits
San-J Tamari Soy Sauce
Ginger (as much as desired)
Basil (as much as desired)
Olive Oil

Remove chicken skin
Marinate Chicken with honey and soy sauce
With plenty of water in pan. boil chicken with honey and sauce for one hour until cooked
While chicken is boiling: chop all veggies/fruit
Heat olive oil and ginger in pan until it crackles
Add carrots with generous amounts of honey and soysauce and cook through
Add celery and cook through
Debone and shred chicken
Add chicken to stir-fry (If water has cooked down to a thick sauce, which is should, add this too)
Top with mango and basil and cook through
Serve over warm cooked rice

What is for supper in September? Day 17: Oven Fried Chicken

Our brother-in-law recommended this recipe which we have modified a bit to make it Shelly friendly. We don’t have it too often, but we really enjoy it!

Oven Fried Chicken
6 chicken thighs (with skin removed)
1 beaten egg
3 T almond (or other) milk
2 cups crushed puffed rice (this is special GF puffed rice which I usually buy at ethnic markets for a great price for a large bag)
1t thyme
1t basil
2t paprika
2t chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
3T melted Willow Run GF margarine

In a small bowl combine egg and milk
In a second bowl mix crushed puffed rice and spices
Skin chicken
Dip chicken pieces (one at a time) into egg bowl then seasoning bowl

Grease a large baking pan with Willow Run
Arrange chicken with the bone side down in pan (make sure they are not touching)
Drizzle chicken with melted Willow Run
Bake uncovered at 375 for 50 minutes (depends on thickness of chicken)
Serve with mashed potatoes and a veggie! How do I mash potatoes? I just peel and boil then add almond milk instead of regular milk after then are mashed!

What is for supper in September? Day 16: Fiesta Night!

This is Brandon’s favorite meal. We serve it frequently for guests. We often refer to it as “Mexican Meal” or “Nachos” but it is actually a collection of our Mexican Favorites! This meal uses lots of ingredients, lots of pots and pans, and lots of clean up, but it is VERY tasty!

“Mexican Meal”

Mexican Beef:
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 red pepper chopped
La Victoria Taco Sauce (La Victoria makes many great GF products)
Spices: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste. I use lots of spices, note that cayenne and cumin can get to be too much quite fast!

Brown meat with onions
Add peppers and cook through
Add spices and about 1/2 cup of water (like you do for taco meat) and simmer
Add La Victoria sauce if desired (I often wait and we add at the table)
A few minutes before serving, add torn pieces of cilantro to top

Refried Beans
2 can fat free refried beans (watch the labels here)
1/2 can Diced tomatoes and chilies (I like the Aldi kind best)
Spices: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper, onion flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.

Empty beans into sauce pan
Add 3/4 can of water and stir until a gravy is formed
Add tomatoes and spices

Spanish Rice
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1 small can tomato sauce (watch labels here)
1/2 can of Diced Tomatoes (see refried beans)
Spices: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper, onion flakes, salt, and pepper to taste.

Bring 2 cups water to boil
Add rice and onion flakes and simmer until water is gone
Add tomatoes and sauce as well as spices
Continue to heat on low until all is ready

1 ripe avocado
garlic powder, onion flakes, salt, and pepper
lime juice

Cut avocado in half and scoop out contents
Smash avocado
add spices, lime juice, and torn cilantro
chill in fridge until meal
*note place large seed in center of guacamole and put plastic wrap over bowl pressed down to guacamole. This will totally prevent the browning of the avocado!

The meal is serve over or with yellow corn tortilla chips (read labels). This meal can also be eaten on corn tortillas. You can basically stack the ingredients on top of each other. I top mine with La Victoria Sauce while Brandon adds sour cream and cheese also.

What is for supper in September? Day 15: Coconut Curry Chicken

This meal has a little kick, but is so warm and cozy. It is my personal favorite comfort food!

Coconut Curry Chicken
1 large split chicken breast
2 cans coconut milk
1 scoop Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste (World Market, grocery stores etc. Thai kitchen has many GF products and you can locate the words GLUTEN FREE on all GF products!)
2 cups of rice
Curry spice, salt, and pepper to taste

Remove skin from chicken breast
Place chicken breast in pan with plenty of water
Season chicken breast with curry, salt, and pepper
Boil chicken breast for about 45 minutes (depending on size)
Debone and shred chicken and return it to pan (make sure to dump out all remaining water)
Add two cans of coconut milk and more seasoning to taste
Add one generous (to taste) Tablespoon of Green Curry Paste
Bring to boil
The chicken will be in a green gravy like sauce
Serve over rice

We usually have mixed veggies and oranges with this. It is nice to have something sweet to eat after this meal.

What is for supper in September? Day 14 Crock Pot Roast Beef

This meal is my standard meal to take to new moms. I think I made it monthly at our last church during a baby boom!

Crock Pot Roast Beef
1 large roast (you choose the cut)
1 pound of carrots peeled and cut into slices
8 med to large potatoes cut into quarters
minced onion, salt, and pepper to taste

In the morning: place the roast and a full glass of water in the crock pot with desired seasonings.
Set crock pot on high
At noon or 1:00pm add potatoes and carrots and water if needed and turn to low
If eating after 6:00pm make sure to turn to keep warm

This tasty meal can be stretched by saving all the water (now broth) and thickening it for gravy in the future or for left overs. I always freeze my broth for beef stock as needed.

What is for supper in September? Day 13: Trader Joe’s Night

*I promised you I would catch up on the meals sometime. Well, it is the last day of September, so look for 18 or more posts from me today! Uffda!!!

*These meals were not exactly eaten the days they are featured... I can’t remember what I made each night. We also didn’t eat them all this month as we actually did quite a bit of grilling.

This is a favorite meal at our home and literally the only thing I make that is this simple “out of the bag” style. This is great on shopping day since I am usually in a hurry.

Trader Joe’s Night (Sausage stir-fry with edamame)
-1 package of Edamame (we like the ones still in shells)
-1 package Fire Roasted Bell Peppers and Onions
-1 Smoked Fresh Turkey Kielbasa
-2 Sweet potatoes (could be purchased anywhere)
-San J Tamari sauce (not usually found at Trader Joe’s)

Bake sweet potatoes for one hour at 400 (more or less depending on size)
Empty edamame into saucepan with a little water. Bring to boil and then simmer.
Cut the kielbasa into little circles and stirfry with the peppers and onions
Add soy sauce to taste!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Big Brown Eyes

Baby M has about the biggest brown eyes I have ever seen, and this is saying a lot since I read MANY ET adoption blogs and many beautiful children have big brown eyes. They are so beautiful and so deep!

Two weeks ago our lives changed forever and these eyes have captivated us ever since! On referral day I actually could not take my eyes off his face (via photo) long enough to watch the start of the NFL season! For the first time ever I can say I have watched almost no football two weeks into the season. I have, however, stared into my little mans big brown eyes!

I spent much of Sunday on Snapfish looking for photos of Baby M. His big brown eyes give him away quite quickly. After MANY hours I found over 50 photos of him on snapfish! Today I was able to print off more photos and even frame a few. I am excited to hang them up tonight so I can see them on the wall each day!

Today I was able to send our welcome bag to our agency. Our welcome bag contained Froggy, who you can read about HERE, a little all in one outfit size 9 months (will it fit?), a photo album that he can drool on, and some chewing toys. Many photos have been taken with his fingers in his mouth, so I am guessing he is teething. We were able to get Baby M's name sewn into Froggy this week so everyone who cares for Baby M will know who the frog belongs to. I took several photos of the welcome bag which I will post soon. Brandon took a photo of me with the little clothes on my tummy so we will have an idea of our big Baby M is as we see a photo of him in it! I sure hope someone can deliver this bag soon!

We still have heard nothing about court dates, but the courts open next week, I think, so maybe we will hear soon. I am still committed to waiting to call until October 8th, (two weeks from tomorrow) but praying that we hear something before that time!

Our ministries are in full swing and life is busy, but blessed! Yesterday was a day of great joy! For the first time in a long time I had the opportunity to minister out of my gifting! What a blessing it is to serve in this way!

The nursery is almost done! We have guests coming for the weekend so the timing will be perfect!

I am hoping to go on a posting spree next Monday and attempt to get my September cooking recipes up to date! This is a lofty goal, but I am going to try!

I better get back to those big brown eyes... after I fold some clothes!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Journey with us through prayer!

Prayer is powerful! Prayer is effective! In the last weeks, we have seen God answer prayers in such specific ways that we have praised Him basically speechless! I still can't fully comprehend it all! We wanted to give you several days to just PRAISE GOD for the referral news before we gave you a long list of requests to pray for us and our sweet little one. God is up to something big! Please join us in prayer:

Praise God for this referral and the miracle it is the Baby M will be with a forever family, with our family!

Pray for Sarah and Jack as they release Baby M. Pray that God will tenderly assure them of His perfect will! Pray that they will cling to each other as they process. Pray that no power of darkness would ever drive a wedge in our friendship and that our son would always have a healthy view of this very special family!

Pray for our son's birth parents! Pray that each of them would have a chance to hear and respond to the Gospel! Pray we would get the opportunity to meet some of the family while in ET. Pray that we will have a sweet reunion with all birth parents in heaven one day!

Pray for Baby M's physical and developmental needs. I won't say too much, but he is very behind developmentally! Please pray that his muscles will grow stronger each day. Pray that those who care for him will encourage him to use his muscles and will work with him while we wait. Pray that God will correct all that needs to be corrected and that our son would be healed in Jesus' Name!

Pray for Brandon and I as we wait with joy and excitement, but also with some worry and fear. Pray that we will give those thoughts to God each day, and trust they He is leading us right where He wants us.

Pray for a VERY FAST process through court and embassy. Please pray for court dates in 2010 and for an embasssy date as early in 2011 as possible! Pray that the problems Sarah and Jack had with M's file would be totally cleared up, and M would easily pass court!

I could go on and on with requests, but this is a good start! If you are involved in a prayer group, please feel free to point people to this blog who might also like to pray. We believe that God can do GREAT things in our son's life and that He will get great Glory for these things! We would love you to join us on this journey through your prayers!