Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tender mercies

One major blessing that we've received as we've prepared for our yard sale and eBay sales is SCHOOL CLOTHES.  As I sorted through bin after bin after bin of outgrown clothing, I found that we had plenty to sell to bring in more funds for our adoption, but also enough to provide complete school wardrobes for six kids, right down to coats.  All they still need is shoes.  We have special savings accounts for things like school clothes, christmas, vacation, etc. (a la Dave Ramsey), and because we aren't having to use so much of the clothing fund for clothes, we can use that money toward the adoption.  I knew that we had a lot of clothes, and we go through them all every October and allocate them to the right people, but holy cow - we somehow ended up with a TON!  And another bonus is that I have a lot of stuff that will work for Thalia when she gets here.  Our teenagers buy a lot of their own clothes, so that will help cut down on our costs, too.  What a blessing!

Big boo-boos for my baby boy Bekele

This was not Beck's weekend.  Things started to go sour when our awesome neighbor, Jacob, came by to pick Beck up for a "man date."  The two of them went to get ice cream, and on the way home, Beck face-planted and gouged his eyebrow.

Then, the next morning, he, Sofie and Jackson were putting bikes and toys into the shed in the backyard and Beck was stung twice by a wasp.  Poor guy.  I'm bracing for the third bad thing...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Weekly menu

Here's a list of our Bountiful Baskets from this week:

red potatoes
red bell peppers
baby carrots
romaine lettuce
english cucumbers
grape tomatoes
red grapes

green bell pepper
red grapes
pluots (giant ones!)

On top of that, our garden is starting to produce prolific quantities of cucumbers, and we have bell peppers and zucchini coming.  I also made the mistake of buying some blueberries yesterday (which is like washing your car to make it rain), and we ended up with 8 additional pints!  I also bought strawberries and bananas (good call), some sugar snap peas for lunches, and some mushrooms.  I had some cucumbers, green beans, summer squash, peaches, plums and nectarines left from last week, so we're trying to gobble a lot of them up today and tomorrow.  I roasted up a big pan of summer squash and zucchini that we'll eat for lunch today.  

Here's my menu for the coming week, or at least part of it!  We're taking a quick trip down to Denver because Lily has to have her cochlear implant processors mapped, and we'll be seeing my sister's family while we're there.  I'm not sure what we'll be eating those days, but we're packing our coolers with a couple of days's worth of food to help keep our costs down.  

Monday dinner:  Roasted green beans and radicchio with garlic

Sunday, July 22, 2012

New pictures and info!

I got a few teaser pictures with a promise of more to come.  Thalia looks so beautiful and happy!  And as great as the pictures are, the information is even more priceless because it helps us better understand her abilities and personality.  We can't get her home soon enough!

Here is what one of the women who met Thalia had to say about her:

I can't say with absolute certainty that I heard her speak but that could be because we were strangers and in an overwhelming environment. I speak a little Chinese so to get her smiling and comfortable I would take a picture of her, show her, and ask "who's that?" in Chinese. Then she'd get this precious little smile on her face and point to her chest. After the first few times, she got really happy and silly and was very animated for the camera. I think she may have said something while pointing to my sunglasses. I took them off my head and held them out to her and she very distinctly nodded and smiled. Like I said though, I can't be sure if what I heard was a word or more along the lines of baby babble. She was a very effective gestural communicator though and really shone once she was further away from a big group. 

I remember my sister M's adoption profile describe her as a very quiet introvert. But after maybe a day of being outside the hectic orphanage setting, she transformed into this wild, cackling, chatty girl. Song Guo reminded me of her in that sense. She was incredibly charming and animated- overall, I thought, a very bright, happy little girl.

As for her size, my mom and I were shocked to find out she was 7. She is tiny! My guess would have been 4 or 5. But my mom says she came across as being "sturdy" as all the Bao An girls appeared to be. You can see in the group picture where she stands with everyone else. 

Here are the pictures!  I will add the others as soon as we get them.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Surviving the yard sale and a weekly menu teaser

Over the past week, we've been getting ready for today's yard sale, and I swear I'm about worn out!  Most of what we planned to sell was kids' clothing, but a lot of it was stuff that I knew I'd get better money for on eBay.  That meant I had to go through every single bin of clothing we had (maybe 30 of them?) and separate out the stuff that I could sell here.  I did MASSIVE amounts of laundry to get everything ready, and it didn't help that we managed to pick one of the hottest weeks of the summer to do this.  Last night we finally got to bed at 1:00 am, but we had to get up at 5:00 to get everything ready for the sale.  Four hours of sleep wasn't much to go on with all we had to do, and what energy we did have was sucked away by the hot, humid weather.  Ugh.


Our sale ran from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, and in that time we made about $1560.  I was thrilled!  All the big items sold right away, we got quite a few giveaway entries, and in the end we only had 4 bags of clothes left to take to St. Vincents.  Not too bad!  Several of our friends and my mom also made treats for us to sell, so those helped bring in a lot of money too.

I have my work cut out for me with getting the rest of the clothes sold on eBay.  I think it will probably take me about 2 weeks to get it all done, but I'm going to try to do just a bin per day so I don't get overwhelmed.  The bonus in all of this is that going through all the stored clothing at once allowed us to do quite a bit of school clothes "shopping."  Lily, Maizie, Sofie, Cora and Jackson need absolutely nothing else for school except some shoes.  And Beck has quite a few new things.  Pretty exciting!

The great thing about this whole yard sale experience has been how well my whole family has chipped in and helped.  We took the kids out for an early dinner at a Mexican restaurant as a reward for their hard work, and we had a lot of fun.  After dinner, we came home and collected the four bags of clothes, returned the borrowed tables to their rightful owners, and cleaned up the living room and hallway.  Only the dining room is still filled with stuff, and I can stand that a little longer.  It was a very productive day!

As for Bountiful Baskets and my menu, I haven't had any time to do any planning, but here's a list of what we got.  I'll post my menu as soon as I'm able.  :o)

green grapes
Mt. Ranier cherries (15 lb case)

yellow squash
heirloom tomatoes
bagged carrots and funky carrots (I don't know what they're called, but they're purple and white and yellow)
collard greens
English cucumbers
butter lettuce
green beans
leaf lettuce

And here's what we have left from last week, or that I purchased:
butternut squash
garden cucumbers

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thalia, the sack of potatoes

Last night I had a dream about Thalia.  It wasn't one of those really weird dreams that only makes sense  while you're asleep, and then you wake up and go, "What the crap?" (like the one that I had about Maizie, in which she was delivered to me by mail, in a blue and white striped shoebox, and I was shocked to discover that she had a human head but doll's body).   It was a dream that felt totally normal and like an extension of my regular life, and it's left me missing her all day.

We were in some sort of hotel or something, and she was sitting down in a chair and I was squatting down in front of her.  I was testing her to see how much English she knew, and I was surprised that not only did she understand what I was saying, but that she could speak to me a little bit too.  Then she put her hands on my cheeks and looked right into my eyes, and we gave each other a huge hug.  She was sweet and giggly and snuggly.  After that, even though she's 7 (and about the size of a 5-year-old), I hiked her up on my hip and lugged her around like a toddler.  She was very heavy, and because of her low tone, she wasn't doing much to help hold on.  It was like lugging around a sack of potatoes.  Later, I was giving her a bath, and she fell over, beneath the water level.  I reached in to grab her, but found that I had to use all my strength to get her upright again.  She didn't use any of her own muscles to help with the effort.  After the bath, the memory of my dream is vague, but I remember just being with her and being so happy.  I was so disappointed when I woke up, and I kept trying to get back to sleep and pick up where I left off.  No such luck.

I think my brain was plugging in experiences I've had with the kids I've worked with who have Down syndrome.  Having low muscle tone is pretty much a given.  But the personality she seemed to have seemed so right.  I felt like I really knew her and she was just so mine.  

I miss her and I haven't even met her yet.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

More pictures to come!

Last night I got this email from a woman who just got back from China:


We just got home from China and are a bit jet lagged so have not gotten to photos yet, but we took many of your adorable daughter! Just wanted you to know how cute her little personality is, what a doll! My daughter and I fell in love with her! Pictures soon after some much needed sleep! Just wanted you to know mission accomplished!

Even this little bit of info gave me such a boost. I can't wait to see the pictures!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

T minus three weeks

We found out today that Joshua's mission papers were finally submitted by the stake president just yesterday.  I have such mixed feelings; it's nice to be in the official waiting phase (we're doing a lot of waiting these days!), but it's also scary because there's no turning back.  Not that I would want to turn back.  You know what I mean.  Anyway, he should receive his mission call in about three weeks.

So I'm going to go out on a limb and give my guess as to where he's going:  Oakland, California - Mandarin speaking.

Anyone else want to take a guess?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Weekly menu

Our Bountiful Baskets experience was interesting today.  Our organic baskets were not good thanks to several spoiled items, but rather than refuse both of them, they let us take what was good out of both and get credit for one basket in exchange for the bad stuff.  And then, due to some miscommunication about my sister's basket (which we picked up for her because her family's on vacation), we ended up with an extra conventional basket.  One of the site coordinators told us just to keep it since they had extra anyway (why do people order and not pick up their baskets?  I can't understand that!), so even though we lost a basket, we still ended up with four.  :o)

Here's what we got:

Red corn
Tomatoes on the vine (organic!)
Black velvet plums

From last week or things I bought separately:

Butternut squash
Sugar snap peas
Green bell peppers

The raspberries we got from our organic baskets were edible, but smooshed, so I came right home and made 3 dozen raspberry muffins.  My dad also gave us a bunch of raspberries from his bushes, and I bought raspberries a couple of days ago, so we have oodles of them!  That's fine by me.

Here's the menu for the coming week:

And here are the recipes:

Zucchini pasta primavera
Tofu and veggies with maple barbecue sauce
Spicy potato-chickpea curry

Alfredo sauce (I came up with this last week using a dairy recipe as my starting point, and it is amazing!)

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small head cauliflower
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 tsp all-purpose flour
4 cups soymilk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup Daiya mozzarella
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp yellow miso (brown would work too, but will darken the color of the sauce)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cauliflower, garlic, onions, and salt; cook until softened but not brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with flour; stir to coat well

Gradually stir in soymilk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; gently simmer until cauliflower is very soft, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer all to a blender and puree with nutmeg, cheese, nutritional yeast and miso until smooth.

Monday, July 9, 2012


I'm so excited to announce that we finally have our adoption fundraiser giveaway up and running!  There are nearly 40 prizes, including an iPad 3, Kitchenaid mixer, $200 Amazon card, and a Blendtec blender package.  The giveaway runs until August 9, with winners being announced on August 10.

Rather than clutter up this blog with all the giveaway info, I created a new one specifically for the fundraiser.  You can visit it here:  Bring Thalia Home.

Please share it with your friends - you'll get free entries for doing so!  :o)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Makoshika State Park

On July 5th, owing to a burst of spontaneity and the first cooler (80s) temps we've had in a couple of weeks, I packed up all available children and a picnic lunch and headed to Makoshika State Park.  (Joshua left for a trip to Minnesota that day, Zoe had class and Teffy had work, so unfortunately they didn't get to go with us.)

The pictures tell most of the story, but what they don't tell you is that we got lost, thanks to a washed out trail and downed trail marker.  Thankfully, my Boy Scout boys scouted up and down hills until we picked up the trail again, whilst Sofie prayed fervently for rescue.  ;o)  Our getting lost meant we had to climb some pretty exciting terrain, and I was so impressed with the way that the big kids helped the littler ones.  It was a particular challenge for Cora, who is legally blind, but she was a champ and her big brothers acted as her personal assistants whenever needed.  I was so proud of all my kids.  They were sweet and wonderful with each other, the weather was perfect, and the scenery was breathtaking. I can't wait to do it again!

Cora and Lily

Sofie investigating

Ethan and Beck

Jack and Jonah 
Beck is apparently rather angry about something...


Ethan teaching Cora how to slide down the rocks on her feet.  You can't tell because of the camera angle, but it was very steep!

Ethan searching for the lost trail

Silly Maizie

Ethan and Cora

Jack dancing

Still dancing

And still dancing!

This is Cora's proof that she completed this tough trail!

4th of July

Our 4th of July was lots of fun.  Curtis took the kids to the parade while I stayed home and cooked (don't feel sorry for me - the 30-minute parade of bikes and tractors is far greater punishment!).  We had barbecued veggie kabobs, zombie burgers, cantaloupe, chips, lemonade, and mini banana cream pies for lunch.  After lunch, we headed to the park for the 2nd annual "Niedgefest," put on by our friend Brian Niedge.  It was extra fun this year because my brother-in-law's band, "-j- matter" performed, and that included our son Joshua (guitar) and my sister Jaime (keyboards), as well as our friends Chris (bass) and Dillon (drums).  Jonah's really hoping he can play drums next year.  :o)

We listened to bands all afternoon and evening and stayed for the fireworks show.  Since fireworks were otherwise banned in our town and neighboring communities due to the awful fires, these are the only fireworks we got to see.

Here are some pictures, and there's a video at the bottom!

Jack and one of his favorite buddies

Chris on bass

Dillon, peeking over drums, and Joshua


Jaime on keyboards

Jay and Joshua

Doing a goofy "dance"


More of the dance

And still more!

Running Man Jay

My sweet hubby, Curtis

My cute parents

Jonah, Joshua and Ethan

The dance again!


Lily and a borrowed baby  :o)

Some ladies who were *really* getting into the music  :oD


It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Bekele!

Getting an idea...

She's getting the same idea...

Little closer...


Maizie and the borrowed baby (who belongs to a friend and is so adorable!)

Joshua and me

Lily, practicing for her role on Home Alone 17

Jay, filling in on keyboards for another band

Night shot of Jackson

And a night shot of Cora

Not sure how this got out of order, but this is Jay receiving a brand new acoustic guitar for being such an integral part of setting up the show.  Pretty awesome.  

These last few are all out of order, but this is Chris and Jaime