Featuring Joy & Geoff, Big Brother , Little Brother , Sis , and various household (and outdoor) critters...

Monday, 27 September 2010

If I Do Say So Myself...

What you see pictured is our (meaning, Geoff's) first ever attempt at making Ethiopian food (with the help of The Recipe of Love: An Ethiopian Cookbook by Aster Ketsela Belayneh) - we tried split pea, cabbage/carrot/potatoe, and meat dishes (ran out of time to do up a kale recipe, but will try it another time). We cheated with the injera - using a recipe I found at rowanfamilytree.wordpress.com (January 13, 2008) - finding this recipe was my contribution to the process! The use of a cheater recipe is partly because the whole Ethiopian cooking adventure was kind of spontaneous, and we didn't have the ingredients or time available to make our very own fermented and more authentic version (for sure, that's a goal for another time).

So...we are pretty pleased with the outcome (I dare say I was pleasantly surprised that things turned out as well as they did). The look and texture were completely consistent with the real thing, and the flavours were all quite pleasing. The cheater injera had good texture, although the first few turned out a bit thick. Now that we are used to the sourness of the authentic stuff, we missed that, although this particular recipe is likely a good way to introduce Ethiopian food to those who may be a bit apprehensive or conservative in their tastes.

We plan to try freezing a few of the leftovers to see how that works, and if it does, will make larger batches in future since it's a bit time-intensive to make up a number of dishes all at once (Geoff worked on this over two evenings) - cooking up multiple dishes also uses quite a few pots and bowls!

I am very glad that my frequent cravings for Ethiopian can now be satisfied both at home and at our local Ethiopian restaurants - options, options. So lovely. Just wanted to share our experience - and encouraged you to give it a whirl if you haven't yet!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Who Do You Write Like?

So, I stumbled upon (using www.stumbleupon.com) the following site:


Apparently the site does an analysis of some sample text you provide, and then spits out which known author's writing style is a match.

I entered two different blog posts, which I considered to be quite different in terms of tone and style, and both times I was matched with H.P. Lovecraft. And well, I am curious to read some of his work now. Which sounds very...unusual: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._P._Lovecraft

So folks, I am interested in hearing who you write like! (Partly in case the program simply spits out Lovecraft for everyone, and partly just out of general curiosity). Happy analyzing...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

No Idea

I could have written this post a year ago (minus a few added details and experiences/complications). Meaning that, after lots more thinking, learning, doing, waiting...we're pretty much (stuck) in the same spot/rut.

I believe I have stated previously that our adoption process started off with a (good) bang: found an agency following years of casually browsing the adoption options and putting off the whole having a family thing, started our homestudy (this burst of initiative came after realizing that there was no reason to do adoption "second", since adoption was for sure something we wanted to do...while there was always some uncertainty about taking the plunge when it came to bio kids), and then were excited to see our agency open a country program which seemed even more perfect for us than the one we had initially planned on joining.

The way things started to unfold, along with some other really neat events (like randomly starting an Africa Bag sewing blitz on a dull long weekend, then selling 60 bags to Facebook friends within one week after posting the bag photo album, plus a generous donation or two), very much affirmed the direction we (thought we) were heading. Even after some set-backs, certain things, like my opportunity to take severance from my full-time job and begin a very flexible EI-insured (yay, parental leave) part-time job (with time to adapt before becoming a parent), finally finishing my master's degree, some good-looking future changes to Geoff's job, etc., seemed remarkably consistent with our goals/plans/projected hypothetical time-frames/laughable assumptions.

But of course, along the way, the country program we chose closed.

So we signed up for another one through the same agency. Then that program started showing warning signs of closure (ok, more than that - it was all but finished).

Then the agency went bankrupt.

Then we felt pretty disconnected from any sense of what to do.

Then we signed a new retainer with Imagine for Ethiopia, because it seemed like the most viable option, and we had a pre-existing interest in the Ethiopia program from early in our adoption adventure, and for some other reasons which make the program and country appealing.

Then we realized (and Imagine confirmed) that sibling referrals were few and far between, and that our age range was way too restrictive (which is ok, since we were planning to change that anyway and had not started our homestudy update).

Then we decided to "check out" public adoption by attending a provincial event profiling children available...especially since we had become comfortable considering a much broader age range.

Then we had a match (which also had lots of possible "signs" this was potentially "meant to be" - and it was practically an international adoption from Africa right here in our own province)!

Then we spent the summer doing pre-placement visits (got as far as setting a placement date) and homestudy updates and private PRIDE training (apparently that is necessary for public adoption even though we started the homestudy in 2007, before it was required for international or private adoptions). (At the same time, Geoff was given his expected promotion...with an unexpected pay reduction - how does that fit with our stay-at-home, possible home-schooling dreams and values???).

Then we surprised ourselves and everyone else by deciding not to proceed with our matched child/ren...just after, of course, doing church and family events and introductions all 'round (long story there, but I will briefly say that we have experienced a bit of the all-too-familiar scenario where if certain questions we asked early on had been answered in full and...accurately...we could likely have saved everyone lots of time, $$, and other inconvenience/disappointment/frustration). Anyway...

So, now we have a homestudy update and are approved for the public adoption system in Ontario.

And we have a file with Imagine for Ethiopia (not updated, and would need another homestudy update for that).

And our Ethiopia travel account/additional agency fees fund is pretty much drained...on top of the $$ not recoverable from the bankruptcy (who knew public adoption could be so expensive, even though it's free?).

(And...I'll just whisper this, because it's not a super-huge thing...but still...our little adoption experience this summer makes me more aware, I suppose, of some potential realities. This whole thing is a bit scarier now. I still believe in it. But it's a bit scary.)

And we have no idea what we're doing. Our CAS worker would like to meet and chat about our thoughts and plans. I'm not sure we have many. I haven't ruled out Ethiopia at all (in fact, that would be fantastic even if we adopt publicly first). And some sibling referrals this summer (actually...see...siblings...that is one thing we are still pretty sure about) were encouraging.

There you have it. And I am pretty sure I could be stuck with no idea indefinitely. Things that can seem like arrows pointing one way, or affirming one thing, can turn out NOT to be anything at all (or at least, not what they seemed to be). I'm back to my usual not knowing whether waiting and doing nothing is the wise choice - just letting things "happen" (if/when they do), or whether acting in small doses, with careful consideration, is necessary and right. If I am pursuing/hacking away at a path of my own making, then I want to be re-directed. But I am not certain how to pick up on direction/re-direction, and don't want to miss out because I wasn't paying attention or doing something I needed to be doing.

Anyway, this is not really a sob story. Picture me more with a question mark (big one) over my head, and a quizzical look on my face. I know that to so, so many of you, this is a very familiar (and maybe only mildly difficult) trajectory. I continue to be thankful for the (mostly electronic) adoption connections with others living their own stories. I root for you all. And, like reading a gripping novel, I eagerly anticipate learning how things unfold...for all of us.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Vacation Re-Cap

So, two weeks ago we were anticipating the beginning of vacation. I think it actually happened...but wow, 10 days passes quickly.

We got off to a rough start. Some unexpected changes in plans within the two weeks leading up to vacation left us without a clear idea of what to do with ourselves. We didn't have a pet-sitter for the last weekend of August, so we happily drove up to the trailer, thinking we would stay for 5 nights or so. Well, ridiculous temperatures forced us home after 3 nights. It just doesn't seem right sitting inside a trailer (thankfully, it has air conditioning) to avoid the heat, on otherwise sunny days.

Once home, we were indecisive. We had been thinking of heading toToronto for at least a day or two, having wanted to get to Canada's Wonderland since last year (a plan foiled by last summer's vertebral fracture). But the temperature there was going to be HOTTER than what we were trying to escape. Our long weekend plans involved heading to Lion's Head with friends (thanks to her parents' generosity and lovely living location with views of Georgian Bay). For Geoff in particular, getting away for a few days promises a better chance of having a real break from the everyday. So...eventually we decided to head to the metropolis of Owen Sound. From there, we would be near our Labour Day weekend destination, and without doing much planning we figured there would be a bit of shopping, lots of nature, and some recreational biking opportunities.

It worked out well. During our 3-night stay, we managed a bike-based tour of historical landmarks in the city (I found information on the 'underground railroad' particularly interesting). We also biked out to Inglis Falls (a little bit of work in the heat which followed us - albeit much better than what we were experiencing closer to home - on a cruiser bike...although my back and behind were super-comfy). On Day 2 we decided to start out on the Tom Thompson trail - a cross-country gravel bike/walking path running from Owen Sound to Meaford. We figured that 45km one way was a bit much to contemplate (seeing as we are not in the habit of distance biking, and would have had to get back again the same day), but agreed to turn around at some point. So, we started out. And my quads were toast. We switched bikes (Geoff looked quite cute on my cruiser with his bright yellow mountain biking helmet), and I took advantage of the power positioning on his mountain bike to get a lot further. But it was lots of work for both of us, and we turned back after 10km. Only to realize that we had been on a nearly-invisible incline the whole way. We flew back to Owen Sound in the blink of an eye, wishing we had pushed ourselves further. But we managed to spend a few more hours out enjoying trails around the sound, and having a picnic-ish lunch just as rain began. So all in all, not too bad.

Day 3 involved browsing the downtown shops and meandering up to Tobermory, where we did more browsing and had supper before heading to Lion's Head. Lots of chill and rain over the long weekend, but our accommodations were cozy, time spent with friends was a pleasure, and there were enough breaks in the rain to get outside. And I finished off my October book club pick, so that was just fine by me!