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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An update from our agency about Nepal

Megan emailed her adopting families today and this was the gist of her message:

She spoke with her contact in Nepal. Nothing is going to happen in Nepal with adoptions until the new minister is appointed. He is guessing another month, but maybe sooner. Kathmandu is crazy. There is no transportation due to the strikes. But at least no one has called off adoptions so no need to panic.

I think I'm way beyond panicking. More like jaded and unhopeful.

So we are monthing along as usual.

Get-aways, rumors and major country upheaval

June 10th was our 20 year anniversary. Needless to say, we had hoped that our "big trip" to celebrate would be to either Nepal or China and that didn't happen. We settled instead on a three-day get-away to Galena, IL to the Eagle Ridge Resort. Not exactly exotic or life-changing but it was a pretty change of scenery especially since most of IL is flat and Galena is this pristine land of rolling hills.


We went on a two-hour horseback ride. Len had Harvey who turned out to be a lazy-ass horse who would randomly stop unless prodded vigorously. I was on Maggie who acted like she hadn't eaten in days and would constantly grab greenery as we walked past it. Once we figured out how to handle them it was a great ride and we got to see a good bit of the resort grounds.


The ride ended up just being the two of us and our guide since everyone else who showed up wanted to do the one-hour beginner ride. Not that the two-hour was an expert ride or anything but we did do some jogging and we went up and down some fairly steep trails.


We got a couple's massage that evening followed by a nice dinner on the resort grounds.

The next day we had breakfast in town and strolled the one street in Galena that had shops. Then canoeing on Lake Galena for a couple of hours before heading home.


This past weekend we finally took down the H.D. paper shades and installed grown-up window coverings. This happily coincided with the weekend that our new neighbors moved in downstairs. The covering consists of 4 window panels that slide on a track that is hidden by the giant cornice treatment that Len spent the afternoon centering and bolting to the wall.


Sunday we went to see Pink Martini in concert at Ravinia which is very similar to Wolf Trap in VA with just a few differences. Wolf Trap is far prettier with a larger and more spectacular performance venue. However, what Ravinia lacks in beauty and space it more than makes up for in patron enthusiasm. Picnikers here are hard-core. While a quilt and a picnic basket may suffice for VA folks, Ravinia people come armed with tables, chairs, candelabra, table cloths and flower centerpieces. We are going to have to get our acts together for the next concert. Instead of using the quilt we brought for picniking, I ended up wearing it since the weather was in the 60s....


and the grounds were somewhat packed...


Now for the country updates. Let's start with China since it's pretty much unchanged

unless you count the fact that the wait keeps increasing

China is now a 39 month

oh hell, let's stop counting months shall we?

....it's a 3 year, 3 month wait. Projections by our agency are that we will not see a referral until 2011 at the soonest.

Nepal. How to sum up Nepal? For those of you not following any of the Nepal news outlets, you may be unaware that they are in major political upheaval once again still. The way American news coverage works you would think that the only countries in the world with anything newsworthy to report are oil or nuclear related (Iran, Iraq, N. Korea, etc) but Nepal has been going through major political fighting for years with nary a word mentioned on any of our news outlets.

The government is still in the process of appointing all new ministers at various positions since the Maoists are no longer in primary control. This has meant the complete standstill at those agencies including the MOWCSW so that no referrals are being sent.

There was a rumor that seemed to be confirmed by numerous sources that at least 90 more matches had been made and were being sent but since that was several weeks ago and no one has heard anything since then, we fear that this latest upheaval has put everything at a standstill. There is some talk that the whole process will be restructured but again, only one agency has reported that (and it wasn't my agency) so I take that with a grain of salt.

If you are interested in keeping up with Nepal

and I know a few of you do and email me with news, thank you Spiff

here are the two portals I check:

kantipur online

Nepali Times

As far as our paperchase is going, we were fingerprinted on June 11th and we received our official foster care license in the mail soon after. We are still awaiting our I-171 form though and without that, all of the country news is just noise.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Oops

So Spiff pointed out that the NPR show was called This I Believe and I do believe he is correct! Good catch Spiff....I was just testing to make sure you actually read what I write.

Len and I were both fingerprinted for USCIS this morning. We got right in when they opened at 8am and were the first to be done. Now we wait for the new I-171 to come in the mail. We've been told it could take 4-6 weeks.

Oh yay.

In the meantime, another person on our yahoo group announced that she had gotten a match with a little girl. This time it was in Canada. Several agencies have confirmed that 90 more matches are being sent right now so there are about to be many happy families in the next few weeks as those pictures are received.

Meanwhile, we wait for our paperwork.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This I know

For those of you who listen to NPR, you may have heard a series This I Know that has been running for several years. They just ran the last installment a few months ago and I will really miss this show which consisted of interviews with various people about what they know for sure. And what I loved the most was that it usually wasn’t anything deep or earth-shattering; it was typically a small observation that we all have probably had but have somehow over-looked in our hectic lives. The piece sometimes made me stop and reflect on that one small moment of shared experience.

So this brings me to today. Today I made and ate an egg salad sandwich. For those of you who know me well, I’ll wait while you pick yourselves up off the floor.

Ok then?

I noticed when I married Len (20 years ago today—Happy Anniversary to us!) that he would eat pretty much anything. I never thought I was that much of a picky eater but as I would eat out with him or in fixing our dinners, I noticed that my repertoire of meals was quite thin. It wasn’t much of a problem during the honeymoon phase of our early life but when we moved to Louisiana, my limited selection of food I find recognizable and therefore acceptable was drawing unnecessary and embarrassing attention to itself. Len is an adventurous and outgoing sort and soon we were attending crawfish boils and being served mirlitons at dinner parties.

I decided that, as part of my new year’s resolutions every year, I would pick one new food and eat it regularly for that year. I started with fish since we were living in Louisiana and fresh fish was de rigueur. Having grown up on fish that came frozen in stick form and crusted with bread crumbs, fresh fish by comparison was smelly, slimy and vaguely frightening. And don’t even get me started on crabs, crawfish, shrimp, mussels, scallops and clams.

Len happens to love fish and can cook quite well so he took charge of dinners involving fish, shrimp, scallops, etc.

and I had the added bonus not cooking dinner that night!

Of course now I can cook a whole fish without even blinking and de-heading a crawfish is yawn worthy.

My list over the years has included mushrooms, kale, Brussels sprouts roasted with bacon b/c really, what doesn’t taste good with bacon??, gin, smelly cheese, all kinds of olives, artichoke, asparagus, and duck.

And even though we are all familiar with the more popular ethnic cuisines like Italian, Mexican, Greek and Japanese, few of those menu items are truly authentic but instead have been Americanized for our palate. How many cow tongue tacos have you eaten at Taco Bell? If you have watched Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations, you can see that what we are served here is not anything close to what you will find when you travel. So I branched out into authentic cuisines and my list included Chinese, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Indian, Nepali, and Peruvian.

Now on to the aforementioned egg salad sandwich. Eggs in any form other than buried in a cake have been the bane of my existence for as long as I can remember. Breakfasts with other people are always the most difficult because eggs are generally the staple food of the morning. And I really don’t like sweets for breakfast but seriously, it’s either pancakes, waffles or eggs on the menu.

Every year I contemplate making eggs the new food of the year and every year I literally cannot stomach the thought. My parents said I used to love scrambled eggs and would gobble them up when I was around 3 years old. But I also know that I used to pack the last few bites in my cheeks for so long that they were a soggy mess of saliva and egg that I then had to swallow. I’m not sure why I did this but knowing myself as I do now, I probably ate too much of them to begin with and as those of us growing up in the 60s and 70s who were founding members of the clean-your-plate club know, we had to finish what was on our plates, full or not. Except I didn’t swallow. For hours.

And here we are in 2009. My goal was finally eggs. Oh I had had some encounters over the years of luncheons with quiche or potato salad with liberal amounts of egg in them but I had always managed to choke it down by mixing it in with other things and chasing it with lots of liquids.

But I started in earnest this year with a rather wee bit of egg in something known as a Peasant Quiche at MHenry’s which my friend Karen assured me was more bacon, leeks and gruyere than anything else and she was fortunately right. It was delicious. Then we went out for Korean and I had Bi Bim Bap which is basically rice or noodles, veggies, some meat and sauce all crowned with a fried egg which you then mix into the rest to bind it together. So far so good.

Yesterday I met a new friend (yet another adoptive mom from my yahoo group) at The Drake for Afternoon Tea. I was starving and sadly, one of the little crustless sandwiches was egg salad. Rather than make a scene with someone I had just met or bore her with tales of a childhood terrorized by eggs, I gamely reached for the yellow-filled sandwich, kept my tea close at hand in case I needed a restorative mouth-cleansing swig and….took a tiny nibble. Not bad. No scene-inducing gag reflex. I took a larger bite. Not bad at all. In fact, dare I say it, quite good.

So today I experimented with egg salad. My first try consisted of eggs (I grated them so there would be no recognizable chunks), mayo, chopped olives with pimiento, scallions, a squeeze of lime, salt and pepper. And I ate half a sandwich.

So this is what I know for sure:

I sometimes will enjoy something so much that I will then begin to hate it. This is not limited to food. It can be

people--my grandfather used to say that fish and guests start to stink after 3 days and I find that to be true in a lot of cases...

music--remember The Macarena song? You loved it at first didn’t you?

or traveling--nothing is better than coming home to your own bed and pillows no matter how wonderful your trip is.

Everything in moderation. That Aristotle was a smart guy.

I also know this for sure: my life (both culinary and otherwise) has been made richer for knowing and loving Len. Happy 20 years my love.

And so far, everything has been not too much, not too little, but just right (with apologies to Goldilocks and the Three Bears).

Monday, June 8, 2009

It was a happy birthday, thankyou!


Thank you all for the birthday wishes--it was a good way to turn *gasp* 43. Len told a little fib concerning the gifts though. He surprised me with a laptop (really it's a notebook so I can carry it in my purse). Now I can write my posts anywhere that I can get free Wi-Fi! For now, the bar countertop works since we have wireless in the house.

Thanks Laurie C. for the pink boa!

We had a our first dinner party in our new place on Friday evening. Greg (who we met through Spiff and Paul), Karen (our realtor who has turned out to be a great friend as well), Paivi (here for another visit from Houston) and Candice (who I met through the Nepal yahoo group and who also happens to live in Chicago) helped us christen our dining room. Thanks to Wheez for the beef braciole recipe.

Here it is with the layers of prosciutto, garlic, cheese, parsley, mint and pinenuts waiting to be rolled up:


Rolled and braised:


Yummy!


While Paivi was here this weekend we went on the Architectural Foundation River Cruise which is a different boat cruise from the one we did before but still covers the major buildings along the Chicago River. We managed to walk through the Millenium park gardens and an art fair before the rain hit and we took refuge in a bookstore to warm up with coffee and reading. Sunday we took in a photography exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Photography and a stroll through Grant Park to see Buckingham Fountain up close.

It is Festival season here in Chicago. Every weekend holds the promise of any number of festivals ranging from the book festival at Printer's Row to art festivals, music festivals, etc.

We went to the Do-Division Street Festival weekend-before-last. Lunch was at Crust, Chicago's first certified organic restaurant. The pizza was delish.






I got a tat...

No worries...it was air-brushed and washed off in a few days. I may have gotten used to the needles for infertility treatments but I would not voluntarily stick one in again for the sake of art!

Len is still enjoying his job quite a bit. In addition to work he continues with his guitar lessons. My drawing class ended in May but I'm taking a figure drawing class for the month of June and then I switch to a watercolor class for July and August. Bellydancing and yoga keep me off the streets as well.

In-between all of the entertainment, we still must keep up with the grueling marathon that is international adoption.

We FINALLY got our homestudy and our DCFS approval (due in no small part to my constant emails/phone calls to find out what the hell was taking so long). Our USCIS fingerprint appointment is set for 8am Thursday. For those keeping track, this will be the sixth time being fingerprinted but *only* the second time for USCIS. Fortunately, the USCIS fingerprint office is only 3 blocks from our house...one of the benefits of living in the city.

The next steps now are to get our I-171 re-issued from USCIS. They will send that to the National Visa Center so we can get another guarantee letter which will then allow us to have our paperwork submitted, again, to the Ministry in Nepal. I say again but it was submitted back in January but since we've moved we were put on hold until we could get updated paperwork. I never thought it would take more than 6 months to do in Illinois what it only took 3 months to do in VA...

Meanwhile, several referrals of little girls have been made in the U.S., Italy and France. It looks like the estimated time in-country to pick up our child will be one trip consisting of 3-4 weeks. Although I wish we still had our paperwork at the front of the queue, it will be nice to follow the other families so we will know what to expect.

My many thanks to those of you who have received referrals and who have been willing to share information and referral photos.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happy Birthday

Today is Lisa’s birthday, and instead of buying her a present, I’m posting for the first time on what is supposed to be our blog. That’s right, the guy who writes for a living has never posted here before. I’ve tried to convince Lisa that it’s like the cobbler’s children never having proper shoes, but she doesn’t buy it.


So Happy Birthday my love! You know those birthday cards that also claim to be the birthday gift? This is just like that.


On previous birthdays, I’ve sometimes penned goofy birthday poems, along the lines of “lordy, lordy, look who’s 40…” but you’ll all be happy to know I’m not subjecting you (or Lisa) to that this year!


Regular readers of this blog already know about the trials and tribulations we’ve experienced as we’ve tried to add to our family. Many a birthday, holiday, vacation, weekday and weekend have been consumed with, and often ruined by, various stages of this process. So why don’t we avoid that subject completely…at least for today.


Instead, I want to talk about something I heard recently, something many of you have probably said or heard yourselves.


“Say hello to your better half for me…”


When I heard this phrase the other day, it made me think about Lisa, but not in the way you’re imagining. Okay, so technically Lisa is “my better half,” but I’m talking about the fact that we’ve now known each other for more than half our lives.


Big time better half!


Who knew this is where we’d end up from our start back in that really boring English Lit class where we first met (Note to Katherine and Beth: I’m not referring to your classes here!)?


It took me over a semester to work up the nerve to ask Lisa out, so I missed out on her birthday that year, but eventually her car battery died, and guess who had walked her out to the parking lot that day?


The guy with the jumper cables!


So while the cables were still connected, I asked her out. She said yes, though I’m sure it was from a sense of gratitude for getting her car started. And the rest is history…or at least just more than half our history.


It’s been one crazy-ass adventure, this better half of my life, but it’s been worth it because it’s been with you, my love.


Happy Birthday Lisa—I love you dearly! I can’t wait to see what the next part of the better half brings us. There might even be a kid or two involved…someday. But that’s a post for another time. If this first part’s any indication of what’s to come, though, it sure won’t be boring, no matter what happens.


Oh…if any of you have a word that rhymes with “seventy,” let me know. I’ll need that for a birthday poem in a few decades.

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