We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Three days and counting!

Three days until we leave for Ghana! Lots to do...

Early this morning, Erik and I got up and bundled the kids in the van to start their trip through the Smokies and on to a meeting point outside Nashville, TN. They were all happy and excited to be going to see their "cousins" in Arkansas. (Not real cousins, but very good friends!) I hear from Erik that they did great and the transfer to the cousins' car was uneventful...although E did get a little clingy towards the end. Erik should be home around 7 - in time to join me at Supper Club

Here's a peek at their stuff. On the far left is there box of school work and games. In the middle is the "goody box" - little gifts for all the kids to enjoy and some Valentine's Day gifts, too. And of course their three suitcases.











Today, I've enjoyed a very quiet house. Put away all the lovely shower gifts, finally, and straightened up the girls' room. Still have to hang a shelf, but Erik will help with that. :) Cleaned up the house a bit - hoping to get it all nice and neat before we leave. Made copies of all our important documents - 1 copy to leave here with friends, 1 copy for the checked baggage, and of course the originals will be in our carry on.

I thought you might enjoy seeing some photos of the girls' room:








So, you want to see what my impressive packing prowess? Look at our carry ons!



Here's what we managed to fit in here:

- an electric tea kettle (for boiling drinking water and water for bottles) - takes up half the smaller bag!
- a travel pillow
- a travel umbrella
- an extra pair of shoes a piece
- my sun hat, Erik's baseball hat
- all our "unmentionables" and socks
- laundry supplies (bungee cord line, sink stopper, small pack of detergent)
- 10 or so diapers (5 ea of two diff sizes)
- 1 bottle and some liners
- 1 bullet thermos (stuffed with tubes of powdered formula)
- small flashlight
- electric converter and plug adapters
- baby wrap (carrier)
- 5 or 6 baby outfits (couple diff sizes)
- a couple onesies (diff. sizes)
- few pairs of baby socks (diff. sizes)
- all of Erik's clothes for the trip (pants, shorts, 4-5 tops)
- most of my clothes (pants, capris, skirt, 4-5 tops)
- all our medications and such
- bibs, 2 receiving blankets (various uses)
- a very special bunny (Hi, Dear Neighbor!)
- probably some other stuff I'm forgetting!

We are also carrying on a backpack (with our ziplock baggies of liquids, books, camera, IDs and such, another travel pillow) and a laptop bag (with laptop, our file of adoption paperwork - well, not all of our paperwork - that would fill a suitcase).

Tomorrow we work on the checked baggage. While we aren't taking much more in the way of clothes, we do have lots of "stuff" to pack in there. I think we could whittle it down to 1 bag if we had to, but we really will need extra room to bring home gifts and momentos (and lots of Ghanaian clothes for the family!). There are many things we are taking over that will be left behind (gifts and such) or used up (formula, diapers)...so I think we'll do fine!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Our last evening together as a family of 5

Tonight is our last evening together as a family of 5. Tomorrow morning Erik will drive the kids halfway to AR to meet our good friends who will be taking care of them while we are gone. And the next time we are all together, God willing, we will be a family of 6. It is very strange to think about.

With adoption, I've found that while you abstractly know you will be gaining a new family member there are so many unknowns and delays, that you don't or can't really absorb that fact until it is absolutely upon you. All of this has seemed a bit like it has been happening to another family that just looks like us. :) But now, with the baby shower and our travel so imminent...it is beginning to really sink in - we will have 4 children! We will be a party of SIX! It is exciting, but there is also a bit of apprehension, of course.

I remember feeling that way before giving birth, too. "How will the baby's needs impact my other kids, family, etc." "What type of personality will the baby have?" "Are we sure we are ready for this?" etc, etc. Of course, you are never really ready for a new child in the family - you just get as ready as you can and be prepared to be flexible!

I have moments (and I suspect Erik does too) of thinking, "Why are we going through all this?" And then I reflect back to H's simplistic and lovely question, "Hey, mom, when are you going to have another baby? We've got four seats in this van, you know.", that started it all. I remember that we began walking this path because we really believed God wasn't done growing our family...we had no idea our next child would end up halfway across the world!

Then I look at her sweet, little face and remember that she has nobody able or willing to take care of her...and I KNOW why we are doing all this - She's our daughter!

A few nights ago, I had the most lovely and real dream...I dreamed that I made her LAUGH - one of those cute soft-gurgly baby laughs! It is a sound I truly can't wait to hear!

7 Quick Takes - Jan 30

Another week of Jen's 7 Quick Takes...

As I expected, blogging has been spotty, but I didn't want to miss the last 7 Quick Takes before e leave on our adoption trip. That' what's, obviously, been foremost in my thoughts this week, so you'll notice that trend in my 7 Quick Takes!

One
There are so many unknowns about our daughter for us! One of these is "How big is she?" We know that at about 2 months she was around 8 1/2 lbs which puts her in the 5% for weight here in the states. Based on that I'm estimating that now she'll be a little under 12lbs at 5 months. But her two month weight could be a weight reflecting a very low birth weight and her weight gain might be beyond the percentile curves...so she could be up to 16 or more pounds. Of course she could have dropped weight or slowed down on her growth and be still just barely past 10 lbs.

Two
This unknown means we have to bring clothes in many different sizes. I'm bringing a few 0-3 month, mostly 3-6 month, and a few 6-9 month. That goes for diapers, too!

Three
We had packed all our stuff (did a dry run) into 1 large suitcase to check, and 1 duffle-style and one small suitcase carry-ons. In our luggage we were carrying another duffle to help us transport home memorobilia and gifts. But instead we have decided to use both duffles as carry-ons and check both suitcases. Our carry-ons have all the things we "couldn't live without" (and couldn't purchase there) and a few changes of clothes for both us and the baby (my packing prowess is impressive!). On the way home we'll check everthing - except the bag with the gifts and memorobilia.

Four
I am amazed at the number of people who have offered to help - taking our kids, taking dogs, feeding the cats, loaning us travel items, calling in favors, etc. I'm not surprised - we have good friends, but I am really humbled by it all. Adoption is pretty good for gaining some humilty in many ways.

Five
Hubby and I are really looking forward to the adventure of travel ahead of us. We travel well together and enjoy visiting new places. We can't wait to see Ghana and experience the culture! I could pass on the heat, though, but there's no getting around it.

Six
In some ways, hubby and I feel like we are about to go on second honeymoon! At least it will feel that way for the first couple of days and then I suspect the baby will change that! Of course, after you've had more than one little one (especially when you get beyond 2), having just one to care for seems so easy.

Seven
Today is my daughter's 7th birthday! Happy Birthday Sweetie!


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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The past week...

So, a lot has happened in the last 7 days. Some of you may be wondering exactly how we got from Adoption decree to receiving entry visas, huh?

Well, as you saw, we did pass court and recieved a final adoption decree on last Wednesday. I was at our weekly Classical Education co-op when I got the call from Erik! At that time we expected to travel in 2-3 weeks. Boy, were we in for a surprise! The next day we got an email from our agency director that we could plan on traveling in 10 days. WOW! That will make your head spin!

This adoption thing is weird. You wait and wait and wait and then when it is time to hustle you have to really HUSTLE. We had to make arrangements for our kids, dogs, cats, get our entry visas, get our airline tickets, finish gathering all our paperwork, obtain one more "approval" for the US Embassy, send payment to our adoption agency, and get some baby stuff (like diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, pacifiers, baby wash, etc)!

Saturday morning, Erik and I had a plan to go to the aiport, bank, pharmacy, FedEx shipper, and maybe the tailor. We started at the airport to purchase our tickets. Since we are doing an adoption fare (discounted, refundable tickets), they had to be purchased in person at the airline counter. We had to have a copy of our airline itinerary for our Ghana entry visas (to prove we weren't planning on staying in the country). For the visa, we had to provide a copy of the airline tickets, a bank statement (showing were are financially stable), 4 passport photos per person, and a money order to pay for our expedited visa fees. Oh, and a pre-paid fedex return envelope for them to return our passports with the visa. While we were at the bank getting the money order, we also picked up our certified check for the adoption agency. And in the middle of all that, we also managed to make it to the tailor to get some pants hemmed for Erik. Accomplishing all this took about 4 hours!

Then it was home for a quick "lunch" - which consisted of choking down half a chicken strip from my son's lunch. A quick "freshen up" and then Mom, E and I were out the door to run a couple errands and stop by a friend's house for a church meeting (and some cake to celebrate the adoption). Well, here's where it gets funny!

That little "cake" at the "meeting" was actually a huge ruse to get me to show up for my own SURPRISE Baby Shower! There were about 30 ladies attending and the most adorably decorated table and cake. I really had no idea what they were up to! Well, needless to say, after the baby shower there weren't many more things we needed to purchase for the baby before the trip. I'll post some photos later - it really was such a nice afternoon.

The past couple days we've been getting various tasks accomplished: school lessons planned, laundry done, errands run, kids clothes gathered, our clothes and travel needs gathered, etc.

Right now the kids are all packed and ready to leave this weekend to head to our dear friends' home (Hi, Pete and Karen!) in Arkansas. Then next week Erik and I leave for Ghana. Hard to believe!

I'm proud to say that we are packed with two small duffles for carry-ons. We have packed so that should our checked bags be lost, we could live for two weeks out of our carry-ons (of course purchasing what we need while in country). But I sure hope we don't have to! I'm so proud of my packing prowess (ahhhh, aliteration, don't you love it?), that I will have to post photos.

Erik and I are really looking forward to a couple days of peace and quiet between the time the kids go to AR and the time we leave for Ghana. So, please forgive us if we seem to drop off the face of the earth for those couple of days. :) It may be the last calm we have for quite some time!

Our Entry Visas for Ghana came today!

On Saturday, among many other things, including a surprise baby shower, we prepared and submitted our application for an entry visa to the Embassy of Ghana in Wash., DC. This required passport photos (x4), airline ticket itineraries, bank statements, our passports, and a money order be sent to the Embassy. We overnighted the package on Saturday for a Monday morning delivery and included a pre-paid, FedEx return envelope. Our hope was to get it back by Friday...and guess what...IT CAME TODAY!

A friend of ours was able to talk with a friend of his in the Ghana Embassy who was willing to walk our application through the process. We did pay for expedited processing, but that was way beyond our expectations!

Our departure date is getting closer and closer!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Adoption News! UPDATED

Wow - I've been an absentee-blogger, haven't I? Well, I do have a good reason...NESTING! I've been in pretty heavy nesting mode and we just got news today and expect more tomorrow that could throw it into serious overdrive:

WE HAVE A COURT DATE!

Tomorrow morning at 9AM (Ghana time, that is 4am EST) our petition for adoption goes to court in Ghana! We are praying for everything to go smoothly and for the judge to issue a "favorable opinion" on a final adoption decree.

My stomach is in knots - I've no idea how I'll ever get to sleep tonight. My husband has suggested wine, lots of wine. I'm not even sure *that* would do it.

I'll post in the evening (we are out of the house all day tomorrow) with any news. Thank you for your prayers!

UPDATE: Our adoption was GRANTED!! We are the parents of a new little sister! We'll be making travel plans soon, so I'm sure blogging will be a bit spotty between now and the time we return. Pray for us to be able to bring her home on the first trip (if all our documents are ready for the US Embassy, we should be able to do that!).


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Adoption Granted!

Our adoption was granted today! Court went well (we hear from the in-country team) and we have a new family member.

We should get more information soon (in the next day or so, I expect) about travel dates - but should be traveling in 2-3 weeks. There is some paperwork to get wrapped up in Ghana for the US Embassy and then we'll be ready to travel. Pray for this to happen quickly so that all will be ready to the Embassy on our first visit.

We are really praying to be able to bring her home on the first trip. The sooner she gets home, the better for her attachment process and developmental progress.

Now it is time to hustle! Lots to do and plan for...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

COURT DATE!

We have a court date! Tomorrow morning at 9am, January 21st, our case finally goes to court! That is 4am Eastern Standard, of course. We appreciate your prayers for a favorable opinion on a final adoption decree. My stomach is in knots...

We'll post as soon as we have news!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No court date, yet, but big news!

We do not have word on our court date, yet, but we do have some really BIG news!

We had heard that one of the major hurdles in getting our daughter home after the court date is getting her Ghanaian passport. The passport process can be a long one in Ghana (not unlike the US, but the US's is a more consistent wait time). The wait can be a week or two...or a month or more. Often it is the last thing that holds up bringing a child home.

Well, guess what - WE HAVE A PASSPORT!! On Monday our agency notified us that the passport had been finished and recieved by our facilitator! This is HUGE!

Once the court date has happened and the adoption decree issued, we will travel to Ghana and submit our i600 - which results in an IR4 Immigration visa for our daughter to enter the US where she will then be readopted by us.

Now, if we can get the US Embassy to speedily process the visa (which does depend somewhat on some paperwork from Ghana being ready for them to review) then we acutally might be able to travel once, rather than twice, and bring her home in early Feb!

It is looking more and more like she will be home celebrating Valentine's Day with us!

Friday, January 9, 2009

7 Quick Takes: Jan 9th

Jen's 7 Quick Takes is up for this week! There is just something satisfying about getting quick, bite-sized bits from bloggers. This week's quick takes seemed to get longer and longer as I went along....

One
Our adoption court date didn't happen this week. I don't know why exactly, but suspect it might have something to do with the elections not being finalized until this past weekend. Also, our facilitator's wife just had a baby! So, we hear from him that we are "all set for court next week". TIA (this is Africa), so sometimes things get delayed.

Two
I've had a request from a blog reader (her second request, actually) to post about how we schedule our days, specifically with Classical Conversations work. Perhaps a Mr. Linky would be in order so other CCers can add their schedules, too.

Three
Got a new planner - you know, new year, new planner. Actually, the truth is that I switched back to an old planner. For many years I used a "Classic" sized planner and loved it, but started to feel it didn't give me enough space. So, last year decided to make the switch to the full-sized "Monarch" planner. I didn't really love that. It was just too big. I keep my planner out on my kitchen counter and that Monarch just took up too much space. So, back the the Classic and I am really happy! Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I suppose.

Four
About that planner - one thing that has made the difference is that I switched back to Franklin Planner products. I don't know why, but they really are worth the price difference. So, if you've tried a planner and never tried Franklin Planner, I highly suggest you consider taking one of their classes and making the switch.

Five
Meal planning - a friend recently asked me about how we plan meals. I promised to share with her a great 5 week rotation of meals I put together for my family. If anyone is interested I'll probably share it at my food blog. Check on Monday - I'll try to have it up for "Menu Plan Monday". Do you have a monthly rotation plan for your menu? I'd love to link to you if you do!

Six
My new interest is "babywearing". Now, I don't think I'll ever be as hardcore as some of the ladies in these circles are, but I did use and enjoy a sling with my three bio kids. With the adopted little one on the way (she'll be about 6 months when she gets home), I'm beginning to get back into it. Since I gave away all my baby stuff, including the sling, I've launched myself into the world of baby wraps.

DN (dear neighbor) used one in China for her adopted daughter and she's passed that one on to me, but I've also purchased another one (Storchenwiege Inka - if you are interested). DN's was a stretchy one - great for little babies, but the other one I purchased is a woven one. These are better for bigger babies (so I read). It is very long (like 12') and good for many different carries. When we get to Ghana, I think I will also purchase fabric to make a smaller one, good for simple carries. Between the three I should be covered for the next couple of years!

I've been spending oodles of time reading about and trying out different carries. It is like a whole subculture: Front wrap cross carry, rucksack carry, poppins rebozo carry, strap carry, etc. My DD (6) has been my guinea pig for the carries and helping me "break in" my wrap.

Seven
This is really the year for change...and you'll think this is odd. but somehow our kitchen applicance always seem to be the "canary in the coal" mine. Something in the kitchen goes and major change is on its way (or has just happened.

Now this is weird...for 15 years we had a great little black&decker toaster oven that chugged away almost daily and then it had a little fire and died. We replaced it with another black&decker which didn't last long at all. In fact, the knobs broke off (we could still use it by using a pair of pliers to set the timer) and then this week it stopped working altogether.

So, I started looking to replace it...but all I could find were super-cheap toaster ovens or super expensive ($75 and up!). There were some inbetween models but they did not get good reviews. Well, in thinking about how we use a toaster oven these days (really only for toast) we decided that it might be wise to go back to just a plain toaster. You can get a decent one for $25 and we did!

It is just so strange afer 16+ years of a toaster oven, we are back to a basic toaster. Hubby has doubts that we won't miss our toaster oven (and we might). But with the size of our family growing, we really can't use the toaster oven to fix small meals (we don't fix small meals!), it makes less sense to invest in technology we won't use. Long live the TOASTER!

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Long Overdue Update

Well, the past month has really been a busy one! Obviously, the usual Christmas business - but add on to that various tasks for the adoption (papers to gather, online classes to take, books to read, preparing for baby's arrival) and helping my mom get settled into a new and very cute home...and well, it makes for no time to update the blog, that is for sure!

But there have been some significant steps forward! Many of you probably already recieved my emails about the upcoming court date. Thank you for your many, many replies and good wishes. It is so encouraging to know so many people are "cheering" for us!

Basically - we had thought our court date in Ghana would be this week (no specific date was given); however, it was not. As the saying goes, TIA - This is Africa! Stuff happens and things get postponed for any number of reasons. But, our facilitator told our agency director today that we are "all set for the court date next week". Again, no specific date (TIA). So, it looks like L is going to be LoveBug instead of a JuneBug, after all!

One bit of good news is that we should be getting a "final order". I'm not entirely sure what our facilitator meant by that (it could have two meanings- both good), and I have a question in to our agency to clarify that. But, I think it means that rather than getting a "favorable opinion" and then have to wait two weeks for the final decree, we get our final adoption decree right then and there! That would be wonderful! Alternately, it can also mean that we would be granted a "Final" adoption rather than a recently common "interim" adoption (which then has to be finalized later) - that would be REALLY GOOD NEWS. Updated to add: We found out today the "final order" does mean that we expect to recieve a final adoption decree rather than and interim one! The interim adoption would have meant the adoption would not be finalized until the end of a 2 year period. While it might not affect our day-to-day life with baby - it could mean more atty's fees and other paperwork issues.

Another update is that we did finally recieve the medical report and all looks excellent! She is healthy, although very small. By American standards, she's in the 1-5 percentile for height and weight. Teeeenincey! At her medical appointment on 11/20 she was approximately 8lbs 13oz (converted from metric)...that is at just over 2 1/2 months! I suspect she'll gain some in percentiles in height and weight when she is home with us (most adoptees do), but she'll still be a small little thing. I estimate that she'll be in around 3-6 month sized clothes when she comes home (if that is by February).

So, that is our update. I'll post again as soon as we hear about the court date - or if we get a specific date...or anything else! :) Oh, I'm going to follow this post with a fun one with photos of her room!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Setting up the Girls' room!

You might enjoy the photos I took when setting up L's room recently. She and E will share a room, but for the first month or so she'll sleep in a crib in our room. In the past, I've found it really hard to sleep with a baby in the room, but our social worker assures us this is best for her until she develops some trust that we will be there when she wakes up. So, we'll do the best we can! Anyway - here are the photos:

This view is looking in from the door. You can see E's bed on the left and the pack & play on the right. It is "standing in" for the crib until we get it set up in here. Right now we have small shelves for each girl, but are going to replace those with tall shelves (the small ones just aren't big enough) in the future. I'm on the scout for these at garage sales and the consignment stores!











And here you can see L's side of the room a bit better. Notice the two rockers - one for me and one for big sis:








And E's side:










And then back around, towards the door (to the left of the dresser) and closet.








Oh, you've got to see how I organized the closet! You can see E's got the lower rack and L's got the top rack (easier for me to reach!). L's got a few items hanging that have been given as hand-me-downs, gifts, and an outfit or two I saved from Ella's baby days. I'll put another sweater stacker and shoe sorter (used for socks, tights and shoes) on the left for L :












Isn't that fun?
This weekend my project will be to sort through the 4 bags of hand-me-downs we've been given!

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Family Epiphany 2009

A re-post, with some updates, from last year's A Family Epiphany:
Tuesday is the Feast of the Epiphany, the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of the season of "Epiphany". This Feast and Season commemorates the visit of the Wise Men or Magi to the Christ Child. Contrary to popular imagery, they most likely arrived in Bethlehem when Jesus was a toddler. Whatever the case, we recognize this also as a season that looks forward to the Gospel being shared with the whole world.

There are lots of fun craft ideas you could do to celebrate with and teach your kids about Epiphany. If you have kids who like to color here are some coloring pages to print. You might also make some paper crowns and let the kids decorate them with glitter and such. The website Catholic Culture has some wonderful information, too. Be sure not to miss the items (recipes, prayers, activities) in the drop-down menus in the top bar.

A lovely way to celebrate Epiphany is with a traditional home blessing. Below is a simple service for families. Start with Chalking the Door. Gather your family at the front door with a piece of chalk and say the following prayer together:

God bless this house,
From door to door,
From wall to wall,
From room to room,
From basement to roof,
From beginning to end.

God bless this house
and who enter here,
All who eat here,
All who work here,
All who play here,
All who sleep here,
All who visit here,
All who abide here.

(from a wonderful little book: The Anglican Family Prayer Book by Anne E. Kitch)

Then make the marks on your front door: 20+C+M+B+08. Each person can write a small part of that, or you can let an adult write the whole thing with the kids each making their own small cross somewhere on the door. (We find this easiest with little kids.) The C,M,B traditionally stands for the legendary names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazaar); however, I like the alternate: Christus Mansionem Benedicat which means "May Christ bless this dwelling." The numbers are for the year (2008). Of course, you'll use "09" for 2009 this year! I also read a suggestion to make the marks on all the doors leading to the outside.

Now, you can walk through the house with lighted candles (or just the adults) and Holy Water, if you wish, saying prayers for each room's occupants and activities. Perhaps end your "tour" in the kitchen or dining room with a candlelight dinner, tea or dessert of "Three Kings' Cake". I'm using this King Cake recipe this year.

We don't wash off the marks and they've stayed up as a reminder almost all year long. A very blessed Epiphany to you!


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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Crockpot Cabbage Casserole

Serve this with sausage and corn bread and you've got a nice meal! Serves 6.

1 large head of cabbage, chopped
2 c water
1 T salt

1/3 c butter
1/4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/3 c milk
1 1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese

Cook cabbage in saucepan in boiling water and salt for 5 mintues. Drain. Place in slow cooker.

In saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add milk, stirring constantly on low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese. Pour over cabbage.

Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. Can be made ith cauliflower instead of cabbage.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Black-eyed Peas and Sausage

This is a dish I made up last night and it was just wonderful! Easy to put-together, a one-disher (well, except for the rice), warm and filling...and cheap.

1 lb bag of dried black-eyed peas (or 4 cans of cooked, but dried are easy and cheap)
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, sliced
butter or oil to cook the onions and celery (about 1 - 2 Tablespoons)
1 lb or so of italian sausage (I get "sweet" italian turkey sausage)
1 can of tomato paste
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
4 cups of cooked rice

Soak the dried peas overnight in 7-8 cups of water in a seperate bowl.

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, melt your butter/warm your oil and saute the onions for a minute. Salt the onions to "sweat" them out a bit and then toss in the celery. Cook it all until just soft. Pour in your beans and the soaking water in to the pot.

Bring the pot to a gentle boil. Add the tomato paste, stirring well to make a nice sauce. Throw in your sausage and cook everything for 20 minutes or 30 minutes. You can put the sausage in whole or cut it up. If you you cut it up first, you should throw it in towards the end so it doesn't overcook.

Season to taste and reduce heat to a very, very gentle simmer to keep it warm with the flavors meld a bit more. If cooking in a dutch oven, put the pot in a warmed oven rather than keeping it on the stove top if you wish. I warmed my oven to 250 and then turned it off when I put the dutch oven in.

Serve it over warm rice and you are set to go! This will serve a crowd or a family of 5 for dinner and lunch the next day...and then some. Since this is a new dish to me (and I made it up), if you have any suggestions please leave me a comment.

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7 Quick Takes: Jan 2nd

Jen's got her weekly "7 Quick Takes" back up and running again. Go check it out!

One
Yesterday, I bought HUGE dutch oven. It is a 7 quart blue-enameled cast iron monster- and I love it. Ever since I purchased my Julia Child cook book and ran across a number of recipes calling for a dutch oven, I've been mulling over this acquisition.

Le Crueset is THE BRAND, of course, but I really can't justify the expense right now (about $260). I'd been considering going with a brand that got good reviews for being a quality inexpensive one (about $50 at WalMart), even though there were some things I didn't like about it (knob could only go to 350 while pot could go much higher...a little smaller size than I liked). But then...low and behold, I found a Cuisinart brand (with an enameled cast-iron lid knob, too!) at TJ Maxx for $70! It retails at $125. I had some Christmas money to spend, so that was a happy cash purchase.

Two
I used my new dutch oven to make a delicious pot of black-eyed peas and sausage last night. Gotta eat my black-eyed peas on New Year's Day! I'll post the recipe on my food blog: To Every Meal A Season. It was REALLY easy and got rave reviews from the whole family. And it doesn't require a dutch oven to cook - but it sure was a nice pot to use.

Three
Trying to order parts for a crib I'm borrowing from a friend. The voice mail says, "We are closed for the Holidays and will re-open on Jan 2nd." But they aren't answering their phones. Oh, well...guess they decided to extend their holiday break until Monday. I don't blame them. Can't believe it is time to get that set up!

Four
Spent New Year's Eve Day reorganizing my laundry room/craft/school supplies. Hubby and the boys hung some new wire shelving back in November and I finally had some time to really work on getting them all organized in an efficient manner. I've got mostly art supplies, school games, and "table time" activities ...and of course the laundry and cleaning supplies. Today, I'm working organzing my "desk" space (really just a corner of the kitchen counter). Maybe I'll post photos when I finish.

Five
Another project for today (and this weekend) is working on the rest of my lesson plans: Science, Ancients, Literature, etc. These plans might make good fodder for blog posts, too, no? I'll share documents via GoogleDocs as I finish them - and add books to my Amazon "aStore". Let me know if you find this helpful. (And any books you purchase through links on this blog or from my "aStore"earns me a tiny bit of credit at Amazon - not much, but enough to purchase a good book every now and again.)

Six
Our dishwasher is broken! It has been giving us problems intermittently for the past year, but not enough to cause us a real inconvenience. Just occassionally it won't start right up and it needs to be opened and closed a couple times before it "clicks" on...well, now it isn't starting at all. Luckily, I did find some info on the web to help us try to fix it before we call in a repairman. I'll let you know how that turns out...Oh, how my hubby LOVES plumbing work. Update: It was a 15 minute, FREE fix! Apparently, this model (GE Nautilus) has a fan that sometimes gets stuck and this shuts down the motor as a safety feature. The fan just needs to be cleaned off and loosened up. Yea!

Seven - The Best for Last
This upcoming week is our court date for our adoption (don't know which day, yet). We do not have to be there in person, but will be represented instead. Pray for everything to go well - and for a positive outcome! (The judge should give a "favorable opinion" followed by the final adoption decree about 2 weeks later.)

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Scholar's New Year Review


Welcome to 2009! Often this time of year leaves me feeing a little breathless, sort of a "How did we get here?" But this year, it really feels like a new year...it really feels like 2009 - maybe because it has been a very full year. Whatever the reason - I'm glad a new year is here!

One wonderful thing about keeping a blog is that it lets you look back to see what you've thought about, dreamed up, worried over, and maybe even accomplised over the course of a year. When I looked back today, I was surprised to see what's been on the Ten O'Clock Scholar blog this year! Take a look:

January


February


March
I planned and hosted a Way of the Cross for Children
and don't miss the photos from that event!


April
We decided to expand our family by international adoption


May


June
(fyi - I'm working right now on the second semester and should have it posted this weekend)


July


August
Started a new blog: To Every Meal a Season


September
(I'm planning on some updates to this, so watch for that upcoming post!)


October
A post for Blog Action Day (this year's focus: Poverty) on Holy Poverty.


November


December
Rethinking the Christmas Craze - maybe it isn't so crazy after all.


This year is shaping up to be one of big changes for our family and I hope to hone my focus on this blog a bit more, so I hope you'll visit often!
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