Wednesday, December 26, 2012


On Wednesdays we are raising awareness re children who need families. Please advocate for (and consider adopting) these children.  I am not endorsing any of these agencies or these children's cases.  Please do your own due diligence in that regard.

Sibling group of 6 in Texas (yep, 6! wouldn't it be amazing): Sibling Group of 6

Sibling Group of 5 in Oregon: Sibling Group of 5

Sibling Group of 4 in Georgia: Sibling Group of 4

Sibling Group of 3 in Oregon:Sibling Group of 3

Brother and Sister in Michigan: Brother and Sister

5 year old HIV positive boy in East Africa-CHFHS (also listed on the Project Hopeful site)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

He will wipe every tear from their eye...

 I have no words for the unimaginable tragedy that happened yesterday in CT.  I heard about it at work in the afternoon and immediately felt like I was going to vomit and I have pretty much felt that way since.  I don't understand how someone could execute children.  


We have not told B about this and are intentionally trying to shield him from it. Please DO NOT mention this around him in any way.  Although this horrible incident highlights that in fact, we as parents can not protect our children from everything/anything (a sobering and terrifying reality) it is important for young children to believe parents can completely take care of them.  If B was 8 or 10 this would likely be a very different conversation in our house, but B is 4.  He has already come through complex and difficult circumstances, does not feel safe at school, and after 18 months of hard work on all our parts is just starting to trust that we will take care of him.  He does not need to grapple with this right now. We will address it with him in an age appropriate way if/when it comes up but we are hoping that it will not.


 Although we are shielding him from it, we are not shielded.  My heart breaks for all who are mourning today.  I cannot stop hugging and kissing B.  I cannot swallow the lump in my throat.  I cannot hold back the tears that stream down my face at random moments.  As a mother I cannot imagine how I would feel if something happened to B at school, let alone if he died.  Devastated is not a strong enough word.  As a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend...oh my heart aches for these children and teachers and their families.


 This horrible act of violence clearly violates God's commandments.  It goes against every shred of decency in our society and annihilates every convention of behavior.  It is unfathomable to me. I cannot understand it.  I don't think I ever will.


Our world is sinful and broken.  There is a tension between the image of God reflected in us as his creation and the gaping void of sin that twists and lies and corrupts everything. Most of the time I live in a fairly insulated world where I acknowledge this, but push it aside and stuff it down.  When confronted with yesterday's events, a glimpse of the depths of sin and depravity are silhouetted in stark relief and it scares the shit out of me.


As scared and sad and hopeless as I feel in this situation, the one thing that I know to be true is that God loves me.  He loves you.  He created us.  He created this world.  He is the most Powerful.  The most Wise.  The most Loving.  The most True.  The most Just.  The most Holy. I don't understand why he allowed sin to enter the world or why he allows it to continue in the world, but I know that He has triumphed over sin and death and Satan, and that He will come again...with Justice, with Healing, with Renewal, with Life!


Tonight as I tucked  B into bed we read a paraphrase from Revelations in his Bible and it seemed so apropos that I have included the whole chapter here.    


Revelations 21

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.  It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.  The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,  the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.  The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Amazing and Thoughtful Blog By an Ethiopian Trying to Connected Adopted Children with their Heritage

This blog is a resource I have literally been dreaming of but did not know existed!  How amazing to have a young Ethiopian man thoughtfully try to share his heritage with the children of his country who now live around the world!

My son is my son, but he has many relatives and a uniquely complex story.  He is American, he is Ethiopian. He is mine to raise, but was born to, raised by, and loved by many others for almost three years before we came into each other's lives.

Our whole family loves Ethiopia and it is now an indelible part of our lives. How much more so my son who is Ethiopian, was born in Ethiopia, and has a proud Ethiopian heritage. He is American but he is also Ethiopian.  He will always be both.

The art, pottery, shawls, clothes, carvings, and other crafts we brought home from Ethiopia adorn our house.  The recipes fill our mouths and nourish our bodies.  The celebrations we attend and relationships we are trying to develop with our local Ethiopian community are at once perplexing and rewarding.  The books we purchase expand our minds and provide a glimmer of my son's heartbreakingly beautiful, proud, complex, impoverished, ever-changing, and unimaginably rich history, but to have a person who is trying to articulate all these things intentionally, sensitively, and clearly, specifically for kids who no longer live in Ethiopia because of international adoption...WOW!  All I can say is "thank you" from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

Ethio Origins

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New look, new ideas, almost the new year!

Long time no see, right?

It's been a little (a lot) crazy  around here!  At this point we are holding on by the tips of our fingers and very much looking forward to a long Christmas break with family and friends.

But...I've had a little time to think about this blog.  We started it to chronicle our journey to our son and our adventure becoming a family so that our relatives and friends could share that life altering and amazing experience in some way!

Although my deepest desire for 2013 is to welcome another child/children to our family through adoption, Ababa is not quite ready for that.  So, until we can chronicle that new journey on here (which believe me I will be shouting from the rooftops!) I'll continue to post periodic updates on our family/bonding&attachment/life/my thoughts on adoption, but I also want to advocate more for waiting kids...the children who are breaking my heart.  If we can't welcome them into our family yet, maybe they are meant to be in your family!

So, we are going to start "Waiting Child Wednesdays".  Every Wednesday I'm going to raise awareness for specific waiting kids, especially the ones who are resting heavy in my heart.  Pray for them, advocate for them, raise awareness about them, and maybe we can help place the lonely (children and parents-to-be) in families.

Also, I am going to start "Family Fridays" raising awareness about family preservation programs and initiatives to help alleviate poverty, AIDS, lack of clean water, lack of healthcare and childcare, and other issues that contribute to children needing families throughout the world (including in the US).

I think it sounds great, but just in case that all sounds too heavy I'll still be posting random stuff adorable pictures of B, great egg-free recipes, and a potpourri of other musings.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Best gingerbread cookies ever!

I'll post photos tonight.

We made a gorgeous batch of these cookies yesterday morning to take to a Christmas party.  We ended up missing the Christmas party but are consoling ourselves with some deliciousness.  B is thrilled:-)

We used enerG egg replacer for the 1 egg, doubled the spices, and used 1 TBSP of grated fresh ginger instead of ground.

1 bowl, no dough refrigeration needed, easy to roll out, and delicious!  If you roll them thin they are crisp and thicker they are soft and chewy (our favorite!)

We made Africas, Christmas trees, and bears, all decorated with raisins, hot tamales (b/c we couldn't find red hots at the store) and some vanilla powered sugar icing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Just so I remember...

My sweet little boy is growing up so fast...

  • yesterday morning he said "mommy you are gross" (and meant it!) b/c I said he would need to go to school (school is still not popular in our household...more on that later, but it is my biggest parenting regret to-date, if I had a do-over he would have just stayed in daycare for another year)
  • my baby still says "baby bunchling" (baby bunting), "kipp you up" (pick you up), "you" (me), kavillion (pavilion), ga-wasses (glasses)
  • His favorite books are Bread and Jam for Frances, A Bargain for Frances, and Corderoy's Christmas.  He loves Frances so much that he continually reenacts the books throughout the day and his favorite foods are bread and jam, spaghetti and meatballs, and he asks for breaded veal cutlets everyday...he can't wait to try them (he'll be waiting a while as we are a veal-free house)
I will say this a thousand times, and a thousand times son is amazing.  I am so blessed and grateful to be his mommy.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

There is no cabbage patch

I've been wanting to write this post for a while, but have not seem to have the words or the time.  Today, stuck at home with the post-"Super Storm Sandy" flu seems as good a time as any...I guess in some way, this is my response to Orphan Sunday"...

At it's very core, I think that we all want the same thing...

We want children to grow up in loving homes, ideally with their first families, but possibly with a different family if their first family is not able to raise them.

We want children in loving families who love them and can take care of them.

We don't want children to experience death, abandonment, hunger, thirst or disease.

We don't want women and men and families to suffer from a lack of water, medical care, resources, health or whatever else is necessary to raise their child...

We don't want barren women (and childless men) to remain childless when there are children who need families...

We don't want any of these things.

At first glance, adoption seems like a great solution.

A child whose first family is not able to raise them, gets a family.

A first family who can not or chooses not to raise a child can make a plan for their future.

A barren couple can become parents.

It's's's right...

But here is the thing, there is no cabbage patch!

Children, they don't sprout from the earth as preemies, infants, or toddlers with a random name (like Evan Rhett or Franny Frances like the ones in our family were called), a cute signature on their bottom, and simple papers that say they are yours.

Childless couples (or families with children) are not selfless.  They want to experience the joy of parenting.  They want to love their child and have their child love them in return.  They don't want to spend the rest of their lives caring for a child who is not able to be independent, or who hates them, or who tries to hurt them or their other children.

First families, they are real.  Their stories are often full of searing pain, loss, death, grief, difficult/impossible decisions...and often coercion; extortion; patriarchal, cultural, governmental, and social pressures, and financial gain (which could be as simple as a pair of shoes or a loaf of bread which can make the difference between life and death for other children or members of their family).

And the pain...the pain is real for everyone...children who have experienced more loss than most of us will experience in a lifetime, first families who have made impossible choices and often experience profound life-long grief...and the childless who ache for a child to love and parent and teach and raise.

There is no cabbage patch.  Adoption does not come in a clean, branded box with a plastic lid and a clear little piece of paper.

These are real people, real pain, real death, real challenges.

Babies don't grow in a cabbage patch...toddlers don't grow in a cabbage patch...preschoolers don't grow in a cabbage patch...and "older" kids don't grow in a cabbage patch.

But here's how it is like the Cabbage Patch phenomena...

People are lining up, fighting with each other, desperately waiting years, to adopt an infant...a toddler...a girl....they are so cute... everybody wants's's "christian duty"'s the call to care for orphans and widows...

Churches across the US and probably other parts of the world are shouting this from the rooftops today on "Orphan Sunday".

Here's the thing...

There is no cabbage patch.  Adoption is not neat, it is not clean, this is not a child who has been birthed in a clean, pastoral cabbage patch and then placed into a sterile little box sitting on a clean shelf in a department store.

This is a baby...a child...a young adult...whose life has been literally torn asunder.  They lost their first family, and now are impossibly, improbably, incredibly expected to be part of yours.

There is a first family who has been, is, and will always be part of their life.  There are children who have spent years, literally YEARS wasting away in institutions because they don't look like cabbage patch dolls.  They are not little, and cute, and healthy...maybe they are big, or not so cute.

There is no cabbage patch.  As adoptive parents, we have to figure out how to explain our child's history...their whole history...(at least as much as we can possibly find out) in age appropriate ways.  To help them make sense of their past and their present and their future.  A future which doesn't include any cabbages, but involves a complex weaving of all their families into who they are.

I think that the message most people and churches promote, especially on "Orphan Sunday" is that it's our job to provide a home for a cute baby.  It's not.

It's our job to show God's love to widows, to orphans, to the least of these.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love and truth are inexorably linked here. Love and patience.  Love and selflessness...

I think that the message on "Orphan Sunday" and throughout the year, should focus more on love for all members of the adoption triangle (children, first families, and adoptive families--and the most loving option might not/often is not adoption, especially for infants), on demanding transparency and ethical and loving behavior from agencies and in-country staff, and on advocating for children who are truly the least of these; children who families are not lining up to adopt; children and first families who are vulnerable, but for whom adoption is not the best option; and actively speaking out against the cabbage patch version of adoption.

These are God's precious children just as much as I you my son is...their first families are also God's precious children (regardless of whether you agree with their lifestyle choices or decisions)...their siblings, their grandparents, their friends from their first country...all God's children...all an integral part of your child's heritage.  They don't disappear when your child is adopted.

Children who have first families who want to parent and can with just the slightest support:

Children and widows for whom incountry adoption is a great option:

Children with RAD:

Children with disabilities: 

Children who have spent years in institutions literally wasting away in cribs (graphic images):

I think that it takes some really special, really loving families to parent these children, to support these first families, to deny the cabbage patch, to truly love orphans and widows...but I know they are out there.

Ababa and I continue to discuss what a second adoption could look like for our family and we are not on the same page yet and won't move forward until we are, but I do know that loving children and widows starts in acknowledging the truth, recognizing there is no cabbage patch, and advocating for the least of might not be adoption...and if it is adoption, it really might not be a cute little baby with a funny name and a signature on their bottom.  That is the message I wish that churches would acknowledge in this "Orphan Sunday" movement.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Easy Ways to Help Storm Victims

We are fine--have power, water, no flooding, etc. A few trees are down in our neighborhood, and there is minimal wind damage (awnings and street signs blown around). We feel very fortunate to live in a high part of the city.

I am back at work as of yesterday and subways started limited service today.

It is hard to know how to help, but a few easy things you can do from home are to order items at Target or Amazon and have them shipped to shelters/non-profits that are doign great work right now.

Here are some ideas/contacts...from Shaun in the City

Please forgive any errors.  This post has not been edited and these are my raw, real-time thoughts.)
Do not bother any of these people unless you are prepared to help right away. They are swamped, stressed, and don’t have time for BS.  If you don’t have to call them or email them at all, don’t.  Just follow my instructions.  If you have to reach out to them, OK, but treat them like gold.
If you need to contact me, email me @  This is best. You can also text my cell @ 678.641.5016.
Over 100+ homes were burned down in Queens.  The families there need SO MUCH help.
“We need:  Clothes, boots, underwear, socks.  It wasn’t that cold last week but now it is.  People evacuated and didn’t bring warm clothes.
We also need toiletries — feminine hygiene products, razors, baby wipes, diapers, soap, maybe those personal face wipe things.  on a secondary level — kids might like toys. things to comfort them.”
I’ve made a trusted contact there.  Her name is Katie Honan.  Her email address is
All supplies can be taken directly to St. Frances De Sales Parish and directions can be found here.
400 formerly homeless people in desperate need.
“Your help over the next few days will be much appreciated.  While we would love to organize volunteer programs, the communication situation makes this impossible.  Instead, we would welcome donations of basic items, such as bottled water, flashlights, blankets, canned goods, peanut butter, tuna fish, granola bars, bread, fresh fruit, nuts, crackers, juice, and other items that don’t require refrigeration or a lot of preparation.
We are accepting food donations at our East Village Access program site at 242 East 2nd Street (between Avenue C and B) on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 10AM and 3PM.
New Jersey
Families in Newark have run out of diapers, wipes, and basic baby supplies.  If you can take them today that would be awesome.  My friends @ Covenant House are amazing.  The address is: 330 Washington Street | Newark, NJ 07102
You can mail them these diapers from our Amazon registry here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Amazing Egg-free Cupcakes!

Someone turned 4 this week...

from The Art of Dessert

Egg-free Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes
Allergy note: contains wheat and dairy ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour 
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups whole milk
1 cup butter, melted
4 tsp. honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 F degrees. Line two muffin pans with baking cups. Sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, combine milk, butter, honey and vanilla extract. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the milk/butter mixture. Mix until combined.  Fold in the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Pour in the batter into the lined muffin pan to 2/3 full. Bake for 25 to 30 or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely before decorating.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
makes about 2 1/2 cups frosting 
Allergy note: contains dairy ingredients

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/3-1/2 cup whole milk*
1 tsp. vanilla extract

 *start out with 1/3 cup of milk and add more milk to your desired consistency

In a large mixing bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add the butter, milk and vanilla extract. Using an electric mixer, slowly mix together at a low speed. Once all the ingredients are combined, increase the speed and beat till fluffy.

Mama's Awesome Egg-free vanilla cupcakes
(this is the best egg-free vanilla cake I have made yet!)

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 c coconut oil (melted)
2 TBSP white vinegar
3 TBSP vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup water
a few drops yellow food coloring or carrot juice

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl
Mix wet ingredients in another bowl

Stir wet into dry.  Pour into muffin cups and bake at 350 for approx. 12 minutes.

*the flavor is awesome and the texture is great, but these are dense.  I like dense cakes, but might try increasing the vinegar to 3 TBSP and baking soda to 3 tsp next time to see if that makes them lighter.  

Very Vanilla frosting
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter (room temp/softened)
1/3-1/2 cup coconut milk
2-3 tsp vanilla

Beat together.  tint with gel food coloring if desired.  Add a little more powdered sugar to make it stiffer if you want to pipe it, this texture is great for spreading but a little soft.

Topped with Thomas faces made out of homemade marshmallow fondant, these were a huge hit in B's classroom and at his party!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

B's prayer request

We finished praying tonight before B went to sleep, but he had an addendum, "Mommy, pray fun day at school tomorrow"

Oh my heart!

At 4 weeks in, B is starting to like school but still frequently says "school is too big...was it scary...mommy i'm sad" when asked about school or when I drop him off at school.

previously his prayer requests have also included "mommy, pray only good dreams, no bad dreams, bad dreams go away!"

I am so grateful that he is starting to use words for emotions/feelings, and that he wants to pray about these things, but I wish that he wasn't scared and sad in these situations.

He is growing and we are growing through these experiences of bad dreams and the transition to school, but it is hard and scary and sad.

Staying home with him full time is not an option for me or Ababa right now, but I am grateful that we were able to be home with him full time for 6 months and part time for the next 9 (and as pesky as those Jewish holidays can be for scheduling, I am grateful for them too b/c B has been home with Ababa 1-2 days a week since school started and that has helped the transition immensely).

On another note, if you only buy 4 adoption books for the first 6-8 years by far B's favorites have been:

-Guess How Much I Love You (his fave for the first 6-9 months, and still read frequently)
-A Mother for Choco (I think this is his all time favorite book and he constantly walks around talking about how mommy is Mrs. Bear and B is Choco and Daddy is big nut brown hare and B is little nut brown hare! He would read this every day)
-Horace (months 9-15 but still read frequently)
-Rosie (in the past month he has started to get more into this book-which is specifically an adoption book, but it has not reached the level of the previous three yet.  I have a suspicion that this might become a fave in a year or two)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

PreK update--aka navigating NYC public schools

I know, blog posts have been few and far between lately, but I wanted to post this so that we don't forget (and hopefully so that we will be able to look back in a few months and see that we've made progress with B's teachers).

B started preK in a NYC public school.  The preK program has gotten lots of great reviews, especially for one teacher.  We requested said teacher.  We were told that he would likely be in her class as they would "do everything they could".  We did not get said teacher:-(  In retrospect, we should have just raised a rukus then, had be switched into her class, and had a great year....but we didn't and now it would be a HUGE deal to have him switch classes and I doubt they'd even do it, plus he's just starting to get comfortable in his class...

Anyway, B's current teacher is fine, not great, not awful, just average, but she seems very stressed all the time and doesn't listen when we talk to her.  She "wants parents to be involved and to advocate for their child's education" but then doesn't hear you at all when you talk to her.

(There are two teachers and a student teacher for 18 kids, and the classroom is well equipped with supplies, etc. So although I am sure that her job can be challenging, it's certainly not an awful classroom situation.)

Case in point, she has a book that she writes "observations" of the children in everyday.  Ababa and I call it "the book of badness" b/c she only writes negative things in the book like "johnny wasn't listening...emily spilled her juice...jabari is scared of the slide...etc."  I was reading through the book Friday morning and noticed that she had writted that "b doesn't know his name...b doesn't understand english enough to know when we ask him to put his cup in the sink". 

WHAT?!?!?!?!?  B learned his new name 3 weeks into us knowing him and although we had planned to call him "new name-ethiopian name" all the time, he was adamant that he wanted to be called "new name" with "ethiopian name" as his middle name, and that's what it has been ever since.  Now he introduces himself to strangers with "first name, middle name, last name" and sometimes our address (kind of scary, I know!)

Also, this is a kid who sometimes gets sytax and pronunciation twisted, but has a vocabulary that includes "dental moldings, cornices, imagination ("avenation" as he says), san francisco ("fransancisco"), underpass, every type of construction vehicle known to man (including fellerbuncher!), ferris wheel...etc.", puts together 10 words sentences, can recognize and explain differences between the brooklyn bridge, george washington brige, london bridge, and fransancisco bridge...and says things like "well basically mommy, your throat is underneath your mouth and above your tummy and your food is digested in the tummy and then comes out your bottom as poop". 

Um yeah...he doesn't understand english yet enough to know his name or to put food in the sink?!?!??!?!?!...even if he's shy when we are not there, 5 minutes of observation when we are still in the classroom would easily have demonstrated these things.

Mornings are rushed in the classroom and I didn't want to try and have a big conversation when she was already stressed, plus I had talked to her the week before when she asked me "how long has B been speaking english" and I told her 15 months, and although his syntax may not be 100% at age level, he understands everything you say and has an amazing vocabulary.  We had a long conversation, she would never tell me exactly what the issue was, and I thought she had just noticed that B's syntax can be a little off (but completely adorable:-) sometimes.  I also told her that his way of coping with scary situations is to withdraw/shut down and that he might not be talking much yet and that's a fear thing, not a language skills thing.  Also, on the first day of school she had all the parents fill in a 4 page questionaire about their child which I thoroughly and thoughtfully completed regarding all these potential challenges (but I am pretty sure she has never read).

Friday morning I told Ababa about the book of badness report and he was really upset, b/c it turns out the previous week, he had sat her down and talked through all these things again and demonstrated how B can follow complex directions and definitely knows him name and how to put a cup in the sink.  He doesn't have high hopes that anything sunk in though b/c interspersed in the conversation were gems like:

teacher: we made popcorn today at school for cooking. B, you should have your daddy make popcorn at home.
ababa: we do make popcorn at home, it's mommy's favorite snack
teacher: well do you make it on the stove or in the microwave?
ababa: we make it on the stove, that's mommy's favorite way
teacher: oh, well we make it on the stove, you should try it that way sometime


it's pretty much like that everytime we talk to her.

trying to figure out the best way to navigate this. 

We're comtemplating starting our own book of badness to capture our "observations" about her as well...but know that we really do need to think of something more constructive to improve this situation.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mac n 'cheese

Just posting this so I don't forget how we made it, how delicious it was, and a few changes I would make next time:-)

Adapted From Smitten Kitchen

(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Creamy Mac-and-Cheese
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics)

We ate this for lunch with a fresh tomato salad and will have it again for dinner with steamed green beans and corn on the cob:-)

Serves 12

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3-6 slices bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces (panko would also work well, I used 3 old heel of wheat and rye bread from the freezer and a quarter cup of breadcrumbs)
5 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%, but 1% or skim would probably work well too)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
        ***instead of the above spices I used 1/2 tsp Tony Chacheres, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp coarse ground pepper
8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese-grated
8 oz Cabot 50% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese-grated
8 ounces grated Gruyère
1 pound cavatappi/spiral macaroni (next time I would use 1 1/2 lbs of cavatappi)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter two 2 1/2-quart casserole dishes; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Sprinkle with 1/2 c of the grated mixed cheeses.  Set the breadcrumbs aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and all remaining cheese.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the spiral until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone,  approx. 5 minutes. Drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I love you!

Just so I remember (and to encourage other mamas and ababas who might be waiting a long time for this too...)

This morning, after 14 months of being a family, B said an unsolicited "I love you" to me for the first time!!!!

Previously, he's only said "I love you" after I say it to him and when I prompt him to say it back to me.

This morning, I was dropping him off at Miss Carmen's for daycare and was looking at him just about to say "I love you B, have a great day" like always when he smiled at me, made great eye contact, and said "I love you"!!!  Of course I scooped him up, covered him with kisses, and said "I love you too".

Needless to say, that totally made my day!!!!

We're looking for the cable to download the photos from our phone, but really, could this boy be any cuter? (running through the grass at his grandparent's house in the country)

Thursday, August 16, 2012


We finally received B's "Lifebook" last week.  We are so grateful to have this but please don't ask us about it.  The details of his story and family in Ethiopia are his to learn and share as he gets older.  We will share with him as he grows up in age and developmentally appropriate ways and it really doesn't seem fair for other family members/friends to know before he does:-)

This is his life and his story.  We are thrilled that you have been on this journey with us and that you love him and are interested in his story, but please understand that we won't be offering details from this Lifebook.  If there are things that you know, think you know, or have gleaned from "reading between the lines" or from other conversations about B's history/relatives in Ethiopia or circumstances surrounding his adoption, please keep those to yourself and try not to ask us about them or discuss them with others.  We want to protect B's story for him as much as possible so that he can choose when and how much to share on his own.  Please help us with this!

Our Lifebook was very different from what we thought it would be, so for anyone who is traveling this adoption road, I wanted to share what we thought it would be (and wish that agencies would do) and what we got.

We were initially told that the Lifebook would be assembled before we were submitted to Embassy so that the Embassy would have a full and thorough case for his visa/orphan status/adoption process.  We thought that was awesome, and expected a comprehensive collection of all his adoption documents, pictures, and video of interviews with extended family members/finders/relinquishers, etc.

Well, we finally got the "Lifebook" almost exactly 1 year after we were submitted to Embassy and it consists solely of one video interview with one person.

Again, we are thrilled to have this important interview for B in the future and we hope that it accurately portrays his story, but one interview with one person may or may not accomplish that...

To our agency's credit, they retained an independent firm, EthioStork, to do these interviews.  I fully support that, but am frustrated that this due diligence was not performed before the Embassy process, that it doesn't include more than this one interview, that there are inconsistencies that were not explored in greater detail, and that the interview was finally completed in March and we just now received it.

I'm sure that Lifebooks vary by child/adoption case, but have to say that we expected more, especially given the one year delay...

Along with this, we've been practicing responses to well-meaning but invasive questions about B's history before he joined our family.  Following some awkward encounters with other adoptive families and/or interested in adopting families at the playground the best we have so far is:

re adoption

"I'd be delighted to talk to about our adoption process.  B is almost 4 and understands everything that is said around him. The details of his unique history are for him to share when he's older but I'd be happy to discuss our adoption process and time in Addis."

or re his lifebook

"We're saving the details of his history and Lifebook for him when he is older, but we're very happy to have received this video interview with an important person in his life.  I know that it will be very special to him when he is older."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In case you were wondering...I am a mom:-)

Well, one year into being a family and we have experienced several crucible moments in the past few days.  Just in case you were wondering, we are definitely parents:-) and now have experienced a few more of those quintessential "childhood moments"

***mom and dad, stop laughing now, I know that you've been waiting about 32.5 years, since I was 18 months, for this one to happen!***

Although he is fully potty-trained during the day, and the tincture of chinese herbs and probiotic that we are now trying to treat his giardia (since 4 rounds of different antibiotics haven't made a dent in it) are finally giving him non-explosive poop, B decided that it was time to use poop as paint--body paint, face paint, wall paint, clothes  paint, you name it, he painted it.  Luckily for me, I was in the kitchen doing something so Ababa discovered this and had to deal with the aftermath (score!).

However, Ababa got me back yesterday.  I was at work and have a Dr's appt with my "Lady Doctor" in the afternoon, Ababa was working an ambulance shift, and it turns out that our daycare lady had to close early, so Ababa dropped B off at my work...just toys, no snacks, no wipes, no books, no distractions...nothing!  So, through 2 hours at work, an hour and a half at the Dr, and another 2 hours at work, I had to keep an active, talkative almost 4 year old occupied while doing work, taking important business calls, sending many time-sensitive and detail-oriented emails (oh yeah, did I mention that this was my last day in the office before vacation?) and sitting in the Dr's office having my lady parts looked at...

I may or may not have thrown a box of paperclips and pieced of shredded post-its all over my office floor and convinced him that picking them up and putting them into a small waterbottle was a super fun activity that constituted making a "thunder cloud" that could then be shaken to make "thunder" and poured out to make "rain".  Thank goodness that my kid has a great imagination and can spend 2 hours playing with post-its, paperclips, and water bottles!

I saved my "Secret weapon" aka my phone for when we would be at the Dr b/c I wasn't really sure how I was going to keep B occupied while the Dr was all "up in my business".  The Dr was running late so we waited for 40 minutes and B somehow completely locked my phone about 5 minutes before the Dr came into the room.  Super fun!  In fact, my phone remained locked until Ababa came home at 3 am and had to completely re-boot it, removing the battery and everything.

So in less than a week, we've encountered the new trifecta of parenting--"poop painting", "bring your child to work b/c the daycare closed early", and "going to the Dr with your three year old in tow".

Bring on the vacation!  We need it!!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Limpics, Compassion Fruit, and Maginacon...

I know, I am still behind in getting pictures up.  For now, just trust me that B is getting cuter everyday (and I didn't even think that was possible!) and we are having a busy but great summer.

B's "little" personality is also getting bigger and bigger everyday!  He is in the middle of a huge verbal explosion with new words/phrases/and sentences everyday.  He still has a cute toddler lisp and a hint of Ethiopian accent, so some of his new phrases include "limpics" (olympics), "compassion fruit" (passion fruit), and "maginacon" (imagination!).

He had his first bad dream the other night (I think brought on by the creepy baby in the Olympics Opening ceremony).  All he can tell us about the dream is "der was a baby...der was a girl...girl with eeeyyyyeeeessss. baby fell off the blue bed...der was a baby...etc."  he was really freaked and took almost 2 hours to fall back a sleep, plus he's not too sure about the blue bed (his cot in our room) right now.  Even when he's sleeping in our bed he will startle awake out of sleep and stare at the blue bed resting at the end of the bed with huge wide eyes and tense shoulders.  My poor baby!  The good news is, he called out for us when he had the dream (a HUGE first for us/him!!!), and he now says "mommy and daddy made the dream go was just maginacon".

Tonight at dinner he asked for compassion fruit (he didn't like what we were having:-) We don't have any compassion fruit of the tropical or compassionate version in the house, but sometimes we really need both!

B LOVES the Olympics.  His favorite sport so far is synchronized diving:-)  He believes in full participation and interactive TV watching, so he talks back to the commentators and performs the dives with the divers.

He stands up straight with arms out at his side or above his head (whichever they are doing on screen for the dive), says "ready 1-2-3, ready go" with the divers jumps around on the floor during the dive, and then propels himself backwards into the sofa and says "splash" right at the time the divers enter the water!  Then he claps with the audience:-)

He also loves swimming and gymnastics.  In general, he just loves the "limpics".

Monday, July 9, 2012

Family, Relatives, and My Baby...

We are taking a bunch of vacations this summer, venturing out of our cocoon and spending wonderful times with friends and family.  Slightly confusing for B as "extended family" is a tough concept for a 3.5 year old and B was getting a little stressed...but we found a solution this weekend end that works for us right now.

1."Family" is Mommy, Daddy, and B
2. "Relatives" are grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
3. "Friends" are other people who are close to us

There are a few childhood friends that kind of fall between friends and relatives, but for the most part these categories are pretty cut and dry.  B totally gets this and thinks it is super fun to say "Baby V is my cousin, she's a rel-a-tive", etc. I could see it click in his mind and am so glad that he's starting to understand this!

B's new favorite game (right up there with "mommy and daddy will be stayin' right there") is for us to say:

"Is Baby V my son?"
"Is Finny my son?"
"Is Graham my son?"
(and so on and so forth using any child we have ever met)

His grin gets bigger and bigger and his giggles higher and higher pitched until the whole thing culminates in:
"Is B my son?" and he throws himself onto the ground and then into my arms, laughing hysterically but very relaxed and with a huge grin and sparking eyes.


Later this week I'll start uploading some really cute vacation pics.  The past week was B's first time swimming (in 2 pools and a big lake).  He LOVES it! Throw in some watermelon, hot dogs, homemade frozen yogurt, corn on the cob, fresh blueberries (all of which we've had in the last week), and an upcoming trip to the beach and a fair, and that's the pretty awesome all-american summer we have planned.  I keep thinking: "wow, it feels like such a long time since it's been summer", and "I don't remember when the last time I wore this [article of summer clothing] was" and then I remembered...right, I spent ALL of last summer in Ethiopia:-)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"And mommy and daddy stay right there..."

We are coming up on our one year anniversary of meeting B.  Big anniversaries like this can be difficult for kids even if they don't have conscious memories of it.  Their hearts remember it in a well-documented, but not well understood/explained phenomena and it can be a really bitter sweet experience--best case scenario it's a great day for them b/c they met their adoptive family (some kids don't feel like this was a great thing), but also a sad day b/c that meant left their birth country/birth family/culture/and everything that was familiar (most kids feel this way at least at various points in their lives).

I can not believe that one year ago today Ababa and I were flying to Ethiopia!  I'll post more about meeting B and hopefully some excerpts from my travel journal this summer.

My original plan for our first "Family Day" was to have a laid back day at home, maybe go for a walk in a park, and have Ethiopian food and an egg-free ice cream cake.

Being the awesome mom that I am (not!), without even thinking that July 1 was our family day and that this could be a tricky weekend for B, I scheduled a get together at our house to help raise support for our friends who are missionaries in Spain and are in the US doing fundraising.  Um yeah, epic mommy fail.

So, instead his first Family Day will be sangria, ghetto tapas, and a bunch of people he doesn't know that well at our house.  Then 2 days later we leave on a 5 day trip during which we are going to see three different sets of friends and family members in three states.  He's pretty excited about our trip and had a rough week last week, but is doing really well this week, so hopefully all will go ok.  If not, we'll pack-up early and make the 2-3 hour drive home.

Buckle up B, mommy is sorry that it's so crazy right now.

B had a really hard week last week with some issues that we hadn't seen much of for several months, we took a step back, gave him some extra TLC whenever possible, and this week he's doing much better.  I think in addition to the whole family day thing, his giardia is still going strong and in the middle of flare-up, and he is transitioning from co-sleeping in our bed to sleeping in a cot in our room (with the end goal of moving the cot to his room later this summer and then having him sleep in his bed in his room at night by the fall).

Co-sleeping has been absolutely the right decision for B and for our family, I can not say enough about how much it helped our bonding (and by our, that is not just B's bonding I'm talking about, it really has been great for our whole family!) and truthfully I am sad that it is coming to an end, but he seems to be ready so we are slowly starting down this path.  We introduced the blue bed for naps last weekend, but he did not want to sleep in it at night then or this week....but tonight...he asked to sleep in it and 20 minutes later...he's asleep!

B's other big news is that he seems to really be starting to understand that we take care of him and always come to get him no matter what.  When we were doing the morning bottle (that tapered off about a month ago) we would always...every day...multiple times a day...recite our family mantras:

We are a family, mommy, daddy, and B
Mommy and daddy's job is to love B, to take care of B, to keep B safe, and to teach B about God.  B's job is to love mommy and daddy, to listen to and obey mommy and daddy, and to learn about God.

Families stick together.
Mommy and daddy always come home and we always come to get you no matter where you are.

B LOVED saying all these things and they would help when he was upset.

But he now has taken total ownership of it with a game he plays where he says:
"B ________ (fill in the blank with something like "ride a city bus" "take the subway" "use a knife" "take a bath by yourself" "walk Woosha" "go outside" "do the laundry" "stay in the guesthouse [in Ethiopia], etc. ) by yourself" and then I am supposed to say "you can't do that by yourself, you are just a kid/baby/little boy..." he then cackles hysterically and his eyes light up.  It really seems to make him feel safe and taken care of.  He now also recaps it at the end and concludes with "we are a family" and "mommy and daddy [will] stay right there."

My heart swells when I see these very tangible signs of him truly starting to feel loved, safe, and comfortable in our family.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Church according to B...

Today we were waiting for Ababa to get out of a looooong mtg after church and B decided to reenact church.

Here's church from B's perspective:

"First we sing" He sat next to me and started tunelessly droning "come, come, come" which was his rendition of "Come now is the time to worship" which we sang this morning:-)

"Then we pray."He stood in front of me and said in a serious deep voice "blue hexagon man....hexagon, hexagon, hexagon....boom, man now...[mommy, close your eyes, we prayin'! *I was trying really hard not to laugh at this point*]...hexagon, man, man...amen" (today the prayer was in spanish and english which I think threw him for a loop:-).

He stayed in front of me

"Now we learn about Jesus...Pastor R talks...Jesus loves me"

"Now communion...dis the bread, dis the cup"

"Now pray" (he was quiet here)

"Now we sing...come, come, come (cue another rousing but tuneless rendition of Come, Now is the Time to Worship).

On a total other note...make's uh-maz-ing...

I replaced each egg with 1.5 TBSP full fat greek yogurt and eliminated the eggwash.  Delish!

Let me put it this way...I doubled the recipe b/c I figured we could take to church or work, so we had 2 doz.  I took 1 doz to church this morning and they were gone in literally less than 2 minutes!  Ababa looked at me from the front:

Him: You brought the babkas!!!!!! WHY!?!??!?!!?  You always give away the good stuff

Me: oh, don't worry I kept 6 for us

Him: Nooooo...THAT'S NOT ENOUGH!

yeah, they are that good...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day, a tag sale, and "No One's Son"

Happy Father's Day, Ababa!!!!!  We love you so much!

Ababa is hobbling around with a seized up back, but we celebrated with his favorite sausage egg and cheese sandwich from the local bakery (with a preventative dose of benadryl and a different breakfast for B) and fun cards handpainted by B to see Esperanza Spalding later this year!

Ababa loves her music and B is similarly into it (as am I).  It's so adorable b/c B will chime in with the lyrics.  The first time we were in the car listening to "Cinnamon Tree" and she sang "sweet cinnamon tree" and B chimed in from the back seat "so warm and sturdy" we were shocked and then almost died laughing--it was only the second time he'd heard the song!!!

Also, I spent this weekend reading No One's Son by Tewodros Fekadu.  I highly recommend it!!!!!!!


Like, go buy it and read it now!!!!!!!!


What are you waiting for...?

His life is nothing short of incredible.  Born during the Ethiopian Eritrean war, to a mother who was brutalized by a man (who truly seems pathological in his denial of the son this act created and his endeavors to not only ignore but actively destroy this son), his life took him all over Ethiopia, including living on the streets of Addis, to Egypt, to more than 3 years in a brutal Japanese detention center and additional years stuck in Japan (embroiled in shocking bureaucratic and immigration dramas), and finally to Australia where, for the first time, he experienced the true, unconditional love of family (through his new Australian wife and her family).

I learned a lot about Ethiopia, and it was very interesting to see the other side of places we knew well in Addis.  So many familiar places were mentioned in the book, but it was a really different experience of them than we had!

It is a great read.  I read the whole thing this weekend.

It was especially amazing to me b/c he is only a few years older than me and has had such a mind blowingly different life.  It was crazy to me to think wow, in 1998 he was stuck indefinitely in a Japanese detention center and I was in college doing such and such. Really incredible.

I had lots of time b/c we were part of a neighborhood tag sale this weekend.  We met a lot of neighbors and cleared out some clutter (by the afternoon everything at our table was free for the taking, we just wanted it gone!). The financial equation looked like this:

Goods sold-desk, mirror, some baby toys and ladies clothes: $90
Gift certificate to a local restaurant (won in the raffle): $25

2 plates each of pad thai and spring rolls handmade by a thai family in our building (YUM!!!): $10
1 thai shave ice: $3
Baby girl clothes for my almost born niece and a big toy for B: $35
water: $2
raffle tickets and space at the sale: $20

So, all in all we netted $20 plus a $25 gift certificate, but I got to read my book, B had a BLAST (and now has a huge new airplane toy that he has played with constantly since yesterday morning), we got a free container store shoe rack, fancy curtain rod, and set of custom wood blinds from another seller, plus we met a bunch of our neighbors.

So, I am calling it a success.  We're sending the $90 we grossed to Tumaini to pay for school fees for the kids in August.  If you want to help, DONATE HERE and put "August School Fees" in the memo.  The school fees are $1600, so we have a ways to go still to get there:-)  We are committed to funding these school fees, please help us help these kids!  After reading No One's Son, I recognize even more acutely the power of education, stability, and mentorship in the lives of vulnerable children.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Modesty Police!

1. B is bossy
2. B is a little possessive of his mommy (particularly as it relates to Ababa and/or other children)
3. B is a little  a lot obsessed with b**bs (aka oonoonas--not sure if this is a Bism or an Amharic or Sidama word, but it's the only word he will use for them:-)

This morning Ababa was working and B and I were getting ready/eating breakfast.  I had put on an easy Friday outfit for work--long black v-neck sundress and a black and white shrug cardigan.

I sit down at the table with B and he immediately puts down his spoon, gets a concerned look on his face, and goes, "uh-oh...mama's sahwry" (his version of sorry) and just sits there.  I'm like "what, what's wrong?"  He stares at my chest, and deliberately says, "Uh-oh, mama...mama's movin'...fix it...mama's sahwry"

I look at him perplexed, trying to figure out what the heck he is talking about.

He pointedly looks at my chest some more, looks at me like I am beyond stupid to not understand what he's saying, folds his arms over his chest, glares at me, and says "Uh-oh...Mama's oonoona's are moving. Fix it... Mama needs to fix the oonoonas...she is moving (we're still working on pronouns--I'm pretty sure "she" was referring to the oonoonas:-).

Then he flaps one arm in an imperious wave and says "fix it now mommy...the oonoonas are moving...fix the oonoonas."

Guess who wore an ugly red tank top to work under her pretty black sundress to ensure that the outfit was cleavage free, and there were no "oonoonas" to be seen?

There is a reason his nickname is "Bossy McGee"...

And just 'cause they crack me up...

Oh I love my sweet boy (though I spent most of the subway ride to work this morning planning on changing out of my nunnified tank top like a rebellious 13 year old:-)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Yay-Ababa and Yum-Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Yay-Ababa got a 4.0 on his first semester of science classes and his first time back in school since 1999!!!!!!!!  All that hard work and long nights paid off!!!!

Yum-today I made the best "Egg-free" recipe yet:-)  Most are coming to work, but B and I have already sampled them, and we saved one for Ababa to celebrate his awesome GPA!

I combined a few different recipes I found online, eliminated the egg, made a few other tweaks, and WOW!

I got 30 cupcakes, but B and I *ahem* "tested" a lot of the batter in the process, I think it would easily make 3 dozen.

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
• 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 3 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 4 very ripe large bananas, peeled
• 7 oz container Fage 2 % Greek yogurt (or as B says, "yor-gort":-)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I was out, so I used 1 tsp coconut rum and 1 tsp vanilla rum)
• 1 1/2 cup sugar (I would cut this down next time to 1 cup, maybe even 3/4 cup--also, I used half brown sugar and half white sugar)
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (or as much as is needed to get the consistency you want)
8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter,  room temperature (I used Jiff as all the recipes online said old-fashioned or freshly ground wouldn't work, but I might try those next time anyway:-)
1 tsp vanilla (I used 1 tsp coconut rum)
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Mash bananas, yogurt, and vanilla together (I did this in my stand mixer first and then put in another bowl while I creamed the butter and sugar).  Stir or sift dry ingredients together. Alternately pour dry and wet into the creamed butter and sugar.
Bake in muffin tins at 350 for approx 20 minutes.
Toss everything but sugar into a mixing bowl and whip it together.  Gradually add sugar and whip until  desired consistency.

I was out of cupcake liners, so I made them myself (yes, I feel very Little House on the Prairie for doing that:-).

Fold a sheet of plain 8 1/2 x 11 paper to make an 8 1/2 X 8 1/2 square and trim off excess.

Fold 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch square of paper in half and in half again so that you have a 4 1/4 inch square stack.

trace a 4 inch circle and cut it out. (I used a ramekin, but then realized that the 8 oz tub of Philly cream cheese I was using in the frosting would work:-)

take the stack of 4 circles and rest on top of a 1/4 cup measuring cup.

press a slightly smaller bottle down onto the stack so that they pleat themselves into the measuring cup. (I used a bottle of kikkoman soy sauce)

Voila! Muffin liners, put in your cupcake/muffin pan and fill as usual.

They are a little looser than standard liners, but worked great!!!! Be careful when filling that you drop the filling into the center of each tin as these can slide around while you are filling if the batter is dramatically off-center.

And just for fun, here are some photos of B from memorial day, taken by our friend K.