Sunday, February 26, 2012

Delicious, easy, and inexpensive Ethiopia dinner (our version of chickpea wat)

I am going to just call this Ethiopian Stew (it's like shiro but with whole chickpeas, or like Yemisir Wat but with chickpeas instead of lentils).

It's not straight-up traditional Ethiopian, but it's close enough for us (and a lot closer than the "American" pizza we almost made the mistake of ordering at Ice Blue restaurant in Addis with tuna, capers, olives, raisins, and some other random stuff--when at Ice Blue, stick with traditional Ethiopian food, the rest of their menu is revolting:-)

This stew is easy and delish and made us all happy!  We made this for our small group today, so we kept the spice pretty's probably just on the spicy side of comfortable for most palates.  Feel free to dial up or not as you like.

the morning before:

1-16 oz bag of dried chick peas
large pot of water
1-2 tsp baking soda

Put all in large pot over high heat.  Bring to boil, boil for 5 minutes, turn off heat and let sit all day.

later that night:

1 medium/large yellow onion
1 large shallot
1 clove of garlic
1 knob of fresh ginger (about a half inch long and and inch wide)

On the stove-
saute the chopped onion, shallot, garlic, and ginger in olive oil with the following spices (just until the onion gets a little translucent and the garlic gets aromatic--do not burn the garlic!)

4 Tbsp (or more) Berebere
2 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1/2 tsp each ground: cinnamon, allspice, clove, fenugruk
seeds of 1 cardamom pod

Turn crockpot onto low and put 4 Tbsp of butter (half a stick) in it.

Drain and rinse soaked chick peas then put in crock pot.  Add-in the onion/spice mixture, a 6 oz can tomato paste, and water (I think I used about a liter of water, but I can't quite remember...just make sure that your chickpeas are covered by 1-2 inches of water).

*you could also add cubed potato, sweet potato, and/or carrot.  I didn't have any on hand so I didn't*

Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 12 hours.

That's it!

Serve over injera, rice, or mashed potatoes.

This is DELICIOUS and tastes a lot like what we ate often in Ethiopia.  B tasted it, got a huge grin, and said "mommy, dis is wat.  dis is shiro.  dis is wat! yummy mommy"

You could also use lentils or split peas with the same spices, they would probably only need to cook for about 8 hours.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

6 months home...

I can't believe it, but our 6 month post-placement visit is this week!!!


6 months home, 9 months being a of my friends said that having kids is like a freight train to the grave and I can totally understand that now.  It feels like just yesterday we were meeting B at the orphanage.

We feel so beyond blessed to get to be B's parents.  We love him so much and are thrilled that in many ways he is doing GREAT and we are being knit together as a family.

His quirky personality emerges more and more each day and he is h.i.l.a.r.i.o.u.s.

We now understand why people in Ethiopia (the few who could understand the words he was saying which were a mix of Amharic and Sidamingo:-) would either look at him quizzically or bust out laughing.

B likes to make up words and thinks they are the funniest thing ever!  His faves right now are "lobby-toast" and "bed-is-a-bowl" (which he will deliver like a stand-up comic and then wait for the laugh...if he can contain the giggles that absolutely overtake him when he says it).

B is 100% pottytrained now except for naps and night.  We are tackling naps this week (pray for us as we see a lot of pee soaked sheets in our future:-( and nights we'll deal with at some point AFTER we are done co-sleeping!  We still do a morning bottle/cuddle time and are co-sleeping.  Co-sleeping we are going to try to transition out of this spring and the bottle we'll do as long as he likes it but this spring/summer we'll probably switch to a sippy cup.  The morning bottle and cuddle time has been crucial in helping B and mama connect before being apart all day.  I am so glad that we decided to do this, that B wants to do it, and for how much it has helped with eye contact and bonding!

We rarely use our carrier anymore and only use the stroller for long walks, like the weekly walk to church.  B had a really rough day a few weeks ago and we pulled out the Boba, he played in it all afternoon and it helped so much.  But I think that was the first time we've used it since October.  My little baby is growing up!!!

B goes to daycare (school)  days a week, ababa is home with him the other two weekdays, and I have weekends.  B loves school, but it has triggered some insecurities, concerns, orphanage behaviors, and some little set-backs in the bonding process, but all things considered school is going well and we are just being a little more intentional with bonding and cuddling and family affirmations at home.

B's a great helper, and loves to do projects now...fingerpainting, playdough, making cookies, taking down the laundry or recycling to the basement...B is all over it!  He asks to do projects all the time which is adorable.

B is so smart and really verbal...he talks seriously, the boy does.not.ever.shut.up:-)  (He takes after his mama:-)  He talks from the moment he wakes up until the moment he falls asleep.

He stays in church with us and does really well at being quiet and taking things in (it's amazing with how chatty he is that he obeys our churchtime directive to "listen with your ears, watch with your eyes, and whisper questions to mommy and daddy").  Today he shocked the heck out of me by reinacting communion with his tea set and cutting fruit complete with "mama, do thank you prayers to Jesus" "this is my cup..." (while raising his little blue tea cup) "this is my body" (while getting out a piece of bread from his cutting fruit set) and praying again.

His favorite songs continue to be jesus loves me, silent night, away in a manger, a few random praise songs (especially "The Great I AM"), his bible verse songs (thanks mom and dad for the GT CDs he's learning them like a champ!), and all of the twenty trucks DVD songs.  Oh yeah, I broke down and ordered the pack (CD, 2 DVDs, tshirt...the whole nine yards).  He likes to dace around to them and play air guitar and has memorized every song along with each truck name, function, and parts!

B has met all our immediate family finally (Grammy and G-dad were last weekend) and talks about everyone all the time.  He always wants to "pack a suitcase and go to Meesiana, Pennsylvania, Jersey, Unca R, Aunt V and baby Victoria's, UncaDandAnamanda (he says it as one long word:-) or Grammy/Grandads" and is really excited that Unca Adam and AuntieCole are coming to NYC at the end of March.

We talk about Ethiopia a lot and hope that he still feels connected to it in a significant way.  Ethiopia will always be part of our family.  The way we see it, B has two cultures, one by birth and one by adoption and Mama and Ababa have two cultures, one by birth and one by adoption.   We are making Ethiopian stew for our small group for Sunday, watch lots of Ethiopia videos, listen to Ethiopian music, sponsor children in Ethiopia, hope to go back for some long visits once he's older, hope to adopt again from Ethiopia (well, Ababa is still considering that one and we are waiting until this summer to see how the current process is with Ethiopia and the US Embassy...), and have lots of photos, books, toys, and souvenirs from Ethiopia around our house...but we are always looking for other ways to integrate Ethiopian culture into our family life and to introduce it more to our family and friends.

B still has giardia:-( and is still allergic to eggs...we're hoping that he is healed from/outgrows those both soon!  Other than that, he's healthy as a horse which is a HUGE blessing!

When we met B, he wore 2 T clothes, size 8.5 shoes, and 2T-3T socks.  B is now firmly in 3T clothes, the 2Ts fit at the waist but are pretty much all too short now, and is in 4T-5T socks and size 9.5-10 shoes.

So, six (nine) months in, we still have some challenges, but on the whole are doing great!!!  We are unimaginably blessed to be a family and are grateful to God everyday for the miracle of adoption he has worked in our lives.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

You know that you've played too much Settlers of Catan when...

your 3 year old takes the cards out of his Memory game, holds them out to you, and asks, "week or ore mommy, week or ore?...Mommy, wood or week...wood or week?"  At which point you finally realize he is saying "wheat or ore...wood or wheat" and just about die laughing, before saying, "I'll take wheat please" and watching your 3 year old grin from ear to ear!

Yes, we got a little hooked on Settlers of Catan over Christmas and B is usually on mommy's team, driving his Hess truck around the table and helping to roll the dice on our turn:-)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Oh Lordy...!

Sometimes you are speechless as a parent, that was me today...

I got home from work.  B had had a fun day at school--made valentines, played games (one that was so fun that he had his first accident b/c he didn't want to stop!).... He was a little hyper and disregulated when I got home (which he usually is for 15-30 minutes when I first get home) but today he was oscillating between bouncing off the walls and climbing into my lap and cuddling (that is not usual).

He kept curling himself up into a little snuggly ball in my lap and then...wait for it...

He said:

Mommy, B in your tummy, baby's grow in mommy's tummy, B grew in mommy's tummy, B goes into mommy's tummy now.

The he said:

Mommy, there's a baby in your tummy, right now, right der, there's a baby in your tummy (FYI, there is most definitely not a baby in my tummy right now, we would feel blessed for that to happen in the future, but since we are still co-sleeping I am 100% sure that there is no baby "right der":-)

Then he said:

mommy, that's empty (patting my chest)...B see inside...B go inside now...B is mommy's baby and B goes in mommy's tummy. B see (pulling out my shirt) B get inside?!

This all happened in about 3 minutes of constant to say?!?!?!?!?!

I gave him a big hug and kiss, said that babies do grow in mommys' tummies, that he grew in his Enat's tummy  (Ethiopian word for mother) but that mommy was his mommy now and would always be his mommy.  Then I said there was no baby in my tummy right now (and that my shirt was staying on:-), but that we could snuggle as much as he wanted.

We have talked about adoption vaguely, and talk about his extended family in Ethiopia (his Enat and Abat are both deceased), read adoption-related books that are age appropriate, and talk about adoption-related things and our three months in Ethiopia frequently, I guess we need to expand on that topic now...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

po-po and the Po-Po

po-po, aka potty, aka...B is daytime potty-trained!!!  My sweet little genius decided he likes to use the po-po.  We are now dealing with "do it myself" "B wipes it up" (not a good one as it involves about a roll of toilet paper and poop or toilet water all over the place:-() "cars underwear, mommy, I want to wear my cars underwear" and "uh-oh, shinte (pee) is coming".  We are still rocking the cloth diapers for naptime and night time, but yay for B!!!!

Po-Po-This is one of those I can't believe it happened to our family (namely Ababa) stories.  I am sharing this b/c I think that it's important for our family, other adoptive families, and other people who stop by this blog to realize challenges that are still being faced regarding race, and police, and the fact that your beautiful child will not always be an adorable baby/toddler/preschooler.

I grew up in a mostly white, rural area. Racial issues were not very obvious b/c there weren't any other races in the immediate vicinity (to the best of my memory, in my entire elementary school there was one black child, 2 vietnamese children, and one korean-american child (who had been adopted from Korea)).  I was taught that police were kind and helpful and safe and trustworthy, that their job was to keep me safe and to make sure that bad people were caught so they could be punished by the law.  Police officers were people who you went to when you were lost or had a problem.  My only run-ins with the law have been:

1. My early childhood friend and I being picked up and driven to school the first time we were allowed to walk to school by ourselves (we were in first or second grade and took our good sweet time walking and chatting, so we were late.  I think officially truant or something like that:-)  We got picked up by the neighborhood beat cops and arrived at school in style (the back of the police car).

2. A few speeding tickets, one was definitely deserved, two were questionable but whatever, if that's what the officer's raygun said, who am I to judge.

Ababa is black, he grew up in a small town in southern Louisiana where racial tensions are often simmering at or just below the surface.  He has had several encounters with the police, more than I can count actually.  Some of the highlights include being pulled over because of his skin color, being questioned because he turned around in the grocery store parking lot b/c he remembered that he forgot his wallet (a woman told the police she thought he was following her!), and being made to get out of his car because he "fit the description" of someone who had committed a turned out that the only trait they shared was their skin color...

As a couple, we encounter blatant racism with a fair degree of regularity (people changing tables at restaurants b/c they don't want us to be in their site lines, obvious looks/comments on public transportation, weird inappropriate comments, etc.).  As a family we are not any more conspicuous b/c everyone we meet assumes that B is our biological child.

But..this is 2012...we live in New York northern Manhattan (a middle income neighborhood that is very diverse)...I work in a predominantly black neighborhood.  We're an upwardly mobile middle-class family and don't usually expect to encounter blatant racism in our day to day lives.  The police in our neighborhood are typically viewed (and routinely display these traits in our interactions with them) as    a busy, bureaucratic, disinterested, somewhat ineffective, but mostly benign entity.  We know about Sean Bell and issues of police abuse and brutality that are unimaginable to us but most of those instances happen in other neighborhoods and they seem distant to us.

Yesterday morning, Ababa and I dropped B off at daycare and then Ababa dropped me off at work.  After I got out, the light was red (so there was no oncoming traffic) so Ababa did what he thought was a legal U-turn.  He was pulled over by the police, he left his wallet at home in the rush to leave that morning but told them his name, address, birthday, social security number, that I was in the office building immediately in front of where they were, etc.

He was forced to get out of the car, made to put his hands behind his head and his forehead on the vehicle, he was thoroughly frisked, his pockets were searched, he was told that a Honeybun wrapper in his pocket with crystalized sugar was drugs, he was told the bags he carries to pick up our dog's poop were drugs, he was asked the same questions repeatedly (in an effort to get him to "change his story"), he was threatened by a policewoman who was aggressively holding her hand on her gun holster, there were multiple police and police cars called over and involved in the interrogation, and in the end, after 45 minutes of this, when it turned out that his information checked-out, an officer tossed the paper with his information on it through the car window at Ababa and said "this is your lucky day" and walked away.  he was never told why they pulled him over (we assume the u-turn, which I am pretty sure was illegal) and he was not charged with or ticketed for anything.  he got no explanation, no apology, nothing.

Those are not the actions of the police I was taught about as a child.  These actions are not helpful, designed to keep people safer, or respectful of humanity.

These actions are blatantly disrespectful, intentionally demeaning, aggressively hostile, and completely unreasonable.  Ababa and I have immense respect for good police officers, men and women who do their job with dedication, dignity, and a respect for humanity.  We have friends and family members who are police officers, and we recognize that sometimes times officers need to err on the side of caution to ensure their safety.  Fine.  but at a minimum, in the end, when it turns out your assumptions were apology/explanation would be very helpful and should be required.

I am furious that this happened to Ababa, perplexed as to why a simple traffic offense turned into a 45 encounter with multiple squad cars full of officers, and flabbergasted that not one officer in the bunch spoke up to say "hey, we overeacted" or "here's why we did what we did, I'm sorry that you just had to go through this" or even "here's why we pulled you over".

I don't know for sure that Ababa was subjected to this because of the way he looked...but I do know for sure that this has never happened to me and I doubt it ever will.

As angry and sad that I am this happened to Ababa, I am even more concerned that this could happen to my son as he gets older.

What do I teach him about the police?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Awesome blog post, this is real!

We are still crazy busy, sick with colds, adjusting to new jobs, schools, and daycares...but things are going well, all things considered.

Someday (hopefully soon) I'll do a real post, but in the meantime, head on over to "Under the Sun" and get a glimpse of adoption, raw, real, and unedited:-)  This is really what it is like...these are the issues that adoptive parents deal with, all.the.time.  These are the issues we deal with--Mama, Ababa, and B--our whole family in various ways has deal with every one of these, plus a few others... minus the worms...I am so, so, so grateful that we didn't have to deal with that and "only" have giardia!

Go to Under the Sun and read Elya's post!