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!!!