Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting Child Wednesday-I can't get these girls off my heart!

Please someone, step forward to be these precious girls' family.  We are not their family (Ababa is not ready to adopt again and since we live in a small two bedroom apartment with our son, we would not be able to be homestudy approved for two girls in NYC), but I know that somewhere out there a family is waiting to welcome them with open arms and hearts full of it you?!?:

Sisters ages 7 and 2.  The seven year old has significant special needs and the two year old is healthy.

Agency is American World Adoption

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Magic recipes (egg free and gluten free)

B might be allergic to wheat now as well as times in the Mamaababaandwoosha we try to eliminate wheat too.

So, we're looking for magic recipes that taste good (for everyone not just the person with allergies), are easy and affordable to make, and have no wheat or eggs.

Magic mousse:
Only two ingredients...chocolate and water!

Gluten free, egg free bread:
really yummy, easy to make, tastes good and has good texture even after a few days. I have a loaf in the freezer and will let you know how that fares too. (update: freezes and thaws like a charm, but do not refrigerate as it will get crumbly)

Gluten-free, egg free blueberry muffins (I made a few is the original recipe and below is my adaptation):

Mama Ethiopia's blueberry muffins 

1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) gluten-free all-purpose baking flour (I used Arrowhead Mills)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups frozen blueberries or huckleberries
Ener-g egg replacer equal to two eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of orange or lemon zest
Dash of nutmeg

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a 1 dozen muffin tin with liners

In a large bowl, whisk together thoroughly the sugar, flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Add the fresh or frozen berries and toss to coat.

In a medium bowl, mix egg replacer as directed then add butter, oil, yogurt, milk, water, and vanilla.

Whisk to combine and add the zest.

Add to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is thoroughly moistened and smooth. My "batter" was really more like a soft dough.  I ended up kneading it to combine all the flour.

Since there’s no gluten, you don’t have to worry about overmixing. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes to allow the gluten-free mix to absorb the liquids thoroughly.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling them almost to the top.

Bake 25 minutes (20 if using fresh berries) until the muffins are golden brown and feel firm to the touch, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

Turn out onto cooling rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

• Makes 12 muffins.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

When it rains it pours, and pours, and pours...

This week's wrap up...

-Ababa learned he has a herniated disk with a pinched nerve and is now in intensive physical therapy
-Ababa got let go from his job b/c of inability to work due to said herniated disk (he can barely walk and is under Drs orders not to lift things right now)
-Our car got towed by the towing bounty hunter (aka the #$%^& US Marshall Office with severely inflated towing fees and very inconveniently located tow lots)
-I started back to school, had a huge event at work and a major MAJOR negotiation, plus I had to go get the car out of the tow lot b/c Ababa couldn't walk and do most of the school drop offs and pick-ups
-B started his new school which is much further from our house and awkward to get to on public transportation, so we spent a fortune on cab rides in the two days our car was in the tow lot (good news, he still loves his new school!)

and then this morning...

Ababa and I were lying in bed.

We heard B get up and turn his light on, then we heard an awful noise that sounded like something between a cat coughing up a hairball and a very liquid splat.

Ababa and I both froze, said "what was that", and looked at each other genuinely perplexed...

We heard footsteps, B slamming open the bathroom door, and a little boy saying "uh oh"

I went running into the bathroom and stopped short in the doorway...

...a trail of liquid poop drops from the PJ hook in his room, through his room, to the bathroom, splatted all over the potty, all over him, and all over the bathroom floor...

*****Please, please let this be a one time occurrence and not the start of a stomach bug*****

Friday, February 15, 2013


The New York City Department of Education co-locates schools (putting more than one school in the same building).

Co-location is always challenging as more than one school shares a building; however, sometimes this allows for more public educational options and utilizes DOE space most effectively.  Fine.

When one of the schools is a charter school though, the equation changes.

My understanding is that charter schools receive use of DOE space rent free and the New York City DOE routinely refuses to grant space to new and expanding public schools in favor of charter schools.

We have seen this occur several times in our neighborhood. It is perplexing as the Department of Education should be supporting public education and charter schools are many things, but they are most definitely not public education.

I feel that charter schools can sometimes be very beneficial; however, the current model of the DOE providing them space rent free and awarding space to charter schools over excellent and strongly performing public schools is alarming.

Here is one fascinating tumbler blog that documents what co-location with a charter school looks like and how it can be detrimental to healthy public schools.

Colocation blog

Monday, February 11, 2013

B's verdict on the new school...

For the first time ever...we asked B "how was school" and he said......................."fun"...........................and smiled!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Miraculous PreK Do-Over

As I have noted more than once on this blog, B's preK experience has not been great.  His teacher was ok, not awesome, not awful, but ok...but she's been out for weeks at a time due to serious personal issues, the principal retired this summer so there is an interim acting principal, and the have been some terrible decisions made at his school-ranging from substitute teachers who have never taught an early childhood class, to a class period where 4-6 classes so 80-120+ kids grades preK-5 (depending on if you take the teacher or the principal's word for it) were housed in a regular size classroom with only 3 teachers, to just a general atmosphere of extreme rudeness, hostility, and condescension--with no regard for the children, on the part of the principal and administration.

B hates school...we hate school...and I think after the past week (when we galvanized the parents and had a major discussion with the principal outlining what needed to change for our children) the school hates us.

B's teacher and assistant teacher were fine and are very grateful that we have been advocating with other parents for our children, but his main teacher is now on an indefinite leave of absence, his assistant teacher is trying to hold down the fort in the classroom but is not really trained or qualified to do that, and the current sub is a high school teacher who has no idea how to handle preK children.

We've been volunteering in the classroom almost constantly during the past few weeks and we've gotten to see even more clearly how ineffective and disorganized it is.

Following the group prep incident which violates all kinds of safety laws in addition to NYC board of Ed regulations, educational best practices, and general common sense, Ababa and I decided that B could not stay there.  We reached out to several friends who work in education as well as several public and community-based schools to see if there was a way to move him mid-year.

In an amazing answer to prayer and a truly miraculous PreK do-over, B has been accepted into one first choice school in all of Manhattan for the rest of the year, he starts Monday.  His new teacher has a nephew or godson (I wasn't totally clear which, maybe both...) who joined their families through Ethiopian adoption.  She's an amazing teacher-calm, firm, kind, creative, understanding, respectful,'s a small school and will be much less overwhelming for B, plus they are really going to try and observe him to see if there is any extra help he might benefit from to help him really excel.

Plus, there is an Ethiopian family with several children at the school (the principal  introduced us today), there is an older kids classroom that is specifically studying Africa for the whole year!, the music teacher has been to Ethiopia, and if I understood things today (I was alternately tearing up and grinning from ear to ear at the prospect of B going here) there is another child in the school who joined their family through Ethiopian adoption.

This school is so amazing.  It is basically my dream school, and now he will get to go there for preK, and possibly the rest of elementary school!!!!!!!!

Today on his trial day he sculpted with real clay in art, built towers with blocks, met the class guinea pigs, read books, talked way more than he would talk in his old school on a good day, actually interacted with other kids in his class (which he would not do at his old school), was held to a much higher standard of interaction/response/participation than he was at his old school...and he started to rise to the occasion!

I can not wait to see what the rest of this school year has in store for him!

Yes, it is a little further commute.  Yes, it starts a little earlier and we will likely need to leave the house 30 minutes earlier to get to school, but it will be so worth it.

I have to keep pinching myself--it took 5 dramatic months of the school year in a not so great school situation but, he is going to the school we listed first on our PreK application!!!!!

We are praising God today for this incredible and miraculous change of preK circumstances!

We will miss the students and parents at his old school who we grew close to in the past few weeks especially, and hope that they will have the stamina to keep pushing for positive change and that the administration will recognize that the parents in that class are engaged, want the best for their children, and will keep pushing to get it. We will continue to advocate for them and with them as much as we can.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Personal Day

I took a much needed personal day from work today.

This week (just from Mon-Wed...) I had a cocktail reception for 40 guests that I managed for a high-maintenance client, a board meeting, two major meetings with clients, 3 big presentations, a final for an intensive MBA class, found an orthopedist that will take uninsured new patients (Ababa's EMT insurance is so sketchy that it may as well not exist and we are not even totally sure that he's enrolled in the plan...still working on that), paid our bills for the month, paid a church member's bills for the month in my role as a Mercy team member at church (this involved hand delivering rent checks to section 8 housing, paying bills online and in person, grocery shopping and having them delivered, etc.), researched preK options as we are likely going to switch B's school in the next few weeks due to a safety and educational concerns with his school, volunteered in his classroom for 3 hours Monday, watched a film on child slavery/soldiers (War Witch), oh yeah and I organized B's preK parents to formally protest what has been going on in his school/classroom (more on that another day I am just too tired to write about it today).

I am still exhausted, but at least I am exhausted and have gotten some stuff done at home that we desperately needed as well as made some progress on B's school front:
-8 loads of laundry washed and mostly dried (I am not 100% sure how/when they will get folded and am hoping that Ababa will get the last few loads from the dryers in our building's laundry room when he gets home)--the laundry was especially important as B had one of his frequent bloody noses a few nights ago and his sheets, comforter, curtains(!), and big stuffed elephant "Bombay" were covered in blood, Bombay looked like he had had an unfortunate run in with a band of poachers he had blood on his head, back, sides, thoracic region, and hind quarters...thanks to the miracle of ocyclean everything is good as new now!!!
-a load of dishes in the dishwasher
-tour one of the two potential schools we might be able to transfer him to (the one today was a private school, the one tomorrow is a public school)
-found out that the awful knee pain Ababa has been having which has severely limited his motion is actually related to a serious back injury he had 12 years ago and he now has a completely herniated disk and pinched nerve!)
-went into work for 1 hour to deal with something urgent and spent about an hour on emails and about an hour on work calls
-had a 45 minute conference with the administration at B's current school with most of the parents from his classroom (I am not sure what exactly will change and doubt that it will be enough for us to feel comfortable with B staying there, but I think there will be some positive change)
-went to the grocery store

...and the best part...

I took a 1 hour nap with my sweet boy today.  He didn't sleep, but I did and we had lots of amazing ooey gooey cuddle heart cannot hold all the love I have for this little man...he is so special and every day I feel unimaginable blessed to be his mama! He does have a little oedipal complex that is starting to really get on DH's nerves, but thus far I still think it's cute:-)

Tomorrow we have an early morning school tour, I have to cram my work day into 6 hours, pick B up afterschool, take the subway to midtown to say "hi" to a very important person from B's orphanage life in Ethiopia who will be in town for 1 day, and then get home to collapse into bed.  I have work events on Saturday and Sunday, church Sunday morning, and starts all over again...

On a more serious note, please pray for my Granddad.  The end of his life here on earth is probably very near.  We rejoice that he will be experiencing the glory of Jesus soon in heaven, but we are sad that he is leaving us and concerned that he is in pain and feeling very sick right now.