Sunday, September 30, 2007


Warning: Applesauce, as it cooks, makes little "pops". Those pops can travel great distances. And hot applesauce on bare skin really hurts!

On the other hand, it's incredibly yummy!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

You Won't Believe What I've Been Doing!

OK, so my friend Lisa is really into re-discovering the old homemaking skills. So she decided she was going to start canning. And so I decided to give it a try with her, especially after tasting the delicious blueberry jam she produced on her first try!

We made strawberry and peach jams on our first afternoon, and apple butter on our second. I'm hoping to make a batch of homemade applesauce this weekend. It's really incredibly easy to do, and particularly fun when you're sharing the time with a really good girlfriend. We cooked and chatted, chatted and cooked, and the time just flew by!

Our future projects include homemade bread, sewing, knitting, and cross stitch. Looks like it's gonna be a homemade Christmas this year, folks!

First, we cut up loads of fresh fruit...

...then cooked it up...

...and ladled it into jars.

After a hot-water bath to seal the jars, we set them out to cool.

Don't all those full jars look wonderful? Such abundance!

Our children kept busy playing games and dress-up.

Two tired, happy homemakers enjoying the "fruits" of their labor! (OK, go ahead and groan!)

One of my favorite parts of the afternoon was when Rachel wandered into the kitchen and announced, "Boy, it sure smells fruity in here! Yummmm!"

Abbie's First Day of School

This has been a season of "firsts" in our family! Abbie started preschool this month! My baby is growing up so fast!

Like all the teachers at Hand In Hand Christian Preschool, Mrs. Livingston is absolutely wonderful!

Abbie's ready to go!

I just love this old-fashioned dress I got her for the first day. Can you believe I got it at Kohl's? (Can you believe her pose?)

Our sweet preschooler!

Rachel, a Hand In Hand alumna, came with us to take Abbie to school. Here's a big goodbye Sister Hug!

The first thing the children do when they enter the classroom is wash their hands. Abbie's learning the routine.

Abbie shows off her new school bag, which we will decorate in "pink and purple and jewels"!

Some Encouraging News

The China adoption boards are all a-buzz with the latest news. According to the China Center for Adoption Affairs' website, the August 2006 LIDs are out of the review room. Since we haven't heard anything from our agency, that means that there were no red flags or documents to re-do in our dossier. So in this case, no news is good news. Now we wait to be matched with our Sarah (and wait... and wait...).

Unless, of course, the fact that we haven't heard anything is because the CCAA never even received our dossier.

OK, I really need to relax...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rachel's First Days of School

Rachel recently started attending afternoon Kindergarten, and is loving every minute of it!

A couple of days before school started, she had the opportunity to meet her teacher, Mrs. Love. (Isn't that just the greatest name for a Kindergarten teacher?)

On the first day of school, I insisted on driving Rachel in so I could enjoy every moment (and yes, cry a little, too!). Looks like she's ready to go!

Waiting to go into school.

Our super Kindergartener!

On the second day of school, Rachel rode the school bus for the first time...

...and there she goes!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hannah's First Day of School!

Hannah started second grade a few weeks ago. She absolutely loves school, her teachers and her friends. I can see already that she's going to have a great year!

Our beautiful little second grader!

She picked out her first-day outfit - it's SO Hannah!

Rachel and Abbie insist on waiting for the bus with her.

There goes my big girl (sniff-sniff!)!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Review Room

According to the CCAA's official website, dossiers received through July 2006 are now out of review. Which means that the August 2006 dossiers are in review right now. I've heard of a few families who have either had to answer further questions or submit new or updated documentation. We've not heard anything yet - I guess no news is good news. I will begin breathing properly again once I hear that August has completed the reviews. Then we just sit and wait to be matched...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Three Years Ago Today...

...I got "The Call" about our Abbie! Actually, the drama started the day before...

On Friday, September 3, 2004, the word was out among March DTC-ers that referrals for that month had been FedExed from CCAA that morning. We Americans had to endure a three-day holiday weekend while we waited for news about our new children. On Tuesday the 7th the posts started hitting the March DTC Yahoo Group - referrals were in, and everyone was sharing news about their new little ones. I was on and off the PC most of the day - Hannah and Rachel were probably wondering why Mama was acting so strangely. By 4:00 we had still heard nothing. I called Jennifer, one of the other moms in our agency's DTC batch and asked her if she'd heard anything. She, too, had seen all the posts, but had not received her referral yet. She decided to call our agency and speak with her social worker. Apparently, her SW was not "in the loop" about referrals having been mailed and received, and basically thought Jennifer was nuts to expect a referral after only a five-month wait (wait times were a bit different then, hmmm?). By now, it was about 5:00 - too late to harrass, er, I mean contact our SW. So I had to suffer and wait all night (and bring poor Al right along with me). I called Bethanne (our SW) at exactly 9:00 a.m. the next morning and left her a message. I decided to leave her my cell phone number so I could get out and get my mind off referrals (OK, it didn't work, but it kept Rachel and Hannah occupied while I slowly went nuts).

I took the girls to Teacher's Tool Box in Carol Stream to pick up homeschool supplies. The girls enjoyed the VeggieTales video they were showing in the kids' area, and I browsed through all the great materials. Before I realized it, my mind was on something besides our referral, and suddenly, my cell phone rang. It was Bethanne. Finally, some answers!

But instead of explaining to me why Sunny Ridge had not received referrals for our batch, she instead said, "Well, are you ready to hear about your new baby?" In an instant, I checked on Hannah and Rachel to make sure they were still enjoying the video (they were), and sat myself down on the floor amid shelves of Bob and Larry merchandise with a pencil and paper, ready to take down all the information. Pretty soon, I needed a tissue, too!

Qiu Li Huan, female, born February 19, 2004, 6 1/2 months old, in Yangxi, Guangdong. Bethanne also described the Chinese characters of her name so I could go home and look up their meaning. That's all the information I was able to get until everything was translated, but it was enough. Our Abigail Lihuan was ready to join her new family!

Art Museum Trip

One thing I wanted to do while we were in Rhode Island was to visit the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. The admission fees were very reasonable (the three girls, my mom and I paid $14 total), so I figured even a brief visit would be worth it. I knew Rachel and Abbie wouldn't last very long, but Hannah has really shown an interest in art, so I though she might enjoy our time there. Well, Hannah loved it, and even Rachel and Abbie lasted an hour - until Rachel lost her gallery map and completely fell apart! But it was a worthwhile excursion, and I am hoping to find another small art museum to take them to in the future.
In one large room, the walls were covered, floor-to-ceiling, with paintings. Hannah really enjoyed this room and spent a lot of time looking at all the different pictures.

Rachel and Abbie, imitating one of Degas' bronze ballet statues.

Hannah and my mom checking out the Egyptian mummy. I remember seeing that mummy when I was on elementary school field trips! I'm so glad Hannah could have that experience, too!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

OK, here's a new recipe I tried last week that got two thumbs up from everyone in the family, including incredibly picky Rachel. Well, actually, Abbie said she didn't like it, but I think she was just in one of those moods, if you know what I mean! I got the recipe out of a Taste of Home magazine. I love checking those out of the library - they're always good for one or two "keepers" per issue!

Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Prep: 25 min. Cook: 15 min

1 package (6 ounces) long grain and wild rice mix
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
1-1/4 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
6 tablespoons sliced green onions

Prepare rice mix according to package directions, omitting the butter. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute chicken, mushrooms, onions and garlic in oil until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.
Add the prepared rice, broth, tarragon, thyme and pepper; bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch and evaporated milk until smooth; stir into rice mixture.
Return the mixture to a boil; cook for 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Garnish with green onions.
Yield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts)

Notes: I used the Uncle Ben's quick-cook (5 minute) type of rice to cut my prep time way down. I used two pre-packaged boneless chicken breasts (thawed). I bought my mushrooms pre-sliced. I just cut a small onion into large chunks that the kiddos could pick out, but we could still get the flavor in the soup. I forgot about the garlic, but it wasn't needed. I totally skipped the tarragon, thyme and pepper, and didn't bother with the green onion garnish. Very quick, very easy, and very tasty! Let me know if you try it!