Thursday, May 31, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie: Have you Heard of it?

      This is the recipe for one of my all-time favorite pies.  Since I am a confessed pie addict (and dessert of all kinds lover), that is saying a lot.  It is also one of John's favorite treats.  Since we live in the South, rhubarb is a bit tough to come by.  Last year I never found it, though it should be noted that I did not do a lot of hunting.  So, when we were shopping our local Wal-Mart last Saturday night, and I happened upon the red celery stuff, I did not hesitate to purchase it.  Buying rhubarb is always an adventure here, because inevitably, and I do mean every time, the cashier has no idea what the stuff is.  I always explain, while they look at me dubiously, and then there is always ringing up drama - at Kroger and Wal-Mart.  This time it took the cashier and two managers to figure out that I should not be charged PER STALK.  All of that to say, rhubarb is not exactly local fare, but it is tart and tasty, especially in pie form.

Here's what it looks like.


For this pie, chop up several (like maybe six, or about two cups worth) stalks of rhubarb.  (also, now when I write rhubarb, I think of the VeggieTale episode with Rhubarbarians.  I think I am ruined for life from that show.)  You want the sweetest smelling rhubarb that is the ripest, so I generally cut off the top 1/3 of the stalk.


Chop it into little pieces.  This is the size piece that we have decided on for our family.


I use one carton of strawberries for this pie.

Make a two crust pastry - I use my Mom's recipe, which I posted here.  It is classic and timeless.  Fill your bottom crust with your fruit.


For whatever reason, I managed to be in another world when I was making this and went ahead and covered the pie before pouring the rest of the filling in.  Silly, Carol.  This required pie surgery.  Here's the recipe for the filling - which is adapted from my mother-in-law's Rhubarb Cream Pie recipe.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour

Pour this over your strawberry/rhubarb mixture.


Place top crust over the mixture.  (or re-place top crust, as the situation may be)  Try to make it look pretty.  I still have not managed to make really pretty pies - maybe in the future.


To give your crust a little more pizzazz, paint it with milk and sprinkle sugar on top of it.  I literally poured milk over it and spread it around with a brush.


Bake in the oven at 350° for one hour.  I use a pie crust shield around the edge for at least 30 minutes of that so that the edges don't burn.  Foil would accomplish the same thing.


Eat a piece before your company comes over to make sure it tastes good.  It does.


I like mine a la mode.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Play Dates

      Summer is upon us, which brings me mixed feelings.  I love the sleeping in.  John and I have said several times recently that we need to savor these times, because the girls are truly awesome sleepers, and I don't hear from them until well past 8 most days.  I do not love the total lack of schedule that summers include.  This morning, I woke up, knowing I needed/wanted to get several things done on the adoption paperwork front.  I also realized that I had a whole day in front of me with my little friends with nothing planned for us.  Hmm. . . now what?  So, I know I need to make a cutesy list and schedule out and plan a bit more for our fun and sanity.  Until then, I have been surviving on play dates with friends.  Not every day, but lots of days.  Here are a couple from this week and last.

A day at the zoo.  It is so nice to do the zoo with friends and before it is blazing hot and even more stinktastic.


Yesterday we tried out Little Rock's new splash park.  I do not want to disclose the location, because I want this to be an undiscovered gem for just my friends and I to enjoy, which I am sure will not happen, especially once the public schools are out of session.  Anyway, it is amazing, and the kiddos sure loved it.

(Bella is a climber.  She was so angry when I made her stop climbing half way up, where I couldn't spot her.)

These play dates usually involve bringing lunch and all eating together.  Yesterday I was remarking that this really is a perk of being a stay at home mom.  Picnic lunches with a bunch of friends at the park.  Sounds good to me.


Next goal - get pictures of myself with children on said play dates to prove that I was there.  What are we up to next, ladies?  I am lost on a day without a play date.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Long Weekend: Good Times

      What did we do with our long weekend?  Welp, we did a lot of paperwork.  Which is not super fun, but it needs to be done, so I am glad we are making headway.  We also went to the pool for the first time this season.  (I looked up last year's pictures, which you can see here, and was amazed at how much changes in a year.  Bella has hair, for example.)

(she would not let the cup be pried from her hand)

We tried playing in the sprinklers, with mixed results.  Mostly, they wanted to push around strollers.


We had a few friends over for dinner on Memorial Day.  The girls helped me make homemade ice cream, and I also made Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, which I will be sharing the recipe for later this week.  I just finished another piece of it.  Yum.  The kids enjoyed blue sugar cookies.


It is officially summer.  Bring it on.

Monday, May 28, 2012

I'm Not Pregnant, but I am Expecting

      We have been accepted to our agency, and we have officially started the "Paper-Chase."  And, that is no joke.  John's actual comment on it was, "Anyone that is going to be a parent at all should have to do all this.  One problem with the world is that almost anyone can go out and breed.  Adoption is much harder."  I'm not sure what all I expected, but I did not realize it would include each of us writing a detailed autobiography of our entire lives, with specific plot points that we are expected to outline.
      There are other loose ends in our life that I have to figure out, as well.  For example, I am going to have to finally address my latent TB (you can read my post about that here), and I still haven't taken the medicine.  So, I am going to go get a blood test done to make sure that it really is there, because I would rather not do the whole TB clinic thing for 9 months if I don't have to.  We haven't had our cats vaccinated in a couple of years, so that just got put on the calendar.  (They are indoor cats, so I sort of think they are fine.  Plus, who wants to drag 30 pounds worth of cat and 60 pounds worth of child to the vet's office?  Not me.)  In most areas of life, I am a responsible adult, but as I have written this last paragraph, I realized that I still probably need to grow up a bit and just do the things that need to be done.  Like cure myself of TB.
      All of that said, I get a bit excited and kind of a rush when I see a stack of paperwork projects that need to get done.  It hearkens back to my over-achieving school self.  It is like a challenge, and I want to get it all done as quickly as possible while still living a semi-normal life.  Because we cannot even start officially waiting until all this paper craziness is done.  And, I want to be officially waiting, because now that I know this is the path we are on, I want to be running on it.
      One of my greatest hang-ups with getting on-board the adoption band-wagon was that I couldn't imagine loving other children as much as I love the ones that have grown inside of me.  What I didn't realize is that my heart is bigger than I imagined it to be, because I have a big God.  These children that we are hoping for have started growing in my heart.  Though I am not physically pregnant, I am expecting children.  Little boys with chocolate brown skin and eyes - I've found myself watching boys like these when we see them out and about, and I am drawn to them in a way I never expected.  It feels like when I was pregnant with the girls and would see and notice other baby girls we encountered, enamored, because of the growing hope inside myself.
      And, I find myself surprised by the joy this all brings.  Surprised in the ways that God is already giving joy in this journey.  We have a very long wait in front of us - I imagine it will be several years before we bring our children home.  Thankfully, I do not have to be physically pregnant for all of that time; everyone should be thankful for that.  We are setting very low expectations for our time-line, because what a wise person once told us is that "Disappointment is the gap between expectations and reality."  That has really stuck with me and saved me a lot of unnecessary disappointment simply by readjusting my expectations.
      So, here's an "expecting picture."  I think my face reflects my surprise at the whole fact that we are here as well as my surprise at the fact that I am excited about it.  Maybe instead of pictures of my growing belly (I hope it doesn't get bigger during this process), I will update pictures of facial expressions that reflect how things are going.  Or, maybe not.  That might be kind of weird.  We'll see.


      Thanks for all of the kind words, comments, messages and general encouragement.  It means a lot, and we really appreciate it!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Lily's 3 Year Pictures by Main Street Studios

      Yes, Lily turned three in January.  But, for a ton of different reasons, I am just now getting around to posting her "three-year-old" pictures.  Luke (Main Street Studios) did such an incredible job.  The more time I spend taking pictures on my own, the more amazing I realize that he truly is.  He is that good.  And, he did a great job of capturing our sweet, silly and sometimes sassy Lily.  If you are in Northwest Arkansas, I highly recommend him.  You might remember seeing glimpses of this photo shoot from a post back in March - here are the rest!


I let Lily help pick her outfit, and we made this photo shoot all about her.  Since she LOVES her Uncle Luke, she had a great time, and he captured these priceless images for us.  I am so thankful.  Here's baby sister watching the action, looking a little sad that it wasn't her turn.


We got to see Ellen, Luke and baby True again last night, since we were up in NWA for a dear friend's graduation from her PHD party.  So fun to see friends and play nerdy games late into the night!  Thanks, Luke, for the amazing pictures - we love them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Adoption: My Heart Change

      I mentioned in my post yesterday that I have never wanted to adopt.  I have always thought adoption was a great thing for other people, but it sounded messy, and I don't usually go for messy.  Most of my life, I have wanted to do happy things.  I mean, who doesn't want to be happy?  And, for many years, I was able to live in such a way that this was largely possible.  Things went my way.  Until the summer of 2001, when my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I didn't realize what real pain was, and I didn't have a compassionate heart.
      John and I both have a degree in Family and Human Services (social work), and I did my required internship in a group home for children that had failed out of foster care for behavioral issues.  It was one of the hardest summers of my life.  My dad was sick, and I was across the country in southern California dealing with children that had experienced some of the very worst that life can hand you.  And the impact that had on their very young lives was so tragic.  I remember walking away spiritually depleted and not wanting to have anything to do with that kind of work in the future.  In retrospect, I can see that the timing for that particular experience was terrible, and how I have believed some of Satan's lies about how hard engaging with that pain is.  It is worth it, and I can see that now.
      Fast forward to the last couple of years.  I like for life to be neat and tidy.  I like control.  I like knowing what I am getting into.  For us, so far, having children has largely fit into that paradigm.  And, as far as I know, we could continue on, without taking risks, and we would have a cute little family that we would largely know what to do with.  (Though clearly not all the time.  Lily is still not potty-trained.)  Adoption did not seem to fit into that cute little picture in my head, so it is not something I entertained.
      However, in the past two years, I have read several blogs of people that have adopted or are adopting, and I began to see a bigger picture for what it could be.  I started reading about the needs of orphans here and around the world and began to catch that God's heart really is for the orphan and the widow as he continually tells us throughout Scripture.  (James 1:27, Deut. 10:8, Job 29:12, Psalm 68:5, Isaiah 1:17, 1 John 3:17-18, to name a few)  I read the adoption story of one friend who wrote "The need is the call."  When put that simply, it is hard to deny that we are all responsible for our actions when it comes to the poor in our world.  We have been given so much, sometimes I think too much, and we honestly believe that God will hold us accountable for our stewardship of his gifts.
      Which brings me to saying "Yes" to adoption.  I can see that God wants the mess to be a part of our story, and a part of what I hold most dearly, my very own little family.  God promises to make beautiful things out of the dust, and what I have failed to grasp for so much of my life, is that there must be dust for him to work with.  I have to be willing to get dirty.  I can't be clinging to the pretty, the safe, and the comfortable and expect him to make that even more wonderful.  That is not how it works.
      So, here we are.  Hoping to adopt two little boys from Ethiopia.  It will be a long wait.  There are hardships unimagined in front of us.  But, more importantly, there is God, and he is walking before and behind us, because it is his story, after all.  It is all his.  To him be the glory.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Big News: We are Starting an Adoption!

      I have been waiting to share this news on the blog for a couple of months now.  I think just like in a pregnancy, I wanted it to feel a little farther along and a little more real before going "public."  But, I think now is the time, and we are delighted to share that God is taking us down the road of international adoption.  We are hoping and praying to bring home two very young brothers (or even twins!) from Ethiopia.  I got chills even as I typed that, because I can hardly believe it is true.  My, how God can work wonders in one's heart and life.  He certainly has in mine.


      I am looking forward to chronicling this journey on this here blog.  It's hard to know exactly where to start telling this story, especially since we are at the very beginning of the actual adoption.  How we got here, however, has been in process for quite some time.  I should start by saying, I have never wanted to adopt.  I did not think this would ever be part of our story.  John has always been open to it.  We have always said we wanted 3 or 4 children, with me leaning towards the 4 (which is what I grew up with) and John leaning toward the 3 (which is what he grew up with).  Since we found out we were having a second girl, many moons ago, John has been openly joking and saying that we might try for a third child, and if it was another girl, we would be done, or we would adopt for a son.  (You can see this is actually on his bucket list.)  He has never wanted to take the chance at having four girls in our family, and I can't really say I blame him.  That could be a lot of drama.  I always have gone along with the joking, because really, it didn't matter until after child number three anyway.
      Which bring us to child number three.  Lily and Bella are 21 months apart, which we wanted and have loved.  We have always wanted to have children that were close in age.  We have continued to put off a third pregnancy because of major trips, like going to Asia.  I thought being pregnant on that little jaunt might not be my favorite thing ever.  Then, we found out that CFA is taking us on another cruise next February, and you cannot be more than 6 months pregnant and go on a cruise.  Probably more details than anyone needs, but we have continued to delay trying to expand our family.  Now I can see God's hand even in all of that.
      This year, God has definitely been working in our hearts.  (You can read glimpses of it herehereherehere, and here)  The weekend of my birthday, we were talking about adoption, and I was telling John that God was changing my heart about the whole thing, that I could see it being a part of our story.  By the Monday after my birthday, I was all in and ready to adopt for a third child, instead of trying to get pregnant again.  John, amazingly, has been right along with me every step of the way.  We decided to take some more time to pray about it, and we decided that we should not take any real action until after we got back from our Asia trip.
      I sort of fell into an "Adoption Abyss" as I christened it and began researching like crazy.  I wanted to be able to hit the ground running when we got back from our trip.  As I began researching, I became slightly overwhelmed at the number of agencies, the different options available and the varying time lines.  I read the adoption blogs of anyone I knew or kind of knew or found through web searching and blog hopping that was currently adopting or had recently adopted.  I emailed friends of friends asking for more info.  We did tell our families and our community group that this is the direction we were headed and asked for prayer.
      Then, we went to SE Asia, which was a whole wonderful adventure in itself.  After we got back, we have continued to be in prayer about adoption - that the Lord would guide us to the right country, the right agency, the right child.  We had thought that we might adopt for a third child and then try to have another biological child.  However, the more I got to thinking about it, the more I didn't want our adopted child to feel like the odd one out in our family.  I started to think that adopting two children at the same time, from the same place might be the way to go.  I kept praying about it, and when I mentioned it to John, he said, "Sure!  That makes sense."  What a blessing to be on the same page.  I am so thankful.
      Which brings us to now.  We have submitted our application to an agency.  Once we are accepted, we will begin the "Paper Chase" phase of this whole process, where we try to assemble every piece of information that has ever existed about us on the planet and turn it into our government and the Ethiopian government.  No big deal.  Except that it is.
      My next adoption post will include the ways that God has changed my heart about adoption.  I am so glad to be writing a story that is his.

Weekend Highs and Lows

      The weekend has come and gone, and it is Monday afternoon as I am typing this blog post.  Why do weekends have to be so short?  Here are some of the highs and lows of our weekend.

High:  Realizing that kids get funnier with age.  Several times while we were driving around this weekend, John and I burst out laughing at something Lily said.  Like, when Bella threw something on the ground, clearly on purpose and said "Uh-oh."  To which Lily quickly responded, "That was not an Uh-Oh, Bella."  I think parenting will always be morphing for us, but I like raising this little comedian.


(picture actually from this morning before our walk)

Low:  John drove over a bolt, which made his tire flat.  We realized on Saturday morning that because something was stripped - the lug nut? - he could not get the tire off and changed at our house.  We had to have his car towed from our house for a flat tire.


High:  Because of all the tire drama, we didn't end up going to the River Trail to work out as usual.  Instead, John took me on this trail that is woven right through the heart of West Little Rock.  In five years, this was my first time to set foot on it, and it was beautiful.


Low:  It was really hot for a Saturday in May, and John had to work Saturday night.

High:  Our store had the biggest week we've ever had, which is why John was working Saturday night at a special event.  What a blessing from the Lord.

Low:  I went to water my garden and found out that deer had gotten one of my two tomatoes that I had been cherishing.  The deer have also been eating the spinach.  I spent time researching deer repellant and came across a website called Deer-Departed.  I may have to try some of those home made repellants.  Since I have managed to hit deer with my car not once, but twice, I am getting a little sick of them.  It may become war against the deer in our backyard.


High:  We went out to lunch with a couple of other families from our community group after church on Sunday.  Larry's Pizza never even knew what hit it.


I just realized that I sort of ran out of lows.  What a great problem to have.  Here are the rest of our "high"lights.

High:  Last weekend John and I cleaned out the freezer and found all kinds of goodness, including these chocolate chip bars that I have been reheating individually and making into sundaes for myself.  Come to think of it, this is probably a low for my waist-line.


High:  We got a babysitter for the second Sunday night in a row and saw The Avengers.  I very unashamedly LOVE huge blockbustery movies, and this one was right up my ally.

High:  We finished up something important that I will be posting about tomorrow.  Stay tuned.