Sunday, December 25, 2011

An Active Christmas Day

Both Granny and Grandma got Liam some great outdoor toys for Christmas.  Luckily the snow had cleared enough that he could get out and enjoy them.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Adoption Reading Challenge - FAIL

Last  year, Firemom who writes at The Chronicles of MunchkinLand, put out a challenge to read adoption themed books over the course of 2011.   I aimed for her level 3 challenge:  Read 12 books about adoption, 6 non-fiction/6 fiction.

I have failed with a miserable grade of  33%.  I only managed to read 4 books from my list this year.

I have two reasons/excuses for not meeting my target.

  1. My reading time has been virtually non-existent. Life has a habit of getting busy and one of the first things to go is your leisure time when you can curl up with a good book for an hour.  And then my mother introduced me to the Twilight series and I was hooked.  So my limited reading time has been spent finding out if Bella was going to choose Jacob over Edward.

  2. I've kinda stopped writing about adoption.  I wish I could say that I've stopped thinking about it, but it is a part of my life that is always there, sometimes closer to the surface then others.  When things came to a close with my own reunion this past summer, I needed to step away from adoption topics for awhile.  So while I still follow a lot of adoption blogs, and can't seem to watch a single TV show that doesn't have some sort of adoption topic, I couldn't bring myself to read adoption themed books.
I still hope to read some of the books on my list, and I'm sure I will pick them up at some point, but for now I'm okay with my failing grade for this year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2011- A year in review

I don't often reflect and look back at the year as the New Year approaches.  But a lot happened this year, so here it is.

  • My first Daring Kitchen Challenge was to make Gumbo.
and we still have 2 weeks to go!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Liam's auction

Thursday, December 15th is Fair Day at Halifax Independent! This is a very exciting semi-annual event. In every classroom of the school, students and teachers are busy preparing speeches, displays, models, songs, dances and much, much more. This is the students’ opportunity to shine and we love welcoming all of you on that special day and enjoying their success, together.
Fairs at HIS take place in late Fall and in late Spring. They are a culmination of all of the Theme Studies for each term, and an opportunity for all of the children in the school to present their work to parents and the school community. Students from Littles to Middle School write speeches, plays and songs based on their learning experiences. We feel that it is important for the children to be able to present their work to others in the form of public-speaking as a means of developing self-confidence and a thorough understanding of their research

This term Liam's class studied Great Canadians.  They made objects special to various Great Canadians out of clay and then auctioned them off to the parents during Fair.

Here is Liam auctioning off  a toy model space ship from Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman to go into space:

After some heated bidding (sometimes between Hilary and I!) Hilary came out the winner, having only spent $60.00.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Daring Kitchen - Cha Sui Bao

Blog-checking lines: Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious

When I first read this challenge, I had no idea that it was for one of my favorite Dim Sum buns.  This month's host is from Australia, and they refer to Dim Sum as Yum Cha.  After a few minutes with Google, I had an AHA! moment when I finally figured out what the challenge was for.  BBQ'd pork buns!  

This challenge called for a trip to our local Asian grocery store, where I got the necessary ingredients and set to work.

The dough is a simple flour, yeast and water mixture, with no egg.  There was different recipe, with eggs, that you could use if you wanted to bake your buns, but I much prefer mine steamed.

While the dough was rising, I cooked the pork tenderloin that had been marinating in the Cha Sui sauce.  I would have been quite happy to just stop there and eat the meat as is, but I kept going.

The pork is then finally diced, mixed with onion and another sauce that is thickened.

A tablespoon of meat mixture is rolled inside the dough, and formed into nice little buns.

The buns are then steamed, giving them an unusual but light, bread texture.  I was pleased to note that you could steam them ahead of time and then re-heat them in the toaster oven for lunch the next day.  They weren't as pretty (the deflate a bit), but they were just as tasty.

Be sure to check out the full Daring Kitchen Cha Sui Bao recipe.

Happy Birthday Heather!

My friend Heather knows how to celebrate her birthday in style.  She's changed it from a single day event to a full week extravaganza, making sure she can get as much cake as possible. This year she is doing something different:
Here's what I'm hoping we can do for my birthday: I want to have a worldwide celebration of helping others. Paying it forward. Doing good deeds. If  can get 40 people to do 1 Good Thing between now and my actual 40th birthday, that would be just about the best present ever. (Or 20 people to do 2 Good Things. Or 10 to do 4. I'm not  picky.)

She issued this request on September 30th, giving people 2 and half months to do some good deeding.  I love me a good challenge, so here are the good deeds that I have done while thinking of Heather's birthday wish.

  1. Paid for a man's Thanksgiving dinner.  No one should have to eat dinner alone at a restaurant on Thanksgiving, so I hope I made his day a wee bit brighter.
  2. Helped tourists by offering to take group pictures.  There is nothing worse than always being short one person in the picture because they had to be the one to take the picture.
  3. Arranged a play date for a boy from school who doesn't have very many friends. 
  4. Turned the lights off on someone's truck in the parking lot so that they could get home after work without having to find jumper cables to get their truck started.
  5. Filled a box of needed items for a 10 year old boy staying at a shelter for abused women and children over the holidays. 
  6. Gave a man money for breakfast on a cold Sunday morning.

I had really hoped that I could get much closer to 40 good deeds, but I'm still pretty happy with my list.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Nutcracker

Liam loves the Nutcracker.  He collects them; he listens to the music; he twirls about while humming it.  And so we've started the tradition of seeing the Symphony Nova Scotia version each year before Christmas.

But my favorite version will always be this one:
Liam Performs the Nutcracker at age 7.

Be sure to watch (or fast foward) to the very end.   The best part happens in the last 3 seconds.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Today Hilary and I celebrate 18 years of being together! 

Happy Anniversary My Love.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three and Three Quarters

3 and 3/4 pounds  or 1.7 Kilograms, as the Dr. announced (and I was glad to see that she had to use the calculator to figure it out too).

That is how much weight Liam has G.A.I.N.E.D. since our last paediatrician visit in September.  More then 1 pound a month!  This might not seem like a lot for an active, growing boy, but considering that he had LOST weight on every previous visit (albeit very small amounts, but losses still), this is great news!

We still have food issues - the number of things that he will eat can be counted on both hands, but slowly his appetite has been increasing.  He now eats 2 Mama Burgers from A&W and not just one.  Even one was way up from the days when he would only eat the bun from a Baby Burger.

We are going to try some new medication for the ADHD - something that is NOT in the stimulant category so that his appetite will hopefully continue to grow and that he can start having better, longer sleep.  It's not unusual for me to go to bed close to 11:00 and find him still awake when I go to turn his light off and then have him up when my alarm goes off at 6:30.

Hopefully the transition to new meds will not be too bumpy.  He only has a few days of school left before the winter break, so any rough patches will likely occur at home.  Oh joy!  But if it helps in the long run, I'm sure we can make it through.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I want to parent like this

I can only hope that I can parent Liam half as well as this man's parents raised him. What an amazing speaker.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Unbirthday

Have you ever had one of those weeks when everyone is grumpy and nothing seems to be working?  We've been having some of that around here.  So I decided we need to have a little fun!!! So I threw us an "Unbirthday Party"

There are decorations.

There are presents.

There are loot bags.

There's even a cake!

I think everyone should celebrate an Unbirthday!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

OA Interview with Claudia

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011

Thanks again to Heather at Production Not Reproduction for setting up the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project.  Heather paired together 120 bloggers for the project this year.  I  had a chance to be introduced to a blogger that I didn't know; I got to read through her posts and send her interview questions in order to get to know her better.

I would like to  introduce you to Claudia from My Fascinating Life.  Claudia is an adoptive Mum to boy/girl twins from Ethiopia. Be sure to check out her blog for some very cute videos of her wee ones.

Let’s start off with 10 quick questions to get to you know you better:
  1. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Brisbane, Australia 
  2. WHERE ARE YOU LIVING NOW? Just off the M4 in not-so-sunny England 
  3. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? My first name - no. My middle name (Margaret, lucky me! Not) was a family name on both my mother's and father's side. 
  5. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? No! I had them out when I was 25. So much more painful than I would have imagined. 
  7. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Their skin. I am terribly jealous of people with beautiful, smooth skin. Mine is blotchy and rashy. 
  9. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? For once - nothing 
  10. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I am learning to play the ukulele! 

Twins! How long before you brought the twins home did you know that you had been matched with them? Did you hope to matched with twins, or was it a surprise? We had hoped to be matched with twins, but didn't expect that it would ever happen! We were matched with them about two months before we officially became their parents - but the first three weeks of parenting were in a hotel room. I love your post "TWO" What is the best and worst part of having twins? 

I don't think there's any easy way to have two kids (or one kid, for that matter...) I think the uniquely difficult thing about twins is that both your kids need the SAME thing from you at the same time, and that's usually impossible to do. Also, when they fight? Nobody is older so I can't expect either of them to take the high road! The best thing... honestly, it's probably that people make lots of allowances for my messy house, my lateness, my delay in sending interview responses (!) because of them! Oh yeah, and the adorable cuteness. But mostly the making allowances.

What prompted you to write about "The Wall"? It is such an amazing post! Have you considered submitting it to adoption professionals to use in their training? 

I'm glad you liked it! I don't actually know any adoption professionals so honestly, I hadn't considered that. If any of them read your blog and want to use it, drop me an email! As to why I wrote it.... firstly, I am in the middle of trying to put together a list of links about adoption that I hope will be useful for prospective adoptive parents (and those of us already parenting). I'm trying to include lots of different perspectives and lots of different topics, and one of the topics is 'adoption ethics'. I've read a lot about it in the last few years, but I couldn't find a post that summarised any kind of a cogent position... this frustrated me. Along similar lines, I heard a lot of people disagreeing about ethics online when what I actually think they were disagreeing on was a definition of what ethics WAS.

Secondly, we were involved in searching for more information and contact with our children's first family a few months ago. What we found out was not quite what we expected... but we still felt like our adoption was 'ethical'. As my husband and I were talking about it I found myself coming to a position on WHY I thought it was ethical - before those conversations I had never actually put into words what I thought were the basic criteria for an ethical adoption. I doubt most people have; it's more difficult than it sounds! It's easy to see what an ethical adoption is not; it's much more difficult to say what it is. That's when I realised why I couldn't find a summary-ish ethics post - I didn't think one had been written, so I decided to give it a go. That's probably more information than you wanted on that question! But yeah, that's why I decided to put my butt on the line with that post.

Adoption ethics are obviously very important to you. What are your thoughts on the adoption practices in currently happening in the UK? I've put some links to what I have read below. Are these a fair representation of what is happening today?

Article 1
Article 2
Article 3
Article 4

Ooooohhhh.... very interesting question. Adoption in the UK is a really difficult topic to discuss, because it's a topic where it's really difficult to get reliable information. There are a few reasons for this: probably the most significant is that adoption is all from foster care, and therefore it's all controlled by local councils (and a few voluntary agencies). These all operate independently, and have hugely different ways of working. So, one person (in Birmingham, say) can have an experience that differs vastly from another person in Leeds. 

Also, a few of the national papers seem to have strong agendas to push when it comes to adoption. The most common seems to be the story of the lovely, white, middle class couple who were refused permission to adopt because they were too lovely, white and middle class. Does this stuff really happen? I think it probably does. But is it normative? I'm not really convinced that it is - partly because it seems that the same stories about the same lovely, white, middle class couples get recycled ... and recycled... and recycled. One of the stories you linked to is about one of those couples! I'm sure there is some bad social worker practice going on, but I hope it's not as widespread as the newspapers would have us believe. What we never hear is - what sort of child were those couples looking to adopt? Were they just wanting very young children? If that is the case, well, maybe they were rejected because the council really didn't need any more PAPs who were looking to adopt young kids. Maybe they already had plenty, and if we're really interested in child welfare then surely that's fine? If they were interested in sibling groups, older kids, I'd be much more concerned that the councils really were losing out on potential resources that they could have used to find children a new home.

One issue that does seem to be very real in domestic adoption over here is the (seemingly unnecessary) length of the court proceedings. When it takes a long time to make placement decisions because work is underway to reunify parents and children? Fantastic! But when that's not the case... what a waste. This is another area where it's really hard to get reliable information because the proceedings of the family court are extremely, utterly, top-secret, to a degree that means it's impossible to scrutinise what is happening.

Having said all of that... I'm not any kind of expert on domestic adoption over here. I do find the way that information is presented in the press to be very frustrating... but that's probably largely because analysing information is my non-mum job!

"we have zero non-foster-care domestic adoption". How does that work? If I were pregnant and knew that I couldn't raise my child, what option would I have? 

 Do you know? I honestly have no idea. I think that relinquishment (if that was what you wanted) would have to be done through the foster care system. And personally, I don't think that's a great solution because it means the woman has even less power than in a US relinquishment - I don't think she would be able to choose a family, or choose a level of openness.

 Do you think that there is a place for non-foster-care domestic adoption? 

 Yes, I think there is, in theory, although it's something I have no personal experience with. I think that there's probably somewhere in between the UK system (at the mercy of foster care) and the US system (at the mercy of adoption agencies) that would probably work better than either. I'm not sure that any of us will ever see it!

While your children may still be quite young, do you talk to them about adoption? their past? their birth country or their first family?

 Yes! All the time.

 "At the beginning of thinking about adoption we were really concerned about choosing a country, but in the end it didn't really feel like a very difficult decision at all." How did you ultimately decide on Ethiopia ?

 You know - this probably should be more profound than it really is, but it was a process of elimination for us. There aren't really any adoption agencies over here, so we knew we would have to do it all ourselves - in the end, we looked for a country with an ethical system in place where we would be eligible, where we knew people had successfully managed to navigate the system, and for us that was Ethiopia. When we were deciding, back in 2008, the situation in Ethiopia looked very different from how it does now- in lots of ways. It freaks me out that if we had chosen differently, we would never have met the two wonderful kids who are sleeping upstairs right now. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable talking about how we made our choices because I feel like there should have been more to it than that, but it seemed like Ethiopia was a place where there really were kids in need of homes, and we jumped. Simple as that, really.

What is your favorite blog to read? What makes it your favorite?

This is almost the most difficult question of all! I read a TON of blogs (more than I should...) and it is impossible to pick one favourite. I can tell you the first blog that I ever read start-to-finish because I was so hooked - at the time it was called 'The Road To Our Own'

And I loved it because I read this post and when I read the section at the end about isolation, it was the first time I ever thought 'oh, YES! THAT's what I feel!' from reading a blog post. I'm glad to say that I don't feel like that any more- and I'm pretty sure Lori doesn't either. But really, I think that Lori (and that post in particular) are to blame for how many hours I've wasted checking my google reader in the last three or so years. Thanks, Lori!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Daring Kitchen - Tea

Blog-checking lines: Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry. 

We drink a lot of tea.  While we have favorites (Chai and Vanilla Earl Gray) we also have a lot of variety in our cupboard.  Some days just call out for a certain tea flavour. Even Liam enjoys a nice cup of Rooibos tea before bed.

I was intrigued by this challenge.  I knew very little about cooking with tea.  Hilary had made a Chana Masala dish some time ago where she soaked the chickpeas in chai tea to flavour them before cooking, but that was the only savoury dish made with tea that I think I've ever had.

Sarah from Simply Cooked provided us with 3 recipes but I decided to do some research on my own before committing to anything.  That is how I came across the recipe for "Tea Smoked Salmon with Wasabi Latkes" on the Food Network website.  Since one of the reasons I joined The Daring Kitchen was to push myself in the kitchen, I decided to try it for 3 reasons: 1) it had tea; 2) I don't really like salmon and had never cooked it before and 3) smoking was a new cooking technique that I figured would challenge me even further.

First things first, I had to get some tea.  The recipe called for either Oolong or Black Lychee.  We may have a lot of variety in our tea cupboard, but we didn't have either of these.  Hilary enjoys Oolong, but I find it too strong and smoky for my taste.  Luckily our local mall has a newly opened tea shop, so I was able to go and sniff a few options before I settled on High Mountain Oolong.

The next step was to marinade the salmon.  It's a mixture of mirin, sugar, ginger and peppercorns.

Then I mixed the tea with sugar and rice. 

The recipe said to line the bottom of your pot with tin foil before placing this mixture in.  I almost skipped this step.... good thing I didn't! The sugar caramelized/burnt and the whole mixture was one solid mass by the end.  The only way to get it out of the pot was to lift out the tin foil.

While the salmon was smoking, I made the potato latkes.  It involved mashed potatoes mixed with green onions, horse radish and wasabi that were formed into patties, dredged in flour, dipped in egg and then coated in Panko bread crumbs.

The recipe then called for deep frying them, but I simply pan fried them in a deep skillet.

The end result:
Even I liked the salmon! I was worried at first because when I took the salmon out of the pot the escaping smell of smoked tea was overwhelming in the kitchen.  I thought that if the fish tasted anything like the smell that I wouldn't like it.  But the taste was much more subtle.  You could still taste the tea, but it did not over power the salmon.  The latkes were amazing, and I think they will become part of our regular rotation of potato options. They were even good cold the next day.

I'm feeling much more comfortable in the kitchen these days.  Thanks Daring Kitchen!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Surgery update

Things are going okay so far.  Liam is having lots of pain and some nausea still, but is slowly starting to perk up.

The reason for the surgery in the first place.  We had thought that it was only his left eye that turned in (because it's so obvious) but they actually did surgery on both eyes.  I can see in this picture the slight turn to his right eye too.

Rocking the hospital gown pre-surgery!


Shades and the laptop in a darkened room.  No better way to recover.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Stabismus surgery

Strabismus is a disorder in which the two eyes do not line up in the same direction, and therefore do not look at the same object at the same time. The condition is more commonly known as "crossed eyes."

We are off to the IWK today for Liam to have surgery to straighten his left eye.  It's day surgery so we will be back by late this afternoon.  Please keep us in your thoughts today.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Who you gonna call?

A Ghostbuster of course!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

A wee bit too ambitious

I've never been very good at carving pumpkins.  Triangle eyes and a toothless mouth (I start off with teeth, but usually slip and cut them off during the carving) is usually the most I'm willing to try.  Last year we managed a fairly decent looking Puffle, so on that success I got it in my head to do something a bit more ambitious......

Who you gonna call?


This is our fruit bowl.  We hope that this will last us a week.  And Hilary doesn't usually eat apples or pears, and I might have one a day, so can you guess who is going to eat it all?

Food continues to be a struggle with Liam.  What he will eat is limited and how much he will consume is appalling (humming birds eat more).  BUT he will eat fruit.  Lots of fruit.  We often have to limit him when he's on his 4th pear for the day.

So we will continue to fill the fruit bowl.   

Friday, October 28, 2011

A peculiar assortment of books. . .

I read a lot, when I have time.  Below is a list of books that were listed as the top 100 books people can't live without, based on a poll.  It was first published in 2007 - I wonder if the Twilight series would make the cut if they did the poll today?

I have made bold the books that I have read in entirety and italicized those merely attempted.  You can see my final count at the end of the list.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy.
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth.
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt.
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
 90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
 99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Total that I've read: 25
Total that I've attempted: 12

How many have you read?

What book would add to the list?  Do you have a favorite on the list?  Mine is "The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery" because of course it's not a hat!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #31

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points--please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

Prompt #31: Write about open adoption and being scared.

There is really only one thing about open adoption that scares me.  The adoption NOT being open.  It scares me that Liam may never have a chance to know his mother or his siblings.  It scares me that he will grow up with the same hole and emptiness that I did when I thought about my first family.  It scares me that he may one day have to have a "reunion" instead of just having the chance to grow up with open adoption as part of his day to day life.

It doesn't just scare me, it makes me sad.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I don’t have to learn French, I’m adopted!

Liam is currently struggling with French at school. It is the only subject that he HATES. Given the type of learning disability that he has, we aren’t very surprised that he’s having a hard time with it.

Liam’s dislike of French is not new, nor is it related just to school. I am fluent in French, having gone to French school from Kindergarten through grade 10 and having lots of French relatives. When Liam was a baby I would try to talk to him in French, read books or sing songs. He was fine with the songs (all of his lullabies were French) but any reading or talking would elicit “No Mama! Engish!!!” I still sing French songs and he often joins in, but talking is still verboten. Single words (Bonjour, Au Revoir, Merci, Je t’aime…) are alright, but if I go as far as a full sentence he starts demanding English again.

So last night at bedtime I started throwing out a few French words with mild success. In English I told him how our family comes from a French background, how Grandpa was French and how proud he had been anytime Liam would call him and sing Happy Birthday in French to him. I even mentioned that our last name is French, hoping to get Liam to take some pride or ownership in our French heritage.

And that is when Liam seized his opportunity. “I don’t have to learn French, I’m adopted! My real last name isn’t French”. All of this was said with a very smug Aha! gotcha now look. He was sure he had found the best loophole to my argument.

Too bad for him that I was adopted too!

It took the wind out of his sails when I reminded him that my first last name wasn’t French either, but I still grew up speaking French. That we can get our heritage not only from our first families, but also from our adopted families, or even from family members that we marry. He seems to be sitting on that one for now, perhaps trying to find another loophole.

Until he does, he’ll be back in French class on Thursday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Daring Kitchen - Moo Shu Pork

This month's daring kitchen challenge was a much easier one!  Not as technical as consomme, or as hands on as homemade pasta.  It was a one dish meal, essentially a stir-fry, served with home made Hoisin sauce and fried "pancakes".
Blog-checking lines: The October Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.
The first thing I made was the Hoisin sauce.  The recipe called for either black bean paste or peanut butter. Since we had peanut butter on hand, I went with that.

After following the recipe, I found it tasted too much like peanut butter.  So I started adding a bit more of this, a dash of that, tasting as I went.  I finally got it to taste how I wanted, but it had become quite thin.  So I threw it in a pot and heated it till it had reduced to a nice thick consistency.

The stir fry itself was rather unremarkable to make.  Chop a lot of stuff into matchstick sizes, add one by one to the pan and, stirring constantly, cook until done.

The pancakes seemed easy enough; they only had 2 ingredients - water and flour.  And they did work out very well, the first night.  The problem we have with most recipes is that they always make too much for just the 2 of us.  We each ate 3 pancakes with our meal, but the recipe made 20+.  Since you have to cook them just as you eat them so that they don't dry out, I put the extra dough in the fridge to have the next night with our left over Moo Shu Pork. That part didn't work out very well.  The dough on the second night was VERY sticky, hard to roll out and needed the addition of a LOT of flour to be able to work with it.  That led to flour burning in the frying pan (you dry fry each pancake) and was overall frustrating to work with.  They still tasted pretty good though!

It's great to have another relatively simple recipe to add to my repertoire.  With each month I'm feeling more and more confident in my cooking and even have found myself cooking on the weekend without the push of a Daring Kitchen challenge.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hair today....

Oh the dilemmas that hair can cause!

In the last 10 years my hair has gone from a 1/4 inch of shaved shortness to well past my shoulders and back again.  My favorite cut is the shaved look with a bit of bangs.  That was how I kept my hair all summer, and it's just growing out enough now to have me thinking of what to do next.  I'm leaning towards just having Hilary shave it all off, but it's starting to get cold around these here parts.

What is a girl to do?

I guess I could always revisit the early '90s...........

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Well I suck!

Sigh..... I'm not sure how I managed to mess this up but I did!  When I put up my post the other day for this year's Sock It To Me, I managed to thank the WRONG person!!

I thanked Rebekah Rose at Making Miracles for my socks when in reality I SENT socks to Rebekah Rose.
My wonderful, warm, GREAT socks were sent to me by Francie from Francie Speaks where she writes about her infertility journey.

So thank you Francie from the bottom of my socks!

How NOT to greet a house guest

We are babysitting "Rainbow-Butterfly" (owned by a recently turned 5 year old girl) for the weekend.  Of course Buster had to be the official family greeter!  We have since found Rainbow-Butterfly a very nice lid for her tank... just in case.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daring Kitchen - Stock-Soup-Consommé

This month's daring kitchen was almost as much science and magic as it was cooking!
Blog-checking lines: Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

I started out by making beef stock.  I then turned that into French Onion soup.  We liked it so much that we used all stock and didn't have any left to try and make Consommé.  Peta also gave us an added challenge to make a side to go with our soups/consommés.  I bake fairly often so it's not really a challenge, so I decided to go with something different that I had never made from scratch - Caesar Salad.

I was very intrigued by the science of making consommé.
A consommé is usually (and traditionally) made by adding egg whites with ground meats or fish (no bones) and/or vegetables for flavour to a base of good quality stock. These solids form a floating mass called a 'raft', which is caused by the protein in the egg whites adhering to each other forming a fine matrix with many small cavities. The consommé is then gently simmering for 45 minutes to over an hour which percolates the liquid through the raft which captures and filters out the impurities of the liquid leaving a clear flavoursome consommé.
I really had very little belief that this was going to work. I made a second stock, chicken this time, for the sole purpose of making consommé. I caramalized more onions and finished them with Cognac.  I added that to my stock and reduced it, giving it a nice, rich flavour.

I then prepared my egg whites, cooked and cooled my ground meat, added in some crushed ice and poured the whole disgusting mess into my stock.  And I waited.  It took it a very long time to come back up to a simmer, and I don't think I ever got what I would call a "raft".  More of a floating, foaming, gross looking mound of ground meat.

But slowly the magic took over! I could start to see clear broth through the holes in my "raft".  After about 40 minutes of simmering I started to ladle out the consommé, very carefully!  I strained it through cheese cloth to catch any stray bits of egg and meat.

And Voilà ! I had made consommé.  Not only was it clear, it had the most delicious intense flavouring.

The difference between the stock and the consommé was amazing!

Be sure to check out all the other Daring Cooks Stock-Soup-Consomme posts at The Daring Kitchen.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sock It To Me

The week of September 12, 2011 is Sock It to Me Week.

It was started by Kym at The Smartness in 2009 for people because the "warmth you feel from your bloggy support is a warm and fuzzy pair of snuggly socks." You sign up, get matched with a blogger and then send them a pair of socks. It's a great way to start reading new blogs and it gives us a chance to reflect on the support that you get from other people through your blog:
Here is the topic of your post: It has been roughly a year and a half since the last SITM Exchange. Reflect on the past 18 or so months – how has support from others, either in the blogosphere or otherwise, helped you?
I started this blog in February 2008 as a fun way to waste some time and maybe update friends on a few things that were going on in my life.  Adoption quickly became a common topic as I navigated my way through my own "reunion" with Iris and as I tried to find my way as a parent in what was supposed to be an open adoption but turned out not to be. Liam, school, parenting and ADHD are other topics that I've written about.  Lately I've had more cooking/food type posts and the introduction of Gary in our family has made for some ahem humorous posts.

The common theme through all of my posts has been the support I've gotten.  Friends, people I've never met in real life (well, except Heather!) have been here for me through the death of my father, difficult parenting moments, Liam's ADHD and learning disorder diagnosis.  They've especially been here this summer for me as I dealt with the end of my relationship with Iris, my first mother. They've laughed at my goofs, and suggested ideas to make things better. 

I really do feel that the support I get from blogging, other online support sites, and even the time sucking social networking site that shall remain nameless, is really  like a warm and fuzzy pair of socks! There is something wonderful about a virtual hug sent from across the world or just across town when you need it most to help you get through the current crisis of the day.  And now I have a wonderful new pair of real socks to keep my toe-toes warm this winter!

My socks arrived last week in one of the BIGGEST boxes possible!  I was really not expecting it to be my SITM socks, but hey! there they were!  

My socks were sent to me by Rebekah Rose at Making Miracles.  Rebekah is a gestational surrogate, and is currently pregnant with twins for her intended parents.  

And while I suspect that Rebekah wouldn't have much use for wool socks where she lives, they are very much appreciated here in Nova Scotia!

Be sure to check out all the other SITM entries by visiting The Smartness this week.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Someone has a cold

Don't you feel better when someone tucks you in with a nice blanket on the couch when you're sick?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A young old

Today Liam starts grade three, or as his school refers to them, he is a young old. I hope he has a fabulous year!

Monday, September 5, 2011

How I almost killed Gary*

It was every parents nightmare.  What had I done?  What should I do?  How was I going to tell Liam?

It started out so innocently.  I was wandering the aisles of a store when I got to the pet section.  The decorations for aquariums beckoned to me.  Gary's tank seemed rather plan and brown, and I thought that it would be a nice surprise for Liam if I bought something to liven it up with.  They had some lovely castles in bright blues and greens.  Liam and Hilary are working their way through the Harry Potter books, so I thought the tie in of a castle would be a nice touch.

I brought it home and washed it.  After all I didn't want any dust or chemicals to hurt Gary.  That's me, always thinking!  I put it in the tank and introduced Gary to it.  He sat on the edge looking cute and I even snapped some pictures**.

I'm not sure when it happened or how I even noticed.  Geckos are nocturnal creatures that like to hole up in caves and hiding spots during the day.  I had missed a key problem with the castle.  It was hollow, empty all the way to the top of the turret.  Can you see where this is going?

Gary in all his gecko-ness climbed up into the castle.  At first it seemed okay, he was just hanging out.  But as time passed, he climbed higher and higher and there didn't seem to be any way to get him out.  I tried turning it on it's side and at Hilary's suggestion (always the voice of calm and reason) just ignoring him.  Luckily Liam was out on a play date during all of this.  My level of anxiety would have surely pushed him over the edge.

As the night wore on and it was getting closer to the time that Liam would be home I started to panic.  When I turned the castle over to check on Gary he was BENT IN HALF - the tip of his tail lying beside his nose.  He was as far up the turret as possible and in a section that was so narrow that I thought for sure he was stuck there for ever.  We tried enticing / poking him with a chop stick to see if that would encourage him to come out, but nope, he was either wedged in or quite happy where he was.  I did not want to find out which it was!  So I did the most logical thing I could think of.  I burst into hysterical tears!  I was positive that I had killed Liam's pet, doomed it to die a slow and painful death stuck in a tower while Liam watched on in horror.  What kind of parent kills their child's pet?  Would Liam ever recover from that?  He still mourns the loss of his $0.25 goldfish that died 6 years ago.

Hilary was still the voice of calm and reason, albeit at a slightly higher octave then before.  She told me to get a gripe of myself and that the gecko was NOT going to die and that we would fix this.  Through my sobs and hiccups I suggested that Hilary give the castle a really good shake in a last ditch effort to dislodge Gary.

WOOT WOOT!  Gary came flying out of castle and landed in his tank, unharmed but rather perturbed at being so unceremoniously dumped out.  I sank to the chair in relief, vowing that the castle would never find it's way near Gary ever again.

Liam came home soon after and is none the wiser of Gary's adventures.  Gary was a little skittish when Liam picked him up the next day, but has fully recovered since then.  And the castle?  It's being used as a lovely bookend in the living room.

* I promise that this is not going to become a herp blog and that we will return to our regular programming soon.

**All pictures have been destroyed because Liam must NEVER know about any of this.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

One week in

Gary has now been with us for just over a week.  He's finally seeming to settle in, letting Liam pick him up with much less fuss an hanging out on his piece of drift wood when he digests his crickets!

And up until tonight, the cats had really paid him no mind.  But now that he's out and about more, he has caught Buster's interest!  Luckily the lid is very heavy and very solid and Buster was easily distracted by treats in another room.

The one thing I hadn't counted on is that the crickets actually take more work then the Gecko!  Feed them, get them water, but not actual water since they'll drown, so I have to give them cut open grapes.  But that attracts fruit flies so I have to change it often.  They need their cage cleaned out and it took a lot of trial and error over the first few days to get them set up in such a way that they don't smell.  So far (finger AND toes crossed!) we have not had an escapee.  We do however have a very loud "wild" cricket singing his courting song outside the window of the room they live in.  I'm hoping it's only coincidence and that they haven't started to attract all the neighbourhood crickets.  At least "our" crickets are too young to chirp!  And I plan to feed them all to Gary before they get big enough!

We're starting to see a few changes in Gary's spots, and can't wait every morning to greet him.  I never thought in a million years that I would say YES to a reptile as a pet, but he's a pretty cool guy to have around.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


This is Liam's new baby Leopard Gecko!  Liam has yet to settle on a name, but Gary the Gecko seems to be one of the fore-runners!