Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pinewood Derby 2016

I feel like I am on a fast speed train.  I want to get off except I know the destination is pretty awesome.  I mean who wouldn't want to add an adorable little girl from China to their family.  Well, I know some people wouldn't and this will and by will I mean be the very last addition to our family. The car seats in my van will be absolutely full and I have no intentions of driving an airport transporter.  I digress though.  Things are moving forward in our process to adopt Ivy.  Yesterday, we got notification called the 1-800 from the USCIS  has been approved and they have now sent our application on to the National Visa Center.  This step should take a few days.  We are now about 5 weeks from departure for China.  Our passports have been sent off to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago and we should have those back by next Friday.  Fundraising is going OK not fantastic, but I am grateful for every little dollar we receive.  I am also in the process of trying to sell of a few things that we don't use any more.  Thankfully, my husband won an award this past week at his work and this came with a case prize (not large), but as I said every little dollar helps.  He also had some clients who finally paid up on some outstanding bills. Yahoo! In other news as in two weeks ago, Roman participated in the 2016 Pinewood Derby with big help from his brother Harris who helped him cut out his car, sand it, and paint it.  He won the first rounds but ended up loosing in the end.  The great thing about Roman was he was just happy enough to participate.  I love this about him!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sprechen sie Deutsch?

After years and years of driving to German School, trips to Germany, and now 3 years in high school I would say Harris is pretty proficient in German.  This past week, Harris had the opportunity to travel to north Georgia with his high school German club to participate in a state wide German speaking competition.  Not only did he and his fellow classmates bring home over 23 individual winning titles, but they won state.  Harris won 1st place in story telling.  While it wasn't always easy to spend every Saturday across town, I am really glad that we made a commitment to continue speaking the mother tongue of his father.  Truth be told, I think I speak more German on a weekly basis than my husband though I have far from being proficient like Harris.  Way to go Harris!  I am so proud of you!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Year of the Monkey and other news!

Addy and Avery would like to say 恭禧發財! Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year! We began the weekend with a visit to our favorite celebrating at our favorite Chinese restaurant followed with a visit to the park and ice creams before heading home.  Chinese New Year is in competition this year with German Fasching (Carnival) and the girls got to wear their costumes to German School.  Roman opted out of the costume wearing this year.  Addy ditched her princess costume to be Captain America and Avery went as a fairy.  Their were some pretty creative costumes at school this year.  One little boy in the Kindergarten class was dressed as an Ice cream truck and another little girl in the third grade was dressed as a flower pot.  Made me want to aspire to make the girls better costumes for next year or at least for a second.  Not sure when I would find the time to squeeze in another task like coming up with a great costume idea and making it on top of all the other things I do.  Currently, we are waiting on new photos of Avery.  We should receive an update any day.  Also, we are about 6 weeks away from travel if all goes well.  Not sure how much Chinese New Year is going to effect our time-line.  The plan is to leave on the 23rd of March with a Gotcha day of March 28th.  If we can't get those dates we wont be traveling till the first week of May due to my husbands work schedule.  Well, it is late Sunday night and I am super tired.  I am heading to bed. Hope you had a great weekend!  

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hungarian Goulash

One of my favorite things to Bratislava and Hungry was the Hungarian Goulash.  Typically served with bread dumplings if you ask they will serve it with rice or  roasted potatoes.  This dish just makes your belly smile and on a cold winter day it hits the spot. It took me a while to find a good recipe, but a few weeks ago a fellow blogger shared her recipe with me that she obtained through a cooking class she took when she went to Hungry.  Her recipe was for a chicken version of this dish, but I found that it was easy to adapt it to beef which was the way I was served it. The dish was a huge hit with my boys and even the girls enjoyed it despite that there were onions and peppers in the dish.

Hungarian Goulash

1 yellow pepper sliced length wish in thin strips
1 large onion sliced thin in strips
 3 tablespoon of olive oil
2 1/2 pounds of beef stew meat
3 Tablespoons of Hungarian paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of flour
6 ounces of sour cream
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of caraway seeds

In a large skillet brown meat on all sides in a 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the paprika. Salt an pepper the meat. Remove meat from pan and add the remaining olive oil and saute onion and peppers.  When they are soft and tender add the chopped tomato and cook until soft.  Salt and pepper these to taste. Add back in the meat and add just enough water so that it comes to the middle of the meat.  Turn on Medium to low and simmer for two hours.  Occasionally stiring  and  adding water to replace water that will evaporate.  When the meat is soft in a separate bowl mix sour cream and flour together and add to the meat.  Cook for about 5 additional minutes until the sauce thickens.  

Serves 6 and can be served over rice, buttered noodles, or roasted potatoes.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Snow Days

Punxsutawney may not seen his shadow and spring may be on it's way, but we aren't done with winter yet.  Winter here in the south is always a toss up where some years we get a day where the snow keeps us from leaving our driveways and others it never appears.  We got a little taste of winter the other day as in 5 minutes of snow, but does that count?  The children and I took things into our own hands and made our own snow.  I thought it was a little messy, but the kids loved it (it is possible I made it wrong and I need to try making it again).  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Week in Photos!

1) We say yes!  China here we come!
2) Chinese New Year is just around the corner.
3) Still Life -Corn Chowder
4) Playing in the snow with Papa
5) Little Ballerina Tries Baked Oatmeal
6) Battle of the Books!  Roman reading to win!
7) Sisters learning to swim.
8) Happy it snowed (or at least for 6 minutes)
9) Snow Angels

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


My neighbor came over the other day and asked if I would take a couple of head shots of her baby for her!  I was happy to oblige as he is a super cute happy baby.  This year I have decided to get out of my comfort zone and really put myself out there a photographer.  I have 12 shoots lined up so far for this year.  I am nervous and excited at the same time.  Now I just need to scouts some really great locations.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Joyful Surprise

Hi!  It has been a little quiet here on my blog.  So much going on right now in terms of filling out paperwork to complete the adoption of Ivy.  Spent the morning sending off documents and a care package for miss sweet thing.  Later this week I have to go renew my passport.  I am also in the process of fundraising as everything just happened so quickly and we don't have all the money sitting in the bank.  If you are interested in helping us bring home Ivy, we are selling t-shirts to offset some of the cost.  Just follow this link.   However, I didn't come on-line to talk about t-shirt or Ivy as I wanted to talk to you about some of the movies I have seen recently.

When my mom asked me to go see the movie Joy with her I wasn't so thrilled.  The trailer just didn't really pull me in, but I knew the cast was good and in any relationship you have to compromise.  Joy is the story of an average American woman and even maybe a woman down on her luck who uses his creativity and tenacity to bring herself and her family out of a desperate situation.  The movie is brilliant.  One of my favorite scenes is where Joy (played by Jennifer Lawrence) has had enough.  She whacks off her hair and she basically tells this man who has been taking advantage of her that she knows he is legally wrong.  He is completely dumbfounded and knows he has been caught.  Joy walks away from the situation triumphantly.  I related to this movie more than I thought I would because while I am not a multi-millionaire like Joy.  We grew up in kind of the same family dynamic. which was crazy and dysfunctional.

Now that I have finished watching Downton Abbey at Christmas ( we have access to European TV through a VPN), I  have started watching a new series called Mercy Street. This series tells the stories of American woman nurses during the Civil War time period. The jury is still out on this one as it is slowly opening up the story line, but I have a feeling it is going to be good.

Last but not least, I finished watching a television series out of Germany that I purchased on-line called Deutschland83.  I bought the series for my husband for Christmas. We both thought it was brilliant.  The series takes place at the height of the Cold War.  Who doesn't love a little bit of 80's music weaved through a tale of spies and political politics.  While the show is in German you can switch on the English language option or use the sub-title option.  What are you watching these days?  Do tell me?  I am always looking for something to watch in the evenings as I sit by the fire when the children are in bed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hawaiian Haystacks

I have no idea where this recipe originated or how it got it it's name.  I have a feeling it may have been one of those recipes you find in the Better Homes and Garden or Family Circle or maybe on the back of a soup can.  It isn't one of the most sophisticated meals, but it is a meal everyone can enjoy. The original recipe calls for the use of Creme of Chicken Soup, but that is just a little processed for our family.  Don't get me wrong, we do eat soup out of cans, but not very often. What kids love about this recipe is that they can add their own toppings to the top of the dish.  Toppings range from shredded cheddar cheese, green onion, fried noodles, pineapple chunks, peanut, mandarin oranges, and diced red pepper (not shown).  Then you make enough rice to feed your family.  My family of 7 needs about 2 cups of dried rice.  We makes our in a rice cooker, but you can make on the stove top.
Then follows the sauce and chicken.  These amounts can be easily increased.  I kind of eyeball it based on the number of people home that night.  I have really found joy in using chicken tenderloin.  It is a little more expensive than buying breast, but the results are a much more tender meat.  Buying this item in bulk can really bring down it's price making it much more affordable.  Anyway for my family of 7 including little ones we need about 13 tenderloins.  If using breast meat I would suggest 1 breast per adult and 1/2 a breast  per child depending on the age, so for our family this would be about 5 breast.   In a large skillet brown the tenderloin meat, take out as soon as meat is cooked through this will keep the meat moist. While cooking add salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic.  If you like garlic you can add more.  Set aside meat and in the same skillet melt 3 Tablespoons of butter and 3 Tablespoons of flour over medium heat. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme to the mixture and cook flour and butter until the flour is just becoming golden brown.  Add 2 cups of chicken broth to mixture and whisk until mixture is completely incorporated.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Depending on sodium levels in broth you can go less on the salt.  Then once sauce begins to thicken decrease the heat to low and add one cup of creme.  Cook for a minute or two until sauce thickens and add chicken back to sauce serve once chicken is warmed through serving over the rice.  Now let the kids have fun.  The sauce is pretty mild, so if you like a little spice I certainly suggest adding pepper flakes to taste.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

More Photos of Our Sweet Ivy

Those cheeks don't they want to make you kiss all over them!  Hang on baby girl we are coming to get you.  At the moment, we are currently waiting for our Letter of Acceptance or LOA, this document is a letter from China that says they accept our petition to adopt her. The current turn around on this document is around 42 days.  We are about 4 days into the wait. Once we have this document. We then sign it and send it back to China where they then notify our immigration department that we will be bringing this little one home. Travel usually occurs within 8 weeks of this document.  We are shooting for the beginning of May.  In the mean time nesting has begun. I need to sort through the girls clothes and get rid of the ones that will no longer fit and make sure we have enough for the current summer season.  I have some friends who will be traveling to her orphanage in March, so I am hoping to get a report back in regards to whether or not she drinks from a bottle. We don't have any of those laying around the house, so if she does than it is off to the store.  We will be sending her a care package soon that will include photos of our family along with a few items like a USB drive to obtain any photos of her they might have and a few treats for her and her friends to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year!  We would love for you to join us in prayer that she is being treated well and that her heart is ready to accept us as a family.