Monday, May 30, 2011

Great Resource for Families Adopting from Taiwan

Posted by Angie at 8:07 AM 0 comments
Hi all!

Happy Memorial Day!  Just a short little post for you today.  I stumbled across this great website filled with dozens and dozens of messages about Taiwan, including travel, culture, and food.  It's called Forumosa-Taiwan's Global Online Community.  It seems like a pretty active group, so if you have specific questions about Taiwan that you want answered by people living there now, this might be a good place to ask!

Much love,
Future Mama

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mark Richt's Adoption Story

Posted by Angie at 10:55 AM 2 comments
Mark Richt. Georgia Head Football Coach. Millionaire. Christian. Dad via adoption :-) 
See his adoption journey in the video below. Go Dawgs!



Much love,
Future Mama

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why should you watch The Bachelorette?

Posted by Angie at 7:30 AM 4 comments
Because they are going to TAIWAN!!!!!!
{source}
That's right!  Monday night me and some of my best gal pals were crowded around the tv laughing and catching up.  In the background the season opener of The Bachelorette was on.  When the preview for the season started flashing, some huge red lanterns caught my eye.  That looks like Taiwan!  I thought.  I couldn't actually hear the tv (like I said, we were gabbing it up), but I hopped online today and in addition to Fiji, Thailand, and Hong Kong, The Bachelorette is going to Taiwan!  You better believe I am excited!  And before you get mad at me for spoiling this surprise, it really isn't a surprise, because ABC is giving away a trip to Taiwan in promotion of the episode!  You can enter by clicking here.

Woo hoo!  This gives me a somewhat legitimate reason for watching some trashy reality tv, right?!

Much love,
Future Mama

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sometimes I Wonder...

Posted by Angie at 11:56 AM 4 comments
Sometimes I wonder if I am ready to be a mother...

...to give up spur-of-the-moment girls' nights...
{source}
...to forget about sleeping in past 9 on sunny Saturday mornings...
{source}
...to lose many of the quiet little moments my husband and I share each day...
{source}
But then I see something, or read something, or a thought races through my mind....

...a child taking their first steps....
{source}
...a baby in a grocery store buggy...
{source}
...the idea of snuggling, cuddling, reading a book...
{source}
...and my heart feels like it is going to explode...
{source}
...and I wonder...
{source}
 How on earth can I possibly wait any longer?!?!?!

Today, I am missing my baby halfway around the world like crazy.  Some days, I almost forget that we are in the early stages of an adoption.  Other days, like today, I can't stop thinking about it.  I am so thrilled we have officially started the adoption process.

Much love,
Future Mama

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Friday!

Posted by Angie at 3:43 PM 2 comments
Oh, and it is a happy Friday!! 

Two of my closest friends are getting married tomorrow and I get to read this verse at their wedding:

Song of Solomon 8:6-7
6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
   like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
   its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
   like a mighty flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
   rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
   all the wealth of one’s house for love,
   it would be utterly scorned. 


Wish me luck that I can hold back the happy tears until after I read my verse!

And we have been featured on another one of my favorite blogs, Take Heart.  
Welcome Take Heart readers!!!!

And of course, we are another day closer to bringing home our baby!
Note: This is not our baby!  We have not received a referral yet.  But our baby might look like this :-) {source}

Hope you all are having happy Fridays!

Much love,
Future Mama

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Baby Hands

Posted by Angie at 9:37 AM 3 comments
Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small
{source}

I always leave my handprints
On the furniture and walls
{source}
But everyday I'm growing big
And soon I'll be very tall 
{source}
 Then all my little handprints
Will be so hard to recall
{source}

So, I have already shared my love of baby feet, so I figured I might as well share my love for baby hands!  There are few things more precious than chubby baby fingers grabbing on and holding fast to your fingers.  If I am on this waiting list long enough, we might just keep on moving through all sorts of cute little baby body parts ;-)

In other exciting news, our Twenty for Taiwan Campaign is being featured here today:


Photobucket

So, if you are a Dandelion Wishes reader visiting for the first time today, welcome to Expecting a Blessing!!

Much love,
Future Mama

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Words of Wisdom Wednesdays: You Are My Sunshine

Posted by Angie at 7:15 AM 7 comments
{Definition: WOW Wednesday.  Also known as Words of Wisdom Wednesdays.  This is a post which begs invites you to SHARE your wisdom with first time mamas...like me!}

Remember that song?  Do you sing it to your kiddos?  I grew up with my mom singing it to me before bed and can't wait to sing it to our little one when we get him or her home!

I love easy, cheap, colorful DIY projects.  And this space in our kitchen was just aching for one.
The back of our cabinets
Yes, I realize I needed to clean off my counters, not do a project, ha!
Talk about a blank canvas!  Future Papa was a bit hesitant about me nailing something into the cabinets, so I knew whatever I did needed to be lightweight.  I searched "cheap and easy wall decorations" and discovered this...
{source}
 ...which was created by one of my FAVORITE design duos and secret bffs John and Sherry.  Any Young House Love fans out there?

So I got in touch with my inner Sherry and whipped up this up yesterday:
 

And I love it!  Total amount of money I spent yesterday? $2.99!  I already had the clothespins, which I decorated for a bachelorette party I hosted last month.

Hehe, see the clothespins?  I made them by gluing little green paper flowers (I think I bought them at Hobby Lobby) to plain old clothespins.

The letters themselves are cutout from pieces of scrapbook paper, which I also already owned.  Each letter (which I cut out using this template)  is attached (via double-sided photo-tape) to a solid piece of colored cardstock paper.  Easy peezy.

Then, I took some twine from my craft bin and taped it up with my only purchase of the day: the $2.99 double sided poster stickies.  With the help of my my husband's handy dandy tape measure, I measured everything out, taped it up, and cleaned and put away moved everything from the counter to the kitchen table to snap some after pictures!

And then my husband got home.  "Wow...that's interesting."  I already knew my decor would be a bit colorful for his taste, but I was convinced he would see the fun in it.  We already agreed that we wanted to make our home more colorful and kid-friendly over the course of the next year.  "Is that for Heather's bachelorette party?" (yep, I am hosting another bachelorette party this weekend) he asked.  When I explained that I meant for it to be a more permanent decoration, he was not quuiiiiiite thrilled.  Hrmph.  Apparently this will bring hours of teasing from his family and guy friends (not so much the bright colors, but my adoring phrase "you are my sunshine").  Being the good man that he is, he conceded that if I liked it, it could stay.

So, do I leave it up because it is just so cute and hope that it grows on him?  Or try to come up with another short phrase that is more kitchen appropriate?  The idea of cutting out more letters and putting them all up sounds simply exhausting right now, but maybe I would have the energy for it next week.  Or maybe I could leave it up until we get the nursery decorating going and then move it in there?  Thoughts?

Much love,
Future Mama

Monday, May 16, 2011

Our First Taiwanese Cooking Adventure!

Posted by Angie at 11:18 AM 7 comments
This post could also be titled:  Far Too Many Words About Dumplings.  Enjoy!

Ahhh, Taiwan, famous for their delicious dumplings.  Dumplings have been made for centuries throughout Asia.  Countless adoption blogs have raved about the fabulous Din Tai Fung and other similar dumpling houses in Taipei.  We can't wait to try them!  In the meantime, we decided to try our hand at making this fun dish.  Anticipating complications, we decided it would be best for us to become expert dumpling makers now...so that by the time there is toddler pitter-pattering around our kitchen, making them will be practically second nature! 

After searching the internet for about 30 minutes, I chose this recipe for its traditional elements, homemade quality, and (perhaps most importantly) step by step instructions complete with detailed pictures.  We followed the shrimp dumpling recipe pretty closely (I will tell you the few changes I made at the bottom of this post), so refer to it if you feel brave enough to embark on your own Taiwanese Cooking Adventure! 

First, I assembled our ingredients for the evening.

Finding these ingredients at our local grocery store of choice (Kroger, in case you are curious) was relatively easy.  Except for the pesky water chesnuts.  Why were they so hard to find?  Because I had no idea what they looked like!  I thought they were a type of leafy green vegetable.  After searching the produce section in vain for about twenty minutes, I swallowed my pride and asked an employee to identify the little boogers for me.  He led me to the Asian section (who would have thought, ha) of the ethnic foods aisle and pointed out the cans.  Still uncertain as to what exactly they were, I bought 2 cans to make sure we had enough.  We only used one.

With all ingredients located, purchased, and assembled, Dasher (the dog), Haley (the cat on the chair), and I (the one behind the camera) felt impatient.

And so, we decided to get a jump start on the chopping before Future Papa got home from work!  I'm glad we did, because there was A LOT of chopping...

My trusty assistants, (yes, the cat and dog) began to lose interest (although, as you can tell from the previous picture, arguably Haley had little interest to begin with...she was still asleep in the chair).
 

In about 30 minutes I had a beautiful bowl filled with all our chopped ingredients, which would make up the filling of our shrimp dumplings.

On to the dough!  All you needed was flour and water, so I began mixing and kneading by hand (again, as the recipe described).  Future Papa got home from work when I was right in the middle of it.

Good thing, too, because my assistants had lost all interest by this point.

Future Papa took care of some dishes while the dough set for about 15 minutes.
 

And then we were off again!  I cut the dough into 4 equal chunks.

Then, I rolled each chunk into a roll (they looked like rolls of slice and bake cookies).  I put the rolls I wasn't working with back into the bowl covered with a wet towel so they would not dry out.  Then, I began cutting little slices, which I rolled into little pancakes.

The rounder I made them, the better, because while I was rolling, Future Papa was stuffing and pinching.

The only complaint that Future Papa had about the recipe was that he felt like the folding instructions were not very clear.  The pleating technique gave him trouble.  I think he did a pretty good job, though!

And soon, we had two plates full of dumplings ready to be cooked.
 

Ok, so in my research I discovered that dumplings are made when these little bundles are boiled.  Potstickers, on the other hand, are born when the bundles are fried.  We decided to make them both ways to see what we liked better.  Here are some of our little bundles waiting to be fried:

Here they are in action!

The result?  The stuck to the pot all right.  We burned them!!! ACK!!!

We aren't entirely sure how it happened, but we think the scalding began when we added in the water, because before that our potstickers had a nice golden brown color.  We will probably try turning down the temperature of the stove eye before adding the water next time.  Unless there is a potsticker expert out there who knows what we did wrong.  Anyone?

The boiled dumplings turned out fine, though.  You can see them in the bottom right of this picture of our spread.

You also may notice the two sauces in the above picture.  The dark brown one is soy sauce.  The orangish one is a sweet and sour sauce from a jar.  The recipe included instructions for a homemade sauce, but we decided to try that another time.

Our tea choice of the evening? Snapple.  Because we love The Amazing Race!

Note to self: Buy real chopsticks.  Practice eating with them.  I don't want to look ridiculous trying to learn how to use them in Taiwan!

Now, for the news you have all been waiting for:  they tasted delicious!  I preferred the dumpling variety while the hubby liked the potsticker style (charred edges and all). 

We also set aside some uncooked ones to freeze and cook later.

Eager to see how they would be, I pulled a few out Sunday after church and boiled them.  I thought they still tasted pretty good, but the center of a couple of them burst open in the pot.  Whoops!

All in all, the entire process probably took us about 2 hours.  Once the chopping is complete, this is a very kid-friendly cooking experience (the rolling and pinching part), so it would probably be a lot of fun to get them involved!  We plan to make these about once a month, experimenting with a variety of fillings.

I felt very close to my child's birthmother as I made these.  I could just imagine her making these with her mother or grandmother.  I know that we are not going to be able to incorporate all elements of our future child's Taiwanese culture, but we want to include some.  And this is one delicious piece of heritage that I am hoping we can master!

And there you have it! Far too many words about our first Taiwanese Cooking Adventure!  For those of you who may want to try it for yourselves, here are the only changes we made to the recipe:
  • I bought frozen shrimp that were already peeled, tailless, and deveined- a real time-saver.
  • I am a vegetarian (well, technically a pescatarian, I eat seafood), so we did not use actual pork, but a meat substitute.  Next time, I would probably leave out the substitute and just use the shrimp.
  • Sesame oil was VERY expensive at our grocery store, so I used vegetable oil. 
  • We doubled the dough recipe.
  • We made the dough by hand, not in a mixer, simply because we don't have a big enough mixer!
  • The recipe talks a lot about the dumpling skin thickness (thinner on the outside and thicker on the inside).  For this adventure, I focused on making them circular and not on the various thickness directions.  That may be why the frozen ones burst open when I boiled them.
Happy cooking!
 
Much love,
Future Mama

Sunday, May 15, 2011

No autographs, please!

Posted by Angie at 4:19 PM 1 comments
That's right!  We are officially famous!
If only all divas were this cute! {source}
 Haha, ok, ok, maybe we aren't famous.  
But we HAVE been featured in this book!
Yipee!
When Julie Gumm, the author, approached me earlier this year with questions about our fundraising efforts, we were flattered.  I just hoped that something in my meandering e-mails would be useful to her as she researched how families tackle the cost of adoption.  When I received my copy of the book, I saw that she talked not only about our online auction that we held back in February, but also our Leaves of Love ministry!  Aww...us?  Really?  *Blush*

In all honesty, this book is filled with many wonderful fundraising ideas and feasible tips for saving money.  Lots of the ideas were things I would never think of!  Karaoke night?  Zumba classes?  Who knew! 

The slogan for the book reads:
"65k in creative fundraising ideas; tips on finding extra money in your budget; how to apply for grants."  

And here is what the back jacket says:
"In 2000, Julie and her husband, Mark, declared war on their debt – credit cards, student loans, cars and the house. Seven years later, as they wrote the check for their last mortgage payment, God called them to adopt two children from Ethiopia. A few months later, with their income unexpectedly cut by two-thirds, they wondered if they could finish the adoption without crossing back over into the red. When they brought Wendemagegn and Beza home 12 months later, Julie and her husband proved debt-free adoption is possible! Passionate about helping others achieve their adoption dream, Julie shares how to find extra money in your household budget, apply for grants, and fundraise in order to build your family without saddling it with debt. With over $65,000 worth of creative fundraising ideas from more than 25 adoptive families, Adopt Without Debt shows you how to fulfill your adoption dream without signing away your financial freedom."

The book's website offers much more information about the book and you can order it here for $11.99.  Julie is an adoptive mother herself with an active blog. Much of this book is influenced by the debt-free life philosophy of Dave Ramsey.

Because I know this sounds like a sales pitch, I want to say that we are *not* getting any portion of the sales or any compensation in any way from this book.  I really do think it is just a great resource for families stumped on how to raise money for an adoption.  Remember this post, where y'all give me all that great advice (you have to scroll down to get to the comments)?  Well multiply that by ten!

Much love,
Future Mama

Friday, May 13, 2011

Settling in to Wait

Posted by Angie at 4:33 PM 5 comments
We are still wrapping our mind around all our excitement of the last month.  What?!  We are really going to be parents?!

Here is what His Hands, the orphanage we are working with, had to say about estimated waiting time earlier this year:  "We get this question at least once a day and oh how we wish we could come up with a suitable answer.  There are variables that we have no control over.  It's like riding in a car that sometimes goes 120 mph and then for some reason won't go over 2 mph.  Eleven babies when home in 2010 and 3 have already gone home in 2011.  Waiting is the most difficult part of the adoption process.  You must trust that if you are to have a baby, it will happen in His time."
{source}
Alright bloggy friends...let's do some math!  Future Papa and I think we are approximately #20 on the list.  It is May 2011.  If things progress as they did in 2010...
  • by May 2012 about 11 babies will have gone home, bumping us up to number #9 on the list.
  • meaning that around Christmas of 2012/Spring of 2013 we can start be hopeful about a referral...and hopefully bring home our baby anytime from Summer 2013 on!
Potential Christmas 2012 referral?  Yes please! {source}
As much as that sounds soooooo long right now, one thing that we LOVE about His Hands is that they only work with 20 families at a time.  Which means that if you are a family working with them, you know there are only 19 families ahead of you...not 40 or 60 or 100.  Whew.  Twenty isn't that big of a number...right? ;-)

Much love,
Future Mama

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We told the folks!

Posted by Angie at 7:58 AM 8 comments
So we told our folks!  Finally!  (for how we planned to do it, check out these posts: pt 1, pt 2, pt 3, and finally, our adoption video)  Many of you have asked how it went and we are thrilled to tell you how they reacted.  I'm still sorting through my thoughts at this point, so I apologize if this post is a bit rambling. 

Our First Announcement
The first people we told were my mother and younger brothers.  Saturday afternoon we all sat around my living room as they opened their respective birthday, graduation, and mother's day gifts.  My mom opened her bracelet that said "one less," was incredibly confused, and so we then turned on the video.  Well, actually, when I hit play I somehow messed up the tv!

"Close your eyes!  Close your eyes!" I shouted as Future Papa scrambled to fix it for me.  Then the video started playing.  And I started crying the minute the music started.  Bawling crying!  I just couldn't control it.  My mom and brothers kept looking back and and forth between me and the video, trying to figure out what was going on.  They seemed the most surprised out of all the people we told these past few days.
Their faces may have looked a little something like this! {source}
Later that evening, Future Papa was grilling burgers.  My youngest brother was on the porch with him too.  I was in the kitchen and I could hear him asking my husband all sorts of questions about the process, adoption, and our decision.  I almost started crying again.  My baby brother (not really a baby any more, he is 18) seemed so positive and so curious, it just melted my heart.  

Our Second Announcement
A couple hours later we gave Future Papa's parents the go-ahead to open their package, which held the bracelet for his mother and the video.  They called us immediately with assurances of love and support.  Some of the things my humorous father-in-law said:
  • So you're going to adopt all of those babies in the video, right?!
  • Sigh, I suppose I need to learn how to like Asian food. (he really doesn't like it!)
  • We need to look up grandma and grandpa in Chinese!
We knew they were excited, but did not realize just how excited they were until we talked to them again the following day.  That morning, Future Papa's father (who is a music minister) had not only told his entire church staff about our adoption, but also the choir.  We have to admit, it felt pretty good to see them so excited for us.

Excited baby!! {source}

Our Third Announcement
Last but not least, I still had not heard from my own dad as of Sunday afternoon.  Not wanting to wait another day, I told him to check his mailbox and CALL ME!  I'm glad I did, because he told me that he rarely checks it more than once a week and would not have had I not asked him too.  I certainly could not have waited to hear from him for that long!  He, too, seemed excited and asked us a lot of great questions about Taiwan, the adoption process, and how we came to this decision.

Still Spreading the Word!
We are still in the process of telling other family members (grandparents, aunts, cousins) and our close friends.  I did decide that I am only going to tell a couple of people from work that we are adopting.  Overall, the reactions we have received have been a mix of support and surprise, to different degrees.  I anticipated questions about the process and the timeframe, but have certainly got some interesting questions that I had not expected.  One of my best friends asked if she could still throw me a baby shower and how that would work with an adoption!  I told her that I would be thrilled for her to do so and that the perfect time would be after we receive our referral.  It's funny to me what the first things that come to people's minds are.

The announcing process has also been eye-opening.  We are very blessed in that we have not received negative reactions from our close family and friends, but we have discovered that there is a lot of confusion...about adoption and about why WE are adopting, as a young, fertile (as far as we know), childless couple.  Some of the polite concerns raised have been related more to our age, since we are young and the first in our group of friends to be having a baby, let alone to be pursuing an adoption.  I suppose I share all of this to keep things real on this blog.  No one has been negative, but the questions and concerns voiced have helped me to realize that if I get this from our closest friends and family, I am certainly going to get it (and in a less polite way) from acquaintances and strangers.
So confused!  You aren't infertile? {source}

It feels so strange to talk about adoption aloud to people other than my husband.  I have been writing about it on this blog, sure, but to sit down with some of my closest friends and share the news has been really surreal.  I'm not really sure how to quite describe it, as this rambling post is probably showing. 

I wish I had some great way to end this post.  Some great turn of phrase or lesson learned.  I suppose I'll just say that the Future Papa and I are as excited as ever about this adoption, are becoming better at explaining it in each conversation, and are enjoying the support, encouragement, and promises of prayer that we are receiving!

Much love,
Future Mama
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