Tuesday, January 25, 2011

...and my cat is HUGE*

Random things in random order because I'm not feeling like organizing my thoughts today:

  • Work is extremely crazy stressful right now, for a variety of reasons, most of them involving stuff I can't discuss

  • I've started taking a belly dancing class, which I am enjoying very much. However, I am sore in places I didn't know I had.

  • I am completely horrified by this story involving a woman who was adopted by an American family at the age of 8 months. She is now facing deporation because her American citizenship was never established. As the author of the story notes, the moral of the story is that adoptive parents have a responsibility to establish citizenship for their children before they turn 18.

  • I am wholly devoted to the TV show Burn Notice and the capers of Michael and Fi and Sam. This is keeping me on the treadmill, thank goodness.

  • After devouring the Hunger Games Trilogy and a disturbing novel called ROOM that everyone is buzzing about, I longed to read something sweet. As such, I picked up a copy of Anne of Green Gables at the library and I am loving the quaint coziness of it. The last time I read through the series was 1996, when Husband and I were living in Japan and the series was one of the few selections available in English at the library. I am finding it as charming as I did then (and before that as a 12 year old girl) although I will confess to the fact that I giggle inappropriately every time the author uses the word "ejaculate" to describe someone's speech. (I.e. "Anne, why did you do such a wicked thing? ejaculated Marilla." Totally approprirate for 1905, of course, and yet hilarious in 2011.)

  • We adopted a new cat at the end of December. He is HUGE. He is one of the tallest, longest, largest house cats I've ever seen. Much larger than a number of dogs we know. But he is so charming and has such an empathetic look on his face I can't help but love him. Also, he loves me devotedly, and has since the day we brought him home. His devotion to me is undeserved - Husband is the one who rescued him from the cat shelter - but he adores me just the same. I've not had an animal so enamored of me since my dog died. (The dog I had growing up, from the time I was 12.) I'm quite fond of him as well, so I will spam you with a photo:

The photo really doesn't give you an accurate feeling above how massive this cat is. But trust me when I say, he is HUGE.

*Christopher Moore, from his book Bloodsucking Fiends

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Happy Familaversary to Us

Four years ago today, on a humid day in Da Nang, in a small government office near the South China Sea, Lana became our daughter.

Uncle Ho looking over us at the G & R ceremony

Bach Ho (aka Ho Chi Minh) observed the ceremony stoically.

There are probably lots of things I should say, about how that day was hard for all of us, most of all Lana, who lost everything she had ever known that day. About how the days that followed, the months that followed, were painful and difficult and frustrating, and that it was a long time before we felt like a normal family.

At the Temple of the Turtle

I'm not feeling particularly wordy or thoughtful this morning, though.

Right now, I am sitting in our living room, cuddled with our new cat, watching both of my children play a game together.

Last night we went out to dinner to celebrate, at one of those Benihana style teppanyaki restaurants. (Because nothing says 'commemorate an adoption from Vietnam' like dinner at a Korean owned Japanese restaurant.) (Yes, I'm making fun of myself.)

Today we are all going to see Tangled, and tomorrow we'll go ice-skating, and right now, in this moment, I don't feel like we're a normal family. But I do feel like we're a happy one.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

The End of the World as We Know It?

I have to admit, I'm a little weirded out by the combination of the following things:

1. Dead birds falling from the Arkansas Sky

2. Dead crabs washing ashore in Britain

3. Dead fish in Chesapeake Bay

4. The Detroit Lions winning FOUR GAMES in a row

So, Internets...is the end of the world upon us?

(Obviously I'm *mostly* kidding, but...those first three things ARE freaking me out a bit.)


Saturday, January 01, 2011

Just Be Here Now, Forget About the Past*

Happy 2011!

I said goodbye to 2010 in the company of Husband and Gabriel and Lana and two of my siblings and my mother and step-father. We laughed, we ate too much, we played board games, and at ten o'clock I tried to convince everyone to celebrate the New Year on Buenos Aires time, because I didn't think I was going to make it to midnight.

I did manage to stay up to midnight (just barely) and share kisses and glass of champagne and fell asleep with high hopes for a shiny new year with no mistakes in it yet.

2010 began in fear and worry and anxiety about J~, and quickly spiraled into devastation and grief.

Grief and sadness were the primary emotions of 2010 - and I cannot say I'm sad to say good-bye to it.

I'm making resolutions, despite having never had much success with them in the past. Want to know what they are?

In 2011 I'm going to:

1. drink more water
2. eat more fruits and vegetables
3. get back on the treadmill three times a week (right now I'm only doing once or twice)
4. be a more appreciative spouse
5. read more to my daughter
6. do only one thing at a time (this is a big thing I need to work on, particularly at work, where I tend to take out 12 files at once and then wonder why I feel overwhelmed - so, I need to finish one thing before transferring my attention to something else. I honestly think I will get more done this way.)

We had a lovely and lazy New Year's Day - I slept in until 10:00 AM, had a Bloody Mary with my neighbors, and had Ella's Family over for a cheese and chocolate fondue feast.

Oh, I also made some kick-ass black-eyed peas, if I do say so myself. I was walking through the grocery store yesterday afternoon, and I saw a sign that said, "Don't forget the black-eyed peas to start your New Year right!" and I thought, "Well, I didn't eat any black-eyed peas last New Year's, and that year sure sucked" so I bought a bag of dried black-eyed peas - to ward off bad luck, etc.

Then I spent some time trying to find a black-eyed pea recipe that would taste like the black-eyed peas of my childhood, made by my great-grandma, who made them with lard and bacon, and none of the recipes sounded right to me, even the ones that called for lard and/or bacon.

Lacking both lard and bacon and a decent recipe, I improvised my own recipe, and it goes like this:

Lawmommy's Wholly Non-specific Recipe for Really Awesome New Year's Day Black Eyed Peas

1. Soak a 1 lb bag of dried black eyed peas overnight (this is really an important step, and yes, it's annoying cause it requires a day of planning ahead)
2. Drain the black eyed peas the next morning and set them aside
3. Chop up a bunch of left-over Christmas ham (I had about a cup and half of left-over smoked ham)
4. Chop up a bunch of carrots, onions, celery and garlic
5. Saute the chopped onions, carrots, onions, garlic and ham, add some olive oil because the ham probably doesn't have enough fat to saute everything properly
6. Saute these things until the onion is translucent-ish
7. Add the peas to the pan, and saute them for a while with the vegetables and ham.
8. pour about four or five cups of chicken stock** over the peas and veggies and ham (enough to just cover everything.)
9. Bring to a boil for a few minutes
10. Reduce heat to simmer and simmer on the stove for a few hours (in our case, it took three hours before the pea started to smell "right" to me. I cannot describe what the "right" smell was exactly, but the peas started to smell like my great-grandmother's kitchen.)
11. Add salt to taste - enjoy. Yum.

I hope everyone had a safe and festive holiday. Hoping for better days in 2011.


* Colin Hay, Waiting for My Real Life to Begin
** We have been making quite a bit of chicken stock at our house lately, because about once a week I buy one of those Rotisserie Chickens from Kroger. After we eat the chicken (usually having it for two dinners - one as just a rotisserie chicken meal, and the next day in an Indian simmer sauce or casserole of some sort) - we boil the chicken carcass and make stock. This stock is very useful for all kinds of things

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