Thursday, August 29, 2013

Since I Last Posted...

Ahh, yes, the inevitable checklist of a family who has a homestudy in progress.  At least we're moving forward, checking off the boxes.

I've read 2 of the 3 required books, and ordered the 3rd.  PapaBeast is working on the first one.  His work schedule is kicking his butt, but he's really putting in the effort.  He plans to be done tonight with the first book.  :)

We attended our first adoption class and we feel like we learned a lot.  They mostly covered the three parts of the adoption triad (adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees) and how the various factors in adoption affect all of them.  I hadn't really put myself in the birthmother's shoes before, so that was really eye opening.

We were fingerprinted.  It was hard to find the place, because it was in a post office box type store -- the sign for fingerprinting was TINY.  But we got it done.  One more box to check.  :)

I scheduled our CPR and First Aid class through the Red Cross next weekend.

PapaBeast has been studying for his citizenship test.  Becoming a US citizen will help simplify our paperwork.  Hopefully we will hear soon about his interview and test date.  :)

So, I really feel like we're getting closer to our goal.  Yes, Kazakhstan still has to officially begin accepting families into the program when it officially reopens.  Yes, we still need PapaBeast's citizenship.  But, at the end of the day, there's forward momentum.  And that's what counts.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Notebook for Adoption Classes

 
As part of our home study, we have to take classes.  Tonight, we are attending our first class, Lifelong Issues in Adoption.  Knowing, of course, that I would need to take notes, I decided to pretty up a composition book.
 
Yep, that's right, that cute notebook was 55 cents at target.  It was your typical black composition book before I covered it in patterned paper and added a matryoshka, or Russian nesting doll, cut from my Cricut machine, using the Paisley cartridge.  All of the paper is from the 1934 collection by Cosmo Cricket, which is sold at Hobby Lobby as a single sided paper pack.  The rhinestone is also from Hobby Lobby from a one pound carton of clear gems.
 
I used foam pop dots to make the upper part of the doll stand out from the face and background.  I also popped up the band at the bottom.  The doll was cut at 8 inches, with real dial size turned off.
 
The Cricut cartridge can be found here:
 
And, for those of you who haven't caught the Cricut bug yet, here's an introduction to what they do:
 
I love the Cricut for scrapbooking, card making, home d├ęcor and more.  I don't receive any payment or free product from Cricut or its parent company, Provo Craft, or any other company.  I simply recommend them because I love their products.
 
Lifebooks, scrapbooks, and other memory keeping is an important thing for parents of adopted children -- so important, in fact, that it is on the docket to be discussed tonight at our class, based on the description in our home study packet.  As someone who already makes memory keeping a big part of life, I hope to make memory keeping a large part of this blog and I hope to share various tips, tricks, and products that help me along the way.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Adventures in Making Pelmeni from Scratch

Being that we enjoy pelmeni (Russian dumplings) quite a lot when we have them at a local Russian deli, I've wanted to make them myself for a while.  So, I looked online and discovered the wonderful Taste Russian blog and their pelmeni recipe. (See: http://tasterussian.com/russian-pelmeni-recipe.html)

I hear that pelmeni are quite popular in Kazakhstan, and also that it is traditional for children to make pelmeni with their parents.  So, I consider this a dry run!

Okay -- Confession time.  I made these on Saturday, but I'm just posting them now.  I need to get better about this blogging thing, make it a real habit and all that good stuff.

So, the first challenge was converting the metric measurements to cups and fluid ounces.  Papa Beast pointed out that a simple Google or Yahoo search will do the conversion for you.  Now, I decided to do a double batch of their recipe, considering that it's hard to find half a pound of beef or pork.

Papa Beast also kindly made his way into the kitchen at various points during this whole process to take pictures.  Thanks, Honey!  :-)

 
So I made the dough, and here I am kneading it.  Kneading the dough was fun.  You can see what an utter mess I made of the countertop, though.  You can also see that I didn't end up using all of the cold water in the measuring cup.  I think I ended up rounding down slightly on the flour when I did the conversion from metric.  Either way, the flavor ended up working out.
 


 
Next you make a snake, which ends up being cut into sections and then those sections are rolled out into circles.

 
Why yes, I did have a lot of gunk in my engagement ring after all this.  Thanks for asking.  :-p

 
All those little circles, all in a row.  I ended up making each pelmeni bigger than it should have been -- which is fine.  But next time I think I will make four snakes out of the double batch, to get more smaller pelmeni.  I think they'll be easier to cook evenly that way, and maybe be more uniform in size.

 
Do a dollop of filling!  I used their filling recipe, but I put the onion and garlic in the food processer rather than grating it.  I also use jarred garlic.

 
Starting to fold.  And starting to get flour EVERYWHERE.  Shoulda worn an apron.  Ah, well, next time.

 
Look at that cute little pot sticker!

 
Folding the pot sticker into a tortellini style shape.

 
All the oversized pelmeni, all in a row.  Most wound up in Ziploc bags in the freezer -- next time we want pelmeni, all I'll need to do is boil them.

 
A close up of the pretty pelmeni.  And, of course, I didn't think to photograph the cooked ones.  Perhaps when I pull some out of the freezer and cook them, I'll remember to take a picture.
 
Papa Beast definitely considers these a "make again" and even one of his very favorite things I make.  I enjoyed it also, especially with sour cream.  Yum!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

About Us: Mama Stork, Papa Beast, and Super Pup





Mama Stork is a 25-year-old housewife from Orange County, California.  No, she is not on any reality TV shows, nor does she intend to be.  She enjoys reading, writing, scrapbooking, and cooking.  If there were 12 step programs for YouTube and Pinterest, she would be an excellent candidate for their services.

Papa Beast is a 29-year-old manager at a software company.  Born in the Philippines, he is well on his way to US citizenship, and hopes to ring in 2014 as an American.  After three years of marriage to Mama Stork, he has learned to spoil his wife with the occasional night out and give up his spot on the couch for Super Pup.  He is sometimes found putting golf balls around in the living room.



Super Pup is a 1.5-year-old German Shepherd/Saluki mix.  His motto is "Treats, Dog Park, and the American Way" and he has been described as "faster than a speeding Husky."  He enjoys watching The Dog Whisperer and Too Cute on Animal Planet.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

What's Happened Thus Far -- Or, Alternately, That Obligatory First Blog Post

Very early on in our relationship, my now-husband and I began to discuss the idea of international adoption. I had told him that I was unable to have biological kids as the result of medical treatment.  His immediate response was that he was open to adoption, and this was only three weeks after we had met.

We discussed countries, rather briefly, and thought that Russia was the best fit for us as a couple -- the children were fairly young and we both like Russian culture, despite not being Russian ourselves.

Time passed, and we got married in May of 2010.  I petitioned the government for my husband's immigration case to proceed, despite being stalled for quite some time.  As that started to proceed, we purchased a home and started looking deeper into adoption.  We found an agency that was local to us and attended one of their seminars, but never got farther than that, knowing we would need to save money before we could actually officially begin the process.

And so we moved into our new home, adopted a puppy from the local shelter, and my husband began to focus on building up his career.

Then, around Christmas 2012, the bomb dropped.  Russia closed it's adoption program for American citizens.  Meanwhile, Congress failed to renew the tax credit for adoption.  The loss and fear and uncertainty was difficult, to say the least.  I found myself wondering if we would ever become parents.  How would we ever afford it without the tax credit?  Where would we go, if Russia remained closed?

We looked at "our" agency's other programs, and found ourselves unenthusiastic about all of them.  So, we began facing the reality that we would very likely have to switch agencies.  I returned to the website of another local agency, one that we had ruled out early on because they only worked with couples who had been married three years or more.  While they could no longer offer Russian adoption, they did have suggestions for families who were hoping to adopt from Russia.  Of all of them, Kazakhstan seemed like our best fit.

Shortly there after, the tax credit was renewed again, and we were well on our way to affording our adoption.

Since then, we filled out an application, paid an application fee, received homestudy info, paid for the first phase of the homestudy, scheduled our first two classes, filled out an inch of paperwork, scheduled fingerprinting, and ordered some of our required reading books.  And we know we aren't even half done, but that, in the end, it will all be worth it.