Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adding Ukrainian Food to our Menu

At the beginning of the month we decided to add a traditional Ukrainian meal once a week to our menu. I thought our girls might appreciate some familiar food once in awhile. I also thought that I should start this before they get here because:

1) I have never made these foods before and I could use the practice before I serve it to true Ukrainians. There is nothing like getting someone excited about something they are familiar with and then having the recipe bomb!
2)My kids (and my husband and I) are terribly picky eaters and I would like to get all of the yucks, and dirty looks out before the girls get here if my boys don't like it. I wouldn't want their feelings to get hurt.
3)It will give me a good idea of the types of food I will be eating in Ukraine so I know what to order at restaurants, etc.

So far we have tried Chicken Kiev, Vareniki, Pelmeni, and Plov.

Chiken Kiev: Butter-herb filled chicken breast, I served it with rice.
It went over really well with James and I. The boys didn't think it was too bad, but definitely not a new favorite food for them.

Vareniki: Stuffed, handmade, boiled then fried, crescent shaped noodles about the size of the palm of my hand. I made two varieties: Mashed potato and Sausage and onion. James and I loved them. The boys only tolerated the Sausage and onion kind.

Pelmeni: similar to Vareniki, but much smaller (about walnut sized) and you only boil them. After you boil them you toss them in melted butter with salt and pepper. After Vareniki, I learned to only serve the boys the sausage kind. They liked these very much! James and I loved them!

Plov: (rhymes with clove) is a rice dish. You can use lamb or chicken, but I chose to use lamb. The recipe calls for lamb, grated carrots, onion, ketchup (a small amount), butter, and various spices. It smells wonderful while it is cooking! James liked it. I thought it was good, but I think I would prefer it with chicken instead of lamb. The boys hated it! We got plenty of gagging and dirty looks with this one. I will definitely try it with chicken next time and see if they like it better. I think the idea of eating lamb psyched them out...

It has been a lot of fun trying new things. I know that might come as a bit of a shock for those who know me well, but it truly has been fun trying these new recipes. I'm also thankful, that I was able to make all of these successfully. They even looked like the pictures in the recipes. There are several other recipes that we will be attempting in the months to come: Borsht (I'm a little scared of this one! Beets...), Piroshki (like a stuffed scone), and Deruny (Potato Pancakes).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Personal Interview for Home study

In my last post I wrote about the autobiography I had to write before my next appointment with the social worker for my Home study. I was able to complete that and turn it in to my social worker a few days before my personal interview. I had a really hard time answering some of the questions for the autobiography. I have a complex childhood and I was exposed to violence, alcohol, drugs, forms of abandonment, poverty, divorce, and mental illnesses in my home growing up. It was not all bad of course, but a lot of painful memories were surfaced. It was a very challenging way to grow up, but I feel it has made me a strong and a compassionate person. I was very nervous to talk to a stranger about these issues. I try very hard not to dwell on what I have been through, but more on how overcoming some of those difficult situations has shaped my view on the world. I was amazed at how daunting preparing for this appointment was for me. I was afraid that my childhood and how I was raised would reflect negatively on my prospects for being able to adopt. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to communicate what I had learned from these experiences successfully. I arrived at my appointment on time, alone of course, and waited for my social worker to call me back. She stopped by to check on me about 5 minutes after my appointment time and said she needed a few more minutes to get ready. 15 minutes later she called me back. I have to say, waiting alone for 20 minutes did not help my nerves at all! I won't go into details, but 2 hours later I walked out of the office feeling a lot better. Yes, she went over a lot of challenging questions with me, but she also explained to me why she was asking each question and what my response told her about me. She was honest and told me that sometimes some of the issues that my future adopted children will go through will trigger hard memories for me. I might have to take a step back and gather my thoughts before I can help them through difficult memories, but I have a unique advantage. I have been through similar experiences and I made it out okay. I can be an example to my kids on how to not let difficult circumstances hold them back. I might not have gone through the same exact things as my future kids have, but I have experienced similar feelings that they will go through. I was so happy when my social worker told me that my complex background and how I dealt, and do deal with it now will help my home study process. My husband has his personal interview next week and then our last appointment will be in our home with our three boys. We are still working on a lot of paperwork, but I can safely say we are halfway through with the Home study!

Monday, October 28, 2013

First Appointment with Social Worker for Home Study

We had our first appointment with our home study social worker last Thursday. It was two hours of paper work, paper work, and instructions for more paper work. Right now I am feeling a little overwhelmed with our to do list, but I'm so glad that I married someone that keeps amazing records, a budget, and daily schedules because we will need copies of all of those things! Our work will be so much easier because he is so organized! I spent the morning arranging a sitter for our youngest so we can attend educational training, scheduling physicals for all of us (including our three dogs), and attempting to write an autobiography that I need to have completed before my next appointment with our social worker. Thankfully the autobiography has 13 specific questions that I need to answer about my past, my parents and siblings, how I was raised, disciplined, and my relationship with my spouse. I think I might need therapy after writing this...ha ha! On my to do list for the rest of today I need to contact all of the states I have lived in in the last five years to get a copy of my driving record and a clearance from child protective services stating that I am not on their registry for child abuse, etc. That includes Virginia, Alabama, Texas and South Dakota! Gotta love being a military family that moves around a lot! That will put a small dent in our over all to do list. I know this is doable and well worth it! (At least that is what I keep repeating in my mind as I scan my list).

Monday, September 30, 2013

Why we decided to adopt.

My husband and I always knew that we wanted to adopt since we were married 12 years ago. My husband had served a mission for our church in Southern Russia before we met and had the opportunity to serve in orphanages. He saw the conditions there and how much better off those children would be in a family environment. While some orphanages are great with loving caretakers, nothing can replace the love a family can offer. We decided that we would look into adopting after having several children of our own.

We started a family shortly after we were married and were quickly blessed with 2 boys. Shortly after our second son was born I ended up getting very sick, which caused another chronic illness to start that we weren't aware of at the time. From that point on we had trouble with pregnancy and experienced a couple of  miscarriages. It was heart breaking because we knew we were meant to have more children. After a few years of trying to have another child I finally went to a specialist to find out why I continued to miscarry. After many tests, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, that was causing my body to see those little babies as harmful to me, so my immune system attacked them. I also had other problems that made me high risk for having another child. I was put on several medications to suppress my immune system and help my other issues and we were blessed with our 3rd boy. It was a very stressful pregnancy and we decided through the help of prayer that this little boy was going to be our last natural child.

A few years ago, we really began to seriously look into adoption and began saving money for it. We spent last year researching out adoption programs and agencies and we felt strongly that the time was right and that we should look for our children in the Ukraine. We started reading adoption blogs from people who adopted from the Ukraine to get a better idea of how the process works. We were able to find an agency that we felt comfortable with and sent in an application. We were excited to hear that we were approved and we signed a contract with them last week. We are starting this blog to help us keep track of this roller-coaster process and maybe it will help someone else along their way too.