Surprising Adoption News: a new file, a new country

Last year we were very excited to open our file to adopt again from Ethiopia, and now we are excited to say that we have opened a file in the USA for fostercare adoption as well.

Ethiopia was, in fact,to the third country we had tried for our second adoption. First, there was the DRC (Congo) that we pulled out of within a matter of months. I could see the writing on the wall, and sure enough, the program is closed now.

So we switched to Lesotho, a small boutique program run by a fantastic agency in BC. Due to the country’s elections, politics and eventual compliance with The Hague Convention, the adoption process slowed to a trickle. We were just poised to receive a referral, when, The agency for Ethiopia started accepting applications again.

So we made the hard choice, and jumped ship to Ethiopia. (A little summary of our adoption timeline.)

At first, it seemed like things were progressing well. But now I’m honestly not sure if anything is going to happen. We took a risk pioneering a special needs program, and it doesn’t look like it will pan out anytime soon. And the general waiting list has a very, very long wait time. Ethiopia is an outside bet, at the moment.

Anyway, the kids are getting older, and I’m feeling the urge more and more strongly to add to our family. Jason would be fine with just the two girls, but my urge to add kids isn’t going away… It’s intensifying.

We’ve had many discussions with the kids about their priorities, and most important to them is that they have a brother, and that he (or they) have brown skin. It’s very important to them that they outnumber us, and we are totally down with that. Since their are precious few kids (read: almost none) of colour in BC, and we aren’t up for a baby (I have changed one diaper in my life, and I’m not about to start now…) so that leaves US fostercare. And through a strange twist of adoption rules, we can have our file open in both the US and Ethiopia at the same time.

I’m actually very excited about adopting through US fostercare. Like most crazy adoptive mothers, I’ve spent late night trolling through the waiting child website, imagining kids faces superimposed in our family picture. There are so many beautiful kids, funny kids, shy kids, outgoing kids, and normal kids… And they all deserve a family. There are an inordinate amount of black children in fostercare, and black boys are most overrepresented.

I’d always been told that you can’t adopt through US fostercare to Canada… But that isn’t actually the case. It’s totally possible… It’s just hard. The individual child’s casework at the county level has to agree to work with one of the extremely few Hague-approved-for-outgoing-adoptions agencies that actually does fostercare adoptions. I can count these agencies on one hand, in the whole USA, by the way. And then our agency in Canada has to be cool with it, and have a good working relationship with a US agency.

Luckily, so far, the starts have aligned as far as agencies go. Now we just have to find the kid… And convince their county social worker that Canada is a good option! Lol

Wish us luck in this next leg of our adoption journey!

One (or two!) sons from America (or Ethiopia,) here we come!

Lemonade Stand: Learning the value of money

Today the girls set up a lemonade stand at the end of the block, to make some extra dough. It’s certainly a great experience to learn about hard work and business.

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For a few years, our girls have had an allowance. They get five dollars, which is a lot of money! But they have some restrictions on it. Sugar and Spice put one dollar in their “learning” jar, which is for their education and travel, one dollar to a “giving” jar, from which they donate money to a cause of their choice, and then three dollars into a “fun” jar, their discretionary income. In the beginning, we had to give them loonies, to teach them relative value. But now they make change!

Anyway, having their own discretionary income means that we say “no” to just about everything they ask for, and they have to save up if they want toys. I don’t remember the last time I’ve bought them a toy. They even treat us occasionally to icecream or frozen yogurt, which is lovely.

Sometimes the girls want to increase their income, however, especially if they have their eyes set on something. Apparently it’s a play mobile veterinary set right now. So they get entrepreneurial; we totally support this. For a little money, they can do extra chores around the house, like wiping baseboards (with so many pets, we always have baseboards to wipe.) But sometimes, if they want to make more money, they set up a little business.

They’re so experienced, they’ve already had a failed business. Sugar came up with an idea of making hair ties. They bought yarn (out of their own money.. I don’t do capital investment…) but after selling a few on credit, realized their friends were never paying them. They lost their investment.

A lesson well learned. “Never sell anything to someone before you get the money first,” Spice will tell anyone who needs business advice. “Especially your friends.”

The tried and true business model is the lemonade stand. First, they save enough for ingredients. Frozen lemonade mix, then sugar, flour, butter and chocolate chips for cookies. They have bought premade cookie dough in the past, but they realized the higher costs were cutting into their profits. So now they make the cookies from scratch. Luckily they’ve found out that Daddy is a cheap employee… For two cookies, he’ll help them bake. Sucker.

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They figure out their advertising and distribution. Today, Spice was thinking about selling the cookies door to door. After carefully consideration, she decided that “we might sell more cookies to one family, but some people will also say no. I hate that. And we’d have to lug a tray from house to house. So I think we should just sit on the corner and they will come to us.”

The advertising is a big poster that they make, with prices clearly marked. Then, they chose their location wisely, which is beside the synagogue parking lot at the end of our street. It has good drive by visibility, and good parking. “People just stop because we are cute and we have cookies,” pronounces Spice, without a lick of sarcasm.

So, today was family day, with the girls choosing the activity. And guess what?

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Jason helped make cookies, I helped with the sign, and we all sat out in the sun. In an hour, they made $42. There were a few tips in there, and some people even just drove up and handed them money. I kid you not.

Playmobile vet set, here they come!

“We didn’t actually make $42 an hour, mommy,” my daughter Spice reminded me after I read her this post. You forgot to count our baking time.”

Such a smart cookie.

Mother Earth News Fair: Herbal Tinctures, Goat Milking and Cider Making

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A couple of weeks ago we drove down to the Washington State Fairgrounds for the Mother Earth News Fair, organized by the famous granola-crunching magazine. I pitched it to my husband as a learning trip: he would get to listen to other herbal medicine professionals and learn to make his own tinctures and extracts. But it turned out to be a blast for the whole family.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, Mother Earth News is a magazine focused on self sustainability and environmental action. It’s chock full of articles on frugality, organic gardening, urban and rural homesteading, renewable energy, sustainable communities, social and environmental issues. Not surprisingly, the readership has blossomed in the last few years, while other magazines are falling behind. We pour over our issue every month, and I got my dad a subscription for his birthday this year.

Back to the fair. It was a combo event… There were the traditional country fair kind of activities, such as checking out livestock. Since many of the attendees run very small farms or have varying degrees of urban homesteads (like us) everything was focused on bantam (small) breeds, from the chickens to the cows.

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We ate fair food…

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…and due to the general animal craziness of our family, spent an inordinate amount of time watching herding dogs. Kinda neat though… I’ve actually never seen an Old English Sheepdog or a Corgie work before!

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The second part of the fair was a trade show, where booths showcased everything from organic seeds to solar panels. The girls has just as much fun as us exploring and asking questions. Here is Spice learning to play old games at the heritage society booth…

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And we also found a few suppliers for our businesses and home. For example, we spent way too much time at the Mountain Rose Herbs booth, picking out herbal tinctures for our veterinary hospital and oil herbal infusions of or the new line of creams I’m developing for Africa Sleeps.

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We also met a lot of awesome people at the booths over the weekend. It’s was an interesting mix of rough and tumble farmers, tie-dyed hippies, yoga moms, uber conservative Christians, tattooed alternative parents and knobbly kneed gardeners. Fun crowd!

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And finally, the reason we went in the first place, were the workshops. Jason went to several herbal and natural medicine workshops. Some of them were amazing, according to him. He also said that one or two were a little flaky. But overall, he definitely felt it was worth his time, and he picked up a lot, especially from one intensely knowledgable lady.

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The girls has two favourite workshops. The being keeping turned out to be way too young for them (Sugar’s pick) but Spice’s goat milking workshop was awesome. I can tell you, we have been asked many times for a goat in the last few weeks. I’ll remind you that we live in an urban neighbourhood, but they don’t seem to get why I keep saying no…

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The other surprisingly amazing workshop was drawing animals. I tell you, you could have heard a pin drop for 1/2 hour while the forty kids learned how to draw animals using geometric shapes. After the lesson, the kids hung around and made a few friends… Fun to connect with people from different walks of life!

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My favourite workshop, by far, was the cider making workshop. I’m determined to plant some cider apple trees this summer, and try my hand at it a couple of years from now! With my wine background, I could understand the process in depth, and feel I’ve got a good handle on cider making now… Theoretically, that is 🙂

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And each morning en route, we did a little homeschooling, so the girls wouldn’t fall behind on their reading. The cutest part was their learning journals, though, chronicling what they learned at the museum in Vancouver and at the Washington fair. They are such science buffs!

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Overall, it was a lovely family weekend. I highly recommend it! There are three fairs across the USA. We will certainly go back again, if not next year, then the year after!

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Early summer protective cornrows

Africa Sleeps

I get a lot of questions about what I do for my girls’ hair in the summer.

In the heat of July and August, when they are swimming twice a day, I usually have false hair woven into teeny cornrows… It’s their one trip to the salon a year! It’s just the easiest way to deal with the swimming.

But for the early summer, our lake is still cold. There is just a little swimming and a lot of outside time, so I default to cornrows. First of all, they are my favourite of favourite way of protecting natural hair. We use Honey Almond Hair Balm when braiding each row, and it just nourishes their hair. Then as the weeks progress, we use some Pink Grapefruit Hair Oil in between the braids, just to keep their scalp nourished.

I say “we,” by the way, because I had a neighbour, a young Ethiopian lady, come and help me finish her hair. It’s been one of those weeks, and two sets of hands are better than one!

When the style is in, I tend to keep my girls’ hair in pigtails or buns, since they tend to drag their braids through glue, glitter, and whatever other craft they are up to. Here is a picture of my daughter on the first day of new cornrows… I have to admit that she has red glitter all over her head, at the time of this post. Just imagine the same thing, with lots of red sparkles!
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Monday in our English Garden

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When we bought this Cottswald cottage style house, I had a dream of building an English garden. I wanted it to overflow with flowers, mainly perennials, and have a wild lusciousness about it.

Six years later… It’s exactly that. Jason has become knobbly kneed English gardener, cultivating roses. Here are some shots from the flower beds this week.

Ps: let me know if you like the text in the photos like this, or prefer the old…

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