Monday, October 31, 2011

Fun photos

Here are a few photos from Diwali and Halloween!

Anya Rashi and I wore our favorite Indian outfits for our Diwali dinner. Unfortunately, the boys have long outgrown theirs. (Must be time for another trip to India to get some new ones . . .) Anya Rashi's outfit comes courtesy of our friend Priya, who visited her family over the summer and was kind enough to bring back a new outfit for our growing girl.

The strange creatures you see are Snow White (who must hold up her skirt in every photo, like the real princess she is), a Mad Scientist (wearing an old doctor's coat from Aunt Alicia), and of course, Darth Vader. Last year's trick-or-treat costumes were all homemade, but I ran out of steam this year! This will be a short post, because I need to go raid some candy buckets . . .

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In honor of Diwali: book & recipe

Miss New IndiaJust in time for the first day of Diwali, I thought I'd post a book review and a recipe.

The book is Miss New India, by Bharati Mukherjee. The author is Bengali, which I appreciate since Anya Rashi was born in Kolkata and shares that heritage. It's been fun to learn a few Bengali words, especially family words (baba is father, didi is big sister, etc.) through her writing. Many of her novels deal with the experiences of Indians who have emigrated to America -- and are also thoughtful explorations of family ties, culture, and identity.

Miss New India, however, takes place within India. At first glance, it is a classic storyline about a young woman moving from a small town to the big city. It is deeper and richer than that simple description, however. The main character, Anjali, is also leaving behind a traditional life and exchanging it for a more modern (and much more ambiguous) identity. The city of Bangalore, where she ends up, is almost a character in itself -- dynamic, pulsing with technology, and fueled by the energy of young people pouring in every day to work in call centers and other new industries. But she also encounters the dark side of life in a large city, and finds that things and people are not always what they seem.

Prospective readers should know that Mukherjee is an author who allows bad things to happen to her characters -- and this book is definitely reading for adults. But it is a very rewarding glimpse into Indian culture which is changing and growing by the second. Ultimately, the book is about rebirth: the rebirth of Anjali, of her hometown and personal history, and of India.

Now for the recipe! I've posted more traditional recipes in the past, but this time I wanted to feature a chicken recipe that's Indian-inspired, rather than strictly authentic. Many of us have family members who can't eat spicy food, or are afraid to try new kinds of cuisine. This easy dish is very friendly to the uninitiated, and gives them the flavor of curry without the heat.

Easy Mild Curried Chicken
(and thanks for the recipe, Michelle M.!)

12 chicken drumsticks, skinned OR 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
(salted and peppered to your taste)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. dijon or brown spicy mustard
1 Tbsp. curry powder

Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients. Place chicken pieces in baking dish and spoon sauce over chicken. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour, turning chicken pieces over halfway through baking time.

Happy Diwali -- enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Field trip "firsts"

Last Friday, Anya Rashi was very excited about her first field trip ever! Her Pre-K class went to a local apple orchard on a "real school bus! But it didn't have any seat belts." The children learned how apple trees grow, learned the proper way to pick apples, and loaded them into the apple polisher. Everyone snacked on dried apples and received an apple-shaped water bottle.

I'm happy to tell you that Anya Rashi is no longer crying at the start of the school day! After two weeks (and one agonized blog post), she turned on a dime and was just fine at drop off. She literally ran happily into her room without a backward glance. It was kind of comical -- her teacher, Mrs. R, looked at me and said, "What did you DO?", as if I had discovered some secret of the universe. :o)

Actually the answer is two-fold: that Monday, I used shameless bribery. Grandma had brought over a box of fruit snacks, a rare treat for her. I tucked a package in my purse, and said if she could muster up a smile at drop-off time, she could have the fruit snacks when I picked her up. And then, answer number two is that she is a little social butterfly now! As soon as she knew some of her classmates a little better, she couldn't wait to go into her Pre-K room and play with them each day.

The other field trip was for Peter and me. We were contacted by Show Hope about volunteering at a concert near us. Show Hope is the adoption grant agency started by Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth. (We were grant recipients in 2010.) But Show Hope does so much more than just grants -- they've built a hospital in China to help children with special needs, and many of them have now been adopted because big medical barriers were taken care of. They also assist families in the US who do foster care and foster-to-adopt.

One thing that I hadn't heard about before especially moved me: part of the hospital is for palliative care. They give special care and love to children who are dying. When nothing can be done medically, the workers make sure the children are held, loved, and made as comfortable as possible every day of their too-short lives.

We were honored to be able to volunteer and give back in some small way. We got to provide information about becoming a sponsor for Show Hope, and assist people with making a donation during the intermission. One of the best parts of the evening was connecting with the other volunteers, some of whom were other adoptive families. One family had a teenaged daughter who has only been home for 10 months. Another family had siblings from Ethiopia who've been home 20 months, and they live near us.

The whole evening was wonderful. If you'd like to find out more about Show Hope, you can find them at

Monday, October 3, 2011

"Blah," said Toad

Anya Rashi and Eliza

Since Friday, I've been trying to decide if I feel like Charlie Brown when Lucy keeps pulling the football away just as he tries to kick it . . . or if I feel like Toad of "Frog & Toad" fame. I think Toad wins. BLAH.

Along with other families adopting from India, we have received some bad news. Again. All families from outside India were supposed to re-submit our dossiers and a few other documents by October 1, after which date we would be assigned to a particular orphanage -- and then be matched with a child.

On Friday, however, we learned that there is a backlog of 550 families within India who must be processed first. While we think it is ideal for children to stay in their birth country -- and we are praying that they find families soon -- it was so hard to hear that our adoption is delayed yet again. Our new deadline is December 31, and the Central Adoption Resource Agency in India is not guaranteeing that anything will happen then either. Needless to say, we were heartsick reading that e-mail.

We were actually sitting at a table with Anya Rashi at our favorite Indian restaurant when Peter glanced at a new e-mail on his phone. He decided to read it during our lunch, which told me it was something very important. (Later, he told me that he had thought it was going to be good news about our dossier arriving in India.) Then I watched as his face fell, and he shared the news about the delay. Our eyes filled with tears, and Anya Rashi asked us what was wrong. We explained that we were having a day when we were missing her little sister, just like she sometimes does. Trying to help us feel better, she chirped, "Well, you don't have to worry about me today -- I'm not having one of those days right now."

We never dreamed that this process would take so long. Anya Rashi's adoption took 2 years and 1 month, and now we're coming up on 2 1/2 years with no end in sight. It is very difficult and so painful to know that millions of children in India need a family, and we are ready and willing to love one of them . . . but we have no control over when that will happen. We can only ask that you join us in praying for something miraculous to happen to speed up the process.

On Saturday, Anya Rashi had this discussion with her friend Eliza:
Eliza: Are you sure your little sister is ever going to get here?
Anya Rashi: Remember those really old people in the Bible who had a baby?
Nancy: Do you mean Sarah and Abraham?
Anya Rashi: Yes! So if God says we're going to get our baby sister, then it's going to come true.

Aside from the slightly unflattering comparison to the elderly Sarah and Abraham (!), we are taking heart from that truth: if God says it's going to come true, then it is going to come true. We are deeply saddened right now, but trying to rest in that truth.