Sunday, March 28, 2010

Other Household Gadgets

So, again, at the top of my list is my pressure cooker. It has been the single most easy to use time saving gadget of all time. I've been using it about every three days.

For vacuming I love my Dyson. I also have a Kirby. The Dyson is an excellent vacume, but I don't like how the attachment hose sucks in on itself. I do like how easily accessible it is. I prefer the Kirby hose, but one must attach and unattach it for use. My Kirby also become a carpet shampooer and an air inflater. I can inflate all my kiddy toys with it. Since I have a two level house and 9 cats and a daycare business, I definitely love having a vacume for each level. I vacume almost every day.

For my hard floors I have a Shark floor steamer. This thing is great and really, really works! Since I have health issues with chemicals, I love using nothing but water (steam) to clean and sanitize the floor. I use this once a week.

I usually hand grate my cheese, but if I need to do a lot, I still prefer a simple Salad Shooter. I don't know if they still make them. I've had mine for years and years. The Salad Shooter grate carrots like a charm, too, and if you cook them grated, it's like gourmet juilienned carrots.

I can't say enough about my VitaMix blender. Between that and the pressure cooker, I made potato-cauliflower cheddar soup in 15 minutes. I have never bought a smoothie and when I had a regular blender I never made them, but now that I have fruit trees and get the large bags of frozen fruit and berries from Costco, I make them at least once or twice a week. I make a sorbet for my dessert several times a week. With daycare, I constantly make babyfood, too. I use the VitaMix almost every day, sometimes twice a day.

Which brings me to the Magic Bullet. Sometimes I need to make only one or two servings of babyfood and don't want to go upstairs (I have two kitchens, one downstairs and one upstairs) to use the VitaMixer so the Magic Bullet gets the job. I use this 2-3 times a week.

If it's a tiny babyfood job, like a banana, I use a manual babyfood mill.

The one gadget I see people buying frequently that I gladly gave away was a juicer. I did like the juice, but cleaning the juicer was such a hassle that I only made juice a few times. I also didn't like throwing away all the fiber.

Hooked on the Pressure Cooker

Do you really want a kitchen gadget that saves you time? If you said yes, then click over to QVC and order the pressure cooker right away!

Here are some of the things I've made this month, from scratch:

2 pound pot roast with veggies: 45 minutes
entire head of cauliflower: 2 minutes
large asperagus: 2 minutes
8 boiled potatoes: 6 minutes
macaroni & cheese: 6 minutes
2 huge artichokes: 15 minutes
1 whole chicken: 25 minutes
tortillini alfredo: 6 minutes
cheese cake: 25 minutes

The cooker does take about 5-8 minutes to reach the right pressure so add that to the cooking times.

I remember being about 10 and walking through the mall in Colorado with my family one day. In the center was a vendor selling a Bosch food processor. He was grating cheese, dicing, etc... My mom was captivated. He swore it would save her time. With five kids in the family, that was enticing. She did buy it. She did grate cheese in it - maybe twice. She even made bread dough in it - maybe twice. She did use it a few times to mix cookie dough, but when I grew up and had a place of my own, she gave it to me. I use it when I make bread and that's about it, but it's worth it just for that, to me.

You see, it wasn't good enough or fast enough that we could grate cheese in the food processor because we had to CLEAN it and that took longer than grating the cheese. Does this sound familiar?

Well this pressure cooker DOES save time AND it's SUPER, SUPER FAST and EASY to clean. If I had a choice between a pressure cooker and a microwave, I'd choose the pressure cooker.

At the same time that I purchased my pressure cooker from QVC, I also bought the book Slow Food Fast and the double pan insert.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jinx - Flooded Laundry Room

I received an email from my youngest sister in which she mentioned she'd had some flooding in her house. It must have been a jinx because last night I went downstairs to scoop out the litterbox and the sink that my washing machine empties into was overflowing. There had been a rag in the sink and it plugged the drain. I looked at the floor and gasped. It was 1/4 to 1/2" deep in water! Luckily, my small carpet cleaning machine was right there. I squished my way to it, plugged it in, turned it on and started sucking the water right up off the linoleum. In no time I filled the container so I dumped it and began again and again and again. I over flowed the container twice and knocked it over once, re-spilling the water, but finally got most of it up. Today I cleaned the rest up. Hopefully, nothing nasty will grow under the linoleum.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sanding & Sealing Saturday & Sunday

On Saturday morning, the young men (ages 12-18) came over and sanded my play structure. They like to do service projects and there was an announcement at church a couple months back asking if anyone needed anything done. I mentioned my play structure and darn if those guys didn't jump right on it.

I'm very, very grateful to them because this was something I was loath to do. With about 8 (4 with electric sanders) of them working for 1 1/2 hours, they got most of it done. Can you imagine how long it would have taken me?

I then spent the next 8 hours painting the Clear Penetrating Epoxy on it and then spent another several hours at it on Sunday. There's over $100 worth of epoxy on that thing but it looks gorgeous and it should last a good long time now.

I think I'm supposed to put some varnish over it next, and it's got to be within a few days, before the epoxy cures. I hope to be much faster painting it on now that I've had some practice.

Fashion Friday #20 (on Saturday)

These shoes are a size 3, but they look more like a size 2. I hope my daughter is small enough to wear them because I LOVE them. Besides being cute, they have a soft, flexible rubber sole.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Getting Excited

The last batch of referrals covered families logged in April 11, 2006. My log in date is April 15, 2007. As I get to the "one year's worth of referrals out" date, I'm getting excited because, to me, it's the final countdown. Understand, though, that this doesn't mean I'll be one year from receiving my referral. It means that families with a log in date one year before mine will have been matched. In the past two months of referrals, only 11 days were covered. That's actually pretty good compared to how it's been with 2 and 4 day batches.

So far during this wait, my youngest sister and several friends have become pregnant with their first babies, had them, and are now pregnant with or have had their second babies. Some are even on their third!

I called my adoption agency, Heartsent, to find out when my next I-171H update is due and it's coming up in June or July. I've already had my free update so I'll be writing more checks this time. It also means a bunch of paperwork and an updated homestudy. I'm excited about the home study because my social worker, who I like, will get to see my new house for the first time. By then the yard will be like paradise in the middle of summer.

Speaking of my house, I've been weeding and weeding in the back yard. We've had so much rain that the weeds grew faster than I could get them out between storms. I've had some help with the weeding in the form of my new daycare assistant(s), but it's still taking many, many hours.

Last Saturday and Sunday were gorgeous and it's continued into this week. I got on my trampoline Saturday and again today. It felt sooooo good. I'm not attending my gymnastics class this month due to budget conservation so the exercise was very welcome. After 20 minutes of jumping and flipping tonight, I got on my Urban Rebounder and did a 40 minute aerobic/endurance workout. Then I ate - a lot!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wo Ai Ni Mommy Premiere

I had the privilege of attending the premier of Wo Ai Ni Mommy today, shown as part of the 28th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Also present, was the director, Stephanie Wang-Breal and Donna Sadowsky, the adoptive mom, both of whom took a Q&A session at the end of the film.

There will be spoilers in what I write so if you don't want to know, stop reading.

First, before I go into the film itself, I have to tell you what Donna's very first words were when asked if she had any comments when she was introduced. It's important to know that she and her husband, Jeff, had two biological sons and one daughter adopted from China before adopting Faith. She said that she and her husband took a very long time to decide whether or not to participate in this documentary. They were very concerned how Faith would feel about having a camera around for so much of the time and even later, once she understood what it meant, how she'd feel about her life being made public. They finally decided that it was for the greater good of all the older waiting children that this film be made, hoping that if it convinced even one family to adopt an older child, it would be worth it. There was also the strictest condition that if, at any time, Faith didn't want it or seem uncomfortable with it, then the camera would leave. There are parts in the film where it seems that Faith is conscious of the camera, but in retrospect, it's also more likely that she was appealing to Stephanie, behind the camera, to convey her thoughts and feelings to Donna even when Faith herself could not articulate them.

Second, the reason that Stephanie, the director, chose this family after interviewing over a hundred families was that they felt an instant relationship and it was extremely important for her that the child be old enough to be able to tell her side of the story as it unfolded.

Third, Donna travelled without her husband to China to get Faith because their youngest daughter wouldn't understand the special attention Faith needed and they didn't want anything to detract from what Faith needed.

Fourth, Stephanie travelled with Donna and was the only person involved in China with making the documentary. Meaning, she held the camera and there was no other crew present at all during this time.

And, fifth, the advantage of this arrangement meant that Stephanie was able to be a translator for Faith and Donna because Stephanie is Chinese and fluent in Mandarin.

At the time of finding, Faith was estimated to be 2 years old. Donna thinks she was a little older than that. At the time of adoption, Faith was 8 years old. Faith has a special need. She had one club foot, surgically corrected (to a degree) in China and "drop-wrists." She had been in foster care until just before her adoption when she went to the orphanage again for a short period of time.

The orphanage staff member who escorted Faith on adoption day was VERY patient and understanding. They all sat together for a very long time and only when Faith seemed comfortable and willing, did anyone leave. Faith was smiling as they left the Civil Affairs Office.

At the hotel, Donna had flash cards of pictures of things like, pizza, milk, etc... and during the course of their stay, she encouraged Faith to repeat the English words. At one point, it seemed that Donna was forcing Faith too hard to keep doing this and Faith kept saying how hard it was and that she wanted to play. Faith seemed despondent. This was the only time in the film that I felt uncomfortable with Donna's actions. However, as I got to "know" Faith throughout the rest of the film, it is clear that she is a very bright and VERY dramatic girl who is definitely as sassy and defiant as any 8 yr. old can be.

During the Q&A session, Donna was asked how she felt when she saw herself in the film when it was completed and her first reaction was, "Oh, my gosh, I'm a bitch." Of course, she realizes that she had to be firm to prove to Faith that she was setting limits out of love, but that most of all, she knew that in order to survive, Faith not only needed to learn English as soon as possible, but have the DESIRE to learn. She mentioned that she and Jeff had considered hiring a translator but realized it would only serve as a crutch and prevent Faith from learning and when she got to know Faith, she knew she'd made the best decision in this matter.

In another scene, Faith is acting out in response to going to school. She wouldn't bring her books in. She later told her mom that she couldn't carry them due to her disability. Donna felt terrible and apologized in the film, but told us at the premier that she'd been suckered and that Faith was perfectly capable of carrying her books.

The film portrays the gamut of emotions that Faith went through and all of us in the audience laughed and cried and held out breaths as we watched.

The one thing that impressed me the most about Faith's adoption experience was the fact that she was able to have lunch with her foster family at the hotel and keep in touch with them via phone, email and a Skype-like system. It was very positive and really helped Faith's transition. In fact, Faith's foster sister's adoption paperwork was being prepared during the documentary. I'm sorry I didn't remember to ask Donna if she knew what the status was on that. I know that they planned to keep in touch and, if possible, find out where she's adopted to and see if the girls can meet.

Faith could speak Cantonese and Mandarin at the time of her adoption but within a year, lost most of it, despite being in 3 hrs. of Chinese school per week. Donna plans to hire a tutor for both girls (Faith's sister is also in Chinese school) so they have more exposure to using the languages and retaining them. Donna and Stephanie both feel that the language skills are still deep in Faith but that she's chosen to neglect them in order to be American. This is an apparently common occurrence with immigrant children within their biological families, too.

It was extremely interesting to me to learn what Faith believed about the racial differences and how she handled them. She didn't understand why a caucasian woman would want a Chinese daughter. It helped a lot that Donna already had one daughter from China. At one point, Donna and Jeff did consult an adoption psychologist to help them understand better what Faith was going through concerning this. Adoptive parents may be astonished at what Faith thought about this and how verbal she was in expressing it.

I am very glad that I had the chance to see this film and be a part of the premier and meet Stephanie and Donna and hear their experiences first-hand. I'm grateful for the emotions I experienced while watching it because I feel it will better prepare me for the day when I meet my own daughter and give me a greater understanding for what she will go through. I believe this film should be on the must-see list for any adoptive parents, especially those adopting an older child, but even those adopting infants because their children will one day be old enough to have many of the same issues that Faith and her parents did.

Wo Ai Ni Mommy is a film that can be very beneficial to adopted children, too, as it may bring up many topics of discussion that they might hesitate to bring up on their own. Of course, I strongly advise parents to view it first and decide on the appropriateness for their own children since each child and family is unique.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fashion Friday #19

I've been getting to the baby resale store and Gymboree more often now that the weather is better. It's where I get to think exclusively of Apple and add things to what I now call the Apple Barrel.

Hanna Andersson Jacket (used, but you can't tell)

Gymboree (new, size 3, outfit to honor Pooch & her sister Darling)

Gymboree (used)

Children's Place (used)

First Disney (used)

Shoes (used), Socks and Hair Things Gymboree (new)

Hanna Andersson Dress/Leggings (used), Shoes Gymboree (new)

There is a story behind all the new Gymboree stuff. I've been avoiding the store to save money; don't look, don't buy theory. I finally had to go in and when I did I found the above accessories on sale and the red shoes in the picture with the red Hanna Andersson play dress. They were normally $24.95 and were marked down to $14.99 so I bought a size 9 and figured Apple will be sure to wear them at some point. I passed on the kitty outfit at this time. When I got home, I found my 20% off coupon so the next weekend I brought back my receipt and they took off the 20% plus the discount on all the items since they'd been marked down further during the week. This meant I could get the kitty outfit, which added only $5.50. The shoes were now $9.99 and the 20% off brought them down to $7.99. I found the red Hanna Andersson dress set the next week so I wanted another pair of the red shoes in a smaller size to go with it so I went back a third time to Gymboree. Now the shoes were marked down to $6.99. Luckily, I had the shoes and the receipt with me so they gave me the mark down and I bought two other pair in different sizes!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Cat Pooch Just Died

For about three weeks she's been declining rapidly due to kidney failure. Tonight at about 1:45am she died here at home. I didn't realize she was so close and I gave her a few bites of food and she made a little meow so I stopped and when I picked her up and carried her out of the kitchen, something happened that looked like a stroke. For several minutes she took a few breaths and then she finally passed away in my arms.

Yesterday, she was manic, pacing and meowing/howling loudly all day. She wanted to go outside and she's never been outside. I know she had the instinct to go off and die alone and away from home. I did let her out and she walked all the way across the yard directly to the spot where I'd planned to bury her. I was astonished! The above picture was taken yesterday; Pooch's first and only time in the backyard and outdoors.

I'll miss her a LOT! She was always a very happy cat and very, very loving. She's the one who chose to keep Velvet and Sam. Because she howled for them. But I will remember her most for how happy she was. At least she's with her sister, Darling, now.

It's already strange to think that I don't have 10 cats any more. I've had her for almost 17 years!