Friends sometimes are made at the most unexpected places, in the most unexpected of circumstances. We were fortunate to make such friends with Michele, a few years ago at a fundraising event. Immediately upon meeting Michele, she puts you at ease. It’s a combination of we’ve known each other for years/we have a ton in common/she’s the easiest and most interesting person to have a conversation with/she’s loads of fun/I can’t wait until the next event when I see her again. Which is why having her at our home for Yiyi’s lantern party was so extraordinary. She was a fresh burst of energy, immediately began making friends with party guests (namely Nikki’s mom – seriously, it’s obvious as to how that would happen, isn’t it?!), and shared her love for adoption, as well as resources for visual impairment. You might not know it, but Michele has a significant vision impairment and is thoroughly researched in this area. Yet another blessing for how this sweet woman has touched our lives! Michele, we are so grateful for your friendship and support for our us and our adoption. We look forward to Yiyi having a strong role model with a vision impairment and we couldn’t ask for a better person than you! Thank you!
Brian has had the privilege of working with Tim Sernett at Virtual Bean Counters, Inc. for the past couple of years. Tim has been a great blessing because of the expertise he brings to Brian’s business in the area of bookkeeping and accounting.
Well, after a bit of a false start, “Four Spoons” is finally ready to go for the holiday season
For those of you who don’t know, “Four Spoons” is the cookbook we have prepared as part of our fundraising efforts to bring Yiyi home. It is a collection of recipes from the four cultures that will make up our daughter’s heritage–Chinese (Yiyi,) Mexican (Nikki,) Italian (Nikki,) and Mennonite (Brian.)
We have gathered 40 recipes from family and friends, and have asked everyone who contributed to send us the story behind the recipe they submitted. Every recipe has a story. 😉
We hope Yiyi will value this book not only as a go-to guide for delicious ethnic meals, but also as a symbol of everyone who is part of HER story.
All profits from the sale of “Four Spoons” go directly to Yiyi’s adoption fund. Order your copy for the holidays today! 🙂
PLEASE NOTE: This is the revised version of “Four Spoons,” with proper attribution for photographers Angela Kaplan and Doug Hesse. You are both amazing artists. Thank you so much! We deeply apologize for the oversight on the first version.
Original Post from 11-13-13: Whomever “they” are say that cooking is the thing that binds families together. Cooking together is a time that people can be together, sometimes talking, sometimes not. Sometimes seeing, sometimes not needing to see. Cooking teaches us to learn from one another. It teaches us how to use our senses in different ways. Often times accurately measuring an herb or spice isn’t as important as feeling the amount that needs to go in, smelling that it’s on the right track, and then tasting it to see that it’s just right.
In adopting a 10-year-old who comes from a very rich food culture, cooking is going to be a staple in the Pauls family. If you need to find us on Saturday nights, post-adoption, I can guarantee you that we’ll be at home (with a musical CD on) and all three of us packed into our tiny kitchen, cooking together. We plan to learn a lot about cooking from this little girl. We’re looking forward to never eating overcooked noodles again. We’re looking forward to eating the stickiest of the sticky rice (as many of you know, my saying all through college was “rice is nature’s candy”). We’re excited about steaming dumplings, eating delicious soups with veggies cooked to sweet perfection, and perhaps even going out on a limb or two at the Asian market with chicken feet or other delicacies that our baby wants to eat to make her feel more at home. I’m not saying I’m excited, but I’m open to it!
And we’ll teach her the stories of our families. We’ll show her how to love the sweet fried doughy goodness of her Mennonite heritage with New Years Cookies. We’ll teach her how to throw the kitchen sink in with some avocados to make a flavorful guacamole. We’ll read her stories of her cousins overnight foibles at grandmas house, getting her excited for her first big Italian wedding (don’t let me down Bill and Erin!), and stories of pies made by great-grandmothers she will never know.
This is Four Spoons. A collection of 40 recipes from Yiyi’s family and heritage. All Chinese, Italian, Mennonite, and Mexican Yiyi, the girl who once thought her culture was one, but soon will be four. We put this cookbook together for our girl and now are sharing it with our friends and family members who want to donate to be part of Yiyi’s story. This cookbook has 40 contributions from friends and family as they share stories and recipes that are important to them, that shaped them, and that take them right back to their grandma’s table. Trust me, its good stuff! Often times the recipes are true gems, and sometimes the stories are just the best. At any rate, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed and will have a ball with this cookbook full of love and emotion.
This cookbook was compiled with love by our dear friend Heather and is filled with professional photographs from sweet friends Maggie and Amy. It’s pretty quality! Consider giving one to a loved one for the holidays or just keeping it for yourself.
“To try your hand at doing something new is to find out a few new things about yourself, too. Which is yet another good reason for coming into the kitchen.”
~ Michael Pollan, Cooked
If you’d like to help out with Yiyi’s adoption, you can order your copy of Four Spoons starting today! All profits go to Yiyi’s adoption fund.
Please note that unlike donations to our adoption agency through Pure Charity, purchases of Four Spoons are not tax deductible.
Oh, Norma! What to say about Norma? She’s a hoot. Everyone who knows her absolutely loves her. She’s fun and funny and loves to laugh. Nothing gives her greater joy than feeding her family and sending us away with leftovers. Nothing. Except perhaps her taking claim to Brian and I getting married, as you will see on this video.
Perhaps the most fun difference between domestic and international adoption is the crazy amount of fun, government issued, paperwork. The really neat thing is that internationally adoptive families get to sit and wait on very official paperwork from not one, but TWO governments, as they are journeying through the process! And it all comes through the regular, old, USPS, so even more time is spent in the transit. All of these documents have very important numbers and acronyms attached to them. It is very official. Let me introduce you to our LOA (aka. Letter of Acceptance).
This is the official document from China that states we’re a-ok people and we are all officially approved by the CCCWA (aka. China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption) to adopt Yan Yiyi. This is a piece of paper that can take anywhere from 30 days to 4 months to obtain. We got ours in 30 days! Awesome! So now that China’s all set for us to adopt this little girl, now our USCIS (aka. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) needs to step in and tell us that they have looked at both Yiyi’s file, and ours, and all seems to be cohesive, so they are going to do a merging of the files. That produces this beauty…the I-800.
In all her beauty, the I-800 has proceeded the I-800A, which has resulted in the I-797, which was our pre-approval to bring an immigrant into the country for the purpose of adoption. The I-800 states that we are approved to bring Yan Yiyi into our country for adoption, as well as assign her an alien registration number for her impending journey with the Department of Homeland Security, which will allow it to be successful and swift post-adoption. After getting this I-800 approval from the NBC (aka. National Benefits Center), I will be spending the day on the phone today with the NVC (aka. Nation Visa Center) to see if I can get the next document we need in PDF form, rather than paper. Now, I know all you naysayers out there are thinking “But, no, Nikki, you can’t do that! How will the fancy paper companies continue to survive if not for these very official government-issued documents?!” I know, I know, I shouldn’t side-step the process and ruin this finely interwoven relationship between the paper companies and the governments (foreign and domestic) but we really can save ourselves a good two to four weeks in the process if we dabble in an electronic form, so I’m going to take the risk. My apologies to Dunder-Mifflin.
After this, we basically have just one more thing we need before we can once again show the CCCWA that we’re all official and request that they approve our travel.
We’re asking Santa for TA (aka. Travel Approval) for Christmas this year. We’ve been pretty good, Mr. Claus! And we’re hoping you understand these very fancy and official acronyms and approvals needed for an adoption from China (and are not also in cahoots with the paper companies who will take offense that we’re taking the next leg of the journey electronically).