SugarHouse Mama

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More Pics Around Luckyhill

I don't have much time today, but here are a whole bunch of pics. These were snapped throughout my stay at Luckyhill...


Friday, November 21, 2008

Adjoabruni

Kathy invited Adjoa and I to come stay the night at their place in Accra.

Real {meaning, not dirt} floors?
Hot water?
An actual mattress?
American-style food?
AIR CONDITIONING?

I had to think about it for, like, one second.

Adjoa and Esther had so much fun playing together. They were a riot. I just wish I had taken a picture or video of them. It's hard to leave your camera out - or even have it handy - when you've got two little kids who are in the mood to play with EVERYTHING.

The next morning, Esther was still sleeping while Adjoa and I were eating breakfast. She started sing-songing I See The Moon it was so cute. I rushed to dig my camera out of my bag to take a video of her.

video

I'm so happy to finally get her cute little voice on camera! Every time she was playing or saying something before, she would stop when I pulled out the camera.

When we were driving back to the school with Kingsley, Adjoa was telling him "I am Abruni, now!" and she held out her little hand to show him her skin. {Abruni is what Ghanaians call white people}.

She said "I went to Abruni house and ate Abruni food and drank Abruni tea (really, it was super-watered-down mango juice in a sippy cup) so now I am Abruni."

She insisted he call her Adjoabruni - white lady Adjoa.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quick Pics of Adjoa

Adjoa was so cute when I finally got to see her Tuesday night! {Her auntie had come to take her so they could have some pictures taken with her - they wanted to always remember her - so cute! They really love her a lot}

It was pretty late, for her, when Kingsley was able to go pick her up from her Auntie's. She was so happy to see me - even though she had clearly been asleep. She wanted me to hold her and kept turning to look up at me and smile. She played with my hands, tracing her little fingers over mine. I LOVED IT! After a little while, she snuggled up on my lap and fell asleep.


Anyway, Here are a few shots I took really quickly this morning. She was eating {or, as they say, taking} her breakfast.


Eagerly waiting to be dished up.

I know what you are thinking: Nice shirt, Jessica. Her auntie {or was it her uncle?} bought it for her!

Yummy! And yes, those are bread crumbs on her head. They are a really bugger to get out, too. Her shaved head is like Velcro - it attracts everything and it's hard to dig out little bits of....whatever.



I think she's getting tired of me taking so many pictures. It's not my fault. She wasn't exactly cooperating!


And last, but not least, here's a video. Lol. I guess I did go a little overboard, huh? I claim the mommy-eagerness of not having seen your child for 2 months.



video

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Progress at Luckyhill

There has been much building here at Luckyhill since Robert, Lois, and I were here in September. {Wow. It doesn't take me long to slip back into Ghana-speak}
Here are some pictures of the new building {and some of the roofing and other finishing work that Kingsley has been working on}


New road sign. Oh. Yeah, Social Welfare suggested that the school and the orphanage have different names. So the school is now called King's International School and Luckyhill is the name of the orphanage.

Second Story being added to the older rooms. The kitchen and library are off to the right, and the new building is to the left.

Second story addition and the new building. This is so you can get a feel for the layout. I took three pictures panorama-style.

Here is the new building. The home where Kingsley's family and some of the orphans live is visible behind the school.

Kitchen and library. The kitchen is to the left. You can see that a roof is finally being installed.

This is the passage way down to the main school area. The middle and upper classes are held in the main school area by the kitchen. The home is behind me.

Here is another view of the new building, from the other side. The family home is to the left.

The family home to the left, the new building straight ahead, and the rooms for the junior classes are to the right. One of the rooms in the building to the right is where the older boys sleep.

New doors on the junior classrooms. One room is for the older boys to sleep in.
So that's the tour for today. I will post some pics of the children....and Adjoa shortly.

Update from Ghana

You know things are going...slowly, if not well, when i have time to post. ok, so compared to our last trip I define "well" as me not having to run all over the country collecting paperwork for the people we hired to process the adoption (social welfare officer, attorney, etc.)

I successfully met up with Ben Westerby on the flight to Ghana, and we successfully procured a center row each! I made the mistake {again} of taking the malaria meds on an empty stomach {I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you are better off NOT taking your meds if you can't eat anything when you take them - unless of course, you want long, sleepless, bathroom-frequent, hours a head of you}

After I quizzed Ben on the I-600 process {Ginny, he passed with flying colors! Your super-organized binder really helped him, I think}. I stretched out across my three seats and slept - for about an hour and a half, and then couldn't sleep for the rest of the flight.

Adjoa's uncle and auntie were told I was coming and hoping to take her home, so they came to the school Monday to spend some time with her. They wanted to take some pictures with her so they would always be able to remember her. Cute, huh? I am so glad I will be able to tell her about the people who loved her very much in Ghana.

Funny side note: I guess her auntie was disciplining her for something and Adjoa said "I will go! I will go with my mama and eat fried rice!" Lol. at least she dishes it out to others too - not just me!

Anyway, I finally got to see my baby yesterday. She was so happy to see me! She started yelling excitedly for me in the car when she saw me. She would not leave my side at all that first night. It certainly made me feel good!

Staying with Kingsley's family has done wonders for her. She is not nearly as stubborn and she doesn't cry and throw a fit at all. She is minding really well. I sure hope it lasts! Otherwise I might need to hire Gloria ;) Gloria keeps telling me she is an orphan too - an old orphan, but still an orphan. She said I should find someone to adopt an old orphan, because she won't be much trouble! She cracks me up. I sure missed spending time with her.

I haven't really taken many pictures yet. That's really bad, I know. And it's going to make some adoptive parents really mad, but their children simply haven't been at the school. In fact, the only children I have seen so far are Saviour and Godfrid. :( I'm a little disappointed. Oh well.

So on to business. I filed the I-600 with Kingsley and the Westerby's Monday. We ran into a couple other families from Beacon House at the Embassy. It was really funny because I recognized one woman from her blog. Lol. There's nothing like asking someone if they are so-and-so.blogspot.com I didn't want to embarrass her with the details of her life that I knew {Happy Anniversary, by the way!} so I let a lot of things go that I wanted to comment on...

Anyway, they had some really helpful tips for us....AND this will kill Shelley, but all they did was ask for our copies. They didn't really check anything and they certainly didn't ask any questions. It was just like when we filed our I-600A in the States. Simple. Easy. About time!

Frustratingly, the passport still isn't ready. Kingsley got upset with the man who was supposed to process it in September. He withdrew the application and submitted it with another person who has promised it will be done in 2 weeks.

Kingsley wanted me to stay, but that is pretty much impossible. Our hope is that the I-600 gets processed quickly and the passport comes in so she is ready to go home with another family travelling. We'll see.

I'm terribly sad about it, but not surprised. It would have taken the never-done-before type of impossible to bring her home this trip. But that doesn't mean my mother-heart wasn't hoping for it nonetheless.

So that is the update. I will try to get back, but I probably will have no other news that what I have written today....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

That's Right - GHANA!

Ok. I know that post will cause a rush of comments and questions, so I better address them now. {I post-dated my post. Tech-y, huh?}

I flew to Ghana to file our I-600 with the US Embassy. Our hope-beyond-hope is that I will be able to return with Adjoa, but that will take a miracle.

So I'm counting on all of you to pray and pray hard.

Not meaning to be melodramatic or anything, but if she doesn't come home with me, I honestly don't know when she will be able to come home. She would be ready in a matter of days if it doesn't happen while I'm here, but that certainly doesn't mean we can afford another ticket - especially short notice, during the holiday season. {Not to mention that both Robert and I have completely exhausted the time-away-from-work our employers are willing to give.}

Of course, we have complete faith that God will provide a way, even if....

But I'm trying to stay positive. trusting, and hopeful. So let's just pray that it all works out and I can bring our daughter home.

I'll do my best to keep you updated while I'm here.

Anyway, big prayers and best of luck to us!

Guess Where I Am Today...


Things like this prompt my mom to call and tell me she thinks I'm weird.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jane Austen and Baseball

So this AWESOME clip was on The Colbert Report {last night? I'm not really sure. I TiVoed it and watched it today}.

If my world and Robert's world collided it would be this. {ummm, technically that is exactly what happened when we got married, so I guess it's fair to say this is an accurate picture of our world}.



Gotta love Stephen T. Colbert! There's a reason he's one of my TiVo addictions!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We Could Call Jessica Jess and Robert Rob

Kids. Are. Awesome.

So over Halloween we had a little get together with Robert's family. {Ok, so a get together with Robert's family is anything BUT little} Nana turned 100 so we had a big family reunion and a party.

Maddy, our neice, and I are pretty tight. Robert lived with them while we were dating so I saw her often. Plus she was about 2 when we met, and you all know the magic I can work on 2 year-olds. Anyway, she used to always beg and beg and beg to come to our house.

During the weekend I asked her if she wanted to come to Utah to see us. She totally freaked out and said she didn't want to live with us. Mom-Amber and I thought maybe the adoption stuff was confusing her a bit. You know, Robert and I just find a kid and are going to take her home to live with us and be our daughter....

That's the backstory.

Amber sent me an email tonight that was pretty awesome. It restored my faith:

So Brandon tells me he wants a knew mom. Nothing surprises me with him. He is always saying new things to see what kind of reaction he will get. So I asked who he would choose for a new mom.

Brandon: Hmmmmmm.....
Maddy: How about Jessica?
Brandon:
Yeah Jessica!
Maddy decides that is a good idea for the both of them.
Me: What kind of fun things would you guys do with Jessica?
Maddy: Wrestle Robert?
Brandon: Robert hurt my arm! And he bent it like this. (Hand goes limp)
Maddy: Hey we could call Jessica Jess and Robert Rob.
Brandon:
Yeah Rob.
Maddy: Rob sounds like robber even though I know he really isn't a robber. {Maybe she should talk to Nana about that. Nana told me Robert stole her curlers.}
Me: So what else would you do?
Brandon:
Piggy back rides on Jess.
Maddy:
Play on the computer.
A few minutes later Maddy opens up her pea pod.
Maddy: Well well what do we have here? Jessica and Robert, Jessica and Robert.
I guess she was naming the peas in the pod after the both of you.
Maddy: Here Brandon I eat Robert and you eat Jessica.

I haven't lost all my charm for Maddy and I've gained ground with Brandon. Life couldn't get much better. Except maybe if it didn't end with a pea being named after me and then promptly eaten.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

So we just had book group. This month we read The Picture of Dorian Gray. Another Halloween book. I'm pretty sure I read this in one of my college classes, but I just couldn't be sure. Either that or I've heard all about it in detail.... I usually remember what I've read though.

I suppose a very real answer to the mystery would be if I was supposed to read it for a college class, but didn't. That would actually explain A LOT.

Anyway, I found this pic of the original Dorian Gray publication in Lippincott's magazine. Fun, huh?

Ok, on to the book. It was really fun discussing this in book group. We talked a little about the book, but the main focus of the conversation quickly became The Aesthetic. We talked about Wilde's ideology that the truest, best art happens when the creator/artist completely removes himself from the work. We spoke about whether or not art reflects the artist or the viewer. It was really interesting and really fun. {Ok. That statement right there proves I'm nerdy. I know I've been hiding it from you, but in case you hadn't discovered it yet, there it is. Unequivocal proof} Of course {with literature especially} it is nearly impossible to think that the author can write and completely remove himself from the work. But I guess that's the ideal, and everyone fits somewhere on the line.

I love Wilde's statement that there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. There is only good writing and bad writing.

I wish more people would judge what they read on whether or not it was well written. {But I guess you have to read it in order to determine if it's well written.....} At the very least, base recommendation of a book, and how you judge it's merits, on how it was written. I'm not saying that's all that is important, but it certainly should be weighed more heavily than it apparently is in today's literary world.

Anyway, we spoke about how the book is extremely moral in nature, even though it deals with immoral characters; we debated who was the most evil character; and we talked about how one sells one's soul. Is it sold in a single moment? Typically not. Rather, it seems souls are sold off little bit by little bit in the daily choices we make.

Nearly every day comes with at least one choice in which your soul is up for barter. Sadly, all too often, it's a teenie-tiny bit of soul - so small that most people don't notice. And then, one day, there isn't much soul left....

Man. That is why I love reading good books. It's so fun to discover those lessons. And I would argue, it adds to the fun when you can discuss them and uncover them further with other people. That's how I ended up with a Major and some grad work in British Literature. I was having fun and the university said "Here you go. It's a degree. Thanks for coming and playing."

Anyway, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a fun book - not for everyone - but fun none the less. Just remember that it's truly is quite moral in the end.

Oh, and if that weren't enough to prompt you to read it, Colin Firth and 'Prince Caspian' {the really super good-looking one from the recent Narnia movie} are in a movie version, Dorian Gray that is slated for release in November 2009. Of course, so far, it's coming out in the UK. We'll cross our fingers that it is released in the US too....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

So it's been two years, folks! YEAH! In a lot of ways it feels like Robert has been a part of my life forever... I know that sounds bad, generally, to say it feels longer than 2 years, but I mean it in the best way.

Robert is such a huge part of my life and who I am that I cannot imagine what my life would be like without him. And I can't really remember what it was before him. He encompasses all the good and all the joy in my life; so every good thing and every joyful moment in my life before him still feels like he was part of it.

I love you!



Here we are, newly married... good times.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I read Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood as one of my Halloween books. I had heard some good things about it so I decided, what the heck, it fits the bill for a Halloween book well enough.

I really liked Atwood's character treatment of Grace. Grace had wonderful depth - your opinion of her innocence changed constantly throughout the novel. Just as it would, I suppose, if you really interacted with her.

The doctor's character was really boring for me. I found myself skimming through the details of his life. He seemed, to me, to be a weak person who simply allows life to happen instead of taking action. Of course, I suppose the same could be argued about Grace.... Somehow, though, it felt different. Most likely because he was educated, and basically a man of means. It's the makings for a good discussion, though: How much of life is destined - What can we actually control in life - To what degree do we allow events to define the course of our life?

While the writing was captivating (Atwood has a simple, direct way of making ambiguous feelings startlingly and almost painfully clear) the ending felt contrived and a little clumsy.

There's no real neat-and-tidy, did-she-or-didn't-she ending to the story. But I suppose the novel isn't about the plot, anyway. How can it be when it's based on a famous story that many people are familiar with? There is a certain unnerving, lovely, freedom in being able to make up your own mind as the reader. There is an unbalanced power in it that is rare and delicious.

My problem is that Atwood seems to lean a little heavily to one side, but still refrains from making a definitive choice. I don't know if I dare commit myself to this, but I think it would be better for the author to completely disguise his/her opinions if the intent is to leave it open for the reader to decide. I'll have to ponder that one.

Anyway, it was a good read, I enjoyed the writing, and there are a few fun plot twists. Just don't read it expecting some answer to whether or not Grace is innocent....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Plum Galette

This is a Martha recipe. I changed it a bit, though. Instead of making Pate Brisee I just used Pepperidge Farm's frozen Puff Pastry sheets. You need 1 box (2 sheets). Let them thaw according to package directions. Unfold the sheets and use the whole square - you could cut it up into individual pastries, but I like making one big treat :)

Plum Galette
makes 2 large pastries


  • 1 box (2 sheets) Pepperidge Farm's frozen Puff Pastry
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped or ground toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 5) plums, sliced into 1/2-inch-think wedges
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water, lightly beaten, for egg wash
  • 1/2 cup plum or red-currant jam
Directions:

Thaw frozen puff pastry according to directions. Preheat oven to 400*.

Unroll thawed puff pastry sheet on parchment-lined baking sheet. (You might be able to fit both pastries on 1 baking sheet if it's a large one, I had to use 2 baking sheets).

In a small bowl, combine flour, hazelnuts, brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt; divide in half and spread to cover the middle of each pastry sheet, leaving a 1-inch border all around.

Arrange plums in rows on top, slightly overlapping the slices and alternating direction of each row. (you should be able to get about 3 rows). Sprinkle plums with granulated sugar. Fold edges up to enclose plums (I don't know how else to say this - you make a baking dish out of the pastry for the plums...does that makes sense?); brush dough with egg wash.

Chill 30 minutes in refrigerator.

Bake 10 minutes, rotate baking sheet to ensure even cooking. Bake another 10 minutes. Check it often and watch it carefully. Bake until pastry is golden brown and plums are softened. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool to room temperature.

Heat jam in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until melted. Brush evenly over plum slices (I also like to drizzle it over the crust). Serve up the yumminess.


Robert isn't a big fan of plums, but he likes this pastry. His recommendation is to try it with strawberries. I think making it with pears or a mixed berry would be yummy. Of course, with the mixed berries you probably wouldn't need to drizzle it with jam....

Let me know if you give it a try, or if you change up the filling.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shabby Vignettes

So one of my favorite stores {Shabby Apple} is having a fun little contest.

They put together vignettes on their website. You know, to help get women in the mood to buy more than just a dress ;) Shabby is asking customers to put together favorite outfits from their line, name the vignette and submit it to their blog.

I got myself in inspiration mode and put together the following 2 outfits.

BootLegHer {get it? jab, jab.} I love to hoard a bunch of stuff in my purse. And for that reason I require a fashionable tote. None of those tiny clutches for me. My title for this vignette starts at the bottom and works it's way up and is inspired by the trendy and stylish booties. Is that a super foxy boot I see? Oh wait, now there is super foxy leg...and then...super foxy HER!




Sand and Sea Again. The tote. It's much easier to transition between purses when you can just dump ;) I believe this ensemble was inspired by our recent trip to San Diego. Southern California in the fall? Practically as gorgeous as this vignette.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Blunt Triangles

I've started gearing up for Adjoa. You know, TiVoing kid's shows and stuff.

Besides Dora the Explorer, who has single handedly taken on Oprah and Madonna {and given them a run for their money, no doubt}, I didn't really know what kid's shows were out there.

So I asked my mom. {Never mind the fact that she has been out of the kid scene as long as I have, she is still my mom and is therefore far more knowledgeable than me}

All my mom had to offer was that I really liked Sesame Street when I was little. {Thanks, mom} I started recording it anyway. I've heard some pretty hyped-up talk about Elmo from the 3 year-olds at church lately.

I only wish I'd seen this before our trip to San Diego.

{No. Adjoa has not joined us yet. Yes. That means I have been watching kids shows without a child in the house...I figured I needed to screen them. Yeah, that's it. Screen them. I'm taking preventative measures. I really don't want to inadvertently hook my child on some TV show that I find annoying...or worse. "I'm a map! I'm a map! I'm a map! I'm a map! I'm a MAP!" is already a level orange threat. That's what I told myself, anyway, as I plopped on the couch and selected the next Sesame Street episode saved on the TiVo}

Anyway. San Diego. Somehow I get the feeling Andi, Sarah, and Jonathan would have gotten a kick out of this song....

I love Sesame Street all over again already.