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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Snapshot {Our Red Thread}

If you keep up with my blog, you'll have read about the W. Family. You know - the other family who was matched at the *same* time we were with a baby girl at the *same* orphanage as Sunshine who has the *same* un-repaired CL/CP. And oh yeah, they almost share the *same* birthday too - off by only one day. In fact, today Sunshine is 10 months old and Miss E.turned 10 Months old yesterday. I pray that next month is the *last* month we have to celebrate without our girls. Just one more month. I pray.

The W. Family happen to live close enough to drive for visits. I love how God has brought our families together - way too many coincidences to be a coincidence - no doubt God's hands weaved this together :-) I cherish the bond that our little Fu sisters will have for life. A link to their past forever and a million memories for the future. A lifelong friendship with another family so similar to us in *a lot* of ways (really, quite scary how similar!!).

So the W. Family came for a visit yesterday - we had been planning this visit for over a month I think! Although we met at the CNY luncheon held by our agency, it was difficult to talk and hang out much - so we were all so excited for the opportunity to get together for an entire day! The kids played and played and played - amazingly enough there was no fighting and they all got along as if they had been friends forever - such kindred spirits in so many ways. And the adults did lots of talking ... lots of talking ... about our girls, about God and about life. A perfect day in my opinion. I think all of the food was definitely a highlight too ... Angie makes an amazing lasagna and the S'mores were totally gooey and yummy.

And of course, we couldn't get our families together without a few photos. I was really looking for something that I could frame to put on the piano. I mean, not that we need to be reminded of this beautiful family, but I wanted this memory to be a part of our family history, hung proudly in our home.

I think we got a few really sweet shots - my Dad so graciously agreed to come over and be "photographer." After I got everyone situated and was pretty sure we got a formal shot with everyone looking at the camera, I told the kids to tickle the mommies and daddies. LOL. Uh, I think they had a good time. Hmm, I think the mommies and daddies had a good time too. Bless my Dad for keeping the camera going - he gave me lots of good stuff to work with.

I just can't wait for the day when Sunshine and Miss E. are actually *IN* these photos in person, not just as tiny referral pictures. Oh one day soon - I can feel her in my arms! We are SO stinkin' close! We received our I-800 provisional approval and are currently waiting on cabling, Article 5 approval and then Travel Approval! After that, we will schedule our consulate appointment in Guangzhou, make our travel arrangements and GO GET HER!

God Bless our girls - please continue to pray for their safety and health. I was able to confirm that Sunshine is in foster care with Ann at Red Thread ... please pray that someone is loving her and taking good care of her until we can bring her home. We thank God every day for the friendship we have in the W. Family ... such a wonderful family so strong in their faith. Just love them. I think the moral support we are both able to give each other is so powerful during this strange time ... waiting to bring our girls home. I love how our family's red thread took a turn that we didn't even know was there. Cool.

This is my first Sunday Snapshot, woohoo! I've been meaning and meaning to join in and I have never gotten to it - but today I did :-) If you want to know what Sunday Snapshot is OR see other Sunday Snapshot blog posts, click on the link below!

Ni Hao Yall

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ready for warmer days!

He had a lot of fun making quite a big mess this morning! Nothing a vacuum can't fix :-)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We will serve the Lord

I completely misunderstood the parent invitation to chapel today ... I *thought* Angel's class was just singing a song. I was totally wrong - the Kindergarten class was actually *leading* chapel at school today. Whoops. No camera. Darn it. Really annoying. When in a pickle though, I can always pull out my handy dandy iPhone. It's not terrible considering the lighting in the church is less than desirable.

And at least I was able to video their performances as well ... the iPhone kinda rocks :-) The video below is Angel's favorite song of the ones they sang - "We Will Serve the Lord." Oh how I love this girl - she loves God and it's amazing to watch the Holy Spirit work in her as her faith grows.

Everyone was asked to stand up so you can't really see *anything* ... but it's her favorite and that's what I want to remember. If you squint your eyes, you may be able to see her - she's dressed as a disciple on the right - wearing a white costume with a red shirt. There is a little girl in green to her left. I love that she can pick up the song in just a few practices AND can do all of the hand motions as well. A little sponge, I tell ya!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Amazing Shrinking Shrinky Dinks!

Our cousins are visiting from out of town this week, what fun! They are staying with us, so we've had lots of time to play. They had never done Shrinky Dinks before, so this visit seemed like the perfect excuse! They were pretty much a huge hit - even 9-year-old B. loved them! The girls had fun adding the Shrinky Dink "charms" to bracelets and Angel especially loved wearing her new jewelry!

Monday, March 14, 2011

American Girl

She will, indeed, soon be an American girl ... as soon as she steps foot on American soil to be exact. So this outfit was made with a ton of love for that. exact. moment. ... when our Sunshine becomes an American. She will already be our daughter but becoming an American is *almost* as exciting I think.

I'm sure you can guess that the stunning dress was made by my mom and the adorable crocheted accessories were made by Mel :-) I am so, so, so happy with this outfit ... I adore it. I will adore it even more when Sunshine is wearing it. But for now, I'll adore it hung up in her room.

An update on our I-800 approval: I am not sure if I shared this before, but Sunshine's name was actually translated incorrectly on our LOA. The Chinese government issued a new, corrected document last week. And thank goodness they did because US Immigration wouldn't approve us until ALL of the names matched up. So after going back and forth with our officer and getting him the corrected document, we are good to go and he said he will finish everything up tomorrow and get our provisional acceptance out! Wahoo! I have to say, I'm super-impressed with how fantastic our officer was - he was so quick to respond to my emails and was even willing to accept a scanned version of the LOA instead of me snail mailing it! A huge shout out to Officer Kirk Giffen - you seriously *rock*!!!!!

This means that we will be moving one step closer to our sweet pea!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Oh yeah, that's right - DH bought Chinese beer the other night. LOL. Who knows if people in China even drink this but it was fun to try it AND it was pretty good!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Children of God

3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
~Ephesians 1: 3-8

This is the official music video by Third Day for this song, "Children of God." I had heard it on the radio but hadn't seen the video. It's really powerful ... illustrating that ALL of us have been adopted into His family ... that none of us are orphans. Although Sunshine may be the only child we are *legally* adopting into our family, we were all adopted into God's family long ago. I urge you to watch the video all the way to the end and then tell me that it didn't at least give you goosebumps!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Best Homemade Pizza, my style

If you know me well, you'll know that one of my favorite things to bake from scratch is pizza. There is nothing like the smell of yeast rising in your house. Mmmmmm, I can just smell the aroma now :-) So for my friends who would like to venture into homemade pizza, this little (ok, extremely long) recipe/tutorial is for YOU! Once you do it, you'll be hooked, I promise!

The Best Homemade Pizza Ever

3 1/2 cups of flour plus extra for rolling out (all-purpose or a combo of all-purpose/whole wheat)
1 cup warm water (95-115 degrees)
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 15 oz. can of pizza sauce (I like Don Pepino)
4 cups part-skim shredded mozzarella
grated parmesan cheese to taste
dried parsley flakes for garnish


Ok, you'll start by proofing your yeast. Pour the 1 cup warm water into a bowl (I used a 2-cup Pampered Chef measuring cup). Stir the 1 tbsp sugar into the water until dissolved. Add the 1 tbsp yeast and stir until mixed into water. (If you are using some whole wheat flour for your dough, you'll want to add more yeast - I use a rounded 1 tbsp.) It's ok if you still have a few clumps but it should be pretty mixed in. As a total sidebar - you can pick up a ridiculously large pack of yeast at BJ's (I'm assuming Costco has this too) for a *very* low price. It is a much better price by FAR over the little packets you get in the grocery store and it lasts forever - just make sure to store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
While the yeast proofs (i.e., sits there and grows), start working on the rest of your dough. Mix 3 1/2 cups of flour and salt together in a food processor. You could also add any extras at this point - garlic, Italian seasoning, etc.
If you would like to make a whole wheat dough like I do, I suggest using a combination of white/wheat flour. An all-wheat flour dough really doesn't taste that great and it's dense and very dry. I use 2 cups white flour, 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour. I love whole wheat everything but trust me - making a 100% whole wheat dough doesn't taste that great.
Next, add the 1/4 extra-virgin olive oil in the food processor.
Mix until the olive oil is well blended into the flour.
The flour should look a little coarse and mealy, like this:
By the time you have finished this, your yeast should be done proofing - this took me a long time to perfect but I am now a yeast-proofing pro :-) Do you see how the yeast has grown and there is a new layer sitting on top of the water? This indicates that your yeast has proofed and you can continue. If your water/yeast/sugar combo does not look like this, something went wrong. Make sure your water was not too hot or too cold - you'll get used to the feel of the correct temperature after awhile and won't need to measure it. Also, make sure the sugar is dissolved in the water - it acts as a catalyst to help the yeast grow.
Next, slowly pour the yeasty water into the food processor and mix with the flour. I typically end up taking the top off the processor to help the dough along several times - sometimes it just gets stuck and needs to get moved around. Your dough should get to a point where it is moving as one big ball around the food processor. If you can't get the dough to clump together like this, add a little more warm water - do this in very small increments so you don't overdue it. (It's highly likely that you will need to add a bit more water if you are using whole wheat flour.) If you do happen to add too much water, just add more flour into the dough to compensate - again, a little at a time. Your dough should be a somewhat sticky consistency, but not so much that it's actually sticking to your hands and not coming off.
When you have the dough to a consistency that you like, pull it out of the processor and kneed it a few times to make sure everything is mixed well. Next, put the dough into a GREASED bowl that's big enough to allow for expansion. (I use extra-virgin olive oil to grease the bowl.) Now it's time for the dough to rise!
I actually have a proofing setting on my oven - all I need to do is set it to "proof" and put the bowl into the oven with a DAMP towel covering it like in the picture below (you obviously need to close the oven door when you are proofing - I left it open for this picture). If you do not have this setting on your oven, there is a simple solution. Fill a tea kettle with water and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Take the top off of the tea kettle spout and put the tea pot into the oven along with the dough. This will create a wet warm-ish environment perfect for the yeast to grow. Let the dough proof for 45-60 minutes - set a timer and go do something else (or take a nap?)!
When it's finished, the dough should have about doubled in size:
Next comes the fun part! Punch the dough down and roll it out onto a floured surface. I use my counter and sprinkle just a tiny bit of flour onto it so the dough won't stick. Roll the dough as flat as you possibly can with your rolling pin - it will rise back up when baking, so you want to start with a flatly-rolled out dough. I'm sorry I don't have pictures of this step - I needed both hands to roll! Next, carefully place the dough onto a pizza stone. I allow a few inches of dough to hang off the pizza stone all the way around - I cut off any extra after that to make cinnamon sticks (Angel loves them!).
I create a crust by folding up the extra couple of inches all the way around the dough. You'll have to fold and pinch the dough to get it to stay put.
Now it's time for the sauce!
Angel helped here:
Spread the sauce out all the way up to the crust. I use the whole can, but do what works best for you. I personally love the Don Pepino sauce (even after growing up on Ragu Pizza Quick!).
Add the cheese next. We like extra-cheesy pizza, so I use all 4 cups of cheese. Not everyone likes this much cheese, so go with what you like best. I sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese for the added flavor and to fill in the holes. Next sprinkle some parsley flakes over the cheese for garnish - I like adding the green color to the pizza.
It's time to bake! Baking time is variable, but start with 25 minutes at 350 degrees and keep the pizza in until the cheese is bubbly. You can see on my oven that it's an hour after I put the dough into proof - for homemade pizza from scratch, it really isn't that time consuming AND I took pictures the whole time! :-)
Once the pizza is finished, let it stand for 5-10 minutes so the cheese doesn't run when you cut it.
Last step - ENJOY! If Lovebug is willing to eat homemade whole wheat pizza, you know it's good ... he doesn't eat anything!
I hope this helps! We love homemade pizza from scratch and it's so fun to do! The yeast can get expensive but if you buy it in bulk, the price is nominal. The pizza ends up being cheaper than delivery AND it's much better for you if you go the whole wheat route. And even if you don't make it with whole wheat, it's really fun for kids to make, so just do it!

Some of these pictures aren't the best technically or artistically - I didn't realize how difficult food photography was let alone trying to take pictures in the process of cooking! :-)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Trike love

Lovebug loves his trike. L-O-V-E-S it. He rides it all over the house and outside. I'll be a little sad when he gets too big for it but at least we get to pass onto another little girl!