Are You Tired Too?

Since the election I have felt at a loss for words. Despite what you may see or read from any of my social media or even in person, I have felt a loss of words…a loss of energy…a dimming of…something…which has impeded my ability to emote in the ways which typically come easier to me. The 2016 election, the new presidency, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, PULSE, and now this…Charlottesville…high profile snapshots indicating and peeling back just the thin skim of the broader festering in our American values. And unfortunately those examples are only a sampling of what has come (will come) so far.

So I’ve retreated. Or it feels that I’ve retreated. To try and regroup, re-center, orientate anew in this season unknown.
*
We recently had the pleasure of visiting family in South Dakota and my kids spent their days to the hilt with their cousins; their differences and similarities quite obvious, sometimes comically so to their parents. We were there for a week and pictures were taken, the obligatory cousin picture of course taken a few million times to get at least five out of six of the cousins present looking somewhere near the camera. It’s these cousin pictures that I keep coming back to during and post Charlottesville.

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It’s a picture like this one that I keep returning to, mulling over the faces that I so dearly love and desperately want to protect. These smart, funny, imaginative, and compassionate little people who have little knowledge of what’s “out there.” Hopes and dreams largely untainted (though Nellie now knows she does not indeed have super powers—she’s still holding out for her owl), their aspirations set high bolstered by the love and support received from our family. They are different and unique in the best and most annoying ways that only parents will tolerate.

And when I look at this picture, my heart swells a thousand times over…and breaks in a bittersweet *han that only parents of color will ever fully understand. Because when I look at this beautiful picture of my family I also am reminded in times such as these that the precious people here will not be seen for the family that they are. They will not be treated as the family that they are. They will not experience life for the family that they are. They won’t be treated for their unique preferences or personalities. They won’t be treated for who they are. They’ll be treated for who someone else thinks they are. Who someone else thinks they should be. And for my kids who are both equally parts of their mother and father, who have already felt the stinging smack of racism towards themselves and others…it’s just too much for this parent who has also walked this pot-holed road of race in America. Of race in the Midwest. Of race in small-town, apple-as-pie, nice MN/ND.

It’s too many feels.

And I am tempted to continue retreating. To continue insulating and consciously hedging my life experiences in order to avoid finding myself on the blunt end of those humiliating, demoralizing, and de-basing moments that the out right hateful and the blissfully ignorant would inflict. And truly it’s those blissfully ignorant, willfully ignorant comments that burn the longest. That feel the deepest. And I have the right to retreat, don’t I? To retreat to protect myself and my family?

No.
No, I don’t.

I’m mostly told and sometimes asked over and over that it is my job to educate others. To give them opportunities for learning and growth. …How can I judge them if I’m not willing to speak with them? Teach them? …Be their target? Be their mea culpa? Be their “safe” space? Use my experiences for the greater good they say. And while I try, and I offer myself up for that scrutiny day in and day out in real life conversations, in relationships, in organizations, marches, and through my keyboard…what work is being done by others who do not live this burden? Those who continue to ask me, demand from me “How can I help?” “What can I read to learn?” “I don’t hear about that stuff, how did x, y, and z affect you? (And while you’re at it, convince me to believe differently otherwise it’s your (my) fault for being a reverse-racist, liberal, snowflake-y bitch who thinks they’re better. Because what’s an insult without a little misogyny thrown in?)”

How can I fight this fight for my children who deserve so much more? For my family and other families and a community of beautiful people who deserve so much more?

I am tired.

But I will press on.

I will continue to fight through my loss of words. I will wrestle with my table-turning-in-the-temple anger and wretched despair. I will put up with the lazy questions and some (I’m only human) blatantly ignorant statements and I will continue engaging them in conversation. I will continue to speak and will not retreat.

I will push through this battle because I don’t want Charlottesville to be a legacy for my children to bear. Or yours. I don’t want this hate, this bubbling, festering, virulent wake to pour over. Charlottesville cannot be a rallying call for white supremacists, bigots, and Nazis, to be emboldened in their hate. Take note that it is not a rallying cry for those opposed to the white supremacists agenda either. The rallying call for equity has been ongoing and continuous with each deep, unjust loss felt by the communities delegated to the back of the proverbial bus. But don’t allow being late to the party assuage you of the importance of showing up now. Do not bow out saying that your contribution is so small it wouldn’t matter. Start your work now. If you choose to sit on the sidelines, understand that the movement for equitable treatment will carry on with or without you but that you have then made a conscious decision to be complicit with those who carried out the torch-carrying riots in Charlottesville and their message.

So all of these “no words” to say that–I’m tired. And I don’t always have the right words, hell, most days I don’t even have words. And certainly I don’t always know where to go or even where to start from. But I do know that all people deserve to live in a community in which they have equitable rights, treatment, and opportunity regardless of their skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, or political affiliation. My children believe it. And I will work into the grave so they might be able to live it.

*Han: Han is a difficult concept to describe and the context in which it’s used must be understood in order to really “know” it. I borrow from Wikipedia (yes, I know, I hear the eye rolls) to explain what I can’t but know to be true here: “Han is frequently translated as sorrow, spite, rancor, regret, resentment or grief, among many other attempts to explain a concept that has no English equivalent. Han is an inherent characteristic of the Korean character and as such finds expression, implied or explicit, in nearly every aspect of Korean life and culture.” [Though I believe that han, even without an English equivalent or having Korean ancestry, many people of color or largely marginalized groups will be able to understand in their own unique way.] “Han is sorrow caused by heavy suffering, injustice or persecution, a dull lingering ache in the soul. It is a blend of lifelong sorrow and resentment, neither more powerful than the other. Han is imbued with resignation, bitter acceptance and a grim determination.”

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Wordless Wednesday: Why hello there Blizzard Cooper!

Watching big sister play outside.

Watching big sister play outside.

Enjoying the nice weather.

Enjoying the nice weather.

Revisiting Childhood

I was looking through old photos on our computer, trying to wrap my head around the fact that Ada is going to be five next week and came across a folder full of pictures that she took last summer. Some of them are blurry, over-saturated, movement filled snippets and others are amazingly accurate and clear.

As a parent it’s hard to remember to think about what our kids’ point of view is. Sometimes I forget entirely (<–mother of the year award here!) and find myself grumbling over the next bit of spilt milk here and forget to pay attention to the extraordinary imaginations that my kids are emitting. Carelessly, yes, but at least enthusiastically enjoying themselves and thus being the cause of the spilled milk. I truly couldn’t be more blessed that such a root cause exists. *grumble*grumble*

Anyway, I wanted to share some of these pictures with you. I think it’s interesting (probably only because I’m her mom) to think about what she actually sees and how she sees it throughout her day. Do we really look that blurry? Do we speak in wah-wah tones like all the adults in Peanuts cartoons? Who knows.

Eat the World 20: Bolivia

Last Wednesday we sampled the cuisine of our 20th country on our Eat the World adventure. If you are wondering, we did indeed skip Bhutan but will be coming back to it later next week.

Bolivia is a South American country surrounded by Peru, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil. While Dylan or I have never been there,we were familiar with the cuisine and culture since we lived in Ecuador for a year. In fact, looking through the pictures and answering Ada’s questions brought back a flood of fond memories such as this:

Rainy season fun.

And this:

Alabanza!

And this one too:

The square.

Basically, Bolivia brought so many memories still so fresh in the mind, and it’s been eight years past since our time spent there. EIGHT years. I can’t believe it. Bolivia was indeed a nice reminder of our old home.

At the time I was planning this meal I think that I was feeling a bit industrious, much more so that what I actually felt last Wednesday, so we ended up limiting my four piece menu down to two. I think that the avocado salad would’ve been pretty delicious but it was just one extra step and I don’t think that it would’ve tasted outrageously different than anything else we’ve ever sampled. I’m still a bit sad that we skipped out on baking the Cocadas (coconut candies, think macaroons), so I’ll probably attempt those sometime later this month just for fun. We’ll see.

The two recipes that did make the cut were Aji de Lentejas con Sarsa (Lentil stew with salsa) and Saltenas (Meat and potato hand pies). I opted to cut the stew servings in half because I wasn’t sure the girls would eat it…and I was right, except that Dylan and I definitely could’ve eaten more than the small bowls that it made. Ah well, proxima vez. It was a fairly simple, quick cooking stew (due to the lentils) and a great vegetarian option. I’d make this again for sure. You can find the recipe here.

The saltenas were a LOT more work. Dylan and the girls made the dough while I prepared the filling. Ada and Nellie loved the dough part because they got to play with their own piece of it. Rolling, shaping, squishing, all that good stuff. They were good, but I’m not sure that I’d remake these. They were just really large and quite dense. I’m a bigger fan of Ecuadorian (think crispy-fluffy fried) and Argentinian (think flakier-more pie-crust-like) empanadas. When the saltenas cooled they were like light dumbbells. Big, heavy, and SUPER filling. You can also find the recipe here.

I think the general consensus was that dinner was good but that it wasn’t necessarily something that we would repeat again out of craving. The stew might show up again because it’s cheap, healthy, and light…but if I’m going to put a lot of work into something, I’ll make mandu or biryani or something much else.

And just a fun video to round everything out: 

Picture dump in 5…

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2

1…

Bright and shiny

Goodbye Redrum!

Goodbye Redrum!

I am pleased to announce my departure from the REduRuM that I once called my office. Hurrah for me! No, I am not leaving my job but rather participated in a fairly large, inter-office switcheroo today. I am over.the.moon about it.

Before I had about a large, walk-in-closet space and would have to crawl/shimmy/awkwardly decide front or back when passing over my clients to retrieve papers from the printer during enrollments. I would constantly bang into the two drawer filing cabinet behind my chair because it stuck out an average amount and I had a not-meant-for-my-desk-hutch that took up more than its fair share of my work area. Not to mention that I shared my little RedRuM with interns as needed. And clients were constantly waiting for their appointments by just sitting in my office or peering into my door over my side shoulder as I tried to work. Not ideal.

This move is great. Great for us all. The women who moved back into our old office space now have room for the new supervisor they’re hiring by taking the two main offices open and the traveling, once-a-week supervisor will re-home in the RedRuM. (And truthfully, it is a small space but if we wouldn’t have moved and I would’ve stayed, I would’ve just dealt with it because I like my job.)

Goodbye inconvenient and insufficient work space!

Goodbye inconvenient and insufficient work space!

Bright and shiny! And very messy...

Bright and shiny! And very messy…

Which brings me to my new, bright and shiny office! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! I may be teensy bit excited. 

I know it looks disastrous at the moment but my space has nearly tripled by this switch and now I have great space for paperwork and computer work (105+ application questionnaires may be the death of me) AND I have adequate space for clients to sit comfortably and work on applications, etc; AND I have comfortable space for an intern! AND, if that’s not good enough, I’ve got space to store kid supplies for little clients that aren’t in school yet. Needless to say because I’ve all but bashed your brains in about it, I’m excited. And happy. And excited.

Now it only they could get my NEW (didn’t I mention I also get a new, full-functioning) computer and phone line hooked up, we’d be golden…

Wordless Wednesday: Feeling Nostalgic

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Eat the World 18: Belize

We finished this country a few weeks ago, but I’m just now getting around to posting the recipes and pictures (which are, admittedly, quite few and grainy–hey, I’m no professional!).

Official flag of Belize

Our menu was as follows: Belizean Beans & Rice with Fried Plantains (+ Donuts)

DONUTS!

DONUTS! (Please excuse the flash.)

I know, donuts? Ada has been on a big dessert kick lately, if you couldn’t tell by my meal plans, so I thought if the dinner was a major flop, I’d at least reward the kids for trying everything. I was skeptical of the recipe since it’s simply frying up pre-made biscuit dough from the can in donut form but I seriously shouldn’t have been. <–(To all English teachers: I apologize for that atrocious sentence but I’m not going to fix it.) Here’s the “recipe” I followed.

Now onward to the actual Belizean food! While I was cooking Dylan and Ada looked up information on Belize. I think that this really connected our actual eating with the point of why we are doing this culinary travel for her. In fact, she seems to really have embraced Eat the World and now asks to “eat a country” every other day. If only her ambition lined up with my ability (or energy)!

Belizean Beans & Rice serves 4
Usually this will be served alongside chicken or some other common protein but Dylan and I wanted something lighter so we just prepared this. I did tweak some of the recipe to fit our work.school schedule and I noted that in italics, it’s possible that it did affect the end flavor but our whole family still loved this dish and it is going to find it’s way into our typical food lineup.  
1 cup red kidney beans or 1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed
1 cup coconut milk or you can simply use the whole can
1 garlic clove
salt & pepper
2 cups rice
1 onions, sliced
1 piece of salt meat ( cut into small pieces) I omitted this for a vegetarian meal.
Directions
1.) Soften beans (soak first) with garlic. We skipped this step since we used pre-cooked, canned beans.
2.) Boil until tender and whole, adding salt meat (previously boiled to soften) when almost tender. Again this step was skipped since we had a vegetarian meal.
3. Add the milk, onion and seasonings. This is where I added the beans and garlic. Meaning, I just dumped all the ingredients except the rice together into a pot.
4.) Wash rice, then add to the beans. I know this seems tedious, but washing the rice removes the excess starch that makes the rice so sticky/mushy/icky. Rinse until the water runs pretty clear.
5.) Cook over gentle heat until liquid is absorbed.
6.) Stir gently with a fork, and add a little water from time to time until rice is cooked. I didn’t need to do this since I used the entire can of coconut milk.
Serve hot with a meat dish. Or not.

Fried Plantains One plantain serves 1-2

Fried plantains can be on the table in less than 5 minutes. It’s a tasty and easy side dish for South American/Caribbean countries and a go-to where our family is concerned. The girls gobbled up most of these before I even sat down for dinner.
1 plantain 

Vegetable oil for frying
Salt
1.) Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a frying pan. Meanwhile, cut plantains into long, oblong slices.
NOTE: Choose plantains that are yellow to black in color, not green. The green plantain in the photo was still under ripe and inedible. Green plantains behave like green bananas, after a few days the bland astringency gives way to a mildly sweet flavor.I opted to use my cast iron for this and it worked out great. I heated the oil over medium heat, just be careful that it doesn’t get too hot or you’ll burn your plantains!
2.) Fry in the oil on both sides until browned. I’d guesstimate that it’s probably about 3-4 minutes per side.
3.) Sprinkle immediately with salt. Serve hot.

Happy eating…next up 19: Benin!

Pondering an anniversary

2 Loves

2 Loves…how I miss those chubby chins.

My Facebook feed was blown up yesterday due to a 40th anniversary. I read an article from Eugene Cho: To whom it may concern: Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the life that could be lived out. because of it. I’ve read many articles about it, on it, the whys and why nots for and against it. And I have to be honest with you.

I’m a fence rider.

Not because I don’t believe in the sanctity of life. Not because I don’t believe women shouldn’t have a right to determine what happens to their bodies. Not because I don’t believe that God intended humanity to be filled with beauty and life. Not because I believe that church and state are mostly and should be separated.

Not because I am sinful…or maybe because I am.

But truthfully, where is the argument or at least the point, when at the end of the day both sides are hurting? Woman, baby, families, broken in two by the loss of love? The loss of compassion? The loss of grace?

I’ve been reading a book that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas, Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. It’s focus on grace, on thanksgiving…I think is a genius answer to the hatred and pain that is felt throughout this argument. It’s exploration of the basis of sin and evil in the world being rooted in our ungrateful hearts, in a lack of thanksgiving. Through these reflections on faith and practice she connects the pieces together a little bit more for me on my own beliefs. Grace. What is grace?

I’m not looking for a debate or a fight or really anything, mostly I’m just shifting through my thoughts. I realize this won’t make sense to some and maybe will to others. As a mother, as a daughter, as an adoptee who doesn’t know her birth parents, as a child of God, and more simply as a player in humanity…I don’t dare to profess I have all the answers. I long for the goodness, the gratefulness that we once had as perfectly created and perfectly seeing, and in that longing I attempt to make a life and a belief that emulates what could have been. What is if we humble ourselves to embrace grace.

Monday Meal Plan (on Tuesday)

I’m not sure how I fell behind since I only seem to blog on my “gimmicky” days lately. I feel stuck in a rut when it comes to blogging lately and everything other than pictures or food seems to be mundane. I’m hoping that our Belize post later this week for Eat the World helps to lessen that fog but I’m not honestly all that confident. So…we’ll see.

Dylan’s home this week so I get to play with a few more “daring” recipes than if it was just me and the girls (since they generally won’t be convinced to eat it by just myself). Ada’s been chomping at the bit to “eat a country” since we re-booted last week with ETW, so that makes me happy. I’m hoping it’ll pull her out of this everything-is-icky phase we seemed to have begun.

Has anyone else had that issue when their kid(s) started daycare/school? Ada used to eat anything and everything we put in front of her, albeit not peas, but pretty much everything and now that she’s eating lunch at school turns her nose up at things she used to love. I know this is a developmental stage too but it’s driving me near bonkers. Especially when I’m really trying to plan out meals and provide a variety of foods for them to taste. She already has to eat what’s on her plate, we offer a small amount of anything new or things we know she doesn’t necessarily like just so she can keep trying it. Do you have any other tips or tricks to help with this? 

OH, and on an AWESOME note, one of my BFFs (seriously, I still use that term) is coming to visit me in early August!! She is flying into Fargo with her husband and going to spend FIVE days with us. I am over the moon!! Hopefully the weather will be beautiful and we’ll spend time at the lake and just putzing around town together. This summer is gearing up to be epic!!

Bert and the girls on the beach a year and a half ago...too long ago.

Bert and the girls on the beach a year and a half ago…too long ago.

Me and Bert. She loves me for me, can't you tell?

Me and Bert. She loves me for me, can’t you tell?

Bert & The Hubs with her Goddaughter.

Bert & The Hubs with her Goddaughter.

Monday Meal Plan : 1.14-1.20

1.14 Monday

Dinner: Leftovers

1.15 Tuesday

Breakfast: Homemade granola bars

Dinner: Salmon w/crispy edamame and lemon souffle pudding cake (Ada’s been dying for a dessert lately)

1.16 Wednesday  

Breakfast: Granola w/yogurt & honey

Dinner: Fully loaded baked potato soup w/crisped sausage

*Extra*

I made a sourdough starter last weekend and I’m hoping to try baking with it this night. We’ll see how it goes. It is still nameless which I hope to correct shortly as I want to hand it down to my girls someday (yeah, I’m cheesy like that). 

1.17 Thursday 

Breakfast: Cereal w/fruit & milk
Dinner: Eat the World: BENIN

*Extra*

Apple cinnamon scones from King Arthur’s recipe files. These can be made ahead and popped into the oven for a fresh brekkie…I’m in. 

1.18 Friday 

Breakfast: Apple cinnamon scones

Tea Time: Ada will be at Terry’s…

Dinner: Dachtler Pizza Night!

*Extra*

Peanut butter cup popcorn. The girls missed their Daddy mucho this past week while he was working, so I think, barring anything pressing that may come up, we’ll have a movie night. Shut ourselves in with some Red Box/Netflix, good pizza and popcorn, and just veg out together. My favorite kind of family time. 😉 

1.119 Saturday

Breakfast: Pumpkin cranberry waffles w/Cool Whip. Cool Whip? Yes. Cool Whip. 

Lunch: Beer cheese macaroni. I’ve been wanting to try this for quite some time…here’s to hoping it’s delicious!

Tea Time: Assam w/milk & sugar and fruit snacks

Dinner: Spiced black bean, avocado & goat cheese tacos

1.20 Sunday 

Breakfast: Granola & almond milk/leftover scones

Lunch, Tea & Dinner: @ Terry & Sheila’s for Sunday, although if we come home for dinner I’ll make caramelized mushrooms & dumplings. I saw this recipe and my mouth instantly started watering.