Friday, January 29, 2010

Favorite Food Fridays-Cooking Ethiopian Style

Some of you will know that I am experimenting with a no-flour, no-sugar lifestyle. I have yet to inflict it on the rest of the family, but 2 weeks in, I have been surprised at how little I miss it (Although I do have to say that it was hard to make cookies for the munchkins yesterday without eating the dough!).

In order to make up for the lack of sugars and bread, I have been trying out lots of new recipes, and given my love of all things spicy, most of them have had an Indian, Mexican, or Ethiopian vibe. I am also trying out various legumes that I have ignored before.

Yesterday, I experimented with cooking with lentils and made an Ethiopian feast for supper. An Ethiopian stew is called a wat, and lentils are called mesir. So, I made a mesir wat.

1 lb red lentils
2 large onions
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
1/2 cup olive oil
3 T. tomato paste
2 t. gingerroot, peeled and minced
2 T. paprika
1 t. tumeric
1/2 to 2 t. cayenne pepper
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 t. sea salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Sort the lentils and soak in tap water for 30 minutes. Rinse in running water and drain.

Peel and finely chop the onions. Peel and mash the garlic. Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the onion and garlic until golden. Add tomato paste, paprika, ginger, tumeric, and cayenne. Stir in rapidly to color the oil and cook the spices through (approximately 1 minute). Add lentils, salt, pepper, and stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until lentils are cooked through and fall apart, approximately 40 minutes. Add water if necessary to keep from drying out. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, as needed.

Yummy! And oh, so healthy. Gareth liked it, but you should have seen his face when I told him he was eating lentils!!!!!!!

Now, it's off to try making more lentil dishes!

Still Here, Still Have Power

Well, last night's ice storm was not quite as bad as had been predicted. I was very grateful that the roads did not start to get slick until after Gareth made it home from work. In all, we have about a 1/2 inch coating of ice on everything above ground level, but because the temperatures didn't drop far below freezing, the roads are not as badly affected.

Ice on the power lines made for an exciting evening, as our power kept going off. Every time it would go off, it would stay off for a little bit longer, and Gareth and I began to say, "Well, I think it's gone for good this time", but it managed to always come back. The munchkins sure were excited, though, and it made for an interesting attempt at cleaning up after supper to go from lights on to pitch black in an instant. Thankfully, the kids really got the hang of :If the lights go out, just stand completely still. Mommy and Daddy will turn on a lamp and come get you.

Thankfully, the roads weren't too bad this morning, so Gareth waited until a bit later than usual and set out for work. He called after he got there to say that the roads were slick in places, but that he had done fine.

About 30 minutes after he called, it began to snow. And, it's been snowing hard for over an hour now. The munchkins are thrilled! A giant bowl has been set outside to collect snow for snow ice cream, and apart from a math lesson for Noah, we are enjoying a snow holiday! Now, if it does snow most of the day like they are telling us, Gareth might have an interesting drive home tonight, but we'll just wait and see. For now, I'm going to enjoy a fire in the fireplace and a good book!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

On Being a (slightly compulsive) List-Maker

I haven't always been a list-maker. In fact, if I look back at my early years or if you talk to my parents, they will tell you that I was messy and unorganized. In fact, they'll probably re-count specific instances to you with great glee! But, somewhere in my teen-age years that began to change, and then when I went to college and decided to do my 2 years of pre-requisites and my 2 years of nurses training at the same time while holding a job to help pay my way, I found it necessary to become highly organized just to hold it all together. And then, it just kind of stuck, and by the time I was married had become a slight compulsion.

Being a list-maker has its' benefits. I rarely have a day, week, or month where I don't have a list telling me what I want/need to accomplish. I have lists of groceries we need, lists of clothing to buy for the children for the next season, lists of possible gifts for family for next Christmas, lists of curriculum options for next year, and on and on and on. It means I feel organized. It means that my house is usually neat and tidy and organized. It means that when the forecast began to show that we should anticipate another severe winter storm, my house already held most of the necessary supplies for going without power for a week or more (oh the joys of an Oklahoma ICE storm).

I already had made sure we had enough firewood for a week living in front of the fireplace, a pantry of staples for a couple of weeks, a stash of lamps and flashlights, candles, every medication you might ever need, freshly charged cell phones, full gas-tanks, cases and gallons of bottled water, a box of assorted batteries to power all of our flashlights, radio, weather radio, and CD player, and had made a trip to the store for extra milk, bread, and fresh produce. Then yesterday, we made a trip to the library for LOTS of books for everyone, some stories on CD, and then a last-minute trip to Target for a new puzzle and an Old Maid card game to teach the kids.

This morning it was up quickly to do a last load of laundry (I had to have everything clean in case I couldn't do laundry for a week), bake some cookies (I won't be able to if I can't use my oven), and make sure we had at least 24 hours of firewood stacked dry and covered on the patio.

And here is the downside of being a (only slightly compulsive) list-maker. The storm will begin any time now, and by this evening we may well have an inch of ice, which means that we most likely won't have power, so what am I doing? Dusting and vacuuming, because after all, it's on the list of jobs for today, and if the power goes out, I won't be able to vacuum for heaven knows how long and there won't be enough light to dust well. *Sigh* Sometimes I make myself tired.

But, knowing that being a list-maker is as much a curse as a blessing, I'm working on leveling out the extremes. I've made a deal with Nathan that I will work hard until lunchtime, but as soon as lunch is over, I will "forget all about my work and just be silly"-his words, not mine. And, I'm looking forward to just being silly for the afternoon.

If you don't hear from us in the next couple of days, know that we are happily iced in without power, but we'll be playing lots of games, reading lots of books, eating baked potatoes baked in the fireplace, roasting marshmallows, and huddling in front of the fireplace. (Actually, I kind of hope we do lose power for a couple of days-I think that above list sounds like fun!!!!)

The Never-Ending Paperwork

Rosie has been home for 9 months, but it seems like the paperwork will never end. Yesterday, I spent another 2.5 hours at the Social Security Office waiting to apply for a social security number for her so that we can file our taxes.

But, when I finally reached the head of the line (with all 3 children in tow), the woman looked through my paperwork only to tell me that Rosie wasn't a US Citizen and that she could only issue a card that gave Rosie's information as listed on her permanent resident card. But, her permanent resident card lists her as a resident alien and uses her Ethiopian name. No matter how many times I showed her our re-adoption paperwork from an Oklahoma court, she simply insisted that it didn't matter whether or not re-adopting made her a citizen, the only way to get the federal government to update her status in their computer system was to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship (another $420) or to bring in Rosie's American passport. I pointed out that any other American citizen didn't have to pay $420 just for a paper that says "Hello, I'm an American" and that in order to apply for a passport you have to have a social security number, but in the end, they wouldn't budge and so I came away without the number.

Now, I could just pay the $420, except, these days, who has that kind of money just laying around? And, there is a principle at stake. The American government (specifically United States Citizenship and Immigration Services-USCIS) does a really good job of providing mountains of paperwork and collecting large sums of money at every opportunity from citizens who attempt to adopt from overseas. First it was filling out the forms in the first place, next it was having to have our fingerprints put in the system, then it was having our fingerprints "expire", so that we had to be re-fingerprinted, and now, making us apply for a paper that states that Rosie is a citizen, which is something we already have the court paperwork from our state to show.

So, I haven't caved (yet). Instead, I came home, got on the telephone to Washington D.C. and spent a couple of hours with aides from Senator Coburn and Senator Inhofe's offices speaking to them about the unnecessary bureaucracy that penalizes families who have already given USCIS plenty of money and paperwork hours. And then, I asked them to speak to their senators about proposing legislation that would force USCIS to enact more reasonable fees and to get rid of a required Certificate of Citizenship for internationally adopted children who have American court paperwork which proves their re-adoption(which automatically grants them Citizenship).

I'm not holding my breath. The first guy really didn't seem to get it and just kept telling me where to go online to download the necessary forms for the Certificate. But, finally, I managed to make him understand that I was perfectly capable of downloading the form and had already done so, but was protesting the injustice of making money off of adoptions. After that, we had a very productive discussion, and he has taken down a load of information with a promise to talk again next week. He has asked us to go ahead and submit the Certificate of Citizenship paperwork with a note asking for a fee waiver given the money already paid to the various American government agencies for Rosie's adoption paperwork, and has said that he will track our form while it makes its' way through USCIS and work to have our fee waived. Then, he will work with Senator Inhofe to see if there is a way to get USCIS policy regarding paperwork for internationally adopted children altered so that they don't need a Certificate of Citizenship if they have been legally re-adopted in their home state. Like I said, I'm not holding my breath, but if you don't try, then nothing will ever change. And, there's not much point in having Senators who are to represent their constituents, if their constituents don't let them know what they want/don't want from their government.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shrek Smoothies

Okay, I'm really not sure this is blogworthy, but Noah begged me to take pictures of our smoothie and put them on the blog.

If you needed any further proof that I am just a little bonkers, well, I guess you're about to get it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is my breakfast:

What is it, you may ask? Well, it's a Shrek Smoothie (the name was stolen from my friends, the Schmidts, who do their own version of the Shrek Smoothie). And where does it get that garish grass-green color? Well that would be the blender full of fresh spinach that I pureed before I added the rest of the ingredients.

Now, before you call for the men in white coats to come and take me away, let me just say that the spinach may turn it swamp-colored, but you truly can not taste it.

See, I was looking for a way to get more dark, leafy greens into my diet, and I had heard from several friends about how they snuck spinach to their children by blending it into smoothies, and that you couldn't taste it. So, I finally decided to give it a try. I started with a small handful, and when I couldn't taste that, I put in a large handful. So far, I have managed to add a blender-ful of spinach and still don't taste it. Noah and Rosie like them, too. Nathan doesn't, but Nathan doesn't like any smoothies (he has texture issues). And, Noah is convinced that everyone else will just be dying to try one, so that we have to put the recipe on the blog, too. So, since I know you're all just dying to have one, here is the recipe for Sarah's Shrek Smoothie:

Fill blender to the top with fresh organic baby spinach. Add 8 oz. of Trop50 (the lo-calorie orange juice sweetened with Stevia), 8 oz of low-fat milk, 1 small banana, 1 scoop of vanilla whey-protein powder, 1 tsp. of vanilla, 1 cup of frozen mango, and 2 T. of flax seeds. Blend until very smooth and serve immediately. This makes approximately 32 oz.
It really does taste good, and it means that I get over 2 cups of dark, green leafy vegetables every morning now. The only down side, is that every time I get ready to drink it, all I can think of is my favorite line from "The Man From Snowy River" where Spur's stew is described: edible in a toxic, festering sort of way!

Family Portrait

Rosie's first family portrait -My apologies for the quality. I just couldn't seem to get rid of the glare.
Rosie's first family picture was exciting for a couple of reaasons. Firstly, because it's the first "sensible" picture she's ever drawn for us. Everything else was just scribbling. And secondly, because when her Daddy asked her who the 6th person was at the very top of the picture, she looked at him and said, "It's the baby".

Yep, Rosie wants us to bring home a baby. That makes 4 out of 5 Moffatts who want a baby now! Can you guess which one isn't convinced about a return to baby-dom?

Still A Bad Blogger

Something about this month, I just seem to be struggling to find time for blogging. We are SLOWLY finding our new school routine with all 3 of the munchkins, and that is taking alot of my time and all of my energy and patience. And, last week, the week was also full of: trying to get Rosie's social security number, a Dr.s appointment for Rosie, a dentist appointment for me, and AWANA games for Noah. 3 out of 4 of those weren't good for me!

Rosie and I sat in a crowded office for 2 hours and didn't even come close to the head of the line to get her SSN. After 2 hours we had to leave for a scheduled Dr.s visit. Which means, that I have to go back tomorrow to try again, and this time I'll need to take all 3 kids to sit.

At the Dr.s office, we waited another 1.5 hours, as the Dr. was running behind schedule. Just as well we really love our family Dr. He's such a great guy that it's worth waiting to be seen by him.

And then, it was off to the dentist office, where I was told that my last remaining wisdom tooth has to come out (it's killing me!), and, oh by the way, remember that crown we put on last year, well, it isn't working, and you need to have a root canal. By the way, that particular tooth has 3 roots, so they'll all need to be done! Yikes!

Anyhow, that was my week. I'm hoping for a slightly calmer end to the month of January! And, that I'll manage to be a better blogger.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just for Giggles

I quit bothering to watch American Idol about 4 years ago, when I got fed up with the no-talent contestants who got through and how rude Simon Cowell was. But, when I saw this clip from a friend, I laughed 'til I cried. Last week-end when Rosie and I went to get our hair trimmed we walked behind a group of guys, one of whom had his pants sooo low that he actually had to hold on to his girlfriend in order to walk. He looked like a drunk penguin, and now when I hear this song I see him all over again. Lyrics: Pants on the Ground, Pants on the Ground, Lookin' Like a Fool With Your Pants on the Ground, With the Gold in Ya Mouth, Hat Turned Sideways...

If you want to watch, remember to scroll down to the bottom and pause my playlist first.

Pants on the Ground, Pants on the Ground, Lookin' Like a Fool With Your Pants on the Ground, With the Gold in Ya Mouth Hat Turned Sideways,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cake Decorating

Apart from the usual mountains of laundry, schoolwork, and housekeeping, my other big project for last week was this:

Rosie has been home for 9 months, and I finally feel like we have a new "normal" that is doable. My first venture back into the world of entertaining was hosting a baby shower for my sweet friend, Natalie. Natalie, is expecting baby #3 in a couple of weeks, and our small group of ladies got together for lunch to celebrate.

I have been working on teaching myself to decorate cakes for a couple of years now, but don't have lots of time for it. Last year, I didn't manage to decorate a single cake, except for just plain icing for cakes at home. It is so good to finally feel like I have enough energy and there is enough order in the house to take on some fun projects again.

Here's a close-up of the butterflies. I piped them onto wax paper to harden overnight, and then assembled the cupcakes the next morning. This is a variation on a cake I saw in my FAVORITE cupcake book: Hello, Cupcake!

The shower was great. My favorite people, yummy food, loads of little friends over to play with the boys, and I think the cupcakes were a hit!
Now the kids are all excited about picking out cakes. So far, they have selected a cake for Valentine's Day, one for Easter, and Nathan is very excited about his upcoming birthday and the "Swamp Thang" alligator cake he picked out for me to make.

Prayers Answered

Do you remember when I asked you to pray for baby Maura? Well, when I did my weekly check-in on her family's blog, this was what her Mommy had written:

This is most likely one of the best posts that I will EVER write! First, let's recap the week that our family has had. Over the weekend, Maura started sneezing then coughing. Her nose started running on Monday and by Tuesday morning, congestion had settled into her chest to the point that she stopped breathing twice. I freaked. I was able to remember the techniques that we were taught at Vanderbilt, so I knew to tap the bottom of her foot and then give her a light shake to see if she would take a breathe on her own - she did each time, thankfully. She was breathing very shallow and rapid breaths. She wasn't in duress, so in these situations, we have been told that it is better to get her to her doctors instead of the ER because the ER doesn't know anything about her past or her medical conditions. She was tested for RSV. This greatly alarmed me because we had already been told that if she contracted RSV, the chances were great that she wouldn't survive due to her fragile health. In under a week, she lost around 6 oz.
We were already struggling with her refusal to eat and have been basically force feeding her most days. We have to hold both hands down and lay her in our laps and hold the bottle tight so it doesn't go flying through the air when her strong little hands break free and she starts swatting at it. She only says "Momma" when she's mad or hurt - what I wouldn't give to hear her say my name with a smile on her face! She says "Dada" constantly and when I try to get her to say my name, she only repeats "Dada" and laughs.
Well, we had a sleepless night on Tuesday because we were so afraid she was going to start having trouble breathing but she didn't. We headed back to Vandy on Thursday to meet with her cardiologist. She had an echo done and then we waited and waited. When the doctor came into the room, she was very, very serious and then started stating rather adamantly that I was administering Maura's heart medicine inappropriately. I was shocked as I am overly cautious with this. We have a chart that we were given by Vanderbilt, and I follow that very, very closely. It turns out that the doctor was wrong. Apparently, one of the medicines, Coreg, was initially ordered by this doctor at 1/2 of the typical dosage for a child of Maura's age and weight. This dosage was doubled at the appointment on 12/21 so that she is taking the typical starting dosage. The cardiologist thought that she was supposed to be taking double what she was told to take on 12/21. This was really freaking me out now because she took Maura in her arms and started mashing on her abdomen, listening to her heart and chest and then put her on the exam table for what seemed like an eternity. I could feel my own heart pounding out of my chest as I kept thinking that we were about to receive some really bad news.
Well, the doctor placed her back in my arms and sighed as she sat back down on her stool. She said, "Well, I don't have a medical explanation for this but Maura's heart is almost within the normal range." She said that is it within fractions of being normal both in size and function and that when compared to the Echo on 12/21, it is completely unbelieveable and compared to her initial echo the first part of December it was even more remarkable. She said that Maura had made her day - especially considering that the dosage she is taking of Coreg never results in such improvement. Oh, and she had gained 6 oz. since Tuesday and it wasn't water retention! As for me, I was about to lose it right there in the room. I said it was no medical mystery but that it was all God! I was completely blown away. We had had such a hard week that I was prepared for news but definitely not this AWESOME, WONDERFUL, MIRACULOUS news! The day finally came - no more talk of heart transplants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She said that Maura's heart medicine would continue to be increased over the next couple of months and then it would level out to a maintenance dosage for a period of time, maybe even years. Depending upon how she does, it is quite possible that she could even start being around other people as early as April or May! Maura loves other children and I think she's lonely - I know her Mommy gets that way sometimes - as even in the orphanage the nannies said that she would lay beside the other children and reach-out to hold their hands.
This has been a week of revelations for us. We have been working on our post-placement report for our adoption agency and that has caused us to really stop and evaluate our adoption, family, and overall life journey. I realized that had we known about Maura's heart, we would not have accepted her referral as we would not have felt equipped to handle her special needs. Had America World known about the condition, they would not have even offered us the referral. The best part is that God knew all about it and He made sure that no one knew about it until she was home and able to get treatment. It is so amazing to know that had she stayed in ET for even 2 more weeks, the Vandy physicians have stated that she would have likely died. God's timing and plan is so remarkable! God has shown us that He always equips us at just the perfect moment. He provides for all of our needs. He also quilts the pieces of our life so that they all come together at just the right time. This adoption journey has changed our lives drastically and as hard as some days are, we are thankful for each one. Jason and I are praying about some serious changes that we are considering making for the Lord. We feel very strongly that He has given us a strong testimony and that He is working in our lives and wants to continue using us. There are quite possibly career changes coming down the line - we are excited, unsure, and seeking His guidance. Right now, we know this - God is a wonderful, loving father and He will continue to guide our paths as long as we are earnestly seeking Him! Adoption is such an amazing journey - our God is such an amazing god!
It is true, prayer does work!

Bad, Bad Blogger

I know, I know. I'm a bad blogger. Life has just been so busy the past couple of weeks that I could never justify sitting down at the computer to write, and if I did have a few spare minutes, I was so tired that I just wanted to do nothing instead.

But, good things have been happening, and I do have some pictures, so I'll try to get all caught up this week. Promise.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meditation for Today

It is a mysterious dance of love in the Christian community as we lay down our rights and our demands, and seek to outdo one another not in what we can get but in what we can give.-John Piper

Oh, that it would be so among us.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Family Game Night

I began early last year to realize that having munchkins who grow up with a strong family orientation and loving memories wasn't going to happen by accident. In 15-20 years, I don't want to end up with regrets about what I didn't do with my kids. So last year I set out to establish some new family traditions for holidays that were uniquely ours and would help my kids "feel" our love for them and pass on our faith and values. This year, I hope to continue establishing traditions and am focusing on traditions that will help us foster strong relationships and enjoy quality time as a family.

Our first new tradition for the year is to make Saturday "Family Night". We are alternating game nights with movie nights.

On Game night, we cover the table with a large roll of white paper, set out some crayons, make a simple supper (submarine sandwiches, chips, veggies and dip, fresh fruit, cookies and hot chocolate with marshmallows), and set around the table eating and playing tic-tac-toe, hangman, connect the dots, etc... Then, when we're done eating, we move to the living room floor to play board games until bedtime.

So far, it's been a hit! And, it's a great, inexpensive way to spend quality time as a fanily.

Saturday Mornings

I love Saturday mornings. With 3 very busy munchkins I can't do too much sleeping in, but Gareth does usually get up first and let me have a lie-in at least.
Then, it's up for family brunch. It's the only morning of the week where we all get breakfast together, so on weeks when there isn't anything else happening I love to make a big breakfast for everyone. This is one of the kids' favorites: animal shape pancakes with chocolate chips.
Note the teddy-bear with a missing tooth, in honor of Noah.
Here is the bunny I made for Noah,

and the teddy bear that Nathan wanted.
And, the happy smiles that they brought.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, this picture arrived in our inbox, and our phone rang with a call to say, "Today is the day"! This was our first picture of the little girl who was to become our daughter. I can't say it was love at first sight, because I had lost my heart to her long before I knew who she was. But, I was captivated by those huge brown eyes and desperate to hug her and replace that sad face with a big smile.

And, one year later, that sad little face has indeed been replaced with a big smile that almost never stops.

God is good, to her and to us!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Book Review: Called To Worship

I agreed to review "Called To Worship: The Biblical Foundations of Our Response to God's Call" by Vernon Whaley for Thomas Nelson Publishers months ago. Unfortunately, it has taken me this long to work my way through it.

"Called To Worship" is not a textbook, although it may well have its' place as a component for study in any seminary or Christian college. "Called To Worship" focuses on what is worship, worship in the old testament, principles of new testament worship, and worship in heaven. Although there are principles and discussion of corporate worship, there seems to be more of a focus on personal worship.

I haven't read any other books like this one on worship, and found it to be deeply convicting and thought-provoking. I have to admit that I also found it to not be easy reading. This is not a book to sit down and read "just for enjoyment", but then, that wasn't its' original purpose.

The author occasionally uses Scripture passages to draw conclusions that aren't necessarily in the passage, but overall I found the book to be in line with the teachings of Scripture.

I intend to read this book again, but possibly not in large chunks. I am sure that there is plenty of material that I have yet to fully grasp.

Overall, I give this book 4.5/5 stars. It is well worth the list price of $16.49, even if just for the summary about who we are worshipping found at the end of the book.

Book Review: The Sweet By and By

I was so excited when I received an e-mail from Thomas Nelson Publishers inviting me to review "The Sweet By and By", the first novel for country artist, Sara Evans and co-authored by established authoress Rachel Hauck. I put this book on the top of my list for Christmas vacation reading, and here are my thoughts.

"The Sweet By and By" is an interesting, easy-to-read story. Set in present-day Tennessee, the characters are interesting and well-described. Unfortunately, that's about where my positive thoughts end. The story-line is not terribly well written. There are too many questions left unanswered, and although great amounts of time are investing into Sara's writing about the history that has led to Jade's (our main character) current relationship problems, the resolution of these problems in the end is poorly developed, at best.

The book is touted as a Christian novel, but it seems to be only superficially so. The main character does have a "conversion experience", but it is written so as to seem based mostly on emotion and there is no clear Gospel explanation.

I enjoyed the characters, and I hope that this isn't Sara Evans' last novel, but before publishing another, perhaps there needs to be more time put into plot development and a decision as to whether or not she is going to write secular novels or to take the plunge and write a truly Christian novel.

From the Mouth of Nathan

Noah used a little bit of his Christmas money to buy a DVD of Tom and Jerry cartoons. Who knew that a $5 DVD could provide so much entertainment? All 3 of the kids love it. They want to watch it everyday, and they want me to watch it with them. Almost every meal is spent discussing which part is their favorite and what they would do if Tom and Jerry came to live at our house.

A couple of afternoons ago, the boys were allowed to watch cartoons during quiet time in the afternoon. I was working in the kitchen when Nathan came barreling down the stairs shouting, "Mommy, Mommy, come watch this one. It's my favorite. It's the one with the Purr-ocious lion!" I tried hard not to laugh and told him that the lion was ferocious, but he wouldn't be convinced. That lion is purr-ocious!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Straw Set

**Quick update: The straw set worked great! We kept it in for 4 days before it started looking a little fuzzy. If I had wanted to put more time into it, I could have fuzzed with the curls and probably made it last a little longer, but I didn't want to put that much time into it. The only downside is that I used the Mimosa Hair Honey every morning to smooth the curls and prevent frizz, so by the end of the 4 days her hair looked very glossy but took two rounds of clarifying shampoo to get all of the hair product out.**

The quest to find the perfect hair products and perfect hairstyle for the Ethiopian princess continues.

Rosie's hair is very curly, but the curls are tighter at the crown and at the base than they are on the rest of her head, and we get so much shrinkage when it drys that you can't really see them, which tends to leave us with a bit of a mess these days. Her longer length doesn't take finger coils very well anymore, I don't want to put in pony tails every day, it isn't long enough for french braids, but just leaving it loose in this dry, cold weather leaves the ends looking messy and at risk for damage.
While reading reviews for hair products online, I stumbled across some photos of "straw sets", which looked great. Straw sets basically consist of rolling hair on drinking straws, holding it in place with bobby pins, and letting it set. It produced beautiful tiny curls, about the diameter of Rosie's natural ringlets.

The websites I visited said that it works on kinky, curly, natural, or relaxed hair. So, in the hope that this would help me provide a hairstyle that would look good and last for more than 12 hours, we decided to give it a try.

For my fellow ET adoptive moms looking for styling ideas, here's how:

You will need: shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, spray bottle with water, styling gel or other product with hold (use one specifically formulated for African hair), a wide-toothed comb, a rat-tail comb, large clips for holding hair out of the way, 100 straws with bendy bits cut off and cut in half, end papers, and at least 200 bobby pins or hair clips.

1. Wash hair. Rosie and I have found the easiest way to do this is in the sink where I have access to the sprayer.
2. Apply a high-quality conditioner (my current favorite is Tui Hair Smoothie from Carol's Daughter) and use a wide-toothed comb to comb through.
Just a hint: make sure the teeth of your comb are very smooth with no ridges or manufacturing lines. These really do catch on textured hair.
3. Apply a shower cap and allow conditioner to set (5-15 minutes depending on amount of conditioning needed).

4. Rinse conditioner thoroughly and while hair is still sopping wet, apply leave in conditioner (we are currently using Some of Marguerite's Magic by Carol's Daughter) and a product with some hold (we tried out CurlyQ's Princess Glaze from

5. Using a rat-tailed comb, make a part about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the hairline and then clip rest of the hair up and out of the way. Divide off small portions of this separated hair, comb through to ensure the section is very smooth, put on an end paper to keep ends smooth, and then spiral wrap around a straw. Use a bobby pin on each end to hold in place.

For this first attempt, I used quite small sections, so I was getting 12-15 straws across each row, and I put in 8 rows. I did see some photos using larger section, but this didn't leave neat-ending roots. (Just a hint: make sure hair stays very wet while you are working with it.)
Here we are with all of the rollers in, FINALLY! We had 3 short stretch and potty breaks, but it took us 4 1/2 hours to get them all in. That did include washing, conditioning, prepping the straws and end papers, but it was still a major undertaking. It shouldn't take so long next time since I won't have to cut all of the straws and end papers the next time, and I found I was getting quicker with the rolling as we went on. In the end, I used 115 straws.
6. Let the hair set until it is completely dry. You can either let it dry naturally or use a hair dryer. Then, carefully remove rollers. Here's photos of Rosie with the rollers out, but nothing else done to her hair.
Here is the back straight out of the rollers.
This looked okay, and I thought about just leaving it like this, for fear of spoiling them, but I decided to go ahead and play a bit. So, I took a glossing product (Mimosa Hair Honey from Carol's Daughter), spread it on my fingers and grabbed each curl with both hands, divided it into 2 sections, lightly coated each curl with the creme while stretching it downward, and letting it go.
And presto, the most oingy boingy curls ever! Look at her. What a beauty she is.

I am considering this style a HUGE success! It looks great and so fits her personality. Now, I'm just hoping that it is one that will last for several days.