Posts Tagged ‘DRC


now we’re even!

A reminder beeped on my phone this afternoon.  It was for an event I had completely forgotten about.  It was probably added, along with one other, about two years ago.  It was likely one of those days I was back at work after bringing home my girls from DRC.  I was likely missing them and feeling kind of desperate and anxious about all the time apart, all the years of missed firsts and missed regular stuff and yikes! time goes so fast now that they’re home.  So I did some math and made up some big days we could share and it turns out today is one of them!

This little girl has been with her forever family just as many days as without.  We’re even!  Tomorrow she will have spent more time with me than waiting for me.  She wanted ribs and ice cream sandwiches to celebrate.  First words and steps and first tooth, missed, but we have a once in a lifetime we’re even day!  Today is awesome!




I guess this is the two-year anniversary of this blog, wordpress says.  I was still sitting here in the states two years ago today, getting ready for a much anticipated trip to meet my daughters.  I can almost feel all of the excitement and optimism, the butterflies in my stomach, really having no idea what was ahead.  I see myself sitting at home, double checking and triple checking my list, hoping.  Just hopeful and eager.  I can remember it all, one detailed moment after another.  I remember it like a blur, too.  All the preparation, getting to finally travel, getting travel details arranged, getting on the plane and off again and again in different countries, ever closer to that moment, the end of The Wait and the beginning of everything else.  I see the view out the airplane window.  I’m looking down at Lubumbashi, the sea of sameness, and I wonder if I’ve glimpsed their home, wonder what they’re doing, wonder how they’ll ever get through the trauma of the next few days and weeks, months and years even.  I look out the window, hopeful and eager.  I look out the window at the beginning, hopeful and eager.


so. what.

I get it. My family is not like most. There’s a mama but not a daddy. There’s kiddos who have a first mama that’s not me. I get it. I know we’re not what people see everyday. They are mine though and I am theirs and when we’re at the park and I hear you saying they’re not mine and I hear you hating us for no reason, no real reason anyway, be glad I’m certain my kiddos can’t hear you. Yep, MY kids have brown skin. SO. WHAT. They have brown skin and I do not. SO. WHAT. Hating us for that? Hating two sweet, innocent little girls, for that? I really don’t get it. I’ve never understood it, that hatred, but now I have people hating my kids. I know it’s a conversation we’ll have to have, but how do you explain to your children that some people will just hate them for no reason? They’ll be alright, my two strong, brave girls, but that their gorgeous brown skin and beautiful tight curls will be reason enough for people to hate them, I don’t get it at all.



bit by tiny bit

In anticipation of having kiddos with complicated backgrounds from a foreign country who would speak a different language and be adopted, I read a few books and took mandatory classes.  According to all of it, bonding is a process.  An adoptive parent and new kiddos aren’t and never will be suddenly bonded.  It’ll happen over time, a lifetime likely, bit by tiny bit.  My two have such different backgrounds and just like any two people they have very different personalities, coping mechanisms and outlooks.  The bonding process has been so different for them.  One had the same caregivers from birth to meeting me.  The other did not.  She had several mommy figures but was often left to tend for herself it seems.  The first, although traumatized, was pretty much ready and able to accept that someone could and did and wanted to love her and take care of her.  The second, having had no experience with it, struggles.   The first went through several versions of what to call me, “mama yo” then “my mama” (realizing that I truly was) and now just mama or mommy.  She wasn’t too resistant to receiving and giving hugs and making eye contact.  Don’t get in a staring contest with that one.  You will lose.  She has a gift.  The second fought so hard against it all.  Eventually, she’d try, but she had no idea how to go about it, touching and being touched, hugging and cuddling.  Eye contact was really hard for her too.  Bonding with her has been a rough road for both of us.  At first, she wanted nothing to do with me, preferring Bibi or to be left alone.  She screamed for three solid weeks.  The process at times has been literally painful.  Bonding seems to plateau for a bit then there’s suddenly a huge step toward love and trust followed by another plateau.  It’s hard for me to see the changes from day to day, but looking back the girl has made tremendous progress.  She’s healing.  She’s been increasingly affectionate and letting me be too.  More and more she’s letting me take care of her, be the mama.  Just last week she did two new things, big things for her.  She drew a family portrait (and so proudly gifted it to me) and she starting mirroring, copying me.  In the past she’d note things I’d do or watch me, but for her to look at me and make eye contact for an extended period, huge deal for her.  Seeing her delight in mirroring me and giggle about it, huge deal for both of us.  She’s come a long way, bit by tiny bit.  So good to see.


They love wearing mama’s old dresses!


kitumbua success

After studying and trying several slightly different recipes, kitumbua success!  Delicious!  So worth the trial and error (and error).   Lemonade stand?  I don’t think so.  Nope, the farmergirls are putting on dashikis from Shona Congo and setting up a kitumbua stand on our street, just like they do in Lubumbashi.  Totally kidding.  That would be silly.  Okay, not totally kidding.  That would actually be pretty awesome.  I would not hesitate to buy a kitumbua from these two Congolese cuties in their dashikis.


and I’d go back for another … even if they tasted like that first attempt.  Plus, it would help Keta toward her goal of purchasing a magic car. 😉

So here’s what they should kind of look like …


And if you’re feeling in the mood (or you’ve made the request for this info), here’s kind of what I do to make them …..

First, I stopped measuring after failed attempt number two.

Second, my successes have been very slightly different in texture and fluffiness, but they’ve all been equally delicious.

Finally, this is just what I do.  I am not even close to being a person who really knows anything about this.  What little I do know I learned from a three-year old with very foggy memories, a Google search, and some (several) mistakes.

1.  Fill a mug with white rice and soak rice overnight in tap water.  (I rinse the rice pretty extensively before soaking although I didn’t see in any recipes to do this).

2.  Drain most of the water or drain it all and rinse.  Doesn’t seem to matter.

3.  Put the rice in a large mouth canning jar or blender.

4.  Add a can of coconut milk.  Don’t go with that light stuff.  Use the real deal.

5.  Throw in some sugar.  I’ve used a variety of types, all work fine.   Roughly half mug should do it, but you can use more or less, depending on how sweet you like things.  I like things on the sweeter side.

6.  Add some regular flour, maybe two-ish heaping tablespoons.

7.  In desperation I’ve added coconut flour.  Tastes really good, probably not necessary.

8.  Add an egg.  About half of the recipes include an egg.  I guess it’s optional.

9.  Add a pretty small amount of ground cardamom.  I forgot one time and the rice and  coconut combo was great without it.

10.  Add rapid rise yeast.  I usually pour in about half of a package, however much that might be.

11.  Blend and blend and blend and then blend some more.  I use a stick blender.  Rice should be in extremely tiny pieces.  You might have to add some water.

12.  Put it in a bowl and cover loosely.  Let it sit on the counter a bit.  I’ve seen anywhere from one hour to overnight.  I usually make the dough (batter??)  in the morning and let it sit until early afternoon.

13.  Heat your pan.

14.  Stir your future kitumbua.

15.  Cook it!  Recipes say to use oil, but I’ve used butter instead.

They turn out kind of dense but fluffy too (I know, one thing cannot be both) with a very nice and subtle crunch from the rice.  Yumma!


kitumbua :/

kitumbua 3 (ish)   farmergirls 0

I keep learning how to not make kitumbua and I found out it’s actually vitumbua (vitumbua is plural to the singular kitumbua).  K and F are happily devouring my almost embarrassing attempts and are not at all frustrated.  Keep trying mama!  I’m not totally incompetent in the kitchen and these little Swahili doughnuts are not going to get the best of me, again!  I found an incredible instructional video on YouTube.  If only my Swahili extended past the numbers one through ten and hello.  I only understood three parts for sure, “amazon dot com” indicating where the pan can be purchased, “rapid rise yeast” and “crunchy.”  I have two mugs of rice (a mug is the preferred measuring tool in most of the recipes I’ve found) soaking overnight and tomorrow I’m sure we will be enjoying perfectly browned and delicious vitumbua with our afternoon chai.  For me it will be a nice change from the mangled stickiness we’ve enjoyed (?) the past two days.  Plus, it will dramatically reduce the soaking and scrubbing time the pan requires.  For K and F it’ll be bittersweet.  I will have finally learned the secret to this complex treat (totally NOT complex, just trying to lessen my feelings of utter failure) from their birth country, but they will no longer be enjoying the benefits of the learning process.

Other happenings and wise words from the farmergirls……

If, just before dinner, a child yells “Mama come see what Nay brought in!” and you find it’s a very recently killed baby bunny, no one will have a good dinner.

If you have the “hippucs” water will take care of them in no time, according to Francine.

“That scares me out!” or “That scares my heart!” are popular expressions right now and are useful in practically any situation, scary or otherwise.

“Let me catch up on you!” is the same as asking for the person to please wait for you.

Stage whispering is not any quieter than regular talking and is often louder and yes, mama can hear you even down the hall or in another room or running on the treadmill with ear buds in and an ipod turned as loudly as it will go.

A chair placed partially in the pool and used as a diving board will no longer be a chair in any way at all.  The transformation will be so complete that sincere and complete confusion will be the response to any reference to it as a chair.

If you wear your glass slippers while riding Rody it will sound almost exactly like an actual horse galloping through the kitchen.

Such good times!  Aside from cooler weather on the way we are so sad that summer is winding down and we’ll be back at school in less than three weeks.  😦

New clothes for back to school




In one of the three photos of Francine that I received during The Wait she had something in her hand.  It looked like a small fruit or maybe a ball????  I didn’t know.  I was just thrilled to see her unbelievably cute little self.  She had awesome cornrows with a pink highlight.  Adorable!  Anyway, since she’s been home we’ve talked about this photo and the others that I have.  I’ve asked her who the people are, where she is, what’s in her hand etc etc.  She was only two years old when it was taken, so what could she remember?  But, just in case, I had to try before anything she did remember was gone, forever.  She never was able to offer any reliable info about it.  She told me what was in her hand but I didn’t understand and she didn’t have enough words to tell me about it, just what it was called and she didn’t seem too sure even about that.  No biggie.  Just recently we were hanging out when she suddenly tells me about when she had a grey dress on and a moto car cycle came and got her and took her to the doctor and the doctor gave her a ouchie on the bum and then she got a kitumbula from the lady and it was so good and tasted like orange.  WHAT?!?  Is this real?  Both girls have made up some stories about their time in DRC, but this seemed absolutely not like that and it just sort of spilled out of her.  I knew she knew what she was talking about.  I was instantly Google-ing.  I found it!  I found a description of kitumbua (she says it kitumbula) and photos of women making them on the streets of mainly Tanzania, but also DRC and Kenya and I found recipes and yesterday we made them!

kitumbua 1   farmergirls 0

I’m a tiny bit Danish and often make abelskivers, so I thought these would be no problem (they look the same and can be made in the same pan).  I learned a few things and next time, they’ll be no problem!  We’re so excited to have a food from my babies’ birth country that one actually remembers having.  Francine cannot wait to make these for our extended family!