Family Day!

Family Day!, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.

She’s all ours!

On December 11, our adoption was finalized. Finalization is a legal proceeding that we can best describe as a mini-commitment ceremony/wedding to our little imp. We wrote some vows to read to her in front of the judge, but in the end, we were both too teary-eyed and my voice was cracking too much to be able to communicate what my heart was saying.  We ended up reading them to her in the car on the way to the airport.  We were on the way to meet her grandparents (my Love’s family) for the first time.  It has been a wonder-filled week, let me tell you!

OH, the joy of knowing that she is now and forever will be legally OURS is almost impossible to put in to words. There is no other feeling that could ever surpass the sweet moments of holding her after and the true knowing that there were no more hurdles to jump or obstacles to being declared official “parents” of this little bundle of joy.

What is true for us both is that the moment we laid our eyes on hers in a photograph last October 27, we knew she was meant to be ours. Even my mother-in-law, who before this experience has had little exposure to adoption, has stated that she truly believes that Zoe is ours: heart, mind and soul. What is meant to be in the world is and comes in to being. It’s amazing to us all how the world had to come together in order to orchestrate her healthy and safe birth in South Korea and the multitudes of changes, travels, hurdles, and requirements that had to be met and overcome for her to arrive safely in our arms at the Sea-Tac airport on April 9.

My life will never, ever be the same.
And for that, I am eternally grateful.

May these Holidays usher in unknown joy and awe in your lives as well.
~Kate & Family

GF Tortilla Soup

GF Tortilla Soup, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.

Sorry for the blogging lags, everyone. I really do have things to share… just not a lot of computer time to share them!

And forgive the photo… it was taking without much broth so you could see the ingredients and with a HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPO begging for MORE MORE MORE in the background. (Okay… so she’s hardly a hippo in her teeny bod, but you get it, right?)

Yesterday we had a visit from our social worker. Adoption doesn’t end at the arrival of the baby. Nope, there are six more months of social worker visits, reports, photos back to Korea for foster mom/birth mom and Korean social workers, doctor forms, etc. After six months, we can then officially petition the courts for Zoe to become legally OURS OURS OURS! (After that, we start the whole process for her to get her Certificate of Citizenship for the US, new birth records, social security, etc…. a whole new paperchase that HOPEFULLY will *not* last as long as the first several!)  The great news:  we will most likely be able to begin our “finalization” paperwork in September.  This news just about brought me to tears.  She is already such a natural part of who we are.  I can not even begin to imagine my life without her in it.  OH!  Soon she will be ours on paper too!  (Thank goodness heart-strings DON’T need paperwork!)

Oh! Could you not just eat up this cuteness!?!?!?!


I had an enjoyable little fruit/coffee luncheon with the social worker while Zoe climbed all over me, played a little next to us and read her books. Really though, she just wanted to sit in my lap so she could eat my fruit and watch the social worker. She’s quite the monkey, but was also well behaved for her almost 15 month old self. She even “said” (sign language) please when asking to get up on my lap. (Let’s not mention the fact that she wanted to put her feet all over the table though, k?)

When the social worker left, I put Z down for her nap and then began to clean up the book piles, the luncheon dishes, pay the bills, organize my menu plan, etc. (Yes! I’m back to menu planning! I think it will help save my sanity once I return to work…. what do you think?) I realized that I had forgotten to pick up the pork chops for dinner (oops) but that I had some frozen chicken breasts. Menu plan swap-a-roo and TA-DAH! It’s tortilla soup night instead of pork chop night!

Here’s the beauty of this: the chicken breasts did not defrost in time. I had even popped them in the microwave for the defrost… didn’t work because the two breasts were clumped together. Ah, well. I figured this was probably MUCH more like a typical work-week anyway. I often forget to defrost something for dinner the next night and have to rush or pick something up on the way home. I know Zoe is probably NOT going to be happy with me if we have to stop for groceries after a long day at daycare (at first, anyway), so this was good practice.

And guess what? This soup came together in a snap. And Zoe likes it! (Okay.. she ate the carrots, black beans, avocado and a few bites of chicken…LOL) I’m sure as her ability to chew grows, this will be something that she will like more and more because she can add her own toppings – thus making a food adventure at dinner. My nephews said they would like that idea too!

So… all you non-defrosting folks – worry not! This will work with your partially frozen chicken breast too! In fact, I think it made cubing the chicken that much easier.

If you are up for a great tasting soup with a decent amount of veggies, I highly suggest this. In fact, I was quite happy to realize that I had made enough for today’s lunch for all three of us too!

Gluten Free Tortilla Soup
Makes enough for dinner for 4
1 – 15oz. can organic diced tomatoes
1 – 15 oz. can organic black beans
3 pasilla peppers (large, mild peppers)
3 medium-large carrots (1 cup diced carrot)
1 sweet onion (1 1/2 cups diced onion)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen)
3 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 chicken breasts
4 -5 cups of water or chicken stock  (tastes better with stock, IMHO)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder (or more depending on taste)
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 bunch cilantro, diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
2 jalapeños, diced (optional: can be used as a topping or soup ingredient)
6-8 old GF corn tortillas (fried to a crisp and sliced/chopped) OR GF corn tortilla chips
sour cream (for topping)
avocado, diced (for topping)


  1. Char the pasilla peppers over an open flame or under your broiler until blackened ALL OVER.  Put the charred peppers into a paper bag and set aside while you prep the remaining ingredients.
  2. Chop and prep your carrots, onion, corn (if using fresh), garlic, tomatoes (if using fresh), and cilantro.
  3. Over medium-high heat in a stock pot, saute onion, carrot and half of the garlic in olive oil until the onion begins to become slightly golden and the carrots are tender (about 5 – 6 minutes).
  4. While the onion, carrot and garlic saute, cube your chicken breasts into 1/2 – 1 inch cubes.  (This is really quite easy if your chicken is still semi-frozen!)
  5. Once the onion/carrot/garlic mixture is ready, add the chopped chicken and the remaining garlic.  Stir frequently and cook until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, remove the pasilla peppers from the paper bag (feel free to reserve any juices from the peppers and add it to the pot!).  Under cool water, rub your fingers over the peppers to remove the skin.  The charred skin will come off easily.  Remove the stem end and seed the peppers.  Once you have completed this with all 3 peppers, cut each pepper into strips and then dice/chop the pepper into smaller pieces.
  7. Once the chicken is cooked through, add the chopped peppers, black beans, corn, tomatoes and cilantro. Stir.  Add the stock or water.  (Add the diced jalapeño at this stage IF you want a hotter soup otherwise reserve it for people to add to their own individual soup bowls.)
  8. Add the seasonings and taste.  Adjust the seasonings to your preferences, PLEASE!  (Sometimes we add much more chile powder or cumin, but rarely do we add too much more oregano).  (Other spices to consider:  red pepper flakes, a touch of fennel, green onion, pasilla chile powder, tabasco sauce, etc.)
  9. Heat thoroughly. Taste again… and again….. 🙂  While this is heating, fry up some old corn tortillas in olive oil (additional) until golden or browned.  Drain and cool.  Slice into strips then chop into chunks.  Reserve for topping soup bowls.
  10. Serve soup along side bowls of toppings for people to make their own adventure (or top and serve).  Top with:  diced avocado, a  handful of tortilla strips or tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling in diced jalapeño.  You may even enjoy some more cilantro sprinkled on top.

I hope you enjoy this.  We really like it.  I think I will add some fall vegies as we get them in too.  It will be great with slices of autumn squash etc.  Yum!!

Happy GF Eating!


PS.  My next post will be about sugar cookies.  Zoe and I have been taste-testing and today I brought some over to my sister’s house for her and her boys (husband and 2 boys) to taste and vote on.  There’s definitely a love of both recipes I’ve been playing with.  Guess I will have to make more before I decide which recipe to post!  Or…. better yet:  How do you like your sugar cookies?

Nearly Wordless.. and Nearly Wednesday

You see why I’ve been offline, right?
This precious munchkin has my attention.
She’s finally over jet lag – HOORAY!

I plan to be back blogging recipes in the next week or so. Zoe has already been munching on some oatcakes that have a bit of cinnamon in them for her teething and breakfast. (Somehow I didn’t think just sucking on the outside of empty plastic Easter eggs was going to fulfill her nutritional needs.)

I have no idea what recipe will strike my fancy – but I have a few ideas floating through my head. I think this weekend I will whip up a loaf of Pepita Bread before My Love goes back to work.

Ah…. family life is grand!
I hope you are all well and forgive me for not being able to follow up with reading all of your blog posts. You guys are BUSY – and I’m finding myself without the time to keep up!

Much love – and as always, Happy GF Eating.

She’s here! An Open Letter to Our Daughter

She’s here!, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.

Dear Sweet Zoe,

As I write this I am waiting to hear the date/time of your flight to us. I’m so overwhelmed by the tons of emotions – excitement, anxiety, joy, elation, relief, concern for you and your foster mom, gratitude for Carol who will be escorting you, confusion about what lies ahead of us as a family, and an unbelievable amount of love. I also have thoughts racing around in my head that make me wonder about your trip, your thoughts, your losses, your needs and what you will ask about these days when you are older and we talk together. Oh, life is a wondrous and glorious thing. It is something that will amaze you and give you joy. It is something that challenges us all through it’s ups and downs, but remains is some strange way, consistent with love and light.

Your dad and I dreamed of you for years before this process ever began. There was never a moment in our partnership that we didn’t talk about adopting when we could. You were never an afterthought, not a result of what could not have been; but rather you have always been exactly what we hope for – what COULD BE! You have been you. In that basic sense, the basic tenets of agreeing as a soul to become who you are in this lifetime is all that we have ever hoped. You. As you are. Nothing more, nothing less.

We talked for weeks, months and even years about what name you would have. We didn’t worry about the name – we wanted a name that would fit you. When we chose the name Zoe, it was as though there was no longer a need for discussion or debate. It was you. We were satisfied. So why did we chose Zoe?

Zoe means life.
It is the beginning of all things.
Even though we come in to life alone, we do not do so by ourselves.
YOU are loved by the many people who have been touched by your life.
The washing of our lives upon the shores and over the shoulders and backs of each other is what makes us who we are.
Life is like the waves on the ocean.
They begin beyond our vision and never cease.
Some days they rise high over our heads
and some days they gently rock and splash at our toes.
We as humanity gather together at the shore for play, for sustenance and in moments of awe.
We share in the gifts of life together.
We celebrate, we mourn, we learn and we grow.
We ride out the waves as they are given to us.
We are altered by the movements of the ocean around us and molded by not only the waves, but our reactions to them.
Life is beautiful.

Some people may think that we have named you Zoe because you are the gift of life in to our lives.
But really, you are so much more than that.

You are the gift of life, not for us,
but rather from your wonderful, strong birth mother.
She gave you strength and courage.
She gave you the chance to live and seize the moments of Life around you.
She granted you the dreams and the possibilities.
She knows the beauty of Life.
She knows the beauty of You.

And then those dreams and possibilities were supported and nurtured by your omma.
She cared for you as you learned about our world and comfort.
She rocked you, sang to you, danced with you,
watched you crawling, heard you laughing and comforted you.
Your omma knows the beauty of Life.
She knows the beauty of You.

And your Dad and I?
We wish to give those dreams wings.
We wish to give you the music of life.
We wish to carry on with you like waves on an ocean.
Another pair to love Life and You.
To support your dreams and Life.
We know the beauty of Life.
We know the beauty of You.

And that is why we chose to name you Zoe.
The name means Life.
It is You.
And we are honored to know and love You.

Welcome Home, Little Girl.
With all our hearts, we love you so –
-Your Mom & Dad

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