Thursday, September 29, 2011

Amharic verb of the week: mayet (to see)

Tabb and I are having a hard time learning Amharic verbs, so we're trying a new strategy. Instead of trying to learn conjugation patterns and apply them on the spot to multiple verbs, we will instead focus on one verb at a time and try to learn it to automaticity.

I've noticed a number of people have arrived on this blog by searching for Amharic verbs, so I'll share our work by posting it here.

The first verb is mayet (to see).

I see you (m).....ayehuh
I see you (f).......ayehush
I see it/him.........ayehut
I see her.............ayehuat
Click here for more.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cooking lesson

We had a cooking lesson today with W. Since we are vegetarians, she showed us how to make atakilt wa't (vegetable stew) and missir wa't (red lentil stew). Delicious. The two go well together and are easy to make at the same time. I've totally stuffed myself and am anxiously waiting to get hungry again so I can stuff myself a second time. 

Atakilt wa't
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • olive oil
  • garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • tomato paste
  • salt
  • 1/2 bag baby carrots, sliced and lightly fried
  • 5 potatoes, cubed and lightly fried
  • jalapeƱos (optional)
Saute the minced red onion with olive oil over medium heat.
Add 1 rounded Tbsp garlic and ginger paste (see below) and continue cooking.
Add chopped tomato, 1 rounded tsp tomato paste and salt to taste, and continue cooking until it looks like this:

Add carrots and potatoes. If you want, you can also add a little water to make more of a sauce. Cook until vegetables are done.
Serve with chopped jalapeƱos on top (optional).
*Can also be made with cabbage (ne'ch gomen) or green beans (fasolia) instead of potatoes.*

Missir wa't 
  • 2 large red onions, minced
  • olive oil
  • garlic and ginger paste
  • tomato paste
  • berbere spice (W gave us a bag of it straight from her mother's kitchen in Ethiopia. But I think you can order it online too).
  • salt
  • 2 cups red lentils (from Indian store)
  • hot water
Saute the minced red onion with olive oil over medium heat.
Add 2 rounded Tbsp garlic and ginger paste (see below) and continue cooking.
Add 3 rounded Tbsp tomato paste, 3 Tbsp berbere and salt to taste.

Stir everything together really well.
Wash red lentils and add along with 4 cups hot water.
Cook on medium until lentils are done.

*For garlic and ginger paste, mince garlic and ginger at a 10:1 ratio with olive oil and a little salt in a food processor. Store in refrigerator.*

Sunday, September 18, 2011

ethical issues in Chinese adoptions

This article was in the New York Times today.
For me, it reinforces two things:
1) There is corruption in the adoption process in every country.
2) We will not know for sure that our own adoption was an ethical one until we make direct contact with our children's family. Which we plan to do.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Amharic commands

One thing that we've learned from our Amharic tutors is that the way middle-class Americans talk to their children doesn't translate to Amharic. They say that instead of, "Do you want to eat?" or "It's time to take a bath" or "Let's get dressed" we should just say, "Eat!" "Wash!" and "Get dressed!" This definitely helps simplify our language learning.

I've compiled a list of commands / imperatives and posted them here. They're in three columns, depending on if you are talking to a boy, a girl or more than one child. To make a command negative, just add the prefix at- in front of the word.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a few updates

We are in the middle of the annual court recess in Ethiopia, so not much news. Here are a few things:
  • In the last few months, the Ethiopian government has shut down several orphanages. I've seen different estimates for the total number, but it's well into the double digits. This seems to be part of the effort to address concerns about international adoptions from Ethiopia.
  • I have read multiple reports of the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa stepping up their investigations into children's orphan status. They are requesting more legal paperwork, re-interviewing relinquishing families and sending investigators into the field. Although this is positive, it still is being done at the wrong time - after the child is already legally adopted.
  • Three families using our agency who received referrals only a few weeks before us have received court dates for late October/early November. We had been thinking we'll get a court date in January, but now we hope it might be earlier.
  • In mid-October we'll be participating in a phone conference to prep us for our court date and first trip to Ethiopia.
  • We have no updates on the boys. As far as we know they are still somewhere in or near Burji. We hope that they are fed, sheltered, being visited by family, being well taken care of... but we just don't know.
The new school year has started. So far it's going much better than last year.
And that's all for now.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

One month

Today I've been doing the 10% Challenge for one month. I just added up all our expenses and sent 10% of the total to Doctors Without Borders. The amount felt challenging but not impossible, in other words, just right.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The 10% Challenge

Will you participate in the 10% Challenge?

Here's how it works:

Step 1
Every time you buy something, mentally add 10% to its price. Then base your purchasing decision on this new price.
For example:

Do I buy it?
Take-out dinner
New tires
No, I don’t want to spend over $500. I continue looking until I find tires for $400. Price+10% is $440, which is acceptable. I buy these tires instead.
Prescription medication
Yes. I don’t really have a choice.
Step 2
At the end of each day, stick the 10% in an envelope. You can put in cash, the receipt, or just a sticky note. Keep track of every single purchase with no exceptions.

Step 3
At the end of the month, take all the money you have accumulated and send it to Doctors Without Borders, the IRC, UNICEF, Oxfam, or one of the other organizations working for famine relief in East Africa.

I like this method of giving for several reasons:
  • It helps answer the question of what is the "right" amount to give. Ten percent of everything I spend feels right to me.
  • It helps me keep track of my spending.
  • It puts a silver lining on unexpected expenses like emergency vet bills. At least someone is benefiting from them.
  • It allows me to think of my donation as a tax on my purchases, which makes donating become a habit that I don't have to think about, just like sales tax.
 Please join me in the 10% Challenge. You can help save the lives of thousands of people. You can invite others to participate by clicking the Facebook button below.

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." - Edward Hale

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Amharic tutors

A couple of weeks ago we started working with new Amharic tutors. Our old tutor moved away at the end of July. Our new tutors are Ato A from the Ethiopian church, and his wife, Weizero W. They are wonderful. A is good about breaking words down and explaining them, and W pronounces everything very clearly so that we are actually starting to comprehend a little of what we hear. They are both very patient and encouraging. Also they always get in little arguments that are pretty hilarious. If you've ever studied a foreign language, you'll know that even a mildly humorous remark seems much funnier when you realize you understood it in the new language. When W said in Amharic, and we understood, "He cooks, but it doesn't taste good," we about burst in laughter and pride in our listening comprehension.

Still, our progress is painfully slow. It's those dang verbs. Here's an example: The verb "to do" is "madreg," but "Will you let me do it?" is "Ladrigalleh?." Do you see what those two words have in common? The "dr" and the "g." That's it. Everything else changes. It's taking a long time to train our ears to what is a prefix, what is a suffix, what is an infix - that's right, an infix - and what is the stem.

Anyway, I thought what I'd do to practice some useful phrases would be to go back to "Simple Amharic for Adoptive Families" and write down what each phrase actually means. It will be useful for me and hopefully useful for other adoptive parents, too. Stay tuned!      Tabb pointed out such a post would probably violate copyright.