Friday, March 30, 2007

birthday party dog chase

I've been wondering how Sedona would be around a baby, and my girlfriend has been wanting to see how her daughter would play with a little dog. This was lots of fun!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Maybe next birthday I'll be a Mommy..."

I've got half an hour left of still being a 20something. What am I planning to do before bed as a 20something? Clean the bathroom floor and toilet. How exciting! I have several gray hairs and 3 hairs that want to grow on my chin where they don't belong. Guess that means that it's time that I turn 30! Hopefully 30 will be a good age for me... and I'll remember it as how old I was when little Hannah came into our lives.

To celebrate we're having a friend and her 14 month old girl over for dinner. I hope to test out that high chair! I've been joking with Kevin that hopefully the little girl will poop and we can change her diaper. Kevin's not so wild about that idea!

My mother gave me a book for my birthday titled "Every Year on Your Birthday" by Rose A. Lewis, the author that wrote "I Love You Like Crazycakes." It is a absolutely beautiful book and brought me to tears. A very appropriate gift from parent to child from China or Taiwan for his or her birthday. Thanks again, Mom.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

one step closer = spring break gear for Hannah's closet

Okay. I've been bad. Baby shopping again. I'm so excited that our homestudy is in Taiwan and the weather has been so warm these last few days that I couldn't resist a spring break sale at Gymboree. I bought Hannah a swimsuit and a sunhat... and sandals... and some more online this morning! I've bought them big so she can grow into them, as we don't have a referral yet and I have no idea how big she'll be when she comes home. It seems like half the town is in Florida this week on spring break. I was actually BORED yesterday at work in my deserted hometown, and that NEVER EVER happens.

Our Homestudy is in Taiwan

I e-mailed our agency last night to check on what's going on in your process. I received a phone call back today that our homestudy has already been translated and is in Taiwan. Yay! Also, my instruction sheet told me to hold all of our dossier documents until they're all complete, but I was told that I could go ahead and send everything that I have now. The only piece of the dossier puzzle we're missing is the I171H. We're still waiting for our fingerprint appointment date so we can get this immigration approval from INS.

Monday, March 26, 2007

SNL - TV Funhouse: Maraka

This is just too funny! My niece just loves Dora the Explorer!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

For Marina: Help with Mandarin for baby's photo album

Marina, I used this website called Mandarin Tools for Chinese family titles (see link on left hand side) but had help to find out which family term is more commonly used in Taiwan. Here are characters I used: daddy 爸爸, mommy 媽媽, paternal grandpa 爺爺, paternal grandma 奶奶, maternal grandpa 外公, and maternal grandma 外婆.

Family Photo Album for Baby

I've been really excited about making a family photo album to send to baby Hannah once we get her referral. We'll be able to send her care packages to her nursery. Families often send pictures, baby toys, clothing, and treats for the nannies. Some families are also sending recordings of mommy and daddy singing songs and reading stories to their childen in Taiwan.

I've purchased three baby safe photo albums online, although since then I have found the plastic Sassy album in a Target store. The Sassy album was my first purchase, and it is made out of plastic. I like it because it takes up less room and doesn't have many words, so you can put whatever kind of photos you want in it. My second purchase was the Kushies Ma Maison album that is made of cloth and shaped like a house. It has a mirror for baby to look at herself and is brightly colored, but it's my least favorite. I really like the Lamaze We Love You Baby album. It is made of cloth and labeled pages for pictures of mommy, daddy, grandparents, and something to snuggle with. The front page has a pocket where a picture of baby can go. I like this idea, so we can put a picture of baby in front. This way nannies will easily know which baby the photo album belongs to. Here's some more baby photo albums I found for sale at Amazon: Snuggie Toys photo album, Whoozit photo album, Gund Look at Me! photo album, Scholastic My First Photo Album, and Gund My Family photo album.

I used FotoFusion to edit photos of Kevin and I, our parents, and Sedona (of course!) to labels indicating who the people are in the photos. I labeled them in English and Mandarin. Thanks to I-Chwen for checking my characters to make sure that I translated right!!! I wouldn't want to accidentally label myself as a great uncle! After printing the photos into 4"x6"s, I laminated the photographs with Avery Self Adhesive Laminating Sheets. I read about another adopting family that used laminating sheets to protect pictures from baby drool, spit-up, etc. Good idea!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Roll Call

Since there's not much going on in our adoption right now, I'm asking for a roll call. Who are you lurkers out there that read our blog? These +2000 hits have to be coming from somewhere. You aren't checking our blog 5 times per day... are you, Mom? (joke) Feel free to leave a comment to say hi.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho...

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho. It's off I work I go! In a stretch of 21 days, I've only got one day off. I'm picking up several extra shifts to help pay for adoption expenses, flights, hotels, and fun things like nursery furniture. Believe me, if something interesting happens regarding our adoption journey... I'll be blogging about it! I've been playing around with my new photo editing software FotoFusion and really love the simplicity of this program compared to Adobe Photoshop. No time for star anise right now. Everything that I'm eating seems to come out of a mircowave! Still waiting for immigration fingerprint appointments in Indianapolis. Gotta go to bed, and then wake up in 5.5 hours for another work day. Blech!

Taiwan educational lesson for the day: The currency of the Republic of Taiwan is the "New Taiwan Dollar," and it's common abbreviation is NT$. You can follow this link and take a look at what Taiwanese currency looks like.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

star anise recipes I want to try

Sherry posted links to Thai Tea recipes so I could find some more uses for the huge jar of star anise that arrived at my doorstep today. Here's some links to recipes that I want to try out:
Carrot Soup with Star Anise
Citrus Salad with Star Anise
Star Anise Blackberries with Lemon Sorbet
If you've used star anise in some cooking before, please free to share your recipes in the comments section below.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

star anise *does not equal* anise seed

Now I know why the tea eggs that I made weren't quite right. Although my tea eggs were very pretty, they didn't taste much different than plain old hardboiled eggs. I started reading a little more about the star anise spice today, and learned that star anise is much stronger than Spanish anise seed. I've ordered six ounces of star anise online as it could only cost $3 more than a one ounce shaker. I hope to be back in the kitchen making another batch of tea eggs in a few weeks. If you want any star anise, please come knocking on my door. I'll have more than plenty to share!

"Star Anise is a spice consisting of the dried, star-shaped fruits of a slender evergreen that is a member of the Magnolia family and native to China. Although flavored by the same oil, anethole, as anise seed, the two spices are unrelated. The eight to twelve pointed star anise imparts a much stronger, sweeter licorice flavor than do Spanish anise seeds. It is one of the flavors in Chinese five spice and is used widely in cooking and in flavoring tea in Asia. Star anise is used in roasted meats; it heightens the flavor of stewed fruits, pies and other desserts."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Homestudy finalized - wait for referral begins

Horray! I got news today that our homestudy has been finalized. A copy of our homestudy was sent to immigration last week, so hopefully we'll get our fingerprint appointments in Indianapolis soon. This means that we are officially on the waiting list for a referral with our agency Familes for Children. The agency says that the average wait for referral is six months, but my head has told my heart to be prepared to wait up to 12 months for referral. Then there's the 4-6 month wait after referral for the court process in Taiwan. Bad news: There's pretty much no way we'd be able to bring Hannah home in 2007. Good news: I can go ahead and plan on how to use my 2007 vacation time.

Happy (Early) Birthday to Me!

With a techie husband, I just have to briefly mention that I'm interested in a piece of electronic equipment and he's more than happy to run off to Best Buy or shop online at NewEgg to provide for my digital needs. This sounds like my parents' relationship, too. My big 30th birthday is later this month, but I got to open my husband's present to me today. Kevin bought me a Canon PowerShot A570 IS which is an updated model of the digital camera that I mentioned that I was interested in a few weeks ago. Same features, but Canon made it smaller and lowered the price point.

It's 2am already so I didn't stay up very late to play with my new toy, but of course we couldn't resist to take a few shots. Here's Sedona getting a belly rub from Kevin in the computer room. Yes, the boy likes orange. Kevin's computer room is painted bright orange, and yes I let him pick any color he wanted. Notice the orange t-shirt too. Kevin owns orange hats, sweatshirts, dress shirts, ties, and even orange boxer shorts. He had an orange suitcase too until baggage handlers destroyed it's zipper in January.

I really liked the image stabilization features of the Canon PowerShot A570 IS for running after a toddler and a little dog that aren't going to hold still for the camera. It has a huge display, fits my hand, and has a "kids and pets" function. Kids AND pets??? That's for me! I'll take it! What more could a mommy-to-be and dog lover want in a camera? Well, I couldn't find any with diaper changing functions. Now that would be a big plus in a digital camera.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Costs of HIV and Hepatitis Antibody Tests

I thought someone told me that HIV tests were really expensive, and I was worried about how high the bill would be when it arrived in the mail. We had our HIV and Hepatitis antibody tests done by PA Labs and they were $50 each, so the bill was only $200 for both of us to have both tests. Not too bad! I know there are several pre-adoptive parents out there researching adoption. Perhaps this bit of info will give you some peace of mind when researching adoption costs associated with a homestudy.

We're still waiting for final copies of our homestudy. I hope we'll hear tomorrow that it's all done. Still waiting for immigration fingerprint appointments too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Misc. Scrapbook File

This post serves as a file where I will continually post scrapbook pages that I have made for myself, friends, and family. Just something to keep me busy as we wait for the referral of our child in Taiwan!

Tuesday, April 12, 2007
A friend e-mailed me some professional pictures she had taken of baby Jacob.
She got a suprise back in her in box: one scrapbook page and a photo collage.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Celebrating our love - now 9 years into our relationship
1 Corinthians

Saturday, April 7, 2007
leaves of grass - first mow of the year
Hard to believe that we worked in the yard in 75F weather and shorts on Tuesday, then woke up to a dusting of snow Wednesday morning!

Thursday, April 5, 2007
For Linda - little gators grow like weeds

Thursday, March 29, 2007
Spring happiness with Nikia and little Miss B
Thursday, March 21, 2007
For Kevin, my Mezzo Mix man

Sunday, March 18, 2007
Ice Storm of January 2005
Thanks to Donna with her Double Happiness blog, I've discovered a really cook photo editing and scrapbooking software program called FotoFusion. I've really admired Donna's photo layouts, and looked for info on her blog about what's she's using. I downloaded the free trial version, made 4 easy layouts in only an hour, and bought it right away. This program is so simple, and the layouts look oh so good! The look of the layouts with FotoFusion is more my style. What I was making with Photoshop Elements was a little cutsey for my taste. YAY FotoFusion! Do thank Donna for her blog efforts to each us how to use FotoFusion, use this link to buy it and Donna gets a little kickback as an affiliate.

Sunday, March 11, 2007 - Kevin Inspires Me
Always Looking Ahead for What is Possible

Saturday, March 10th, 2007 - Nancy (Sarah's mother)
in Austria on "The Sound of Music" Tour

This morning I discovered the "cookie cutter" tool in Photoshop Elements. This tool alows you to cut an image easily into lots of different shapes. It also has shapes that are meant to be used to frame photos, like the paint brush stroke looking ones that I used today. This page was extremely easy to make with the simple help of the cookie cutter tool.

Saturday, March 10th, 2007 - "Süße Cousinen" Christina

(Sarah's sister) and Nicole (our German Cousin)

Friday, March 9, 2007 - Karen (Kevin's sister) and Isobella

Yay, ribbons and color are fun! Karen: I still wear that sweater! It's one of my favorites. Do you still have yours too?

Thursday, March 8, 2007 - Sedona in black and white with a spash of lime

I wanted to work with a black and white photo tonight to test out this paper pack. Digital scrapbooking is really cool because I can quickly change the photograph on this page. In less then 15 minutes I can change the photograph, change the title words, and bing bang boom I've got a whole new page!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - Alan and Brandy

This photo was taken in September 2004 on our camping vacation in Michigan when we spent two days on Mackinac Island. We visited a butterfly house, and rode bicycles all around the island, and had lots of good things to eat. After a week of camping, we were ready for the comforts of a posh hotel room!

Nursery Bedding Arrives

Our nursery bedding arrived by mail today. The colors are cream, tan, brown, and pink of course. Kevin and I will need to figure out what to do with out guestroom furniture and the stuff we've crammed in the guestroom closet before we start painting. I figure that having bedding will be good motivation to start cracking on that project. I wish the town's garage sale day wasn't on the weekend that I'm going to a conference out of town. I think we're going to need to downsize a lot more to make room for baby.

Obviously I've been experimenting with Photoshop again tonight. I think need some new subject matter. One can only do so many dog pages, even if it's Sedona Sunrise the wonder dog. Today I asked the girls at work for pictures of their kids and grandkids, offering to make a page for them in the dimentions of their choice. Hopefully I'll get a variety of photos to work with and can make something special for them while working on my skills.

Sedona reminds me that we should also remember to thank Cheri Skinner once again for making this beautiful pink and white afghan.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Learning Photoshop for Digital Scrapbooking

This weekend Kevin and I found a hobby that we can both enjoy: Digital Scrapbooking. Kevin enjoys playing around with Photoshop, and I like making the photos I take look pretty. Photoshop has a big learning curve, so it's been really hard for me. Here's the first page that I put together with Kevin's help. Of course it's of Sedona! I'm pretty proud! My goal is to have a good handle on how to do this before we're home with baby. I think I want to get a new digital camera too. I'm becoming more and more disappointed with our HP Photosmart 850 because of it's slow shutter speed and CCD imager. I can't take pictures of moving objects because they're out of the shot by the time I take the picture, or they show up as a blur. A toddler running around the house won't want to hold still for very long while mommy snaps a photo. I'm thinking about getting the Canon PowerShot A710 IS 7.1MP Digital Camera with 6x Image-Stabilized Optical Zoom. We'll see.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Our international agency requires us to complete an online interactive certificate program about international adoption titled "With Eyes Wide Open" by Adoption Learning Partners. There's 20 chapters to the program, and each chapter has homework. Kevin and I have been doing 1-2 chapters together at a time. It's really hard to sit around and talk about a whole lotta what ifs at one time. A lot of the chapters have things we've already talked about, so that's a good thing. Some are kind of dumb, but I understand the purpose. Some parts I've never thought about, like what does the "Average Joe" in Taiwan think of the police, and how do the rich in Taiwan treat the poor on the streets? 15 chapters done, 5 to go. I had no idea it would take this much effort. It's easy to answer the questions you can by yourself, but takes a lot longer when you've got to put your head together with your partner to form an answer. The Adoption Learning Partners website also has seven other programs that you can take for free, but have to pay to get the certificate.

For those of you that are interested, here's the chapter titles for "With Eyes Wide Open."

Chapter 1 - Image of Our Child
Chapter 2 - Adoption Losses and Gains
Chapter 3 - The Sounds of Early Life
Chapter 4 - Food and All That Means
Chapter 5 - Bed and Sleep
Chapter 6 - Child Development
Chapter 7 - Preparing for the Abused Child
Chapter 8 - A Special Child
Chapter 9 - Transitions from Orphanage to Home
Chapter 10 - Enclosed in an Orphanage
Chapter 11 - Bonding to a Rejected Child
Chapter 12 - Separating from Caretakers
Chapter 13 - Travel and Culture Shock
Chapter 14 - Home and Post-adoption
Chapter 15 - Preparing for Prejudice
Chapter 16 - Siblings and Adoption
Chapter 17 - When They Fight, Test, and Act Out
Chapter 18 - Birth Families Revisited
Chapter 19 - An International Family
Chapter 20 - Resources You Can Use

Homestudy Still in Review

Not much to say this week. Our homestudy has been reviewed by our international agency and is back to our homestudy agency for corrections/changes etc. I have no idea what corrections/changes are being made. Guess we'll see it when it's done. It's amazing how many people need to check out a report that's all about our family before it's finalized.