Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reed's missing toys

Dear Baby Reed,

I'm sorry little one. Hannah Claire didn't take your toys. She's still in Taiwan. And yes, please see if your daddy will let you use Skype to video conference some adoption phone calls for us. Hannah Claire's mommy is getting quite anxious.

Watch out for that big kid Kobi. He's pretty wild with his toys lately... especially with his baseball gear!

Hannah Claire's Mommy

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tadpole Soup

If you haven't already read this family's Taiwan adoption blog, you need to. Check out the exciting things that they ate this weekend. Kevin and I draw the line at tadpole soup. No thank you. I'd try the squid, but I have a feeling I'd rather have the sausage and pineapple on a stick.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Thank you

I just wanted to say thank you to all of the support I've gotten from other adoptive families. I've received several uplifting e-mails in my in-box lately, along with good tips from mommas who've been there, done that.

I've been asked a few of the same questions lately, so I figured that I'd reply to all.

Question: Will you let us know about your referral right away?
Answer: We may need to take a few days to look over the referral information. If there are any medical questions, we'll use the Riley International Adoption Clinic to evaluate the medical information before we accept the referral. We'll share the good news with everyone once we make a decision to accept the referral.

Question: Will you share referral pictures with us?
Answer: Yes yes yes.

Until then... I carry my camera with me and look for help from Psalm 27:14. Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord.

Fun with Love is a Place

I have just finished installing a new blog header for Jane at Love is a Place. This just might be my favorite thing I've ever made while digiscrapping. Jia's so cute that it's pretty easy to be inspired!

Here is a site that I'm playing around with. Picnik is a web based free photo editor that is very easy to use. I'm anti-Photoshop because it's just so complicated... but Picnik is user friendly and allows me to edit photos easily and quickly. For Love is a Place I made some photos sepia tone and used the vignette function to make the edges of the photo darker. They have premium features that you can subscribe to for $24.95 a year. For now I'm very happy with the free features.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blog Headers with Love

I've had a little fun making blog headers for some other blogging adopting parents lately. If anyone else would like a new blog header, I'd be happy to make one for you in exchange for a free will donation to help with projects for the St. Lucy's Center and Chung Yi orphanages in Taiwan. Right now funds are needed to pay for shipping costs for the donated Christmas presents for children at Chung Yi.

Click on the graphic below to read about the details:

Get a new blog header in exchange for a donation to help orphanages in Taiwan!

Stork Alert Downgraded from Red to Orange

It now sounds like those referrals have already been matched with other families, but I hear more are on the way. This is wonderful news, as these little girls join families that are surely just over the moon with excitement. This also bumps us up in line on the pink list, so we're happy things are movin' right along after being delayed months with no infant girl referrals. I'll downgrade this stork alert from red high alert to orange. Whew! One can only check phone's dial tone and junk e-mail box so many times in one day! Hee hee! I've started carrying my camera in my purse everywhere I go just in case we get the call, and told the girls at work to make sure that my camera is out and that someone is taking video or pictures if this all goes down when I'm at work.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

American Girl Dolls

My mother told me a few weeks ago that she's looking forward to shopping for American Girl Dolls. I think that's so sweet! Today I got an American Girl Doll catalog in the mail with a beautiful Chinese-American doll on the cover. While Mom was at work, I brought over the catalog and put it on the kitchen table with a note about the girl referral rumors... and that I hope she gets to start shopping for her Hannah very soon.

Stork Alert for the "Pink Line"

A friend just e-mailed me that another family posts our agency has three infant girl referrals from Chung Yi. I'm all shakey excited. Not sure what this means for me, but I'm so glad that that there are more referrals for the "pink line" because these families have anticipated these referrals "any day now" for so long. YAY YAY YAY!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Woah... What Happened?

Yes, this is the right place. Yes, the blog design looks way different. Nope, I'm not done. There may by some tweaks here and there.

I still really love this "Are We There Yet?!" onesie and have it in a couple of sizes, as I think it will be funny to have our daughter wear it on the long trip home.

Fun with Adopting Families

Kevin has accused me (jokingly of course) of becoming a blogaholic. Here's a test one can take to find out your status.

My score was 56 percent. A score in the 51 through 80 present ranks me as a dedicated blogger. The site states, "You post frequently because you enjoy weblogging a lot, yet you still manage to have a social life. You're the best kind of weblogger. Way to go!"

Yesterday's gathering of Indiana Taiwan adoption families was really great time, but Kevin joked that I couldn't wait to get home to blog about it. See, honey. I waited until the next day. I'm just a dedicated blogger, not a blogaholic. Haha.

Due to babysitter difficulties, we ended up meeting in a home rather than at the restaurant. I think we had an even better time because we had more time to just hang out, relax, and get to know eachother. We had 6 adults and 7 kiddos, and it was amazing that the kids played so well together. It was a beautiful October day, and the sand and swingset kept them entertained for hours. We joked that the family's recycling bin made it look like there had been a frat party. At the end of the night there were many empty bottles of wine, beer bottles, pop cans (Yep, I'm a Hoosier and I say "pop"), three pizza boxes, and one jug of milk.

I took some parenting notes from these supermommies. Here's my favorite. When your older child is crying too long and isn't really hurt, pretend to be overly interested in their owie. "Oh no, this really looks serious! If this isn't better in a few minutes we're going to have to go to doctor and get a shot to fix it." Amazing! Whimpering stopped immediately. Gotta write this stuff down!

Someone asked me yesterday when Chinese New Year would be in 2008. I googled the answer:
New Year's Day - Thursday, February 7th
Lantern Festival (15th day) - Thursday, February 21st

8 months

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

invitation to lunch

Dear families adopting from Taiwan,
You are invited to join three (or more?) couples adopting from Taiwan meeting for lunch at an Italian restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana, this Sunday, October 21st, at 1:00pm. If you are interested in joining us for food, fun, and a glass of wine... e-mail me at journeytohannahclaire@gmail.com. I just might need two glasses to mark 8 months on the waiting list!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

baby coupons

Tonight at CVS I had an Extra Care coupon to get $2 off a Playskool baby item. When I get these coupons it makes me kinda sad. I want to spend them because I get good deals, but it'd hard to pick something out. I don't want to choose a pacifier, bottle, or nipple product because babies are picky and I have no idea what kind she'll like. So... baby got some $3.99 - $2 = $1.99 heat sensitive spoons tonight. I've previously had a CVS Extra Care coupon for one free Playskool baby item up to $5! Hannah Claire has a bowl and spoon too in our kitchen cabinet. They've been lonely, sitting there all by themselves with no other baby items. Someone tipped me up to sign up with diaper companies and they've started sending me coupons in the mail. Pampers knows my name and address and wants my business. If anyone has some baby coupons scoop to share let me know where I can sign up.

Sigh. No news. Believe, me... you'd know if there was any.

Tuesday Baby Quiz

Which mammal has the longest gestation period? No cheating and googling for the right answer! I'll post the answers in 48 hours. Hint: The correct answer is not an adoptive parent, although it feels like it when you're +12 months "paper pregnant."

Answer posted 10/18. You're a bunch of smart mommas!

Gestation is the period of time between fertilization and birth of mammals—in other words, the time spent in the mother's uterus. The shortest known gestation period is 12 to 13 days. This record is shared by three marsupials (mammals in which the young are born prematurely and finish developing in a pouch located near the mother's abdomen): the American or Virginian opossum (Didelphis marsupialis); the rare water opossum, or yapok (Chironectes minimus), of central and northern South America; and the eastern native cat (Dasyurus viverrinus) of Australia. The longest gestation period for a mammal is that of the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) with an average of 660 days, and a maximum of 760 days.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Chung Yi Christmas Presents - Part 5

I had so much fun shopping for Christmas presents for a baby girl at Chung Yi that we took on shopping for a boy aged 8-11. I left the toy selection all up to Kevin, and he got excited about Matchbox cars that are off-road vehicles. I'll add some art supplies and toiletries and we'll be all set.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Happy 6th Anniversary to Us!

Looking back six years ago:

We were married on October 13, 2001 in my home church. It was a cloudy fall day with a few sprinkles, but inside the church everything was beautiful. The fresh flowers were especially stunning. My favorite flowers included bridesmaids' rose bouquets with fall nuts and acorns nestled in them and a burgundy ribbons with leaves attached to them that ran down the center isle of the church. Kevin and I were both misty eyed during the ceremony, and he squeezed my hand to try to be funny so I wouldn't cry. Our guests were given handfuls of freshly fallen leaves to throw at us as we left the church and it looked so pretty to have all of the leaves in the air at one time. The reception was a lot of fun, but went by so fast! We spent the night at a local bed and breakfast. My sister (little sneak!) had decorated the room with silk fall leaves and candles, and left us a basket of snacks. Kevin really appreciated the snacks! The reception was so busy that we didn't get to eat much of our dinner or drink more than a few sips of champagne.

The happy couple honeymooned in New Orleans the following week. Just one month after 9/11, New Orleans seemed very quiet. Many people were scared to travel. We went on with our honeymoon as planned, as we felt that the terrorists win if we stay home in fear. There were very few people in the hotels we stayed in, eating at restaurants where we experienced Cajun and Creole cooking, as well as exploring with us on cemetary tours. Now we feel forunate to have experienced the flavor of New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina.

Updated 10/14/07:
We spent our anniversary celebrating my grandparents' 80th birthdays. Our family had dinner at an Amish farm with all of my aunts, uncles, and most of the cousins. We had salads and rolls with apple butter, pan fried chicken, Swiss steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, noodles, stuffing, green beans, and a selection of pies to choose from. Mmmm. Delicious carbohydrate overload! I sat under a gas lamp and was surprised at how much light and heat it let out. I liked watching a little blond Amish schoolgirl peek out and enjoy listening to us tell stories. My grandfather retold the story about how he stood up my grandmother on their first date. It was V-J day, and he went out celebrating with his buddies. I'm sure they just went out to clink glasses over a few rounds of milk. Ha ha! Anyway, I'm glad that she decided to give him another chance! Kevin gave me a new photo printer for our anniversary. It prints my photos and scrapbooking pages out much nicer than the regular ink jet printer we have.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Double Ten Day

Today is the national celebration day for the government of Taiwan, called the Republic of China. It celebrates the start of the Wuchang uprising on October 10, 1911. Traditionally, the celebration starts in front of the presidential building with flag raising, public singing of their national anthem, and a military parade. Fireworks displays in the evening are head throughout major cities across the island. This symbol is often used for Double Ten Day because it is the combination of two characters for 10.

Until TODAY, military parades had on Double Ten Day not been held since 1991 because of tensions with China. Taiwan has been flexing it's muscles recently trying once again to gain United Nations recognition, and used today's Double Ten Day parade to show their stuff. Today's parade was complete with tanks rolling down the street, fighter planes streaking across the sky in formation, and marching by military honor guards.

This holiday sounds a lot like Fourth of July celebrations here in the US, minus the tanks and tensions with China.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Referral Request Form

Kevin called me at work tonight to tell me we had a package from our adoption agency. I got the shivers, but stopped and thought... surely we didn't get a referral by mail! Nope, no referral. It's an information request form that helps the agency know what special needs or situations that we would be open to when considering a referral. Of course we'd like to "request" for that referral to come any day now, so we sat down over dinner and talked through our decisions. It's all done, and we'll mail it back tomorrow. My sweetheart of a husband even held my hand during some of the tough ones. I married such a great guy.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

my recent reads

Vignettes of Taiwan by Joshua Samuel Brown

This book was great for me because I could read 1-2 little short vignettes a day on topics such as Taiwanese history, betel nut girls, night markets with stinky tofu, dating, gambling, and the lantern festival. Yes, that's right! They even have a vingnette on my stinky tofu!

Until I read this book, I had no idea that the romanization of Chinese names is steeped in politics. The author states, "Prior to the late 1990s, Taiwan used the Wade-Giles system, allowing names of places to be read by people unfamiliar with Chinese characters. The Wade-Giles system was also likely politically acceptable, being different from the Janyu Pinyin used in China. In recent years, the Taiwanese government has attempted to switch to a third system, called Tongyong. However, not all cities and counties in Taiwan agree with this change, resulting in a confusing set of circumstances in which the romanized spellings of certain place names may be spelled differently on signs and maps around the island, depending on the political leanings of the sign painters or map makers at the time." This is a recent publication, with a copyright of 2006.

Peony in Love by Lisa See

I started reading this book on vacation after finishing Lisa See's bestseller Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I had to stop halfway through because it got kind of strange. I'm not giving away the book by telling you that most of the book is an after death experience. Bad things happen when your family doesn't burn enough ghost money money so you don't have resources in the afterlife... but I really don't want to read about a fictional afterlife. Sorry.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Excellent. I found it at my local library, but it's good enough to buy. I read the whole book over about two days while we were in Texas. I had heard of the ancient practice of foot binding before but really didn't know much about it until reading this novel. Perfect foot binding was a necessity to marry well and have good relationships with your husband's family. The novel stated that one in ten girls would die from foot binding infections, and it would take a couple of years to recover fully from the ordeal. The Chinese government ordered footbinding to stop in 1912, but it takes a long time for traditions so steeped in culture to end. There are some old women in Taiwan who have bound feet. I'm not posting pictures to this blog because they can be a little shocking the first time you see them. If you would like to know more about what foot binding looks like, go to this link. There is a foot binding culture museum in Taipei County, by the way.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Chung Yi English Website Updated

Chung Yi has been working on the English portion of their website. It still says under construction, but you can read a lot about Chung Yi under the tabs. Thanks to Vonne for the tip!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Chung Yi Christmas presents - part 4

I went to Wal-mart today just to get one item. I should have known better. I wanted to include a paci clip as a last minute item in my gift bag to a child at Chung Yi. Well, you know what happens when you get me in a baby section? I can't resist looking at baby clothes. It all started so innocently. I picked up the clip, and then was drawn to the baby clothes. I found two very soft darling outfits to send in the Christmas package to Chung Yi, one 3-6 months and one 6-9 months. Pictures are of them below. (Sedona was a being a stinker tonight and wanted attention and barked at me and danced on top of the baby clothes. Bad, babydog. When I told her to go sit in her crate to get out of the way, she ran to her travel bag that was out on the floor. I think she wants to deliver the gifts to Chung Yi herself.)

I'm getting off track. Anyway... so I found these two cute outfits for the Christmas bag. I'm starting to depart the baby section without major purchases until a lady says to me, "What age is your daughter? There's whole section of summer that is only $1-2." That sent me into a little emotional roller coaster. What age is my daughter? Humm. I didn't know what to say. I don't know how old my daughter is. But then I jerked right into retail therapy mode. "Did you say $1 outfits???" I thanked the woman for the shopping tip and made a bee line to the clearance rack. I found a whole bunch of cute outfits, 12 in number to be exact, most for $1, all going to the children of Chung Yi.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Chung Yi Christmas presents - part 3

I've finished the Christmas present package tonight. I tried to stuff everything into a gallon ziplock bag, but everything doesn't fit! Luckly my mom had some two gallon ziplock bags at work! I didn't even know that there were two gallon bags until this project. Even when you're 30, mom still comes to the rescue!

The last thing to do was write a letter to the child at Chung Yi that will get this gift. Obviously, the 0-1 year old little girl won't be able to understand this letter, even after translation... but maybe someone will save it for her.

Dear little girl 0-1 years old

We are Kevin and Sarah, a couple in the United States adopting from Taiwan with the help of the Families for Children agency. We have been waiting for nearly a year to be matched with a child just like you in Taiwan.

Even though you are too young to understand the words of this letter, we want you to know that half way around the world, there is a family in the United States that is thinking of you. We pray for your health, happiness, and development as you learn about the world around you. We also pray that the good people at Chung Yi will find a mother and a father for you, to make a family that will love you forever.

We are Christians, and celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus on December 25th each year. Our family gives gifts to each other at Christmas to celebrate God’s gift to the world, his son Jesus. At Christmas time we decorate a Christmas evergreen tree with white lights, silk flowers, ribbon, and ornaments that are special to us. We also decorate the outside of our home with evergreen, white lights, and red ribbon. It looks very pretty, especially when it snows. The day before Christmas we eat large delicious meal at Sarah’s mother’s home, and then go to church together late at night. At church we have special music with singers, English handbells, trumpets, and drums. Christmas day we travel to Sarah’s grandparents’ home on a lake where all of the aunts, uncles, and cousins, and their children gather together for food and fun with family. Sometimes the lake freezes solid and we can walk on top of the lake. Kevin’s family lives far away, and we spend an entire week with them every year right after Christmas.

This year, thinking of you and praying for your future will be an important part of our Christmas experience. We have sent some Christmas gifts to help you explore and grow. There’s a camera too so that when you are older, you can look back on more pictures of yourself when you were a little baby at Chung Yi. Merry Christmas, little one!

With love,
Kevin and Sarah

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Happy Birthday to my Mother

Your birthday brings to mind
the thousands of things you did for me
that helped make me
happier, stronger and wiser,
because I had you as a role model.

I'm grateful for all the times
you healed my hurts
and calmed my fears,
so that I could face the world
feeling safe and secure.

I'm thankful for all you showed me
about how to love and give
lessons that now bring
so many blessings to me
each and every day.

Your sacrifices and unselfishness
did not go unnoticed, Mom.
I admire and respect you.
I love you.
And I'm so glad you're my mother!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Chung Yi Christmas presents - part 2

Oh! Duh! I'm including a disposable camera for this Christmas present to a Chung Yi baby girl in hopes that the nannies will take more pictures of her as she grows up. These pictures will be her pictures, and hopefully something she will take with her when she leaves Chung Yi to join a family.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Chung Yi Christmas presents

A group of adopting parents using our agency Families for Children is working on providing Christmas presents for all of the children at the Chung Yi orphanage in Taiwan. Chung Yi has infants, toddlers and several older children too, many of which will never be adopted for various reasons. I've been assigned to create a Christmas package for a little girl, 0-1 year old. Someone must think I know how to shop for a baby girl! Now where would they get that idea from? My package contains a dog with lots of textures and sounds, and it shakes when you pull on a cord on top his head. There's a clip on rattle with lots of textures, sounds, and a mirror. She'll have some pastel onesies, socks, and a lovey blanket. Depending on space and weight, I'll add some extra items from the drug store as well.