Thursday, December 27, 2007

Goodbye 2007!

Goodbye 2007! Bring on 2008! I feel like I've been living on the edge of my seat waiting for something to happen all year long.

This journey unknowingly started back in June of 2000 when Kevin and I were engaged. I trained for my first job after college with a young woman named Hannah, and I loved saying her name. I didn't know quite what it was, but something told me that if we ever had a daughter... we should name her Hannah. Luckily Kevin is an agreeable kind of guy, and readily agreed that we could name a first daughter Hannah. Little did I know back then that Hannah phonetically translates into 汉娜 which I've been told means "Chinese elegant/graceful/delicate." I take that to mean Chinese female. Even before we were married, God was trying to tell us that we would have a daughter that is ethnic Chinese. I just wish it didn't take me five years to figure out that God was speaking to me in Mandarin!

We're welcoming 2008 by doing some traveling this next week, so don't freak on me if we don't blog or respond to e-mails for a little while.

I'll leave you with my latest shopping find for when we're putting the nursery together after referral. We have new wood laminate floors for most of the house including the nursery. I've been shopping online for months trying to find a rug for the nursery floor goes with the pink and brown crib bedding. I think this idea looks even better than a rug! These are interlocking soft foam tiles by Skip Hop used to create a cushioning play area for a small child. Two thumbs up for this product that is fashionable, much more functional, and much cheaper than a rug that will get dirty from all things messy and gross that toddlers do! I even think I've seen pictures of babies playing on foam tiles at the St. Lucy's Center in Taiwan, so our Hannah Claire might be used to playing on something like this before she gets to play in her own room.

One more reason not to drink and drive

Here's a story about an adoptive mother and her child stuck in China. The adoption has been finalized in China, but the CIS won't approve the special needs child's visa because the adoptive father had a DUI in January. One more reason not to drink and drive...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Listening to Mary's Song this Christmas

I took this photo at our chuch's our Christmas Eve service.
Mary is inspiring me tonight.

Luke 1:46-56 "Mary's Song"

Mary responded, “Oh, how I praise the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation will call me blessed. For he, the Mighty One, is holy, and he has done great things for me. His mercy goes on from generation to generation, to all who fear him. His mighty arm does tremendous things! How he scatters the proud and haughty ones! He has taken princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. And how he has helped his servant Israel! He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful. For he promised our ancestors – Abraham and his children – to be merciful to them forever.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home. (NLT)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

fun weekend!

We had a great weekend! Kevin and I enjoyed a delicious brunch at Rebecca's home, celebrated with family at a gorgeous Christmas themed wedding, laughed at the antics of Bears fans loving their victory over the Packers today, and spent some time with Grandma at the nursing home. I retold her the Cabbage Patch Christmas story as she didn't remember it. Grandma exclaimed, "I found the doll for you?!?!" and seemed excited to be told that she had made me so happy as a child.
Tisra, there were a lot of people in diapers at the nursing home, but I couldn't find any Taiwanese babies. No Hannah Claire to be found at "Grandma's house."

This weekend has been horribly windy. We came home tonight to discover that our flag pole made out of steel pipe had been blown down and our American flag was ripped to shreds. A neighbor folded up our flag nicely and placed it at our front door. Thanks, anonymous neighbor. Kevin is mourning the loss of his flag pole, as he most likely won't be able to fix it until spring.

my last minute Christmas gift tip

At the end of the month always has great restaurant gift certificate offers. Right now you can get $25 gift certificates for only $3 with the coupon code: GIFTS. At the checkout hit "recalculate total" to make the coupon code work. This coupon code expires on December 25th at 11:49pm CST. You print out the gift certificates on your printer. When you take them to the restaurant, the employees call a phone number on the certificate to validate it's authenticity. My extended family has used a lot of these and enjoyed some pretty good deals!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

10 months

Today marks 10 months of waiting for referral.
These are my favorite Christmas digital scrapbooking
papers and elements to work with this year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cabbage Patch Christmas

A photo of me 25 years ago in December 1982.

Either in 1982 or 1983... I can't remember which year... all I wanted for Christmas was a Cabbage Patch Kid Doll. I really really really really wanted one. That was the first Christmas that these dolls were all of the rage, and parents would stake out stores and fight to get one. On Christmas morning I was so excited. I knew that Santa had to bring me this doll, as I'd been a good girl and Santa knew that's what I really wanted. Christmas morning while opening my presents and checking out what Santa brought, there was no Cabbage Patch Kid babydoll. (Santa Claus was not able to obtain the said doll locally.) I opened up a Cabbage Patch Kid toy suitcase and expected to find a doll inside, but instead I found a letter from Santa. I started reading the letter where Santa explained that he did not bring me my doll... and was so upset that I couldn't finish and started to cry. My parents coaxed me to finish reading the letter with tears flooding my eyes. Santa did not bring me a Cabbage Patch Kid doll because there would be one waiting for me when we arrived at Grandma's house later that day! I'm sure that the two hour car ride to Grandma's house felt like such a "long adoption journey" to my doll which I named Lisa Lynn. She had dark brown hair, blue eyes, pigtails, and I loved her very much and took her everywhere with me. The end. Now class, I'll let you draw your own parallels between "Cabbage Patch Christmas" and "Journey to Taiwan for Hannah Claire."

Updated 12/22/07:
I found a couple of cute old photos to go along with this post.

Obviously the first pic is of my Lisa Lynn, and then here's all of the neighborhood mommies with their babies. The little stylin' momma in the purple track pants reads this blog, and I'm sure that she'll get a kick outta this picture!

Friday, December 14, 2007

I make nice people cry.

This week someone hesitatingly asked me how our adoption was going. She was worried about asking because I hadn't said anything about it to her in a long while. I explained that there's been month after month of all boys this year, and our timeline went much slower than expected. I was so excited on Mother's Day 2007 to hear that it would only be 60-90 more days until referral... and I've just kept hanging on thinking... any day now, any day now... for so long that it almost doesn't seem real anymore. Well, I must sound pretty depressing, because I made this sweet soul start crying! It really surprised me when her tears started rolling in. I tried to reassure her, but didn't know quite what to say. "Don't cry for me. I've cried enough for both of us." I'm threw with crying. Now we just wait.

If we ever adopt again, we're not requesting a gender. Every child is a gift from God. And no, we have no plans to do this again any time soon. One babygirl and one babydog sound like plenty for now.

Scrapbooking Pages from Family Christmas 2007

Here's tonight's project... I digiscrapped some photos from my family's Christmas party last weekend. Whew! The very last smaller photo is our Christmas photo for this year that I printed out at Shutterfly and stuffed them in Christmas cards.

my waiting mommy bracelet

I bought one of Amy's waiting mommy bracelets this past month. It is quite pretty. I'm impressed with how sturdy the construction is. Thanks, Amy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Christmas Singing Goat

We had family Christmas at my parents' home this weekend and were fortunate to receive our first very cute toy for Hannah. Thanks, Mom and Dad. Kevin and I will be sure to pack the singing goat puppet on overnight trips to Grandma and Grandpa's house so Hannah and Grandma can sing "Sound of Music" tunes all they want!

Monday, December 10, 2007

An "Enchanted" Evening

Kevin and I went out on a date tonight. He called me at work a couple of minutes before I got off to let me know that he had dinner ready and then we're going out. I found out that "dinner ready" means that the take-out Chinese was hot and ready! After dinner we made a pit stop at Starbucks for peppermint mocha fuel and we're off to the "big city" for a movie. I've been waiting for Disney's "Enchanted" to come out for months and months and months, and it was very funny, and lovely, and just great great great! It's interesting balance between classic Disney fairytale and reality, for sure!

"Enchanted" did make me cry, but only in one spot. When the little girl and the princess were at the hair salon surrounded by a full day's worth of shopping bags, the little girl asked if this is what shopping with your mommy feels like. (The little girl's mother left the family years ago.) Visions of "shopping with mommy" really choked me up... Whew. Didn't expect those feelings to come on so strongly out of nowhere.

Anyway, if you have no idea what movie I'm talking about, here's the trailer in this first video clip.

Now, just to show how great a movie this was, this clip below is from the big budget song and dance scene. Don't watch it if you want to save the build up for the middle of your movie viewing experience.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

To Answer Tisra's Question on Printing

Dear Tisra,

I can print very good 8 1/2 x 12 prints at home with my Epson Stylus Photo R380 printer. Kevin did a great job researching photo printers and bought this for us (well, really just for me) for our anniversary this year. It wasn't expensive, and we're getting really quality here at home with premium photo paper. You can get this printer for only $99 now, so you might want to add this to your Christmas wish list this year.

I'm also a big fan of Shutterfly. I plan on printing Shutterfly photo books when we have baby home. Right now I really don't feel like I have much that I want bound in a book. What I really like about these Shutterfly books is that you can even design your own covers. That's pretty cool. I can also order multiples at a time... one for me, and an extra one or two for the grandmas. I hear that grandmas can get a little demanding when you haven't sent them enough baby pictures!

I'm always oh so very happy with the 4 x 6 prints that I order from Shutterfly. I upload them in the very highest resolution that I can. It can take awhile to upload them, but when they arrive in the mail I'm jumping up and down because they look so nice. I ordered 75 copies of a Christmas 4 x 6 digital scrapbooking page to put in our Christmas cards this year... and I can't say enough about how crystal clear they are. I also plan on digiscrapping our baby announcements in 4 x 6, having Shutterfly print them, and just putting them in envelopes with the print as the actual announcement. You could do the same thing for party invitations. 4 x 6s are so cheap that your invitations would be be beautiful, inexpensive, and personal. I have not been very happy with the quality of digiscrapping prints that I uploaded to two local drugstores and had them print out at the store in an hour. I have a feeling that the photo file gets compressed or something, as the words look all fuzzy.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Glitter, Scrapping, and the Band Flies to Amsterdam

I've been busy downloading glitter digital scrapbooking freebies this week. Flerg is a new designer that has some interesting work with GLITTER and several freebies on her blog. I'm usually not a "glittery" person, but a little limited use of glitter can make layouts extra special.

Kevin has started to become interested in the mechanics of my digital artistry. He's trying to get me to use Photoshop more and create my own papers, elements, even glitter rather than using what designers have made. Um... it's hard! I'm not sure that I have the patience to create my own when I know that I can pay someone else a few dollars to do it for me. Kevin scanned a picture of the pink fabric from the Hannah Banana jammies (that mysteriously jumped into my cart at Target last week) to make a background for me. Isn't that sweet? Also bought me a digital scrapbooking guide published by Better Homes and Gardens at Wal-mart to try to learn how to make my own stuff. Some of the ideas are pretty cool, like I can see scanning an image of a spatula to use it as an element when making a page about baking cookies with the kids. That makes sense.

A high school classmate came over tonight to learn about digital scrapbooking. She's a traditional scrapper, and wanted to see how this was done. It always amazes me to hear about traditional scrapbookers spending ALL DAY at a workshop to make three pages, and spending hundreds of dollars at scrapbooking stores and for special dye-cutting equipment.

I've tried traditional srapbooking, and found it completely frustrating. I can't imagine driving over half an hour to the nearest store to buy your stuff, having plan what you need while in the store feeling overwhelmed by all of the stuff, paying oodles of money, bringing it home and making a mess all over the kitchen table with little bits here and there, getting frustrated when something doesn't look write, and it's now ruined because it's all glued down or the paper is already cut and you just can't put it back together. With digital scrapbooking I can use the same favorite stuff over and over, gets lots of freebies to work with to test out a designer's stuff before I buy from them, and do it all from the comfort of my home office in my jammies at 2am while eating cookies. The only mess I make is when I drop cookie crumbs on the floor, but Sedona takes care of gobbling those up. Thanks, Babydog.

I just learned of this idea tonight and think it is sooooo cute. People are making little photo books out of Altoids tins! My mom and dad are Altoids fans and usually have several flavors in the car at one time, and I'm going to have to ask them to start saving their tins for me. I would love to make the grandmas both little baby brag books that fit into Altoids tins. How cute!!!

Rock Band Update:
Our Rock Band "Sedona Sunrise" has been doing really well. We just built up a big enough fan base to get our own jet, and flew to Amsterdam for a gig tonight. I do need to work on my Metallica. I can only score three stars on "Enter Sandman," but I'd rather be playing songs like Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." My brother-in-law is a drummer. Maybe he can give me a few pointers at family Christmas tomorrow. Dear adoption agency, you're free to call anytime, you know... even when I'm in the middle of drum solos. Our band will continue on our European tour this week, but we'll still take your calls... even from Paris. The tour must go on, and we just can't sit around home waiting for that referral phone call.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

This Wintery Week

I've been a little quiet this week in bloggy land. Not much to say, so we're just going on livin' our lives. Kevin's convinced that his Guitar Hero guitar wasn't working right, and had the manufacturer send him another one. Well, they messed up and sent us a new guitar AND a new drum set... so we're enjoying "drum offs" challenges at home in the living room this week until we have to send back the drum set.
It snowed last night so now there's beautiful white stuff blanketing the grass. I made a little digiscrapping page today to remember our snow rituals as a couple.

Last Wednesday I visited my friend Amy to help design her blog and showed her how blogger works. Amy's a mom in control, and I can learn a lot by watching her interact with her children. There was a biting incident with a friend, and her son was on the receiving end of the munch. I was amazed at how well and calmly she handled the situation. "Was that a good choice?" "How do you think that made him feel?" When she asked the friend if he bit her son, the five year old had different answers. First the answer was no, then it turned into "I don't recall," and finally it turned into a yes. I can't believe I heard a five year old use the words "I don't recall!" He sounded like he was testifying before Congress!

Amy had some gifts for Hannah Claire. I'm now the proud owner of two little pairs of tights because "no one ever gets you tights." I also have a little jean jacket and a beautiful light blue flowered Asian inspired linen jacket. I especially love the jacket. It is sooooo beautiful!

Jeff, Abbey, and Reed tipped me off that Target had some pink Hannah Banana jammies. During a Target run on the way home from Amy's house, these jammies just happened to fall into my cart! Amazing! How'd that happen? I don't recall!

Finally, Sedona the babydog went to a new pet spa for the first time this week. Mommy thought a lady's garage was a funny place for a spa, but the new groomer did a nice job. Sedona thinks she's all right, because she got a rawhide candy cane bone for the car ride home.

Kevin and I have been working on Sedona's self control this month. We drop a treat on the ground, and she has to wait until we say "okay, get it!" before she's allowed to have it. This is a nice command to stop her from eating up things we drop on the floor while cooking.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Q and A on adopting from St. Lucy's Center

Judy posted some very valuable informaiton regarding adopting from the St. Lucy's Center in Tainan on her blog. Thanks!

US State Department Fiscal Year 2007 Numbers on International Adoptions

The US Statement Department released their 2007 numbers on international adoption last week. Here's the 2007 numbers from the top sending countries, with the 2006 numbers in parenthesis. Wow. Look at how Taiwan increased...

China 5,453 (6,493)
Guatemala 4,728 (4,135)
Russia 2,310 (3,706)
Ethiopia 1,255 (732)
South Korea 939 (1,376)
Vietnam 626 (163)
Ukraine 606 (460)
Kazakhstan 540 (587)
India 416 (320)
Liberia 314 (353)
Taiwan 311 (187)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

MSNBC reports: Foreign adoptions in U.S. decline for third year

Times are a changing. My grandparents cut things out of their newspaper and mail them to me in an envelope, sometimes with notes on the side. Mom and Dad e-mail me links to read.

After reading that post... I'm thinking, "Gheesh. Just wait until next year when the Guatemala numbers are way down due to Hague treaty implementation."