Tuesday, April 29, 2008

something good to say

I did a blog design this morning for Michelle. Believe it or not, her blog's address is http://waitingisgood.blogspot.com. Waiting is good? (Scratching my head.) Well, maybe a little waiting is good, but a lot of waiting makes you (aka me) cry a lot and gain back the 35 pounds you just lost at the beginning of the adoption journey.

I'm getting off track. ANYWAY, Michelle writes, "Waiting is like a weed. We can try to get rid of it, complain about and hate "looking" at it. Or we can change our perspective and look for the joy in it. Maybe if we try hard enough, this field of waiting weeds will turn into a flower garden of good things."

Inspired by Michelle, I'm going to try to find joy in my weeds tomorrow. If that doesn't work, I'm bringing out the Roundup sprayer and going to Zestos for ice cream.

"If you don't have anything good to say, then..."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

baby bears, big south facing windows, and nap time

Kevin is big into light control. He's always made sure that we had "blackout" blinds for our bedroom so we can turn the room into a dark cave for sleeping bears any time of day. We're big fans of Bali midnight blinds after installing them in our last two homes. This time we chose the cordless option to prevent problems with kids vs. cords. Our nursery is a south facing room. Of course Papa Bear's next task for the nursery was to cover up this huge window up with blackout blinds. I hear that more sleep for Baby Bear equals more sleep for Papa Bear and Mama Bear. Mr. Sunshine will not be permitted to be the cause of keeping Baby Bear from any nap time.

Monday, April 21, 2008

14 months

I made this with my favorite digital scrapbooking kit. It's new from Weeds and Wildflowers and is called "Grandma's Pressed Flowers." This page was a labor of love and took well over an hour to carefully place over 80 little pressed flower bits just where I wanted them to fall. I made it this way so we could use it to announce the referral and use it as the cover of her baby book. Unfortunately, it's turned into a 14 months waiting page.

I found a poem this week that is a great description of what waiting on edge to be matched with a child feels like.

Daydreaming by Tom Fisher

I stepped into her room today
Knowing she’s not there
This waiting for referral
Is more than one can bear

But taking in the moment
I sit down on the floor
And dream of her here with me
When waiting is no more.

A little giggle fills the air
As I rub her feet
I place my hand upon her heart
To feel its every beat.

A song is sung so very soft
Her eyes begin to close
She’s meeting me in dream land
A place where love still grows.

My vision now is very blurred
The tears stream down my cheeks
I’ve dreamed of her quite often
Throughout these past few weeks.

Suddenly a sound is heard
The phone rings in the hall
Waking up I quickly pray
Please let it be “The Call”.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Therefore, I design blogs.

Things are rockin' at Blogovers with Love. We now have FIVE, yes five volunteer blog designers, that are ready to bling your blog in exchange for your donation to benefit orphans in Taiwan and China. Donations in April and May 2008 will be forwarded to Half the Sky. Half the sky has a number of programs that benefit children in orphanages in China, including training for nannies to prevent institutionalization disorders, preschool programs, and individualized programs for older children. We have several blog designs in the works right now, and there's room for lots more. I'm so excited that a little seed of an idea that I had, and that Rebecca helped me water and grow... has gotten so big!

I don't sew. I can't paint or draw. You wouldn't enjoy hearing me sing. I fall asleep when I read, and I certainly don't cook if it requires much more work than pressing buttons on a microwave. (That's why I married a man that was an Army cook.) Therefore, I design blogs.

P.S. Lisa, I've answered your question in the comments section. Thanks. :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Easyclosets.com Gets Two Thumbs Up

As I posted earlier, we were horribly disappointed with the signature series ClosetMaid system that we bought at Lowes. The fiberboard was all gouged and wasn't very nice quality at all, so we returned every last piece and started from scratch, looking for online custom closet retailers.

Easyclosets.com is an excellent example of everything that an online retailer should be. We designed our closets online with their great web tools. We could design our closets using all available space, and could tell them how we wanted it laid out within fractions of an inch. We placed our order on Saturday night, the closet system was shipped on Monday from New Jersey, and UPS delivered it in seven boxes Wednesday afternoon. The most impressive part of the experience was checking out how securely that they packed the boards so that each piece would arrive without any dents or scratches. ClosetMaid could learn a thing or two from Easyclosets.com. It took about three hours to install the closet system with a very minimal amount of expletives. But, I guess I watched and handed Kevin screws, cams, and the drill and didn't do any actual installation work myself... so it was real easy for me!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

counting the days until Mother's Day

There are only 25 days until Mother's Day 2008. (Head thumping against wall.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

gifts from Judy

Saturday we were treated to a very special package in the mail. Judy sent us a little package of genuine Taiwanese pineapple cakes that she brought home from Taiwan and a light yellow smog mask. We enjoyed two of the little cakes at home and brought the remaining two to my mom and dad as an after dinner treat at family lunch today. The little cakes are beautifully wrapped, heart shaped, crumbly, and filled with pineapple goodness. The smog mask has a little bunny embroidered on one side. Mask didn't fit me, certainly didn't fit Kevin, and was too big for the babydog. It must be for Hannah! I packed the smog mask away in Hannah Claire's accessory drawer with her sunglasses. Where do you all keep your smog masks? :) Thanks, Judy!

An update regarding this weekend's closet remodel: The ClosetMaid system was badly damaged inside the boxes when we brought it home from Lowe's. Dear ClosetMaid, Huge gouges in MDF are not acceptable for my baby girl's closet. I painted the closet with two coats of a creamy color called "toast", and we ordered another manufacturer's closet system online that should arrive within three business days. Kevin says that he wants to go back to Lowe's and see if they have a slightly darker paint color called "crust" that we can paint around the edges of the "toast" colored closet. Yep. That's my husband!

Friday, April 11, 2008

false labor

Today I got a phone call from the adoption agency while at work. That's never happened before. When I heard who it was, I made this GIANT LOUD SHARP INHALING BREATHING ALMOST SUCKING SOUND. I thought it was THE CALL. My heart leaped and my mind raced. This is it?!?!?! Is this it?!?!?! Oh... it's not. Uh, I'm embarrassed. Sorry to freak out on you. After the call, I laughed really hard at myself and shed a few silly tears. Oh well. At least I know how I respond when I'm surprised thinking this is THE CALL. And our lives go on. Can't decide, white or beige for the inside of that closet? Beige might show less dirt, but white might be brighter. Trying to "think positive" happy thoughts blah blah blah.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My girl needs a closet

My girl needs a well organized closet. Her nursery isn't very big, so the closet needs to be able to contain a whole lotta clothes (cough cough... I just might enjoy buying her new clothes now and then), toys, and supplies. We visited Lowes tonight to do some research, and then went home to measure the closet and plan the layout with the help of the ClosetMaid website. Our plans this weekend involve painting the closet a fresh neutral coat of paint, then purchasing and installing the system. No nights out on the town, and no dim sum adventures this weekend. Just two wanna-be parents with paintbrushes, screwdrivers, saws, frustrated over confusing directions, and whole lotta hope for good things to come. I still can't bring myself to paint the nursery walls yet. If something went wrong, I couldn't stand painting over pretty walls meant for our daughter.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Chicago Part 1: The Hyatt

Kevin and I have been talking about needing to get outta town for the past month. We're hanging around home, not going anywhere, trying to save money for adoption expenses, and not being our usual adventurous selves. I was so excited when he came by work on Thursday afternoon and surprised me with a note book with our Chicago trip itinerary. Kevin used Priceline to book us a four star hotel in Chicago, and chance got us the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place which was within 6-7 blocks of Chicago's Chinatown. We arrived late on Friday night after a long drive, and ordered room service. We were on the 20th floor and had a great view of downtown. We left the curtains open at night so we could see all of the lights in the skyline.

Chicago Part 2: Ni Hao, Chinatown!

On Saturday morning we woke up early and headed out. The weathermen forcasted a beautiful sunny day in the low 60s, perfect April weather to wander around Chinatown. We thought it would only be a 6-7 block walk, but chose to take a taxi just to be sure. Better safe than sorry! Our cab driver dropped us off at the gates. There were lots of people in the streets, but no tourists like us. Neighborhood people were out and about, and going to the Chinese bakeries. The shops and groceries weren't open yet. We walked around peering into shop windows and checking out architecture. After walking by bakery after bakery, we decided to go in and get some of these Chinese biscuits that I've heard so much about. There were mostly older men inside sipping coffee, eating biscuits, and laughing with friends. I was one of the few females in the bakery, and we were the only non-Asians there for sure. My biscuits were an egg and bacon and then a biscuit that had a almond cookie top with red bean baste in the middle. They were heavenly! We'll show more bakery photos a little later. We walked around for a little longer, and Kevin went into another bakery. This time he bought us almond cookies and wintermelon cookies. Shops were starting to open up. We saw so much ginseng, dried mushrooms, and dried sea life for sale in little glass jars. There were lots of little grocery stories with sea life smells that weren't so pleasing to my nose. I think I'll stick to the bakeries.

Thanks to my adopting friend Erin, we knew to visit an outdoor mall. It had professional shops, lots of restaurants, groceries, cell phone depos, and bubble tea cafes. Erin recommended a little restaurant at the west end of the mall, and we decided to go in for some dim sum.

Chicago Part 3: Chinese Bakery Breakfasts

Here are our two days worth of photos from our Chinese bakery breakfasts. I think that we ate our way through Chinatown. Mmmmm. The top left one is a biscuit with an almond cookie on top with red bean baste in the middle. Top right is a "sausage biscuit" which was like a plain biscuit with several pieces of a Slim Jim beef stick cooked into it. Second from the top on the left had egg, carrott, and peas. Next down is Kevin eating egg and ham. Bottom photo is a shot of our box that biscuits came in, as well as some mini moon cakes that we brought home and have yet to try. The big photo in the center is my favorite, bacon and egg, next to the almond cookie topped biscuit.
Mmmmm. Kevin's a happy boy here with his biscuit. I wish somplace around here in the corn and soybean fields would make Chinese biscuits. I think I'd rather have these than doughnuts any day. The bread texture is soft, a lot like King's Hawaiian bread, but they're not as sweet.

Chicago Part 4: Dim Sum for Two

We had our first taste of dim sum for lunch on Saturday. Dim Sum is a kid of Chinese cuisine that involves a variety of small light dishes served with tea. A lot of the items are steamed, and served in steamer baskets. We placed our order at our table by checking off boxes on the menu of what we'd like. I've included photos above with what we ordered. We were served a large pot of tea with loose leaves, and then one by one dishes were brought out to us.
I was really excited to have congee, a kind of porridge, because I know that it is a first food of Chinese and Taiwanese children. I liked the congee, but was surprised that I found lots of bones in my soup, and would have to spit them back out into the spoon and then onto the plate. Guess I'm just not used to bones in my soup! The pan cake was really greasy and we didn't care for it. Kevin especially liked the fragrant chicken sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. It was beautiful, and smelled even better. The BBQ pork buns were so so. I'd like to have regular steamed buns next time. The coconut milk cake tasted like coconut milk jello and cut the grease taste out of my mouth after dinner. When we were ready to leave about noon, the restaurant was packed and people were lined out the door to get in. One of the most challenging parts of our dim sum dining experience is that we weren't provided forks. We ate our meal with chopsticks like everyone else! Again, we were the only non-Asians in the restaurant. Guess we picked a good place for lunch!

Chicago Part 5: Chinese Christian Bookstore, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium

Another great stop in Chinatown included the Pui Tak Christian Bookstore. They have lots of great framed verses in Chinese calligraphy with beautiful artwork. We purchased a verse for our home, as well as several smaller pieces to give as gifts. They have a children's area that has several books that I've been admiring on Amazon. Most are Chinese folk tales written in English with lots of pictures. Put this shop on your to-do list if you're thinking of visiting the area. Kevin bought a book that has lots of illustrations showing how Chinese characters evolved from pictographs. We also bought a CD that's meant to help small children learn Mandarin. The Pui Tak building is just south of the Chinatown gate on the west side of the street.

Whew! You'd think Chicago's Chinatown is a huge place by all of those previous posts, but it's really not. We're obviously just super interested, and it's so new and fascinating to us that we treasured every minute. On Saturday afternoon we visited the Adler Planetarium and spent several hours at the Shedd Aquarium on Sunday. Kevin really enjoyed going inside of the Atwood Sphere. This is Chicago's oldest planetarium, constructed in 1913. It is made of metal and is only 15 feet in diameter. My favorite thing to see at the aquarium is always the electric eels. (I have pictures, but I'll spare you their scary green faces!) Both days were beautiful, and we spent some time in the park enjoying the sunshine.

Chicago Part 6: The Phoenix

Okay, this is the last in the series in posts about our trip. Last but not least... it's about more Chinese food! On Saturday night we selected The Phoenix. They have a snazzy website if you want to check it out. Kevin loves to compare and contrast hot and sour soup between restaurants. The Phoenix's version was extra hot and not too sour. He thinks that the hot and sour soup at our hometown's Chinese restaurant is the best there is. Kevin also ordered beef with X.O. sauce because we both had no idea what in the world X.O. sauce is. Whatever it is... it's great! After returning home we learned that X.O. sauce is a spicy seafood sauce developed in the 80s in Hong Kong for Cantonese cuisine. I had a seafood soup that had bits of shrimp and other seafood in an egg drop soup base, as well as crispy orange chicken. Mmmmmm. Kevin once again was determined to only use chop sticks, while I'm quite content to use a fork. I've already planned on bringing wrapped Wendy's forks, spoons, and knives with me in my purse to Taiwan! Kevin can drop all of the food off his chopsticks and right on to his shirt that he wants to.

Did you see that fortune from Kevin's fortune cookie? It says, "You will soon be receiving some good written news." Soon? How soon? Tonight? This week? This month? I'm still here, hitting the send/receive button, praying for some of that good news to come our way.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Preview: Ni Hao, Chinatown!

We've been talking about getting out of town for a couple of weeks. It's no fun just sitting at home boo hooing just waiting for something to happen. Kevin took the initiative today and made us reservations at a four star hotel in Chicago, and we're going to Chinatown, baby! There's no dim sum and Chinese bakeries to be found around here in the corn and soybeans of rural Indiana, so we'll head to Chicago for some action on Friday night. If any midwesterners have been to Chicago's Chinatown and have some suggestions, leave us a comment before mid-day Friday and we'll try to check them out.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Blogovers with Love - now with a team of four!

I'm very pleased that Blogovers with Love has grown! We've added a third, and now a fourth blog designer. Blogovers with Love creates blog designs for Blogger blogs in exchange for your donation benefiting orphaned children in Taiwan and China. With a crew of four, we're really looking for some more blogs to bling. Blogovers completed in April and May 2008 will benefit Half the Sky, an organization that enriches the lives of thousands of China's orphaned children. Feel free to use the above graphic that I've created as an ad on your blog to spread the word. Thanks!