Monday, September 29, 2008

another month, another care package

It feels like the start of a new month snuck up on us this month. I was looking at the calendar this weekend and gasped when I noticed that October first was this week. Woah! We need to get our care package out to Hannah Claire like NOW!


I put together this photo album a year and a half ago. Last night Kevin inserted Hannah Claire's photo and original birth name in the front cover. The red Pediped crib shoes (size 0-6 months) were a gift from my friend Rebecca. Inside the shoes I wrote, "Ching-Ling, you are loved from your head to your toes. Kevin and Sarah" Our little girl is growing up so much without us. If I kept the beautiful little shoes here they may not fit Hannah Claire when she comes home to us. I sent one a little Baby Nay cotton kimono set (size 6 months - runs small like 3-6 months) and a little pink hair ribbon. We've also sent another disposable camera and disposable camcorder with her and and our names written on it. Hopefully the nannies will be inspired to dress her up and take some photos of her. It's been over a month since we had an update on our little ladybug. I have a feeling we've been skipped over again and won't get pictures this month, as other families have already gotten their pictures.

I've been telling myself that we have to organize and clean the garage out before the baby comes home. We spent over six hours in the garage sorting, throwing out, vacuuming, scrubbing, sweating, inhaling dust, and being grossed out by dead bugs on Sunday. Once the trash is picked up this week, we'll be able to get both cars and the lawn mower in the garage, and still have room for strollers and little wagons! Woohoo! Mission Accomplished!

Sending out love to our little one in Taiwan from twelve timezones away. You are loved from your head to your toes, babygirl.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

date night

Kevin called me at work Friday and asked me out on a date. Isn't that nice?

We first stopped by Amy and the gang's on the way out. I demonstrated the mai tai on baby Cooper, and I'm talking about the baby carrier... not the alcoholic beverage. Little Coop had the hiccups, but seemed pretty comfortable in the carrier. Maybe the mai tai carrier tastes a little like a mai tai drink, as Coop seemed to enjoy sucking on one of the straps. Kevin held the baby for a while in the recliner, and he looks so sweet smelling baby smells and touching his soft little feet.

We went out for Oley's Pizza (classic double crust pizza place in the Fort) and hung out at Barnes and Noble for over an hour until our movie time. It's amazing how quickly time goes by while looking at books in a bookstore. We haven't spent as much time as I'd like to these last few months working on learning baby signs, so we sat down with a baby signs book signing back and forth to each other. We can sign and recognize more, milk, eat, drink, dog, hurt, juice, need diaper change, cookie, help, no, yes, apple, banana, and that's about all I can think of that I KNOW we know. For anyone not familiar with baby signing, it's based on ASL but made a little more simple for young children. You use the signs when you talk to your baby about what they want and what you wants. The children will pick up signs much more quickly than they learn words. By using signs, we hope that Hannah Claire will be able to express herself more quickly and feel comforted that we can take care of her needs and make her feel secure.

We're also reading books on photographing babies. It's been a month since our last update on Hannah Claire. We're hoping to hear something about our photogenic little dumpling this month and not be skipped over again. I really want to hear confirmation that she's sitting up, and wonder about what solid foods she's been introduced to already... longing to take pictures of a messy Hannah Claire with multicolored baby food splattered all over.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Be Careful who you Smoochie on Instant Messenger

Incomming instant mesage: Hi there.
Sarah's reply: smoochie
Incomming instant message: your husband happen to be around there?
Incomming instant message: I wanted to see if he could test my vent server for me

Kevin instant messages often from another room in the house so we don't yell back and forth. He's pretty much the only person who instant messages me. OHMYGOSH!!!!!! I thought this was KEVIN, but it's Kevin's friend! I just smoochied Kevin's friend!

Sarah's reply: oh I thought you were KEVIN!
Incoming instant message: LOL
Sarah's reply: LOL LOL
Incoming instant message: was wondering about the smoochies
Sarah's reply: LOL LOL LOL
Incoming instant message: thanks though, I will be sure to keep that just between you and I :)
Sarah's reply: Kevin's here. I told him about the smoochies. (I'm laughing so hard I'm crying.)
Incoming instant message: that was priceless, thanks :)

Today I notice that Kevin's friend has changed his screen name to "not Kevin." Thanks, D. I'll try leave you alone today to keep my smoochies to myself.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Doing the Math and Carrying the Babydog

Unfortunately, my mind has turned to math lately. I'm starting to number crunch to figure out what's average for when we might hear good news about a first decree with our adoption court case in Taiwan. I figure that we would have been logged into court around 8/11/08. From log in to first decree, I'm seeing numbers anywhere from two weeks to five months, but average seems to be two to three months lately. If we're in that average window of two to three months, that means we should be able to travel before the end of the year. Traveling before the end of the year is good for all sorts of reasons... other than the obvious one, that we want to meet our daughter as soon as possible. Traveling before the end of the year allows me to use up the two weeks of 2008 vacation that I've been saving, and allows me to use up to three weeks of my 2009 when we return home. People unfamiliar with adoption always surprised to learn that most employers don't offer adopting parents maternity leave like if we'd just had a biological child. My employer offers $4000 adoption reimbursement which is taxed, so it may end up being about $3000. That doesn't go very far. It buys one round trip ticket to Taiwan and a few nights in a hotel. Thanks. The rest of my time off has to be unpaid FMLA. Finalizing the adoption in Taiwan in 2008 also means that we can take advantage of the adoption tax credit and child tax credit in our 2008 taxes, refunded in February 2009... which will pay for my time off for bonding and figuring out how to be a first time mother. This is my blog... so I figured that I need to blog about what I think about ALL DAY LONG right now. When. When. When. And, OOH! That outfit is sooo cute! This girl needs to come home soon, because she's running out of hangers due to Mommy's retail therapy.

This past month I've bought two babycarriers, a mei tai and a wrap. I figured that I should figure out how to use these long before I try putting a baby in them. What's one to do? Practice with the babydog, of course! Sedona thinks babydog wearing is a great idea, because it gives her easy access to lick my face. My favorite of the two is my BabyHawk mei tai, a Chinese inspired design. It has long straps that tie around the parent. One can wear a baby (or a babydog) in the front, in the back, or even on the side. Kevin thinks I'm crazy for putting the dog in the babycarrier. Just you wait. Several months from how his back will be killing him and he'll be asking me how to use that babycarrier thing.


I also bought a Sleepywrap. It is one long sheet of stretchy cotton material. It's comfortable enough, but I think I look like a blue mummy, not a mommy, when I'm wearing it. It looks so bad, I'm not including a photo of Sedona in the sleepwrap. You'll just have to imagine me looking like a blue mummy with a dog inside licking my face.

In other news, Kevin bought us our wedding anniversary present. He suprised me with a Cannon Rebel XSi last week. I don't know much about manual settings on a camera, but Kevin does. He did photography in high school and worked for a little while for a portrait studio that specalizes in high school senior photos. My local friend Jeri has loaned us some of her lenses and he's been having fun learning the new camera, and I'm enjoying learning how to process the photos with Photoshop. Here are a two of my favorites from last week. It's autumn, my favorite time of year! Enjoy!




Friday, September 19, 2008

Green Island Serenade

I've been out and about a lot this week and have had many people asking for baby news. It's nearing the time of the month that updates come, but I'm not counting on any. It is heartbreaking to expect pictures and news, and then nothing comes. It's a lot easier just not to expect any news, and be very thankful and excited when the updates come. We could get a phone call tomorrow about a first ruling... or it could be a few months from now. We're waited so long to get to this point, it's hard to be glum. People not familiar with international adoption tell me they can't believe I'm so patient. Patient??? Not really. Just still so thankful and thrilled for the opportunity to be the parents of this sweet little girl.

I did get a little more of a medical update this week. Ching-Ling had her eyes checked June 2nd and things looked good, just needs rechecked in six months. A "skin doctor" evaluated a skin issue on July 30th and reported that it should go away on it's own. We didn't know until now that she has a mild umbilical hernia. Oh well, just more to add to the list of things to check out when she gets home. I'm planning on using the Riley International Adoption Clinic and we'll see what their recommendations are.

I find myself singing songs to myself for Hannah these days. I dream of having a little girl that wants to sing long with me. I can't sing this one... but I thought it was really pretty. Enjoy.

Vienna Teng sings Green Island Serenade, from her album
Warm Strangers, at Bol Park in Palo Alto, CA on August 7, 2007.

This song sometimes has political meaning, as the Green Island, Taiwan, was used as a place of exile for political prisoners from the late 1940s during the single party rule of Taiwan's Kuomintang political party. The original intent of this song is probably a tribute to Taiwan.

This green island is like a boat,
floating in the moonlight.
My darling, you too are
floating in the sea of my heart.
Let the sound of my song follow the breeze,
blowing open the curtain of your window.
Let my love follow the flowing water,
endlessly pouring out its feelings for you.
The long shadows of the palm trees
cannot conceal my love;
the bright beauty of the moonlight
casts its brilliance into my heart.
This green island night
is so calm and serene.
My darling, why are you
silent, saying nothing?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Please pray.

Just a few weeks ago, I created a blog design for Leslie and family as they prepared to leave for China to adopt Susannah. Leslie works as an editor, and we created a design for her that looked like an editor's pen. Anyway... when they arrived in China, they learned that Susannah was in a hospital struggling to survive. My face is filled with tears and my heart is breaking. Please pray for them. Thank you.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

confessions of a pre-adoptive parent

Last week I confessed that I most likely hadn't changed a diaper since my middle school babysitting days. My friend Amy was SO NICE to post photos of me changing her son's diaper on her blog. THANKS, Amy. Oh, and thanks for the experience points, baby Cooper.

Uptown Girl Etsy Giveaway

My friend Rebecca is giving away a pair of the cutest handmade baby shoes from an Etsy seller on her blog design site Uptown Girl. Check it out... and think about getting on her wait list for a new blog design while you're at it.

big fish and little chipmunks

The fishermen have returned. Sounds like they had a pretty good time. Seems like the first timers always catch the biggest fish, and Kevin caught a 19 and 3/4 inch small mouth bass. He says that the guys called it a "trophy fish" and were asking if he wanted to have it mounted. Kevin thought about it for awhile. "It's a lot of money and my wife would never let me hang it up in the house..." (he's right!!!) and made the decision to take some pictures with it and let it go. I'm so proud of him. That old fish has escaped being caught for so long that he deserves to live out the rest of his days in a cold rocky bottomed lake that he calls home.

I'm still trying to figure out Photoshop and I'm learning how to use some actions thanks to help from my local friend Jeri. Here's one of my dad and a little chipmunk. I used an action called "Little Bear."

Later I played around with the above graphic at Picnik. They have a new feature called panography-ish that created this artistic effect below. I think it's pretty cool.

Hannah Claire's grandpa and daddy brought her home a onesie and a t-shirt from Canada. That's pretty sweet. Wish we had some news about the court process. Kevin called me at work when their caravan of vehicles and boats crossed back into the US. I think all he wanted to know about was if we had any new adoption news. Sorry, Baby. No new news.

I'm really glad to have my IT director and personal chef back at home. I've got a list of computer questions to ask him, and I had been getting tired eating of Lean Cuisine frozen dinners!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I can sew! (Just not in a straight line.)

A year ago I decided to make pretty burp cloths. I bought some cloth diapers, ordered some pretty fabric, read the directions, and thought I could make pretty things like I saw for sale on Etsy. It looked easy. (Snort.) What the heck was I thinking? I got out my sewing machine that I had not attempted to use in several years, and something was wrong with the tension and all of the thread kept bunching up underneath. I got really frustrated and gave up.

Since we're fishing widows this week with the boys away, mom decided that we were going to make those pretty burp cloths that I had the stuff for and never finished. Mom helped get the settings on the sewing machine right and then ironed and pinned the fabric to the cloth diapers. I sewed the patterned fabric on to the cloth diapers and added trim to some. It was pretty frustrating, but I got a little better. Guess it helps if you can sew in a straight line!

Here are some pics of our work tonight. Here's Mom at work with the iron and then a few of the finished burp cloths. Just don't look too closely at the stitches!

Confession of a pre-adoptive parent: Yesterday I visited my friend Amy and baby Cooper who's three weeks old. I asked if I could change his diaper if he happened to go. I confessed that I don't think I've changed a diaper since I was a middle school aged babysitter. Apparently, that's a pretty funny thing to confess to a mother of four children. Cooper made some poo in his diaper and I had my chance. Amy was nice and warned me about little boys and the fountains they make when the business is exposed to cold air. I'm thinking... okay. People hold up the little squirmy legs in one hand, right? I didn't want to look like I was treating someone else's baby too roughly. Amy's laughing at/with me and getting out the camera and snapping photos. Haha. Funny. I removed his diaper, covered the business with a wipe, and sure enough... three seconds later... he wizzed all over as I was wiping the back end. So... I clean up the front... and as I'm getting ready to unwrap the new diaper... he lets out this HUGE fart and makes another poo pile for me to clean. Great. Again, Amy thinks this is just hilarious, and keeps snapping pictures. This baby had no mercy for amateurs. So, I get out some MORE wipes, take care of the back end AGAIN... and try to figure out how tight to make the diaper. At least I knew which was the front and which was the back. Holding three week old Cooper for over an hour was delicious. I loved to hear him breathe, sigh, snort, fuss... smell his baby smell... and touch his little sweet feet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Zout, Zout, Damned Spot!

I've always been a fan of Zout laundry stain remover. I couldn't find my familiar purple spray bottle in stores for months and months. I've been very grouchy using Shout gel that doesn't cut it, and I've had to throw away several stained items. Well, Zout is back, and better than ever! The NEW FORMULA of Zout is in a red spray bottle. This week I've been removing set-in stains I didn't think would be possible. Bring on the baby formula spit up! I'm armed and ready with my new and improved weapon of choice. Zout, Zout, damned spot!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Blessings: Gifts from Rebecca

Last night when I came home from work there was a little package at our front door from my adoption journey friend Rebecca, Owen's mommy. We've shared hundreds of e-mails, loads of laughs, numerous digital scrapbooking and blog design tips, many long phone conversations, and a handful of dinners. Our adoption journeys have been pretty interesting. I'll describe my journey as a lot LONGer than expected, and Rebecca's as WINDING with lots of twists and turns. After I shed a few tears over how perfectly beautiful and sweet this friendship package was, I called her on the phone and we talked about how it seems to strange that what we've hoped and dreamed for is finally coming true. It's amazing how much this gal has gotten to know me. Every little item was handpicked and has special meaning to it. I certainly count you as one of my blessings, girlfriend. Rebecca's girls helped her put the package together, so I made a little video for them so they could watch us open it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Making Wishes at the Botanical Gardens

Today was the 10th annual Fort Wayne "Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown" day. We went to the Botanical Gardens and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art with free admission. There were a lot of people there, but it was still enjoyable. I took my camera along as I wanted some shots of my own to work with in Photoshop as I figure out photo editing this month.

My mother gave me a dollar coin outside the botanical gardens. I didn't have to think very long what to wish for.

I don't post many photos of myself on the blog, so here's one just for fun. As I type this, it as 9:58pm. That means it is 9:58am Monday morning at St. Lucys. T minus 2 minutes to Gotcha Day for little Lucy. My heart is in Tainan, Taiwan, tonight. I wish I could be there too.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Veni, vidi, vici.

We came to the mall. We shopped with coupons. We scored a trunk full of great deals. Even Ceasar would have been impressed.

We came early to Macy's armed with several $10 off purchase of $25 or more coupons and made our attack upon several departments including women's clothing, a baby sale (buy 5 items get all 50% off - netting 5 Carter's sleepers), handbags, linens, and cookwear. My cousin's wife tipped me off that there's a new H&M at the mall, and I wanted to go there for some Hello Kitty wear for Hannah Claire. What girl from Taiwan doesn't love Hello Kitty? I want to bring the Hello Kitty onesie with us to Taiwan and take Hannah Claire's photo at the Hello Kitty Cafe in Taipei. Check out this link with photos of the cafe... oh wow!) Of course, we went to Gymboree. The pink and brown monkey wear I've been eyeing went on sale, and I couldn't resist getting one outfit. We found all sorts of goodies at a gourmet cooking store with a BOGO clearance sale. My best deals were at my favorite plus size clothing store, the Avenue. They have a $40 off purchase of $100 or more sale going on until tomorrow, in store and online. I also had a 50% off one item coupon, a $10 gift card that they sent me in the mail, and a $16 store credit from a previous return that I needed to use up. Wowza! We also went to a resale store where I found white tights for 25 cents each. They are really thin, but they're so cheap that I won't have to worry about Hannah just wearing them just once or twice.

Tomorrow we're going to the botanical gardens. Gotta go charge up the batteries for my camera.

My thoughts Sunday night will be with Jackie and Jeff who are picking up their daughter Lucy at St. Lucy's Monday morning. Lucy's family's journey has been so long and frustrating. It's gotcha day Monday for Noah as well, and Gracyn got to come home from Taiwan yesterday. I'm thrilled for all of these families!

The men have gone fishing, so the "fishing widows" have gone shopping.

"What?" you may be asking. "One week, no blog?" Well... there's nothing to blog about on the adoption front, except that I've been trying to reteach myself some lullaby tunes. This past month I've decided that it's time to stop designing blogs for charity, and we're winding that down. My new interest is photography, as I long to take photos of Hannah Claire. I have Adobe Photoshop CS3 and I'm doing a lot of reading about how to use the program and about photo editing. I'm playing around with some photo actions, and they're really cool. If any readers are photo editing people and have some favorite tutorial sites to share, I'd love your input... especially for sites that have great downloadable FREE actions. I feel like the Photoshop learning curve is so steep that it's been hard for me to jump on the bandwagon.

I dropped Kevin off Friday morning at 5:45am at the local greasy spoon diner where my dad, my uncle, and THE GUYS were meeting to head north to a remote lake in Ontario for a week of fishing for walleye, pike, and bass. This is Kevin's first time doing something like this, as he's only fished for bluegill and sunfish before in ponds and lakes in Indiana. When I dropped him off, I told the group, "Now, be gentle with him." They laughed at me. I have a feeling Kevin will come home with a sunburn, chapped lips, a whole lotta stories, and a new nickname. And maybe not so many fish!

Now that Mom and I are "fishing widows" as the men off in Canada, we're going shopping this weekend. I've got the coupons lined up, the sales staked out, and we're ready to go. A trip to the botanical gardens is on our list too. See ya.

Updated 7:38pm:
After posting this, I remembered a post at Waiting for Sophie where Shana has some great links for Photoshop Actions . I'm checking out the sites that her commenters left. If you are interested in learning about actions too, check out that post.