Sunday, November 30, 2008

pendant making with Rebecca

Rebecca came over today to make pendants today. Of course, we took pics. My fingers are covered with glue, and hers are numb from pressing down on pieces of glass to cut around it with a sharp blade. We still have all of our fingers, thank goodness. The glaze needs 24 hours to dry. I'll be adding a few more pics when they're finished.

If you want to make some for Christmas gifts, there's still time. I have some directions here. I bought the Japanese papers online from Paper Studio. You can buy a sample sized piece of paper for $1.25 including shipping. Can't beat that. It's plenty for several pieces. Here is an Etsy seller that can make you custom silk cords. You name the length and the color. So easy.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Making a list... and checking it twice..."

Just so you know, this post doesn't have much to do with Santa Claus.

It feels like life was put on fast forward ever since we found out about the final ruling. The first couple of days were like the 12 days of Christmas getting a few more photos, video, and info about Hannah Claire every day from my friend KB in Taiwan. I spent a lot of time on the phone sharing good news with family and friends... and what fun it was! Had to keep printing out photos, and send more and more to the grandmas and grandpas in Florida to keep them happy.

Then... it was the search for the airfare. I can honestly say that I spent more than FIVE HOURS looking for tickets. It was tough. One day plus or minus could means that tickets could cost $7000 MORE per person. YES! No type-o! I swear! It was crazy! In the end we got a great deal business class with Northwest, and it's the same price as it would be during a non-holiday week. Score! If anyone else is looking for business class flights to Taiwan, here you can see what the business class seats look like. Here's a map of the plane. I wanted to make a reservation for seats with a bassinet hookup, but the bassinet seats were all taken. Actually, there wasn't much of a selection left. We'll ask if there's a possibility of switching seats... but I think I'm just going to be happy with what we have, wear the baby carrier, and hope that Hannah will sleep on us on the way home. When KB visited her, she slept while being passed around the room and didn't seem to mind taking a nap on strangers. Hope this means good news for a relaxed baby on the way home!

I feel like we're booking this trip from the end to the beginning. I had to hunt for a hotel over New Year's as my first three choices were booked for New Year's. We have reservations for four nights at the Grand Hyatt Taipei which is right next to Taipei 101. I've requested a crib and a room with a view of Taipei 101... and mentioned that we were adopting... and hoped for a room with a view of Taipei 101 as we didn't want to go outside with the baby to view the fireworks. We'll see how that all works out.

I've made reservations for three nights at the Tayih Landis in Tainan for the weekend before we become a family of three. I hope I sleep, and don't wear down their carpet pacing back and forth until it's time to go.

For the front part of the trip, I've e-mailed a tour company and I'm going to see if we can make reservations for a three day tour to Sun and Moon Lake and the Taroko Gorge. We'll make the front end of our Taipei stay after the tour dates are set. This is the second tour company that I've contacted. The first didn't write back after four days. Grrr.

Let's see... I've also started filling my PINK suitcase with Hannah's things. Wow, babies need a lot of stuff... or at least first time mamas think that babies need a lot of stuff! Bottle warmers, bottle cleaners, diapers (I want to bring diapers from home with Velcro tabs rather than buy ones in Taiwan because I've read they have the old sticker tabs and this first time mama imagines herself having to readjust a diaper frequently until we get the hang of it), wipes, bottles, dish soap, clothes, lots of baby shoes (can't help myself), gifts, toys, donations, and the list goes on and on. Really, everything for baby is ready... and we just have to get ourselves packed when we get closer to the big day.

I've got lists for everything. Lists of things to tell Kevin to do. (He just loves that. Not.) Lists of thank you cards to write. Lists of places I want to go in Taipei. Lists of things to buy for other people. (Special nipples for Taiwanese baby bottles, Christmas presents for our families, and Taiwanese gifts for Hannah to open on special occasions as she grows older.) Lists of comfort foods to bring so we don't have to survive off stinky tofu from night markets alone. (That's supposed to be funny.)

So... if I've told you I'd do something for you before we heard of our final ruling and I haven't done it yet... or if you e-mailed me and I haven't responded... I'm sorry. My mind is mush without a list. Don't hesitate to call or e-mail me again to remind me... and this time I'll add you to my to-do list rather than try and remember.

And... if Santa is a follower of this blog. Thank you for checking your "nice" list this year and being extra good to Kevin and Sarah. You knew exactly what we wanted!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

showered with love - part 1

Sunday my sister hosted a baby shower for Hannah Claire with family and a few close friends attending. Words can't express how touching the well wishes were, and how much thought and love went into the gifts. AND I had NO idea that my sister has been cross-stitching Suzy's Zoo gifts for Hannah Claire for the past year and a half! The water works really turned on when I opened stitched bibs, a piece to be framed, and a large wall hanging.

My friend Rebecca was there and photographed the event for me so I'll have pictures to help remember this special day for years to come. Here's a slide show of some of my favorites Rebecca took. Thank you!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

tix to TPE

We've got tickets! I found a great deal... considering this is the most expensive time of year to travel. If there are any Taiwan adopting families traveling over the holidays, check out Northwest business class for sure... and please contact us as we'd love to meet up with you! I consulted with Todd the travel agent that lots of families talk about using on the Taiwan adoption message boards... and the Northwest flight I found is well over $2000 less per person than anything he could get me for business class. There weren't many seats left on the days I wanted to travel, so we needed to make these flight arrangements asap.

Saturday 12/20 in the morning - leave for Taiwan
Sunday 12/21 in the evening - arrive in Taipei
I'm still working on what we'll do that week. I'm looking at taking an English speaking bus tour for a few days to places we want to see outside of Taipei.
Friday 12/26 - travel south to Tainan, have dinner with a friend
Saturday 12/27 - tour Tainan with a friend
Sunday 12/28 - tour Pingtung County (southernmost county in Taiwan where Hannah was born)
Monday 12/29 - meet Hannah, take high speed train back to Taipei
Tuesday 12/30 - AIT visa appointment
Wednesday 12/31 - pick up visa at AIT, watch Taipei 101 fireworks from a hotel
Thursday 1/1 - ? Too expensive to fly home this day!
Friday 1/2 - fly home

And... thank you to Amy for volunteering to watch Sedona the babydog for part of the time while we're gone. I know that she'll be in good hands. I just hope that she behaves, doesn't lick too much, and won't teach Wrigley any bad manners.


I can't think of anything funny enough to say about this photo. It speaks for itself.

2 years since...

Today marks TWO YEARS since I sent out several e-mails to adoption agencies that work in Taiwan... including the one that we chose to work with. Feels like it's been a whole lot longer than two years. I think I've earned a lot more than two years worth of gray hairs since then.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's a boy!


"I'm going to have a cousin!"

Hannah's mommy and daddy were very happy to hear today that my sister's ultrasound went well, and mommy and baby are doing great. AND it's going to be a boy!!! We're thrilled! They are due in late February.

The alternate title to this post is, "How much $$$$ did you say holiday airfare to Taiwan is?"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

tentative travel dates, more details, and photos

These last few days have been so exciting! We've got to share the good news with so many family member and close friends that I forget if I've told everyone everything.

Unfortunately travel isn't going to happen as quickly as I had hoped, but looks like it's going to happen in 2008. Dates are tentative, but it looks like we'll get to meet our daughter on Monday, December 29th, AIT visa appointment for December 30th, and visa pickup on December 31st. Kevin's been talking about how cool it would be to see the Taipei 101 fireworks for a long time... and we just might get that chance. If this timeline works out, we'll see if we can get a hotel room where you can view Taipei 101 and stay in the hotel for the night and not go anywhere to avoid the crowds. We'd travel before Christmas... but we'll see what the travel agent can do about getting us a halfway reasonable price. So far he says that the US leg of the travel out will be the problem because flights are so full already with Christmas travelers.

Here's some details that I have loved to hear: Hannah doesn't really crawl, she scoots and she likes to roll wherever she wants to go. She liked pushing buttons on a radio, and they joked that she loves electronics like her daddy! She was fed baby food carrots mixed with rice cereal yesterday and didn't like it. Not very much went in, and there was a lot of food all over her. Not sure if carrots were new to her, if she's new to spoon feeding, if she didn't like the texture, or if she just doesn't like carrots. She did steal KB's baby's rice cracker and ate some of that, but KB's baby stole the rice cracker right back. We're stocked up on baby MumMum rice crackers here at home! Her hair is a lighter color of brown, a little curly, too. She knows what she wants and goes to get it. She likes to cuddle, fell asleep in someone's arms, and was passed around while she napped.

Thank you so much to all that have left such nice comments. We read and love them all. Here's a few more photos from yesterday in a slide show:

Reminder: Three days left to get in your entries in at To China for Owen!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Hi, Mom and Dad..."


For those of you who's system administrators block photos from Flickr... this is a photo of my friend KB holding Hannah Claire with a sign that reads "Hi Mom and Dad. Congratulations! I am yours!" Thank you so much to our adoption agency's director and KB for visiting with our little Miss today and telling us the good news in such a special way!!!

Aaack! Look at all that hair... and those expressive little eyebrows that make me giggle with glee! Note to self: Need more hair bows!

FINAL RULING!!!! Hallelujah!!!!

No time to blog. Gotta get myself back to work! I don't have details or travel news yet. Of course I'll share when we know when we're traveling. I anticipate that we'll have a lot more info tomorrow. Sounds like we'll have Hannah Claire for Christmas!!!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

bling-bling to bring home Bing-Bing

There's been a little button at the top of my blog's sizebar for a little while now. My friend Rebecca is having a HUGE FUNDRAISER to help bring home their son Owen (aka Bing-Bing) from China. This fundraiser is a giveaway with a suggested $10 donation per entry. The prize list is HUGE and contains so much that you're just going to have to go to the "To China for Owen" site to check it out. The first prize is a "mamarazzi dream package" with valued over $2,550.00 that includes a Canon Rebel XSI camera. Once again, the prize list is just HUGE, so be sure to check out the site.

As a way to encourage donations, I've pledged to make a custom glass tile pendant for everyone who donates $50 or more. I am making the pendants with decorative Japanese papers and photos. The drawing is Saturday, November 22nd, so you've got one week left to make your donations for your entries. I started making pendants this weekend, and you can take look at that they look like. These are not for sale... only available as my gift to you as a thank you.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Taipei 101 New Year's Fireworks

I'm overjoyed for some families that have received word of their rulings and will be traveling to Taiwan soon. If you have a chance to travel over New Year's... it would be very cool to be able to see the fireworks off Taipei 101.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

birthdays, bottles, and babies, and bunnies

Today is Kevin's 38th birthday... but he doesn't feel much like celebrating. It's hard to be happy these days when all we want to hear is good news from Taiwan. I had the day off work and we went to the "big town" for lunch and some shopping. I wonder if Kevin's feeling okay, because the first place he wanted to go to was Babies R Us. Not Circuit City, not Best Buy, not Game Stop... but Babies R Us. We hadn't bought any bottles yet, and Kevin decided that we needed some bottles. I had researched BPA free bottles at length and had already thought we'd use Born Free BPA free plastic bottles. Daddy and all of is military kitchen training asserts that glass is much cleaner than plastic, and that we should choose glass. Well, since Kevin's going to be the stay at home daddy and making and cleaning the bulk of the bottles... so what Daddy wants, Daddy gets. We're going to start out with three Born Free glass bottles and see how that goes. Of course, we'll get some bottles from the nursery when we pick up Hannah... but as we won't know if they are BPA free or not, we'd like to have these on hand and hope that she likes them.

After leaving Babies R Us, Kevin drove us over to the mall. We rarely go to the mall, so I wondered what he was interested in there today. Apparently, he had his sights on Build A Bear. I got teary eyed when I realized what store he was leading me by the hand to. He wanted to make a bear (or a kitty, or a bunny, or a puppy, or a dinosaur) for our little girl. We debated between a bear and a bunny for a while. I had a bunny named Mrs. Butterfly as a child that I really liked, so the bunny won out. We picked a voice box for her hand, kissed her heart, and got it thumping, and Kevin helped stuff her. We couldn't find any Asian looking clothes for the bunny, so a pink Hello Kitty t-shirt works.

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Here's Sedona with the bunny. She'd like to hear some good news from Taiwan as well.

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Monday night we went out for Chinese. When we were nearly finished with dinner, a couple with an eleven month old baby beautiful baby girl sat near us. I couldn't help but stare, watching and listening to her blow raspberries and squeal while her daddy fed her from a few containers of baby food. It's almost like I physically could not pay attention to Kevin while he was trying to talk to me, as my eyes were glued on this little girl. After 10-15 minutes I couldn't take it any more. I started to get teared up and I wanted to leave… like now… and went on out to the car while Kevin chatted it up with some people before leaving. Watching this little girl was thrilling and “rip my heart out” painful at the same time. Went home. Cried it out. Bought two pink frilly dresses and a tutu swimsuit for Hannah Claire for next summer, and felt much better. Retail therapy saves the day again. (And on eBay you can find Biscotti dresses for 1/3 the retail price shipped from Hong Kong!)

I'm starting to look at the calendar and think that this may not happen before Christmas. That's going to be really hard for us. I'm trying to prepare myself for the holidays without her... giving myself pep talks about having Hannah Claire home just in time for her first birthday in late January isn't so bad.

Mom, do you still have the bunny birthday cake mold that you used for me I when I was little? I think we should make a bunny cake for a first birthday party. Even if the ears fall off and it won't stay upright propped with toothpicks, it will still be fun.

Monday, November 10, 2008

at least 1000 facial expressions!

This morning I opened an e-mail all the way from Taiwan that made me so happy! Thank you so very much, dear friend!

I asked the nursery staff about Hannah Claire and ________, and they were so willing to take me to their nursery. And so sorry I have to disappoint you, no pictures were allowed. Anyhow, we went down and then they told me to wait outside the door, they would bring Hannah Claire and ________ out. My husband held our baby so one nanny gave Hannah Claire to me and oh boy she's a cutie. I got to hold her about 20-30 minutes and we kept making goofy faces back and forth. She has the cutest smile, and she shared at least 1000 facial expressions with me (wonderful dimples on top of it).

[We] took Hannah Claire and our baby to a bench close by and those two babies just had the most wonderful time. [Our baby] kept trying to take Hannah's red hoodie off and she thought it was the funniest thing. I also told her that her mommy can't wait to finally hold her and misses her a lot.

Ooooh boy! I'm ready to play a WHOLE BUNCH of peek-a-boo to photograph each and every one of those 1000 facial expressions!!! :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

happy girl in black and white

This is my favorite photo yet of Hannah Claire, and I like it a little more in black and white. I love how there's that little blurry foot. Our girl's in motion, and those little happy eyebrows tell me she's excited about something!


that hat


Here's a photo just for fun. Sedona says she doesn't like Hannah Claire's winter flower hat quite as much as Mommy does.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

keeping busy - making pendant necklaces

Today I started to boohoo a little, watching other familes get news of first rulings when we haven't heard anything yet. I can't do anything to bring little Miss home any quicker. It will happen when it happens... so I should just keep busy, make plans, and be totally estatic when we get to drop everything and head to Taiwan. I chose a fun project to keep myself busy and make some Christmas presents. Today I started looking at this plum blossom necklace that Rebecca sent me and I started thinking, "Ya know, I could make this!"I found some directions online here on how to make glass tile pendant necklaces. To make it really easy, you can buy all of your supplies online here from this etsy seller. You can purchase supplies at a craft store to make silk satin cord necklaces with lobster clasps or ball chain necklaces... or there are people on etsy who will make it to the size you want and mail it to you.

As an alternative to glass tile, I also bought some blank pewter pendant trays to try my hand at this style of pendant making as well. If you buy pendant trays from this site, get a 20% off coupon here before you checkout. Here's a video on how to make them.
There's so many things you could do with these pendants. You could use photos, decorative papers, glitter, stamps, stickers, or digital scrapbookers could design their pendant image and then print out the design on high quality photo paper to get just what they want. Yay!

Sooooo... the supplies are all ordered and we'll see how this goes. I'm really looking forward to this. And... if we'd get a final ruling e-mail in the next two weeks before I have a chance to make a whole bunch of pendants before Christmas, I have a feeling I won't be too upset about it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

encountering racism today

I'm not sure where to start with this post, so bear with me as I get this off my chest.

(Step up on soapbox.)

Today at work woman said to me something to the effect of "You know, you just don't know if you can trust one of those towel head doctors." I was taken by surprise at this huge racial slur, and blown away that someone would use such a phrase with me, a virtual stranger on the phone. I don't care who you think you are, I don't care what my employer thinks of it... but no one, and I mean NO ONE, is using that language with me.

"Excuse me?" I said in shock. It took me a second to think of how to respond. I replied, "YOU WILL NOT will not use such racist language with me." I think this person got the hint that I was pretty pissed and apologized quickly. "I accept your apology, but please never use such language with me again." That pretty much ended our conversation.

This left such a dirty taste in my mouth, and this is only the beginning. I have a feeling that reading all the books in the word about trans-cultural adoption can't prepare you for getting the wind knocked out of you the first few times that some idiot makes a racist comment about or within earshot of your child. I feel like I know in my head what I want to do or say when I get into situations... but there's this disconnect between brain and lips when you're so shocked.

(Step off soapbox.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

October update photos!


No news... just photos. They certainly grab a hold of my heart and run away with it. Her hair has really filled in this past month. Wow. I hope she lets me put hair bows in! My favorite is the first one. I just love her expressive eyebrows! And the little dimple in one cheek... oh! Kevin has a dimple in one cheek too, but doesn't like me drawing attention to it so I'd just better shut up for now.

Okay, gotta get myself together after loving on these photos... gotta go out and vote!

Updated 11/5/08: Height 63 cm (25 inches), weight 6.3 kgs (13.9 pounds - woohoo!!! weight gain!!!), head circumference 41.5 cm (16.34 inches).