Thursday, April 30, 2009

comfort food

Tonight when I got home from work I warmed up some leftover spaghetti from Nana for myself for dinner, as Kevin and Hannah had already eaten. Hannah crawled up my leg and wanted picked up. I picked her up, and then she wanted into my spaghetti. There's no way I'm feeding a Hannah spaghetti while sitting on my lap. That just says permanent tomato stains on BOTH of our clothing all over it. I set her up in her high chair next to Daddy and dished out some spaghetti for her. Fifteen minutes later I realize she's really quiet, so I go check on her progress and level of mess. This is what I find.


Aw... she looks so little fast asleep in her BIG high chair with her elbow in spaghetti. I get the camera and snap a photo. Then I start thinking... "OH CRAP! DID SHE CHOKE?!?!?! IS SHE BREATHING!!?!?!?!?!?!?"

I run up close to examine her more closely and check to see if her chest is moving.


I don't see her moving. I'm about ready to shake her awake when I see her fingers move. She's alive. Thank goodness! I really freaked Kevin out by running up and examining her like that with a look of horror on my face, acting like something was wrong. He was setting next to her the whole time... but it still got my heart pumping.

We laughed about the powers of Nana's comfort food, putting Hannah to sleep an hour before bedtime. It doubles for comedy for us as well!


Silly Daddy.

roses and hats

I'm gearing up for some photography with the theme of "hats." Last time I attempted a hat shot with Hannah Claire she wasn't feeling so well and was all tears. It was pretty cloudy Wednesday, but I took some potted silk roses outside with me to try to brighten things up. It was pretty cool and little Miss wasn't so happy about having her bare piggies on cold bricks. I got her to smile by spinning myself around in circles and dancing. That always makes her laugh out loud. Unfortunately, spinning in circles makes Mama dizzy. Kinda hard to quickly get the focus just right on just the right spot when your head is still spinning! I don't think any of the hat shots are THE SHOT because they are kinda grainy and that hat just looks too big and floppy on her, so I'll keep trying. Hannah won't keep a hat on for long, so that makes the hat assignment even more difficult!

Mama, you look so silly dancing in circles in the yard all by yourself.

floppy hat about ready to be thrown on the ground

Aaaa! That mulch looks tasty.

crawling away from the photo shoot

You, pick me up and take me back inside for some lunch.

We're enjoying watching Hannah mimic us. She's starting to initiate play like peek-a-boo. She'll lift up her shirt or dress and cover part of her face, and then pull it back down with a big grin on her face. Good stuff!

Monday, April 27, 2009

I ♥ Faces Entry - Reflection

reflection of brothers
Reflection of Brothers

This photo is my adults entry into this week's I ♥ Faces contest where the theme is "reflection." I immediately thought of a photo that I had saved on my computer that I really liked, but I hadn't done any work to it with cropping or post-processing. This was taken with my point and shoot camera before I had a DSLR, so the quality isn't what I expect from my photographs these days, but I still love it. This photo was taken with the Cloud Gate outdoor sculpture at Millenium Park in Chicago. I'd highly recommend others to go and take photographs and experience the public interacting with this piece of art if you're visiting downtown Chicago.

Click here to view the I ♥ Faces adults category entries and click here to view the kids category entries.

I ♥ Faces is also having a giveaway for a product called Bokeh by Alien Skin. I would so love this product. I don't have the cash to drop for some L glass, but this would be a lot of fun to play with!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

In My Daughter's Eyes

I was thinking of going garage sale-ing today to look for outside toys like a swing, slide, and ride-on toys. The Hannah alarm woke us up a little before six o'clock. Guess she wanted to go! We called Nana, and she was game. Hannah and I had pancakes and bananas for breakfast with Nana and Grandpa, and then hit the streets.

Unfortunately, we didn't do so well. I was looking for something pretty specific that others would be likely to snatch up quickly. I saw two plastic swing and slide combos between 8-9am, but they had already been sold! Darn. Hannah did get an outside play tent for $5 that will also serve as a sunshade and a bee costume that she won't fit into for a few more years. Nana found some children's books. Hannah got pretty fussy getting in and out of the carseat, so she was dropped off for Grandpa to babysit.

Back at home after her nap, Hannah threw a huge fit and wanted only me to hold her. It turned into an hour long power struggle with Mama and Daddy laying down the law. I'm determined that she won't get what she wants when she throws a fit. We're just waiting for her to stop, and then she'll be rewarded. After half an hour of screaming inside, we decided to go outside on a blanket and let her scream outside so we could enjoy the beautiful weather while waiting for the fit to end. It took another half an hour for her to calm down. We ended up spending a wonderful afternoon together playing on a blanket in the backyard as a family. We got out the baby pool, talked to Kevin's parents via web-cam, and enjoyed ice cream. Hannah decided that the lush April grass wasn't so bad after all, and she crawled around in it for the first time.

I talked with Hannah and we looked at each other in the eyes for very long periods of time. She thought it was the funniest thing to put her pacifier into my mouth today, and she laughed great big belly laughs when I made sucking sounds with the pacifier. She understands what we say so much more every week. It's amazing. We're working very hard to use "nice words" all the time at home to avoid having a toddler with a potty mouth. When she looks deep into my eyes and touches my mouth, it makes me want to be the best person I can be.

The photos from today are below, and there's a little music to go with the photos. Little ones watch and mimic everything that we do. It's so hard to be the person that we want them to grow up to be.

Music Playlist at

Lyrics to "In My Daughter's Eyes" by Martina McBride:

In my daughter's eyes I am a hero
I am strong and wise and I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the
world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me
gives me strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand
around my finger
It puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about

It's hangin' on when your heart
has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy
she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes

daughter's eyes - sunshine
I see who I wanna be in my daughter's eyes.

looking back - sunshine
This miracle God gave to me gives me strength when I am weak.

dandelion - sunkissed
She put this dandelion in her mouth five seconds later.
I can't think of any song lyrics to go with Hannah eating dandelions. :)

two teeth in the sunshine
She's able to eat so much better now that she has some top teeth.
We don't get to see the top ones much, yet.

web cam outside
Talking with her grandparents via web-cam.

hand in the grass - sunshine
Exploring the grass.

in my hands - sunshine

ice cream face
Our little bird loves ice cream.
Her dog likes the leftovers even more.

Sniff sniff. Enough happy crying for tonight. :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

dinner with a good girl

Hannah was chomping off pieces of doughnut tonight until I got out the little purse camera. It's batteries were dead, so I did a quickie charge, but by the time I got the batteries in my camera she decided that she was done with doughnut and wanted to finish off the Cheerios. Oh, well. Best part was captured at the end. Having Hannah respond to my words, knowing that she knows what I'm saying, just makes my heart sing!

I am in search of your parenting thoughts on this situation. Hannah likes to throw fits crying and throwing herself onto the ground to get ME to pick her up AND carry her around the house all day, but she doesn't do this for Kevin. She's happy and playful with Kevin most of the day, but screams and throws herself back on the floor when I'm home with her. I'm worried about her seriously hurting her head when she does this. Reminder... Kevin's the stay at home dad and I'm the working parent. It really frustrates Kevin to see her go from "good girl" when she's alone with him to a royal pain in the you-know-what when she sees me. I think I feel strong enough with our bonding four months post-placement to choose not to pick her up. What do I do? Do I sit next to Hannah and talk to her but not hold her? Do I pretend that I don't hear or see her? Daddy has pretty much laid down the law and not tolerated this behavior, and I've been the cuddling, comforting, let's strengthen our post-adoption attachment parent as I get less one-on-one time with her.

Hannah and Sarah at the zoo

Tiff, this pic's for you! :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lucky Girl update

I e-mailed Mei-Ling Hopgood to let her know how much I enjoyed her book, and she wrote me back!

Hi Sarah,
Thank you so much for your nice email. I'm glad you liked the book. Your daughter is simply gorgeous. It's wonderful that you are thinking of Mandarin classes, but I think you are already giving your daughter the most important thing right now: the love of an amazing parent. I saw the shoutout you gave Lucky girl in your blog and I really appreciate it. If you'd like a Q&A from me, after your discussion or whenever, I'd be happy to help. Also there is a reader's guide on my website, under the Lucky Girl tab.
Thanks again for reading and for taking the time to be in touch!!

Here's a direct link to the reader's guide.

Kevin finished the book last night and we've had some interesting discussions around the house these last few days.

So, if you're interested in the book... now you have an even better reason to read it now that the author has volunteered to do a little Q&A with us.

P.S. Hannah eats donuts now. Bites right into them with her 3.5 teeth!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lucky Girl - book discussion challenge

Have you ever read a book and felt like you were reading a story about your life? I read memoir this weekend that felt like I was reading something that Hannah and several other Taiwan adoptees could write about their lives 20-30 years from now. The book I'm talking about is called Lucky Girl by Mei-Ling Hopgood.

I'd like to challenge my Taiwan adoption friends to order the book, read it, and we'll have a discussion about it here the week after Memorial Day. That should give you plenty of time to buy or borrow it, read it (only 244 pages), and be ready to tell others what you think. Let me preface all of this by telling you that I don't read a lot, and I've never been a part of a book club, so I'm not sure what I'm doing organizing something like this.

Why was this book important to me? Several reasons. It gave me affirmation that an international adoptee can have connections with two sets of families in two very different cultures and be a happy well-adjusted person. It solidified my belief that we should be providing our child with all of the Mandarin language opportunities available to us so that she is able to keep connected to birth family and Taiwanese culture if she chooses to.

Below is a trailer for the book. If you're getting the book and would like to participate, leave me a comment at the bottom of this post so I know who's in. Kevin has already started reading it as well. HERE is a link to buy the book from Amazon. Thanks!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

zoo day today

This morning we woke up early, all had haircuts, and then stopped over to Nana and Grandpa's on the way home to watch Hannah eat pancakes. Mama and Daddy mowed the grass while Hannah took a lunch time nap, and then it was off to the zoo. The weather was perfect, sunny and 74 degrees. Usually when we go to the zoo, we take pictures of animals. This time, the lens was focused on one little monkey from Taiwan. Hannah's favorite animals seemed to be brightly colored or very noisy birds. The showy squawky peacocks were a great hit with lots of pointing and "ahhh" commentary from our little monkey. She didn't smile much, but she was certainly interested in everything. Mama was especially happy to see four separate sets of Caucasian parents with Asian children at the zoo. We talked briefly with one mother who introduced herself with two daughters from China, and I exchanged knowing smiles with a few others.

shades at the zoo
ready to roll

little girl, big tortoise
little girl, big tortoise

Hannah, Daddy, and a tortoise
always pointing at something, and much more
comfortable on a tortoise when Daddy is there

Hannah and Daddy closeup
"Daddy loves me so much."

meeting the goats
"That animal doesn't look like a dog, but my dog
acts like that when she wants to eat my food."

monkey watch closeup
"Daddy picked me up to show me all of the animals."

monkey watch
"So that's a monkey?!?! Mama says I'm her little monkey."

close up at the zoo
I finally get a little bokeh from my lens!!!
It's the real deal, and not photoshopped in this time.
But... it happened in full on auto when I wasn't even trying. Sigh.
I'm a mamarazzi ISO bokeh in my backgrounds.

Friday, April 17, 2009

pool baby

This post is dedicated to my bloggy friend KB. :)

Woo hoo! I was thrilled to get off of work today at 3pm and drove home with the windows down on a bee-u-ti-ful Friday afternoon. Weather hitting 70 degrees, lots of sunshine, not a cloud in the sky. Love it! Needed some of this to make up for the April snow we had recently. As I was driving home I thought, "Ya know, we need to get Hannah a baby pool."

I passed Kevin's vehicle going out on my way into our neighborhood. "I wonder what he's up to."

I could tell they had been outside, as he left a blanket and a sippy up outside in the grass. Twenty minutes later Daddy arrived home with Hannah AND a baby pool. Yippie! We had the same idea.

pink flamingo baby
Hannah watched Daddy blow up her pool.
She was just drooling over the idea of a swim. Ha ha!

dropped the cap!
She dropped the cap to her sunscreen.
I thought this expression was kinda funny, and you can see the cap in mid-air.

Hannah in the pool with Daddy
Daddy filled up the pool with warm water from the sink.
No cold water from the hose for his baby girl!

toothy grin in the pool

pool magic

Hope everyone has a nice weekend!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not at All Wordless Wednesday

Some of my peeps have {wordless wednesday} posts on Wednesdays, but I have pharyngitis. I'm supposed be avoiding talking, but I have a lot going on and a lot to say. Talking and swallowing is darn right painful. So if I can't talk about it... at least I can blog about it.

Monday I squeaked out my words all day long as a part of my job, mostly spent on the phone. The inability to produce much sound makes work horrendous, but I had to stick it out. My partner worked for me Tuesday so I could rest. I think he even felt sorry for me. Heck, I feel sorry for me! Kevin and I both got appointments with our friendly nurse practitioner Tuesday. We have a lot of the same nasal, coughing, and sore throat symptoms... but he can talk just fine. Kevin was deemed to be viral, but mine could have started out viral and turned bacterial... so I get antibiotics along with my slew of decongestants, mucus thinners, pain relievers, numbing lozenges, etc etc etc.

Cough, cough, cough. Moving on to Miss Hannah. She's had a snotty nose, productive cough, off and on low grade fever, and general grouchiness for a week. Throw in at least one puke session per day and teething pain and that equals one not so fun week to be parenting this child. I called early this morning and arranged for a 3pm peds appointment.

But, we had a 10am appointment with the opthamologist to check for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). All babies less weighing less than 1500 grams at birth or younger than 32 weeks' gestational age at birth are at risk of developing ROP. It involves abnormal retinal vessels that grow mostly in an area of the retina where normal vessels have not yet grown. Serious stuff, as it was once the leading cause of blindness of children in the United States. Generally, more than fifty percent of premature infants weighing less than 1250 grams at birth show evidence of retinopathy. As our daughter was born at 28 weeks weighing 1180 grams (2.6 pounds), she is obviously at risk. Her eyes were checked multiple times in Taiwan, and all we every heard was that things were fine now, but she would need rechecked again.
At today's appointment with our local opthamologist, they gathered information about her birth history and used a series of three drops to numb and dilate her eyes. I laid down in the exam chair with her on top of me. I held her hands down while the nurse held her head and put the drops in her eyes. There was a lot of screaming and wiggling going on, and then a lot of fussy boredom as we had to wait for the drops to work. Interestingly, I was told that it is harder to dilate dark eyes than light eyes. Something about how the dark eye soaks up more of the medication, and it can take 2-3 sets of applications before the eye dilates wide enough. Miss Hannah required two applications. The opthamologist took measurements of her eyes and looked at them closely, and said that at this time there is no evidence of retinopathy of prematurity. We're to return in a year for a recheck. I tried to ask how long, as in how many years, we'd be returning for rechecks... but because of my lack of voice I couldn't get my question across and the doctor was gone. Oh well. Doesn't matter. I'm feeling very blessed that this is more more issue that I can cross off my list of worries.

We went home for lunch and a nap, and then went back for a appointment with our pediatric nurse practitioner for the grouchy sick baby. She hadn't been pulling at her ears or acting like they were painful, but my suspicions were that she could have ear infections and maybe even a sinus infection that were at the root of all of this. Guess Mama's not too dumb after all. One ear was definitely infected, and the other didn't look too great either. Because she's had this going on for a whole week, Hannah gets a round of amoxicillin (just like her Mama!) as it's likely to be bacterial as it's hanging on so long. Daddy went to this appointment too. We talked at length about the refusing of bottles and rejecting anything on a spoon. The nurse practitioner tells us that she's trying to tell us that she doesn't want bottles anymore, and wants to feed herself, and it's okay. If she doesn't want a bottle anymore, we can go to whole milk in a sippy cup. We're supposed to stop worrying about how much she's eating or drinking. We're to offer her a variety of nutritious food and offer her something to drink multiple times a day... and if she doesn't want it... it's okay. So... I'm supposed to stop freaking out and start dicing food. (Hear that, Baby Whisperer?) This is hard. She's just so little... it's hard for me to let go of my baby that takes a bottle and let her eat spaghetti if she wants to. I only got a couple of months of a baby, and here comes a toddler!

My little bird takes her amoxicillin like a champ. More praises! Cough, cough, cough. Where's my cough drops?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

new tricks and Easter pics

Hannah has a few new tricks up her sleeve. I hesitate to call them "tricks" because she's a little person and not a pet... but they are just little cute things she does that shows that she's learning ways to communicate with us and having fun. This week Kevin and Hannah put a word to asking for a head-butt. When he says the word "shaboomie" Hannah will knock her forehead against his forehead. It's really cute, and it makes her giggle. Tonight when I was putting a teary-eyed baby into her bed, I pulled the blanket over her head and said, "Where's Hannah?" and pulled it back and said "peek-a-boo!" and she started smiling. I did it again, and then she grabbed the blanket herself to cover her head and uncovered herself, initiating peek-a-boo on her own. Luckily Kevin was nearby and he got to see a couple rounds of this. We're going to have to start taking videos again. We haven't done that in a while as we've been photography-centric lately.

Little Miss has had a runny nose, productive cough, and a slight on and off fever since Wednesday. Kevin has spotted tooth number three coming in on top. She's been a grump and not quite herself. Saturday night she cried uncontrollably and I started to think something was really wrong, and considered an ER visit if we couldn't sort it out. She had Tylenol in her for pain and fever, she wasn't putting things in her mouth, and she had a BM the day before. We gave her glycerin to make her go just in case it was constipation, and that wasn't it. She wasn't hungry and didn't want another bottle. Clean diaper. Humm. Let's try Orajel on her gums where a tooth broke through. Five to ten minutes later the sobbing was over and she settled down. That must have been it. Darn owie toofer. Now Mama and Daddy have the creepy crud with the productive cough and stuffed up nose. Apparently this family likes to share our germs!

As Mama would be busy working this past weekend, we took her Easter photos on Thursday. It was a sunny and mild day for early April. Hannah cooperated for about five minutes before she got fussy and wanted to be held again.

Easter - full length
Easter laughs

Easter smiles
Easter smiles

precious pearl - with text
precious pearl

Easter Sepia - Sharp
recolored sepia

looking down

I changed her dress, and then all I could see through the viewfinder is the top of her head. Love those little toes. The "pick me up" fussing started seconds later. Poor baby. I hope you're feeling better soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

we picture {this} - daughters

This month at we picture {this}, the theme is {daughters}. There are some really lovely photos posted there recently that really inspire me to learn more about photography. I want to try something new or differently with my camera each time the mamarazzi in me has a mini photo session with Hannah. HERE is the link to my post with a photograph that I took today of Hannah in her Easter finery. She doesn't like the shoes that go with it because they are scratchy. That's okay, I'd rather look at her little toes than the fancy shoes, anyway! More photos to come after the Easter holiday.

Hannah is feeling better today and yesterday's fever has gone down, but she is still pretty grouchy. Funny new thing... she started nodding back at us when we nod up and down and say "yes." It makes me giggle every time she does this!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

some days

Some days are really hard. Today is one of those days. She's constipated... well, was constipated. Puked twice. She's been held by me most of the day and cries when I try to put her down for a few seconds. When I'm not holding her, she's curled up in her crib sucking her thumb. Doesn't want a pacifier today for some reason. Thank goodness for those Baby Mum-Mum rice crackers that we can buy locally. A snack "from the old country" always seems to soothe her fussiness for a few minutes at a time. Yes, some days are really hard.

I stayed home with Miss Fuss-A-Lot while daddy went to the carpal tunnel doctor today. The wrist splints he's been wearing at night have helped, but trying to sleep in wrist splints is not very comfortable. He got a steroid shot in a wrist today. We'll see if that helps. Gotta keep the BABY hand strong. Word.

brown-eyed girl - rounded corners

I only got to take 30 seconds of photos today before the waterworks turned back on because she wasn't being held. I'm still trying hard to work in aperture mode with natural light and no flash. I like the coloring and the light in her eyes in this photo, but the depth of field was a little too narrow at f/3.2 because of how close I was to her. I would have liked her right eye to be in better focus.

I haven't posted retail therapy baby clothes links in awhile. One of my recent favorite things to drool over online are handmade dresses on Etsy, specifically knot dresses. Here's a link where you too can view all of the knot dresses that crafty enterprising mamas would love to make for you.

Some might say, "Oh, Sarah. Those patterns would be so simple. You should really make these yourself." Uhh... no. I've tried a sewing project for Hannah before and learned that I had to have my mother iron everything for me because I can't iron, and even then I can't sew in a straight line.

The only dresses I could successfully make for Miss Hannah would have to be made out fine quality burlap sacks, like in the example above.

Gotta go. I'm being summoned by the grumpy Taiwanese princess. She is issuing her loud royal decree that nap time is over.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Daddy's Cutie Patootie on Film


Tonight we visited with Hannah's grandparents. It wasn't long before she made off for the stairs. The above shot is her cute little behind climbing up as fast as she can.

"No one sees me, right?"

Little Miss Climber thinks she's hot stuff now, eh?

I'm still learning my way around the Rebel G. I shot this roll of film using the camera's built in Portrait mode. I'm not very happy with the exposures... I think I'll stick with the manual mode and using the -1/2 Stop Exposure Compensation that I used on the previous film. It's a lot easier to correct slightly underexposed B/W film then to try to nail the exposure dead on. Overexposing B/W film is a disaster. It completely loses it's charm and no amount of correction after the fact will rescue overexposed shots.

Woohoo! Daddy posts on the blog AGAIN! ~Sarah