Monday, June 29, 2009

Celebrating our SIX Month Hannahversary

For our six month Hannahversary, I wanted to take a little family photo. I took six shots with my older point and shoot camera on a little stick with the timer. They were all pretty horrible shots, but this one is less yucky than the rest. Id' like a new nice new tripod... as the el-cheapo one broke. I'd like a lot of things. Right now I'll just settle for clean kitchen floors. Sigh.

Happy SIX month Hannahversary!

When trying to figure out what to do tonight to celebrate our six months together as family, we asked ourselves "What would Hannah want to do?" We figured that she'd want to eat sweets and look at birds. We drove into town and went to a nice sit down Chinese Restaurant. It took a long time for our order to come, and Miss Squirmy doesn't sit well without food. The restaurant has lots of embroidered wall hangings, and most depict birds. Hannah and I walked around an empty section of the restaurant looking at birds on the walls to try to keep busy. After several stern words from Daddy to keep her quiet and in the high chair, our dinner finally came. Kevin ordered the three dim sum items on the menu. He's really looking forward to our upcoming trip to Chicago so we can go out to a dim sum restaurant again. I had sesame chicken, and Hannah always has bits of whatever we're having.

It was way too late to go to the zoo to look for birds, so we decided to go to a pet store just to look. Hannah loved looking at the parakeets, cockatiels, and canaries. "Burrrrrrrrr da! Burrrrrrr!" We looked at turtles, fish, snakes, lizards, hamsters, guinea pigs, and ferrets. What fun! Sedona got a replacement for her little football that has seen much better, and cleaner, days.

On the way home we stopped at Dairy Queen. Hannah had a vanilla cone all to herself and ate it while sitting on top of the table (no high chairs) while in her pretty gold dress. Her bib caught a lot of the mess... but she was a sticky laughing crazy silly sugar-high girl at the end of the cone. Tonight she jabbered on and on more than I've never heard her talk before. Of course, I don't understand hardly any of it except for "Ma ma ma ma ma" and "Burrrrrr!"

So silly tonight! Whether from just being a happy girl or on a sugar-high, we heard lots of laughs and giggles back at home.

Here's a little video and a few photos with what we do around the house for fun. Good night!


silly bottle girl

six months together

six months together

"For so long, I dreamed about you, waited for you, imagined you, tried to picture you. I fantasized about you, already loved you, thought of you all the time. Never ever had a day I didn't wonder about you. The day you entered my life, you took my breath away! Finally meet you, see you, feel you, smell you, hug you, and Loooooooooooove you - you are my life. I love to just be with you, look at you, play with you, listen to you, talk to you, see you smile... Nothing prepared me for your smile. I love you! Mom"

- Author Chantal Scalais

Kits used:
Chunlin Designs - Your Mama Forever
Katie Pertiet - LaCremerie Fraise
Cottage Arts - Growth Spurts

Sometimes I still wake up in the middle of the night and want to pinch myself. "Is this real? Is she really here, three doors down from ours sleeping softly with one foot hanging out of her crib? This really happened?" Then I hear her wake up and start her little cries. I rush sleepily to the kitchen. The bright refrigerator light causes me to squint in the darkness. I pour her a bottle of whole milk, heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds, and shuffle back towards her room. The cries immediately stop when I open the door. She stands up holding on to the edge of her crib, holding her blanket, and grins at me with all four teeth and a dimple. "Heeeeee! Heeeeee!" she shouts excitedly. Yup. She's got me wrapped around her little finger.

So hard to believe this was only six months ago.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

spoon it on in

Daddy and Hannah visited me at work today to present me with
an envelope of photos he had just printed. Here's a few of my favorites.


We bought Hannah some new training spoons this week,
as we feel ready to start working on self-feeding with a spoon.


Daddy has a lot more patience for messes than Mama does.


Mama would want to be cleaning her up while she was still eating.


Daddy's style makes for much better photography, I thinks.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hannah's First Father's Day

We celebrated Father's Day last year while waiting for orphanage approval to adopt Hannah. It was a really emotional time. We were worried about what we were going to do if we couldn't get approval to be the parents of this little girl that we'd wished and waited for.

I wanted to do something special for Kevin for Father's Day, and had it in my head to do something with her handprints in plaster of paris mounted on a photo frame. I mixed up the plaster of paris at my mom's house... but had all kinds of problems getting the right consistency. It was too soft... then too hard... then too soft again. Then when I thought I had the consistency right, we smooshed in Hannah's little hand and she grabbed a handful of the plaster of paris. Ooops. Kinda hard to make a handprint when the printee is grabbing it. I was so aggravated, and decided this SO WASN'T WORTH MY FRUSTRATION. We'll try something like this again soon for Daddy. Nana's idea of using tempra paint and paper might be a much better option.

No handmade gifts for Daddy for Father's Day, but Hannah did make him breakfast in bed. Yes! She made him breakfast! Thank goodness Mama married Daddy, as he has great kitchen skills.

making Daddy his Father's Day breakfast
Hannah helped open the pop tart out of the wrapper.

after sampling the corner of a pop tart, Hannah helped me put them in the toaster
After sampling the corner off a pop tart, Hannah helped me put them into the toaster.

Daddy reading his Father's Day card
We poured Daddy a glass of milk, and woke him up to present him
Father's Day cards and the fine breakfast that we slaved over in the kitchen.

Happy Father's Day to the man that can make my little girl squeal and laugh, who gives and gets great big hugs, and knows how to love so well. xoxo, Sarah

Added 10:22pm
Lisa, Thank you so much for letting me know about the handprint keepsake kits. I ordered one that uses clay. I think we'll try this out when Hannah is sound asleep one night so she won't grab at the clay.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

pop tart smiles

Hannah hasn't been interested in dolls until we encouraged her to play with them this week. We're been repeating the word "baby" over and over. I've been rocking her dolls, hugging her dolls, and having the dolls kiss Hannah on the cheek in hopes that she gets the idea. She's catching on and shows interest in holding them, touching their mouth, and touching their eyes. Today she played with a baby doll while I changed her diaper before a nap. After I said the word baby several times, she started babbling and mimicking my sounds. "Ba ba. Bay ba. Bay bay." After lots of claping and praise, she's repeating back "bay bay" and grinning at us.

Here's a few sticky sweet pop tart smiles from this week. :)

pop tarts smile 1

pop tarts smile 2

pop tarts smile 3

pop tarts smile 4

Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009 Chicago Dragon Boat Races

We'll be going to the Dragon Boat Races in Chicago Saturday, July 25th! If any adoptive families would like to meet up with us in Chicago that weekend, send me a message. We went to the dragon boat races last year and had a good time. I've been in touch with two families that are going already. We're looking forward to going someplace for dim sum too, as there isn't any place that serves it around here. Mmmmmm... I want lots of dumplings, sticky rice in lotus leaf, turnip cake with X.O. sauce... and the list goes on.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

laugh in the bath

laugh in the bath {unedited}baby magicrub a dub dubhave a fish!

happiness is... a pink popsickle

pink popsickle

"Hmmm... I wonder why there hasn't been many photos on that Hannah Claire blog lately. What's up with them???"

Uh... it's because I can't keep up. I work 40 hours a week and I come home to a daddy who's ready to be relieved of his shift of diapering/playing/feeding/sippy cup washing duty. Little Miss is on the GO, and she'll be walking any day now. Hannah took her first step unassisted yesterday. She was cruising around the coffee table and decided that she wanted my popcorn snack instead of her Gerber cheesy puffs snack. She turned herself around standing up, reached out towards me, and took one quick step towards me and snatched the little white cheddar popcorn crumb out of my hand.

I had the day off today and Daddy's sick in bed not feeling well, so we got out of the house to give him some peace. We had lunch with Grandpa and Nana downtown, and then went visiting people we know around town. There were lots of waves and blown kisses for everybody. Hannah even got two suckers, but never gets to finish them. {I can't believe the amount of baby drool that a Dum Dum sucker creates!} This afternoon we crawled around in the grass in the back yard, enjoyed popsickles, and then had to have a bath to wash off all of the sticky body parts.

I have lots more photos, and will be editing them and posting them on my photography blog when I have time... that means when Hannah's sleeping.

No new words lately, but Kevin taught her to give hugs and to mimic him to make the Home Alone face.

Gotta run... someone's tired of playing with her school bus by herself and has started throwing remotes and crying.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Redirect: Sweet Beginnings

After a year of overcoming adoption obstacles (which Judy rightfully referred to as jumping through flaming hoops), our friend Sara/Sofa and her husband Donnie met their daughter yesterday in Taiwan. Congratulations to them and Milana's big brother and sisters waiting excitedly at home!

Updated 10:42pm
Sara/Sofa tells more about their special day in a second post here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


We're still here! :) Here's a few snippits from today.

e went out for dinner tonight at the local Mexican restaurant and gave Hannah a chip to nibble on while we waiting on our dinner. We always have to give her something to nibble on like salad crackers to keep her busy and prevent her from wanting to climb out of the restaurant high chair. Anywho, Hannah watched us dip our chips into salsa. She looked like she wanted some, so Kevin put just a little salsa on a chip. She loved it! Her little eyes opened wide and she smacked her lips. Mi niña picante! Kevin gave her more... but little Miss decided she wanted to dip her chip into the salsa all by herself. She was so funny dipping in her own chip we just couldn't help but giggle. You may not want to share a mild salsa bowl with us, as Hannah hasn't learned that it's not polite to double dip.

Nana watched Hannah while I went to photography for dummies a beginner SLR photography class at the local library. Can't beat $10 for a two hour class! I learned how to use some settings on my camera that I've only read about before, like light metering and changing the strength of a flash, but it made me feel really good that I understood most of it already. I'm itching to purchase a speedlight fill flash and circular polarizer. [Note to self, when considering new hobbies, first check out the price of these hobbies. Taking up playing the Irish penny whistle four years ago was much less expensive.] Anyway... when I showed up at Nana's to collect Hannah, I could hear her belly laughs all the way from outside the garage. Nana and Hannah were playing with "Granny's Purse," a board book-like purse that has all sorts of little cardboard things to play with in it. This was the book that I put Hannah's photo in to surprise my mother with Hannah's referral news. Nana would put the glasses back into the purse, and Hannah would pull them out and laugh and laugh and laugh. I just watched them interact from afar for several minutes. I don't think I've ever heard Hannah laugh so loud and for so loud. They were great big squealing belly laughs where every inch of her little body went into the laugh. So precious!

Nana also reports that Hannah successfully went down an entire flight of stairs on her own tonight. We watched her go down a few steps at a time last week, but she's really figured out how to go down now.

Her favorite foods right now are strawberries and yogurt juice, and there's always room for a rice cracker.

No new photos Hannah lately. I've been figuring out Lightroom using presets (Rebecca's are great!) and the Florabella textures that Shana released Monday.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lucky Girl - answers to questions readers asked

Tuesday, May 26th - Sunday, June 7th this blog hosted a book discussion surrounding Taiwanese-American adoptee Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir "Lucky Girl."

Author Mei-Ling Hopgood graciously answered questions that you asked stemming from our book discussion. Here's what she has to say. Thank you again, Mei-Ling, for sharing so much with us. Your questions are listed below in bold with the author's answers in italics.

I'd be interested in knowing what Hopgood believes the role of adoptive parents should be in helping children reunite with their original families. It will probably be many years before the ones who were adopted as babies express a desire to search for them, if they do. Until then, what would she recommend APs do to keep the communication channels active so that a reunion might happen? In our case, we've sent several letters to our child's Taiwanese family with the hopes of keeping lines open. However, we've never received any responses. At the same time, we want to respect their privacy and possible need to distance themselves from any pain resulting from the adoption. We don't want to be pushy, but we don't want the trail to go cold from time and distance. Any thoughts?

Over time, my parents collected what information they could about my birth family, keeping documents and the precious letters that the nun who arranged my adoption from Taiwan sent me. They gave those to me when I asked for more information. They let me set the pace of what I wanted to know. I really appreciated that, especially later in life and when I was writing the book. I didn't ask much before adulthood, because I didn't have any interest. That said, I don’t think you can really force the issue with the birth family or your child. You can do as much as you can do, and I think your child will understand that. (Another note: it is not a given that your child will want reunion.)

How does your Taiwanese family feel about the publicity surrounding your book now that it's been released? Has being public with your life story changed any relationships? Feel free not to answer this question if it is too personal. Of course we'll understand. We're grateful you've shared so much already.

Actually I wrote an essay on this that will be published in in a couple weeks. They are pretty isolated from the publicity of the book in Taiwan. They've "read" it (as much as they can with their limited English), seen postings on the web, etc. They've reacted with congratulations, but despite my best efforts (sending the manuscript over and over in email and hard copy) their understanding of my book is limited and probably always will be (unless it is bought and translated in Chinese). So far the book has not changed any relationships that I can tell.

Adoptees react to their adoptions in such varying ways. In your opinion, what makes the difference between an adoptee who is at peace with his/her adoption and one who is resentful of it?

Each adoptee is so different in this respect. I think it is important to recognize that some are not going to want anything to do with their birth family or "homeland" and others are. The relationship with the adoptive family plays an important role, I think, but so does the adoptee's personality, perspective, circumstances, confidence, experience in America. All views are legitimate. In my personal situation (and that of my brothers who could not find information about their birth family) I think the most important thing is that my American parents were supportive of whatever path we took, whether we wanted to know more about our birth families or cultures or not.

Do you get any feedback, positive or negative, from other adult international adoptees for your outlook on your adoption experience and/or sharing your life so publicly?

I have gotten good reaction. One of the important points I think I've tried to make is that my perspective is my own. I don't pretend that anyone else will feel the same. I didn't write this book to make any big pronouncements about adoption or reunions with birth families, even though I know both of those events were major turning points in my life.

Do you have any advice for adoptive parents, such as something your parents encouraged you to do while you were growing up?

My parents were just supportive and loving. We are not a perfect family all the time – we had our quibbles like any other – but when it came down to it, my mom and dad helped us be the people we wanted to be.

Like I said, I didn't write Lucky Girl to make any pronouncements about adoption or reunions… but I can touch on one little point that comes up a lot during my talks.

One parent in a reading asked me, given my experience and frustration with not being able to communicate with my family in Taiwan, if I wished I had not refused Mandarin school (which I did). Sure, I wish I spoke more Mandarin/Taiwanese. But honestly, a once-a-week class would not have prepared me for my experience. I did what I could to learn the Chinese I could and dealt with it. I'm still glad I studied Spanish and lived in Mexico during college. I'm glad my parents encouraged me to have a global, diverse view, that included China-Taiwan but was not limited to it.

It is wonderful that families are concerned about exposing their children to language, culture etc. and I understand the desire to know as much as possible about the birth family in case one day a child asks. All that is good. My parents tried to do what they can in this respect (detailed in LG), including encouraging language lessons or my brother to study in Korea etc. However, I think some people feel extreme pressure to manufacture a Chinese culture for their daughters and sons. The truth of the matter is that – especially if the child was young when he or she was adopted – the most important culture is the one in your house, neighborhood, your family's way of living – your family's culture. Their experience will be that of an Asian (or other race) American not of a child growing up in China. It's wonderful and important to help your children have a sense of history and identity, and language, etc. but don't overly stress when your kid says they want to quit Mandarin class for now. Because ultimately, they are American kids, your kids. In my humble opinion, it's most important that the child feels loved, grounded in your family and the place where they are living and growing up. Then, they really can handle any issues and questions that might come their way later.

In the promotional video for your book, you describe yourself as "just another one of the endless, unwanted baby girls born to and discarded by poor Chinese families." While being poor and female are big reasons for why many children in China are given up for adoption, the reasons are often different for Taiwanese adoptions (i.e, imprisoned parents, substance abuse, teenaged pregnancies, mental illness, etc.) In light of your statement and of Taiwan's (partial) push for independence from China, your statement makes me curious: do you view yourself as Chinese or Taiwanese?

Both, but I try to be as precise on this as possible as not to enter into the Chinese-Taiwan debate (because that isn't what my story is about.) My family is Chinese, originally from Fujin, and immigrated to Kinmen. They moved to Taiwan before I was born. The Chinese culture and traditional way of thinking influenced quite a bit my adoption, but my sisters would say they are from Taiwan.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

page loading problems

Apparently people running Internet Explorer have had a problem getting this blog to load up for a week. I think I discovered the problem while searching in the Blogger help archives. HERE IS A LINK to a description of the problem. Interestingly, it involves the Follower widget. I removed that widget and we'll see if the problem is fixed. If you run IE and haven't been able to get this blog to load up in the last week (that means you Carmen and Sara/Sofa), and NOW you can... please drop me a comment so that I know it's fixed for you.

update on Hannah's "boyfriend"

Little A came home from the hospital yesterday, much earlier than expected, and is doing great. Thanks for sending up your prayers!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

driving her Jeep

driving her jeep

The above photo makes me giggle and inspired a little digiscrapping.

{The photo was postprocessed in Lightroom with "Rebecca's Vintage Wash" by Rebecca Lilly. Everything is from Weeds and Wildflowers, except for the frame by Katie Pertiet at Designer Digitals.} I like how the dirt makes it look like the jeep is traveling and kicking it up behind the tires! You can view the jeep driving photograph in full screen size on my photography site.


I decided that the scrap page was nice, but it needed some journaling. That's better!

jeep with journaling

Oh, how I love this little girl.
I love how she shrieks with glee and then hugs me tight.
How she pats my face and says "ma ma ma ma ma."
How she shares her toys and her snacks.
And the sweet curves of the profile of her face.

standing on bench

After Hannah's nap, we went to the children's zoo for a few hours to see the new African exhibit. I love how she always gets so animated watching the spider monkeys! Any kind of bird is a favorite, and she shouts "burrr! burrr!" It's so sweet. Hannah watched a hyena sleep from only a foot away, separated by a few inches of glass, of course. She fed lettuce to a giraffe and his huge gray tongue touched her little hand.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

playing with Grammy, readoption complete, and I WON something!

2009-06-03_10-25-37_Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XSi

There's been lots of playing this week at our house. Hannah's been playing lots of "farm" and "airplane." A favorite activity is throwing all of the little people down the silo.

2009-06-03_10-27-58_Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XSi

Had to throw in a pic with Sedona in it. She's here too, always wanting to lick somebody, but she somehow doesn't get mentioned as much these days. She sits under the high chair when Hannah eats, and can't wait for Hannah to start fussing to let us know she's done. Sedona eats EVERYTHING that Hannah leaves on her high chair tray. Sedona's earning her keep, picking up dropped Cheerios and crackers. I can't imaging having a messy toddler and not having a dog to pick up the Cheerios!

For the relatives, here's a link with all of the photos of playing with Grammy.

I learned tonight that the judge signed our readoption paperwork yesterday. This just means that the state recognizes the foreign adoption. It allows us to get a state birth certificate for our daughter, and it's easier to use US documents to prove identity and document that she's our daughter rather than pulling out documents written in Chinese with attached English translations. This also legally changed our daughter's name to Hannah Claire Ching-Ling _______.

Next step is to change her name with our health insurance. This summer I'll need to get Hannah a social security number, but I think I'll rest a little bit before trekking up to the social security office. I've read too many horror stories of adoptive parents struggling with social security office workers that don't understand their own rules.

Hannah and Daddy are going to Indy the next two days to see Grammy and Grandpa off. I hear the hotel has a pool, and I'd imagine that Daddy has plans on going swimming with his baby girl. I get to stay home and work with the grouchy impatient public. Fun fun.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. I won something! I won a camera bag from a giveaway at I Faces. They picked my number (#407) from nearly 700 entries! I was going to buy a matching camera strap cover for my cool new camera bag, but the owner Tracy Joy is throwing it in for free. How cool is that! No more ugly camera bag for me!

prayers for Hannah's "boyfriend"

Hannah's little "boyfriend" from her time in Taiwan is having some corrective surgery this morning after his doctors discovered last week what was causing his problems. We'd appreciate it if you could send up some prayer for the little guy. He's expected to spend the next week recovering in the hospital.

O God, the source of all health. Be near this family in times of weakness and pain. Please guide the surgeon to correct the problem to allow baby A to be able to eat and grow without pain and worry. Please bring comfort to baby A and his family as he recovers. Amen.

Updated 6/4/09 12:24am
A's surgery was successful today, but he has a lot of healing to do this week. His mama says keep praying!

Monday, June 1, 2009

mauled by goats

We've been busy beavers the last view days enjoying a week with Kevin's mom and dad. We've been going to the park to play and go on walks, exploring the goodies for sale at a farm store (Karen, they found Lucky-dog his smoked pig ears, yum yum), and smacking our lips on the one... the only... PIZZA KING pizza.

Sunday we went to the pool with Hannah for the first time. Let's just say that it was not a wonderful experience filled with laughing babies and all sorts of fun. The water was frigid and there was a lot of crying going on. I think we'll have to stick with indoor pools until things really warm up outside for days and days on end.

While I went to work today, everyone else got to go to the zoo with Hannah so she could point out all of the brightly colored "brrr." Oh yes, that's bird in Hannah talk.

hannah, grandpa, tortoise
fun with Grandpa

scary cave
scary cave!

so big!  {as a gorilla?}
so big! {as a gorilla?}

hannah, kevin, dino
dino pose

kevin wants ribs for lunch
Kevin requests ribs for lunch

mauled by goats
mauled by goats #1

maulted by goats 2
mauled by goats #2

kiss with goats
kiss with goats

You pick the answer. Grandma has pink in her hair because...
A. She finished a round of chemo and some hair came back pink.
B. She's a wild child on vacation, living it up doing things she can't usually do at home like color her hair pink.
C. She's a beauty school drop out and didn't follow the boxed directions correctly.
D. None of the above and you submit the most creative correct answer.

Kevin took a photograph of a peacock that I had a lot of fun post-processing tonight. I entered one version of the photograph in this week's I ♥ Faces contest. Fun stuff!

I know a few of you have read Lucky Girl but haven't commented on the topics. And... I'm lovin' the stuff we have goin' on here, guys. Even if you haven't read it yet... I'm sure that some of you will have some insightful thoughts. Join in!