Wednesday, March 31, 2010

spring break in... Ann Arbor?

During spring break the hot place for Hoosiers to vacation is always Florida. Our little family only had a three day weekend, and I did not want to take a two year old any further than a four hour drive. I was looking for a city I haven't been to before or haven't spent much time there, something special for Hannah to do, and go to an authentic Taiwanese restaurant. Ann Arbor, Michigan, fit the bill.

We drove in on Friday night and settled into our hotel before heading out to dinner. We went to Great Lakes Chinese Seafood Restaurant. I wanted to go there for dim sum, but I always forget that dim sum is usually served at lunchtime or for late night snacks... and when we go to restaurants that have dim sum they don't serve it at dinner time. Great Lakes had a very extensive menu. Most of the other diners were Asians, so that's a sign that we're someplace good! We shared some potstickers to start with. Kevin ordered a combination soup that we don't remember the name of, and I had rice noodles with Chinese vegetables. Mine was so so. I think I just get bored having the same thing and like variety. Kevin REALLY liked his soup and kept picking out pieces of thinks like squid that I really don't want to look at. I'm pretty adventurous, but not when it comes to seafood.


Before leaving we checked out the dim sum menu, and told our friendly server that we'd be back for lunch tomorrow, for sure! We made a Target run and played in the toy aisle for some time. Hannah is starting to enjoy drawing, so we got her a Ni Hao, Kai-Lan themed Magna Doodle. This little toy has brought on hours and hours of entertainment for our little scribbler in just a few days! I think we'll keep it in the car for now to keep her busy in her seat.

Back at the hotel, we got in the pool with Hannah for the first time since last summer. What a difference a few months make! Gone was the baby that cried when she was carried into the cool water. Instead we found a laughing toddler that wanted to be swirled around and around in the water.






This shot's just for you, Lora!

Saturday we slept in. Ahhh! We did a little shopping. Dada and Hannah found an educational toy store to play in for over half an hour while I went shopping for summer clothes for myself.

We went back to Great Lakes for dim sum, and it did not let is down. They had a good selection and everything was good. Hannah's favorite was the hot dog bun. Go figure! We had sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf, congee, fried turnip cake, my favorite Chinese vegetables stir fried with garlic, and several others I can't remember. We always order way to much, but that's okay. Ordering something totally foreign to us just to try it it half the fun... as long as it's not seafood!

yummy Chinese vegetables stir fried with garlic
Just looking at this photo makes my mouth water!

After lunch we found a playground for Hannah to run off a little steam. Had to get her good and tired so we could go back to the hotel and Mama could watch her BUTLER BULLDOGS take on K-State.

my little bulldog

My DAWGS are on to the FINAL FOUR!!! Can you believe it? This is such a big deal for my tiny tiny Indianapolis university to be playing in the final four in our town... Indianapolis.

I must admit, I did start doing a bit of yelling and screaming in the final four minutes of the game when Butler gave up their lead and K-State was up by one. I woke Hannah up. Bad mommy... yelling at a basketball game and waking up the kiddo.

For dinner we went to Asian Legend, a small place that describes themselves as a Taiwanese restaurant. The setting was very modern looking. About half of the diners were college aged Asians, and the other half were families with children. We had boba teas and oyster omelette... very Taiwanese. I ordered beef and noodle soup and Kevin had spare ribs. Kevin LOVED his spare ribs. Very soft and tender with lots of flavor... tastes like five spice to me. My soup was fine, but not as good as the beef and noodle soup I had in Orlando.

oyster omelette

Taiwanese beef and noodle soup

spare ribs

We drove around downtown Ann Arbor to see what things looked like, and kind of ran out of things to do. Thought about shopping, but we don't need anything. We knew that Sunday would be all rain, and decided to head home Sunday afternoon. It rained all.the.way.home. Looking forward to warmer sunny days that can be spent in parks!

Back at home this week, Hannah's able to express herself more and more every day. She likes to sing songs, and Dada has added a new one to her repertoire. It's from the "Kai-Lan Goes to China" episode of Ni-Hao, Kai-Lan.

♪♪ We feel so happy we just want to sing ♪♪
♪♪ we feel so happy ♪♪
♪♪ kai-xin, kai-xin, kai-xin ♪♪

I'm very proud to say that Hannah's first word in Mandarin is kai-xin, meaning HAPPY!

Today's new word in English... BURP. Nice. Not so proud of that one.

Black and White Wednesday - swim

the long road

swim b&w

I'll post more later tonight about our "spring vacation" in Ann Arbor, but had to share a pic of our little swimmer! :)

Friday, March 26, 2010


splash time

Another pic from fun in the tub this week. :) We crashed our tug boats in together and she thought yelling "crash!" was pretty funny.

Trying to figure out what to do this weekend. Before Hannah got sick I was drumming up ideas for places to go to. I wanted less than a four hour drive, a city I haven't been to before or haven't spent much time there, something special for Hannah to do, and go to an authentic Taiwanese restaurant. I found a Taiwanese restaurant in Ann Arbor with good reviews, and have been looking for things to do in or around Ann Arbor. Ya know... when one thinks spring break... one thinks Ann Arbor, Michigan, RIGHT? (giggle) Seriously, this is really last minute, but if you have any Ann Arbor recommendations let me know. If I don't get there this weekend, I'll get there sometime.

Can you believe it?!?!? My Butler Bulldogs downed number one seed Syracuse! Looking forward to the Kansas State game Saturday. Just ONE WIN away from the final four IN INDIANAPOLIS. Now that would be a party. My little school... in the final four... in our backyard.

you're telling me no???

you're telling me no?

The face I get when I tell her, "no touch."
She's wanting to take the blankets out of her
drawer and toss them around her room.

I Heart Faces - Fix-It Friday

I'm playing along with photo fixes at I Heart Faces today. Here's my fix for the above photo in Photoshop CS4. I first smoothed out some discolorations using the healing brush and sharpened the eyes with Pioneer Woman's Bring on the Eyes! and Sharpen THIS actions, and sharpened the lips to add a little shine. I recently purchased a couple sets of Forabella actions. I ran the Lighten Brighten action twice and it worked wonders on skin tone. I popped a little color with Poineer Woman's Boost action. Finally, I ran the Florabella Vintage Wine action and turned it down to 60% opacity.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


yes... everyday moments still take my breath away
everyday moments still take my breath away

Black and White Wednesday - bathtime grins

the long road

bathtime grin - b&w

I'm just learning how to use my speedlight flash, and I haven't been happy with the results thus far because the flash is too harsh. Monday night my friend Jeri surprised me with a mini softbox. Tonight during bathtime, I experimented with the mini softbox on the flash. Our bathroom is not lit very well, and the flash helped immensely in comparison to previous dark and yellowed bathtime shots. Post processing was very quick. I bumped up the exposure with Lightroom. Then I opened the file in Photoshop, ran the Florabella BW Rich Vintage action, followed by BW Tints & Hazes for the milky haze. Thanks, Jeri!!!

I never really understood the white balance settings on DSLRs and how to manually set the white balance until Jeri brought over a DVD on our 7Ds. I learned a lot, and watching a video that I could pause and replay was so much easier than reading a book. White balance adjustments really improved my bathtub shots, as well.

The Augmentin is working on those double ear infections, thank goodness! We all slept through the night last night with just one wake up due to a wet diaper. Unfortunately, we have to hold Hannah's arms down when we give her the medicine. If I give it to her without Dada's help, she sticks her tongue out and wipes the chalky medicine off her tongue with her hands. Flavoring the prescription helped, but watermelon flavored chalk still tastes... well, chalky.

Hannah's new words this week: Medicine (surprise, surprise!), sad (after several readings of "What's Wrong, Little Pookie?"), ketchup, and camera.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Formosa Betrayed - the movie

I haven't seen this, but dearly wish I lived anywhere near a theater
where it was showing and could have a babysitter for an evening.

Here's a link to an AP review.

Here's a link to watch a trailer and find
out if it's playing in a major city near you.

tired family

spring smile

After five days on Omnicef, Hannah's ear infection med wasn't cuttin' the mustard. She's mopey, not eating much, tells us she wants something to eat and then doesn't eat it, and wakes up five times a night crying because she's so uncomfortable. Tylenol and the ear numbing drops help take the edge off her pain but she still really hurts. I called the pediatrician's office at 8:04am this Monday morning and secured Dada an 8:50am appointment. The pediatrician said that her ears looked the same as they did last week. We're going to try Augmentin this time, and we'll be back at the pediatrician's office on Thursday if there's no improvement. When I gave her the first dose, I knew it was chalky and would taste bad... even after watermelon flavoring was added, but I didn't expect crying, sticking out her tongue, and wiping her hands on her tongue to get the meds off. I couldn't help but laugh a little. Guess that's why people have kids, right? For their own amusement.

Kevin doesn't do well with less than nine hours of sleep a night, and I don't fall back to sleep easily. Hoping the yucky medicine is kicking in tonight and we'll all be able to get some rest.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Black and White Wednesday - every leaf

the long road

every leaf

every leaf, a new discovery

I don't have much to write about this week, except that I'm so glad the weather is warming up and we can be outside to explore leaves and go down slides. Yesterday afternoon was beautiful and we went to the elementary school to check out the slides. Hannah went down each and every slide, even the highest and fastest ones. She had a runny nose but was a very happy girl. Thirty minutes later her attitude slid downhill and she's been a wreck ever since. After a trip to the pediatrician this morning, we learned that Hannah has double ear infections. No amount of Tylenol, juice, crackers, and holding her can comfort her for very long. Mama has boogers on each shoulder of her shirt and is very tired.

Our 2010 census mailing arrived yesterday. Taiwanese Americans and parents of Taiwanese Americans, be sure to check "OTHER ASIAN" and write in "TAIWANESE." Be counted. Be recognized.


green Sedona
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
{photo by Kevin, editing by Sarah}

Hannah's not feeling so hot. Clingy girl. Nothing makes her happy. "No no no no no no..." All stuffed up, and she threw up twice last night. She throws up easily when her nose is all stuffed up. I'm getting ready to wake her up to go to see our pediatrician in an hour. Sigh.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

learning curve

learning curve

big camera. big lens. big learning curve. big sigh.
little patience.

Friday, March 12, 2010

"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door - Only this and nothing more."

I was in the bathroom with the door tightly secured, doing what parents do when they want to be ALONE and have the bathroom door shut tightly. I heard the pitter patter of little feet scamper down the hall towards me. She doesn't like it when I shut a door and she can't see me. The knocking started, like usual. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap tap tap tap. "Mama!" Mama!"

"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door - Only this and nothing more." I'm not opening that door. She can learn that mama needs a few minutes of private time in the bathroom sometimes. She's not upset, she just wants in because she thinks she's missing the party.

Tap. Tap. Tap. "Mama, open the door!"

What!?!?!?! A phrase!!!!

I think the bathroom door opened up in 0.6 seconds. A phrase!!! She said another phrase, I say!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010



Hannah got her first tricycle, a red Radio Flyer with red and white tassels. She can reach the pedals, but can't move it very far. She shows a lot of interest in sitting on the tricycle, but hops off when she realizes that she can't make it move much on her own. You'll get it, baby. Just at your own pace, like everything else you learn how to do.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Allie and Hannah's playdate


We drove over to Allie's house yesterday morning to play. Allie was very good with sharing her toys. Hannah's feet can't reach the pedals of Allie's big girl tricycle, so Allie pushed the tricycle around so Hannah could ride.

{For those of you who are new here, Allie and Hannah lived in the same orphanage in Taiwan. HERE you can see a post the first time we got them together over a year ago.}


They spent a lot of time just running around. Allie following Hannah and then Hannah following Hannah.


Lora brought out the crayons and the Ni hao, Kai-Lan coloring pages.


Thanks to whomever developed washable crayons!


Then it was time to clean up.


The girls ran around with a mop and a broom for a long time.


And waved them around in the air, of course.


Out came the bucket and scrub brush.


Hannah spot cleaned the carpets with a brush.

We went upstairs to Allie's room and that's when the fun really started. I didn't bring my camera with me, but we got lots of funny shots with Lora's camera of the little monkeys jumping in Allie's bed and playing dress up with hats, shoes, fairy wings, and a purple boa. Head on over to Allie's blog to see pics of more fun!

Lora, Hannah fell asleep in her carseat before we got out of town. Thanks so much for having us over, ladies! We had a great time! Looking forward to seeing you again sometime when the weather is warmer and we can play outside.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Black and White Wednesday - color conversion

the long road

This week on Black and White Wednesday, I thought I'd follow the leader and show you this photo's transformation from SOOC (straight out of camera) to the finished product.

i am a good girl - sooc

I was taking these shots with Hannah playing around inside an ottoman. When this was shot, she had laid back and found herself a little stuck, hence the "uh oh" face. Had to cover her up a little bit!

i am a good girl - color haze

I fixed the owie on her head, smoothed out some eye boogies, and sharpened her eyes a little bit. Then I spent a lot of time getting the crop just the way I wanted it. Might have spent more time on the crop than on the rest of the steps below! I bought the Florabella actions this week, and they are sure pretty and easy to use! I used a milky haze and a tint from the actions. This was my first time playing around with haze and tints. Seems like my best black and whites always come from getting the color just right first, and then doing the black and white conversion.

i am a good girl

I used one of the Florabella black and white actions for the conversion, and then adjusted the lighting to get the exposure and shadows just the way I wanted it. I flattened the black and white layer and the previous hazy color image. I placed the black and white image over the hazy color image, and then reduced the opacity until I got just the right amount of red to peek out from the flower on Hannah's head and a wee bit of warmth to peek out from her skin.

My birthday is coming up later this month, and Kevin is helping me treat myself for my birthday. I'm upgrading to a Canon 7D, decided to get my first taste of L glass with an 24-70mm f/2.8L, and a speedlight. Decided that I'd rather have camera equipment right now then a newer car! I'm really excited about having video on the 7D. My old Canon point and shoot takes great video but sucks down batteries, and I am not going to carry around two cameras at the same time.

I'm going to be selling one lovingly used Canon EOS Rebel XSi body, an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, battery grip, an extra battery, and a few photography books. Haven't finalized a price yet... but I'm watching eBay auctions to help figure out what the going rate is right now. Leave me your e-mail in the comments section if you are interested.