Sunday, December 25, 2011

Little Mama

Hannah pretty much never wants to go to bed, and always pouts, "But I'm not sleepy!"
When she said this Christmas night, I reminded her
that it doesn't matter if she's sleepy or not. It is bed time,
so she can lay in bed not sleeping, or fall asleep. Her choice.

But tonight after my usual speech while brushing Hannah's teeth... I had an idea!
"Hannah, now that you have a baby to take care of,
you need to dress your baby in her jammies,
give her a bottle, and and tuck her in bed."
Hannah's eyes lit up and she scampered off to her bedroom.

little mama 2

I offered her baby doll Hello Kitty jammies so she'd match Hannah.
Together we dressed the baby doll, Hannah found the bottle,
and laid baby down in bed with her.
"Look, Hannah. The good bottle made your baby sleepy. She's closed her eyes."

little mama 1

Hannah loved watching her baby's eyes open and shut!

little mama 3

We tucked baby doll lovingly in bed next to Hannah's bed.
I told Hannah that the first night that she was with us in Taiwan,
she didn't sleep very well. I described how I would pat
baby Hannah's back when she cried, tell her softly that I loved her
and that she was okay, and baby Hannah would go back to sleep.

little mama 3

I watched Hannah patted her baby doll lovingly.
I got teary-eyed as I turned off the lights and said,
"Night night. I love you. Wo ai ni."

In other news... Hannah's not wearing pull-ups at bedtime anymore!
She's been consistently dry every morning
as long as we make her go peepee right before bedtime.

Christmas Day 2011

I was warm and wrapped up like a burrito in my bed this morning at 9:30am.
My eyes were closed.
I heard little feet scamper to my bedroom door and opened it up wide.
"Mama? Mama? Can we go check if Santa brought us presents?"




Santa came, and he brought the requested "baby doll with no hair."



Hannah ripped through her presents quickly, but went right back
to take care of her baby doll with no hair. She needed several
wardrobe and diaper changes until little mama was satisfied.


Santa didn't put anything in Sedona's stocking, and Hannah noticed right off.
Whoops! I think Santa was sleepy and forgot to take care of Sedona's stocking.



And she was certainly pleased.


Santa brought Hudson a train table with a note for Hannah.
Hannah is supposed to have Daddy help put it together and play with it.
When Hudson comes home, Hannah can show Hudson how it works.




The best gift we ever received.
Feeling exceedingly blessed.
Merry Christmas, friends!

Redirect: Christmas Miracle

On Christmas Eve, Marijane learns that her siblings have been found. A sister writes that she is excited to reunite when Marijane travels to Taiwan in just a few weeks.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Silly the Elf meets Ballerina Barbie

silly elf

Silly the Elf meets Ballerina Barbie... and they spent
the rest of the night together with a bottle of wine.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa came early this year

Santa came early this year and delivered two new photos of Hudson. Thank you. That's all I wanted for Christmas. He's so cute... and getting so big. I'm going to have to step up the weight training to be able to lug around this guy and Hannah!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

gingerbread house construction gone wrong


We brought a gingerbread house kit to Nana and Papa's Sunday night.
I did one last year with Hannah and she loved it. I briefly read the instructions.


I laughed when Papa suggested putting it together with a glue gun.
"You see, Papa... that's what this thick icing is for."


We started having a little trouble. The roof began to slide off.
Hannah patched the hole with more candies.


Then... the roof fell off. Oh no!


Papa says our house looks like a bank repo.
Uh... apparently I missed the part in the directions where you're supposed to
let the house sit for 30 minutes after putting it together before you decorate it.
That thick icing didn't have time to harden before the candy went on the roof.


I think we'll use hot glue next year.

Photo credits on this post go to Nana and Papa.

Friday, December 16, 2011

four years of visiting Santa

Hannah and Taiwanese Santa 2008
Christmas 2008 - Tainan, Taiwan

Christmas 2009 - Indiana

Christmas 2010 - Indiana

Christmas 2011 - Indiana

little sweeties making Christmas cookies


Hannah and I spent the day yesterday with Allie and Hannah.
The little girls made Christmas ornaments, decorated Christmas cards
with foam stickers, and someone cut their hair or a doll's hair.
I thought it was a doll's black hair, but after closely examining Hannah's head tonight,
I have a feeling that Hannah may have given herself another trim while at Allie's house.


Of course, they were most excited about decorating Christmas cookies.


I think Miss Lora really gets a kick out of...


watching my daughter shove sprinkles into her mouth.
I'm surprised that Lora hasn't offered her a shovel yet.
If Hannah asked for a sprinkle shovel, I'm sure Lora would find one for her.


That's okay. Allie had a little trouble getting the frosting to come out fast enough.


This photo made my day!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hudson's first birthday

Tonight we celebrated

a little guy in Taiwan.

We know our photos and developmental milestone info about you is so out of date now.
You may have taken your first steps. We wish we knew your fist words.
Favorite foods. What toys make you laugh out loud.

We can't be with you today, but we celebrated with
homemade cupcakes baked made my Grandma and Hannah,
decorated with entirely too many sprinkles by Hannah... of course.

I hope you had a tummy Taiwanese bakery cake topped with beautiful fresh fruits.
I hope your foster family sang to you and made this a special day for you.
I hope you feel loved, because you are.

We have a name for you. Hudson Ray {Chinese Name} {our family name}.

Friday, December 9, 2011

letting go of things beyond my control

When we arrived at the Secretary of State's office yesterday, I pulled out our documents one by one from our adoption agency, checking off my list to make sure everything we needed was being authenticated. I had kept everything together inside a huge envelope to make sure I wouldn't loose anything. I freaked out when I discovered that we were missing three kinds of documents to authenticate from our adoption agency. We went ahead and authenticated everything we had for them to do. The staff was so nice to me and reassured that it would be fine. I should just FedEx/UPS them back to them, including a prepaid mailer, and they would authenticate them same day, so I'd have them back in 1-2 days. I even showed the staff a photo of Hannah and retold the story about Hannah exclaiming "I want to do the gold stickers!!!!" The staffer thought that was so funny that she slipped me a gold seal to give to Hannah. So sweet! She showed me several photos and Christmas cards that international adoptive families send to the Secretary of State's office, and she said that authenticating our documents was one of their favorite things to do, because they felt a part of bringing families together. I got all choked up, and decided that would be sending a Christmas card to the Indiana Secretary of State's office this year.

I had forgotten that our state doesn't charge for authentications. I was remembering how much a friend in Nevada had paid for hers... in the thousands of dollars perhaps! The staffer told me that our state is the only state that doesn't have a fee for the service. Thank you, Indiana!

Hannah and Grandma with a gold sticker

After leaving the government center I called the adoption agency. No answer. This is not good. IDEA! I know someone who mentioned that they had their private cell phone number! Phoned a friend, got the hook up for the cell number, called agency rep, and agency took care of overnighting the missing documents to us. Kevin FedExed them today to the Secretary of State's office, and we should have them back on Tuesday to overnight to TECO, arriving in Chicago on Wednesday. I was a little frustrated by this delay and hate the idea of lil' dude waiting on us, but over all I'm feeling good about letting go of things beyond my control. I can only do so much. Most of this adoption process is out of my hands, and all I can do is wait. And pray. And eat chocolate. And go power walk three miles on the treadmill to work off remaining frustrations.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

gold stickers

Tonight while getting Hannah ready for bed I explained that we're going on a trip tomorrow. We're going to a Taiwanese restaurant for boba tea and yummy beef and noodle soup. After lunch we'll go to an office to get some gold stickers on our adoption papers that we'll send to Taiwan to help bring home your baby brother.

Hannah's reply, "I want to do the gold stickers!!!!!!"

Cracks me up! I have a feeling we'll be looking for a sticker store to buy gold stickers tomorrow. Love that girl!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 5, 2011

Approved! Finally!!!

We learned last Friday evening December 2nd that our adoption facilitator in Taiwan has approved our referral match, and now we can proceed with the adoption. It took exactly three months for this approval, obviously way longer than we ever expected. We were asked some questions in our adoption application, and poured out our hearts in the answers. Thankfully, we can proceed now. I learned tonight that our contracts have arrived from Taiwan. We hope to have them in our hands next week so we can travel to the Secretary of State's office and then send them off to TECO for authentication.

We've had a stomach bug making the rounds in our house this past week. Not fun. Grandma and Grandpa are visiting with us from Florida. Hannah loves it that she gets to share a room with Kevin's mom. They snuggle together under the covers and read books with a flashlight. Hannah NEVER asks to go to bed, but the first night Grandma was here she told us she was "just a little sleepy" and needed to go to bed with Grandma to start the slumber party fun. Love that girl!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fundraiser: Taiwan Christmas Ornaments


Our friends Jeff and Abbey are working on adopting their fourth little boy from Taiwan. This Christmas season they are having a fundraiser selling handmade pottery ornaments in the shape of the island of Taiwan. A friend of theirs blessed them with one hundred of these beautiful ornaments. You can order one for $10 by e-mailing them at jeffandab AT yahoo DOT com or commenting on their blog post HERE. The price includes shipping and the ornament will arrived wrapped and ready to be given as a gift.


Our family put up our tree this evening. I've ordered some from the Lands already for our tree. I think they're gorgeous! Hannah's been asking all day, "How many sleeps until Christmas?"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

reading Chinese, pretty mommies, and babies

Daddy told me some interesting stories about this day with Hannah tonight. He's been scanning documents of Hannah's and scrapbooks handwritten in Chinese so that we have copies of them for safekeeping. Here's the story as it was told to me.
Hannah, "Daddy, what are you doing?"
Kevin, "I'm making copies of your papers that are in Chinese."
Hannah, "Why you do that?"
Kevin, "Because these are special, and Mommy and I can't read Chinese."
Hannah, "But I can read Chinese!"
Kevin, "Oh, really!"
Hannah, "Yi, er, san!" [One, two, three in Mandarin.]

Hannah has seen photos of us together with her birth family before, but not this particular photo of her birth mother.
Hannah, "Who's that?"
Kevin, "That's your Taiwan mommy."
Hannah, "But not my Sarah mommy."
Kevin, "No. She's your Taiwan mommy [insert name]."
Hannah, "She's pretty."
Kevin, "Yes, she's very pretty. And we think she looks a lot like you."

My sister had a baby yesterday and we visited her family at the hospital last night. We've been talking a lot about babies in the house lately, who's tummy they come out of, and who's tummy each of our family members came out of. I was taking a shower before leaving for work this afternoon. Hannah came into the bathroom with a blanket all wrapped up. "Look, Mommy! I had a baby, too!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011

When I signed up for Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011 [November is Adoption Awareness Month] I was relatively new to the Production, Not Reproduction blog. I scanned through the list of bloggers that had already signed up, and realized that I've only read a few of their blogs before. Sounds like a good way to meet some new adoption bloggers, right?

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011

Little did I know I'd be actually meeting another adoption blogger IN PERSON!
Adoption Interview Prjoect 2011
It took me completely by surprise when I read an email that matched me with Abby at Our Little Hope. I came across her blog earlier this year and realized that we must live in the same metropolitan area. We have several things in common, including beautiful daughters named Hannah who are just about a year apart in age. I had messaged her to say hi, we exchanged a few e-mails, and commented that we should meet up sometime, but never made the commitment. Abby and I could have been matched with anyone in the WORLD... and we were matched to interview each other. This must mean that we are destined to MEET IN PERSON, right? We decided to plan a lunch date with our girls in tow at Click-fil-A, but answer some interview questions before our meet up knowing that there's no way that we could do real interviews while keeping three children ages three, two, and one happy, well fed, and safe in the play area.

Here goes! My questions are in black and Abby's answers are in blue. My comments back are in red. If you are new to our blogs and choose to leave a comment, please be kind. I think Abby and I both felt like our answers were very candid, and perhaps much more open with our lives than we usually are with our blogs. You can read Abby's post here at Our Little Hope where I answer her interview questions.

Sarah: When starting a family with changes, lots of things change. Sometimes when children are young, we struggle to find what traditions we would like to have as a family. Some things we borrow from our childhoods, some from friends’ families that we admire, and others from things we’ve read. What traditions are you establishing for your family? Why are they important to you? What was the inspiration for these traditions?

Abby: Great question. I am somewhat obsessed with having traditions in this house, simply because I want our family to be very tightly knit together. A completely bio family is all connected by the same eyes, ears, nose, basketball skills, etc. Since we don't have that, I want our family to have traditions and family time that bond us together. That kind of oversimplifies it, but I hope you get my point.

Having said that, we haven't established too many because my kids are so young, I still sometimes feel overwhelmed with parenting so things like the Advent calendar I would like to do might just get pushed aside this year. We have our regular "boring" traditions such as family devotions during breakfast, church every Sunday, Friday night movie night (when I do the girls' hair).

I do envision lots of holiday traditions (baking, decorating, seeing lights) and ministry traditions (going to nursing homes, baking cookies for neighbors, helping at a food bank) but those just seem to be in our future at this point, not right now. So while I feel like the time isn't right for some traditions, I do feel like we should have more. But then sometimes I feel like I'm putting too much pressure on myself when the girls are so young.

Sarah: For me, age three feels like a good age for establishing the traditions that you want as they understand and remember the special activities that you do with them. With the holidays rapidly approaching, this is something that I'm thinking about a lot. What will our children think these holidays MEAN by what actions that we DO?

Sarah: Do you participate in a formal or informal adoption support group? If not, who do you lean on for adoption related support? Do you participate in an adoption playgroup? What adoption support resources do you wish you had that you currently do not?

Abby: We used to belong to an adoption playgroup. Unfortunately they meet on Tuesdays and I now work on Tuesdays. I hope someday to be able to reconnect with them. I am also attempting to start an adoption playgroup at our church. We will see how that goes.

We have a couple friends who have adopted, which is nice, but I do wish I had more. I wish I knew more people who were my age who were adopted. I would love to have that resource.

And let me be candid and tell you one of my prayer requests (this might sound odd), I have been praying for a black friend. Let me explain. I typically don't let race be a factor when choosing friends. But right now, I would love a friend (who would like me too, I really want a friend here, not just a person) who my daughters could know and love. Being completely honest right now, the only women my girls have as Godly role models are me, my mom, Matt's mom, my friends and the women in BSF. All white. My girls need to see someone who looks like them, who is also Godly. Who does their hair like my girls, and who loves Jesus. No offense Oprah, but you're just not it.

Sarah: I totally understand the search for adult friends of the same ethnicity as your children, and I think this is a wonderful thing. I look for the same, but it's especially hard to find Asian Americans our area. I capitalize what I can on a friendship with a Chinese American family as well as getting together with China adoptive families in our area. I once wished that if Hannah ever had a chronic health problem, I hoped it would be something with asthma and allergies because I could take her to an Asian American specialist that could be a good adult role model! Sad... I know. Now that we're going to weekly Chinese School classes, Hannah has a wonderful Chinese American teacher to look up to.

Sarah: Now that you’ve been a mother of two adoptees for some time, how are you currently handling the question, “Are they sisters?” Has your answer changed over the last year? If so, why?

Abby: My answer has not changed. I still say "they are now." I might be changing my answer soon to simply "yes". Because while the question is completely understandable, and I am completely NOT offended by it, I still don't want to qualify their relationship.

Sarah: If we're blessed with a second child, my answer will usually be simply "yes." In some situations I see myself answering "they are now." I usually find myself revealing a lot more to other adoptive families and Asian Americans because it is more likely that we could have a relationship that continues.

Sarah: Did you have any surprising responses to your family, friends, and coworkers when telling them that you were adopting transracially, positive or negative? Questions and comments from strangers are always interesting when you have a conspicuous family. Tell me about some of your experiences around and about town, positive and negative.

Abby: We got all positive responses (to our faces, who knows what people say behind our backs). You are so right about being conspicuous. I've joked before that as the middle child I'm an attention seeker and there is no better personality fit for a transracial adoption than that. If you don't love attention, then don't adopt transracially! I'm mostly joking but we get tons and tons of comments. Mostly asking where the girls are from. We also get so many smiles. Which is awesome. Of course, I've never had white babies so maybe white babies get just as many smiles. But I'd like to think my girls are especially endearing:)

We have actually never had negative comments, but I'm sure there have been negative thoughts. I'm glad negative thoughts or questions have not been shared with us because while I've prayed that I would respond in a holy manner, what I'd want to do is claw their eyes out!

Some funny comments (while looking at me and then at Hannah) "What's she mixed with?" And again, while looking at me and then Hannah "Her daddy must have been dark." Once a man asked me if I ran a babysitting service while watching me corral my kids at the library. One guy (a black guy in case that's important) completely gave me the once over (and the creeps) when he saw me with the kids. Luckily I was wearing my wedding ring.

Matt says he gets a ton of attention when he is by himself with the girls. I believe it. He's good looking, the girls are cute. I don't think he'd have any trouble finding a wife if the Lord decided to take me home:)

Sarah: Hannah gets a lot of attention. I think more of it is because she's so stinkin' cute and less because we're a multiracial family. I worry a lot about her hearing over and over "Oh she's so cute!" because I want her to think about making herself beautiful on the inside rather than thinking about what she looks like on the outside.

I have had some comments from strangers where they just blurt out, "She must be adopted!" or "Is the adopted?" That really bothers me. First, it's none of your business, Mrs. Stranger Lady. I don't ask strangers about what they were doing when they conceived their biological children. Secondly, adoption is something that happened in the past and is not something that one IS. Thirdly, did you even think about how this sounds to the ears of my three year old... calling her out because she looks differently than her parents do? Grrrr. Interestingly, when first generation Asian Americans ask me, I'm way less likely to get upset. I'm much more accustomed and accepting when first generation Asian Americans ask these questions, as there's a cultural difference that excuses some of that bluntness.

Today when we met for lunch, I brought Hannah's beloved "lady stickers" [aka Melissa and Doug Make-A-Face Sticker Pad which I LOVE because it's lots of fun and the faces represent a wide range of ethnicities!] because I know it would keep my Hannah occupied, and hopefully Abby's oldest daughter Hannah would like them as well. Olivia was so sweet and offered to share a strawberry with me when her mom was gone for a minute to pick up some more food. I graciously declined, but it was so sweet! The girls got to run and play a bit. Unfortunately, we had to interrupt their play to take a picture right before it was time to go. There was a little whining that they needed to come down from the play area now to be wrangled for a photo. Parenting lesson learned: Take photo BEFORE the kids play and tell them that they have to smile nice for the camera if they want to go down the slide!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Redirect: Taiwan Lawmakers Overhaul Adoption Rules

I've been watching for info in English online for the past year regarding the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act in Taiwan that passed last week. I'm still trying to figure out how this will affect international adoptions currently facilitated by government licensed organizations that are already promoting and facilitating domestic adoptions. I'm specifically looking for details about how the act places priority on domestic adoptions first. If you have links or info, please share. Thanks!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Redirect: NY Times op-ed calls on US to throw Taiwan under the bus in exchange for China debt forgiveness

Interesting opinion in the NY Times: Save Our Economy, Ditch Taiwan! I know. I know! I had visions of throwing people under buses as I read it. Let's throw out everything that the US stands for... freedom... democracy... and let's make a deal with China by stabbing Taiwan [a great example of a Asian democracy in action] in the back to settle our debts as we can't control our spending.

I especially like this response by the Taiwanese media, and think that the imagery of Uncle Sam handing the panda [China] a green leaf like the island of Taiwan to eat... and the American going back to sitting on the couch and gorging on hamburgers is especially fitting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

scissor skills

When we've had supervised use with scissors for craft projects, Hannah's scissor skills need improvement as she tries to use both hands to make them work. As use of scissors is a skill that is on kindergarten checklist, I decided to get her a nice pair of school scissors to work with. She's loved cutting up little bits of coloring book pages and construction paper this week, and Hannah's scissor skills have really improved with two days of practice.

Kevin called me at work last night to let me know that Hannah hit another milestone last night. She managed to cut off a chunk of hair with scissors. Sigh. The chunk was cut from the crown of her head about four inches from the scalp. Thankfully, it still fits into pony tails and you can't really tell unless you are brushing her hair.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween 2011

Happy Halloween from Mulan and a blue fairy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Save the Date - July 27-29, 2012 - Taiwan R.O.C.ks Chicago

Taiwan R.O.C.ks 2012

grab the button!

Taiwan R.O.C.ks 2012

grab the button! (mini size)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

{like father, like daughter}


flash cards

Have to blog this just so I'll remember today. Just went through flash cards of upper and lower case letters with Hannah. Only ones missed were q, g, b and d mixed up, and V. She could tell me lower case short a sound for "a" but not the name of the letter. She's very motivated to do flash cards with M&Ms as a reward. One M&M for every five flash cards that are correct. I love how she's so excited to work on her letters!

Last week at Walmart we were looking at little painted Halloween pumpkins. She pointed out, "That one says BOO! That's so silly!" She was right! The word BOO was printed next to one of the faces.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, October 24, 2011

making treats with our little pumpkins

When Lora messaged me on Wednesday and asked if I could pick up a bag of Hershey's kisses to bring with me for our Thursday playdate, I knew that Hannah would be all about making a treat with CHOCOLATE. This girl loves everything chocolate.


Our little sweeties were on their step stools and ready to make treats right away!


While Lora mixed up the orange rice krispies, I helped the girls unwrap their chocolate kisses. I don't cook... but I have experience in unwrapping chocolate kisses. It was hard work to stop Hannah from wanting to lick her green gummy worms that were to become pumpkin stems.


Allie is taste testing the ingredients. Yum!


Hannah agrees!


Lora butters up the girls' hands to they don't stick to the rice krispie treats. Hannah immediately requests a wipe to clean her hands and doesn't want to be buttery.


But once Lora shows her how to make balls and hide the chocolate inside, she decides that she'll humor us and keep her hands buttery for awhile.


Allie makes quick work of forming her pumpkins.


Miss Lora assists with putting icing leaves on the little pumpkins. There are no shots of one daughter licking off icing off of multiple pumpkins. Hummmmm... wonder who's daughter would do that?


The girls act so much like sisters. They fought over sitting on a chair, toys, scissors, and who was holding a bucket. Sigh! Allie often gets frustrated with sharing first, but is always first to forgive and want to make up. Stubborn Hannah takes awhile to get over not sharing very well and isn't ready to forgive as quickly. It's a good thing they are so stinkin' cute. They try their mamas' patience when they argue.


When Hannah saw these photos she remarked, "Allie loves me. She's my friend." Makes my heart melt!