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!


Double Ten Day Parade in Chicago

Last weekend we traveled to Chicago to meet up with other Taiwan adoptive families and to get out of town to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. The families met up for lunch on Saturday at The Phoenix in Chinatown and then on to the parade.

After the parade we did a little shopping, found some lip smackin' buns at a Chinese bakery, and went to our hotel so Hannah could nap. She doesn't usually nap at home, but big days with lots of excitement seem to still require naps.

Around dinner time I started to get a little worried. What were we going to do in a big city at night with a toddler in tow? IDEA! How about checking out the American Girl store on Michigan Avenue? I wonder how late they are open? I checked out their web site and they're open until 9pm, so we headed downtown.

Walking on Michigan Avenue with Hannah was so funny. She pointed out everything. The tall buildings, the lights, all of the cars, the bushes that looked like a maze. It was a delight just watching her get so excited about downtown. She rode on Daddy's shoulders so she could see everything and wouldn't get trampled by all of the people squished around us that weren't looking where they were going.

When we arrived at American girl, she was so excited. Her little legs just didn't stop moving and hoping. She was most impressed with the large displays with video and wasn't really interested in looking at boxes of dolls. In the bitty baby area we did play with some of the little baby dolls. We gave one a bath in a little tub, changed a diaper, gave a baby a bottle, and pretended to spoon feed baby food to a doll in a high chair. Hannah has never been one to want to play with dolls, so this was a fun new thing for us to do together. After Daddy couldn't take any more (wink wink), we visited the Lego store and rode the glass elevator all the way to the top and then back down all the way to the bottom.


On Sunday we joined friends at church and went out to lunch at the 527 Cafe in Evanston. I was really excited about having some Taiwanese Beef and Noodle soup. Unfortunately, about a third to half of the items on the menu were unavailable. What a downer! Kevin had Taiwanese pork and rice noodles and I had Taiwanese work with rice. Both were good and served with a tea egg.





It's pretty fun getting together with families with little ones from Taiwan, and really special when your kiddos were roomies and knew each other before you knew them. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

questions from the preschool teachers

Kevin told me that Hannah's preschool teachers wanted to talk to him after class today and had some questions for him. Oh boy! They said that occasionally they didn't understand what Hannah was saying. First they asked what our dog's name was. Uh... it's Sedona... or sometimes we call her Dona. Hannah was telling them her name was "Dona" and they couldn't figure out if she was saying donut or if she as just making something up about having a dog. Then the teachers said that Hannah said some other things that they didn't understand... but they don't remember what she said. Kevin asked if it could be Chinese, because Hannah's going to Chinese school and we use Chinese language educational DVDs and games at home. Then Hannah remarked "yi, er, san!" (one, two, three!) to show her teachers that she can count in Chinese. Kevin laughed, and then said a few Chinese words suggesting things that Hannah might have said. Kevin suggested píng guǒ and they said that sounded close... and then he said hóng píng guǒ... and then said that's it! Kevin asked if they were eating a snack of apples when Hannah said these words, and the teacher asked, "How'd you know?" Kevin said, "That's because she said red apple!" I think this is so funny... I just keep giggling thinking about Hannah trying out her handful of Chinese words about counting, colors, and fruits in preschool and her teachers aren't quite sure how to respond to that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


While watching me eat a Subway sandwich, Hannah remarked, "You have to eat your sandwich all gone and then you can have a cookie." Then she handed me a play food cookie! Waaahahahaha! I think she's heard that phrase a few times before!

Friday will mark seven weeks waiting for approval by our placing agency to our match with lil' dude. It took a day shy of seven weeks for approval for Hannah. We're missing out on so much. He could be taking his first steps soon.

Kevin has relocated his computer desk, computer, and our server out of the third bedroom and into the living room. We found him a mission style desk at Target that matches pretty well with our mission style furniture. We have keep working on paring down the office before we can paint and install new flooring in lil' dude's room.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

apple - 蘋果

So proud of my girl. Today I asked Hannah what letters were in the word apple. She first responded "píng guǒ." No, silly. That's how you say apple in Chinese. What letters are in the word apple? Hannah responded, "A... P... L!" Great job, Hannah!

Then I asked her what letter the word ball started with and she had no idea. She wanted to play with leaves instead. Go figure.

fall family photos

I'm really bad about taking photos of our whole family.

It's just so much fun to snap away with this little blessing
in front of my lens and not worry about what I look like.

I finally decided to have a family session with my photographer friend Pam.

And I'm so glad we did.

Because this is how I want to remember our little family.

Having fun. All together.

A little nutty, too.

♥ Happy 10th wedding anniversary to my best friend, my husband, my love. ♥

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Redirect: the most aewsome dragon cake evah!

I'm a long time fan of M3's blog Do They Have Salsa in China? and I'm giddy after looking at photos of the twin's birthday cake - a dragon cake made with four bundt cakes and covered with M&Ms for scales. This is so completely awesome. Would be so fun to do for a Chinese New Year party!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Redirect: 100 Years of History Behind "Double Ten" Day of the R.O.C.

100 Years of History Behind "Double Ten" Day of the R.O.C. at is a good read. We'll be going to Chicago's Chinatown this weekend for a Double Ten Day parade with a few other Taiwan adoptive families and out for dim sum. Yum yum!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

me minus 42.6 pounds

me minus 42.6 pounds

My Facebook friends know that I've been busy on a new project since March, and it doesn't involve lil' man's adoption. It's for me. I've been calorie counting, joined the YMCA, and have made several lifestyle changes. Hannah goes to the YMCA with me and is participating a tumbling class and in a Zumba class for preschoolers. She loves it, and asks all of the time, "Are we going to the Y tomorrow???" When she's not in a class at the Y, she's in child watch playing with the other kids. She loves it, and going to the Y has been great to help her break out of her shy little shell.

I've learned that it's easier to do this when I talk about it, but haven't talked about it on the blog... so there it is.

Because people ask me all of the time, I'll share what I'm doing.

I got the best success from calorie counting with the help of the Livestrong app for my iPhone. It has a huge database and made it really easy to count calories and make good decisions, especially when eating out. Now, I pretty much know that to stick to the calorie counting guidelines. I only want to eat out at Subway and get the 150 calorie Chicken Soft Tacos Fresco style at Taco Bell. Everything else, even grilled chicken sandwiches other places... still have so many calories. And I don't do salads well. It doesn't stick with me and I'm so hungry just a few hours later. My favorite low calorie foods and snacks are sugar free fudgesickles, anything ice cream by Skinny Cow, prepackaged sugar free gelatin cubes from Kroger (can eat the whole bag for something like 35 calories!), yogurt, Baby Bell cheese and grapes, Southwestern Egg Beaters with 35 calorie diet bread toast with Laughing Cow cheese.

I weigh myself every morning when I first get up, and record my weight on my Livestrong app. As weight fluctuates during the day, this allows me to see real changes and celebrate very 0.2 pound lost. When I screw up and fall off the wagon for a week, I see it right away with my daily weigh in... and having a scale gets me to jump back in the game plan before too much weight has been regained. It's such hard work to get it off, and so easy to put back on.

The Livestrong app also allows you to record exercise, but I'm not very good about that. I can also go the Livestrong web site and print off graphs of my weight loss. I bring this into my doctor appointments with me so they can see the changes as we're charting my success.

I must admit now that my wake up call with a fasting blood test and A1C that was borderline diabetic when I was at my heaviest weight. This came as quite a shock... and now I look at it as one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. After making these lifestyle changes and loosing 20 pounds in about 3 months, my A1C dropped into normal healthy levels with diet and exercise ALONE.

I needed to join a gym, but I was so scared too. I didn't want to be the lone fat girl surrounded by athletic women in sports bras and spandex. I made Kevin go in to sign up our family for a yearly membership, and felt physically sickened the first time I went because I had so much anxiety about it. No big deal now. I go about three days a week, no makeup, haven't showered yet, but I have my hair brushed and my power walking shoes on! It hurt a lot when I started going, and I even worsened my plantar fasciitis, and I hobbled around on my feet in lots of pain. I went back to my podiatrist who sent me to physical therapy. Six weeks of SASTM physical therapy (man did those sessions hurt!) and a bunch of medical bills later, my feet are nearly cured.

My workout routine lasts about an hour. I power walk for at least 30 minutes, getting my heart rate into the aerobic zone. I started out at 2.8 MPH and I'm at 3.3 MPH now, working into 3.4 MPH stretches. It's neat that I'm having to walk faster and faster to keep my heart rate up. I experienced my first runner's high in my life after about two months of power walking. I've found that I can't get to the runner's high until I've gone at least 35-40 minutes. For anyone who's never felt that... it's amazing, and I didn't want to stop power walking at the 60 minute mark... but felt that I'd better because I was really thirsty and starting to get dizzy. I still dislike power walking and would much rather eat Cheetos and sit on the couch, but... tough. I've got to do this. Anyway, after power walking at least 30 minutes I lift weights for about 20. Then I finish up on an Arc Trainer. When I first started, I could only go 3 minutes. I'm up to about 10 minutes now before my feet start hurting and I've got to stop. I learned that I go faster on the Arc Trainer when I close my eyes. When my eyes are open I want to look at the timer and keep thinking, "Can I get off this thing yet?!?!?!" the whole time. Now I'm bringing a post it note pad to cover up the timer on the machine.

Three months after I made these lifestyle changes, I asked my primary care provider if I could try Victoza for weight loss. She agreed we could try, but thought I was doing great on my own and really didn't need it. It is an injectable diabetes drug not approved for weight loss, but is helping me because it decreases gastric emptying, slowing down the rate that food moves through me. This makes it so I can't eat much more than a fist at one time, and I feel fuller longer. I have had problems with nausea, but just had to work through it. This is no magic shot and wouldn't help on it's own. I still have to do all of the exercising, sweat like a pig on the tread mill next to the blonde in her spandex running much more than twice as fast as I'm walking, make good choices, drive past McDonalds and their McGriddles and Lattes and choose flat bread egg and ham sandwiches at Subway, and yell at Kevin when he brings home Little Debbies (that makes me soooooo mad!) because I have very little will power when something chocolate and glorious is right in front of me. Victoza just makes it so I'm not so hungry all of the time, reminds me that I need to stop eating when I've reached the size of my fist, and makes it so I'm not witchy because I'm hungry all of the time.

For people that say that they can't afford a gym membership because it's too expensive... you need to prioritize. Cancel your cable or satellite TV and join the gym. You don't need 300 channels, but you need to be healthy. We canceled our satellite, joined the YMCA, got Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, and we're still saving money. We're getting fit, watching WAY less commercials, and loving it!

Please, no flames. It was hard for me to lay all of this out there, but somewhere... there's someone else out there reading this that needs to do this too. Needs to make a change. And something's stopping you. You can do it, too. If there is a road block that can't be lifted, you can find a way around it.

P.S. Old Navy makes great yoga pants for exercisin' plus size chicks for less than $20. :)