Sunday, January 29, 2012

my little valentine, the circus, and conversation hearts about Chinese school


Hannah was being a funny little monkey on Saturday before we left for the Chinese New Year party with some other adoptive families. "Are we going yet?" "Daaaad! Are you ready?" She wanted "my Chinese dress" on early in the afternoon and couldn't understand why she was all dressed and ready to go... and we still hadn't left yet. That and I had to keep her from helping herself to all of the leftover yellow dragon cake icing.

Our photo taking spot is right inside the front door with a blank wall as a back drop. I open up the front door to let in natural light... but in January... IT'S COLD! I snap snap snap as many photos as I can super quickly and sing things "Twinkle twinkle little hamburger" to get a rise out of Hannah, get some quick picks, and SHUT THE DOOR before we freeze.

I heart this little pink sweater. Old Navy. Need to buy another to save for when she grows out of this one. Cute cute cute.

circus people

We went to the circus tonight for the first time with Hannah. We've been reading a book about going to a circus and she was really excited when I told her we'd take her to a real circus. Hannah didn't like the really loud music and was a little over stimulated. We were in the second row right in front of the tiger cages and had a great time. She said that her favorite part of the circus were the arial acts that did flips and spun in the air. Mine too! At the end of the night she was "big tired" and fell asleep before we were out of the parking lot.

It may have been a mistake to start Chinese school so young. Our class started this fall with children ages 3.5-7 with Hannah the youngest in the class. There's a HUGE difference between children at this age. Class is two hours long with a 15 minute break in the middle. Hannah can barely sit and pay attention for an hour and fifteen minutes. Two hours is a long time. She's still shy and rarely answers her teacher's questions, and refuses to participate in songs and dancing. The teacher has children come to the dry erase board and circle answers and write letters. She's a wonderful wonderful teacher and I'm learning a lot and having fun, but it's not my class. It's supposed to be Hannah's. If Hannah were five and had five year old skills, this would be perfect. But... she's a pretty shy little thing that just turned four. I've debated pulling her out of class or keeping her in. I think I'm going to stick with it and we'll see how much she absorbs from just being there. Hopefully she'll be better prepared next fall when she can write more letters and has more classroom experience from preschool. Hannah's learned more from Chinese language DVDs because she'll actively participate repeating words back to the TV, but I've picked up more from her Chinese school than the DVDs.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

CNY with the little peeps


Our family welcomed in the year of the dragon tonight with good food...


good friends, new and old...
{yes, getting the kids rounded up for this photo
was more difficult than herding cats!}


crafts for the kids...

finished dragon cake

a dragon cake that looked pretty cool...
until a case of Coke fell on top of it while we
rounded a curve four minutes from our destination.



There was some yelling from inside our vehicle as we
examined the injuries sustained by our dragon.

Tip: Don't put other objects anywhere near a special cake
when transporting it in your car. Even if you think it's so heavy
that it won't budge, you could be wrong.

Very wrong.


Hooray for our Taiwanese blessings!
Who cares about the smashed cake when you're around this much cuteness?


Double Happiness.


Watching Mr. Personality work the crowd cracked me up!

my dragon cake

From the moment that I read M3's blog post about making a dragon cake for her girls' birthday party, I knew that I had to make one. I'm not a cake boss. I don't even own a bundt cake pan. My idea of making dinner it to stick something from the freezer into the microwave and cut up some fresh fruit. But... I knew that it was inside of me. I could make a dragon cake and bring it to a Chinese New Year party where there would be lots of people eat it so I wouldn't have it at home looking at me... tempting me with it's calories. My big hang up about the cake was the dollar amount and time invested in putting on all of those M&Ms. Then I read this blog post by Kelly the Overthinker with her "rough icing" and knew I could create a good looking dragon cake without all of the M&Ms. Kelly also has a link to this awesome dragon face. I printed it out on photo paper so it is thick enough to stand up. I cut a piece of cake at an angle creating a wedge for the dragon face to be propped up against. Some icing makes the photo paper stick to the cake wedge.

dragon cake takes shape

Hardest thing about this cake was finding a board to place it on. Then... it came to me. I could wrap a leaf from my kitchen table in red plastic table cloth! I decided to make three white bundt cakes, as I couldn't decide if two or three cakes would fit best of my board. My cakes fell right out of the pans thanks to some baking spray with flour in it. I ended up using two and a half bundt pan cakes, three Twinkies to taper the tail, four tubs of icing, one container of Wilton lemon yellow icing color (found at Walmart), a spash of red icing color gel to warm up the yellow tint to a more golden yellow, one package of Kroger brand fruit slices, and a couple of pieces of cherry pull and peel Twizzlers. I really like the look of the red Twizzlers rope down the side of the dragon for more color pop, and I'm glad that I chose multi color fruit slices.

golden yellow icing for the dragon cake

It took more time to bake three bundt cakes and let them cool than it did to put the icing and decorations on the cake. I made the cakes the night before, sealed them up in zip lock bags, and decorated the dragon the following morning. I sliced the cakes in half with a bread knife and tapered the tail cutting the Tinkies at an angle. I would have liked to have made the dragon red, but I didn't dare try to create deep red cake icing. Red is supposed to be hard to get just right, and I didn't want to end up with a pink dragon.

candy fruit slices down his back

I'm looking forward to taking the cake with us to a party tonight with several area Taiwanese and Chinese adoptive families! We're blessed with such good kids, and they're stinkin' cute as well.

finished dragon cake

What does Hannah like best about the dragon cake? Left over icing, of course.

best part of the dragon cake

Post script: Remember that NEXT year is the year of the snake, and one could easily make a snake cake using a couple of bundt pans.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012



dragon dance - CNY 2012

Daddy and Hannah - CNY 2012

Just a few pics from our area's Chinese Association's New Year party. So glad that our friends, another Taiwan adoptive family, could join us! Hannah had a cold and was a grump because of a sore runny nose, so we left early and didn't stay for all of the entertainment and red envelopes at the end.

After leaving the party, Hannah perked up and had lots of things to tell us. We were having a conversation in the car about going to The Fresh Market. Hannah pipes in, "Daddy, we can buy more of your favorite cookies because Mommy ate them all gone." Who taught that kid to tattle already?

Happy Lunar New Year! Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous year of the dragon!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

our princess turns four

i am four

Phrases that we've heard a lot of this past week:
"I'm so excited for my birthday!"
"Can I help make the cupcakes?"
"What shoes should I wear with my party dress?"
"I wanna help!"
"Right now I'm three, but on my birthday I'll be four."
"How many sleeps until my birthday?"

This mama is very tired of cleaning, worrying how all of these people are going to fit in my little house, making 5 batches of cupcakes between 11-3am and waking up at 8:15am to a little voice asking "Can I put on my party dress yet?" I decided it was all worth it when I watched Hannah running around the house laughing and holding hands with BOTH Allie and Gabriella. Daddy agrees, that was his favorite moment of the day.

I don't have many photos of the day as I was busy with FORTY PEOPLE in my little house. We invited everyone that Hannah asked to invite, and all came! Hopefully our family and friends that took photos will email some to me. Hint hint. Nudge nudge.

Hannah's favorite present: a hula hoop.

Mama and Daddy gave Hannah a gold Belle dress and crown, with a promise let her wear the dress when we take her to see Beauty and the Beast 3D in the movie theater. She's planning the popcorn and candy purchases already!

The hair clip that she's wearing today was a gift that Hannah received on the first day we met her. I can't remember who the clip is from, but knowing that it is from a birth family member or a nanny at the baby house makes the clip an extra special accessory on a very special day.

i am four outtakes

Sunday, January 15, 2012

not your ordinary white woman from Farmville, IN

I had a really enjoyable work experience this week with a Vietnamese American in her early 20s that I'd never met before. After work we talked for about twenty minutes having fun comparing and contrasting what Vietnamese and Chinese to do celebrate the lunar new year. I like spring rolls way better than egg rolls. We both agree that moon cakes with egg in the middle are really gross, but she suggested I try ones with mung bean. She told me that she'd like to open a restaurant some day. I voiced that our area really needed someplace that sold boba tea. Her eyes widened and she got so excited, and shared that's exactly the kind of shop she'd like to open! We have the same favorite place for boba tea, the Joy Yee shop in Chinatown Chicago. I was told that I'm the only white person that she's ever met that knew about and was into this kind of stuff. I replied that I hope she'd get to know some local adoptive families, especially Vietnam adoptive families. I'm an adoptive parent that's totally into my kid, and I'm looking for inclusion for us into your word, too.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

National De-lurking Day

I've read that today is de-lurking day. Readers, I'd appreciate it if you could take a moment to tell me who you are, how long you've followed this blog, and why you follow it. Let me know what your favorite kids of posts you are so I can get a feel for what'd you'd like to write more about. Thank you! - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reserve your room for Taiwan R.O.C.ks 2012

Taiwan R.O.C.ks Reunion for Taiwan Adoptive Familes will be at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Chicago, less than two blocks from Millennium Park and short walk to Navy Pier and the Lake Michigan beachfront. Check out the reunion blog for a link to make hotel reservations with the group's reduced rate. We made our hotel reservations tonight for a party of (prayerfully) four!

will smile for candy necklaces

Wanted to share a few funnies from today.

Offer Hannah a candy necklace and she's ready to pose!


Nana emailed me this morning about having Hannah over last night: "Funny at dinner. Nana said if you eat all your broccoli tops, do you want ice cream with sprinkles? Hannah chomped into the broccoli. Papa said, guess you need the right carrot? Hannah said, these aren't carrots!"


A phrase we hear a lot in the evening is "I'm not tired. I'm not tired!"
Tonight, I think she was tired!
I can't believe that she slept sitting up through an entire 45 minute Target trip.
She usually RUNS down the isles laughing and can't wait to see the toys.

Hudson's room has been painted and wood laminate flooring was installed yesterday. We moved all of Hannah's baby furnishings into Hudson's room today, cleaned them up, and changed the toddler bed back into a crib. We still have some some work with to do with accessorizing the walls and such, but it's really starting to look like a little dude sleeps there! I'll share photos when we're all done. Obviously, I have loved putting together special rooms for our children. Hannah's room was inspired by the mural of a plum blossom tree with everything pink and brown. Hudson's is a space theme with rockets, stars, planets in blue, green, and brown encouraging him to "dream, explore, and grow."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

monkey bars mishap

Kevin and Hannah brought me lunch at work yesterday after preschool. Hannah excitedly said, "I want to talk to Mama. Mama!!! Someone went pee pee on the monkey bars today!"


Film: "The Sage Hunter" (2005)

Last night we watched "The Sage Hunter." I purchased it from Amazon because I wanted to see any film with subtitles that depicted indigenous Taiwanese people. It was pretty good, and I appreciated the importance that the characters placed on nature, spirituality, and family. I'd certainly recommend this film to other adoptive families with children from indigenous Taiwanese backgrounds. It had just a little violence in a war scene, and one scene where a father struck his son after he did something bad and dishonored the family. Those images were ones that I could explain to Hannah while we were watching the film so they weren't so scary and she could understand what was happening.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

getting Hudson's room together

Hudson's wood laminate flooring has been ordered and will be installed in two weeks. Bring on the paint! The paint color selection story is fun. :) I searched online one night at different paint manufacturer web sites for a light/medium blue color that would go with Hudson's space themed bedding. It didn't have to color match, but I wanted it to be something that was clean and bright and could serve for something other than a child's bed room. I found a free color capture iPhone app at the Benjamin Moore web site that is really cool. It allows me to take a picture of something, like Hudson's bedding, with my phone and then suggests paint colors for me. I found a blue that looked just right, tapped on the color to see a larger image of it, and gasped at the color's name. YIN YANG!

Okay, gotta get off my rear and finish emptying Hudson's room of things that were once our home office. The painting starts today!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dumpling Days

So excited about Grace Lin's new book! You can order it from Amazon here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

visa politics

This past week I learned that Taiwan born Americans must state their birthplace as "Taiwan, China" when applying for a visa to enter The People's Republic of China. If you don't, your visa will be denied.

Visa questions:
1) Chinese name _______
2) Current Nationality: United States of America
3) Former Nationality: Chinese
4) Place of Birth: Taiwan, China
5) Have you ever visited China Before: Yes

I've had some great discussions with a few Taiwanese Americans this week about how they feel about this. One opinion: "
I think if you insist on claiming being a Taiwanese, then they won't grant you. My mom was told several years ago that on her passport, her birth place has to say China and not Taiwan or they won't grant her visa to China. It's unfortunate and that is why I refuse to go there!"