Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Boat Ride

We gave Alyzabeth her first "real" boat ride to one of our favorite quiet places just off the St. Johns River.
Peter's Creek is a no wake/manatee zone and offers plenty of turtles and birds and today a quick glimpse of a baby gator catching some sun...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Day Flipshots

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Catching Up From Christmas

We did not take as many pictures of Alyzabeth as we had hoped over the Christmas celebrations. We seemed to be very busy chasing her, playing with her, reading books, talking with her, sitting on the floor, playing on the computer, singing songs, feeding her and most importantly, assisting her with the potty every hour. She keeps us busy!!

AA with new doll stroller from sister, Leaa. She loves pushing around her baby dolls!

Here's some of the "younger" kids at our family Christmas dinner at DD Leaa's house.

This picture was taken a week before Christmas at DD Leaa's house. All dressed up to go to a Christmas Cantata. AA is on BIL Jesse's lap.

We participated in the Seventh Diamond Ornament swap (thank you Rebecca L!!).

We are "babysitting" Daisy the cat for cousin CR as she is in Maine over her teacher's Christmas break.

AA received this set of silverware from Aunt-T and Uncle George. We have been using the typical baby spoons and forks so far, but once introducing her to this set, we were amazed how much easier she was able to handle them and eat smaller bites. The baby spoons can get overloaded when she feeds herself. These more "grown-up" utensils hold less food and she is doing much better feeding herself. It amazes me how we learn things just in time for AA to grow and develop.

We also had the opportunity to taste and rate a new product that my sister (Aunt-T) and BIL are considering adding to their shop of all Maine made goodies. We warmed the Raspberry-Chipotle Jam then spooned over a round of soft cream cheese and served with crackers. It was delicious as affirmed by at least a dozen people at one of our family gatherings. The only indifferent comments were that there were raspberry seeds in it and the chipotle flavor was very subtle; the raspberry jam came through much stronger. Still all in all, very yummy. It could be used on pork as a glaze too.
Another yummy item they sell is "needhams". It is a chocolate covered coconut bar; great homemade candy! They are only available in cooler weather months so order now! We love them.
Check them out at

I have to post a few more pictures of AA.... we just love her developing personality.
She still loves to dance and twirl often!

AA has watched her nieces dancing and doing somersaults. AA will copy and try anything they do. She needs a little help.....the somersaults are hard on our tile floors or is that the tile floors are hard on the somersaults ?!

AA loves to slide and swing, so trips to local parks are a must!

Prepared for her first boat ride; it was a bit breezy last week but now has been really warm this week. Past two days have hit 80 degrees!
Have a great week celebrating the new year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mom's Official Fresh Fruit Taster

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Tea Party - Christmas Day

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas From Our Family To Yours

Merry Christmas Everyone and Happy New Year!
(click the globe to shake:)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Good Night to All!

We copied the idea from some bloggy friends of beginning new Christmas traditions with AA: we love the idea of having new PJ's for Christmas Eve (new idea to us).
Our good friends, the Read's, gave us the ones AA is wearing. Thank you!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Thank You Nana!

Christmas Eve and Mommy dressed me in blue!!

Nana Ann sent another great outfit from our favorite store - L.L. Bean!
The pants have a ruffle on the bottom of each leg.....So adorable! Thank you!

(note the photo with AA operating her own DVD player..... smart kid too :)

Merry Christmas! We wish everyone much joy and happiness on this day of Christ's birth!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Weekly Photo Shoot of AA

She's a moving target!!

Top two pictures: AA is "flopping" on her pink squishy chair, never to sit still (gift from our DD's MIL, this lady).

AA is trying so hard to say "cheese"and pose; almost too hard! She now steps into/towards the camera when saying cheese; that makes for a fuzzy close up! I did get a few good ones.

She is running around in underpants; we are almost through with diapers. She just loves to pull up and down her undies and sit on her potty. For weeks, we have been holding her on top of our toilets and she does well that way. We decided it was time for her to take control so placed her training potty in the bathroom (we had tried it when she was first home from China but she seemed too distracted to start potty training).
She is almost trained and now can "do it herself". Of course, the wipes are close by for our final inspection!!!

Above: The big cheesy "over the top, trying too hard" smile......

She is a joy in our life! We have so much happiness with our family! We so wish all families could be with their forever children; it is a blessing!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tagged!! Crazy Eights Blog Meme!

Dale at Fetching Frances (and they have already fetched her home!) tagged us to this Crazy Eights List. DH and I will complete the list together so if it looks a bit "opposites" in the same list that's us!
Read the bottom of this post as we tagged Eight Bloggy Friends!!

Eight Favorite TV Shows:
What Not to Wear (TLC);
American Idol (our DD sings and got us hooked during the first season);
Anything on Food Network (except Paula Deen's Party... she's going too far on that show!); my favorite is Barefoot Contessa; DH's is Throwdown with Bobby Flay;
Rick Steves' Europe Through the Backdoor;
NFL Football;
and MY all time FAV is any NASCAR Race!!!

Eight Things I look Forward to:
Alyzabeth being FULLY potty trained;
Alyzabeth wearing her wedding pearls;
My retirement (less than five years and counting!);
First Christmas with Alyzabeth, her older brother Justin and sister Leaa plus the two grands - we're all together!!
Cousin Hilary's 50th Celebration in NH, February 2010, snow skiing and lots of winter fun!;
The Inauguration;
Economic recovery and
Living debt free.

Eight Things on My Wish List:
A GREEN World;
Living with Global Peace;
Our investments to recover (economic recovery AND growth);
Winning the Florida Lotto;
A Return Trip to China;
A Summer Vacation in Europe with all the Kids;
Live long enough to dance at AA's Wedding (we are older than dirt!);
Protection, love, health and well being for all Children around the World, living in a World with no orphans.

Eight Things We Did Yesterday:
Christmas Shopping;
Told AA we love her, hugged her and hugged her again;
Bathed AA in bubble bath;
Did laundry;
Spoke to on the phone: Pam, Gloria, my Mom and Carolyn;
Ate homemade chocolate sheet cake at Christa's 22nd Birthday Party (all the family was there and had a few birthday wishes for Cathy too);
Met Pam & Kenny at the park to see the lighted Christmas Trees;
Met Carolyn to get her cat, Daisey, we will babysit over the Christmas holiday while she flies home to see family in Maine.

Eight Favorite Restaurants:
Blue Grotto;
Moon River Pizzeria;
The Tasting Room; Tapas & Wine Bar (St. Augustine); We also like Cafe 11, Gypsy Cab and A1A all in St. Augustine;
Red's Eats (Wiscasset, Maine);
Cinque Terre (Portland, Maine);
Hickory Log BBQ (Dexter, Missouri).

Eight Friends we are Tagging (If you have already been tagged, let me know):
Catherine's Chatter;
Born in Our Hearts;
My sister at The Maine Event;
Ladybugs and Dragonflies;
Our China Travel Bud's at Sophie's Stories;
The Rizzo's in Florida at Sunflowers and Ladybugs (Sophia Joy);
Another Florida Family at LayDFrog (I think she has done a dozen "meme" but not this one!);
The Christopher Family, When Love Takes you in, Waiting for Lynn Marie.

If you want to read some lists, we love how Vivian writes about daughter Kerri. Check out her blog!
If you haven't been tagged and would like to post this meme, let me know and I will link you.
Have fun!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Candle Burns

Usually there is but a single candle burning... Occasionally, two or more.

The burning candle serves to remind us of those we have loved. Those we love. And those we will love. We light the candle to celebrate a birthday. We light a candle in celebration and honor of one no longer with us.

No fanfare. No ritual.
Just a private moment to reflect upon and to lift up the memory of a special someone.
A candle burns today for Alyson's dad. Tuesday we light a candle for my mom.

Each day, we offer our prayers and give thanks for those past, present and future...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Apple Pie

Apple pie is one of my favorite pies. This past Thanksgiving dinner, I baked the homemade double crust and used apples from Maine. Love them!!

The recipe from my Mom's Betty Crocker cookbook (1955).

The crust is the most time consuming! I have tried pie crust recipes that call for vinegar or an egg or various combination's of butter, oil and shortening; I have stuck to the one I think is the flakiest using Crisco solid shortening.

Friend Charlotte gave me the apple peeler. MIL Joy did all the work peeling and cutting up the apples while I made the crust. I also use my Mom's old pyrex bowl set for all my baking (wonder how I got so many things out of my childhood home???).

I love baking an apple pie. With our recent trip to Maine, apples are so fresh and tasty in the fall. Yummy! I had a piece for breakfast the next day!

For Christmas dinner, what is your favorite pie?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cupcake Carrier GIVEAWAY!

Cupcake Carrier Give-Away Ended!
Winner Announced!

LISA S. Won!!!
(Her words: OMG I have transported 24 cupcakes without a carrier....what a mess. Please enter me in the drawing!)

Lisa responded and the cupcake carrier will be in the mail on Monday, the 22nd!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How Time Has Flown

Alyzabeth was placed in our arms three months ago today. How time has flown...
From a scared, crying, intermittently near-hysterical little one that Aly comforted by lovingly walking hotel hallways to the precious, happy gift we have today. All just three months ago.

I find myself gazing at Alyzabeth, remembering and reliving those first few days together in China. I still marvel at how one so little was able to be so brave. So vulnerable yet so strong. So beautiful...

I find myself happily watching her older brother and sister light up with smiles when they see her. How they reach to pick her up. How they let her know she is family. How I draw comfort in knowing they will always be there for her...

I find myself filled with joy and pride when witnessing Alyzabeth's learning triumphs. Reminding myself that it was only a short while ago she had never heard her new language. Had never tasted the strange new foods. Had never played outside...

I find myself humbled for having been blessed with a wife and a mother like my Aly. Blessed to watch her bath her little one. Read the bedtime stories. Hum softly until Alyzabeth nods off to sleep. Moved to see her gentle tears of love when holding her daughter near...

Alyzabeth was placed in our arms three months ago today. How time has flown.
How time has flown...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Photo Posting Program?

As we post more and more photos of AA on the blog, we currently use Picasa as our free photo album organizer. There aren't many choices within it for originality. Maybe you all use a digital scrapbooking program?

Picasa does make these collages. What program do you use to post more than one photo at a time?
I have seen some neat posts with multiple photos in one "frame".

What are your favorite photo programs that are friendly to Blogger?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Perfect Christmas Card Photo?

I am "attempting" to take photos of AA for our Christmas card. Did I make an appointment with a professional photographer? Nooooooooooo..... We do have a friend of the family who will be glad to take our family picture but we haven't connected yet (in other words, we have emailed; I haven't made the phone call).

AA cooperates to a certain extent. She wiggles so much and won't sit for long; it is a challenge to get a clear, smiling photo. Here are my first attempts today!

Our adorable daughter!! We just love her beyond words!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Development DVD's or ON-Line For AA

We are needing some advice or recommendations for on-line programs to help AA's development of the English language (or any other development skill we don't know we should be looking for).

We are using the alphabet tool on Starfall for recognition of objects, colors and sounding the alphabet. She's loves "B" the Best (Big Brown BEAR!).

What DVD's should we buy or other programs to increase her development skills?
She doesn't yet understand some games we play with her requiring matches or things alike. She does know some colors and many household objects.

Please comment!! Thank you!

Update: All your comments are great! We are excited that you came through with some great suggestions!! Thank you "Two Kayaks". Let us know what you find out (and we will check over there too!).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Woman For President

Now that the "political season" is over and our new President elect is busy selecting his staff and making announcements, I wanted to share some of Maine's history with you about women in politics.
Without bashing any political party, I would like to mention two women who have or are still making history. One is worthy, experienced and ready to take on challenging roles to lead this great country.

Margaret Chase Smith, from Maine, was the first woman to run for president on a major party ticket. Margaret Chase Smith, called the "lady of Maine," was a tough hawk who took a keen interest in military affairs and free speech.

Margaret Chase Smith Campaigns for President, 1964

In 1964, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith declared her candidacy for the Republican nomination for president, becoming the first woman to actively seek the presidential nomination of a major political party. Smith served in the Senate from 1949 to 1971, following a decade of service in the House of Representatives. The first woman to serve in both houses of Congress, Margaret Chase Smith emerged as one of the earliest critics of Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy and the tactics that became known as "McCarthyism." On June 1, 1950, just three months after McCarthy rose to national prominence, Smith denounced his tactics with her Declaration of Conscience.

This is a book for middle schooler's:

(I have read that this lady, Victoria Claflin Woodhull, Ohio, was the first woman to run for President, not for a major party, even before women could vote).

Another "Maine" woman currently serving in the U.S. Senate is Olympia Snowe (biography).
She is a centrist, moderate (voting record). She steps outside her party to vote for what she believes is best for the country, rather than for the "party". She listens, looks for common ground in order to make progress.
Here's the "Wikipedia" version:
A moderately liberal Republican, Snowe has become widely known for her ability to influence the outcome of close votes and Senatorial filibusters, in part making her one of the most influential modern U.S. Senators. In 2006, she was named one of "America's Top Ten Senators" by Time Magazine.[2] Congressional Quarterly noted that her presence at the negotiating table in the 107th Congress was "nearly a necessity." Her political popularity in her home state is the highest of any current U.S. Senator; as of November 22, 2006, she enjoyed a 79 percent approval rating in her home state of Maine.

History is so interesting; I thought of Mrs. Smith hoping you would enjoy some different politics for a change!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Homemade - Buy on Etsy!

I have been shopping through Etsy sellers for about a year. Most of these sellers have beautiful wares; I am sure if you look you will find some very unique gifts along with many homemade personal items. I mentioned some sellers here.

I would love to hear who you buy gifts from (which seller) or items you **covet** on Etsy. Please leave your top sellers list in the comments and I will link your blog and your Etsy list.
OR post on your blog and leave a comment so I can link your list here too.
Let's support these crafts people. If the seller is an adopting family, raising money for their adoption, let's designate them as our first shopping stop!

Buying on line is wonderful and if you have a PayPal account, it makes it so easy and safe/secure.
Let's finish our Christmas shopping!

LittleBeane Boutique: Bookplates, stickers, stationary.
LILASTYLE: Buy the simplest and useful, lovely book markers; these are different! I have bought from this buyer. Buy in bulk and give to all your book lovers; $ 4.00 each! Love them!
JavaJaneDesigns: Custom Letter Alphabet Letter Art on a photo, artwork features striking images of architecture and nature. Unfortunately, she is completely booked for December orders; has stopped taking orders until January 2009. So look ahead on your list of special events and order one for 2009. Unframed is $ 19.00. See photo below.

Amyyang: She makes monogram stationary and the cutest little pocket "accordion" albums for keeping photos; using a tin. I have bought the stationary and album tins; so very cute! Just glue or use photo mounts and add your photos.
MyLittleCuddleBugs: This seller makes bow holders in many personalized/monogrammed styles.
HighOnCraft: I bought the patchwork rag quilt to send in our care package to Alyzabeth; we slept with it for a month before sending. These are well made and soft; perfect for baby gift too!

Please let me know your favorites by December 12th so we will still have time to buy!

Susan at Sunflowers and Ladybugs posted about her favorite handmade shops and her Etsy favorites. Here's one I liked.... a glass pendant (pewter)... with a cupcake!
Thank you to Ivy at My Heart Beats in China - Hunan Spice for her list.
Thank you to Julie at Bless Tess for her list!
Maria, at Rubylicious Chronicles, left her us her favorites list. Mine is the little girl bracelets. Very nice, reasonably priced! Also, check out the sale on these pendants.
From Dita, at Dita's Darlings, I checked out these sellers. Yes, love the silver stamped engraved silver disks on necklaces from MamaBethBling. Too bad no more orders will be taken for Christmas delivery. At PishPoshGirls, don't you just love this dress?
Karin left us this ink to pendents made by InkyProduction, her daughter. They are beautiful and I love this one!
Julie at Precious Miracle, left a comment under the Cupcake post, she has an Etsy jewelry store called Forever Home Creations.

Next year, I am shopping early on Etsy!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

AA's Christmas Tree

To help Alyzabeth share more in the Christmas spirit, Aly set up a small tree for her to hang "kid safe" ornaments, in other words, they were non-breakable :) Alyzabeth had a lot of fun putting the ornaments on, then taking them off so she could put them back on again. She also seemed to like to put multiple ornanments on a single branch :) What the heck, it's her Christmas tree!

That's momma you hear in the background talking with Nana Ann on the phone. Momma thought maybe I should tell her next time I'm videoing with her close by :)
I guess I could have deleted the audio but then you would miss AA's giggle, sneeze and what passes for Alyzabeth saying God bless...

Alyzabeth's First Tree Trimming

Christmas 2008 is already starting to be fun... AA helped us trim a small pre-lit tree.
DH (Dada) posted a video after I took these pictures; the video is cute (except for my voice in the background).

I have a pair of the 4-foot trees that are supposed to grace both sides of the front door. I brought one inside for AA to decorate. We had fun placing gold stars all over it. AA continued to move them around and at one point had taken half back off. She really seemed to enjoy the lights and creativity of decorating!

This final picture came as I was trying to get AA to smile.... not an easy feat even though she knows what I am asking! So Daddy (DH) begins to play his guitar and AA looks at him, points, and smiles. I caught the last of that smile! Go Daddy!

Love you, AA!!!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Prayers For Children

Children's Prayers

I am hoping all my Christian bloggy friends will let me know what prayers they have taught their children.
I have a few I was taught (at bedtime and before meals). What prayers does your child say?
If you post prayers on your blog, let me know and I will link to it.

Here's ones that I have said and some additional ones I found on line.

Scripture that Children's prayers are based on:

Thank you God, for taking away my sins and helping me to live right (1 Peter 2:24).
Help me to know Jesus’ love and to feel Your power in me (Ephesians 3:19).
I trust God to always protect me (Psalm 91:11, 14).
Teach me God to be honest about my sins so I can confess them and be forgiven (1 John 1:9).
I want to sing and tell everyone how wonderful You are (Psalm 150)

Before Meal Grace:

Thank you for the world so sweet,

Thank you for the food we eat,

Thank you for the birds that sing,

Thank you God for everything.

God is great, God is good.

And we thank Him, For our food. Amen.

Come Lord Jesus, be our guest,
and let these gifts to us be blessed.

Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

If I should die before I wake

I pray the Lord my soul to take

God bless our family and our friends.

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep

May angels watch me

through the night and

wake me with the morning light. Amen.

I pray to, Lord, my soul to keep; Guide and guard me through the night

and wake me with the morning's light. Amen

At the close of every day,

Lord, to Thee I kneel and pray.

Look upon Thy little child,

Look in love and mercy mild.

O forgive and wash away

All my naughtiness this day,

And both when I sleep and wake

Bless me for my Savior's sake. Amen.

The Lord's Prayer:

Our Father who art in heaven;

Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come;

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;

Give us this day our daily bread;

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;

And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil;

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen

Have you read this book, Prayer for a Child by R. Field?
Do you have an opinion on it?

Please say prayers for this little California child, Hannah, at Journey to Lily Hope (her little sister). Hannah is in the hospital with a serious disease.

Thank you!
Update: Thank you Michelle for sharing the prayers that you sing at meal time and bedtime!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

GIVEAWAY! Cupcake Carrier!

In the spirit of the Christmas gift giving, I would like to send you this cupcake carrier!

I first read about a cupcake courier or cupcake carrier here on Mummy Product Review's and on Savvy Mommy when this carrier review appeared.
I found several cupcake carriers but do not know which one works best. I decided to buy this one at Target.

The other brands are Bialetti Cupcake carrier (24 count) and the Oneida Carrier and the Cupcake Courier (36 count). The Crate & Barrel also sells one.

Do you know of any other uses for this caddy when not in use for cupcakes? I really need multi-purpose gadgets!

To win this one, please leave a comment with way to contact you (through your blog mail or leave an email address). For a second chance, send me your link to a post about your best (or worst) cupcake adventure (for non-bloggers, send me a picture of it).

On December 17th I will select a winner!
Merry Christmas!