Friday, October 31, 2008

Tagged! & Weird or Random Facts

I (we) was tagged by Karen at Our Journey to Kaelie, Kim at Ruby is Coming and technically OziMom tagged DH, Ford.... We shall see if he tells us his seven weird or random facts about himself...... I will leave that to you to make him feel obligated....

Here's the requested seven weird or random thoughts about me!
1. Since Susan mentioned pillows, I will let you know that I sleep with my baby pillow. Yep, my Mom tried throwing it away but I kept it to this very day! I even have it on our travels right now - just seems more like home when the pillow is with me!

2. Every morning when I am getting ready for work, I feed Salty Dog his treat of baby carrots and I eat a few myself.

3. I am very awkward around people, unlike my very friendly and outgoing hubby!

4. I have difficulty throwing away magazines as I keep thinking I need to read it or there is something worth saving... so they pile up around the house.

5. I can't carry a tune or sing on key at all. I would be very embarrassed if anyone overheard me singing and humming lullabies to AA. DH is tasked with teaching her to sing on key along with her sister, Leaa, who is a pro!.

6. I hate shoes. I get blisters all the time. I rather go barefoot or wear open toed sandals. My second toe (next to my big toe) is longer than all my other toes.

7. I don't care for curry, olives or anchovies, or peanuts in Chinese food.
That's all I can admit to right now!!

The bloggers I am tagging, if they haven't already done this are the following:
1. Journey to Our Little One - Baseballs and Ballerinas
2. Dita at Dita's Darlings
3. JBOO and daughter Maddy - Check out her progress at Boo Adventures
4. Kate with daughter Lia at Livin' La Vida Lia
5. Melissa at The Maine Event on Little Sebago Lake (also known as Auntie M; check out her pics of AA!)
6. Tonya and William at Our Journey to Sophia
7. Lisa, half of the "Half Gaelic, Half Garlic" over at The Long Road to China with Sarah and Nicolas

Didn't we do this a couple of years ago? Daniella did it back in January 2008 and Kristy at Franceskas Journey has her list. It seems to be going around including dozens of blogs I have just visited... Vivian at Life with Kerri, Kris at Tell Her This did her list a few weeks ago (check out her FABulous news) and Colleen at The Crazy Eight (check out her favorites list too) have completed their lists.

If you haven't done this list, please post and leave us a comment here and we will visit!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Walking In Maine

video

One of the joys of traveling to DW's home state is experiencing the beauty of Maine. From the mountains to the fresh water lakes to the unbelievable ocean coastline - everywhere you go is a feast for the eyes. And the spirit...

We took a quick stroll up the road with Nana Ann and Auntie M to a small bubbling brook with AA that resulted in Alyzabeth walking more than we have ever seen her do before!! :)
And before you ask. YES, we've eaten Lobster and we will be eating Lobster again TONIGHT! And that includes AA :)

Life is good and tomorrow comes too quick as we leave Maine and continue on with our "tour" but we'll be back!!!
peace
fm

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fun with Auntie "M"

While in Maine, AA quickly accepted Auntie "M" and they played! AA would fall back on Auntie M's lap and then roll backward like a somersault. AA would giggle and do it over and over. These pictures don't so it justice. AA learned this fun in Florida with Christa.
Check out her blog and all the pictures!



Monday, October 27, 2008

A Note to My Dear Husband (And Dad to JK, LD & AA)

We are on the road, continuing our family visits. We had a wonderful time with LOTS of great family who took time to be at my Mom's house yesterday. I think we were overwhelmed seeing so many people (AA did have a few shy moments but in general played and was engaged enough at various times to interact with our visitors). Thank you for all the love, your time and the toys for AA!

While we have been traveling I have observed my DH be the most wonderful Dad. I hope you will indulge with me a little note I wrote to him:

A note to my husband of 23 years; this is to the sweetest, most patient and loving Husband and Daddy. From your ever grateful, thankful, "luckiest woman in the world" Wife (remember, you "picked me"!!):

My Mom was at our home when we returned from China and sometimes it takes an "outsider" to remind you of how fortunate one is. She has been telling me what I already know. I have the sweetest most patient and giving husband!
(She also made some comment about our household being too chaotic and unorganized (what???) for her tastes, when I was trying to bribe her to stay longer!)

DH has always been a loving Dad to DD # 1 and DS. He has always had a heart for family in ways I had never experienced. He always showed concern and listened attentively to his kids or sisters or cousins or brothers. He always welcomes phone calls from DS and DD #1; how many DD's call their Dad every day for the past 10 years (maybe I am exaggerating here a little)? Did I mention he is a good listener?Picture #1: DH is on the right side/end.

He always understood others pain and would empathize. He was always very mature and could work out issues through his kindness and sense of humor.
Did I mention
that he has a great sense of humor?

He has always been witty and touched on sarcasm when gently making his point. He loves sports. He has always handled conversations about politics and religion. He has always done his "homework" on these two topics so he is prepared for serious discussions (I always will remember Joe Edmondson when I think of this trait in DH, along with Jim Read and DH's cousins Stephe, Stan, Tina, Butch & Rhett). DH has always been willing to do more than his share of household chores. He always has stepped in to help with social plans, dinner preparations, errand running, cleaning, vacuuming, pet care.
Did I mention that he never asks me to do anything?


DH has seen the good times and bad throughout our marriage (neither one of us is perfect, me alot less so). He has seen us struggle with infertility (lived through his own physical issues too). He has always been open to more children. He had held me during my crying times.
Did I mention that he had a heart for adoption before me?


He always wants to have some fun. We love traveling. Did I say he loves sports? He always shares his toys and appreciate them when we have them but doesn't whine or over spend when we can't. He always dreams big dreams for our family fun and vacations. He always worked hard, earning money, taking care of family.
Did I mention that he is retired and will be the the SAHD when I return to work?


He always gives so much to us, I do feel unworthy at times knowing that he shoulders more than he lets on. We work well as a team, but give credit where due, DH holds the family together and keeps us in his loving arms. He is the best thing that ever came into my life (along with his two children). And now we have #3!
I love you so much!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Discovering Stairs

From October 20th:
AA is practicing her stair climbing with Missourian Auntie "J". The second picture is AA's Uncle Bill and Auntie J. AA was beginning to let others hold her and Auntie J worked at it, playing with her and gaining her confidence!

Family Photos - Our October Travels

We have had some wonderful visits to family and friends on our very quick tour around the eastern part of USA. We lasted 16 days on the road and just loved seeing AA grow, learn and be able to receive and share some loving.
Catching up on posting a few pictures and saying thank you!

Friend Belinda and Lee's Atlanta Home. Miss Be trying to get close to AA.

AA was in Miss Be's guest room when she was trying to talk on the telephone, I mean the drapery cord!

Next Stop was in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, at sister Tiffany and Mike's Home. Children Walker, twins, Maggie and Harper.


Next, Brother Bill and Joan. And Uncle Ben (pictures already posted).

We were able to see Miss Linda (our grown children's Aunt). She played with AA on the floor. AA was still beginning to open up, so was a little shy at the beginning of the trip. We still had fun and were so glad to see Miss Linda. Thank you for the gifts! AA knows how to open them up! AA also is still more interested in the tissue paper and cute gift bags, AA says they make great purses!

Visit to Atlanta Friends

Our first stop visiting family and friends on our driving vacation was in Atlanta. Good friends were kind to allow us to stay with them even though we warned them that AA wasn't sleeping well at night and screams were usually the norm.
All went well. AA even decided to "talk" into the drapery cord... nothing else would do!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Travels - Meeting The Family

Picture #1: AA with sister, a first letting her hold and play with her; brother JK got in some hugs and time with AA too (he is in background, sitting).

We have not been posting often as we are on a whirl-wind driving tour of the country side meeting family..... From Florida, to Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana; driving through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire to Maine. Will be visiting friends on our east coast drive south back to Florida. I wanted to squeeze in some visiting before going back to work, DH (soon to be known as SAHD) is a willing companion, pack mule and chauffeur.

The two photos are before we took off on this crazy trip.

Update on AA: She is a very happy girl during the daytime. She plays, giggles, runs, climbs stairs by herself. I could not even begin to list all the words she is saying; yesterday was another first: we were ordering in a Cracker Barrel (did I tell you again how much AA loves to eat?) and we said our usual "thank you's" to the wait staff taking our order. Immediately after we said it, AA belted out "thank you" too! She says other words like, diaper, cold, hot, no, yellow, purple, blue, nose, ear, toothbrush, dog (and barks like a dog), Mama, Dada, Leaa, sister, up, down, apple, banana..... She is now at the point where she understands us enough to repeat any word we ask her to, but am only giving her "credit" when she knows what the word is. We play peak-a-boo alot so says "boo" to us alot. Also, while at Aunti J's house she did big poopy in her adult toilet. If we were not on this trip, I am sure she would be out of diapers.

We will have a gallery of photos soon to show and remind AA of all the special people she met. She has been so GOOD on this trip... she takes her naps in the car seat (no crying!), she is still bored with videos/movies but tolerates the "Ni hao, Kai-Lan." one.

Picture #2 This picture is a little blurry but the best one we have of AA showing us that she will only eat "one" Cheerio at a time! Ha!!
Happy Trails!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Items Purchased in China & Souvenir Box

Here's another promised list.



If you are traveling soon, remember the advice of those who traveled before us, if you see something you like, buy it now, don't wait. Shopping is a luxury depending on your baby/child's behavior, you may not shop as frequently as you think you will.
Even though we did not buy as many things as I would have liked, I have only one regret and that is not buying more pearls and jewelry. I was not a big fan of pearls, not needing any for myself, but it is a luxury that we would not normally spend money on.Earrings were very inexpensive at the "Pearl Markets". Range $25 - $50 per pair. Other precious stones were readily available and we were a bit "cheap". Maybe when we go back to China (in ten years!), we will fill the gift gaps!
I have also included the list of items I have put in a box for Alyzabeth.

Items bought in China:

1. Year of the Dog (for 2006) hand painting from CQ City Old Town Tour. Gift from CCAI representatives Anita and Marie.

2. Pearl Necklace for Wedding day. White with 57 same size pearls. Selected by Daddy in GZ.

3. Pearl Earrings (two pairs) selected by mommy. One white gold; one with “Love” Chinese word. The pearl store, Maosheng gave gift of Chasteness Pearl – Love (open shell yourself to get pearl, place in necklace).

4. Jade Bangle Bracelet from Beijing. Selected after Helen (CCAI) described her childhood story between her Mother and giving her a jade bracelet once old enough to appreciate it’s meaning.

5. Silk dresses in toddler size 1 & 3. Girls size 6. Purple, Red and Black. Purchased in GZ.

6. Silk hand painted fan purchased in GZ.

7. Silk baby blanket with pillow in cream/green.

8. Chop (ink stamp) with Alyzabeth’s Chinese and English name. Purchased in GZ.

9. Granite Etching of Alyzabeth’s Referral photo. Purchased in GZ.

10. Chopsticks: one nice porcelain set with rests; one set of four pairs of wood with silk covers. Purchased in GZ.

11. Rice paper brush painting of Alyzabeth’s Chinese name (Nan, Min Hua).

12. Carp hand painting (small) to frame. For prosperity/luck.

13. Books: Two Chinese/English children’s teaching books.

14. DVD set teaching Chinese children to learn English.

15. Cloisonné bangle bracelet and earrings. Purchased in Beijing.

16. We did not purchase any squeaky shoes. Just didn’t look for them. Oops!


Future Shopping List (what I thought we should have bought in China) and other To Do’s for our “Memories”

Teapot and cups. Kites. Chess Set. Nicer Fan. Silk fabric (for future dresses or for wedding). More Silk Outfits, different sizes (very inexpensive in GZ). Silk purses. Any embroidery or folk art or carvings. Decide on software for making book of Blog January 2008 through YE 2008. Develop/Design Adoption Video. Referral Day through China Trip.

Items in Alyzabeth’s Souvenir Box

  • Bottle from Orphanage (given on “Forever Family Day, 09/16/08).
  • Round Rust/Orange colored container with black lid from White Swan Hotel. Chocolates were delivered in it each night. Alyzabeth played with is and pretend “cooking” with Daddy (so we stole it!).
  • Ruyi Golden Plate. Gift from Registrar’s office.
  • Great Wall photo of travel group and book.
  • Three red envelopes purchased by Helen in Beijing.
  • Chinese Newspapers from September 2008. Includes the GZ paper with our pictures in it traipsing through the flooded streets (Pearl River overflowed during typhoon on 09/24/2008).
  • One surviving white (glow –in-the dark) rubber bracelet that has embossed on it “I am the best thing made in China”. Ford purchased my first one in August 2005 and I wore one everyday. Sister, Melissa, wore one too.
  • Messages from our two Secret Buddies, the Whitall’s (Precious Pandas) and Kim Bison (from Seventh Diamond Swap).
  • One referral announcement sent our announcing her arrival to our family.
  • First Doctor’s Visit Receipt of Services.
  • Alyzabeth An Blog Book made by Blurp through December 2007.
  • Photo book of Alyzabeth’s first week at home (Completed at Walgreens Photo web site – Very Easy!).
  • Photos and negatives from the two disposable cameras sent in care package. Pictures taken mid-September 2008.
  • Fleming Island church bulletin with announcement of Alyzabeth’s arrival. Susan Rushing placed a rose on the Altar for Alyzabeth on Sunday, 10/05/08.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Here's the Gift List - We were the Thankful Recipients!

The Gifts – So Many Generous Family and Friends!

I am slowly writing a few thank you notes at a time, going through each gift and card received, enjoying the fun of being the recipient of so many wonderful items for daughter AA. We love thanking everyone for the excitement, joy and love towards our crazy adventure called Imagine……Alyzabeth An!


The list is long so will take a while to thank everyone and to commit to memory so that AA will have fun reliving it all with us someday! If I do not have you on the list, please email me (do not be bashful!) as you know I am not perfect and may have inadvertently not written down your gift (my excuse is I was crazy during the expected referral month of July, then even crazier when we did not get our referral, so August was nuts waiting for our referral, then we received it and then it got crazier, then the “trip”…. I guess you get the idea.

It was like my water broke in slow motion over two months, then the delivery took another month…). So please write me if you are not on the list!!

I think the last time I posted about a gift for AA (besides Secret Buddy and Secret pal gifts) was when we received the Chinese lantern quilt from Connie/PIPO. We also posted about the beautiful roses Don & Be sent us to have in our GZ White Swan hotel room. Very nice and it was AA’s first word she learned from us – "flowers”. DH also recently posted (on 10/07/08) about some clothes we received from family.


Since then, many lovely people have sent us gifts, just out of their thoughtfulness and generosity. We so appreciate the gifts and the surprise is nice too – kept our spirits up and amazement after each one was opened and put in AA’s room for her.

  • Our Crown.org County team leaders, the Martin’s, surprised us with some sweets and champagne toast the week we received our referral (very sweet, we have been so indulgent talking about AA and hogging all the conversations!).
  • Don & Be over at Pregnancy by Adoption were invaluable with their gifts of travel medicines and baby essentials plus the “shape sorting barn” which AA loves to play with (and has mastered too). Saved the day for us!!
  • DD Leaa & Jesse, plus Marsha and Cathy all planning a “Referral Day” evening party – family and food was all enjoyed while we showed off our first pictures of AA (we had emailed them from the CCAI Orlando office so it was anti-climatic – they had seen all the pictures we had to show off!). DD and SIL recorded a beautiful Beatles song for us... Listen here.
  • The Davis’ and Chilton’s, good friends for many years along with Diana; they all came out on a Friday evening right after referral day so that we could brag some more. We received gifts from all of them!
  • Our first day back from China, family visited and gave birthday gifts to AA including a stuffed kitty cat, a pink poodle dog and a really cute toy car with a mommy and baby in it (and it plays music and teaches “open and close”)… thank you to C&W, M&C and cousin CR.
  • Johnny from So it Comes Down to This, sent yummy Texas BBQ – We really enjoyed the brisket (my favorite)! He also sent a Texas sized T-shirt for AA – very hip!
  • Catherine at Catherine’s Chatter, while meeting and visiting for the first time with Don & Be, she presented us with a gift of a beautiful sun dress for AA.
  • Ozimum (we say Aussie Mom) over at Australia, sent us cute clothes (so cute and fit very well, I found the web site to buy some more), bathing suit, kangaroo, sunglasses and a beautiful homemade card with AA’s photo on it (very nice!).
  • Kim Churches over at Ruby is Coming blog sent us some travel essential, luxury/boutique items, bib and the very essential travel toilet paper!
  • Donna and Joe over at Waiting for Lauren Elizabeth, sent a hand made necklace with AA’s referral picture in a heart it – just wonderful, kept her close to me until we went to China.
    • BIL, Bill and Joan thought of all three of us, sending each a special book, one for me, DH and AA.
  • My sister Melissa over at her Maine blog, flew here to surprise me during our baby shower. You could have knocked me over when I saw her come in with co-conspirator cousin CR! Thank you! She also sent us an “Edible Fruit” arrangement on Referral Day! Yummy! We just received a huge box of gifts from her all for Alyzabeth! Lots of clothes, toys, barrettes and her first Barbie Doll (Beach Barbie)!
Not too sure when we will let AA wear the Patriots shirt (may need to scratch over it with "Go Jaguars!").

  • My older sister, Terri & George, sent a beautiful pink and brown outfit and my Auntie Jean sent a wonderful pink and brown winter jacket plus dress for AA (posted 10/07/08).
  • Debbie Gum, good friend from the way back, gone by days (OK, haven’t seen her regularly since 1988 but have kept in touch) sent an adorable purse with designer dog in it (looks just like our Salty Dog) , bracelet and clothes.
  • Church friends in Maine, Cay & Blair Walls send a lovable, squishy stuffed dog and blanket for AA.
  • Phyllis Redman, friend from Missouri past and excellent professional photographer, sent a Target gift certificate along with the Beatles songs, sung for children (our favorite music!).
  • Blogger buds, Leslie and daughter Fin, sent AA her first NASCAR T-Shirt of our favorite Missouri driver, Carl Edwards. Yeah, race fans!!
  • The Florida United Methodist Children’s Home sent us a beautiful bouquet of pink roses and many cards of congrats!
  • A large box of clothes for Alyzabeth arrived from Grandmother Barbara and Aunt Patti: two beautiful jumper sets, a jacket, Maine Moose (stuffed of course) and a book about a pet dog. Fits in perfectly with us!! Thank you!
  • Special thanks goes to Secret Buddy; the Whittalls and the Bison’s. I received so many gifts that are being used. It did save me by having items ready for AA’s arrival. Fun stuff like toys, movies along with clothes and bath time items. Since our referral they each sent us a box of goodies. The Bison’s sent personalized sticker, stamps and note paper. The Whittall’s sent clothes, a snuggle doll and books. Thank you all again!

Recent Surprise Gifts from the Whittall's!
  • Another person who is to be thanked many times over and much appreciated, is Susan Rushing who notarized everything we needed during our paper chase and post-referral papers. She has a grand-daughter from China and always welcomed us prattling on about our future daughter.
  • HUGE thanks goes to my Mom who flew in to take care of the house and precious pets while we were gone and to take care of us during our first few weeks with AA. She fed us, ran errands, grocery shopped, planned the family gatherings, wash laundry, ironed, pulled weeds in the yard, cleaned our utility room, cleaned our refrigerator, organized a few closets and cupboards, addressed and sent out my “referral” (adoption) announcements, took the cats to their annual check ups and probably many other things I will never know about! She also sent some neat L.L. Bean clothes and bought some cool clothes from Kohl’s while shopping in this area.
  • These local families gave us gifts, very unexpected surprises (but boy did we have fun receiving all these goodies!!): Allen’s (a book), Keating’s (a book), Nan & Dan (cute clothes, love the skort!),
  • Last and not least, thank you to all who planned and pulled off a very special baby shower with food, drinks and the required brown and pink cake! It was co-ed, for DH and I (my first – wonder how many I have attended; now my first one for me!!) plus all the gifts. It really helped being ready for AA! Thank you all! Here’s the list of people we need to thank: Cathy & Werner, Leaa & Jesse, Carl & Marsha, Cara, Nicole, Justin & Trish, Carolyn, Sharon, Nancy, Kenny & Pam, Melissa, Katie, Christa, Katy, Terri & George, Dave & Julia, Lainie, Daniel & Eliza H., Katie & Barrett & Stella and my Mom!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Dancing Queen(s)

video

So now you too can share what I get to enjoy at least once during the day.
Each and Every day.
And I wouldn't have it any other way... :)

Also, today is our one month anniversary of Forever Family Day! 09/16/08 - 10/16/08.
peace
fm

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Help Those Helping Others

Seventh Diamond has several new good works in place. She has always supported the Starfish Children's Services Charity by raising money for orphan's surgeries. Starfish also is celebrating November is Adoption Month buy selling a new Starfish bracelet. One of these bracelets has been donated to the auction at One Child At A Time.

The baby shower is for Coby, soon to be home with Lala at Ladybugs and Dragonflies. They have a separate blog for Coby that you will need to ask for a password to see it and join in with their joy.
Please check out the Baby Shower on October 25th and new Auction at One Child At A Time.

Reminder to support Baby Be Blessed where handmade dolls are gorgeous - Alyzabeth's came from here as a gift from SP Kim B. (the doll with the pink and brown dress) - so adorable!!

And I was the winner of a Halloween Hair Barrette made by Lisa at Sweet and Spicey Designs.
Please support the great work these families do to earn funds for children. Buying homemade is wonderful so visit the Etsy shop of your preference too (Bibs, Hair Bow Holders, Bizzie Bags, Glass Tiles, Charms, Jewelry or search on the description for your next purchase)! Miao's Cottage is ready for travel or already in China.... If you want to cehck out some cute clothes for your favorite little girl see her designs. As always I LOVE and HEART this lady's designs!!

For those of you traveling soon and can't get in enough reading and preparation (I am smiling!!), here's a link to some more articles on adoption traveling. From the Adoptive Familes E-Magazine.

That's my round the bloggy world news for today! More video's of AA to come soon! We are keeping up with new photos and video's daily (when does this slow down?).
Alyzabeth is up from bed and ready to eat breakfast. Did I ever say how much this girl can eat????

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bath Time Fun Time




Guess who enjoys taking her bath?
Guess who couldn't be happier about that? :)
peace
fm

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Three Word Sunday - Love is Grand!

2nd Picture: Alyzabeth loves to giggle when I tickle her tummy... anything to get her to wake up!!
We enjoyed reading a new book on Puppy dogs (Thank you to Barbara & Patti!); the story is about a brown one, we talk about our white, Salty Dog. I think I was "tasting" this one (OK, I was growling and chewing on the book like a dog... what we won't do for kids!!).

After waking up from a nap, much cuddling is required! Alyzabeth loves to "wake up slowly". I think she does it on purpose in order to have some Mommy and Baby time together. If only we could banished the gremlins that keep our little one up and down throughout her nights... Stealing sleep from us all :) Yawn.........

She is so adorable and loving. She is precious and beautiful. She is soft and sweet. She is both secure and yet insecure. Independent and dependent.
She is Daddy and Mommy's new little Lovey!!

Last picture: Happily playing at her very PINK desk!!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Addition to Those Many BTDT Lists

For those traveling soon, we posted a few times on lessons learned with my Ramblings (mentioned two "goofs") and DH's post on Totally Senseless China Thoughts ... I have thought of a few more so add it to your list if it applies to you.

I also will add in a FIRST for Alyzabeth - Yes, she used her training potty (Friday)! She was sitting in her high chair finishing lunch and started pointing to her diaper, so I thought the usual... she's telling us after the fact. So I scooped her up and decided to stand her by her potty; at first she said No, but I sat her on it and said the words I thought we were told her Nannies' would say (don't ask!) and Voila!! She did #2 in the potty! Yeah!! Yes, I will say it again, we are excited! One, to be able to understand her and two, that she is further along than we thought. She is very smart and understands most of what we say. I don't use the sign language for taking a bath anymore, I just tell her what we will do next and she gets all excited and runs to the tub. Oh... the joys of parenting a toddler!! (No, I did not include a photo of the "poop"; I did upload the one of her in her own "booster" seat for the first time).


Here's the additional BTDT stuff.....
Using Skype was great to introduce our new daughter to family members who did not travel, so once home, she recognized them immediately. We would recommend it. Now that we are home, we will use it to introduce AA to more family members... before arriving on their doorstep. Great face and voice recognition for the little ones.

Even though AA can eat with any utensils, we still prefer using the smaller baby, plastic coated spoons for when she is feeding herself. It helps her not overload her mouth and no worrying about sharp metal edges. Also, only buy the plastic platewares/bowls with the rubber non-skid feet/bottom on them. Helps when teaching to eat at the table or high chair (isn't as easily pushed off or flung far away!)

Your In-China agency guides can get the film developed from your Care Package cameras. Be sure to ask for a CD copy of the pictures as well.

If you're taking digital pictures, download them to your computer regularly and then BURN them to a CD or DVD as a safety BACKUP.

The buses used to transport our Travel Group were modern, air conditioned and clean. You pay extra for the tours and your Agency Guides will suggest an appropriate driver tip that is paid at the end of your stay in that city. You may end up paying the driver directly or your Agency Guide. The Agency Guides will tell you which.

Squatty potties "in-China": I used them the second day in China and had no problems and I brought toilet paper (Thanks, Kim!) with me (use any paper product, tissues, napkins etc). Straddling it and balancing is tricky, just take your time, everyone will wait for you. Each stall had a hook for your purse too. Every bathroom we were in had soap and water to wash hands. We did bring small packages of anti-bacterial wipes in our day-pack/purse in case.

"In-China" suggestion for ladies: There are no tampons in China. If you don't bring your own, you will only find pads. Bring enough for your regular amount of days. I brought enough for one day thinking I could buy more supplies in China. I was desperate the second day still thinking I would find tampons in the "next" store. My DH, on his own, even approached several ladies in our travel group asking for donations! As he says, he will do anything for his lady!

In-China: I won't even write about the non-potable tap water everywhere even in 5-Star hotels. We have to bath in it but not use for drinking or brushing teeth. Just live with it. None of us got sick. Back to the original list - drink plenty of bottled water.

It was mentioned in prior comments about the multitude of sales people in department stores. The system works by shopping with them hovering over and around you; you select the item you want, they write you a ticket, you take it to the centrally located cashier, then take the receipt back to the department where your merchandise is, the clerk checks the receipt and then you finally get your purchase. Sometimes the clerks follow you to the cashier and then back to their department. It all works even though very different than us; we have never had so much help in a store! Only in grocery stores is the system like ours/America; one shops by picking up the goods and placing in the cart, then check out near the front of the store to pay but don't be surprised to find a "helper" on each aisle to assist you. Bring your own bag, any kind of bag, to grocery shop or expect to pay a nickel or so for one when you check out. Provided you need one.

One more word about the red couch photo: We did take a family photo on the red couch. There are red couches on both the first and second floor at the WS, so take the photo anytime everyone is in a good mood. We decided not to force it during the group photos. Why upset the baby and have one more un-needed screaming session? We made minute by minute decisions based on our individual child (who was not like anyone elses!).

For toddler clothes, I love the little skorts or jean skirts that have the built in shorts or matching undies. They are cute plus simpler to dress sweet AA! No diaper showing and when she is playing, no awkward un-lady-like positions to worry about! (am I too sensitive?).

Next, I am going to type up the gifts we did buy for Alyzabeth while in China and the gifts we did not (either didn't find, didn't take the time, didn't have room in luggage, couldn't find what I wanted or just decided that shopping at different times of the trip wasn't worth it). I will be searching the web for authentic Chinese products in the very near future to fill the gaps!
Update: Check Mike and Rhonda's list of advice too.

Final lesson, make tea in your room, enjoy tea in the restaurants, get to know the customs surrounding the serving of hot tea and the different types. It is gracious and social; their form of hospitality. We should have learned more to show AA. Back to the Internet I go.....

Last photo: Do they look bored listening to their morning Chinese lesson? Pillow hugging must be the coping method....

Friday, October 10, 2008

First Doctor Visit

Alyzabeth made the first visit to her Doctor early yesterday morning and let us just say upfront that she handled it far better than the expectations we had laid out for her!
Dr. Chris spent better than an hour with her. We know this is not a typical visit but it must be said that the good Doctor spent a great deal of time just soothing Alyzabeth and allowing her to get to know him before he began poking around. We kept remembering the "exam" in China and the resultant meltdown but Dr. Chris did not force things and what a difference it made.

Bottom line health assessment, Alyzabeth is a healthy little girl while tilted to the small size on the Asian growth charts. No surprise there on the growth charts. (we still have the blood work to get and then return to go over the results in 6 weeks with Dr. Chris)
We've elected to update her immunizations and Dr. Chris has outlined a plan to do so without starting from scratch. We know the blood work will show antibodies but the unknown is always the strength of the shot she received in China. Yesterday, she got 3 shots and a TB test. Did she cry while getting the shots? Oh yeah but the nurse was GOOD and QUICK and baby girl recovered in a flash!

We celebrated with a nice lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, The Blue Grotto.
Hint that most of you know. You can still enjoy a meal out together without putting fear in the eyes of your fellow dinners when you walk in with your little one. Go early or late. It's generally not crowded and distractions are fewer for the little one and the servers are a bit more relaxed as well... And of course the big reason. There aren't as many people there to give you the evil eye :) (added from Aly: For those not in our travel group, while in China, ALL babies/toddlers ate out every meal, so AA is VERY familiar with restaurant etiquette; we had family meal time out for breakfast, lunch and dinner; every day. We mastered the art of wiping one's mouth with a napkin there. :)

We finished the day with a trip to Palatka. Aly kept Livi and Alyzabeth while I ventured off for my music lesson.
Livi and Alyzabeth danced and played while we waited for Leaa D and Jesse to arrive home from work. No dinner this Thursday as they were all heading to the beach to meet up with Leaa's sister Nicole for a quiet birthday dinner together.
Next Thursday we're making plans for a big family gathering at Leaa's before Aly's mom heads back to Maine!
peace
fm
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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Gifts From Maine & Nana Ann!!

Talk about dressing in style. Check out this outfit from Alyzabeth's Aunt T & Uncle George from Maine! The top and pants are just too darn CUTE and of course we LOVE the colors!

We're planning our trip to Maine for later this month so Alyzabeth can visit all her Maine Family!!

We have yet to decide if we're driving or flying. I think "daddy" is leaning towards flying and regardless of which we do - WE NEED TO DECIDE SOON! (hint - hint to you know who)








Nana Ann said she was running to town to pick up a couple items she was needing. I guess that included "needing" to pick up something for Alyzabeth while she was at it :)

My Auntie Jean, also from Maine, sent Alyzabeth this beautiful dress and winter coat!!! Thank You Auntie Jean! We'll be seeing you soon!

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Alyzabeth (with some assistance) put in some practice time in how to properly open gifts before Christmas gets here by tearing into her birthday and welcome home gifts from her Auntie Jean! The girl is just way too gentle but I'm sure that will change in time :)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Too Many "Firsts" - Alyzabeth Living Life!

I continue to celebrate being Mommy to Alyzabeth... 20 days and counting!!

Update through Sunday Evening, 10/05/08:

· She continues to get her way by us bribing her with Cheerios and Gold Fish.

· Food has always been her favorite, eating just about anything. We call spaghetti “noodles”. Anything pasta or otherwise is “noodles”.

· She says words back to us like "diaper", "Good Girl", Daddy, yellow, etc. She continues to use one word that sounds like “mama” when wanting more food or is pointing at something. Anyone know what Chinese word that could be?

· She tells us after the fact when she has a dirty diaper.

· She is coy and knows what "No" means and does a pretend pout. This must be universal with all children as we have only had a few days with her and we certainly did not teach her that!

· She knows how to open our bedroom doors - door knobs are now a fun toy.

· Mosquitoes love her neck and face. We have to remember to put on the children's repel lotion (or use the wipes - very convenient).

· She is now carrying around her toys rather than just playing with them on the floor, they are now her mobile things.

· In China she would scream at anything that meant leaving Mommy; now she rides in the grocery cart, car seat, pull cart, sits in high chair.... She loves new things to do!

· She has discovered crayons and how lovely they look scrawled across the floor, the bar stools, the desk top…..

· Church went very well on the 5th. She watched intently the Pastor and his children’s story time (all children go to the front of the church for their special message). I did walk her to the nursery area to visit with the babies and toddlers for a short time during the sermon. Again, cheerios kept the peace!

· At big sister’s birthday party on the 5th, AA warmed up to the group and after two hours was rolling on the floor laughing and giggling with Christa again. AA even let big sister Leaa hold her for awhile.

· She continues to hate nap or bed time. BUT, she willingly goes to sleep in 10 - 20 minutes after I talk to her about what is coming next, lots of rocking and some soothing lullaby's (albeit off key - I can't carry a tune).


What we still need to do:

1. Apply for her passport.

2. Apply for her social security number.

3. Apply for the Florida College Pre-Paid program (it is only open to new applicants each Fall from October to January).

4. I will legally change my name to my married name (about time after 23 years?).

5. Contact the local lawyer who facilitates a new Florida birth certificate.

6. Make a list of AA’s souvenirs’ and future gifts and pack them away.

7. Make AA’s OHGWQ Squishes Scrapbook. I am looking for someone to get me started on digital scrapbooking for future “memories” (I will contact a local group to find someone willing to give me lessons on the computer; with limited time I would like to get started quickly. Best programs?

For those BTDT families,what else do we need to do for her (non-medical)?

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Thank the Lord for young people!
Alyzabeth loves playing with Christa! And from this video I think you will see not only why but also how much love and attention Christa gives in playing with AA (I actually am videoing with Flip instead of Daddy!)!! Christa is a senior this year at the University of North Florida.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

More Spaghetti Please

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And the fun continues... Alyzabeth downed her first plate of Spaghetti and Meatballs the other day and from the resulting smile and mess - I'd say we'll be having it again :)

We're going to venture out to Church this morning. Hopefully AA will handle the attention and should she start to get a little overwhelmed, we'll make a hasty retreat to the safe confines of HOME :)
This afternoon we'll be celebrating a joint BIRTHDAY celebration at Cathy and Werner's for DD Leaa and her sister Nicole!!! What a pair these two are. It's impossible to imagine one without the other. Love to you BOTH! See you soon.
peace
fm

Saturday, October 04, 2008

First Haircut (Sort Of)

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OK, maybe it was more like a trim and STOP practice run :) Our version of a NASCAR pit stop. Make it fast...
Still, we were impressed that Alyzabeth allowed someone new to get that close to her! We're marking it down as progress on her part and bravery on ours! :)
peace
fm
P.S. Goldfish help to smooooth.... the way for new experiences!! (ac).

(Happy Anniversary Aly - LOVE of my life)
fm

P.P.S. Love you my dearest, sweetest hubby! Happy #23!! (ac).
P.P.P.S. We have posted nine times since returning from China seven days ago... are we insane???? Or should I say DH is?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Thursday's At Leaa's

Each Thursday I have a music lesson and it's also the day I relieve DD (dear dad) Jesse as he heads off to work and watch GD Alivia until DM (dear mom) Leaa gets home. Thursday's have also been the day I put together a small family meal. It's a fun day never knowing for sure just exactly who or how many of the family will be coming by for a bite to eat or to share a glass of wine or just to have a chance to visit... I love Thursdays and it helps to have a SIL and DD like Jesse and Leaa to tolerate our weekly bashes in their home :)

Yesterday we kicked things off with fresh salsa, guacamole and corn chips. For the main meal we served my Cheesy Shepard's Pie Casserole along with a fresh mixed green salad. Simple but tasty. Oh, and I almost forgot. Jesse provided the beer and fresh tap water :) while Poppy and Nana popped the cork on a bottle of red wine.
Did I mention that we love Thursday's at Leaa's?!?!!! :)

Alyzabeth An is sleeping much better during the nights. Mom still has to get up more than a few times to comfort her but we are no longer experiencing the mini-meltdowns. With a little lovin', baby girl falls back to sleep. As you might expect and as we all hoped and prayed for, AA is slowly opening like petals on the beautiful flower she is. The family is so gentle and shows such great patience with her. We can hardly wait until she opens her arms to them and they can pick her up and snuggle her close. We keep reminding ourselves that she's only been "home" less than a week and that in time this too shall happen...

The video is a short blip of baby girl playing. I could kick myself for not taking more video of the family and friends gathered. Especially more video of Livi and AA together.
Oh well, there's always next Thursday! :)
peace
fm

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Totally Senseless China Thoughts & Stuff

  • In 16 days we could count on one hand the number of pregnant women we saw.
  • Getting around Shamian Island is a snap. Walking is easy and you won't get lost.
  • You will need a taxi to get to the Pearl Market. Short ride. Cost about 10-12 Yuan or a buck fifty American. The ride is fun :)
  • When at a restaurant. Put a few of the small paper napkins in your pocket or purse to use for toilet paper when out and about.
  • Your agency guides will tell you who, when and how much to tip. Listen to them.
  • Vehicles have the right of way in China. REMEMBER that.
  • The Chinese people are extremely friendly. Show respect. If you learn to say anything in Chinese. Learn to properly say Thank You.
  • When giving or receiving paperwork, a bill, a business card, cash, etc. Use two hands.
  • Yes. You will be stared at. Smile. Nod slightly.
  • Parents encourage their children to try out their English on you. You can see the pride in the parent's eyes.
  • Pack light. Unless you are in rural China. They have it. They sell it.
  • The contrast between privilege and poverty is striking. Much like where we live. Just on a much larger scale.
  • For all the traffic madness. Take notice of how few dents and scrapes you see on the cars and buses. Amazing.
  • Make friends within your travel group and ask to share their photos. You'll be glad you did.
  • Pack a SMALL Tupperware container to take food back to your room for the little one.
  • Going through airport security is a major hassle. Don't get upset about it. It is what it is.
  • ALWAYS have bottled water with you. And DRINK it.
  • I took 3 shirts. 3 pairs of shorts. 1 pair of shoes. Everyone in your Travel Group understands.
  • Be on time for Group activities. It is a major pain waiting with your little one when ready to go.
  • Take the time to tell your spouse you love him or her each day of the trip.
  • If you haven't ordered new uncirculated money from the Federal Reserve through your bank. Do it now and remember to order small bills as well. 1's, 10's and 20's. Don't ask your bank to do this. Politely but firmly tell them to do it. They can have the money in 3-5 days max.
  • Yes your baby is going to cry. Yes others will hear it. Yes you will handle it.
  • Your trip to China is not a vacation. You understand this. Family and friends may not.
  • Buy stock in the makers of cheerios.
  • Alyzabeth's city has a population the same size of all of California. Yes, you read that correctly.
  • You are representing America. Remember how we say we wished sports figures were better role models? Well this is your chance to walk the talk.
  • When standing in a line. Don't lag behind the person in front of you.
  • Your agency guide is your lifeline. Don't abuse or take them for granted.
  • Only 2 families in our large Travel Group visited their orphanage. We chose not to visit.
  • Cars and buses are constantly blowing their horns. Day and night.
  • Many of the city plazas have HUGE LARGE SCREEN TV's and music blares from everywhere.
  • Witness the Chinese culture without comparing.
  • At least sample the variety of different foods.
  • Our hotel rooms were more than adequate.
  • If you enjoy wine. Prepare to drink Great Wall. The local beer was quite good.
  • OK, I admit to not sampling the Ostrich Tongue at breakfast.
  • The beds are firm but not so we couldn't sleep.
  • The beauty of the Chinese people will take your breath away more than once.
  • Hotel staff for the most part understand and speak limited to fluent English.
  • Take a baby carrier to hold and support your little one while walking. It is THE bonding tool.
  • Take yogurts from the hotel breakfast back to your room. It will most likely have a small refrigerator. If you have a toddler. Don't forget the straws.
  • Back to the wine drinkers. We found "foreign" wine but it is not prevalent.
  • If the baby sleeps. You're missing a BIG chance to do the same.
  • If it's raining. Check with your hotel. Most offer the use of a free umbrella.
  • I wish we were younger and qualified to start the paperwork for a second child from China.
  • If you're not suffering from Jet Lag on your return home. Then you really didn't go to China :)
  • We saw dogs. Only 1 cat.
  • Buy a baby room monitor (day/night video) off Craigslist. Save some money and sell it when the time comes you no longer need it.
  • Pack a baby spoon.
  • We never experienced a problem connecting to the Internet or posting to our blog on Blogspot.
  • If you do not have SKYPE on your computer. Download it. It's FREE and the best way to see and talk to those at home while in China!
  • Red envelopes are available in China should you need them. Ask your guides.
  • Each of our hotel rooms was set up for us to plug in our electrical devices without the need for a converter.
  • You see cars and buses everywhere but not gas stations.
  • We'll never forget our Group singing Happy Birthday to Alyzabeth.
  • Coffee was served warm but never hot.
  • Expect smoking wherever you are eating and staying.
  • Walking The Great Wall is NOT EASY! The uneven steps are killers.
  • Most of the hotels have Business Centers if you need to copy anything.
  • The basements of department stores were usually grocery stores. Baby stuff was located on the 5th or 6th floors.
  • Check your strollers at the plane gate.
  • We celebrated a "Happy Hour" each day at the same time in a common area with other families. We all looked forward to the down time together.
  • Red Couch Photos are indeed great. Just not mandatory. Some little ones do not need the added stress. You make the call.
  • The street hawkers were persistent but easily enough to rebuff.
  • Fog is often smog.
  • Guard the bottle you get from the orphanage with your life!
  • Order chops, etchings, drawings, etc., as soon as possible in Guangzhou. It takes a full day for the items to be made before pickup. You pay upfront. Save your receipt.
  • Journal daily. Record each day briefly describing what you did along with your thoughts and observations. This will be a gift to yourself for years to come.

I've bored you enough.
Suffice it to say that the experiences are immeasurable. While photos and video have captured our time there together. The real memory of our journey wakes up each morning with a smile and her arms out stretched.
This will truly be a trip of a lifetime for you. Savor it. Immerse yourself in it. Expect the unexpected and be open to all that is new and different. You will become the cultural tie for your son and daughter with your experiences.
Embrace and Enjoy so to later share those treasured experiences with them...
peace
fm

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Playing ball with Nana :)