Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bento - What's a Bento?

I had a draft post about Bentos and never used it..... So here it is and now scoot over to the Maisie Eats Bento blog to win one!

More fun stuff I wrote back when we were waiting for our China travel dates.... this dates back to August 2008.

I had no idea what a "Bento" was until I read Deborah Hamilton's web site on how to pack nutritious lunches for her child. She lives in San Francisco and was recently highlighted in the Washington Post.
She is the expert on Lunches in a Box has all the answers and plenty of examples.

Another introduction to this concept is here. Another fun place to visit is Adventures in Bento. We're talking an environmentally friendly approach to meal packing using a re-usable product and saving tons of garbage from landfills in the process!

I found Deborah's web after catching up on my blog reading over at Maisie's Parent's Blog. I voted for her bento's, #52 and #53. AND guess what? She WON!! (September 15, 2008 post).

What is bento? Is it the style of packing? Is it the box? Is it the food?

A bento lunch is a compact, balanced, visually appealing meal packed in a box. Historically, it’s a Japanese box lunch, similar in concept to the Indian tiffin, the Korean dosirak, or the Filipino baon lunch. In Japanese, “bento” or “obento” refers to the packed meal, and “bento-bako” refers to the bento box itself. See the Wikipedia entry on bento for more details.

This is a really neat concept, you can't over pack it so it is great for portion control, the "wet" portions stay separate from the "dry", it is visually appealing and kids love it (adults too).

Check out Sunflowers and Ladybugs post on this topic too.
Maybe use some of those leftovers in a creative way for the kids?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Weekend Pictures of Alyzabeth

This weekend and through Tuesday, we have much planned so I was trying on some of AA's cute clothes for her to wear.
This is a sundress bought by SAHD at Target. AA was so engrossed in trying to talk on her phone, that modeling has taken a back seat!

We purchased a stick pony for AA as her niece (our Grand #2) has one. This horse is a bit top heavy (for ages 3+, so we are a little early) and makes wonderful horsey noises when you squeeze his ear (driving us nuts, cute horse, but big mistake!).
There may be better products out there but we couldn't seem to find any in stock (the Melissa & Doug brand seems to be out of stock everywhere).

Notice Elmo hanging on for dear life?

Happy little girl, even though riding a horse in a dress is not recommended. After I tried the dress on her, she didn't want to take it off, of course!

Elmo didn't make the corner..... no seat belt on this ride!

Giddy Up!

Back to the topic of trying on clothes.... very sadly we must admit that the "Kimberly" dress we love so much and given by our Secret Buddy, Kim B. is too small for AA, too tight around the mid-sections. If you know this dress, the elastic back is pulled tight on AA.
We tried it on our granddaughter over a year ago and she wore it part of one day and AA has had it on twice just to try on. We were waiting for the warm spring weather that is here now....
Really no wear on it. What to do? We love the dress (and she continues to love her phone!).

Referral Rumors?
With April 1st almost here, where are the referral rumors? I didn't realize when we started this adoption journey that we would still be following many families with LID's after ours. Just didn't know the wonderful people we would meet. We have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Forever Families matched in February 2006, now are hoping for the best for those waiting with March LID's; pray for large batches!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And the Winner is.......!!!

Thank you to all who left a comment for Alyzabeth and for her first "giveaway"!!
We are announcing the winner (and we did pick an alternate just in case).

Here's the list of everyone's comments......

Here's the individual entries all folded in an old wooden bowl from my Grandmother... (love old wood bowls...)....
I would have used the Don method of selecting a winner but we don't see Diva until tomorrow! (check out Don's creativity, watch the video!). I didn't want to put Salty Dog to the test, so to speak....
So Alyzabeth, herself, selected the winner! She can't read so the Contest Auditors said she could mash her hand around in the bowl and select the winner.

So please everyone tell Lisa (of Lisa and Tate blog) that she won! The prize pictures are shown here.
Check out her blog as she is next in line for a referral! She is stalking RQ hourly! Share any rumors with her!

We love visiting you all and keeping up with your families! Have a fun weekend!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hello In There

Hello In There by John Prine
Fandalism Free MP3 Hosting

So if you're walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes,
Please don't just pass 'em by and stare
As if you didn't care, say, "Hello in there, hello."

Like many, I enjoy great vocals. I am also drawn to the unique sounds of those not necessarily thought of as possessing great pipes. Folks like Krisstofferson, Petty, Young and Dylan just to name a few. A short time before his death, Johnny Cash covered the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt. The mood and conviction expressed with his haunting voice explodes through any preconceptions you may have of this man's immense talent.

Hello In There is a song written and performed by John Prine. John may not be one of those names that jumps out at you but rest assured he is well known and has long been admired in the music community. I was first introduced to Prine in the early 70's by my Louisiana cousin, Stanley Lloyd. Thank you Stan.

Never the velvet crooner, Prine's voice can be raw yet blessed with an edge aged by his sojourner steps with verses nothing short of gripping and beautifully insightful.
I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Celebrating! Giveaway!

Remember to enter our Giveaway! Leave a comment on the March 19th post.
Celebrating a very Happy Half Birthday and Six Months as Forever Family with Alyzabeth!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thankful For.....

Every once in a while, I run across a blog with daily themes, like "Wordless Wednesday", Fhoto Fun Friday...etc.
I saw the "Thankful Sunday" post at "Our Life Upstate" and it reminded me that I had not been thankful (publicly) and needed to count my blessings. I frequently say "Alyzabeth is a blessing" but what do I really mean?
Since adopting our youngest daughter, we are thankful for:

AA sleeping through the night and taking her afternoon naps!
AA occasionally sleeping in an extra hour in the morning until 7:00 a.m. (why did I bring up sleep, first and second on this list? :)
AA's beautiful smile;
AA tapping her feet, hopping, squealing and twirling all at the same time when I arrive home from work at night;
DH who is retired and being our SAHD;
DH for grocery shopping, meal planning, cooking and still surprising me each night with his talk about how cooking helps him relax;
AA sliding at the park on her own now... we wait at the bottom, but she doesn't need our guiding hand to see her off now.... :(
AA's kisses at night, at bedtime she kisses and kisses us nite-nite;
AA's hugs;
Grateful for our long term planning we have done to take care of our children, all three;
All the wonderful gifts we have received for AA, recently a huge doll house and a wooden puzzle box; both from our church families;
I am thankful for the fact that we have choices in where we live, our comfortable home, our jobs and yes, even the economy, as it will make us stronger and wiser;
I am thankful when I wash in a hot shower with clean water, there are so many families in the world that do not have this basic luxury.
We have so much "stuff", too many "things"; I look forward to selling or giving away our "extras".

I also saw this giveaway (has ended) and it again reminded me of why I need reminders "in my face" so that I will act in a thankful and loving way. These vinyl wall art at Sticky Words look really great and so many to choose from.

Have a wonderful week! See you at the Seventh Diamond Baby Shower on Saturday hosted by Kim B.!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

To Most...It's Just A Pillow

but for the kids at the Children's Home. It's much more than that.....

I took a full pallet of donated shampoo and hair conditioner to our kids this past week. Courtesy of an angel to the Children's Home who never fails to call every few months to say he has another pallet for us, come and get it.
We love that man.

As I pulled up to the Children's Home, I watched as my friend Don was graciously accepting a couple of new pillows. Later, after the forklift had unloaded my pallet, I had the chance to visit with Don asking how things were going and to just chit-chat for a bit. The man is a constant source of optimism. Quick to shake your hand and to offer up a warm smile. He was also holding those pillows like gold bricks...

We Could Use Your Help In Finding A Donor

As you can imagine, our Children's Home depends on the generosity of those willing to give of their time, talents and treasures. I asked Don about the pillows and his eyes spoke before the words ever left his mouth.
Each child that comes under our care receives their own pillow, bed sheets, blanket and toothbrush. For many, if not most, these items are the first things they will have ever had to call their own. And when the time comes and they leave the Home, they leave with these items. It seems so small and yet it is so hard to convey just how important these seemingly inconsequential personal items become to our kids.

If you or someone you know can connect us with a company willing to donate standard size white pillows we would love to hear from you. There are over 90 children in the residency program, plus over 90 in the foster care program. In an average year, the Children's Home touches over 300 children who will come to know and depend on the many caring people committed to giving them the love and protection they so desperately need.
The gift of a pillow.

To most it's just a pillow but to our kids it means so much more...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ultimate Blog Party for Moms!!

The Party has Started!!!

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Join the fun at The Ultimate Blog Party 2009 that will run from March 20th - 27th.

They are giving away great prizes and I would love to win any that are for a toddler girl (AA) or for a big girl (like me)!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy Half Birthday!!

It's a Happy "Half" Birthday Celebration!
And look what we are giving away to celebrate AA's 2.5 birthday day - some of her favorite things!

We have a tradition in my family of giving a small gift on a child's "half" birthday. My younger sister was born exactly 7.5 years after I was, so on my birthday, she always got a gift to open too.
We have so much to celebrate as it has also been six months since meeting our newest daughter! We celebrated her Second birthday while in China.

Six Months Ago! We are amazed how long ago it was since we were in China (September 20, 2008) celebrating AA's second birthday. That's us in the back row, next to the last on right.... next to Ruth and Abigail).

As a celebration of AA turning 2.5 years (yes, I am going from saying "She's 29 months old" .... to 2.5 years old), we have a GIVEAWAY for one of your precious children. Even if you do not have a child, maybe you can think of someone to pass this gift on to or to pay it forward.

We purchased several items that AA just loves...
Elmo DVD and Elmo book;
Elmo undies;
Cookie Monster;
Her (and our) favorite sippy cup and forks & spoons (all disposable/reusable);
Socks with gripper soles;
Hair ties for pony tails!

Here's pictures of Alyzabeth at 2 years old .... We love seeing her grow, smile, laugh, giggle, run, talk (still babbling) and her kisses and hugs! She is so precious to us!
While in China, once she would let Baba near her, her first smiles were playing on the floor with a small covered container that was in the room.....

At her birthday party in Chongqing City, China, she retreated (as usual for her) away from any of the other families as I stayed close by....

Here's a picture from Sunday, March 15th - She will be 2.5 years old this week!!
The beautiful dress is a gift from Catherine at Catherine's Chatter. So cute! And perfect to wear as it was 80 degrees outside this past Sunday!

To get in the drawing, simply leave a comment with the name of who will get to use all these goodies (the child's name please!).

In one week, check back to see who won! Friday the 27th we will hold a random drawing!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Playground Review & What We Look For

Continuing our week of "catching up" on some February and March news.....

It had been awhile since we wrote more about our quest for the perfect playground for AA (and us).
We have a few more parks to review, so thought we would document what we look for when "rating" each one.
Each park we visit, we look it over for the layout and then plan which path AA will walk, which equipment she will play on.

Here's our list of what we look for:

Ample, Accessible Parking, away from busy traffic,
Assorted Playground Equipment.
Condition of equipment, Is it in Good Repair?
Bucket Style Swings
Covered Picnic/Gazebo Shelter
Picnic Tables
Flat walking surface or paved paths,
Safety Perimeter Fencing
Security Lighting
Charcoal Grills
Drinking Fountain
Hiking Trails
Trash Cans,
Would it be a good place for a play group?
and how crowded/popular it is. Friendly families?

What do you have to add to our list?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Orange Park - Kingsley Avenue Playground & Park Review

We visited the park on Kingsley Avenue (Orange Park, FL) which has signs calling it "Project Playground".

I did some research and here is the official name: Clarke House Park

Kids will enjoy the huge wooden castle, boat, airplane, sandboxes and more. Separate toddler playground. Walking trail, picnic tables and volleyball net available. Open daily from dawn to dusk. Covered pavilions are first come first serve.
1047 Kingsley Ave, Orange Park.

We did not go to the actual Clarke House, we played at the playground.

Here's a description of the house: The Clarke House, situated on a 15 acre park located on historic Kingsley Ave, is an important part of the history of Orange Park and northeast Florida. This park contains the original Clarke family homestead and several period accessory buildings. The Clarke Lake House is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Clarke Park serves as regional educational facility, teaching agricultural methods and customs of the early 1900's.

This playground has the covered pavilion, BBQ grills, tables and a huge variety of playground equipment. There are many extras that will make boys and girls happy. Plenty of crawl places, high perches, swings, chimes (yes, a set of bells to play notes), a mechanical metal backhoe to dig large quantities of sand and several large sandboxes.

There is a big celebration at this park on Saturday, the 21st. Unfortunately, we will be at our favorite Children's Home all day Saturday volunteering. Hope someone can enjoy the festivities!

This is one of our favorite parks so far.

OHGWQ - Fabric & Wishes

I was able to finish collecting fabric squares and wishes for AA back in 2006. My MIL completed the quilt (check the Quilt Blog we had active at that time and the final quilt pictures). I participated in several quilt square swaps which called for special fabric selections....... as I remember an "all red" swap, Christian theme swap and a Chinese culture swap. My basic fabric used for all other swaps is a brown and pink polka dot fabric (Michael Miller).

I just found three fabric squares and wishes - I thought I had none left.
If anyone is still collecting and would like one of ours, please leave me a comment.

Wow, this is really strange.... I wrote this post last week and scheduled it to run this week and all of a sudden in the past few days I have had two people ask about the quilt squares!
So I have one spoken for by Sindy at Life with Allison and Sassie! I will get it in the mail for her new daughter Hannah, as soon as I confirm her address (we swapped fabric for her daughter #1 Allison in 2005!)!
The second fabric square is now spoken for Briana's OHGWQ. Her Mommy (Lisa) posted about "Finally Getting Things Done". So hers will be in the mail this week too!

(the last one is taken; gone!)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chinese New Year Family Photo

Catching up on February and March news; this is the family picture taken at the Jacksonville/First Coast FCC celebration on February 7th.

Our dear sweet AA cries/gets very upset in new situations when strangers take her picture (upset is mild word compared to how badly it upsets her, long story which began back in China...) so you can imagine what happened right after the photographer took the first series of pictures.... this is it. No retakes!
Our two granddaughters are usually the more squirmy ones but AA topped them on this evening!
Enjoy our one and only family photo!

L to R Back Row: Justin & Jesse
L to R Middle Row: Alyson, Ford, Leaa & Carolyn
L to R Front Row: Alyzabeth, Alivia & Kilee

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Shuttle Launch

FLIP did his best but distant shuttle launches aren't exactly his cup of tea... Still, he gave his best in capturing this evenings excitement :) but his cousin Sony should have handled the duties. Oh well, Alyzabeth, mom and Salty Dog enjoyed their dockside seats to the show.

Christmas Gifts! (and more Surprises!!)

This week there will be many posts catching up on family and rambling news that I would like to document (since this will become an annual book for us to keep for AA).

Here's the first of many "catching up" posts!

Christmas gifts from Illinois!

We had several surprises over the past few weeks including receiving a box of Christmas gifts from DH's sister Mia. She sent wonderful food gifts: mixes for cakes and beer bread (it was delicious... DH made it last week). Also marinades for our seafood, chicken and steak. Wow! All from Tastefully Simple (which she sells).
The Asian inspired note cards are from Pier 1 Imports - great store; I need to frequent there more often (or their website!).
Aren't these Chinese glass animals the sweetest? Each came with an explanation of their significance in Chinese culture.

AA had lots of fun opening the many boxes but due to SIL's taping expertise, AA had to be focused and very intent on her opening duties.

We received some great gifts for AA while in Maine (February): A Cat in the Hat from Ginny S.; Auntie Jean gave AA two new Ty animals, the Bluebird and Butterfly; the pink Poodle (and some books) from Jean E.; the Elmo building kit is from Nana Ann and the toy shapes box is from Grandma Barbara and Aunt Patti. Thank you!

We also received Valentine gifts from my sister Melissa (her blog is The Maine Event).
So many cute clothes for AA (you've seen these in a few posts this past week) and a new pink bulletin board/photo holder. Love it!

While we were in Maine in February, we had many gifts, so I had sweet Mommy (mine!) ship several boxes back home for us. Also, Auntie M had Christmas gifts for us in addition to the ones pictured above. So we just received the boxes that were shipped - Christmas gifts from Auntie M!

The cutest Boston Reds Sox outfit for AA!!!

AND we had a box with goodies from Nana! Not pictured is a winter coat for AA and a nice L.L. Bean sweater for me! AA enjoyed the new Barney DVD while in Maine and we love the new denim cover for AA's chair!
Thank you!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fill In Your Own Caption

Let's go. NOW!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

To The Waiting Dad's

I thought of you today.

I thought of you as I sat in my kitchen and a little voice from across the room sharply called out:
I thought of you. I thought of what you are going through. All the while, Strong. Encouraging. Supportive.
I thought of you as I rose from my seat. As I lifted that little voice up for a hug. A kiss.
I thought of you and how your heart will melt. How the very fiber of your soul will tingle. All because of one little word.
I thought of you today. As I hugged my little one for you. As I kissed my little one for you.
I thought of you today. I thought of what you will hear. How strength mirrors tenderness.

I thought of you today.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

I promise, no more weekend pictures (after this post). I couldn't help myself.
We took a walk (it is a long walk!) to the end of our dock to enjoy the sunshine again.

Not many of you took me up on my plea to give Hubby some words about his choice of nicknames at the end on my last post... oh well.... I knew you all liked DH better..... :)

Getting hugs and giggles...... laying on the hard wooden dock is tough on the old back too....

Yes, she's still sitting on me (picture below)....... glad someone has a comfy seat! (We lost all our dock furniture in TS Faye...).

Pointing at the boat and the house to distract her from Dada taking the pictures!

We are having so much fun!! (especially now that I have new prescription sunglasses... my very old ones broke last month, I wore them EVERYWHERE. I am getting used to the "updated" style... DH is still on the fence...)