Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A white Christmas!

Last week we flew to Vermont to celebrate Christmas with my family. The drive from the airport to the house was a bit snowy....
These look like black and white pics, but there really not. This was coming through Franconia Notch in NH.

That night Santa came with lots of presents for my special little girl. I guess she must have been pretty good this year! Her prize possession, the BFF singing Barbies!

Christmas night my brother and his family came. Poppa and the girls made reindeer food with oats and cinnamon and sparkles, and flung it into the night sky. The wind was whipping pretty good and we all went running into the house with sugar and sparkles in our hair, eyes...everywhere. But the deer LOVED it, and that night we actually had 9 in the yard!

We all made a snowman. He is an interesting fellow (like the zucchini mouth?) Simone wanted to leave plenty for the deer to eat and thought they could snack on a squash!
**Lauren, we thought he could be pals with your "snow dude", what do ya think?**

And the girls loved sledding down the back yard, I think we pulled them maybe 15 or so times. All the parents slept well that night! It was so much fun, amazing how snow can create such wonderful memories!

And isn't it cute, my folks holding hands...

I got the girls matching PJ's. They had such fun together! This was the first year they really played together, being a year and 1/2 age difference. Simone enjoyed having her little cousin around and can't wait to see her again.
We even went on a sleigh ride in Stowe, VT. It was really incredible and both the girls had big ole grins on the whole time.

But it sure was cooooold and I forgot my hat! Silly Tennessee girl!

We found a great little English Pub for lunch there too! You know I'm all about the food!

So now the festivities of Christmas are past and tonight we celebrate ringing in the New Year (if I can manage to stay awake!) I guess it's time to look back at all that has happened in 2008 and look forward to all the new things in 2009. It was a very good year... it has been amazing watching Simone grow so much and learn so many new things, and of course all of the preparation for our next little won ton coming home have both filled me with memories of a great 2008. I am excited to see all the new and exciting changes 2009 has yet to bring. (and YES, still waiting on the us something to look forward to next year!)

Happy New Year everyone!

Peace and joy to you all tonight...


Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays to all!

Simone is a pretty lucky little girl, she gets to partake in many traditions and aspects of this Holiday season. Our family has started our holiday celebrations, as last night was the first night of Hanukkah. We will celebrate this "festival of lights" for the next seven nights by lighting a candle on the Menorah at sundown. And yes, Simone will open one small gift each night...what fun! We will also share in the celebration of one of the most important holy days of the year for my parents. It means so much to us to be there with them, and although we don't celebrate the religious part, we are thankful Simone (and our next little one) get to see, understand and learn to respect other peoples religious beliefs. And of course we'll have a late night visit from the other big guy, you know the one who is jolly and has a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Naturally he comes to Grammie & Poppa's each year since they have a Christmas tree and all that snow!
For us the holidays are a wonderful reason to get together with our families, and celebrate not only our beliefs in religion but our love and appreciation for each other. I have so very much come to look forward to this time that we all get to wind down, relax, recharge and enjoy each other. I hope all of your holidays are blessed with love laughter and family, good food and cherished memories! J
Oh and that beautiful Menorah Simone is holding was made by her wonderful teacher as a gift.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The two halves of my daughter's heart

So I pick Simone up yesterday from school and as usual we clean out the folder full of her artistic creations of the day. In the bottom of the folder were two pieces of pink paper with some coloring on them. Simone insisted we take them, too. I said of course and asked what they were. She told me "it is a heart, my heart, but it's now in two halves". I asked why, what happened? And she responded "well, one half is for my China Mommy, who could not keep me, the other half is for you, my real Mama, the two halves of my heart. This pretty one's yours because your so pretty and this one is for her...because it is". Wow. I asked as we were getting into the car if she had shared her heart story with anyone, like her BFF, and she simply replied "nope, just you". I then asked if she wanted me to hold both halves, to keep them safe, she said "yep" and that was that.

Now any of you who know Simone may not be too surprised by this little story, she is very bright and very intuitive and as my Mom once put it "deep". But as her Mama, and as an adoptive Mom (and adoptee) I wonder just how deep this all is. I wonder how much thought went into her heart? I hope it is a good thing and shows she trusts me to hold something so precious for safe keeping (now where did I leave that any way - I'm just kidding!). I hope this means she is understanding what we read and talk about, and I hope it means she will continue with this confidence in us as her parents, and her trust in us to be able to discuss her feelings and thoughts with us openly.

But I worry, too. Do I talk about it, about adoption, too much with her? Or is she just trying to gauge how it all fits together? Is this maybe a sign that she feels grief or the loss of her Birth Mother, and if so, will she always feel it? Or is this her way of keeping her "China Mommy" in her life, in her heart? Perhaps she is testing out where in her life, and our lives, that other unknown person fits.

But the most important thing about this heart is what it has shown me, even if for her it was just a random thought, an idea that left her as quickly as she thought it up. Because for me it was a reminder that no matter how much I love and adore my precious daughter, and no matter how often I just forget that she is adopted- that she is not flesh of my flesh, that She will always remember. That for her there are these two other people who will forever share in the miracle of my daughter's very being, that they will always hold a piece of her heart, and she theirs. And yes, I am thankful to them for the gift that I have received in Simone, and as much as my own heart aches for the choices they had to make, it rejoices in the fact that I will forever be her Mama. And for me that means "although she did not grow under my heart, she definitely grew in it".

A box is never just a box

Nope, it can be anything you want it to be. A train, a cottage, a puppet stand or just a place to hang out. In a cool coincidence my wonderful pal Lisa got a delivery in a big box this weekend, as did we. Her daughter decided the items in the box were great and all, but that the box itself was even better! Well, Simone decided that exact same thing. When I saw Lisa's blog entry that mentioned all the fun her little one had with her box I figured I'd share our fun as well.

First we cut a hole in it, so it became a car that transported her and her special stuffed animals around, and then she decided to bring a pillow and a blanket in and watch TV laying down, using the hole as her viewing area. It was later used as a space ship, which she landed in the living room and was "Sabrina the visitor" for all of bath time. (Sabrina of course tried to get away with things Simone's Mama would never allow!) Simone decided we should paint it, which was great fun. And it then became the engine of a train, we had 2 build-a-bear boxes, a shoe box and a basket all attached with beads and masking tape to make the completed train. It didn't physically move anywhere, it was all just pretend...

So a box is just a box unless you have one key ingredient that can change it into whatever you want it to be, and that's imagination. (and of course paint sure helps too!)

And in adoption news....a big ole nothing to report. We did find out that our coordinator will be on a personal vacation from tomorrow until Jan 7, so from what I can gather there will be no referrals during that time. So if we don't hear today (which is most likely, the office will need to get updates and news of hearings and rulings to those that have their babies waiting, of course...) then it will be after the New Year. I guess I can stop jumping every time the phone rings between 4 & 7 PM for the next few weeks anyway....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Cookie Rules

So, my dear friend Suzy sent me this in an email... I'm sure some of you are aware of these very important rules for the Holiday season, but I felt it was important that we all go over them one more time, mainly because between the stress of the holidays and the stress of this adoption, well, I'll be eating A LOT of cookies. And yes, Christmas cookies do go well with a nice Pinot Noir...

Christmas Cookie Rules
1. If you eat a Christmas cookie fresh out of the oven,
it has no calories because everyone knows that the
first cookie is the test and thus calorie free.

2. If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie,
it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories.

3. If a friend comes over while you are making your Christmas cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend.
Because your friend's first cookie is calorie free, rule #1 is yours also. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone, and being the friend that you are makes your cookie calorie free.

4. Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.

5. Any calories consumed during the frosting of the Christmas cookies will be used up because it takes many calories to lick excess frosting from a knife without cutting your tongue.

6. Cookies colored red or green have very few calories.
Red ones have 3 and green ones have 5 - one calorie for each letter. Make more red ones!

7. Cookies eaten while watching Miracle on 34th Street have no calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one's personal fuel.

8. As always, cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breaking causes calorie leakage.

9. Any cookies consumed from someone else's plate has no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to their plate. We all know how calories like to CLING!

And finally...
10. Any cookies consumed while feeling stressed have no calories because cookies used for medicinal purposes NEVER have calories. It's a rule! (and possibly my favorite!!)

Enjoy your cookies! J

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

OK, so it's like this...

I'm in a kinda funky place. It's hard to explain, it's like I've been so busy checking items off my adoption to-do list that I've left out, forgotten or misplaced something. You see, with Simone I so desperately wanted & needed a baby, to create my family. And I had all the emotions in place. The yearning for a family, the bated breath excitement of the wait, the elation of the referral, all there and at my disposal, and I freely used them all and enjoyed those emotions. Now don't get me wrong, I still desperately want our next little addition, and to complete our family, but I can't seem to find the emotions that go with all of it. I guess I can't believe, now that we are "on the waiting list", that I can get that magical phone call that will again change my life, all of our lives, at any time. I can't figure out what I'm supposed to be feeling now, I haven't bonded with this not yet existing in my realm baby. So what do I do when the call comes??? Will I finally feel it all, will I cry and blubber (as I am known to do, watching commercials even), or will I just say "great, thanks" and go on like it is an order being confirmed? What should I feel?
I do feel nervous, anxious and a bit cranky...but I don't feel like this is all real yet. Maybe that is it, reality hasn't quite sunk in (don't know how, I've gone through all the steps in my little checklist- I've opened up my entire personal life, medical history, family history, all emotional scars have been shown and analyzed, I've gotten fingerprinted twice, proven I'm not a criminal, produced documentation to back all of it up, and I think I've even been prodded a can I not feel the reality?) Ok then, so when will I feel it, when does it sink in?
And here's my other dilemma, all of the what ifs...what if I'm not a good Mama, should I risk putting another child through this? what if Simone doesn't handle a new baby well? (she is my baby still, how can I break her heart?) what if we get a referral and the Birth Mom changes her mind? what if they decide we aren't suitable to have another child and we sit in this limbo of anxiety for years? what if... oh the list in my head goes on.
And maybe, just a slight maybe though, I am a bit dramatic. I never denied that is a huge part of who I am -blame my parents, they allowed freedom of expression in our house... but I truly do lie awake at night with these thoughts swirling through my head.
So my entry has turned in to a full blown ranting, and now I feel a bit better! I guess I will spend the rest of the day getting all these emotions in check and preparing myself that no matter what, the call will come, and I have a feeling I'll get it right. How can I not, it'll be the moment we officially "meet" the newest Friedman! I'm sure all the amazement and awesome feelings will pour on out. Wow, you all are probably hoping the call does come soon, how can you stand me like this for 3 more months!! J

Friday, December 5, 2008

And all about Thanksgiving!

Yep, it has officially taken me this long to recoup from the turkey celebration (a/k/a stuffed squash celebration for all my "veggie" family memebers) It was crazy, hectic and tons of fun for all! We had, let's see...Adam's parents, his 2 brother's, 2 sis in laws and 4 kids total, his Aunt from Fl and her 2 grown kids and both Aunt & Uncle who live here. 5 adults and 5 kids all sleeping in our house, 18 total for dinner, we were wall to wall people- it was so great! Simone just loved having all the family here, and having her cousins at the house was a super fun time. Simone LOVES family and is so comfortable with all of them, its just wonderful to see all the kids together. Of course it made me really miss my folks and my bro, sis in law and niece. Many moments I thought of them and wished they too could have been here (but that's another holiday! Christmas!!)
We took tons of pictures, but I'll just post a few here.
All the kids (first time ever we got all of em!) ... & Adam's bro's & aunts.

Adam's bro & niece ....& Princess Simone, and finally worn out princess!

More princesses ....And Me & my sis in law

Cousin & Uncle ....and the Cousins!

the playroom will never be the same!.... And Simone, Auntie & Nona

I hope everyone had a great holiday! It was a reminder to me of just how wonderful family is and how lucky we are to have such great families on both sides! Now, let's get our babies referral in! Once we have that I can start thinking about Hanukkah & Christmas (yep, optimistic we'll get it before the holidays actually start... it's possible) J

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

We are on "THE LIST" !!!!!!

Finally! The Wait to Wait is over. Now we are just OFFICIALLY WAITING! We got logged on the wait list 12/01/2008. So now we can get a referral at any time. There is one other couple on the list (another Jen, ironically!) and they were logged in on the same day as us. How cool is that!
So this is a little different than with Simone. For China were were "DTC"- remember Dossier To China (or logged in) July with a ton of other folks. All July referrals came out within a two-three day span. Well, except ours, our agency did not get matched (Simone wasn't quite ready to meet us yet, so typical of her!) and we got grouped in the August DTC's and got our referral when that whole group did. Oh what a happy day that was!
OK, so this time we are the only two couples "logged in" for either gender, so when a baby (Or it could be twins...) becomes available he/she will be referred to one of us - who ever the parents are supposed to be- and then when the next baby comes they will be matched with their parents. So the call could come tomorrow or in a few months (YIKES either way!) The great thing is that we are logged in and ready to welcome baby #2, or at least admire his/her/their picture until our family day (where we will finally get to hold our sweet baby in Taiwan)-which will be 3-6 months later. (sorry, correction- 4-6 months...I was on some medication when posting {strep throat, yuck!} but I think 4 is the soonest) When we told Simone we were logged in, she smiled real big and said "so we can go pick my baby brother up now, today?" If only it were that simple... J

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Me & Kristen

Simone & Mama

Once a princess, always a princess! My very dear friend came for the weekend from Florida with her boyfriend, who B-T-W is very cool. We had a great time with them and, well, it didn't take much to convince her to don a crown and be a princess. (I obviously didn't have to be coaxed much either). And Kristen reminded me of the crowns we all used to have at work, for when you just needed a "princess moment"...or maybe a "Queen B" moment. Isn't it amazing that you have these friends in life, you know the ones, you don't see each other for a very long time and when you get together it's just like old times, you haven't missed a beat and you just have a great time with them. Well, that's how it is with my girl Kristen. It was a fun and relaxing weekend, and Simone has absolutely fallen in love with both Kristen & Patrick. Below, to carry on the princess theme, is how Simone went to school on Princess Leia, from Star Wars. She's never seen it, but we thought her hair looked awfully cute like that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The life of a dog

Emmerson Van der Lukenhiemerschmidt (aka Emma) and Sir Oliver Bolliver (aka Ollie) have decided that "the life of a dog" is not all it's cracked up to be. You see, once upon a time it was their world, they had it all! And now, well now they consider themselves the "victims" in this whole thing. A bit dramatic, I know, I do, but that's how they feel. I mean, it used to be beach on Sunday for a little frisbee and digging, nightly walks to the park, sleeping in late without any interruptions and scrambled egg Saturdays. But it just hasn't been the same since "that creature", whom we call Simone, came home almost 4 years ago. And yes, they have put forth an effort to become sorta friends, but its been hard. Poor Ollie has to endure being dressed like a princess...not to mention he has to move over in the mornings when she comes in the bed to snuggle with his Mama & Dad. And Poor Emma, she has had all sorts of new rules imposed like -don't pop that ball, don't chew her barbies, stay away from her crackers, oh the list goes on... And to think, another little thing is coming home soon! They know, because the crib hasn't been taken down yet, and there's all this talk of "the baby" this and "the baby" that. Plus, there is an air of tension followed by moments elation floating around, that always means trouble...Ugh! What will this one be like? Perhaps this one will be a little messier at meal time, floor scraps are just as good as food in the bowl, sometime even better. Maybe this one will actually play when the chewed up, slimy toys are dropped on him- and the response won't be "Oh, gross". Hey, he may even enjoy hours of back yard frisbee and tromping through the woods, whoopee! The life of a dog is looking up...
Obviously I need something fun (or maybe dumb, it's all perspective) to take my mind off all things Taiwan adoption related for a bit.
Still waiting to go on the wait list... just heard that the home study will be sent to "the person in charge of putting you on the wait list" person today. Hopefully we'll hear before Thanksgiving that we are officially "waiting", especially since we have tons of family coming for turkey day and it would be totally cool to have a real whopper of an "I am Thankful for....".
On a good note, there have been a few referrals though our agency this past week, it's very exciting stuff! And some updates for those with referrals, very adorable little guys & girls! And some even got some hearings and there were two final rulings for families to travel in December! Yay! I love good baby news. But seriously, its MY turn next! J

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finding joy

We have come to that time of year again, the Holiday Season is upon us! It's the time that we regroup and think of what we are thankful for, we take a look back at the year we've had and prepare ourselves for a new one. (Not to mention Santa comes soon, woohoo!)
Wow, do I have a lot to be thankful for. I think about it often, all I have- not monetary items- but things that can't be seen. Love, life, health, friendship, joy... I started to read an article in the waiting room at the doctor this week titled "7 ways to improve your life". I thought, cool- I can always use some improvement, bring it on! Well, I got as far as number 1 "find joy in everyday things". The dictionary says "joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation". OK, got me thinking. I do have so much joy in my life, maybe taking a look at it more closely and more often is in order. I have my family, we are happy and goofy and we have fun together. I think of all the things we've done together as a family, from big things like going to China to become a family or moving to Tennessee together, to small things like making scrambled eggs on a Saturday morning or flying a kite at the park. And in adding to our family with our next little bundle, I am so thankful to have this opportunity once again (although the process is not exactly joyful, but the outcome sure will be). And there are so many other things that give me joy- time spent with my parents and extended family, the mountain views we have of the great Smokey's, the sunshine waking me in the morning (ya, I like to sleep till the sun rises!), each change of season, the pooches curled up with us on the couch at night, Sunday phone calls with my loved ones and each new step taken towards our next adoption. So in this month of giving thanks I realize we just have to take a few moments to "find the joy in everyday things" -big, small or in between, and we can find so many things to be thankful for, and maybe appreciate them even more...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Meet the neigh-bors

Yep, that's right...our neighbors are four-legged and live in a barn. We try to walk up to the barn a few times a week and they all come over, looking for a rub or some grass to eat. We had no idea when we first looked at the house that they were next door but we sure were happy to discover them. We've become fast friends with the horses (and their owners too) since.
Levi is the alpha horse, and he'll chase the other three away to get all the rubbing. Duke is a handsome guy and a real sweet horse. The other two are great too, Moe is black and has a great personality and Casey is a blond that just loves to get rubs. Simone really likes her horse pals and loves to give them grass and hay. She won't ride them though, she told the owner she prefers to ride camels...go figure!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Our Home Study is APPROVED!

Oh Ya!! Sing it with me, Our Home Study is Approved! La la la la!

Well, I'm pretty excited, this is really good news! This means as soon as JOH gets notarized copies of the home study from our S.W. here in Tenn we will be notified that we are on the WAIT LIST! (thanks to all my JOH buddies for assuring me that is in fact the next step!) I should have more of an idea of what the wait time for a referral may be once that happens. We're getting closer to baby #2! Yay and Yippee! And, not to elicit any Happy's here, but it is my birthday today so what a fantastic gift.

And on another note, my story reading to Simone's class went well, I think. I mean, there were no tomatoes thrown so I'd consider it a success. Simone asked me to read "The Three Names of Me" by Mary Cummings and I chose "My Family is Forever" by Nancy Carlson. She had a great big grin on the whole time I was reading. And she even thanked me later that night for reading to her class. What a girl! J

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My big-little girl

We put the crib up to take a picture for our photo pages for the adoption. Simone decided it made a nice "tent" and brought her pillow and a quilt in, and took a nap. She actually camped out there for two naps over Halloween weekend and two nights that week, eventually deciding that her room was actually comfier. It sure brought back memories of my baby Simone, though she was a bit smaller back then! They sure do grow up fast and become such interesting creatures. j


Monday, November 10, 2008

I've been inspired

Yep, by my friend Lisa and her beautiful post about adoption awareness on her blog.

November is "National Adoption Awareness" month. It's got me thinking of all that adoption has meant to me in my life, and how many people it touches daily. We go through so much to bring our babies home. We do it because we want a child, a family, and we have chosen adoption as the way to create that family. Adoption is not perfect, there is grief, often for the parents before they come to choose this, both birth parents and adoptive, and always for the child-for all they they have lost and choices beyond them that were made. In order to adopt you have to first go through whatever it is that brought you to this point, which often is painful and difficult. Adam and I realized we had to overcome the losses we had faced, that we needed to be wholly committed not only to each other, but to adoption and to raising a child that is not "flesh of our flesh". We also needed strong family support and acceptance. And, of course, there had to be a baby in need of a home, a family and love... One of my favorite song verses about adoption goes like this, "They are gifts to those who love them, by those who just could not. Acts of hope and faith and love, we never will forget." It reminds me of the amazing gifts we are given as adoptive parents, and also that it is our duty to raise our children to know how cherished and special they are to us, and to know their whole story. We are not just raising children, we are raising adopted children.

And every day I am grateful that I was chosen to be a mom, a mom to my dear daughter, and hopefully to her sibling soon. I remember the moment we got the call saying, "We have your referral. Gao, QingLu is your daughter". I cried tears of joy and awe (I still do). And the referral picture... bald as a bowling ball, but cute as can be! My heart ached at the distance we'd come, and the distance away she still was. And the moment she was placed in my arms I finally felt whole, this was God's plan, this was what I was meant to be all along, her mom. And I know that I have been given the most wonderful gifts ever in adoption, both by being adopted by my parents, and in being able to adopt my own. Adoption has changed my life, not once but twice - and soon three times. In this month of celebrating adoption I will try to pay-back the gifts adoption has brought to my life if I can, and I will strive to do more each year to raise the awareness that adoption is special, and it is forever. This year I'll start small, I'm going to read some adoption books at story time to Simone's class on Wednesday (wish me luck, 4 year olds can be a tough crowd). I'll consider it my practice run. Next year I'll try more, maybe to organize a reading at the local library, maybe to get an "adopt-a-......" changed to "sponsor-a-....", or maybe I'll feel pulled to some other awareness raising task.

For us adoption will always be a part of who we are, how we came to be a family and a reason to celebrate. What a truly amazing gift! J

Thursday, November 6, 2008

So I've got no creative juices flowing these days. Could be the weather, or the time change, or the election (they obviously forgot to count my vote there...) or it could even have something to do with the sneaky suspicion I have that these red itchy bumps mean I've developed poison ivy - oh yes, once again. But whatever it is I have nothing exciting to write, yet I still want to play on my blog. Soooooo, I loaded some random pics that I found interesting.

Below, the lovely Simone QingLu models her fabulous new scarf & hat ensemble.
And here is an obviously professional portrait of me, Adam and the pooches. Simone took this while we were on our nightly walk a few weeks ago during a warm spell we had. You can see we're not too sure where the camera is aiming, or if we are even in the picture. Emma is still looking for the yellow barn kitty...

Yep, geek that I am I took a picture of our finger printing location. Hey, it was a big day for us!
Here's a cute picture of the cousins on Adam's side with Simone. Goofy little imps- none are smiling, in fact they are all making faces. I think they had that planned!
This one is from the summer at my parents house. I call it "Simone in motion".
And speaking of the they are at their antique store located in the great NorthEast Kingdom. Can you tell she loves her grandparents!
And finally... Lions & Tigers & ... goats?? Oh my.
Have a great day! J

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Haunting!

Well, she finally decided on her costume...Gold Medal Olympic Gymnast!
She was thrilled because she got to wear lipstick & eyeshadow. Ooh la la, how fancy!

And below is the gang all dressed up! We had a great time at our friends house, the kids got tons of candy and really had lots of fun together. The adults had a blast too!

She was all posed out after a long night of Trick or Treating!

And here are the pumpkins she chose to paint instead of carve. Note the hair, it's grass she "glued on" using paint. Creative little thing! Maybe now that Halloween is over I can get to those pumpkin seeds, finally...
Hope you all had a spooktacular Halloween and your little ones got lots of treats!
Oh, and our finger printing went off without a hitch, and our revised home study was sent to JOH on Tuesday of last week. We hope to hear back on that this week sometime, so there are two more steps done! Check and Check. J