Monday, December 29, 2008


An online friend from out of town, Hayley, has been here in Denver for the past week with her family, and I just couldn't resist the opportunity to get together a group of friends from my online community. It's such a fabulous group of women, and I was positive we'd get along as well in person as we do online. We did. I wish all of them could have come, all 30ish of them and their families. But they're scattered all over the U.S. and Canada. So Hayley and her family came, along with Maia and QiuQiu (Mike had to work), and Christie & her family. Christie doesn't live too far away, but we hadn't managed to get together before this. Hopefully now that she knows our house is right on her way home, she'll stop by more often! It was wonderful to meet all of these women in person, and to spend an evening with a fun bunch of people. Even the kids got along.
3 Asshats: Christie, me, Hayley (Maia had to leave before this picture was taken)

The 3 of us with our kids. From the left: me, B, Hayley's Piper, Lina, Christie, Hayley & Paisley. I don't know where Z ran off to when we took this.

Christie & Lina

Maia & QiuQiu


Hayley's Mike & Paisley

Lovely Lina modeling her Christmas outfit

B & Piper engrossed in the new Star Wars game he got for Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy birthday, sweet B!

It seems like just yesterday that we had this:

And now we have a big five year-old boy.

B has been convinced for at least the past two months that his grandma was going to give him a light saber for his birthday. So convinced, in fact, that after he opened the kid-friendly digital camera from us & the Star Wars soundtrack CD from Z this morning, he asked, "So do I get the light saber later?" Smarty pants.

Besides the light saber, some of the favorite gifts include a bionic eye, a Batmobile, a very realistic model dinosaur (I told him it would protect him from the aliens he's afraid of at night), and some new paints and a Star Wars book to paint in.

Of course, the cake had a Star Wars theme:

Here's B holding one of his party guests, the bella Stella G:

Look out Mom & Dad, you guys are going to be looking back at these pictures in what feels like a week or two and wondering how she got to be five so fast!

Earlier in the day, Ben's new BFF Piper and her mom, Hayley, in town for the holidays from Minnesota, came by for a playdate. Here are the two of them scattering reindeer food:

Seriously though, I can't believe I'm the mom of a five year-old. We do kindergarten choice enrollment in two weeks. Kindergarten! B is a kind-hearted, funny, smart (sometimes bordering on evil genius) and absolutely adorable little boy. We love you, little guy. Errr, I mean big guy. Happy birthday!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

10 months

December 20, 2008

February 17, 2008

El diablo

P.S. - That hideous painting on the wall in the background does NOT really go there. I was the "lucky" winner of that in a white elephant gift exchange at work last week, and will be re-gifting it tomorrow night at a family white elephant gift exchange. This is over M's strong protests, by the way. He's been trying for weeks to get me to call him Matador. He thinks he needs a nickname; I have no idea why...but I like to call him Maverick instead just for fun. So he thinks it was some sort of divine intervention that I got that painting and thinks we need to keep the "art" hanging over his side of the bed.

Friday, December 19, 2008

J's annual family Christmas party, v.1

B and my aunt Carolyn (aka "Aunt Fluffy") play Christmas carols together. She couldn't find sheet music for "Rudolph," so she played it by ear and did it perfectly, even with a cast on one arm. Impressive!

My grandpa, Poppy

My mom & dad and my dad's brother Chuck (he's the one on the left)

B & his cousin Sophie

Now it's Z's turn to "help" play Christmas carols on the piano

B & his cousin Tea in a pillow fight

Me & my monkeys before we left for the party

Osama bin Lulu, the terrorist cat

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Playing with the new camera

We don't have a clue how to use it yet, other than pointing and shooting. Don't know how to use the new software either. But we're having fun messing with it, and I'll buy the "Canon Rebel for Dummies" next time I'm at a bookstore. I even had to call Canon tech support to get the software loaded -- that's how bad it is. Oh yeah, and since our computer is from the stone ages (you have to pedal to keep it running), it takes forEVER to upload photos to Blogger. I'm hoping we'll find the $$ to buy a new computer sometime soon.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Lots of wind and not much else

I have never seen a place deader on a Sunday afternoon than Oklahoma City. I went out for a walk and ran into the colleague I'd traveled with. We stood out in the middle of one of the main streets in downtown OKC having a conversation for several minutes, and nary a car came by. I'd gone for a walk to the "trendy" part of town, hoping to find a coffeeshop. Turns out there are no coffeeshops in the trendy part of town, and there was NOBODY around. It was positively eerie. I can see how that part of town might come alive on a Friday night and be kind of fun, but Sunday afternoon was not the time to be there. I think what I needed was a friend in town to show me where the fun was. The hotel was very nice though, and the work part of the trip went well. One trip down, one to go. Next stop, Atlanta.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Week from hell

I've got one coming up. I leave tomorrow morning for Oklahoma City, back Monday night. Then off to Atlanta Wednesday morning, back very very late Thursday night. I doubt there will be time for blogging. The new camera came on Wednesday though, and we've been taking quite a few pictures, so there should be plenty of blog fodder (blodder? flogger?) by next Friday when I can finally sit down in front of the computer again.

In the meantime, M is going to play Mr. Mom for most of this week. Besides me being gone, B is sick (nothing serious, just a fever and a serious case of the cranky-pants), and it's vendor week at work for M -- not a good week to have to stay home with sick kids because your wife is traveling for work.

See y'all Friday!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One year ago

A year ago today, the phone rang at 3:55pm. I saw "Chinese Children" in caller ID, and I knew right away that this was THE call.

I knew before I picked up, even though they'd just told us three days before that we'd have to wait for the next batch for our referral, probably until February or so. You see, the Friday before had been my 40th birthday, and CCAI had told us back in September that our baby would almost certainly be in the next batch. Well, the next batch came in October, and by November 29, the referral announcements were starting to peter out. I'd somehow gotten it into my head that we'd get our referral by my birthday, and when they hadn't called by early afternoon that Friday, I asked M to call the agency and ask them what was up. That was when they broke the news -- there was no baby for us in this batch, and we'd have to wait until next time.

I was disappointed, but also a little bit relieved. No more keeping my cellphone glued to my body whenever I left the house, no more jumping each time the phone rang, no more lying awake all night wondering if tomorrow would be the day. I could relax and start getting anxious again in February. I had a big birthday party on Saturday, and I must have said, "No, it probably won't be until February at the soonest" a thousand times that night as all our family and friends asked about our baby girl from China.

Then there was the phone call on Monday afternoon, December 3 (by the way, the call came at exactly the same time of day that B was born, to the minute! a coincidence that still gives me chills). I was surprisingly calm, at least until I hung up. I immediately called B up from the play room to tell him "You have a baby sister!" We called M at work and got his voicemail, then got voicemail on his cellphone too. I blew off patience entirely and called the receptionist, telling her "It's a family emergency!" He was on the phone in seconds, and the email from CCAI with pictures arrived while we were on the phone. We opened it together, and all three of us saw this face for the first time:

It was just a phone call, but it literally changed our lives. Everything has been different since. Having been through both pregnancy & childbirth and adoption, I have to say, that referral call & seeing the photos for the first time are more exciting than finding out you're pregnant. At least it was for me. Pregnancy is just the beginning of a long process, and your baby is still an unknown. Even when B was born, I was so out of it from general anesthesia that I couldn't fully appreciate the moment. But getting that call, seeing Z's face for the first time, was a moment that's unmatched in my life so far.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mo sno

Naughty B busted in the act of dropping a huge snowball on a neighbor girl's head:

The snow bunny:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Look what I found!

A neighbor had it sitting out by the curb for the garbage men. It's not in the best shape -- that magazine holder appears to be a separate piece that someone added on by nailing it with 3" wood nails, but I think a few screws and some wood glue can tidy that up quite easily. Some of the veneer on the top is slightly damaged too, but I think I can make that look nicer, and if I can't, maybe I'll get a piece of glass to put over the top or something. Someone went to all the trouble of stripping it before they put it out by the curb though!

I'm thinking of painting it a bright hot pink/fuschia sort of color (but I'm open to suggestions -- anyone??) and using it for Z's bedside table when she gets out of her crib and into a big-girl bed.

Our taste tends to run to the clean, simple and modern, but I think this will work for two reasons: (1) it's for a little girl's room, and I think little girl rooms can bear a certain amount of frou-frou in them, even in an otherwise modern decor, and (2) I kind of like an eclectic look anyway. I'd rather fill our house up with individual pieces that we love, rather than having a theme, and letting our taste be the thing that ties it all together. Besides, painting it a funky color that you wouldn't expect to see that sort of piece in will give it an edge, I think.

I'll post an "after" picture when it's all done. Don't hold your breath though -- I have quite an array of painting projects tucked away in this house. Probably the worst is painting all the trim on the house so it matches the new gutters (least exciting $1300 we've ever spent), but that's one that might have to wait until spring.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Camera comments

M & I are thinking about buying a Canon Rebel. We have a little point & shoot digital Olympus that we bought right after B was born. It was the best we could buy when we had almost no money. It's ailing these days (thanks to a drop on the hardwood floor), and now that we have ever-so-slightly more than "no" money, we're thinking of shelling out for something nicer. M already has a film Canon, so the lenses we already own would be compatible.

My question is this: Does anyone recommend AGAINST the Canon Rebel? I've heard a ton of raves about it, but never really heard anything negative. Anyone out there have one and hate it?

I can't believe I've managed to get pictures of B two days in a row! These are fresh from the craptacular Olympus, taken just about an hour ago.

Goofy kids

Z will always pose for a picture, but this is the first time in a few weeks I've gotten B to sit still and let me snap a photo. I'll take it, goofy smile and all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dodged a bullet

Perhaps you've heard about how babies in China have been getting sick because of melamine in their formula? If not, here's a brief recap: Shortly after the Olympics ended last summer, it came out that several babies had died and thousands were seriously ill because their formula had been tainted by melamine. Melamine is an industrial chemical that, when added to a food, can make its protein content appear to be higher than it really is, thus boosting the value of the product. It happened a year or so ago with pet foods from China too.

Well, evidently this had been going on for quite awhile in China, and was kept out of the media until after the Olympics in order to avoid tarnishing the image China wanted to project to the world while all eyes were watching. It is quite clear that it has been going on since late 2007, and there is evidence that it was happening possibly as far back as 2004. It can cause kidney stones and even kidney failure.

As you can imagine, we were rather concerned, seeing as how we just adopted Z this February. We were not sure which brand of formula her orphanage used, or even if they consistently used a particular brand, and in any case, the list of brands contaminated by melamine seems to be growing rapidly.

I talked to Z's pediatrician about it at her two-year check-up a few weeks ago. Luckily, she happens to be married to the guy who heads up our children's hospital's international adoption clinic, so she was able to get the latest information and suggested course of action. On her advice, we had three tests run on poor miss Z:
1) blood pressure test
2) blood test for kidney function (this was NOT fun for anyone involved, Z especially)
3) urinalysis for signs of kidney stones

We got a call from the pediatrician yesterday -- all three tests came back perfectly normal. Whew.

Monday, November 17, 2008

9 months


And nine months ago today:
February 17, 2008

We now return to regular programming

Cute pictures of my kids, of course! Actually, B wouldn't let me take his picture this weekend, so I don't have any of him, but I do have a funny little story to tell. He's been very interested in the idea of babies in mommies' tummies lately, and has been asking a lot of questions. This morning, he asked me, "Mommy, when I was in your belly, did I crawl up to your mouth and look out?" When I said "Nooooo (through smothered laughter)," he asked "Then how did I see anything?"

Here's Z enjoying her latest hobby, cramming herself into small spaces. Empty cardboard boxes, laundry hampers, her doll stroller, and the dog's toy basket are all common targets. In this case, it was a barf pan (sans barf) in my grandfather's room at the rehab place where he's currently recovering from a double knee replacement.

We finally had our first snow, nearly a month late. It was last Friday. Last year, I believe our first snow fell on October 21. It's so nice to have a blog to look back for that sort of thing!

It snowed really hard, but it didn't last long. Less than two hours after I took this picture, the sun was shining in a perfect blue sky and almost all the snow was gone. Welcome to Colorado. If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes.

I got this from my sister today. It's my mom holding me & my brother. I think it must have been taken in about mid-1971, before my sister even came along. It's one of my favorite old family photos.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I feel terrible that you keep leaving all these nice comments on my blog, but I have no way of replying back to you. Your blog is password-protected, and like me, you don't have your email on your profile. We seem to have a lot in common & I'd like to say hi. Please leave me a comment on this message with your email address. I promise I won't post the comment; I'll just send you an email!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Toxic Bloggers

There are a few bloggers out there who are just plain crazy, and I can't seem to stay away. It's like a traffic accident -- you can't help but look, even though you know you're not going to see anything good. These are people who post crazy articles from right-wing and second-tier news sources or videos from YouTube, and draw half-baked conclusions about how they prove that Obama and/or liberals in general are bad news. Many of them profess to be Christians, but have decidedly uncharitable and highly judgmental attitudes toward anyone who disagrees with them.

And it's not just that I can't stop looking; I can't stop arguing with them either. I feel obligated. I feel obligated to defend not only myself and my views, but to defend Obama, who I truly believe is an honorable man and will be a great president. I can't stand to see lies and half-truths broadcast as fact, and it's a knee-jerk response for me to do the research to prove why it's wrong. So I leave comments. Which drags it all on. I heard from one today who called me "bitter." She pointed to my post-election entry, and said it was bitter. I find that perplexing, because I was full of joy and hope when I wrote it, and when I go back and read it now, I recall those feelings. How could a "bitter" post make me feel that way? Do you read that post as bitter?

So here's my new vow: I'm going to ignore them. They can stew in their own bitterness and go even crazier. We won and they lost, and they just can't take it. The realization that they are actually a minority, that they had an artificial sensation of being a majority for the past eight years, is sinking in, and they don't like it. Time will tell who's right. In the meantime, I wash my hands of the toxic bloggers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A trip to DC

I had to go to Washington DC last week for work. I got to have dinner with my little sister & her husband while I was there. She moved to the DC area seven or eight years ago, and I don't get to see her that often anymore. Here we are at dinner last Friday:

I left the redeye unchanged to give a little thrill to the whack-jobs out there. Oh, you know who you are. You people who say you feel sorry for my kids because they're being raised by a liberal (and you call ME fanatical?). I can just hear them now, as they look at these pictures: "[GASP!] You can tell they're liberals (said with scorn and a touch of fear) -- the evil shows through! Just look at how their eyes glow! [shiver]"

Not really. My copy of photoshop is ancient & doesn't have an automatic redeye reducer, and I just didn't have time to fix it. But the first explanation is funnier, so I'm going to stick with that.