Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A few Christmas Day photos...

Joe and I hosted Christmas dinner this year. It was a really nice day and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I wanted to share a few photos...

Addy taking a little snooze under the tree before everyone arrives

Joe helping the "girls" open one of their gifts

Emily showing off her pretty dress

Getting ready to dig into the presents

Emily in the middle of her pile

Josh picked out a doll for Katie, but HE was more interested in it

There was a present under the tree for Lauren from my brother and his family, which really touched me. This is Lauren's very first Christmas present. The box looks a little worn because the kids picked this out on their Manhattan trip at FAO Schwartz and ended up carting in all around for the day in the rain. This doll will ALWAYS be very special to me.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays...

One of my favorite things at Christmas is the sight of the tree with all the gifts under it. I can't wait until Christmas day when my nieces and nephew tear into everything. There's nothing like watching kids open their gifts.

Merry Christmas to all my bloggy friends! You all have made such a positive impact on my life over the past year. I can't imagine going through this adoption process without you. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your families this year.

This is such a special holiday for many of you who are back from China with your beautiful children. Please hold them tight and know how very blessed you are.

For the rest of us still waiting to travel, my hope this Christmas is that we continue to move closer to our dream come true...and it sure would be nice if that movement was faster, rather than slower!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It slipped right by...

It slipped right by without any notice, but this past Sunday we have been logged in for 10 months! Wow, that sounds like a long time when I say it.

I am anxiously awaiting this month's batch to see how far they get. I still haven't given up all hope that they could start matching a month's worth of LID's each month at any time (a girl CAN dream). I also can't wait to be out of review. I know the new guidelines aren't supposed to be in effect until May 2007, but I will still feel a lot better when I see the CCAA's website updated to reviewed through February.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I wish it was that easy...

I'm the proud owner of my very own "easy button" just like in the Staples commercials. When you press it, it says "now that was easy".

I tried already, and it doesn't seem to work for the adoption process. Our dossier is still in review and nothing has changed.

If it did work, I'd forward it onto a blogger buddy, have them use it and then pass it on. We'd have quite a chain going in no time! ;)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Referral Party...

Yesterday evening we had some friends over from our local FCC Waiting Families group to celebrate Nancy's and Brian's referral to their beautiful daughter Lily. Most of us met over the past year at our monthly meetings and have been getting together as a smaller group once in a while. It's really nice to have a local group of friends who are all going through the same thing and who truly understand the ups and downs of the adoption process.

From left to right we have Kim & Scott and their daughters Jenna and Jadyn, Nancy & Brian, me and Joe, Laura & Dan, Michele, and Heather & Damon. We have a great group!

Check out this beautiful cake that Heather brought. It's designed to match Nancy's nursery decor. Besides looking great, this cake tasted great too! The Chinese characters say "forever family".

I was so glad that Kim & Scott were able to make the party with Jenna & Jadyn. They have only been home for a couple of weeks and the girls are doing SO well. They are totally adorable and as sweet as they are cute.

Here's Jadyn...

and Jenna...

It was so much fun to see the always give me hope when I get to see a family who has been to China and back. Maybe this really will happen for us!

Michele is next up in our group for her referral. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will come with the next batch. If she doesn't make this one, she's definitely up next month. I can't wait to see Ava.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Nothing like a good melt-down once in a while....

Lately I've been really stressed about the adoption. According to our agency, all dossiers in China that haven't been reviewed yet are subject to the new CCAA guidelines. Since they have reviewed dossiers through January 2006, ours is being reviewed right now after almost 10 months of being logged in.

The official announcement from the CCAA on the new guidelines is expected next week, but our agency has already given us a heads up on a couple of changes, one of which will effect our dossier. Also, the Rumor Queen has listed lots of other possible changes and there may be another strike against us if she is right.

I have hardly complained about the adoption process. Instead of sitting around whining about the wait, I've been keeping myself busy and focusing on the positive things about waiting (there actually is lots of positive things). Actually, the waiting to me is nothing compared to the uncertainty of this whole thing....that's what REALLY gets to me.

Earlier this week, I let the negative thoughts take over and I had my first full-scale, cry-fest, melt-down because I was just absolutely sure that the CCAA would take a big red "reject" stamp to our dossier. Why, oh why, does the big annual CCAA meeting HAVE to be right at the time they are reviewing OUR dossier after 10 months of it sitting on a shelf some where gathering dust!!!!!!!!! It sickens me to think that they could actually hold already logged in dossiers up to a brand new standard. Don't they know that when you change a rule, it's only supposed to be for the newbies?? Don't they know this in China??

I feel now that I will not rest until the CCAA's website is updated to say they have reviewed dossiers through February 2006. Please tell me that I'm not alone in this total frustration and that I'm not the only one in melt-down mode. I'm assuming one day I'll look back on all this and won't believe I was so stressed out, but right now I just can't help myself. Joe and I so want to be parents and we've just been through enough already...please send good vibes to China on our behalf so they let our dossier go on through to the next step.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Who could resist this face?

We are still working on our master bedroom and bath. You would think that with the four day weekend we had, that we would be all done and kicking back right now. Nope, that's just not the case.

We were off to a great start on Thursday and by the end of the day we had the bed torn down, all the furniture moved into the center of the room and the bedroom painted. On Friday, we were off to IKEA to buy the bed frame and then Sam's Club to pick up the box spring and mattress. We have nicknamed our Mazda MPV mini-van...SUPER van, since we some how managed to fit in a king sized headboard and footboard completely assembled and flat packed from IKEA...that box was HUGE. I had to drive home since Joe couldn't even fit into the drivers seat because we had the seat pushed up as far as possible. Poor Joe had to ride home in the passenger seat slouched forward almost laying on the dash. By the time we got home with everything and set it up, we were done for the day.

We are still working on painting the master bath. The amount of tape up prep work is just I know why painters cost so much. When we actually get our project done, I'll get some photos posted.

Addy was so exhausted while we were working on the bedroom that she just had to lay down. I thought she looked so cute with her face between her paws, that I had to snap this shot.

Our Addy is just an amazing old girl. She was diagnosed with cancer (a tumor in her upper jaw) in June 2005 and she is still going strong. Back in May 2005, I noticed some swelling on the right side of her nose (where that dark mark is) and after some testing by our vet, she diagnosed the cancer and off we went to a cancer specialist. I swear, this place was like the Mayo clinic for animals.

After lots of tests to verify the type of cancer and whether it had spread, she was scheduled for surgery to try and remove the tumor. Before the surgery they did a scan to determine the margins of the tumor so they could get it all. This is when they decided they could not proceed with the surgery since the tumor had gone past the center line of her top jaw, which would mean her entire top jaw would have to be removed. They felt she wouldn't be able to function after the surgery and recommended that we do not proceed. That was such a difficult conversation and so hard to hear and deal with.

Without removing the tumor, they gave Addy just a few months. Well, that was 17 months ago and she's still hanging in there. She eats two full meals a day and goes on two 1/2 hour walks a day! I think she's just amazing, plus she's just about the sweetest thing you've ever met.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Izzie with Santa....

My friend Colleen adopted a furbaby back in June. Izzie is so smart he's had his own blog from almost day one. Check out his recent photo with Santa....isn't he darn cute??

Izzie, I can't wait to finally meet you later this month!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

It's beginning to look...

a lot like Christmas! We had a very productive weekend. We've been slacking off and had kind of let the house go a little, so Saturday we cleaned the house from top to bottom. Once the house was clean, I was motivated to put up the Christmas decorations. Here are some shots from around the house. As you can see, I'm not into fancy decorations...I'm more into the natural, woodsy type of decorations like pine cones and greenery.

The tree is also up, but we still need to decorate it. That is next on the agenda.

This coming week Joe and I have Thursday and Friday off to start our master bedroom and bath project. I'll be off to Lowes soon to pick out the paint color and we'll finally have some color on our bedroom walls! I'm really looking forward to the completed project.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Meet Miss Lily...

Congratulations to Nancy & Brian who are the proud new parents of this little cutie pie, Lily!!!! You guys are such a warm and loving couple and will make fabulous parents.

Since we live so close, we hope that Lauren and Lily will develop a special friendship and that Lily will have a positive, big sister influence over Lauren someday.

Lily, we can't wait to meet you!!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Congrats and a little pity party...

Congratulations to Nancy & Brian who are now awaiting the first glimpse of their precious daughter, Lily! I can't wait to see what she looks like.

For the rest of us waiting, I'm bummed that they only got through 14 days this month. I keep hoping for a speed up, but it's just not happening.

If they were to actually keep up this pathetic 14 day pace, check out this really ugly scenario:

LID Sept. 9-22 - December referrals
thru Oct. 6 - January
thru Oct. 20 - February
thru Nov. 3 - March
thru Nov. 17 - April
thru Dec. 1 - May
thru Dec. 15 - June
thru Dec. 29 - July
thru Jan. 12 - August
thru Jan. 26 - September
thru Feb. 9 - October
thru Feb. 23 - November (our LID 2/17)

At the current pace, it would mean a referral for us an entire year from now!! That would be a 21 month wait from LID!

Although I'm happy for everyone getting their referral this month, I just can't help but throw a little pity party for the rest of us.

They just have to speed it up, right? It can't actually be a 21 month wait, right?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The suspense is killing me!

For some reason, waiting for this month's referral batch is just killing me! I think part of it is because Nancy will have her referral to Lily and I'm just so anxious for her to see her daughter's face. Also, if you following Rumor Queen, there's been some rumors that the batch may contain a big chunk of September, which would mean Michele could get Ava's referral.

I'm so anxious you would think it was my turn! Doesn't the CCAA know that I've already bitten my fingernails down to the nubs and just can't stand it anymore?

Bring on those beautiful babies!! I sure hope I'm not going to be like this every time a friend is up for their's not good for my nails or my hips, for that matter!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Time for some changes...

I started with a new look for my blog. The header image is a scan of the wallpaper border and paint colors we'll be using for Lauren's room. We'll be starting the nursery after Christmas and I thought this new blog look would get me motivated and keep me on track. ;)

Before the nursery, we'll be painting and decorating our master bedroom and bath. We have a couple of use or loose vacation days, so we're going to take them early next month to finally get our master bedroom done. We've lived in our house for three years this coming April and that's the one room we haven't done a darn thing too yet. Plus, we want to get rid of our queen size bed and upgrade to a king so there is room for us and Lauren.

Today I stopped in to TJ Maxx and I found exactly what I've been looking for...a king size quilt for our bedroom at an awesome price! I wasn't sure about the color, but I picked it up figuring I could return it. We bought drapery panels at IKEA months ago and I wasn't sure the quilt would match.

Well, check out this perfect match! The drapery panels are the solid red brick color and I think they go great together.

I love when things just click without too much effort. I couldn't have found a better match if I tried!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Christmas is right around the corner...

When Starbucks starts cranking out their yummy peppermint mochas and gingerbread lattes and their Christmas merchandise is in the store, then it's the official start of the Christmas season for me! It doesn't matter that the temperature here in AZ is still in the mid 80's and we're still in short sleeves.

Check out this year's bear couple all decked out in their parkas, scarves and furry boots.

I'm a sucker for their collectible bears and the peppermint mochas.

By the way, do you realize there are only 35 days until Christmas!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nine months down...

Tomorrow will be nine months since our February 17th LID. I think it's finally safe to say that we are more than half way there now, which feels really good!

Since we've been pretty busy lately, this past month has gone by in a flash. With the holidays right around the corner and referral excitement to come very soon for our friends, Nancy & Brian, I have a feeling it will be our 12-month anniversary before we know it.

I just read Chrisi's post "Reflections of a new Mom" about her wonderful experiences with Abbey during their first week together. It is such a very sweet post and makes me so anxious for our time to come. Sometimes I wish I could just fast forward to our referral call and be on our way to get our sweet, long awaited baby.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On their way!

One of our local FCC families, Kim and Scott, are on their way to China today! They will be meeting their twins, Jadyn and Jenna, on Sunday. I can't wait to see a gotcha day photo of them with their precious baby girls!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

We survived the weekend!

Well, my brother and sister-in-law are back from San Diego and Joe and I have a quite house once again. We survived two soccer games, two parties, bowling and golf land...actually, I can say now that you haven't truly experienced mini-golf until you've played with a four year old boy and his two sisters. It was fun and challenging all at the same time...a real test of patience. ;)

I must say, after three complete days with three kids, that I have a new respect for parents of multiple children. HOW in the heck do you do it day in and day out?? Dawn, how do you do it with four boys?? My goodness, you have your hands full!

All in all, Joe and I had a great time with the kids and we feel lucky to have them living close by enough so that we can spend time with them. They are great kids and will be amazing cousins to Lauren. By the way, they are so excited about Lauren and talk about her a lot. They have so many questions about her, and love looking through the books I have on China.

Saturday afternoon, my Mother picked up the kids for a trip to Chuck e Cheese so that I could visit with Julie, here from Minneapolis. Nancy and I met Julie for lunch, then stopped by Nancy's place so Julie could see her totally adorable nursery. After that we went scrapbook shopping...a huge store I haven't been to yet, but will definitely be back.

Here we are at Nancy & Brian's place (left to right...Julie, me and Nancy)...

and here's Max looking so cute on the top step...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bedtime Friend...

Well it looks like Lucy found some new bedtime friends. She's very comfortable on the air mattress with Emily and Josh.

Gee, I guess the kids won't be going to sleep anytime soon!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Whirlwind Weekend Ahead...

My brother and sister-in-law are heading off to San Diego on a well deserved weekend of fun and Joe and I are taking care of our nieces and nephew. Since I have Friday off for the Veteran's Day holiday, my official call of duty starts after work tomorrow and ends Sunday night. Between the three kids, they have two soccer games, three parties, piano practice, and homework that needs to be done during the time we have them! Gee, life was SO much simpler when I was a kid! We would spend the weekend outside playing with friends each day until we were called in for dinner.

In the middle of certain chaos this weekend, I get to take a break and visit with Julie who will be in town on a family visit. Nancy, Heather and I will get to meet up with her for lunch and some scrapbook shopping. I met Julie on my Utah Waiting Momma's Summit and I'm looking forward to seeing her again.

All in all, in should be a fun, but very busy, weekend with the kids. I almost wish I would have taken Monday off though, because I have a feeling I'm REALLY going to need it! I'm sure I'll be ready to drop by then!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New Momma!

Christi finally has Abbey!!! Click here to see a photo of the proud momma and Abbey's beautiful little face! What a great day!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Fun Costco Find...

Yesterday Joe and I were in the Costco Christmas toy aisles and look what they had.

Isn't she pretty? She's made of porcelain and comes with a little snow globe with a panda bear. We just had to get her to put away for Lauren. Someday when she can appreciate collectable dolls we'll give it to her as a Christmas or birthday gift.

They had them themed for several other countries too...Russia, Germany, Ireland, Africa.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Referrals & Halloween Fun...

Referrals are on their way and the CCAA actually made it through August 25th!! Can this be an indication of a slight speed up??? I sure hope so. Congrats to my bloggy friends Julie and Lisa who made the cut-off this month. It was nice to move them on my sidebar from Patiently Waiting to Waiting to Travel...soooo cool! I can't wait to see what Tess and Baby S look like!

On the flip side, my heart goes out to my friends Nancy and Brian, who missed the cut off by one darn day! Nancy was so hoping that this would be the month, but was also trying not to get her hopes up too much. But, how can you help it?? This wait is so dang long, that it much be just torture towards the end. Nancy, I know you are going to get totally sick and tired of hearing this one, but at least you KNOW you are next and I can't wait to see Lily's face next month!

My friend, Jennifer, had her annual Halloween pumpkin carving party again this year and it's tradition that the night before we get together and make caramel apples and treats for the party. This year we got together at my place. The first task was unwrapping bags and bags of caramel. As you can imagine, not all the caramels made it into the bowl!

Here's my niece, Katie, and nephew, Joshua, dipping the apples...

The best part is eating the left over caramel after all the apples are dipped!!

Next we made these adorable little marshmallow witches made with chocolate wafer cookies, mini peanut putter cups, and Hershey kisses as the hats. We had an assembly line going...

On Sunday, it was off to the park for the pumpkin carving party. The weather was beautiful and everyone had a great time. Here's some of my favorite pumpkins...

One of the party guests happened to be a balloon artist and he created this monkey in a tree hat for my niece, Emily. That's one talent you need to keep to yourself unless you want a long line of kids by your side!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Eight easy steps...

and you can have your own comfy fleece blanket! Several of you asked for the instructions on how to make this blanket, so here is goes...

I used one yard each of the printed fleece and the contrasting solid fleece. This made a blanket that's a nice size for a stroller or crib. Lay the printed fleece right side up on the solid fleece and trim all the edges so they are straight and even. Cut a square through both fabrics from each corner the same size as you would like the trim. I made a 6" square from cardstock and used that as a guide for each corner. Once you have the corners cut out, cut the edges into even strips (I did mine 1.5" wide). Now your blanket should look like the diagram below.

To "tie" the strips, make a small slit (about 1/4") with a seam ripper through both fabric layers ending slightly above end of strip cut.
Lift the top layer up...

and feed it through the bottom layer through the slit you just cut.

Once you feed the top layer all the way through, pull the bottom layer up so you can find the slit... and then feed the bottom layer through the slit...

pulling it tight to make the edge border.That's all there is to it. Although it's a lot of steps to show with photos, it's actually super easy to do. If you try it and get stuck or if you have any question, just e-mail me.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Secret Pal Revealed!!

After nine months of receiving the most wonderful Secret Pal gifts ever, I finally know who my pal is!!! Drumroll,'s STEPHE, our Philly trip hostess extraordinare and a fellow China travel group mate!!!

This adorable Panda Bear was the first item I opened from the box. When I pressed his left paw he said "It's me, Stephe, your Secret Pal." Leave it to Stephe to come up with such a creative way to reveal herself. I was laughing so's the cutest thing!

Lauren is going to have so much fun with this Panda recording herself and playing back over and over.

The second gift I opened was this beautiful framed print of the red thread proverb with our Precious Panda bear personalized for Lauren from Stephe, Giorgia and her furbaby, Pirate. Double click on photo to enlarge. Seeing Lauren's name on this, brought tears to my eyes. It was one of those moments when it hit me that this is real...I've talked about those "moments" before.

I LOVE piggy banks and check out this totally adorable piggy with a pink bow, rosy cheeks and Chinese character. Soooo cute.

I also love this little Dora dressed in a Chinese outfit. Isn't she cute?

Here's a shot of my entire box of goodies.

Stephe, you have played such a HUGE part in making this long wait so much more bearable and even fun. Between our e-mail "chatting", our DTC group, the Philly trip and all the wonderful gifts you have sent, you have really played an important part in this adoption process for me. I so appreciate all your thoughtfulness, creativity, and the generosity you have showed me.

Luv ya and can't wait for Giorgia and Lauren to be playing together soon!!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New Yahoo Group...

As a follow-up from my previous post, I've created a new Yahoo group called China Bound Weighting Mommas for any of you who would like some weight lose buddies.

If you're interested in joining, send an e-mail to this address. I'm hoping this group will be a place for support and also sharing recipes, tips, menu ideas, etc. I can use all the help I can get!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm finally motivated...

to start back up on Weight Watchers before it's too late to loose some weight before the China trip. This has been in the back of my mind since we started the paperchase and if I don't get my butt in gear now, the next thing I know we'll be getting our referral and I wouldn't have lost a pound.

I've been struggling with my weight since as long as I can remember and have been on and off Weight Watchers over the years. I lost 40 pounds once and 50 pounds another time, but always gain it back slowly when I get tired of following the program and start slacking off. I've been on the program long enough to know how to eat right, but my main problem is overeating to relieve stress and for comfort and God knows between this seemingly never ending wait and my job, I certainly have my share of stress.

Well, it's time to tackle my weight problem head on and see if I can loose some weight before we travel...50 lbs is my goal. That's my short-term goal, since I would have more to loose after that. I figured if I track my progress here then maybe that would give me an added boost to stay on track. I'm going to join Weight Watchers on the web and use their on-line food journal and points calculator.

If there is anyone else out there who's had this on their minds and wants to join too, let me know...I would love to have a weight lose "buddy". Heck, maybe we can start a Yahoo group to support and cheer each other on!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Eight months down...

We've been logged in for eight months today. I'm really hoping that this puts us firmly at the half way mark to referral. If things speed up at the CCAA that would be great, but I'm trying to accept that realistically we are at the half way point right now.

I know that we all complain about the wait, God knows that I've had my moments, but I have to admit that these first eight months have really flown by pretty quickly. I'm sure that those of you who are further along are going to tell me that the closer you get, the slower time goes. That's kind of what I'm expecting. Is is true?

I finished my first fleece blanket project and sent it off to my Secret Pal. It has a really cool edge finish that Nancy taught Heather and I a while back. Of course, I never actually finished my own blanket that I had started back then, but I did this blanket in one evening.

The back is done in a contrasting color...

and the way the strips are done it makes a really cool border on the front of the blanket. Pretty cute, huh?

I hope my Secret Pal likes it. This is the last month of our exchange, so it's reveal time!

*** Update: Since several of you have asked, I will be posting photos of how to do the border on this blanket very soon! ***