Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

This picture below sums it up...


Just a fantastic Christmas celebrating with friends & family. We are so thankful to see a face like this on Christmas morning!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a very merry Christmas,

may your hearts be filled with joy, happiness & peace this coming year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Luke 2:7-14 as told by Shaoey

The birth of Jesus, told by Shaoey, Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter.

Thought I'd Share....

Mom got me Steven Curtis Chapman's new Christmas CD, "All I Really Want For Christmas". It's so sweet to see his precious three daughters, adopted from China, inside the jacket cover. They are all so adorable! And then on the CD, is the cutest little reading of the scripture of birth of Jesus from Shaoey, see the post above to hear.

Leah LOVES when I read to her Shaoey and Dot. It's a wonderfully illustrated book and is very sweet, there is a series of several other Shaoey and Dot adventures as well that I haven't purchased yet, but will soon.

I feel extremely fortunate that there are so many wonderful books out there related to adoption, there is just a wealth of resources for both the parents and the child.

As Leah grows older, I am buying the books that appeal to her age range, and she really enjoys these books.

I personally love them as well, they all have a sweet, simple story lines and great illustrations to explain how we came to be a family. Here's a few of her favorites:

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes

Another book that Leah is getting this Christmas will be "Motherbridge of Love" from Barefoot Books, it's a beautiful-written poem circulated within the adoption community with gorgeous illustrations depicting a little Chinese girl, and her Chinese birth mother and Caucasian adoptive mother.

As Leah begins to question things, this book will be a great jumping off point for discussion. It honors both the birth mother and adoptive mother, and ends on a positive note reassuring her that she is a part of both cultures. Be forewarned, it's a tear-jerker.

"Once there were two women who never knew each other.
The first you do not know. The other you call "mother."

Click here to view the book and reading by Amy Tan, best-selling author.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town...

But first, we get to celebrate a couple of our family birthday's this week. Have a wonderful & happy birthday, Uncle Day-Day, we love you! Leah wanted to pass on a "Boooo-yaaah!" to you.

Grammy Re...your next. :)

What would Christmas be without the picture in front of the tree?

Thanks for the gorgeous coat, Grammy Re!

These are just some random shots I took yesterday that were just too cute not to post.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Loves to sing, loves to dance...

Leah turned 2 1/2 years old yesterday! Since this blog serves as a scrapbook of her life with us, I thought I'd write a little about what she's been up to lately...

On Communication
She's downright hilarious with the things she says. Lately, Leah's saying "honey" before she requests something from us, i.e. "Honey, take your vitamins, it will make you stronger!" or another favorite, "Honey, come sit down and read to me".

She's a little parrot, pretty much non-stop chatter. It's gotten so now we'll hear from the backseat repeatively, "Where we going?", "Why are we going?", "Where's China?" and because we do it so much..."Are we going to go shopping?"

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On Style

She is a DIVA. She's very picky about what she wears, so much so I do not buy anything unless I get her seal of approval...and she's two! What am I going to do in a few years? One thing about her is that you always know what she wants, I give her that.

When she's not out and about, you can pretty much guarantee she's in her beloved "Belle" dress or her runner-up dresses--Minnie mouse, and sleeping beauty. It's the first thing she asks for in the morning. For Christmas, she's getting the remainder of the Disney princess dresses from Grammy Re and Santa. I can't even begin to tell you how excited she will be.

She loves to be told how pretty she is, but is quick to give out many compliments to you as well in return. I am frequently told I look "just like a princess"...ya gotta love the eyes of a 2 year old. :)

She's made the determination today that I look like Cinderella and she looks like Princess Mulan and Princess Jasmine.

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On Development
Leah is super smart, I tell her something once, and she just flat gets it. Colors, shapes..she's had down pat for almost a year and she can count up to 15 so far. Her preschool teacher told me the other day that they want to employ her as an assistant for the class.

She has her toddler moments, but they are rare, and more often than not, we just have a little girl who loves to laugh, play & sing, and the added bonus is she gives big, big hugs and is truly happiest when she gets to sit on your lap and snuggle. Oh, how I love her.

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On Sleep..or lack thereof
I am not one of the lucky moms that has a child that loves to sleep. My girl is a party animal. She prefers to stay up and sleep in...that's her style. Shawn likes to say that Leah does the sleep version of drinking someone under the table.

From the very beginning we had serious sleep issues where she was absolutely terrified to go to sleep in her room. Some nights, it would take over 4 hours to calm her into sleeping..and she only spent one night in her beautiful crib, she hated that thing. It was exhausting time in our life! I firmly believe she suffered from post traumatic stress from her days at the orphanage and still does to smaller degree.

After a while, we gave up and just let her sleep with us, she fell asleep much faster and it was a calmer, more peaceful rest...for everyone. Over time, we've been able to get her into her room again but it still takes a substantial amount of negotiating to get her to fall asleep on her own...we hear, "Maybe you can rub my belly?" with her hopeful grin, to the more desperate "Please don't leave me!"

She does go to bed much better with me than she does Shawn, because she knows she can play him like a fine fiddle. No matter what, she always ends up in our bed by 4:00 in the morning, it's like clockwork. We are so tired, we could care less.

On becoming a big sister
A few people have asked me how well Leah would adjust with a newbie in the family, since our world just revolves around her. I actually think she will do great. She talks about baby Kate quite a bit and promises me she'll be a good big sister and that baby Kate will love her. It's really cute. It could be her age, but Leah is a bossy little thing, so I think she already fits the bill of a big sister nicely.

Leah's personality just shines. She frequently gives high fives to patrons in restaurants, she loves her family and friends, and she has a fun, generous, appreciative spirit about her. We are just so blessed to have her in our lives.

Happy half birthday little one! We love you so very much!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Charming Movie....

Just an adorable it. It's especially sad knowing the writer, director and supporting actor in the film, Adrienne Shelly, was tragically murdered before the public got to see her creation.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It's Getting Festive...

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The holiday party season is in full swing, I've been to two this week! Got too many planned? Check out the holiday party excuse generator if you trying to come up with an excuse to avoid a party. Ehhh...not that I've ever used it or anything. I'm just merely passing it along in case you find yourself overbooked.

Here's some pictures from my "Bunco Babes" holiday party...this is a group of wonderful women that know how to have a good time. I love each one of them to death, they are all so unique and bring so much to the table with their personalities and life experiences.

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The Bunco Babes holding our ornaments from the "Dirty Santa" exchange

This group includes my best friend, Shannon, she's one of the most special people in the world to me...not only are we just like to peas in a pod, she played the ever important role as matchmaker between Shawn and me years ago. She was great friends with Shawn long before she even met me..funny how life works out. She is, and always will be, an integral part of both our lives.
I bought her a card not long ago that summarized her best..."You're the person that people who haven't even met you love just from the stories they've heard". She's the sister I never had and I am so fortunate to have this funny, sweet and sassy girl in my life.

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My buddy, mi amigo, my pal

A Little Christmas Jingle....

Click here for some Santa cheer.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's Cold! Time to Break Out the Comfort Food Recipes...

cheddar corn chowder
Originally uploaded by monavano
Barefoot Contessa's Cheddar Corn Chowder

8 oz. bacon, chopped
¼ c. good olive oil
6 c. chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
4 T. butter
½ c. all-purpose flour
2 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
½ t. ground turmeric
12 c. chicken stock
6 c. medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 lbs.)
10 c. frozen corn kernels (3 lbs.)
2 c. half-and half
½ lb. Sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated

In a large stockpot on medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and Cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon. Serves 10 to 12.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Asian Influence

One of my major projects I've been working on recently is to incorporate Asian influence into my traditional-style home. I've found some great wallpaper for our bathroom, accents for throughout the house and bedding from pottery barn kids that is soooooooooo cute for Leah's big girl room which will be soon underway.

I've been searching for some cool Ansel Adams style photographs of Chongqing, where Leah was born, to have on the walls. I came across an Asian amateur photographer on flickr that graciously sent me his photos at no charge in hopes of giving Leah a glimpse into her heritage along with the wish that she would learn chinese as well. I could not be more grateful for his generosity. I can't wait to matte & frame these!

Scenes of Chongqing

Three Gorges of the Yangtze River