Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

We spend January first walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives, not looking for flaws, but for potential.
~Ellen Goodman

I must say that this past year just flew by! I have pushed more paper and typed more words this year because of the paperchase and my master's program (and blogging!) than I ever have before. I am grateful for and amazed by the community of friends I have gained out here on the internet. What a blessing to share this incredible journey with you all.

As I look to the coming year, I have some goals in mind. I'm not much of a resolution maker, but I'm pretty good at setting goals and working toward them. My goals for 2007 include:

  • Finishing my master's program - almost there!
  • Dropping some pounds and shaping up. I already joined Weight Watchers Online yesterday! Hey, if I'm going to be sporting a bathing suit for two weeks in Hawaii, I intend to look good!
  • Being fiscally fit - many $$ have been spent on the master's program and the adoption fees. I'm ready to pay some of it back.
  • Preparing my home for Jillian's arrival - this involves quite a lot. Where's Candace Olson when I need her?
  • Attending church on a regular basis again - once Sundays aren't for writing papers and researching.
  • Meeting as many of you as possible!
Best wishes for a joyous New Year's Eve, and all the best to you and yours in 2007!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Exquisite Chinese Figurines

One more thing from yesterday...

My mom and I came across a set of these Chinese figurines and I fell in love with them.

They are made in Shiwan, China, and they are incredibly detailed. For example, each of the fingers on the figurines is separate from the other fingers. We saw one with a jade bracelet that was loose on the wrist - not attached to the figurine. We saw others with earrings like that, too. They are so delicate and beautiful. I hope to acquire one in the future.

You can check out the entire collection at Cultural Exchange Studio.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Pretty Pretties

Aren't these gorgeous? I found these Porcelina note cards today by Stephen Mackey. I purchased the first two, but found these other images on his website. I can't seem to find a website here in the US that's carrying them, but if I could, I'd purchase a few more.

I think they are so sweet and enchanting, don't you?

Bunny Love

I spent some time with my mom today. We browsed one of our favorite shopping districts and had a yummy lunch.

Grammy purchased this bunny blankie for Jillian. It's so soft and cuddly that I want to sleep with it, too!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Very Interesting...

This is a thirty-five minute interview on New York's public radio station with three experts in the China adoption process. I know it's lengthy, but I found it to be interesting, and that the three gentlemen in the interview were seemingly well-informed.

If, for some reason, the player doesn't work for you, try this link:

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What Santa Brought

New dishes!
We have a gift exchange between the adults in the family and my grandmother had my name. I requested this new set of dishes and she didn't disappoint me. They are Napoli by Pfaltzgraff. I haven't had new dishes in several years and I've broken most of the bowls and coffee mugs, so my request was practical. Thank you, Tata!

After a delicious breakfast and our gift exchange, we spent the rest of the day putting together a puzzle. I only spent about a half-hour on that puzzle, actually. I don't have patience for most puzzles, and yesterday's was no exception. I had brought a book and some magazines, and enjoyed having the time to read.

For dinner my mother made an amazing lamb roast. I'm telling you, you can't go wrong with an Ina Garten recipe! Her recipes have always turned out well for us.

Herb-Roasted Lamb
by Ina Garten (from Barefoot Contessa - Family Style)

12 large unpeeled garlic cloves, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 6-pound boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and tied
4 to 5 pounds small unpeeled potatoes (16 to 20 potatoes)
2 tablespoons good olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the oven rack on the lower third of the oven so the lamb will sit in the middle of the oven.

Peel 6 of the cloves of garlic and place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the rosemary, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and butter. Process until the garlic and rosemary are finely minced. Thoroughly coat the top and sides of the lamb with the rosemary mixture. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.

Toss the potatoes and remaining unpeeled garlic in a bowl with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place the lamb on top of the potatoes and roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the lamb is 135 degrees (rare) or 145 degrees (medium). Remove from the oven and put the lamb on a platter, cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow the lamb to rest for about 20 minutes. Slice and serve with the potatoes.

(My mom used her meat thermometer and took the lamb out of the oven when it reached 135 degrees. Since it keeps cooking while it rests, the result was more like medium than rare. I recommend you do the same, unless you really like your meat well-done.)

Throughout the day we sipped on champagne cocktails. Here's the recipe:

Champagne Cocktails

In a large, glass pitcher combine

1/2 liter of cranberry juice
1 whole bottle of champagne or sparkling wine (I used an inexpensive German sparkling wine)
2 splashes of Chambord liqueur

Serve chilled in festive glassware.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Late on a sleepy, star-spangled night, those angels peeled back the sky, just like you would tear open a sparkling Christmas present. Then, with light and joy pouring out of Heaven like water through a broken dam, they began to shout and sing the message that
baby Jesus had been born.

The world had a Savior!

The angels called it "Good News."

And it was.

Larry Libby, from Christmas Stories for the Heart

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Santa's Helper

To see what my Secret Pal sent me, click here!

Home for the Holidays

Here are Taylor and Buffy all ready for Santa's arrival! Too bad their eyes are glowing like aliens - that might scare off Santa...

My birthday was very nice, in spite of the fact that I have come down with a cold. I'm calling it the Family Cold, because my sister and my niece had it last weekend. We like to share in our family. Fortunately, it's supposedly short-lived. So I expect to feel better early next week.

My sister had us over for dinner and I received some wonderful gifts for my birthday.

This set of enamel boxes was from my sweet grandmother, Tata. She volunteers in the gift shop at the public library in her city, and found these there. Aren't they darling? I just love them.

My parents and my sister and her family gave me this Eps*n All-in-One. Now I can print, scan, and copy!

Lastly, my parents also gave me a copy of this China travel book:

After dinner we spent some time discussing our Hawaiian vacation plans. We don't have a reservation yet, but we're hoping to rent a house on Oahu at Kailua Beach - right on the beach! It looks like we'll be going in August so that I can teach summer school.

This afternoon we're going to go up to the new Griffith Park Observatory. I'm going to look like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by then. In my opinion, P*ffs Ultra are not as soft as Kl**n*x Ultra Soft. But, I've got five boxes of the P*ffs! Ack! If I don't feel better, though, I may stay home. We'll see.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Baby

Tomorrow (Friday) is my birthday.

I was a Christmas baby.

All I Want For Christmas...

Today my students showered me with gifts! I received this tiny tree covered with more than thirty gift cards to Starbucks, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Babies R Us, The Body Shop, Springdale Country, Blockbuster, Barnes & Noble, Albertsons, Kabuki, The Cheesecake Factory, Petco, Circuit City, Borders Books & Music, and four movie passes! This is one of the best gifts any class has ever coordinated for me. In addition to that, they all chipped in to purchase a DVD player for the classroom!

I'm a lucky teacher!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Hawaii 2007

In a recent post I alluded to an upcoming Hawaiian vacation. Most of you caught that. I can't fool you!

Anyway, my parents just spent a week last month in Hawaii and they want to go back with the whole 'fam damily'. My mom says it would be to celebrate her upcoming 60th birthday and my master's degree. So, she's working on planning the whole thing. We're not sure if we'll be going in June or July yet.

I'd rather be going to China in 2007, but Hawaii will do!

Monday, December 18, 2006


Finally, grades have been posted! I've been obssessively checking my course page for the last week. Now, I can rest easy.

One more class to go...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Time is Here

I really haven't blogged much this last week. How is it one can be so busy but not have much to say? I don't know...

I'm done shopping. I didn't have that much to buy anyway. In my family, the adults draw names. So, that keeps the shopping to a minimum. Today I will spend some time wrapping the few gifts I did purchase.

Report cards went home on Friday. I'm hoping that I don't have an onslaught of requests for last minute conferences this coming week to discuss the report cards. Fourth grade is the first year in which students receive letter grades. Seeing your child's first D or F on his or her report card can cause alarm, I know. And there were a few of those, but they should have seen it coming. Most of my students do very well in the core subjects of reading, writing, and math, but they struggle with listening comprehension (we never had listening comprehension when I was in school), and some don't get the support they need at home to study for science and social studies tests - so they pull Ds and Fs in those areas. By the second trimester most kids (and their parents) have the routine down and their report cards are much better. This first one can be a real wake up call!

Speaking of grades, I am waiting on my final grade for the class I just finished last weekend. I'm pretty sure that I have an A because I've received full credit for every assignment - well, every assignment except the last one that hasn't been graded yet. I just want to know how I did! I hate waiting for grades.

Today, I'm going to bake some banana bread with all my overly ripe bananas. I'm also going to start wrapping those gifts and take Buffy on another walk. We cut our walk a little short yesterday because it seemed like it was going to rain any minute and I didn't want to be a mile and a half away from home when it started! Buffy wouldn't mind, but I would have! I have some real motivation now to keep walking and lose some weight, but I'll tell you about that in another post!

Aloha! ;-)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Survey

1. Eggnog or hot chocolate? Neither. I prefer hot apple cider or coffee.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Well, Santa hasn’t been by my place in many years, but when I was a stop on his route, the gifts were always wrapped.

3. Colored or white lights on your tree or house? Sadly, I’ve never had lights on my house. But, when I do put up a tree, I think the lights are white. It’s been a couple of years, so I’m having a hard time remembering. Maybe I combined a few colored with the white last time…

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Not usually.

5. When do you put your decorations up? It depends, but usually a week or two after Thanksgiving.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Just one? My brother-in-law makes delicious Swedish pancakes for Christmas breakfast. I also love my mom’s Cranberry Salad.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? I always loved opening my stocking on Christmas morning. My parents made us wait to open gifts until all the grandparents arrived (can you imagine?), but they let my sister and me open our stockings almost as soon as we got up.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I think I was in third grade and it wasn’t Christmas time, but this mean little girl down the street told me. She was teaching me how to iron clothes, and she just had to tell me! I remember running home very upset. My mother confirmed that my mean little friend was right. I didn’t play with her anymore after that!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Not usually.

10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him? Since Santa doesn’t come by anymore, I don’t bother leaving out cookies for him, but if I did I think I’d leave chocolate chip.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? We don’t have it, so it’s not an issue.

12. Can you ice skate? Yes! Can you believe that? I’ve even gone ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza before!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? My sister has given me two beautiful pieces of real jewelry that are very special to me.

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Of course spending time with my family is important, but it’s also important to me to remember the birth of Christ.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? I love Christmas cookies!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Christmas morning. Whether we spend it at my parents’ or my sister’s, we start off with a delicious breakfast, followed by our gift exchange. Then the afternoon is spent playing games, assembling puzzles, reading, taking a walk, etc. Finally, in the late afternoon we make Christmas dinner. It’s usually relaxing and fun.

17. What tops your tree? When I put up a tree, I place an angel at the top.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving is surprisingly more enjoyable than receiving.

19. What is your favorite Christmas carol? Silent Night.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Yuck, pretty much. I don’t like hard candy at all.

21. When do you take down your tree? A day or two after New Year’s Day.

Deck the Halls

Saturday, December 09, 2006

In Which I React... yesterday's news from the CCAA. I was too happy about finishing my paper to let it get to me at the time, but I do have some thoughts on the situation.

First of all, I think we have the agencies to blame. China's process was so predictable that many agencies jumped on the gravy train. I know my agency has significantly increased the number of dossiers sent to China since 2004. When I attended their informational seminar last fall, the speaker said that they'd done 200 China adoptions that year, and expected to double that in the coming year. Their webite now states that they currently have over 900 families in process with China. Nine hundred!!! I don't have anything against my agency. They have served me well so far, but I think those numbers speak for themselves.

I think what many of us thought was due to inefficiency or scandal, was in fact, simply an over abundance of parent dossiers. China may have many more children in need of families, but the truth is that they adopt out less than 15,000 through IA each year. What ever made our agencies think that they could make China increase their soft quota by submitting more dossiers than ever before?

So, now we have a new set of requirements for the second half of 2007. The one that hits closest to home for me, of course, is their decision to only allow married couples to adopt. While I do believe that a two-parent family is the ideal situation for children, and it's what I hope I can offer my daughter someday, I don't think that all married couples offer children the best home compared to all single parents. As a single woman, I have a very high level of education, job security, home ownership, growing income, and my net worth far exceeds the CCAA's new requirement. And that's just the stuff that can be quantified!

In my opinion, the CCAA should have instituted a quota that would have limited the number of dossiers - period. Eliminating singles when we only make up 8% of the total number of dossiers just seems petty.

With all that said, I am grateful that I have my LID and that these new requirements seemingly will not negatively impact this adoption. I am saddened that adopting again from China isn't a possibility if I remain single.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Girl

That's the name of this lovely piece of art, and that's how I'm feeling right now!

You see, I just submitted my last paper for my second to last class in my master's program! Yippee!!!

Between now and mid March, I must finish my thesis, put together a professional portfolio, and take the final class. I can't believe how close I am to being done with it all. March will be here before I know it!


Monday, December 04, 2006


They weren't random, but they were acts of kindness.

Today, when Allegra's mom came in to help the kids with math, she brought me this ornament. She said Allegra had told her about my breakdown last week, and she wanted me to know they were thinking of me and hoping that everything will turn out all right.

And a colleague of mine, who is an adoptive mom to two precious little girls, left a card on my desk today offering me her support.

I was really touched by their actions and my spirits were lifted, too.

Five Months Since...

... my LID tomorrow.

I wish I knew where that put me in regards to my referral. But these things don't seem predictable anymore. The only predictions out there are rather bleak.

Oh, well...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

The holiday rush has begun! You know - all the running around, preparing for the big day, and seeing as many people as you can. It's fun and exhausting!

Yesterday was the big holiday luncheon sponsored by the women's ministry at my mom's church. I went with my mom, and my two grandmothers. My sister was unable to join us this time - we missed you, Julie! We attend every year, and it's always a lot of fun. The luncheon opens with shopping in the boutiques off the banquet room, followed by a delicious meal, an opportunity drawing, some sort of entertainment, and a speaker. My Tata (my grandmother) won six months' worth of gift certificates for an hour massage, and she gave them to me! Thank you, Tata!

Grandma Bunny & me...

My mother and my Tata...

Later on, I joined Shelley, Kristin, Michelle, and Lisa for dinner at Habana in Costa Mesa. It was the first time I'd met Kristin and Lisa. Sorry, I don't have a picture to post.

We had a good time dining on Cuban food, sipping Sangrias and Mojitos, and talking about our journeys to China. My impressions of these women were so positive. They are warm and funny, honest and very down-to-earth. I think there's always that moment of "Uh, what am I doing meeting up with strangers I met on the Internet?" But, each time I've done this (I think this was my fifth blogger meet up), I've been glad I took the chance because the people I've met are just amazing. And to think, if it weren't for a common experience and the power of the Internet, our paths probably would not have crossed.

Today the only rushing around I'll be doing involves rushing to get a paper done, the laundry done, the bathroom cleaned, and the grocery shopping done! Sigh... I need a personal assistant and a housekeeper!

Friday, December 01, 2006

November Referrals

From my agency:

America World is pleased to announce that we received 34 healthy
female referrals today! Families receiving referrals were logged into
the China Center of Adoption Affairs on August 26 and 30th(groups
227-229).The little girls are currently located in the Guangzhou,
Hunan, and Jiangxi provinces and range in age from 7 months to 2 1/2
years. Please join us in congratulating these families, and in praying
for them as they prepare to travel.

Congratulations to all the families!

On another note...

Yesterday's cutoff date for referrals was a huge disappointment for many of us hoping for signs of a speed up. I know that I really struggled Wednesday night while waiting for news of the cutoff date, and then yesterday morning I actually cried a little in front of my students as I explained what was occurring. Poor kids! They didn't know what to make of their grief-stricken teacher. I did try to explain to them that I was just trying to figure out how to handle one of life's disappointments - that things don't always go the way we expect them to and it can hurt our feelings. I told them I would probably be fine in a little while, and I was.

So, once again I'm trying to adjust my expectations for this journey. It's a bitter pill, isn't it?

Let's see:
  • Scenario 1 was a 8-9 month wait.
  • Scenario 2 was a 10-12 month wait.
  • Scenario 3 was a 15-18 month wait.

Each time I recalibrated my plans and found the good in that new time frame. Guess that's what I need to do once again.

Oh, and pray for miracles...