Monday, December 31, 2007

She Who Would Not Nap

This is what happens when little Sophie has her naptime disrupted. Today, we went to lunch at our favorite Chinese restaurant. She had a 20 minute power nap on the ride there. And then refused to nap all afternoon. By 6 P.M., she was a basket case. She was so tired, but refused to slow down - like she had sucked down some caffeine when we weren't looking. I put her in the high chair to try to get some dinner in her (we decided we were just going to much on appetizers later in the evening), but she was too tired to even eat anything. Right after this pic, I carried her upstairs and gave her a bottle. She fell right asleep at about 6:45. Gosh, I hope she makes it to at least 6 tomorrow morning.

A trip to The Nutcracker

Santa rocks. This year, he left three tickets to The Nutcracker in Boston under the tree for EJ, Grandma H and I. AND, there were also Nutcracker sweaters for EJ and I to wear! And Santa did really well at picking out the seats...three seats right in the center of the center section IN THE 4TH ROW!

We left early and decided to have lunch in Boston. We went to Jacob Wirth's in the theater district. We HIGHLY recommend it. The food was great, and the atmosphere was terrific - it's an old pub-style restaurant and bar. Here are a few shots from lunch:
Then, we walked to the Opera House. This year, I was ready with the camera since I remembered from a few years ago that some of the characters are usually in the lobby. First, we met up with one of the mice:
Then, we found the teddy bear:
And then EJ wanted her photo taken on the balcony overlooking the lobby:

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! It's been a long day here in the H house. Last night, EJ went to bed around 9:30. She gave up her room for Grandma and Grandpap to sleep in, and she has been sleeping on the futon in the extra room on the third floor. She wanted to be closer to the rooftop so she could hear Santa, plus there's a window seat in the dormer to watch for his sleigh to cross in front of that beautiful full moon we had. We grown-ups retired for the evening around 11:15.

At 12:30, she heard Santa and came down to our room to say she couldn't go back to sleep. We encouraged her to try a little harder and sent her back upstairs. About 20 minutes later, she returned. We kindly (or as kind as you can be at nearly 1 AM) explained that there was NO WAY we were getting up for at least another 5 hours, so we didn't care if she laid awake up there until then. When she returned for the third time at 1:20, she asked if she could sleep with us and in order to allow me to get some sleep, I obliged. What a mistake. We have a king-sized bed, but I still woke up with a stiff neck and shoulder, as she was in my way all night!

Anyway, she finally awoke around 6:35 and we found that grandma and grandpap were already downstairs waiting for us, as she had told them she would be up at 6. I think we unwrapped the final gift around 9:30! Here's the loot:

The first gift EJ opened was a K'Nex carousel. She spent a lot of time admiring the ferris wheel one at the toy store a few weeks ago, so Santa knew she would love this.

It took Sophie a while to warm up to the concept of opening presents, despite the fact that she shreds every tissue within a 20 foot radius of her. But once she figured out there were toys inside those packages, it was pure glee. Here she is literally sitting in one of the gifts while shaking her new maracas:

Then, Sophie opened up a new baby doll from Grandma and Grandpap H.

As soon as it was out of the box (which was not quickly with all the little clips and ties), she knew exactly what to do with the baby's bottle:

Grandma and Grandpap H got EJ a new jewelry box to help organize her earring collection:

The last thing EJ discovered was a new iPod in the bottom of her stocking:

She also got this really cool RoboPet...this thing has amazing movement! Sophie likes to chase it around.

Sophie really enjoys this new gear toy from Uncle T, Aunt P, and cousin H. I helped her put all the gears on, and then she pressed a button which makes them all spin and move! I didn't know it was going to do this, so I'd put my hand up to my mouth in a fake gasp and smiled, and now Sophie does the same each time they start to spin. She is really imitating a lot of things and sounds this week!

Santa left a package for EJ, Grandma H, and I. It had new Nutcracker sweaters for EJ and I, as well as three tickets in the 7th row for Saturday's matinee performance in the big city!

EJ got this really cute and very lifelike puppy from Mamaw and Pap-Pap S. It uses a battery and "breathes" so it looks very real. She named it Patch, in memory of Mamaw's previous dog (now in doggy heaven), as it looks just like the real Patch:

We hope that your holiday was as happy and exciting as ours. Having little Sophie here was the best gift we could have asked for and we're grateful that she's finally here to celebrate with us after waiting through two previous Christmases.

Monday, December 24, 2007

On the twelfth day of Christmas...

...the children were nestled, all snug in their beds. Well, not quite. Sophie's been out for about 45 minutes, but EJ is still up. We've gone to church, had seafood crepes for dinner (thanks for cooking, guys!), read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and put out the cookies and milk. All that's left to do is sprinkle the reindeer food on the lawn.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On the eleventh day of Christmas...

...there was a Christmas pageant. Here's EJ in her costume before the show!

After the pageant, there was a fabulous potluck dinner and a talent show, where EJ played The Little Drummer Boy.

Earlier today, we took EJ to see Rudy Giuliani at a local campaign stop. You might remember from this post that she is fascinated with the presidential campaign right now. I'm hoping we get to see a few other candidates in the next two weeks.

Anyway, as we were waiting for Mr. Giuliani to arrive, a photographer from the local paper saw EJ wearing her "Future President" T-shirt that I got her in D.C. in October. She said she would try to get a picture of her with him. As his car approached, EJ followed the photographer to the appropriate spot, but the crowd was thick and after Mr. Giuliani greeted the host of the event, he was ushered through the tight crowd pretty quickly. EJ did, however, cut around up to the doorway of the event (we couldn't get inside - it was PACKED), and she did get to shake his hand as he went in (last photo, Mr. Giuliani is obscured by the guy in tan, EJ is in the red jacket):

Saturday, December 22, 2007

On the tenth day of Christmas...

...we had Sophie baptized! She wore the beautiful gold and pink gown we had tailor-made in Nanchang, China. Her big sister Emma wore hers too.

After the baptism, we stopped by my cousin C's house. She and her husband F and son P just welcomed a new baby sister in the house a few days ago! Gosh, you forget just how tiny a newborn is...

Here's big brother P opening his Christmas gift from us...some snowshoes and a game.

On the ninth day of Christmas...

...there were Christmas parties! I helped the kids in EJ's class decorate the gingerbread men that she and I baked last weekend. From experience (I did this with her 1st grade class too), I learned to a) control the icing squirting device myself and b) give each kid their own cup of candy decorations rather than allow them unrestricted portions. It was a lot of fun. After that, the kids did a gift swap, presented the teacher with a class gift, and went to the gym for a school-wide sing-along which really was a lot of fun.

Sophie had a party today too, and from what I hear, she practically jumped into Santa's lap when it was her turn. He gave her a gift, and she didn't want to leave him so the next kid could jump on!

And then tonight was the annual neighborhood ladies cookie swap, pokeno game with yankee swap, wine "tasting", and general fun. That's why this post is a bit late.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On the eighth day of Christmas...

...we had ANOTHER snowstorm. Looks like at least 12 inches out there. So, no school today, no daycare, and I didn't even dare to brave the commute. I don't think the roads would have been too bad, but I just couldn't sit in the car for at least 4 hours today. I did get a lot of work done at home, thanks to the superb babysitting services of Grandma and Pap-Pap H.

Poor Grandma H, though. EJ kept her so busy all day. They made a gingerbread house, created a shoe-shine kit (from some craft book EJ borrowed from the library), mixed up and froze some yogurt/orange juice popsicles, wrapped K's presents, made cards for her teachers, etc. I was exhausted just watching the flurry of activity.

Since I kinda cheated and posted only one photo in the previous post, I'll add another:

On the seventh (and eighth) days of Christmas...

...I forgot to make a post! Whew...I totally crashed in front of the TV last night. And I'm now wide awake this morning, as the school's automated phone system called at 5:30 AM to say that school was cancelled for today. Daycare is closed too. Another 3-6 inches today. I wanted a white Christmas, but really, 20+ inches in a week is a bit much.

K's parents made it in yesterday and are experiencing this cold and snow for the first time in many years. EJ has decided that she would sleep in the attic guest room this time and they could have her room. That way, she's closer to the rooftop for Christmas Eve and she'll be able to hear the reindeer.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On the sixth day of Christmas...

...we got ready for Grandma and Grandpap to visit! Of course, they're not coming to see K and I. They're coming to see these two smiling faces, and who can blame them? They're a lot cuter than us!

Monday, December 17, 2007

On the fifth day of Christmas...

...Sophie had her 15 month doctor's appointment and she is growing! She has gained almost a pound a month since we've been home. She eats non-stop and it's tough to tell when she is full. The doctor was quite pleased with her progress - that she is walking and talking (she's added "cookie" to her vocabulary, and she says it with such gusto)! Just look at this smile - isn't she just adorable?!?!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

On the fourth day of Christmas...

...we had a nor'easter! It is miserable out there. Church called at 8 AM to say that all activities, including the pageant, were cancelled. EJ was disappointed, but it looks like they might reschedule for next week.

Sophie was up at 6 AM, and the snow was really coming down fast then. And it hasn't really let up much. We have about 11 fresh inches, so it's almost sure to be a white Christmas here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

On the third day of Christmas...

Today was filled with more holiday preparations - pageant practice, cookie baking, gift packing and mailing, and grocery shopping. This afternoon, we went to visit some friends we haven't seen in a while. They had a tree-decorating party. Sophie was fascinated by two GIANT stuffed pandas that they have...she just squirmed and wiggled and snuggled all over them.

We're expecting another big storm to come in tonight. It supposed to be "light snow" after midnight, followed by a burst of snow beginning at 6 AM, and then changing to sleet at noon and rain by 2. Hmmm. And the pageant is supposed to begin at 4. I hope the weather isn't so bad that it is cancelled, but we are currently in the 4-8 inch band of snowfall predictions. Grandma and Grandpap H are flying in from Alabama on Wednesday. They're going to be a tad chilly here - they usually visit in the summer! They reported the other day that they had their air conditioning on!

Anyway, here's today's holiday photo! It's Saturday Night Movie Night at our house. Eloise's Christmas at the Plaza is our flick tonight. I think we'll stop it at 8 to watch the Boston Pops holiday show...

Friday, December 14, 2007

On the second day of Christmas...

Look at that big smile! She's such a happy baby. I was just happy to be able to keep her cute little black shoes on her for the photo session. Doesn't she know that H girls LOVE their shoes?!?!
We had a huge snowstorm yesterday. It left behind about 8-10 inches of snow, but it came down so fast that traffic was gridlocked. I work at the top of a hill in an office park where the one road in is the only way out. I'm SOOOO glad I left when I saw the first flurries falling yesterday (around 12:30 pm). My colleagues who stayed until 1 or 1:15 were trapped on the hill for anywhere between 4-8 hours!!! A few turned around after 3 hours and went back to the office. The snow accumulated quickly and the plows couldn't get through the traffic. What a mess.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On the first day of Christmas...

Okay, technically the 12 days of Christmas start with Christmas Day and go to January 6th, but I'm going to cheat and do it in reverse this year. I promised a photo each day, so let's start with this one:

This is the first of many portraits that we had done at JC Penneys this year. That's actually K's hand in the photo. They have these really funny Santa sleeves that he put on for a few shots. Very cute. Sophie was fascinated by them...but you'll have to visit tomorrow to see that photo!

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Good Fortune

Today, Sophie is 15 months old! She can walk a few steps (as long as we're waiting at the destination with open arms) and say a few words. Well, to us they're words. I'm not if anyone else knows what she's saying. "Mmmmm-AH" (Emma), "Mmmmm-OH" (Elmo), "Pah Pah" (Puppy), "Ba-Ba" (Bottle). Of course, she says "Mommy" and "Daddy" unmistakably clear!!!

While we were waiting (and waiting and waiting) for this adoption to happen, we got in the habit of saving all of the fortunes in our fortune cookies when we went out for Chinese food. I found a little pile of them tonight while cleaning up some clutter. They're very prophetic:
  • "The current year will bring you much happiness"
  • "Good news will come to you from far away"
  • "You will win success in whatever calling you adopt" (Hey, it at least had the word "adopt" in it!)
  • "A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains" (Ah yes, we had a LOT of patience during that wait!)
  • "The year ahead promises to find you in many interesting positions"

In a few days, I'll start a 12 days of Christmas posts...a different Christmas photo for you each day. We took a ton of shots at the studio this year and I couldn't resist buying most of them. I'll try to post one each's a bit hectic around here with the holidays and all. I've been baking a lot over the weekend and trying to finish up the last-minute shopping. The next two weeks are filled more baking, LOTS of wrapping (and a little bit of packing and shipping), and some parties. Tomorrow, I'm taking my dept to lunch. Saturday is a tree-decorating party at some friends' house. This weekend is the church pageant/potluck/talent show. EJ is the angel Gabriel, and she'll also be playing the piano in the talent show.

Next week, Sophie has her 15 month appointment and I have to have a filling drilled and replaced at the dentist There's a neighborhood cookie swap and two school parties. And oh yeah, Grandma and Grandpap H are coming (in just 9 days...EJ keeps reminding us...I think she's just a tad excited!). AND as if that weren't enough, Sophie will be baptized on Saturday the 22nd. Whew! I'd better go catch some some sleep.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It's the Hap-Happiest Time of the Year...

...says who? Who wrote that song anyway? Did they not have gifts to buy, wrap, and ship?cookies to bake? cards to mail? a house to decorate? Yikes. The big day is a little over two weeks away and there's still so much to do! But we did make progress today.

My shopping is nearly done. And for the stuff that isn't done, I at least know what I have to buy, so that makes it easier. Today, K went to start his shopping with little Miss Sophie while EJ and I went to church for pageant practice. This year, she is Gabriel, the lead angel! On our way, we did some shopping for the church's giving tree. You pick gift tags from a tree that tell you what to buy for a child. This year, we had to get a watch for a 12 year old girl, a pull toy for an 18 month old, a Barbie and some clothes for a 6 year old, and a baseball and bat for a 12 year old. While EJ was at rehearsal, I wrapped the gifts and put them under the tree at church. Cross that one off my list!!!

Then, after lunch, K and EJ went outside to put some lights on the shrubs and the lampposts. EJ wanted to use the "retro" lights this year - think big bulbs in orange and red, green, blue, and white. Then, we whipped up some cookies. Peanut blossoms. You know, the ones with the Hershey kisses in the middle.

And how did Miss Sophie help with all the tasks today? She opted not to take a nap. After being up since 5:30 AM. Yes, 15 hours with nothing more than a catnap in the car on the way home from shopping. Here's hoping she sleeps until at least 7 tomorrow.

Tomorrow, there will be more baking, printing mailing labels for the cards, and decorating. The tree is up, the outside decorations are done, but we still need to finish the inside and set up our little Christmas village. Oh yeah, the town Santa parade is tomorrow afternoon, so we hope to make will depend on how cold it is and Sophie's naptime before she and I decide if we'll go.

And then tomorrow evening, we'll see whether the Pats can extend their perfect season for another week. After the last two weeks, I'm thinking they're a bit vulnerable right now and if anyone is going to beat them, it will be the Steelers. The best offense vs. the best defense. Should be a good game. I'm sick of all the media hype about a perfect season already. There's still a month to go, and it seems like everyone's boasting way too much.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Seeing stars

Each year, it is tradition that EJ puts the star on top of our tree. Not sure how we'll change that one as Sophie gets older, but for now, EJ's still the tree-topper. We have a 10 foot tree in a room with a 16 foot cathedral ceiling. The star goes on top before the tree gets any ornaments, as I just have this horrible image of us falling into the tree and knocking down a whole lifetime's worth of ornaments . EJ is almost tall enough to get it on top of the tree by herself from the ladder, but not quite.

Sophie's big accomplishment this week is starting to eat regularly with utensils. She is pretty good with a fork - you should have seen her with the pancakes at the Santa breakfast! But they were nice and soft to stab, and let me tell you...the girl can stab! If she gets frustrated that she can't stab something, she picks it up and sticks it on the fork and then gets it to her mouth.

Spoons are another to keep the food on the spoon? Well, yogurt is a great way to learn. Just dip that spoon and lick it. Of course, she may have yogurt in her armpits when she's done, but most of it makes it into her mouth.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Breakfast with Santa

In our town, the mother's club hosts a breakfast with Santa each year. Pancakes, sausage, and photos with the big guy himself. I was telling EJ how, at 18 months of age, she screamed at the Santa breakfast. She wanted nothing to do with capturing Christmas magic in a photo. I am in that photo with her. It's quite comical.

Sophie, almost 15 months, thought it was no big deal..."Yeah, a big jolly man in her red fuzzy suit. All I gotta do is sit on his lap and he brings me toys? What a deal! Sure, I'll sit on his lap. You want me to smile for the camera? No problem. And just for good measure, so he doesn't forget me, I'll wave goodbye to him and blow a few kisses. Surely, he'll bring me SOMETHING good!" She was a real charmer. Just look at this picture!

Big sister EJ had fun running around with her school pals and making crafts. Here she is making the ever-popular glittered pine cone ornament:

And then Sophie decided to be a social butterfly herself, strolling around and smiling. Check out the green shoes. They're squeaky shoes from China - a little squeak with every step. Definitely caught the attention of all the kids who were there.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wow - has it been two weeks already?

I can't believe it's been two weeks since I've posted. Time flies when you're having fun. Or incredibly busy. Or sick. Again. I have a horrible cold for the third time in six weeks and another eye infection. Sophie just finished her 2nd course of stronger antibiotics and is still coughing and dripping like a faucet. EJ, thankfully, has only missed one day of school in all of this, but did lose her voice for another day or two. And Sunday night, K came down with it too. Miserable. But we're sharing it like a good family should, I guess.

Okay, on to what's happened in the last few weeks.

EJ had a presentation at school last week about Native Americans. Her group covered the Northwest Indians:

I celebrated my 38th birthday (again, and again...and well, maybe some more). Honestly, the cake had a 38 on it! Of course, that was because EJ couldn't find the "4" candle anywhere, so she used 38 and then added a few. She and Sophie got me a lovely tea-themed gift (a new mug, some tea, and teacup ornaments for the Christmas tree) that she went shopping for with dad.

For Turkey Day, we traveled to my brother's family's house north of Philadelphia. Thanks, bro, for hosting! Hope none of you are sick this week. Everything was yummy! On Friday, we took a drive into the city. EJ has wanted to see the Liberty Bell for years, but usually we're there in passing and never have a few extra hours to make it into the city, so we made sure we got there this year. We saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Ben Franklin's grave, Betsy Ross' house, and Elfreth Alley. And, we had a great cheesesteak for lunch with soft pretzels for an afternoon snack. Other than the frigid wind, it was a great day. EJ commented on the way back to my brother's, "That was even more fun than I thought it would be!" The girl loves history! I guess I owe a big shout out to the American Girl company for helping with that.

We drive back to New England on Saturday. On Sunday morning, Sophie decided to read the newspaper.

EJ is taking art lessons this year with an artist here in town who teaches group classes. Here is a picture of Sophie she sketched in the back seat of the van on the way home:

And this was the project in class she most recently finished. I think it's pretty darn good! This week, she started a drawing of giraffes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sophie Can Walk!!!

Last night, while dinner was cooking, K was in on the family room floor playing with Sophie. She was standing up on her own and she looked like she wanted to take a step in the worst way, but just stood there and smiled at him. A little while later, I went in and stood her up, held onto her mid-section to get her balanced a bit, and then scooted back and reached out for her. She took three little steps toward me! We all saw it and we made such a big deal out of it that she sat there and clapped for herself and laughed for several minutes. Very cute.

So, we stood her up to do it again, and again, and again. And she got quicker each time to the point where she just started to fall forward into my arms and laugh without even taking a step. And when I would stand her back up and try to steady her before letting go, she would push my arms out of the way...she didn't want any help, I guess! We did catch it on video and will try to get a clip loaded in the next few days.

A very touching side story is that EJ was SO excited to see her little sis walk for the first time. After Sophie was able to repeat it a few times, EJ looked at us and said, "I'm so excited for her I could cry!" and her eyes were all misty. How sweet is that? They just love each other so much.

Of course, it won't be all sweet and lovey at all when Sophie can walk over and mess up all of EJ's stuff.

Monday, November 12, 2007


A few random items:

Yesterday was a wonderful day. We had a travel reunion with all of our China travelmates and Sophie got to visit with all of her "China sisters" (girls who were adopted on the same trip)! We had a fantastic was so good to see each other after 5 months or so of being home with the girls. We all met for lunch at a Chinese restaurant. We had folks traveling from all over New England to be there, and it was wonderful. We attempted to recreate the famous Red Couch photo from the White Swan (click here for the original), but these cuties are too darn mobile now to corral them all:

Here is my favorite photo from the day--Sophie wtih Lillian, the owner/director of China Adoption With Love, our agency. I'm so glad she could come and meet the babies! Sophie went right into her arms, which says a lot, because Sophie is very shy until she warms up to you...apparently, she sensed how special Lillian is in our lives!

Let's's been a while since we've had an EJ fashion posting, so here's an outfit from her fall collection:

And finally, Sophie discovered the magic that is mint chocolate chip ice cream: