Tuesday, February 27, 2007

From the P family

This square is from friend A.P. and her family in PA. A is a lifelong best friend. We've known each other since we were about 3 or 4 years old and lived next door to each other growing up. We shared more secrets through our teen years than I could ever count. She was the maid of honor in my wedding. We are only three months apart in age, and in addition to having rhyming names, we also had permed hair, braces, and the same style of glasses at the same time. I even remember telling boys at the skating rink that we were twins! Ah, the good ol' days!!! I miss her terribly! We still keep in touch and try to see each other whenever we're in PA. But next year, she is going to try to bring her whole clan here on vacation!! The "whole clan" includes hubby (and super Steelers fan) R, and daughters L, K, L, K, and A. Yes, you counted that right...five beautiful daughters!

The family sent this fabric to be included in the baby's quilt. Thank you so much!!

Bamboo and Ladybugs

Mom and Dad H sent along these additional fabrics to go with their embroidered squares...bamboo and ladybugs. Ladybugs are a popular design in the Chinese adoption communiity. Thanks again for everything...Mom, too bad you're not here to help me with this quilt!

More quilt squares!

K was in FL this past weekend for his Uncle J's memorial service. We'll all miss J a lot. We have many fond memories spending time with J and Aunt G when we lived in Florida, especially sailing with him.

While K was there, he was given a bunch of quilt squares to bring home. From Aunt G is this SNOWflake fabric. Get it, SNOW?

K's cousin L and her husband G from PA gave us these two fabrics--hats from L, who is a member of the Red Hat Society, and bugs from G (since he spends a lot of time outdoors)! Thanks a lot!

K's other cousin, J, and her husband R from central FL gave us this maple leaf fabric. Get it, MAPLE? Maple is a family name on K's side of the family, and J used this fabric to make all of us maple leaf pillows two years ago for the first-ever Maple Family Reunion.

J's oldest daughter, M, and her husband D have three adorable children who contributed these three fabrics...candy from daughter R, Spiderman from son D, and a cute baby pastel print from baby girl I. Thanks a lot!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

EJ's Harry Potter Quilt

In about 1.5 hours this morning, I was able to finish the top of EJ's Harry Potter quilt. Well, almost finish. It still needs one strip of fabric around each side, so it will be about 10 inches wider and longer when you see the finished version. It went quicker than I expected, but my mother's 1965 Montgomery Ward sewing machine was cooperating today...

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Flips and Cartwheels and Handsprings, oh my!

I took a few photos of EJ at gymnastics today. She's really come a long way since she started just six months ago. She has been working really hard in the last few weeks to do better cartwheels (she had asked Santa for a gym mat). And today, she decided that she was going to do flips off the end of the balance beam without a spotter. Yikes! Makes me nervous to watch...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Timeline after THE CALL

If you've been playing along at home, you know that we are anxiously awaiting THE CALL from the adoption agency to tell us about our new baby. And you remember that we MIGHT be in the next round of matches, the timing of which no one is sure, since everything is closed in China this week for New Years. The matches could be mailed out next week, or the week of the 5th, or the week of the 12th... Basically, no one knows.

Since there's nothing more to say about the timing before THE CALL, let's review the timeline of events after THE CALL:
  • We get THE CALL. No warning from our agency. No "stay by your phone on Friday just in case..." Nothing. There is much joy and excitement, and possibly screaming (yes, I've warned everyone at work), and we'll get a few tidbits of information about the baby, including name, birthdate, weight/height, province, the name of the SWI (if in an orphanage) or info about the foster family. We'll start making calls to close family members (and maybe post a very quick update here).
  • We drop everything and head into our agency for the referral appointment to review all of the info the agency has on the baby. This is usually later in the day, which gives the agency time to translate everything. We've already told EJ that we'll come pull her out of school so she can go along. Perhaps we'll celebrate with some Chinese food that night! We'll also get 2-3 photos.
  • Within a few days after the referral, we need to send a care package to the baby's orphanage, complete our visa applications, set up a pediatrician appointment to have them review the medical information on the child, and do a travel form with all the details for everyone traveling (passports, IDs, etc.).
  • About five days after referral, acceptance letters are returned to China. This gives you time to have your pediatrician review the file. Also, we should get updated photos and measurements on the baby around this time.
  • Now you start waiting for your travel authorization, which takes about three to four weeks to arrive. During that time, we need to consult with the travel clinic to see if we need additional shots based on the province we will be traveling to at that time of year. We've already had Hep A/B, but typing this just reminded me that I need a tetanus shot! We'll also meet with our pediatrician to have her write some prescriptions for antibiotics for the baby, just in case we need them while we're there...
  • About four weeks after referral, the travel authorization (TA) will arrive. This is the approval to travel to China. After the agency gets the TAs for everyone in our group, they request visa appointments (for the babies) with the American Consulate's office in Guangzhou (near Hong Kong). You can't get the appointments without the TAs. The consulate's office usually confirms the appointments within two days.
  • Once the visa appointments are set, the agency can make court and notary arrangements with the provincial officials. And THEN, they can book your flights. While you know that you will generally be leaving for China 5-8 weeks after referral, you don't get your actual departure date until 10-15 days before you leave.

Mother Necessity

Who remembers Schoolhouse Rocks? All those catchy little jingles to sing in between cartoons on Saturday mornings. To this day, it's still the only way I remember the words to the Preamble to the Constitution... Anyway, tonight at EJ's school's Invention Convention, I kept singing the Mother Necessity song from Schoolhouse Rocks.

Here are some shots of EJ with her invention--windshield wipers that clean the entire windshield. Ever since she was little, it's always bothered her that the wipers sweep in arcs and don't really get into the corners. She thought the wipers should go up and down. K built her a frame to prototype the design, and this is what she came up with!

She gave demos to her friends...

...and answered all of the judge's questions:

All of the kids received a certificate for one of 10 categories. EJ received hers in the Post-It Note category for "an invention that we didn't think we needed but wouldn't want to be without."

Some of you may remember her entry from last year...the Bubble Gutter. This clever hat kept the soap out of her eyes while her hair got rinsed in the tub. Smart, huh?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Quilt Squares from the H side of the family

Today was a day when all the quilt squares that arrived were from people with the same last name as us! It's H day!

First, from Mom and Dad H, are these two embroidered squares. The first one is an adorable panda. If we go to Beijing a day early, perhaps we'll get to the zoo there to see some!
The other square that they sent has a building that some of you may recognize, especially my brother and some other college friends. This is the Old Main building on the campus of California University of PA, where K and I went to college. It is the building that serves not only as the icon for the school, but also as the residence of the president of the school. I also remember that it had overheated classrooms on the third floor, and a beautiful stained glass dome in the lobby of the president's office that was "discovered" when it was exposed during a construction project. My brother and his wife also went to Cal U, and K's family's history with the school goes back a few more generations - his father taught there for the bulk of his career, and his maternal grandmother was a graduate of the school when it was California State Teacher's College in the 1920s.

Thank you so much - these are cherished additions to the quilt!!!

And now, from K's brother and his wife, E and M, in coastal GA, comes this music-inspired print. E and M are HUGE music fans. They've probably been to more concerts and performances than anyone I know. And E is an admirer (and collector) of fine guitars. Thanks a bunch, Uncle E and Aunt M!

Finally, E and M's daughter, DJ, sent along this cute square in honor of her Irish heritage. Let's see, we have a DJ and an EJ in the family...what will the next H granddaughter be named?!?!? Thanks, D!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Fabric from the D family!

A few days ago, we received some fabric from great friends, the D. family. We've known the D family for almost 8 years now, as EJ and their middle son, M, started at daycare around the same time when they were only about 10-12 weeks old. We'd also like to thank them for being one of our references during the home study process.

Anyway, here are their fabrics. From Mom H, this cute purple print. She said it's always been her favortie color and that she'd be all set in life if she could just get purple rice and purple Doritos! And from Dad D, this fishing print. Every summer, D takes the two older boys camping for a week in Maine. And this isn't the wimpy air-conditioned with microwave, color TV, and full bathroom kind of camping that I like...they rough it!

The soccer fabric is from oldest son, K, who is a very good soccer player. His mom says he gives it 200% when he plays. The playing cards are for son M, who likes playing any kind of card games.

The cute Curious George print is from youngest son, K. Mom says that K's personality is very much like Curious George's - adorable, despite the trouble he gets himself into. And finally, paw prints from their family dog, Rahja.

Thank you so much for the fabric (and for being such great friends)!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Celebrate Chinese New Year in Vegas?

Apparently, Vegas is a hotspot for celebrating Chinese New Year. Here is a link to the article.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Today's square from work

My friend K.L. in the support group gave me this bright square today...more fish! Wow, if fish really do mean wealth in China, this child should be very wealthy!!! Of course, K and I didn't find too much of that wealth in Vegas back in October when we traveled there on business, but we did have fun hitting the slot machines together! Thanks, K!

The truck has arrived in Fort Myers

And you thought press coverage of the Red Sox equipment truck ended when the truck pulled away from Fenway's loading dock. Nonsense! What would those sports reporters talk about today if they couldn't discuss the ARRIVAL of the truck of City of Palms Park.

Lost in translation

As someone who has managed the development of technical materials (documentation, help, training materials) for more than 15 years, let me just start by saying "I hate translation projects!!!!" Now that I have that out of my system, let me tell you why. They are PAINFUL projects to manage. They always take longer than your schedule allows. They always cost more money than your budget allows. They are never of the quality that you think they will be when they are done.

Just think about it. Think about how many different ways some words get used. And then think about how words get used interchangeably in different disciplines. For example, in clinical research, you might refer to a participant as a "patient" or as a "subject". Just think about other uses for those two words alone, such as "be patient..." or "the subject of my thesis..."

Anyway, my friend E at work sent me this link to an interesting article about how the Chinese government plans to clean up translations in Beijing before the 2008 Olympics. I'll have to be on the lookout for some funny "lost in translation" moments when I travel...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Awww, isn't baby stuff the cutest?

So, we are starting to gather all of the stuff to go into the care package for the baby. EJ picked out these cute little stuffed spiders. And then we found the striped blankets. One spider and one blanket will go into the care package to the baby, and the other set will travel with us. The nanny or foster mother might bring the baby's set with her when we pick her up, but if not, we'll have a backup set. After not shopping in the baby department for at least five years now, I felt like a real foreigner there!

Of course, they make really cute stuff for bigger girls too. Check out these cool tennis shoes that EJ got the other day!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Only in Boston...

Okay, here's a little trivia question for those of you who do NOT live in the greater Boston area. What is Patriots Day and what sporting event is held that day? No, the answer is not a day to celebrate our football team (although a surprising number of people think that). According to Wikipedia, Patriots Day is a civic holiday in the Massachusetts. It used to be observed on April 19th, in honor of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War on that date in 1775. Since 1969, it has been observed on the 3rd Monday in April. AND it has nothing to do with football--the Boston Marathon is always run on this date.

Today, however, is the OTHER obscure holiday with a sports connection. Yes, today was Truck Day in Boston. There was a big story about it on Boston.com, complete with about 30 photos. Here's one of them, featuring THE TRUCK.

Again, for those of you outside of Boston, I'll explain. Today was the day that the moving truck got loaded with equipment and left Fenway Park for Fort Myers, FL for Red Sox spring training camp. That's right, we can't wait until Opening Day to celebrate (only 49 more days)! We can't wait for the first spring training game. Heck, we can't even wait until Friday when the pitchers and catchers have to report. We want to start the season TODAY!!!

Apparently, our new $100 million dollar man, Daisuke Matsuzaka, arrived in Florida today. His entire trip was chronicled by tons of media. He flew to Tampa, got into a car to drive to Ft. Myers, etc. No detail too small to report to a starving and deprived Red Sox Nation. Let's hope he's worth all that money. Just imagine what a season we could have if the rotation (Schilling, Papelbon, Wakefield, Beckett, and Matsuzaka) stays healthy...

Colorful fabrics today!

Today at work, I was given two more fabrics to include in the quilt. The first is from J.G. in my department. If you know J, you know that she LOVES to travel to exotic places. In the 3.5 years that I've known J, she's been to China, Cuba, Spain, and Thailand, and she's off to India in a few weeks. She also likes to dive, and she did some diving in Thailand and brought video back to show us all. It was amazing! Anyway, I think the fabric is very reflective of her!

She also included a little note which says that in China, the fish is a symbol of wealth, and she wishes the baby a wealth of love, joy, hope, and peace.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about a VP at my office who dresses like Tigger. Well, this next person also makes me smile an awful lot at work. And that person is....(drumroll, please)....M.V., our receptionist extraordinaire. M puts a smile on everyone's face at work, with her funny jokes and emails, and her generally sunny outlook on life. She thought this fabric was cute and said that every kid needs a Happy Meal now and then! (She'll be shocked to know that E has probably only eaten at McD's about 8-10 times in her 7.5 years!) Very cute and unique fabric! Thanks to both ladies for their additions to Baby H's quilt.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

For the newest member of Red Sox nation

OK, I know I said I wouldn't comment on which football team was my favorite, but the Red Sox win out by a long shot for baseball. I never even really enjoyed baseball until I moved to the Boston area. I mean, I went to quite a few Pirates games growing up and saw them in the good years (late 70s). That was in the day when you could show up at Three Rivers Stadium and show them a report card with an A on it and get upper-level outfield seats for free.

We've become quite addicted over the last five years or so, which of course peaked in October 2004 when they won the World Series after 86 years. We were at Disney World when it happened, and we got to see Curt Schilling in the parade at Magic Kingdom the next day.

EJ's still a little upset that her favorite player, Johnny Damon, is now a Yankee. She can't figure out why the Yankees have rules that forced him to cut his long hair!

Anyway, this quilt can't have Patriots and Steelers fabric and no Red Sox fabric!!! So, here's another square to add. Apparently, Red Sox frenzy has infested even the crafter's world, as most Red Sox cotton fabric is out of print or very hard to find. A recent auction on eBay for 2.25 yards of it went for more than $100!!! My friend BH (see previous post) suggested I buy a bandana, which gives me just enough for a square!

Squares from the H family

Our good friends, the H family, gave us these squares last night when we met them and several other friends for dinner. I met mom B about 10 years ago when volunteering for a youth program at FLC. Daughter S, now a senior in high school, was only about 7 or 8 at the time and was one of the kids at my table every Wednesday night for dinner. They also have a son, A, in college. We've become great friends over the years, and we also need to extend a big thank you for being one of our references during our home study process!

Here are their contributions to the quilt. First, this cute cat and dog print. E always loves playing with their pets when we're at their house!

Next, in honor of their vacation home in Maine, lighthouses and sailboats. Yes, it always nice to have friends with a vacation home (and a boat to go with it) in Maine! Did I mention it's waterfront and on an island?!?! They were kind enough to invite us up for a weekend last summer and we had a great time!

Next (to compete with my dad's Corvette fabric) is this car fabric. Gee, I have no idea what kind of car this is, but I know that D has one of these cars that he's been working to rebuild. D, if you read this, maybe you can add a comment about what kind of car it is?!?!

And finally, this one of a kind square! Daughter S has a friend who helped out with the calligraphy on this one. It says "Child of God" in Chinese. Very special! Thank you all so much! How do you feel about having a baby in Maine later this summer?!?! :)

Friday, February 9, 2007

Treasure hiding in China

We have applied to participate in the Infinity Project while on our trip to China. The Infinity Project is a project sponsored by glass artist Josh Simpson. This is an involved explanation of how we came to meet Josh, so try to follow along.

Many moons ago, K's family lived in Morgantown, WV while his father was working on his Ph.D. They became friendly with a man who made Shaker furniture. They purchased a beautiful cherry rush-woven rocker from him. When K and I first got married, we really wanted a rocker just like that one, but alas, it was not in our budget at that time. By the time we could afford to splurge on it, the price had risen considerably again, but throwing caution (and budget) to the wind, we ordered one anyway.

Anyway, by this time, the chairmaker was living in California. When we called to order the chair, we asked about shipping arrangements, which of course added to the cost significantly. He said that if we could wait until the fall, he would be in New England for some furniture shows and we could pick it up from him.

When he came to New England, he invited us to meet him at the home of a friend of his, Josh Simpson, where he was staying for a few nights. "Josh is a glassmaker," he said, "and he's giving tours of his studio this weekend, so come out, take a tour, grab your chair..." So, out to western MA we drove for a beautiful fall drive. When we arrived, our chair was sitting out on the lawn under a big tree. It was gorgeous! Here's a pic of it today...

Now, imagine our surprise when we take a tour of this PHENOMENAL studio - very impressive! Josh is known for making "planets" that look like this one:

Some of them are as small as quarter-diameter marbles. Some were larger than softballs. And a few approached the size of a basketball. They are truly stunning and no two are alike. It was fascinating to learn how he even makes the little threads of glass that make their way into his planets.

After the tour, we are invited into their house to eat. We eat in their beautiful dining room chairs, all made by the furniture-maker, who bartered them for some of Josh's work. We meet Josh's new bride (they had only been married a week at the time). They tell us that she flies, and they had their small plane over near our place a few nights before for an evening flight. I notice that she's wearing a NASA golf shirt, but hey, a lot of people visit the Kennedy Space Center on vacation, right? She talks about flying for her job. I ask her what she does for a living, and I never expected to hear what came out of her mouth next...she said, "Oh, I'm a space shuttle astronaut!" How cool is that?!?!?! Her name is Cady Coleman, and she's been on two missions thus far. (No, she is not the astronaut in the news this week!) Here's a picture of her, and this is a link to her biography.

Anyway, Josh has been the subject of at least two PBS specials. You can see his work here, and you really should take a peek...it's amazing stuff! We have two of his planets, a medium-sized marble and a larger one (maybe 2/3 the size of a baseball).

The Infinity Project was something that he did for the year 2000. He asked people to apply to get a small planet from him - actually, you get two planets - one to keep and one to hide. You are supposed to hide it in a cool place. We thought that we could put one in somewhere in the Great Wall or in Tiananmen Square or the Forbidden City. We sent an application and heard back today that the committee meets regularly and we should hear soon. You can read more about the Infinity Project on his website and see a photo scrapbook of places where people have hidden their planets.

And speaking of the travel packet...

...we have been in contact with several CAWLI families with the same LID as us, as well as a few that are a day or two earlier or later than ours. Apparently, one of the families asked that a separate newsgroup be set up for those of use with late-October LIDs. There are 34 families, many of whom will be in our travel group.

Someone posed the question last night about traveling to Beijing a day early. This is something that K and I talked about a while ago. It gets you an extra day of sightseeing, as well as one extra day to recuperate from the jet lag before getting a potentially cranky baby handed over to you! The downside of this plan is that you don't travel with your group, which we think is an important thing to do.

Anyway, a few of us in the newsgroup mentioned that we might be interested, so I emailed the agency today just to get an idea of the extra cost, which it turns out, may only be about $100-$150 per person. So, I think this is something that we would seriously consider. There was another CAWLI family that traveled early last summer and they spent the time at a silk factory and at the Beijing zoo.

My motivation at the gym

Here is the picture that I keep in mind when I'm on the stairclimber at the gym. It is the section of the Great Wall of China that we will be climbing, about 90 minutes north of Beijing. It is a very steep section of the Wall. This photo was taken by another CAWLI family during their trip about a year ago. They took a few shots from the bottom looking up the mountain, but somehow they don't seem as intimidating as this shot from the top down. And, "down" is back to the parking lot and buildings in the upper left corner of the shot, not that little guardhouse on the right! I get dizzy just looking at this photo.

According to the travel packet we received earlier this week, you only get about two hours at this location, so that means I have about 40 minutes to get to the top, 40 minutes to recuperate, and 40 minutes to get back down. Hmmm...thus far, I've only been training on level 4 (of 20) for about 20 minutes at the gym. Time to kick up the training a bit...

Xin Nian Kuan Le!

Happy Year of the Pig! Yes, this greeting is a bit early, as Chinese New Year officially gets underway on February 18th. Our adoption agency is having its annual Chinese New Year party tomorrow, but we won't be attending this year. We did go last year and had a great time. There's lunch (Chinese food, of course), entertainment by singers, musicians, and dancers, and a wonderful raffle to benefit CAWLI's Rainbow Fund, a charity which donates every single penny collected to helping China's Center for Adoption Affairs find homes for children with correctable medical conditions and to help individual SWI (social welfare institutes, aka orphanages). Our agency consistently donates more than $50,000 each year to these causes. Here is a link to more detailed information.

Here are a few photos from last year's party. It's absolutely enormous - 1800 people (include 700 beautiful children, almost all dressed in their Chinese silk dresses).

K and I will be going to EJ's 2nd grade classroom on Tuesday to do a program on Chinese New Year. We have a book to read and a lantern craft to make with them. We'll show them a map of China and point out the places we'll be visiting. And we're taking oranges with us for snacks (a traditional CNY treat - notice the lion eating them in the photos above). I'll try to post some pictures.

And finally, I picked up these stamps at the post office a week ago. I think I'm going to have to go back for more, since I can stock up and use them for the adoption announcements! Aren't they cool? There is one for each animal in the Chinese zodiac.

Progress on E's desk...

Yes, that new table saw is being put to good use building the desk for EJ's room. So far, he's only been back to buy two more pieces of lumber--one that he cut wrong, and one where he decided to use something other than 2x4s because he wasn't happy with the way it looked. And, I think he's only had to correct one mistake so far. Anyway, here's what the desk is supposed to look like when it's done. I'll show you the finished product as it gets closer and you can judge for yourself.

Fabric from the last few days

I know, I know...I haven't posted in THREE WHOLE DAYS!!! Sorry, it's been a bit crazy. I've been busy doing other things (including washing and drying all of the fabric I've received thus far), and I've ignored my blogging responsibilities!

Here are the few fabrics I've received over the past few days. First up is a square from F. and R. C. at FLC. Thank you very much!

Next up is more FLC fabric - from the U. family! Mom C sent this cute print along with this note: "...the pattern, Memoirs from China, might be just the right square to complete Baby H's quilt. May it serve as a reminder that her roots will always be an integral part of who she is as her past becomes woven into her future." If memory serves me correctly, C also took the Quilt in a Day class many years ago. She and I also had fun last winter at the FLC cooking club. Thanks to Dad M, Mom C, and daughters S and R (both of these names are on our list of potential names!)

And finally, remember a few weeks ago when my aunt sent a square that had been from something of my grandmother's? Well, that got me wondering whether I had anything of my mother's that could be included in the quilt, but I don't think I have anything made of fabric that I am willing to cut up! I called my dad, who dug into the cedar chest in storage and found a few more things that I'm not willing to cut up!!! Well, not quite. He found a baby outfit of mine (he believes I wore it the first time they took me out after I was born) and a hand-embroidered dresser scarf that he thinks she made. One thing he did find that I think will make its way into the quilt is this fabric, which was from some curtains in the house. Thanks, Dad, for sending all of this to me!!!