Monday, April 30, 2007

Pics of the nursery

Today, someone at work asked how the nursery was coming along, so I'm offering the evidence that it's pretty much done:

The larger chest of drawers on the left is a "vintage" piece (that is, old and used from a moving sale!) that really matches the furniture in EJ's room. I'd like to strip this and paint it to match the pieces that are in her room (the same cream color on the closet door and trim in this photo), but we haven't had a need for it yet. For now, it will stay in Sophie's room and serve as extra storage.

See the little rocking chair on the left? That was mine when I was a toddler, given to me by my godparents, my great Aunt A and Uncle J. At one point, it had a little music box on the bottom so that it played music as you rocked, but that was lost somewhere along the way. Behind the little chair is a small wooden toybox from PapPap and Mamaw S, and the yellow eyelet crib bedding was from them as well.

And in this photo you can see Sophie's book collection (compliments of EJ) and a rocking chair that once belonged to K's paternal grandmother. This chair had red vinyl upholstery on it when we took custody of it many years ago, and we decided to refurbish it when EJ was born. I love the new upholstery, but the chair continues to need structural work, so I'm not sure if it's safe to sit in right now!

I still need to hang some artwork on the walls. I have a cute baby quilt with the alphabet on it to hang on the wall, and K's parents also bought us a really nice panda print to hang as well. See the green bulb-shaped thing on the left in the 2nd picture? That's one of three fabric lanterns that I'd like to hang from the ceiling, but I'm waiting to see what other cool things I might find in China - maybe a kite? And the windows have mint green roman shades that K's mom and I made, but I need valances. Perhaps I'll find some pretty embroidered silk in China for those.

If you look closely at the walls, you will see they are mint green and lavender stripes on the bottom of the chair rail with butter yellow on the top. The colors aren't very bright in these pictures, as I took them at dusk, but let's just say that I WILL NEVER PAINT STRIPES AGAIN! Perhaps it had something to do with being 6 or 7 months pregnant at the time I was trying to measure and tape nice straight lines. Perhaps it was the paint fumes. All I know is that it was a not-so-fun way to spend a few weeks, and therefore, it shall not be repeated in my lifetime.

DAY 21: Our TA (travel authorization) is on its way!

We found out this morning that our TA is on its way, so that means that we will most likely leave on Wednesday, 5/23 (EJ's 8th birthday), barring any complications setting up consulate appointments and such. That's only a little over three weeks from now, so there will be some serious consideration given to the packing list this week.

Anyway, we would most likely meet Sophie on Sunday 5/27 or Monday 5/28. And then we'd return home on Thursday, 6/7, which is K's birthday.

The travel clinic is also recommending shots for malaria and typhoid, so we have to get that straightened out and scheduled. Lots to do in the next three weeks!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

DAYS 19 and 20: Where the wild things are...

...they're in our front yard. Tonight around 6:45, EJ called Mamaw S to wish her happy birthday and a few minutes later while I was on the phone with Dad, EJ spied this doe in the front yard EATING THE SHRUBS!

We've seen a lot of deer of the years, but hadn't seen any all winter. Perhaps all the yard cleanup we did last weekend made those fresh tender buds look all the more appetizing. She doesn't look too big in this photo, but from the ground up to her back was probably close to 4 feet tall. After she nibbled around for a few minutes, she headed down the driveway to the first lamppost, decided the azalea bush there wasn't as tasty, and then walked behind the camper and disappeared into the woods in front of the house. EJ went out to look for her but couldn't find her. We also saw a really large woodpecker today, but were unable to get good photos of it.

On the Sophie front, the nursery is just about complete. I did the final load of laundry today, cleaned out the other chest of drawers in the room and moved more stuff to the attic (you know, the one that I've been trying to empty of stuff, but now that I'm losing the nursery as storage space...). Perhaps I'll try to take pics of the nursery to post later in the week.

I also finished EJ's Harry Potter quilt this weekend and we started on Book 6, The Half-Blood Prince, while cuddling under it tonight.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

DAY 18: Evening in the city

Last night, we had an early dinner in Boston and then took EJ to the newly-renovated Boston Children's Museum. The museum just re-opened a few weeks ago after being closed for nearly four months for a $47 million dollar expansion and renovation project. The museum was a bit dated and, as you can imagine, quite abused from all the pint-sized visitors over the years, but we have to give it two thumbs up!

EJ has aged out of a lot of the exhibits there, but that didn't stop her from enjoying them all. There is a really cool new climbing structure right inside the entrance, and even the older exhibits look refreshed. For Arthur fans, there is an expanded exhibit that now also includes Postcards From Buster.

Anyway, if you live in the Boston area and have kids under 8, it's worth a visit. Friday night visits between 5 and 9 PM only cost $1, thanks to a partnership with Target. And while there aren't a lot of kid friendly restaurants within a few blocks of the museum (we ate at the Cheesecake Factory at the Cambridgeside Galleria first), you'll be happy to know that the McD's at the museum was replaced by an Au Bon Pain.

This photo was in the science exhibit...she had to pull her weight up on a pulley system:

This is from an exhibit with a video system projected onto a wall and the video interacts with you when you stand there. This particular one had butterflies fluttering around and when you stood in front of the screen, they would land on you:

Climbing on the rock wall:

On the lighted game board floor:

With David Ortiz. Congrats to the Sox for beating the Yankees AGAIN last night in a marathon four-hour (but still only nine innings) game. That's seven losses in a row for the Yanks.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Tina the Tech Writer

For those of you who don't know me, I manage a technical writing group, so Tina the Tech Writer is my favorite Dilbert character. She's going to be writing blog content too, but not for her, for her boss...

DAYS 16 and 17: Yikes, I REALLY need to think about travel!

Today, I have a whole bunch of little things to report on. First up is news that our agency is hoping to have our travel group depart for China on 5/24. Since we've requested to go to Beijing a day early, that would be 5/23 (EJ's 8th birthday!) for us. She thought that would be the coolest birthday adventure ever. CAWLI is hoping that our travel authorizations are mailed from China before 5/1, the start of a holiday week in China.

From In the People's Republic of China, International Workers' Day marks the start of one of the country's three so-called "Golden Weeks". Three days off work are given, and the surrounding weekends are re-arranged so that workers in Chinese workplaces always have seven continuous days of holiday starting on the first of May and ending on the seventh. This holiday, known as "Wu Yi" (五一, literally "5.1") also includes Youth Day on May 4, and is the peak period for Chinese citizens to travel around China and abroad. Also on this day, a huge parade goes through Tian'anmen Square (天安门). It is the largest national parade of the whole year, always televised on CCTV. Most of the parade consists of military demonstrations like air shows and marching soldiers, and many who are selected to join the parade see it as a privilege and take pride in it. The government mandates the "Golden Weeks" holidays more for the purpose of rejuvenating the country's tourist business than its political purpose.

Anyway, let's hope those TA's come through in the next week! I mean, I could be in China in LESS THAN FOUR WEEKS!!!

Next up was an interesting post on an adoption site today about a T-shirt that was included on the website. It was a yellow T-shirt with large black text that reads "Adopting is the new black", implying that adoption is trendy. Well, the adoption community took offense to this and started making phone calls and sending emails and within a few hours, the T-shirt was removed from the website. It is interesting to think that hundreds of thousands of international adoptions have probably taken place in the last 25 or 30 years, but as soon as a handful of celebrities choose adoption as a way to expand their families, it is considered fashionable. I'm all for anything that would promote positive messages about international adoption programs or multi-racial families, but they also have T-shirts that say "Rehab is the new black" so let's just say that adoption was not in good company here. I'm glad the T-shirt is gone.

And finally, all the sports talk in Boston today was focused on the possibility that the blood on Curt Schilling's sock during the '04 World Series was really paint. You can read all about it here. Doug Mirabelli said he was misunderstood, and Red Sox Nation can sleep tonight knowing their legendary win was truly legendary, complete with self-sacrifice and blood and all. But I wouldn't be surprised if DNA tests were ordered just to be sure.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

DAYS 14 and 15: Thinking about travel

You might remember this post about the timeline of how things work after the referral call, which we received on April 9th. Based on these estimates, we hope to travel in late May, but we won't know for sure for another 2-3 weeks.

We do plan to leave for Beijing a day early, and it looks as though several members of our travel group will be doing the same. CAWLI arranges almost all of its trips to depart on a Thursday and arrive back home on a Thursday two weeks later. So, we would leave on a Wednesday morning, and with the time change, probably arrive in Beijing on Thursday afternoon. We will most likely be there until Sunday, when we will fly to Nanchang, the capital of the Jiangxi province, where Sophie is from. Sophie will probably travel to Nanchang with several other children and some nannies. We will meet her Sunday evening or Monday morning. Here is a little more about the province of Jiangxi. Looks like it's known for its porcelain, so we might have to buy a piece of that for I'll travel with it for the remaining 10 days is another worry!

We will probably be in Nanchang until Friday handling all of the necessary paperwork. Then, we will depart for Guangzhou, the capital of the Guangdong province. There, we will stay at the White Swan Hotel on Shamian Island, one of the finest hotels in China. If you look at the link, you will see that President Bush, Queen Elizabeth, and Bill Gates have all stayed there! In Guangzhou, Sophie will receive a physical exam and then be granted a visa by the American Consulate's office to come home with us.

I'll update you soon on the packing dilemma. For the flights to and from China, the weight limit on the bags is a little higher than it is for the in-country Chinese flights, which limits each bag to 44 pounds. So, the plan is to take three suitcases and about four days of clothing (and take advantage of the hotel laundry service), and then fill the rest of the suitcase with diapers, granola bars, Cheerios, and other snacks. By the time we get to Guangzhou, the other half of each suitcase will be emptied out, and I can pile in all my shopping treasures! If necessary, we can purchase another inexpensive suitcase for Sophie for the flight home. And, we'll each have a backpack with a day's worth of clothes, the cameras, all the important documents, and things to keep us busy on a 15 HOUR FLIGHT!! Ugh. I'm stir-crazy on a plane after three hours.

Finally, EJ and I finished the fifth Harry Potter book tonight and plan to start book 6, The Half-Blood Prince in the next few days. It's ONLY 650ish pages, as opposed to the 874 in book 5, so we shouldn't have any problem finishing it before book 7 is released on July 21st. Whew!

Monday, April 23, 2007

DAY 13: Home run derby

The Sox swept the Yankees this weekend, with 7 being the number of winning runs in each game. And last night's game included something that's only happened four times before in Major League history -- four back-to-back home runs by the Sox: Manny, Drew, Lowell, and Varitek. Read all about it here!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

DAY 12: Finally, a nice Spring weekend!'s beautiful here today! About 75 and sunny. A perfect day for getting Spring chores done. But before we could do that, we went fishing! Today was the annual fishing derby in town. There were probably about 400 kids from town, up to age 15. They give away great prizes...even X-Boxes! Alas, the fish weren't biting on our side of the pond, but EJ had a great time and got a bubble-gum machine as a prize.

Then, we came home and decided to clean off the porch. While we were at it, we pulled down all of EJ's outdoor toys and some of the bigger baby toys and equipment - walking toys, the exersaucer, and the high chair. Here's what it looked like after EJ pulled it all into the yard. I told her it looked like we owned a preschool or something.

Here's a picture of her new's finally in her room, and you can see that she has moved in all of her supplies. She's going to get our computer chair, just as soon as we find a new one for the family room!

And finally, here's EJ on her new bike. It's an early birthday present, as she was in desperate need of a bigger one. It's the first one she's had with gears and brakes on the handles.

DAY 11: Head over heels for the Red Sox

TV Turnoff Week ended just in time for the first of a three-game series against the Evil Empire (the Yankees) last night. The first seven innings didn't really give any reason to be too excited. It was Varitek's 2-run homer vs. A-Rod's two homers and 4 RBIs. By the way, what did A-Rod do in the offseason? I mean, 12 home runs in 15 games is just crazy. Steroids? Perhaps he's seeing a good sports psychologist? He appears so confident that it's scary. Let's just hope he gets over this hot streak soon. Like tonight.

After being down 6-2 in the bottom of the 8th, the Nation put on their rally caps and came back to win it 7-6. A few things contributed...Varitek's hit, Coco Crisp's triple down the first base line (after his backward flip into the Sox bullpen to try to rob A-Rod of his 2nd homerun - see photo above), and Alex Cora's game winning hit. Oh yeah, and don't forget Mariano Rivera's choked save attempt. With Papelbon unavailable, Okajima got the save for the Sox. It was a terrific nail-biter of the game, just the way games against the Yankees should be.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

DAYS 9 and 10: Babies R Us

Tonight, we visited the local Babies R Us store to scope out all the itty bitty cute stuff. Actually, we were really only there to scope out the one piece of equipment that we need, a baby carrier. We have everything else (as my attic cleaning has proven)...a crib, an exersaucer, a high chair, a swing, two of each car seat in at least three different sizes, etc.

While we were there, we also checked out the bottles. Now, I know it's been EIGHT years since I last did this bottle thing, but let me tell you, I was completely overwhelmed by the different sizes, shapes, and logistical concerns of bottles, nipples, liners, etc. With EJ, we pretty much filled a cheap Walmart bottle with water, added the formula powder, and shook it up. However, everyone says doing the bottle-liner thingies are so much easier for traveling, because you don't have to worry about cleaning the bottles as much? I dunno...for some reason, they look far more intimidating than they probably are. There's just something about putting a zip-lock thing in a bottle...

One manufacturer makes these new things called drop ins...little plastic cylindrical liners for the bottle. It's not just a liner, it's a whole new feeding system. I don't think I like the drop-ins, though. They will consume too many cubic inches of precious packing space.

As I walked around the store, I did feel as though I was in a foreign land. It felt very strange. Some of the equipment they have is simply beyond belief. What a marketing scam. A co-worker of mine is getting married soon and I was telling her how brides are such a captive audience because everyone wants their wedding to be just perfect...and then they tell you what you simply MUST have at your perfect wedding. Well, marketing for babies is the same only want the best for your baby, right? I am here to report that EJ did just fine without having a $50 Ultra Diaper Wipes warmer...

I did not escape all of their clever marketing ploys, however. On our way out the door, I spied this little number that Sophie absolutely MUST HAVE for her return trip to the good ol' USA. Right after we started the adoption process, my mother-in-law called to inform me that there were cute little red, white, and blue outfits on sale at the mall, so I went and grabbed up two of them. Of course, they are both size 18 months, so I'm sure they be too big for her this summer. But this should work just fine:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

DAYS 7 AND 8: Mt. Laundry: The Sequel

Not a whole lot of new stuff to report the past two days. I made a lot of progress in Sophie's room over the long weekend. Load #7 of baby laundry is in the dryer now...three loads of baby clothes (one more to go), three loads of bedding, and one load of all the fabric seats for the playmat, carseats, swing, and exersaucer. I think about three more loads to go for blankets and quilts.

The weather has been horrible here for the last few days. The nor'easter that came through has really bombarded us with about 6 inches of rain since Sunday morning. Luckily, we've never had a problem with water in the basement, but the little stream in the front of the property is gushing through the wetlands right now. It looks like we have a moat around the lawn. There were quite a few trees down in the neighborhood, including a large dead one in the back corner of our property that K wanted to take down anyway. Luckily, it fell straight down on the boulders that kind of define the edge of our property, so we could probably just roll it over the boulders into the woods, which is where our Christmas tree graveyard is! For those of you not familiar with our house, we have about 2.5 acres, with about 1.5 of it wooded...most in front of the house.

EJ's desk is nearly done. K finished painting it and it should be all set up in her room in the next few days. She's anxious to get it up there, and I'm anxious to get rid of the little plastic desk in the family room. It will join the other large plastic toys in the attic - an easel, a kitchen, etc. I told her she can set up a play area up there for Sophie.

And finally, you might have noticed that the posts are counting days until will get Sophie in our arms! Let's hope we don't get beyond 50 or 60! We submitted our travel paperwork on Friday, and we are planning to leave for Beijing a day early to take in some extra sites and to adjust to the time change a bit more before Miss Sophie keeps us busy.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

DAY SIX: Mt. Laundry

I sorted through the rest of the baby clothes today and came to the realization that, even though the cute little duds were nice and clean when they were packed away 7 years ago, they really all need to be washed again so that sweet Sophie won't smell like a cardboard box! And it's not just the's the blankets, the bedding, the quilts, the stuffed animals, the fabric seats for the car seat, stroller, exersaucer, swing, blah, blah, blah. K suggested just going to a big laundromat and getting it all over with in 2 hours!

I also sorted through the smaller (size 6 months) clothes and sorted them into multiple piles: trash, donate, give away, eBay, and of course, the sentimental I-would-never-get-rid-of-these piles. The latter pile has EJ's first Christmas and Easter dresses and two or three other cute ones that I don't think I can part with.

I spent an hour or so on the phone last night with MP, a fellow adoptive mom from our agency, who travelled to China in September (I think) to add daughter S into her family. We met M and her husband B at a parenting course that is required for adopting parents in our state. They met S in Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi, where we will meet Sophie, so she had a lot of good information about the hotel, restaurants, and shopping on the trip.

Well, it has been a blustery day here in New England. A big nor'easter storm arrived this morning and is expected to hang around through tomorrow, which is a state holiday (Patriots Day) in MA, so I get an extra day in my weekend! I feel bad for the marathoners in Boston tomorrow. To run 26.2 miles is a feat in itself, but to do it when it's 35 degrees, sleeting, and the wind is howling in your face sounds like a miserable way to spend a few hours. Here's hoping there aren't many injuries.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

DAY FIVE: Chinese Cuisine

If you know me, you know how much I love to cook. Nothing incredibly gourmet, just good home cooking. I've been busy the last few months doing a little extra cooking on the weekends to fill the freezer with meals that will be easy to prepare when we get home from China...meatloaf, homemade pasta sauce, homemade raviolis, chicken enchiladas, etc.

Speaking of enchiladas, I went on a Mexican cooking binge over the last few years. I love good Mexican food but didn't really know how to cook any of it. Now, I make enchiladas, fajitas, and tacos (without the little packet of mix).

Other than stir-fry, however, I don't really know much about Asian cooking. I think it's time for that to change! Tonight I made a really good soy ginger chicken recipe with a dark brown sauce that has a lot of ginger and garlic in it. But the homemade eggrolls stole the show. I've always wanted to learn how to make them, and they really aren't that hard, once you find out where they're hiding the egg roll wrappers at your grocery store! They were very good. The recipe made about two dozen, so the extras will be added to the freezer's stash of meals.

Today, EJ and I started going through some baby clothes in Sophie's room. I seem to have a lot of 6 month things that I'm pretty sure we won't be able to use, since she'll be almost 9 months old when we meet her. I did find plenty of 9 and 12 month outfits that should work just fine for travel. So far, the seasons of EJs clothes look like they'll line up, since she was born in late May, but always was behind a little on sizes since she was such a peanut. Of course, EJ got a little bored with the baby clothes, especially as I would pull out cute little outfits and start cooing, "Awwww, I remember when you used to where these little pants with the cute lace rows across the behind...I called you my little ruffle butt...." She's nearly 8 and in the midst of the eye-rolling phase, so she had lots of practice at that today.

If you find all this adoption talk interesting, you might want to check out this blog: This couple just returned from China with their daughter, Sera. I'm not sure which agency they used, but it was very interesting reading about their travels. They give pretty detailed descriptions of their adventures.

Another good book that I'm almost done with is Wuhu Diary by Emily Prager. My friend H read this and thought I would enjoy it. The author adopted a baby named Lulu from China in 1994, and when Lulu was 4 years old, she took her back for a two month visit to her hometown so that the girl could appreciate her homeland through the innocent eyes of a child. It's a very good insight into everyday life.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Today, I made another trip to the adoption agency to drop off more paperwork - the travel forms and a no change statement (that nothing substantial has changed since our last homestudy update).

As if it's not tough enough to find parking on Beacon Street in Brookline, the whole row of parking spots where we parked just four days ago simply didn't exist today. There was construction and they completely ripped up the street and the parking spaces in that block. I just wanted to get the paperwork there today, as the whole street is closed on Monday for the Boston Marathon! Traffic was already very heavy there, as many runners have already arrived.
We received a copy of Sophie's Growth Report. It says that at two months, she liked to smile at other people. At three months, she would get excited when she heard her caretakers' voices! By four months, they reported that her limbs were very strong, and she could recognize a bottle. When she saw the caretakers holding a bottle, she would quietly wait for them.

I like this paragraph: "She has an extroverted personality and likes others to interact with her. She occasionally is very willful and sometimes is also very impatient. She likes to play outdoors." It also reports that she sleeps well... YEAH! The report is from mid-January, so I hope that the good sleeping trend continues!

I'm hoping to start working in the nursery this weekend. The room is all painted, it's just that everything (mostly the clothes and toys) needs to get in its proper place. You might remember the post way back in January where I spent a whole weekend sorting and repacking EJ's outgrown clothes in the attic? Well, all the boxes that hold clothes for 6-12 months are stacked up in Sophie's room now, so I need to get organized a bit in there.

Finally, today is the start of TV Turnoff Week for EJ. It's a program that the kids can choose to participate in by signing a pledge that they won't watch TV for the next week. They have to list other things they plan to do for the week, and then complete a log of activities for the week. Next Friday, I sign the log attesting that she didn't watch TV and all the participating kids are entered into a raffle for prizes. Of course, last year she had no problem with this, as she rarely watches TV anyway! So, now I have to wait until 9 PM to watch the Red Sox after she goes to bed. Shhh...don't tell her - she has a big sign hanging on the TV:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

DAY THREE: More paperwork?

You know, I thought that the worst of the paperwork happened in the first six months of the adoption process, but we've quickly realized that the last six weeks will probably be even more challenging!

Today, Sophie's care package got in the mail. Not an easy process, however. We already had everything in a nice little pile, but there were still Chinese/English labels to put on all the photos in her photo album, and labels for everything. We sent a stuffed animal, a rattle, an Elmer book (in Chinese and English), a blanket, a photo album, and some disposable cameras so that the nannies can take pictures of her and her surroundings until we get there! There is also a letter to the nanny that asks for more specific eating/sleeping information. We also included some lemon ginger tea and pomegranate raspberry tea for the nannies. Seems funny to send tea to China, huh?

Of course, the local post office couldn't ship an express package to the Peoples Republic of China, so an extra trip had to be made to a larger post office.

Next, the visa applications were FedEx'ed to the travel service in New York along with our passports. Once they've been processed, the passports will be returned with a visa stamp in them to allow us into China.

And then, there is another small stack of paperwork that I can deliver to the adoption agency's office tomorrow. Then, I can take a rest for a while (actually, I took a desperately-needed rest through all of this today too - K's the paperwork guy).
And finally, we received this beautiful baby quilt from PC, a fellow member of our church. Isn't it just gorgeous? And I think little Miss Sophie is going to look just gorgeous all snuggled in it. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

DAY TWO: Announcing her name

And her name will be....(drumroll, please)....

Sophie LiLei
Whew! Glad that decision is over with. We had the same problem with EJ. We had a boy's name picked out, and when the doctor said, "It's a girl! What's her name?" I answered, "Can we get back to you on that?!!?" We like a lot of the names that were popular 100 years ago that are having renewed popularity, so there you have it.

And, we received updated measurements for Sophie today. They took new measurements on her this week, and she is actually 16 pounds now, which puts her in the 30th percentile.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

DAY ONE: Still in disbelief

Today was a whirlwind. For me, it started promptly at 4:30 AM after going to bed at midnight. I woke up and my mind started racing with names of people I forgot to email last night, things that have to get done in the next few days, and oh yeah, that pesky question of what to name our daughter!

I'll start by reporting that I had my co-worker and friend BZ help me out by translating a few things on Li Lei's report that weren't translated for us. She told me that Li Lei means beautiful flower bud! And that Long means dragon (which I think implies majesty). She thought it was a terrific name! The one other thing on the form that hadn't been translated reported that Li Lei drinks 200 ml (about 7 ounces) of formula and sometimes eats cereal. I told BZ that she needs to teach me some Chinese phrases before I travel!

I did notice that one other family from our agency who got a referral from the same SWI (social welfare institute or orphanage) had a child with the same last name. This is the common practice, that all the children in the same SWI usually have the same last name. Sometimes it is the director's last name. Sometimes they just use a different name for each year. I'm going to try to get more details on the origin of the name from our agency.

We did get an email from the agency with some things we need to do quickly - apply for our visas tomorrow, send the care package to Li Lei in the next day or two, and get the travel documents in order in the next few days. Of course, these require us to declare the baby's name, so I will be forced to stay awake tonight until that is resolved. Honest...we're down to two, and we really are happy with either. But it doesn't seem like the kind of decision that should be made with a coin toss, so the debate goes on.

The email also said we would get updated measurements this week. We just discovered from the pediatrician (and first suspected by Uncle T) that, despite those chubby cheeks, Li Lei is a lightweight! She looks so chubby, but my only comparison is with EJ, who didn't hit 15 pounds until she was 12 months old, so 12 pounds at 7 months seems okay to me! And, the children in China are generally bundled up quite a bit (even in the middle of summer), so maybe she just appears chubbier than she really is. They also say we should get a growth report in a few days.

Some other neat things...Li Lei shares the same birthday with my cutie pie niece H in PA! That's kind of cool. And, after our paperwork went to China in the Fall of 2005, Santa left a special gift under the tree that Christmas. It was all wrapped up and labeled for EJ, but Santa had attached a note saying she should give the contents to her baby sister when she arrived. EJ unwrapped the package to discover a cute stuffed Panda with the name of Li Mei! That Santa...he was so close with the name!

Thank you all so much for your warm wishes and support. We look forward to sharing our travels with you. We hope to leave in late May or early June.

Oh, I almost the craziness of the last week or so, I have surprised myself by not blogging a single word about the start of baseball season. I did let out a big sigh of relief yesterday as we drove past Fenway on the way to the adoption agency...relief that I will have something enjoyable to watch on TV for a change. At least, we hope it will be an enjoyable season. I still need to get that Papelbon jersey...and I'm anxious to see Dice-K pitch tomorrow.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Here she is....

Wow. What a day. We are completely overwhelmed. But before I give you the glorious details, here are the long-awaited photos of Li Lei! She will be 7 months old tomorrow!!!

At about 10:30 this morning, a fellow waiting mother from our agency sent an email that she had just talked to our agency and reported that they don't usually get deliveries from DHL until 11:30 or so. At noon, she posted another message saying they had received the packages and she had just received her call. Since we had the same application date as her, I suspected that meant we would get a call too, but I just couldn't believe it. I had been getting ready to go to the cafeteria to eat lunch, but suddenly lost my appetite and was shaking like a leaf! I called K at home, but he assured me that he hadn't had any calls worthy of calling me about, so I tried to compose myself, but didn't have much luck. I stayed in my office with the door closed and hoped that no one came looking for me...

FINALLY, at about 12:40, K called with the good news!!! Her name is Long Li Lei -- Long is her last name, Li is her first name, and Lei is her middle name. It is likely that we will use LiLei as her middle name. Stay tuned for her English name; we're in final negotiations on that one. Some of the names on my short list at one point were Lily and Lila. But this is why we waited to decide...can you imagine Lily LiLei? What a mouthful!

I left work around 2 and met up with K and EJ (who K picked up early from school) and we headed into Brookline, MA to our agency, China Adoption With Love. When they handed us the pictures, our first comments were "Those cheeks!!!" Those of you who have known EJ since the early days know that she never had an ounce of baby fat on her...ever!

Here's a picture of EJ with Lillian (on the left, the owner/director of our agency) and Sherry (on the right) holding up the picture of LiLei. They had a very busy day today, as 20 families received matches. It appears as though the matches were from two different provinces, Jiangxi and Hunan, so the travel group will split for a few days to pick up the babies.

We went through the paperwork, stopped for an early dinner (Chinese food of course!), and then topped it all off with a visit to the ice cream shop, where we bumped into EJ's first grade teacher. EJ proudly served in her first official duty as jie jie (big sister) and showed off the pictures.

As for her report, she is about 24 inches tall and weighs about 12 pounds. We should get updated measurements in a few days. She has no teeth yet. She eats about every 3.5 hours. She awakes at 5:15 in the morning, takes a one hour morning nap and a one hour afternoon nap and goes to bed around 6 P.M. She is a "moderate" sleeper - not sure what that means! She can hold up her head while lying on her stomach and she can roll over. She can locate the direction of sounds or a voice and visually follows moving toys. As for personality, they say she is active, restless, and quick in reaction...sometimes impatient and sometimes obstinate (guess that explains the look in the pictures!). She likes going outside and colorful stuffed toys.

Still can't believe it. We are so thrilled to finally see her face and hear her name and know a little more about her. We can't wait until we are able to hold her in our arms. Travel cannot come soon enough.
ONE UPDATE: I failed to mention in this post that we owe a huge thank you to our agency for all of their amazing work! I know this has been a much longer than expected wait, and I know it wasn't easy for them to deal with a bunch of anxious expectant parents. I have so much respect for the way they handled the constantly-changing dates and expectations--never speculating on wait times and only disclosing known facts, because I firmly believe that they didn't have guaranteed answers for us. Thank you to them for not making promises they couldn't keep or sharing info that wasn't going to make a difference anyway. Thank you, CAWLI, for bringing this cutie into our lives...

IT'S A GIRL!!!!!

We are thrilled to announce the referral of our daughter!

Long Li Lei
Born September 10, 2006
Waiting for us in the Jiangxi province

We should be leaving for China in 5-8 weeks to pick her up!

We have an appointment at the adoption agency this afternoon at 4, so details and photos will be later tonight!!!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter morning

Here are a few shots from this morning...This one was after she found her basket. The Easter bunny hid it behind a plant in the front hallway.

Here is EJ in her Easter dress...

And a close up...

And this one shows what she discovered on the dining room table. The Easter bunny left a whole tabletop full of desk accessories for her new desk!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Hot Buns!

You wanna see my hot buns?

You know you do!


This is my annual project for Easter breakfast.

NOTE from wife, L: Just wanted you all to know that I didn't post this!!!

Hoppy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Hoppin' down the bunny trail

Tonight was the annual coloring of the Easter Eggs at the H house. In the morning, we're having breakfast with the big bunny himself at EJ's school, so expect to see more pics in the afternoon.

Friday - Finally a GOOD Rumor!!!

The rumor sites started buzzing around 3 PM today with news of a few people getting their matches today! At least two have been posted, with LIDs (login dates) that are the same as ours! And, one family in CA who was inadvertently passed over last month got their call today...I'm SO happy for them!

What does it mean for us? Hopefully that the phone will ring in the next few days. Looks like 2 of the 3 calls that I know about were all from west coast agencies.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Today's Rumor Rundown

The rumors this morning started out all over the place again. There are some people saying that referrals are still being matched up, some saying they're already on their way, etc. Many people are guessing that they won't arrive until Monday, but hey, we thought was the case last week! Just stay tuned...check in with us each day. I certainly hope it isn't much longer.

Grandma H sent a cute little blue silk journal for EJ to take on our travels. She has two entries in it so far. The latest, dated Monday 4/2, says "We thought we would get the call today, but we didn't get it!!!! If we don't get it by NEXT WEEK I will exsplode!!"

On another note, where the heck is Spring? Where are the daffodils and tulips? I don't hear the birds chirping or see tender shoots of green on the trees! Here's what we woke up to this morning. Can you believe it? EJ had a snow day today!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Where in the world is Baby H?

Well, of course we know she's in China! But where in China? I just did a little snooping through our agency's emails over the last 18 months, and here's the breakdown:

  • 61 from Hunan (7 travel groups)
  • 33 from Jiangxi (4 travel groups)
  • 20 from Anhui (2 travel groups)
  • 13 from Hubei 2 travel groups)
  • 8 from Guangdong (1 travel group)
  • 7 from Guangxi (1 travel group)
  • 3 from Sichuan (1 travel group)

These numbers may not be accurate, as some months the travel group was large enough to be split between two provinces. For example, the February 2007 update reported that 16 families were matched with babies in two provinces. Without knowing the breakdown, I counted that as 8 for each province. In reality, this could have been 15 families going to one province and 1 family traveling to the other. But, I think this is a good estimate.

How does the Chinese agency match babies with families?

So, with the rumors saying one of two things - that referrals are still being matched up, or that matching is complete and referrals are on their way, I realized that some of you might wonder how children are matched with families. The following text is paraphrased from another site, and it's the most detailed explanation I've read. Not sure how we know that it's true, but it is what most believe to be true.
  1. The CCAA reviews the baby's paperwork to make sure it is all in order. Then, they count up all of the babies that are eligible for matching that month and look to see how far this stack will go in the parent files without sending out a partial day's worth of matches (remember, all the applications are recorded in date order), and they pull all of those parent files. This helps to determine the likely cut-off date for the matches each month.
  2. Next they match SWIs, or Social Welfare Institutes (orphanages) up with agencies. This SWI has six babies, this agency has six families. These two SWIs are in the same province and have a total of 12 babies, this agency has 12 families.
  3. Finally, they start matching individual babies to individual families. Just as in the review room (where the parent applications are checked), each matcher is assigned certain agencies. Apparently, matchers first look for something that stands out when selecting a family to be matched with a baby: a matching birthday, a baby who looks a lot like a parent, or a baby who likes music and a parent who teaches music. The example our agency gave was that if you are a sporty, outgoing family, you might be matched with an "active" child from the SWI. Upon hearing that, we thought it best not to mention our hiking and camping, and instead reported that we read and listen to classical music each night! (Just kidding!) Apparently Chinese astrology may play a part in the decision as well.

Mid-week rumor rundown

Today, the rumor sites heated up again with all sorts of crazy stories...the referrals are on their way (they've left China), they're still in the matching room (they haven't left China), they might be here Thursday or Friday, they might not be here until next week. Since I've been disappointed once this week, I refuse to be caught up in them any more. I'm done with them all! Yeah, I won't even look. Period. End of story. Well...maybe just one more peek at those rumor sites before I go to bed tonight!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Still no news...

...and the rumor sites haven't given us any new clues today. It appears that the packages that left China last week were actually travel authorizations for last month's referrals. So we have no idea when the matches are coming. Hopefully this week or next. China typically sends them out somewhere between 28 days and 38 days after the last round, which means anywhere from yesterday through next Thursday 4/12. But as we all know, past performance isn't necessarily an indication of future performance, so....we wait!

I don't remember being this stressed waiting to go into labor when EJ was born!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Doesn't look good for today...

Well, the rumor sites apparently got it wrong this time. Figures...just when it's our turn for the phone to ring! There have been no referral announcements online. Another waiting family with our agency "took one for the team" and contacted the agency this morning. As of 10:30ish this morning, they had not received referrals yet.

Oh well, looks like I'll just be a basket case for a few more days (hopefully not weeks).

Pass me the chocolate...

Nothing yet...

A quick scan of the rumor sites this morning did not turn up any referral activity. Usually, referrals hit Europe first. Last month, I think they hit on the same day as the US, so I was expecting to see a few announcements this morning...


Will staring at the phone make it ring? Maybe if we all stare at this photo with intense concentration, it will ring. Pity the telemarketer who calls here today....

I'm still hoping that the call comes today, based on rumors we heard last week .

Oh, and I forgot to share this EJ story. After dinner on Saturday night, we told EJ that we had a big surprise for her. Her eyes got really big and she said, "Did you get the call???" We replied that we hadn't. Her eyes got even bigger as she asked, "Are we getting a DOG?!?!?!?!" My reply: "We'll talk about that after we get the baby potty-trained!"

Then, we told her that we had been talking about it and we thought she might like to travel to China with us. She was speechless (for once)! And she jumped up and gave me the biggest hug and said "Thank you" through a bunch of tears. Then, I started crying. K just rolled his eyes and wondered how he will ever survive in a house with three females.