Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The worst sound of summer

Think about the terrific sounds of summer - burgers sizzling on the grill, the tinkle of the ice cream truck, the sound of iced tea being stirred (okay, that one's a quote from "Rent")...gee, all of these involve food, huh? Interesting.

I have one bad sound of summer to offer up. It must be the worst one, because I'm having trouble even thinking of others. Maybe you can think of some...if so, comment below.

The worst one...the shrill hum of a mosquito in your ear after you've turned off the lights at night. Hate it. Can't stand. Lived through it several times last night. Each involved turning on the light and smashing the little bugger. Swatted a few more dead this morning. Not sure where they're coming from, but I hate that sound.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Summer Saturday

EJ and I decided to go pick some strawberries this morning. We went to a local farm and picked about 8 pounds in 15-20 minutes. Not bad! The berries are beautiful and red, but not very big. But they are absolutely delicious. EJ loves them plain (me too!), but they aren't too bad with my favorite fruit dip, either. Just mix up one part cream cheese and one part marshmallow fluff. Yum! And I think there's a strawberry pie in my future tomorrow.

Here's a shot of Sophie with Pap Pap H:

This evening, we all went to our friends, the D's, for dinner. Here's Sophie hanging in the back yard with all the kids.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A week's worth of photos...

I know, I know...you're on photo deprivation. Here's a peek at our life over the last week.

Here is Sophie hangin' with Grandma H. You can see that between EJ's toys stacked up on the toybox and Sophie's saucer, the back half of my family room is a lost cause at the moment:

Sophie was happy to play with Grandma!

Many of you asked what we bought in China, so here's a look at some of the treasures we found. Sophie came home with several pairs of squeaky shoes. I can't figure out why no one is selling these in the States--they're everywhere in China. Basically, the shoes squeak when the kid steps, an auditory version of the light-up shoes, I guess. Anyway, all-leather shoes for 25 yuan (about $3.50). Just for the record, I selected the pink ones with the bows and K selected the funky green ones!

These matching outfits for the girls were 35 yuan each ($4.50). I bought several dresses for EJ in hot pink, red, this blue one, and the custom-made one in gold and pink. For Sophie, I also bought all the sizes between 2 and 8! How could I pass them up for that price?!?!?!

And speaking of matching outfits, check out this Hugh Hefner-style jacket. We decided that we needed SOMETHING to wear to our agency's Chinese New Years Party next year. There are about 2,000 people at this party each year and it is so much fun! Anyway, we bought dresses for the girls and a matching blouse for me. But what to get for K? He checked out the plain black silk jackets, but the Chinese sizes were way too small (yes, even the 4XL!). So, they took his measurements and custom-made him one in less than 24 hours, for 280 yuan ($35). I know you're all waiting for the photos of K modeling the jacket, right?

We also bought chops for the girls. Chops are carved rubbed stamps mounted on a stone base. This is Sophie's...hers has a dog on top since she was born in the year of the dog. The stamp has her name in English and Chinese.

Sophie is from the Jiangxi province, which is known for its porcelain. This vase was given to us by the Civil Affairs office when the adoption became official. What a nice gift!

We also visited a porcelain shop in Nanchang. Porcelain made in Jiangxi is stamped with a distinctive stamp. We bought this small tea set there:

The Mattel Corporation gives all adopting families staying at the White Swan the Coming Home Barbie - a collectible model that can't be bought anywhere (except eBay, of course!). When we first checked in at the WS, they didn't have a crib in our room, so we had to request one. The next day, we came back to the room after morning errands to find our Coming Home Barbie in the crib!

We bought these embroidered tapestries to have framed. They are about 3 feet long and 1 foot wide:

We bought a lot of other things, many of them gifts (and even some Christmas gifts), so we can't ruin the surprises here. And I won't bore you with photos of all the jewelry (jade, pearls, turquoise, and cloissone)!
On Tuesday night, EJ and I had our first-ever piano recital. EJ started taking lessons in November. I took lessons for about 14 years when I was a kid, but my teacher never did a recital, and that didn't bother me at all! Well, if a student's parent plays the piano, they ask if the parent wants to play in the recital with their child. So, EJ wanted me to play with her. She did a fantastic job!!! And Miss Sophie was quite well-behaved through the performance! We played the Uptown Waltz. The woman on the left is Miss A, EJ's teacher.

And finally, here's how EJ spent her day today. She "hired" Grandma to bake some cookies, and then set up her very first lemonade stand this afternoon. She made about $7 and was quite thrilled with it. It helped that the teenage boys next door had lots of friends over!

Wonder what Grandma will be talked into tomorrow?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I've been a BAAAAD blogger

Is it Saturday already? Do I really have to go to work on Monday? But, but...I didn't get all the things done that were supposed to get done this past week. You know, like the adoption announcements, the thank-you notes, and ummm, what about that big stack of mail that accumulated while we were gone...I haven't even gone through it yet!!!

Thursday evening was filled with a visit from K's high school buddy from the Atlanta area. Friday was dress rehearsal for the dance recital, and tonight was the big show. Here are a few pictures of the most beautiful ballerina I know (and a darn good tap dancer too). She did an amazing job and we're very proud of her!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Back to the airport

After a 3.5 hour nap yesterday that we had to wake her from, Sophie slept for 12 hours again last night! And FINALLY, for the last two nights, I've had 7 straight hours of sleep. Sophie has adjust far better than me. I had been waking most nights around 2 or 3 for an hour or so...very frustrating.

This morning, we took Sophie back to the airport, where we picked up Grandma and Grandpap H. We took them out to lunch for some...Chinese food!!!! The host at the restaurant wanted to know immediately if she was from Hunan, where he is from. We told him she was a Jiangxi girl, and he commented "right next door"! He told us that he could tell she would be smart because of her large forehead.

She took a little nap this afternoon and then after dinner (squash and pears tonight - both big hits), we took her to the ice cream party at EJ's school, where we were able to show her off to some friends in town.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More Sophie photos

Here are a few photos from the last couple of days. Note in the first shot that Miss Sophie has a little shmear of sweet potatoes on her face - she loves them!

She also enjoys the Exersaucer toy...
Pap-Pap and Mamaw S were here to pick us up at the airport and provide grandparent reinforcement for the first few days. They left to go back home yesterday, but never fear, the Grandparents H arrive tomorrow!

Sophie had her first dr's appointment this morning. She did just fine. Of course, we need to take her back in the next week or so for some bloodwork just to confirm immunizations, etc. She probably won't be so happy then.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Photos from the last few days of the trip

Since I wasn't able to share photos of the final few days of the trip in Guangzhou, I thought I'd try to catch up a bit tonight. I will also post some other of the good pics in the next few days. I'm trying to get them organized in an online site to make it easier. I took about 550 good shots, so they will take a while to get through.

This first shot was taken at the Nanchang airport, where we said goodbye to our local guide there, Shirley. She was very sweet and helped make all the paperwork and court appointments go by so smoothly - much better than we expected!

From Nanchang, we took a short flight to Guangzhou, where we stayed at the famous White Swan Hotel. Yes, we got the Coming Home Barbie, a custom Barbie that has a Chinese baby girl in her arms. Big collector's item. We had a room on the 15th floor. Here is a picture of the lobby.

On Saturday morning, I took Sophie for her doctor's appointment so that she could be cleared for departure to the US.

That afternoon, I ventured out to the Pearl Market, where this woman hand-strung the pearls while I watched. I bought strands for me and the girls.

As you can imagine, Sophie was excited to hear about her pearls. I didn't have the heart to tell her that she'll have to wait AT LEAST 16 years before she'll get them.

On Sunday morning, we went to the Six Banyan Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in Guangzhou.

Just inside the gate, you'll find this structure. See the little hole in the top? If you get a coin through it, the Buddha will grant you happiness and good fortune. EJ couldn't resist the chance to try. She winds up...

She shoots...

She scores!!!!

Here is a picture of Connie, our local guide in Guangzhou:

And here is a monk that was sitting on the property:

This is the Buddha that was in the main temple where Sophie and the other babies were given a traditional Buddhist blessing.

We also got to see the only female Buddha in all of China:

Monday was a free day. K had to stay in the room from 11-12 while our guides did the American Consulate appointments for us, just in case there were any questions. EJ and I set out for some shopping! In the afternoon, while Sophie was napping, EJ and I hung out at the pool for a while. That evening, we went on a dinner cruise on the Pearl River. Here is our national guide, Rose, with EJ and a few of the other big sisters.

The skyline is all lit up like Vegas:
Here is the White Swan from the water:

After the cruise, K decided he could no longer resist the urge of the local Starbucks:

Here's Sophie's rappin' look:
Her face looks a little splotchy in this photo. She had a nasty case of heat rash. The pediatrician on the trip told me to use hydrocortisone on it. It looks so much better today...
At the White Swan, travel groups take a traditional photo of the all the babies on the famous Red Couch. Our travel group went to two different provinces. Here are all the babies from the Jiangxi province. They were so composed...for a short while. Sophie is up on the back of the couch on the right.

And this is the Jiangxi Big Sister/Little Sister Club:

EJ and Sophie love each other already:

Our family on the Red Couch:

Today was another good day. We went to my cousin's son's birthday party. Sophie had a good time watching all the kids in the bounce house. And then she crashed and napped for 1.5 hours there. Tomorrow, we'll try church in the morning and then we'll attend one of EJ's friend's party in the afternoon.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Re-entry to my life...

Well, we've been home for a whopping 30 hours or so and things are going well. My dad and his wife picked us up at the airport and by the time we got luggage and got home, it was a little after 11 PM. I think the fact that we didn't sleep a whole lot in the previous 30 hours made the transition a little easier. We had a snack at home (a nice big salad for me) and tried to get some sleep. Miss Sophie wasn't exactly thrilled with her room the first night, but I think it was more that she was wide awake and buzzing and the room was a little scary with the lights out to try to sleep. At about 1 AM, I brought her into our room, thinking I would carry her back to her crib once she crashed. Of course, we all crashed at the same time and she stayed in our bed the whole night. EJ awoke at 5:30 AM, so she and I got up and K and Sophie stayed in bed until maybe 7.

In China, Sophie was only taking a bottle with some rice cereal in it, nothing else solid. She did eat some steamed eggs for us there, and a few bites of a croissant or banana bread or French toast at breakfast, but wasn't too interested. The only solid food that she really liked while we were there were these wonderful new things from Gerber that are little puffs that melt in her mouth. I say new because I don't remember these when EJ was a baby. I had taken two containers of these with me, both sweet potatoes and bananas, and she loved them. They're a little big, so I would break them in half, but she loved them. I also used these on the plane to keep her swallowing so her ears wouldn't bother her.

Yesterday morning, I thought I would try some banana baby food for breakfast. She didn't like it at all! She started wailing after only a few mouthfuls, so we went back to the banana puffs. At lunch, I made some plain orzo for myself, and she ate some of that, but I think she was swallowing each noodle whole without chewing! For dinner, we had grilled chicken, grilled potatoes and fresh green beans. I cut up a few beans and fed her those from a fork and she loved them. I also steamed some carrots and she loved those too. Perhaps she just wants real food like the rest of us and not that mushy pureed stuff, which would be fine with me.

She napped yesterday from 9:30 - 12 (we had to wake her) and again from 2 - 4 with me. We kept her awake after that and after dinner, a nice bath, and a final bottle, K rocked her to sleep in minutes and she has been sleeping soundly in her crib for the past 10 hours.

EJ will go to school today and then her final dance class before next weekend's recital today. Hopefully, she'll be well-rested. She did not nap yesterday, but she has been asleep since about 8:30 last night, so she should be ready.

I am uploading photos right now (I started them around 10 PM last night), so I should be able to show off some more of those soon.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

We're HOME!!!

Will update more later...got a few hours of sleep last night (with Sophie in our bed). Hope to fill you in on travels later. Let's just say that coming home was much better than getting there. Both EJ and Sophie did fine on the 14 hour flight...Sophie only sat in her seat for about 10 minutes, but the investment was worth the extra space for EJ to stretch out and for K and I to have some elbow room. Sophie slept about 8 of the 14 hours.

More later...