Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stella The Cat

Stella is our beautiful Siamese kitty we adopted about four years ago.  She is very well-behaved -- does not jump up on counters and furniture and was clearly raised as an indoor kitty.  For about the first three years we had her, she did not step foot outside.  She would just stand at the threshold and sniff and take it all in.  She didn't have any interest in sitting in windows either.  That has all changed over the past few months.  Stella has become a fresh air junkie.  She loves to go out in the backyard and explore.  She will stand by the door each morning and wait for us to let her out.  And the kitchen window has become her favorite place to hang out.

Favorite spotKickstand kitty

Time to go outSubtle hint

Rolling around in the sunTrees smell good

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Feeling Fortunate

So in the midst of my impatience, frustration and anxiety about this wait, I receive a mass e-mail from our agency coordinator yesterday.  There has been lots of rumbling on the China adoption forums by people who are still waiting to be matched and getting fed up with their agency...which happens to be our agency too.  So our coordinator sent out a "refresher" of sorts to remind people how the process works.

Her job is to find families for the children.  And while a family can apply to adopt a Waiting Child, there is no guarantee they will be matched.  She mentioned that for every baby girl she comes across, there are many, many families waiting...and that they currently have 500 applications on file for families hoping to be matched.  500 applications!  This just blew me away.  What a job that must be to sort through all those applications to find what she feels is the best match for a child!

Reading that e-mail made me feel so incredibly fortunate and grateful to have been matched withour daughter after only 3 months of waiting.  And, it makes me feel really good that out of all those families, she felt we were the best match for Hongyan.  We feel there is no better match for us.

So, feeling very fortunate today and lucky to have gotten that reality check to remind me to feel fortunate each and every day...for what we have in our life already and for what will come in the future.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Melody Update

This month's update on our sponsor child, Melody, living in the New Day Healing Home:

How yummy are those cheeks!

Melody Oct 09

Melody is 7 Months Old.

Melody’s nanny wrote this update:

Melody is a cute girl with such a beautiful smile!  She has dimples too, which adds to everyone’s enjoyment of seeing her smile!   Melody had not been able to receive her surgery yet for the growth on her neck.  She went into the hospital to prepare for surgery a while back, but ended up with a cough and they were unable to do her operation.  She has now returned to the Healing Home until her cough is better and her lungs are clearer for the surgery.  We hope that she soon becomes well enough to have her operation.  We look forward to her growing healthier and stronger after her operation!  We really enjoy Melody, she is a sweet girl!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hongyan's Room - The Walls

Every girl needs to be properly accessorized and so does her room!  She will of course have a family wall with photos of all her Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins.  We are hoping to get photos of her foster family and any friends or special people in her life.  We will also take photos of China and the area she is from to frame for he walls.  In addition, I will add some creative art like this amazing stuff I found on Etsy:

How stinkin' cute is this stuff:

 And these:

 It's all so cute:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hongyan's Room

Yes - she does have a name.  It is Hongyan and this is what we call her.  But yes, we are still working on her special "Family Day" name!

Her room is a work in progress.  We had painted the walls a pale yellow and put in a laminate wood floor a few years ago when I started using it as my exercise/zen room.  We knew it would eventually become a kid room and since we did not know if we would be matched with a boy or girl, thought yellow would be a gender-neutral color, bright and cheery to inspire me to engage in some physical activity.  Ha Ha!  Well, I thought it was gender-neutral.  Brandon said he never knew a dude with a yellow room but really, what color would you paint a room for a boy or girl?

The room was also decorated up a bit for Aunt Jenny, since it was "her room" when she would come to visit.  This is what it looks like now...remember, it is a work in progress!

Room In Progress Oct. 24th

So we've decided to keep the room yellow and work from there.  At this point, we are debating as to whether we want to go all out and buy the bed and bedding we really like, or do something simple now and wait until she's been home for a while and let her tell us what she would like.  She will be nearly three and a half when we bring her home and we are well aware that means she will come with her own personality and opinions.  I am leaning towards the "all out".  I want her to come home to a complete room that was done just for her, with love.

Anyone who knows us well knows were are not "theme-y" and don't want our girl to be molded in to a pretty pink princess!  Not that there's anything wrong with that...just not our thing.  This is the bedding set I am loving right now:


I also like this one very much - it is a modern butterfly and bird pattern in lilac and pink:


We already have a twin mattress set so were looking for a twin bed that is fairly low to the ground.  It would be silly to buy a toddler bed and mattress as she would only need it for a short time.  Those yellow walls are pretty bold and all of the trim is white, so I am in the process of painting some furniture we will re-purpose white as well.  She will have her own little cabinet with a t.v. (no cable!), DVD player and CD player and a bookcase for all the books her Daddy is collecting for her.

So that's where we are at with her room!  I was feeling a little hesitant to get this ball rolling, as if I would somehow jinx things.  But it has felt really good to start working on this project, since we aren't able to send her packages and ask for updates yet.  Working on her room has helped to make this all seem more real.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Something Sweet

This is a photo of a little girl named Madeline who is with the New Day Foster Home program in Beijing.  She has recently been matched with a family and is seeing a picture of her Mama for the first time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

One Silly Boy

[caption id="attachment_282" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Squid Monkey"]Squid Monkey[/caption]

Andrew, our 11 year old nephew, has become quite the short film maker.  He even has his own channel on youtube!  Check out the episodes in season one and stayed tuned for his Halloween special:

High five, Squid Monkey!  Your videos are awesome!

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's Next?

I have been asked by many over the past several days "what will come next?".   And, "when will you be able to go get her?".  To answer these and the many other questions we are often asked, I have created a new page called "The Process".  It outlines the process in detail and should answer any questions you may have about the next steps in our journey.  Of course you are always welcome to ask any other questions you may have!  I know I am usually in a constant state of confusion about all of this, so there is no such thing as a silly question!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

For The Nanas

Nana Mary - Lao Lao is maternal grandmother.  It is pronounced L-ow (like "ow, that hurt" with an L) Lo

Nana Joyce - Nai Nai is paternal grandmother.  It is pronounced Nigh-ee Ni

Click the link to below to visit the web page where you can hear how to pronounce them - just hover your mouse over the words:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's In A Name?

As some of you may know, we were not at all expecting to be matched with a little girl.  It may seem odd to those who know a little about Chinese adoption, but there are also lots of "waiting" boys -- precious boys who usually wait longer because most families want to adopt a little girl.  We indicated we would be open to either gender and since there are so many more families waiting to be matched with girls, we thought for sure our first little one would be a boy.  We had lots of boy names in mind but did not have a list of names we like for girls!

In China, children are named with the family surname, generational name and then first name, in that order.  The first name can represent a wish for their future or characteristic of the child.  Children in orphanages usually all have the same surname, which is one that represents the orphanage and/or area they live in.  The generational name is the same for all children brought in to the orphanage that year.  The first name is given by a worker or director of the orphanage.  Our girl was named Dang Hong Yan by her orphanage.  From what I can tell, Dang which would be the surname of all children from her orphanage, means party (as in political party?).  Hong is the generational name and means red, popular or bonus.  And Yan means swallow, as in bird.  The tricky part is the Chinese characters can mean different things, depending upon which characters they are with so I may be way off base.  So, I am going to ask a Chinese friend to translate the actual characters and combination for me.

In the past, adoptive families would give their Chinese children entirely new names.  It was thought best to fully "Americanize" them as soon as possible.  That view has changed and many adoptive parents and SW's now believe it's best to keep your child's culture alive so they have a link to their past.  Most parents now give their children new first names and keep their given name as their middle name.  But some parents feel that their name was given to them by an orphanage worker and has no significant meaning.  Others feel like this may be their only chance to name a child and want to use a family name or one or two that have special meaning to them.   Some try to incorporate the given name in to the first name.  And a few keep the name entirely intact and just add the family surname.

We have talked about this quite a bit and discussed it with family, friends and other adoptive parents.  We had to remind ourselves that this is Texas -- there is not much diversity in the area we live and the Asian families we do know all use "American" first names.  It might be different if we lived somewhere like San Francisco or Seattle, but it would be very frustrating to grow up in Texas with a name that no one can pronounce or spell.  So, we have decided to give our girl a new first name and keep her Chinese name as her middle name.  That way if she decides when she is older she wants to use her given name she can do so.

We have been asked by many what her name will be, but still have not decided on one.  We are fortunate to have pictures of our girl and know a little about her personality, which will make choosing her name easier.  We also need to pick a name that works well with her Chinese name.  We do have a list and have it narrowed down and hope for something to "click" soon, and when it does, we'll let you know!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Funny Video

This guy cracks me up!  Brandon & I are working on our retorts to lunatic strangers. 

Here's the video on Comedy Central

We Got Our Pre-Approval!!!

Yippee!  I got an e-mail for our coordinator this morning telling us we have pre-approval from the CCAA to adopt our little one!  It took 4 weeks exactly...on the long end of the wait so we hope the rest of the steps move more quickly!

It just so happens that today is her 3rd birthday!  Happy Birthday, baby girl!  We aren't allowed to share identifying information about her until the next step, which is LSC/LOA but I can tell you a little more about her!

She was born on 10/12/06 and is currently living with a foster family in Inner Mongolia.  She has been in foster care since the age of six months and according to her reports is developmentally on target.  Her reports were done at 2 1/2 years old and she weighed 30 lbs and was 36 inches tall.

They describe her as "a little obstinate and talkative. She likes smiling and poking her nose into everything. She likes playing games and playing outside."  They also say she is not a picky eater and eats everything, but meat is her favorite.

At the age of 9 months, she could turn over. At the age of 10 months, she could jump when sitting in the baby carriage. At the age of 1 and a half year, she learnt to walk, and she could take 4-5 steps. She could crawl quickly. At the age of 1 year and 8 months, she could walk alone. She could speak the words with 2 characters. Now she can speak the sentences with 4-6 words, and talk to the adults. She likes writing, reading, and toys.

We are so happy to finally get some news and to be able to share more with you!  The next step will be LSC/LOA (formal approval), at which point we can send packages and post photos of her.  The agency told us to expect to wait 75-100 days for this, so the waiting begins once again!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Some Goodies For Our Girl

Look what arrived last week!  Another adorable outfit and our girl's first "Pucci Pup" from Auntie Kristen.  It seems I need to know about these pups.  How darn cute are those jeans!  This is going to be fun...

She also sent some really sweet books to get us started.  Thanks Aunt Peanut!



Birthday Fun

How can I possibly be 40 already?!!!  It seems like just yesterday I was celebrating my 30th with my friends in Cabo.  They do say 40 is the new 30 and sure don't feel like I am 40, so I suppose it really is just a number after all.

My sis Jen has come to Austin for my birthday every year since we moved here.  Poppy usually makes the trip too, but had some expenses come up and another trip to make this year so wasn't able to be here.

[caption id="attachment_174" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Mellie and Jen"]Kiss kiss[/caption]

So this year Jen brought her guy, Guy with her.  Guy turned 40 two days after me so it was a joint celebration of sorts.  Jen & Guy live in Northern California so it was a treat to spend a few days in the warm sun and spend time in the pool.

[caption id="attachment_176" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Jen and Guy"]Noodle swords[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_177" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Brandon through the goal posts"]cannonball[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_178" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Jen soaking up the sunshine"]bathing beauty[/caption]

We had great weather and were able to eat lunch and dinner outside most days.  We went to Gueros, County Line for BBQ, The Oasis for a beer and the view and of course shopped at Central Market.  We also went to Alamo Drafthouse for a movie, lunch and beers.

One night a big ol' storm was rolling in from the west and we were able to sit out back and watch an amazing light show.  If you look close enough you can see a bolt of lightning:


Well, they are back to work in China now so hoping for some good news today or early next week!  I have other "friends" in the adoption community who are still waiting on PA's too and are just as anxious as we are.  It's good to know we are not alone!