Friday, February 27, 2009

Guess who's back in the game...

...and enjoying a bit of warm weather before the rain and snow come back???




Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Two Word Wednesday...

Sick again :-(


Sunday, February 22, 2009


We took an unexpected trip "home" over the weekend. There, we had the chance to connect with all of Lia's cousins...both sides...which is rare during any one visit. I had the opportunity to take pictures to my heart's content...and with six nieces, I had plenty 'o pretty subjects!!! I even got some photos of my mom taking a turn down the sled run on an inner you can be sure I will be posting those in the next few days! :-)

My niece, Annemarie, turned 9 two weeks ago...and was a great sport in putting off some mean sled runs for a few minutes to indulge me in a little photo shoot.







I know what you all are thinking...she could be a model, right?? But after reading this sign that she very seriously posted on her bedroom door...I am tempted to think she will become the next Ann Coulter someday...

(note...I try very hard not to mix politics into my blog...and I don't want to offend each his's what makes this country so great. This was just too amusing to me not to share it! She's only 9!!)


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Come on over...

...milk and cookies on the house!! :-)


Monday, February 16, 2009

How do I love thee...

Hugs and kisses, Jim style,...Valentines Day 2009:


I tried really hard to love the yellow paint I chose for our family room. I tried to "live with it". I tried to envision it with pictures hanging on it. I scrutinized it at different times of the day (and found I REALLY liked it at about 3 pm...but only at 3 pm). In the end, I had to admit I made a mistake...and convince Jim that it might physically hurt me to have to look at it everyday for the rest of time. Once he was thoroughly convinced of that...I tortured him even further by purchasing SEVERAL "test" colors and slathering them on every open wall space I could find. In the end, I chose the very paint I had in our condo...a taupe-y color called shortbread from the Martha Stewart line at Sherwin Williams. (I don't think she has the line there anymore but you can still request the color)

Once upon a time, Jim and I both enjoyed home renovation projects and we decided that we could knock out the room in one day...and save ourselves from having to pay our contractor to paint the room. Again. It turned into a marathon of a day....starting at 8:00 and ending around midnight. Our dreams of a one coat finish were dashed...of course it took two coats. Despite Jim's initial grumbling, we had a fun day. It's not often we have such long periods of uninterrupted time together...and I really enjoyed digging in and completing a project. The room looks great...well worth the time and aggravation. With our vanity delivery this week, our contractor can get in and finish up the trim, mantle and powder room...and I will have my room back. I can't wait to see it all together.

And if all that hard work and toleration were not enough, Jim got me Photoshop and Lightroom for Valentines Day! I am one happy (and lucky!) girl!



After...SO. MUCH. BETTER.:


Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Many are the stars I see, but in my eye no star like thee"


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dim Sum for Everyone...and a Lion Dance too!!

We officially rang in Chinese New Year this afternoon with our dearest adoption friends. We enjoyed Dim Sum and then ventured out into the gloriously warm February afternoon to watch the very loud, very colorful Lion Dance. It was an afternoon well spent...with memories to last a lifetime.





Katie that not the cutest style ever??


Beautiful Mia:


Almost the whole gang...gosh it's hard to get everyone in the same place at the same time...not to mention this was taken in the driveway of a Fire Department...and we had to move quickly out of the way at one point because Philadelphia's finest were called to duty! Very dramatic...and exciting!



One of my favorite shots of the day...a miniature Lion...maneuvered expertly by this little guy!:


And, of course, my sweet girl ready to head out the door in her beautiful Chinese dress...she was thrilled to be dressed up!


Saturday, February 7, 2009

"The Greatest Love"...or..."Today we are Three"

On this day, we celebrate the 3rd anniversary as a family. Try as I might, I believe I will forever be doomed to bumble any written description of that day in China that Lia was placed in my arms...the day my life truly began. Bumbling or not, I did try to describe it last year...and if you have any interest, or if you are new to our blog, you can read that account here.

While we were in China we communicated with friends and family via a website. I have gotten many compliments about the content of our website...the details of our days spent in China mingled with liberal doses of humor and history...and I believe it is time to publicly come clean about a few minor details of our China story (although I HAVE done so many times privately!).

We were so fortunate to be accompanied to China by Jim's brother, Joe. As Jim and I muddled through our first few days of parenthood, our website was lovingly attended to by Joe. At first, he tried to gently remind us that we had many people waiting at home to hear ANY details of our trip (read...get going and start getting some posts up!). So consumed were we and overwhelmed...that Joe finally, blissfully, took matters into his own hands and assumed the helm of the website. It was not until we returned home, that I had the opportunity to go back and read it all...and much to my amusement, I discovered that Joe had chosen to write in first person. In his own sweet way, I guess he was trying to protect the fact that we (I) were really struggling with the responsibility of caring for a grieving toddler in an unfamiliar country half a world away from home and were just plain too tired to write about the events undfolding. But while, I may have been tickled by Joe's "voice choice", I was thrilled to discover how thoroughly and accurately he portrayed our time in China. For that I will forever be grateful. Because of her Uncle Joe, Lia has a record of our early days together...and I know that one day that will be priceless to her.

So....for old time's sake...the play by play reported on our website on our Uncle Joe...

We are Parents


We have Lia!!!!!

She is a blessing!!

Another restless night was spent back at the Plaza Hotel in Beijing. We were up early, for our return to the Beijing airport to catch our plane to Xi'an, in the Shaanxi province. The flight on China Eastern Airline was short and uneventful, and we touched down to a sunny day in the city of Xi'an.

An hour long bus ride took us through farmland, suburbs, and into the bustling city of over 6 million that had Lia waiting for us somewhere. After settling into the Jianguo Hotel, we boarded the bus and headed to the Shaanxi Provincial Office headquarters in the center of the city.

We were immediately ushered into a room full of babies! It was crazy beyond words, as each of the ten families scanned the beautiful children before us, trying to guess which was ours. With months having passed since the last photos we had seen, it was not an easy task. As the director of all the orphanages was introduced with our guide, Ike, as translator, we were hard pressed to concentrate on the speech.

Was it the little girl in yellow down on the end? Was it the one crying in the center of the bunch? After a few guesses that didn't feel true, we began to pay attention to the sweet little girl near us who was quietly destroying a roll of toilet paper to pass the time. Suddenly, Jim remembered reading in the referral how Hui Wen, our baby, was known to enjoy tearing paper to comfort herself! It had to be her! We held our breaths as each family was called forward to receive their child from the orphanage nanny and sign some documents. One by families had been called...finally, next to last, we were called and we received little Hui Wen Lia Nanette as our own! An entire book of writing can't begin to capture the emotion of that moment. It was hard for all involved. Naturally the babies cry when leaving their nannies and foster parents, and naturally there are tears of joy from the new parents. But everything worked out slowly but surely, and I'm sure every parent was as happy and proud as they have ever been in their life. Kate held little Lia tightly and the bonds were quickly made. After some official photos, it was back to the bus and back to the hotel to begin our new life together. An emotionally and physically draining day was ending...

So...Joe...I couldn't have said it better myself. Words straight and to the describe the moment my life truly began. We were so fortunate to have you with us. Thank you.

(A cool self portrait of Uncle Joe!)


Our first glimpse of Lia:


Our first moments together:


And finally, back at the hotel...I can't believe Lia was ever that small!:


All of the clothes Lia was wearing when we met:


And of course, this post wouldn't be complete without some words dedicated to our sweet girl...

To my darling darling Lia...the light of my heart,

You came into my life in the most dramatic of ways. Our wait for you was filled with exhilarating highs and crushing lows. My arms ached with the very thought of you, so anxious I was to have you with me. Nothing, however could have prepared me for the rush of emotions the day you were placed in my arms...a squirming, scared, overheated, beautiful, brave angel. I held you so gingerly, hardly daring to believe that you were for real. I touched your face and looked into your eyes...and my life was complete.

While this day will always be filled with memories of our first moments together, I want you to know that it is the thousands of moments since then that I savor most. Inconceivably my heart grows a little more each day as I tuck these memories away for safekeeping...and I fall in love with you just a little more with each one.

You make each day special ~ an adventure, a comedy, a fairy tale. You have taught me so much in the three short years we have been together. Listed, in no particular order are some of the important things you have shown me:

~Wake up each morning with a song. "I've Been Working on the Railroad" is always a great choice!
~Take time to do things right...and never give up. Even if it takes you 5 minutes and 27 tries to say, zip your coat...the pride in that moment of success can't be beat.
~There is always time for one more kiss and cuddle...and even if it makes you late for work, your day will inevitably go better because of it.
~Bathtubs really ARE like swimming pools if you wear your bathing suit in them.
~Life IS more fun in a princess dress.
~It's okay to eat dessert first sometimes.
~Your life will be ever so much richer, if you try new things. Learning a new skill like the names of the continents or photography can make you REALLY happy.
~Splashing in puddles in rain boots or bare feet causes giggles.
~Raising a child...raising the best thing I will ever do.

I hope as you continue to grow up and gain more awareness of how you came to be our child, you will know without a shadow of a doubt how very much you were wanted, wished for, prayed for.
I hope when you hear well meaning strangers tell you how lucky you are to have been adopted, you will understand the conspiratorial smile your dad and I will inevitably exchange, as we always do when we receive such remarks. It is we, your parents who are the lucky ones. We have been blessed beyond reason and gifted beyond any wild expectations with the honor of calling you "daughter". You are our sun, our moon, our stars, our everything. And I hope someday you might read this and understand that your Mama's penchant for emotional platitudes comes from the greatest love of all. Thank you for allowing us to be your parents.

A few images from our time in China:


Exhausted after taking her oath of citizenship:


My creation

Friday, February 6, 2009

A "Teaser"...

Tomorrow is an important day for our family...come back for a very special post that I've been working on for the past week. Until then...a little hint...

Can you spot our happy, smiling, little ray of sunshine?? :-)


(Lia is in the front...bottom the red dress. Obviously, she was NOT a fan of the red couch!! :-)) What a difference three years makes!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It's a New Day!!

I have my smiley, funny Lia back today!!! Her fever broke last night, thank goodness. She has gone all day without motrin or tylenol. I am so glad to have her little sense of humor back...and the twinkle in her eye. I must be happy because I was making up silly songs all morning, finally prompting Lia to request "a piece of quiet". Later at lunch, she mentioned she wanted to be just like me. So touched was I...until her next statement...which was..."Can you teach me how to be goofy??" It would be a short lesson, I can guarantee you...she's well on the road...

And now, gloriously...onto some good stuff! I have been having a little fun editing pictures in preparation of having some prints made . This shot is one that I took last summer. I believe it is my favorite image of Lia. To me, it just kind of reflects her essence. She is often contemplative and introspective and I think this image captures that.

Thank you all again for your support during Lia's illness. It meant more than I could possibly put into words...

And now...on to the pictures...any opinions?? Jim likes the first one...I am kind of partial to the second version...and the third was just experimentation... :-)




Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We're not out of the woods yet...but I'm hopeful that we've found the path...

Again, I just want to thank each and every one of you who took time to comment here, send e-mails...and call. is always great to be reminded that children do run fevers and they CAN run high...and it's okay. But most importantly it is just really reassuring to know that you all are praying for us. Lia continues to run a fever although it is now only going up to 102.5 between doses of motrin. She is eating better and I am able to get her to drink (Gatorade...a new treat!). She has pretty much eaten double her body weight in Popsicles as well over the the past two days. If she is not substantially better by tomorrow morning I plan to head back to the doctor and ask for another once over and review of symptoms. I have been reminded just how blessed we are that she is a healthy girl most of the time. And I know she is and will continue to heal and get well. We are so fortunate. I totally get please don't think I am a whiner when I say that I am drained beyond belief. I have not felt this out of it and tired since our early days home from China. Besides the lack of sleep...I think it is the constant worry and strain that really wears me down.

Lia was feeling well enough this morning to spend some time gazing upon the "beautiful jewel box" that she got for Christmas from her Aunt Carolyn. It matches so well with her bedroom...and Lia loves to wind up the ballerina and also use the key to lock and unlock the box ad naseum (not to her, however! :-)).



Lia looks as beautiful as ever to me...but you can see her little eyes are lacking their usual sparkle...


Here's hoping tomorrow brings brighter...and healthier news!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

We have a little sickie on our hands...

Update #2, 2/2/09: We just got back from the doctor's office. Our regular pediatrician was booked solid so we had to see a different one. Lia spiked a high fever (103.4) about an hour and 1/2 before we left and I didn't want to hold off the next dose of by the time we got there, her fever was down to 99.4. The doctor ruled out croup, strep throat and ear infections...and pretty much said she has a common cold and just keep treating her fever and giving her liquids and plenty of rest. No problem there...she is in bed beside me now sleeping. Honestly, I felt a little brushed off by the doctor. Lia has had plenty of colds...and even fevers...but this just seems different...worse by far. I also don't take Lia to the doctor often. In fact, when we had her 4 year old check up in December, the nurse noted that we hadn't been in since her three year check up. So long story long...I am still worried...but will keep tabs on the fever and keep doing what we have been to keep her comfortable. Thank you so much to all of you who sent e-mails, commented, called...and prayed. I am sure Lia will be fine, but we sure appreciate the blanket of support we felt around us this morning. Thank you so much.

Update 2/2/09: We had a very rough night. Lia's temperature stayed around 101 even with Motrin. We were so unsure as to whether we should bundle her up and take her to the hospital or wait until the doctor is in this morning. In the end, we let her sleep and I just obsessively checked her temperature every 20 minutes. She has never been this sick...never even taken one round of antibiotics. I am tired and scared and upset. Please pray for us all.

Lia is sick today. She woke up with a croupy type cough (which she has never had before) and a fairly high fever. Motrin has kept the fever down...but I have to say...when she starts that coughing and it seems like she can't breathe...scary for all of us. During one coughing fit, she threw up which was extremely upsetting to her...poor little thing. She is sleeping soundly in our bed as I type and I plan to keep her with us all night (a rare treat...normally she only sleeps in our bed if we all nap together or if Jim is out of town). I just feel she needs to be close.

We have been so lucky as Lia has not had so much as the sniffles this winter...but oh my word...I will be so relieved when she is back to her cheery, healthy self. Please say a little prayer for our girl tonight if you are so inclined.