Maddie Rae Gotcha Day

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the second day of Christmas... true love gave to me...a dishwasher without a leak.

So the tiling has been sidetracked for the moment because remember that little frozen pipe I mentioned? Well, it seems that it caused a little leak in our dishwasher line. So rather than baking up a storm, preparing my Christmas Eve feast, and making sure Santa has sustenance, I am gazing at the above scene. And again, perfect fodder for my favorite Christmas movie quote: "What can I say, Audrey? It's Christmas, and we're all in misery."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tis the Season...

...for home improvement. Actually, we've been in a pretty steady season of home improvement since moving home, but this week we're ramping it up a bit. We still have finishing details in the kitchen to attend to, so Jon is tiling the backsplash as my Christmas present. Only problem? I am having Christmas Eve dinner at my house and I have loads of stuff to make for my mom's house, and this is what my kitchen currently looks like:

Simultaneously, Jon has also decided to tackle the basement. We're going to finish it into a big rec room/sleeping area with a full bathroom. Here is the before:
And here is the hired help. Notice the coats? That is because it was 3 degrees last night! Brrrrrrr. We had our first frozen pipe. So I guess you can add that to the home improvement list too. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lunch, anyone?

So I posted my dog theory question on my facebook status, and it seems that food can indeed be linked to shedding, smell, and waste (according to my fb friends, at least). My friend Carol didn't really have any advice for me on the dog food front, but she did send me this little tidbit on the whole dog FOR food debate that still rages on in China. Jon actually saw this little delight for sale up in Tangxia, and I saw the photographic proof. Let's just say that even for a nondog lover like me, it was disturbing!

GUANGZHOU, China - While animal lovers in Beijing protested the killing of cats for food on Thursday, a butcher in Guangdong province — where felines are the main ingredient in a famous soup — just shrugged her shoulders and wielded her cleaver. "Cats have a strong flavor. Dogs taste much better, but if you really want cat meat, I can have it delivered by tomorrow," said the butcher, who gave only her surname, Huang.

Oh yeah, folks. That's right. It's not just an urban legend. EEEwwwwww.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dog theory

We have a dog. A bassett hound to be exact. She is a good dog. Kind, patient, loving, but unfortunately a total pain in my behind. I'm sorry to all the dog lovers out there, I'm just not one of them. I try, but usually the kids and Jon end up saying, "WHY do you HATE Chloe so much?" Let me count the ways: she steals any and all food she can reach (1), she barks at everything (2), she begs me for treats (3), she sheds (4), she stinks (5), did I mention she sheds (6, 7, 8, and 9), and she sheds (10). No, I really don't hate her. I just hate her hair. And her barking. And her smell.

Moving on...I have a theory. You see, when we moved home and got her back (She spent the first 2 years at my sister's house, and she hates dogs more than me. She spent her last year at my mom and dad's, and my dad is the genetic link to all of our hate for dogs.), I was determined to do something about the shedding. You may remember this post, where I gushed over the Furminator. I was faithfully brushing her every day, and the dog hair was minimal. Once fall hit and the temp cooled down, I stopped brushing her entirely, and still LITTLE DOG HAIR. Hallelujah. But then it all went wrong.

I went to the store a few weeks ago to get her new food, and they were out of the food I had been giving her. So I nonchalantly picked up a different brand. The last two weeks have been filled with dog hair, dog smell, dog hair, and more dog smell. I have been brushing her every day. I had her groomed and bathed. And still, dog hair, dog smell. What GIVES?! Then it dawned on me. I switched her food! Could this be the missing link? The cure all to shedding? I ran to the store this morning to buy the old food (which, consequently is the food we gave her as a puppy. She didn't shed as much then either, but I just thought it was a puppy thing). Fingers crossed that she starts smelling better and stops shedding so much asap. I'll let ya know.

Any dog owners out there who can confirm my theory?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tubby Trouble

The potty training is going really well. So well in fact, that I had total confidence 2 days ago. We had gone through the entire day with no accidents. I dropped her off in the church nursery (armed with two change of clothes), and she was in the same clothes when I picked her up. She even kept her diaper dry during her nap. What a star! I was gushing. Then came bathtime.

I was watching her ever so diligently as she played in the bath. OK. So really I was on the computer 5 feet away, asking her if she was okay every minute. But please don't tell the social worker. I started hearing a change in the venue. Rather than playing with her bath toys, I heard, "MAMA! MAMA! AH!"

And what to my wondering eyes should appear? A nice little brown "deposit" in the bathtub. Oh! Ew! Screams and squeals from me. The boys run in. What, mom? AH! Screams, squeals, and laughter from them. My first thought: get her out of the tub. My second thought: grab my camera. This is blog fodder, after all.

But after careful consideration, I decided that you, my beloved readers (all 5 of you), probably would rather not see that delightful picture. However, this does prove my sister's point over on her blog today. Every mother should have a blog because rather than stress, you just laugh and grab your camera. After all, it's bloggable!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Going Big Girl Cold Turkey

I decided that since we were onto the big girl habits, we might as well go all out. So yesterday we said goodbye to diapers AND the pack n play. My packing list for our Christmas trip to Ohio has diminished greatly, and my cash flow has increased slightly. Yay for Big Girls!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I spoke too soon...

Wouldn't ya know, right after I hit "publish post" on my previous gush of good news, the accidents started flowin'. This is the scene now. She is lying on her bedroom floor screaming and writhing around because she can't have a diaper. And I am reminded why I put this off for so long. I hate potty training.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Look what we're doing today...

I thought I would finally make good on my constant utterings of "I need to potty train her..." and go for it today. So far so good. It's 10:45 am and we've had LOTS of Starbursts and no accidents. A near miss, but I caught her just in time. And she looks so cute in her little undies, I just had to share.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rate My Space Drama continues...

It seems my dining room photo is sparking the most controversy over at Rate my Space. Here is a sample of one of the comments:

That rug and drapes and mirror are terrific together. I love the farmer's trestle table, but I'm not sure it works here, but maybe it does. Monitors and photos are often very inaccurate in portraying colors, but to mine the wall color just isn't working with the rug and drapes, which look blue rather than gray. I'd like to see you try something more adventurous. If the rug and drapes really are gray, then the sage walls would have been lovely, as would a sky blue, a sapphire blue, a silvery violet or rose. But, like I say, photos can be very misleading. I left no rating at all.


And my living room seems to need some help too:

Very pretty room. Love the built-ins. Nee to take some of the stuff off the mantle. Put that odd vase on the top shelf. Love the coffee table but you have too much on the tray. Turn the tray lengthwise and remove the magazines. The bowl can also go on the shelf. A candle would look nice. Some plants would liven up the place a bit. But now that you have it decorated for Christmas guess they can wait. Good Luc. Merry Christmas. :) BJ

Merry Christmas to you too, BJ.

I'm going back to Flickr.

More Ways to Waste Time...

It seems that there is no shortage of ways in which to waste, ahem...spend, my time online lately. I have already mentioned in a previous post my love for Flickr. I belong to several design/home groups on Flickr and everyone is ultra nice and encouraging. "I love the built-ins!", "Great job on the wall art!", and "Beautiful paint choice" fill up comment sections. Those Flickr faithfuls make your head swell and your heart beat with joy. Well today I happened upon another internet realm in which to house hunt and share your own photos: HGTV's "Rate My Space."

I quickly uploaded some photos of our house and put them out there. And then "WHAM." Suddenly I had hundreds of hits on my photos with comments like, "You need to paint that sidetable to match your bed" and "Get rid of your dining room chandelier. It's too dated and it makes the room look too heavy" and "A warm color on the walls would look better" and "I love your room, BUT I don't like the brown thing on the table." Wow! Rate my Space is not for the faint of heart. These people pack a punch. And now that I'm on blogger wasting time, I better get to the laundry while there's still daylight...(and maybe remove the ugly brown thing from my table. Sniff. Sniff.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bah Humbug

For all of my Christmas inspiration talks over the last few weeks, you would think I would have it all together and be surrounded by a sea of twinkling lights. But you would be wrong. There are two items on everyone's Christmas list that must be done, and they are the same two items that are still very UNdone in our house.

1. Get a Christmas tree. We still haven't done it, and the debate is still raging on. I think we will end up cutting down our tree at Walmart this year.

2. Get a Christmas card picture. We haven't done this one in 4 years because I was too cheap to pay for international postage. But we're back, and if I want to get back in people's good graces and receive cards from them, I better send them out. Right? So what's the problem? Getting motivated to take a bad picture of the fam. That's the problem.

Exhibit A: Christmas Card 2002. Cute picture, bad finger placement. And at least 10 ornaments were destroyed in the making of this photo by my ball throwing one year old.
Exhibit B: Christmas card attempts from 2003. Again. Finger placement. We actually sent this one out.
Exhibit C: Christmas Card attempts from 2007. With Maddie Rae being new and all, I thought I should shell out the dough for the postage and send everyone a little cheer from Hong Kong. However, I gave up after several of these:
So if you don't receive a card from us, you know why. It's not because we forgot you, or we don't love you, or we don't wish you a Merry Christmas. It's just because we're not very photogenic, and I'm too busy putting up my fake tree.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Made in China

China may have melamine in their milk and lead in their toys, but they have one thing they have made exactly right: the loose fitting slipcover. This is genius, I tell ya. I was a bit skeptical myself when I first went to the upholsterers shop in Hong Kong. I told them I wanted to reupholster my couch, and they suggested the loose fitting cover. It sounded like something straight out of that slipcover magazine that looks ill fitting and requires constant tucking in, but then they showed me the loose cover. I was sold. It's basically a cover that looks exactly like the upholstery, but it velcros under the couch so you can take it on and off and wash it. Genius! I don't really get how they do it, but they do. And all you upholsterers and sewers out there should do it too. Here's a little show of how easy and genius it is.

Step 1: Turn couch on its back and take the cover off. Little helpers make this a bit more difficult.
Step 2: Throw in washing machine.
Step 3: Hang to dry.

Step 4: Put it back on the couch.

Step 5: Enjoy your brand new looking upholstery sans stains (that is until the little buggers and dog mess it up again in the following 5 minutes!).

Now, if you are one of those families getting ready to go to China for your baby, or if someone in your family is going to China for business, it's time to reupholster your furniture! Have a tailor or upholsterer make a mock up of half the couch with some cheap muslin or cotton fabric. Take that with you to China, and then find a tailor to make you a loose fitting cover by copying the mock up. I have two covers for my couch. The fabric and labor only set me back about $80. Jon's going to China in January and you better believe I've already got my list ready for the tailor. They can also copy any clothing or picture that you take them. I had all my curtains made based on pictures from catalogs and magazines. You can buy the fabric here or there, but you will save bundles by buying it there. (Expect to pay about $3/yard max in China). The tailor can tell you where to get the fabric, and they usually have a bunch themselves. And of course, let me know how it goes and what you get!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I'm having a visitor this weekend, and I can't wait. I met her when we were both teaching. I was teaching 9th and 10th graders English and math, and she was teaching them flute after school. We were both a few weeks pregnant with our first babies, and we had all sorts of things to discuss. Names, bottles, diapers, gender, pregnancy woes: these were all topics of our new friendship. We clicked from the beginning. There was only one small problem. We were stupid.

Not only were we stupid, we were CLUELESS. I mean dumb as rocks, everyone-says-it but-that-won't-be-me, naive. We said things like, "I'm looking forward to the challenge of balancing everything after the baby arrives." And, "I can't wait 'till this kid comes out so I can get some SLEEP!" You see? Stupid.
We ended up, providentially I would say, having our babies on the same day. At this point we were still stupid, calling each other from our hospital beds saying, "Call me when you get home and I'll come over with the baby! We can have our first playdate next week!" And then we got home. That call didn't happen for three weeks. When my phone finally did ring, I heard no hello, no "want to come over for a playdate?" All I heard was, "PLEASE tell me this has been the hardest three weeks of your life too."

We forged through that first year of nursing woes, cholic, and sleepless nights and educated ourselves out of our stupidity with afternoon naps and big bowls of M&Ms. We commisserated. We cried. We laughed. And we grew up.

There was the next fateful phone call that came just 12 months later. I was frantic, crying, pacing, heart pounding. I picked up the phone and dialed. No greeting. No "How are you?" Just "I'M PREGNANT" screamed into the phone. How would I handle another baby when I was just getting on my feet from the first one?

She ended up pregnant within a few months (without me having to sneak into her house and sabotage her birth control), and we delivered our second children 10 weeks apart. When she called to tell me she was pregnant with her third child, we were waiting on a referral for our daughter from China. When I told Jon the news, he asked, "When is she due?"

"December," I replied.

"I guess that means we'll be getting our daughter around December then."

And he was right. We first held Maddie Rae in our arms on October 30, and 6 weeks later Henry arrived in her arms.

We don't take ourselves too seriously, and we can laugh at all our past stupidity. We can get a shopping high like you wouldn't believe, and we can talk for hours. I know I can call her at any time in any situation, and she will know the right thing to say. The years have taken us to different states and even countries, but one thing has remained constant. We will always be kindred spirits, BFFs, LYLASs, and we will probably look back on our naive present selves and laugh too. Remember before our kids were teenagers and we thought we were in the hard part? Ha! We were so Stupid! But the secret is, she's not stupid. She's brilliant, and I can't wait to spend the whole weekend with her!
Us having a cold one in the Russian Vodka Bar in Hong Kong. This was the only picture she took the entire 10 days she was visiting me in Hong Kong. Hmmm. Not sure what that says about us...
It all began with these two...Jack and Danielle. We're still holding out hope that they'll fall in love and get married. However, when they get together they fight constantly. We swear something was in the water on September 17, 2001 to make these two so fiesty!

And her brood now. Aren't they adorable? :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are they Real or Fake?

"Raise your hand for REAL. Now raise your hand for FAKE." We've had a lot of plastic surgery in our house, but that's not the subject of our votes this week. This week it's all about the Kelley Family Real or Fake Christmas Tree Debate.

I come from a long line of Christmas family traditions. One of my favorite Christmas memories (as evidenced here) was the annual cutting down of the Christmas tree. It was an ushering in of the season, a family togetherness bonding moment, and a true warm fuzzy feeling. Plus, my dad has been known to say that if he ever catches wind of one of us having a fake Christmas tree, he won't even grace the front door. We took the tree seriously in our house.

On the other side of the ring, you have Jon. His memories of Christmas trees involve assembling the tree, dusting off the branches, and plugging 'er in.

Falling in the middle are our lovely offspring. They don't really care whether they get that fresh pine scent when they open the front door. They just want to put the tree UP. The quickest path to that end? The fake Christmas tree sitting in a box in the basement.

This isn't just any fake Christmas tree. This tree was purchased in Hong Kong during our first Christmas there. It was billed as a 6 foot tree, but it's really more like 4 feet. It has about 5 branches for every foot and resembles the Charlie Brown Christmas tree more than anything real. It's ugly. It's barren. And it's time to replace it with a nice real one. The problem? We haven't had time to go get the real tree and the fake one is RIGHT THERE tempting Jack at every turn. "MOM! WHY can't we just put up the FAKE one?"

Last night after the vote (in which I lost 4 to 1), Jack reasoned with me. "MOM. Who bought this house? Dad. Who works every day and makes all the money to pay for the house? Dad. Who wants a FAKE tree? Dad. He bought the house. He makes the money. He does all the work. He should win." And this is the part where my dear husband jumps to my defense and rattles off all of the ways in which I work and am indispensible to the family and reminds his son of who made the dinner sitting right in front of him. Right? Wrong. This is the part where he just smiles and shrugs as if to say, "You lose."

But I'm the boss of the house, and we're getting a real tree.

Top Notch Swill

Today the lovely, talented, and absolutely hilarious Lisa has been a dear and posted my very humbling account of my most embarrassing moment EVER over at her new blog project, Top Notch Swill. So if you would like to see how every shred of dignity I ever had was stripped from me, you can jump over there and read all about it. If you want some more good laughs, go visit her very hilarious blog, Motherlode. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Favorite Things

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, I can officially begin my favorite holiday celebration. Well, I guess I've begun it already by decorating my house, listening to Christmas music, and completing almost ALL of my Christmas shopping. It's time to deck the halls, folks. In honor of the season officially beginning, I'm posting a few of my favorite things about this time of year.

Favorite Christmas Movie: Christmas Vacation

Jon and I never ever ever get tired of this movie. It's just as hilarious every time, and I can't wait to watch it (although we already watched it in June). Close runners-up are Christmas Story ("You'll shoot yer eye out, kid."), Elf ("...and when we're done, we'll snuggle."), and White Christmas ("Sisters...sisters...").
Favorite Christmas Movie Quote: Christmas Vacation "What can I say, Audrey? It's Christmas, and we're all in misery."

Admit it. We've all been there. My favorite usage of the quote was the Christmas when Jonah was 1 and Jack was 3. We travelled to Chicago to see all of my extended family. After a 7 hour drive, we were ushered into an older house that had somehow come under the care of my aunt. The house was built in the 50's, the beds were bought in the 50's, and the indoor temperature was in the 50's. I spent the first night lying in the middle of a sunken bed with Jonah, who was frozen into an ice pop, listening to the train (which was 50 yards away) sounding like it was coming straight into the house to join us every 15 minutes. And there you have it: the perfect set up for my mom to say, "What can I say, Retts? It's Christmas, and we're all in misery."

Favorite Christmas Decoration: My new white vintage mod Christmas Mantel. Ta Da.
Favorite Christmas Gift: Waking up to find a DOG under the, hiding in the bathroom. We begged Santa for a dog for years. I don't think a Christmas ever went by without a heartfelt letter from me about how I would be the most responsible dog owner to ever grace the earth. Santa wasn't a dog lover though, and it took him until I was 17 and about to move out to finally grant my wish. Unfortunately the gifted dog was a psycho Westie with a thing for toes, fingers, and my brother's face. But the rush on Christmas morning created by that little terror was memorable.

Favorite Christmas Traditions: Church on Christmas Eve, Instant Breakfast casserole on Christmas morning, driving around looking at the lights, and cutting down the Christmas tree.

Favorite Christmas Cookie: My gramma's sugar cookies. Yum.

Favorite Memorable Christmas: Christmas 1998. I think I'll dedicate an entire post to this one in honor of our 10 year wedding anniversary coming up on December 19. I'll give you a little teaser: Honeymoon in Gaylord, Michigan. (I know. The words "honeymoon" and "Michigan" should never be used in the same sentence, but they will be in this upcoming trip down memory lane...)

So there you have some of my favorite things about the season. Now, do share...what are your favorites?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time for a cat

If you're just tuning in and you missed all the mouse drama from a few months ago, allow me to recap. We rented our house out for 4 years while we were living in Hong Kong. Upon returning home, we were greeted by a revolting scene. Mouse poop in ever crack, crevice, and shelf in the kitchen. We practically had to wade through the mouse poop and dead mice under all the cabinets and appliances. In a moment of desperation the NIGHT BEFORE the movers were arriving with all of our stuff, we ripped out the entire rodent infested kitchen with much screaming, cursing, and hiding of our noses and mouths under our shirts.

Fast forward to today. Our kitchen is gleaming. I am a vigilante when it comes to crumbs in the house. I leave no crevice unturned in my OCD cleaning. You see, I have a fear. What if I open a cabinet and *gasp* hear scurrying. If it happened once, it could happen again. Right? But it ain't happening. Oh no. We've seen no bugs. No droppings. No "activity." Until today.

The exterminator came for his routine check-up, and I proudly announced that we haven't seen a thing. Everything must be critter free. "Well, mice are REALLY bad on this street," he assures me.

Up he comes from the basement with a bag. A bag with a mouse. A MOUSE. In my HOUSE. My gleaming, crumb-free safe zone. He did offer me some encouragement in the form of, "Well, he did look like he'd been there a while....maybe a month. And it was just in the basement. You'll KNOW if there's one upstairs. Just call me if you need me." He's going on speed-dial ASAP.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Christmas Mantel Inspiration

The boys and I have had the weekend to ourselves since Jon and Maddie Rae went to his parent's house early. We have been getting our Christmas on, but I have been a bit stumped.

First issue: we don't have that many Christmas decorations. We've only lived in our "own" house 3 years out of our entire marriage. The other years have been spent in apartments, other people's houses housesitting, and overseas. Thus my dilemna. I want my house to look fab for the holidays, but I have nothing to make it look that way.
Second issue: The Christmas decorations we do have are a mishmash of styles, ugliness, and gifts left over from my teaching days. Blah.
Third issue: Red and green is not really jiving in my wythe blue living room.
I turned to my favorite design tool for some inspiration: Flickr. I heart Flickr. It's a great place for designer wannabes like me to show off their houses, and you can always get great ideas.
Mission: Christmas Mantels.

Isn't this little elf cute? And I like the little whimsy touch he adds.

Oooh. Love this. Love the white milk glass vases. Love the white snowflakes. I'm feelin' inspired.

Love the white tree, but I know Jon won't let me go that far. But oh, it would look SO good!

I see a theme emerging here: white. Love this white village with the blue walls. Hmmmm....

Flickr isn't all inspiration. There are plenty of photos like this one which inspire what NOT to do (or what my mantel will look like if I use what I have).

Now that I'm feelin' the inspiration, I'm off to shop. Stay tuned for my Christmas Mantel Unveiling.

Sidebar addition

If you'll direct your eyes to your right, you will see a new fancy addition to my sidebar. This site is the new project of Stephanie over at NiHaoYa'll, and it is a cool site that educates and advocates for special needs adoptions from China. Stephanie is an amazing advocate for special needs adoptions, and she has 4 biological kids and 4 Chinese kids that they adopted through the special needs program. Personally, I think TLC should add their family to the Dugger, Jon and Kate plus 8, and Little People in a Big World line up.

I was going to add the "Followers" box to my sidebar as well until I realized that I only have one follower. My sister. I think I'll leave that one off for now.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Drugged dummy

There's a funny thing that my body does. I'm not really sure why or what the chemistry of it all means, but for whatever reason drugs stay in my system for a loooooooooong time. I've always been a one Benedryl only in an emergency kind of a gal because if I take any more than that, I'm liable to be stuck to my bed the next morning unable to function. I've had a sinus infection for a couple weeks now, and last night I did the forbidden. I took night time cold medicine.

I slept great, and I even woke up on time. That's where the trouble began. I stumbled into the shower feeling a little groggy, and couldn't figure out why the shower was so cold. I kept turning the cold down, down, down, until I finally concluded that Jon must have taken an hour long shower before me and used up the entire water heater tank. It's 25 degrees out, and I'm pretty sure my water was not much warmer. I scrambled through it ready to chew Jon out for his extravagance, when I realized my drug induced folly. Instead of turning the cold down, I had turned it all the way up to full blast. Oops.

Must have been a fluke right? Wrong. It didn't stop there. I went to pick up my niece for Mom's Day Out and spent a good 5 minutes frantically running through the house looking for her lunch box which I had "just had in my hands and must have set down somewhere" before looking down and realizing I still had it in my hands. It was at that point that Raegan, my sister, decided that she better do the driving for our Mom's Day Out excursions.

She drove, and we were all good until we got to the mall. I opened the door to get Max and exclaimed, "RAEGAN! You didn't have his carseat seatbelted into the CAR!"
"Um, Retta, his seat is snapped into the car seat base [you total moron]."

And the real kicker. We're sitting at lunch in the food court, and I peek into Raegan's Gymboree bag and notice that she picked up gift boxes for the Christmas pj's we purchased for all the kids. "Oh, what a good idea! You got gift boxes. Why didn't I think of that?"
"Retta, don't you remember we had a conversation about the gift boxes in the store? The lady asked us if we wanted them."
"Nooo. She must have just asked you because I didn't hear any of that."
We run into Gymboree on the way out for my coveted gift boxes. I peek into Raegan's bag to see her gift boxes, only to realize it is actually MY bag and MY gift boxes.

From now on, I'm layin' off the cold meds.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The truth about school lunch

I have often wondered why Jack and Jonah come home with half their lunch uneaten most days, or why they are STARVING after school and on the brink of perishing from lack of nourishment (according to them). Yesterday I attended the school Thanksgiving "feast," and now I have a much more accurate view of what's happening to all that lunch food I so lovingly pack every morning.

1. Lunch was served at 10:30 AM for the kindergarteners. That's right folks. Lunch at 10:30.

2. Cafeteria food is just as appetizing now as it was when I was in school, and stuffing molded into a ball from an ice cream scooper does not get eaten by these kids either.

3. The teachers leave the kids under the care of the lunch ladies, who serve the food and dismiss the tables. Everything in between is a free for all.

4. Second grade boys spend more time talking about how hilarious is was that day when Jack's gogurt exploded all over them, singing songs that they've made up, asking what order of best friend's they fall under, and talking about their various scars and injuries than they do eating.

5. Second grade boys also think it's really funny to do things like drink their green bean juice with a straw, eat their ice cream and mash potatoes with their fingers, and decorate their faces with the whip cream from their cake.

6. Kindergarteners think that eating is a show and whoever can do it funniest and loudest is the winner.

7. School cafeterias smell the same no matter what decade, state, or school.

8. Fake burping is really funny. Real burping is downright hilarious.

9. All those fruits and vegetables packed or bought? Yeah, those are goin' straight in the trash.

10. Oh wait, there's a trash can? I just stuff it all back into my lunch box and take it home for good ole mom.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A good read

I just happened upon this really cool blog, and I thought I would share it with you. It's written by a husband and wife who are living in China working at a foster home. In honor of Adoption Awareness month, and because adoption is never too far from my mind or heart, I recommend reading this post. Have some tissues handy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Have a drink and some candy

I realize that I am way late on the whole trick or treat blog wagon, but I did want to document my kid's reaction to their first real American Halloween experience. We did trick or treat in Hong Kong, but only one street in our compound participated. What resulted from that small fact was 2000 trick or treaters all on one tiny block. It was madness, but it was fun. Because of that, Jack's reaction to American trick or treat was "Where are all the PEOPLE?!"
Jonah's reaction was a simple, "I LOVE Halloween!" every time his bag would be filled up. He couldn't quite believe his luck. "You mean all I have to do is say trick or treat and they give me free candy?!" This coming from the kid who thinks junk is a food group. Maddie Rae had a similar disbelief to her reaction. I took the stroller thinking that there was no way she would be able to keep up with the boys. Boy was I wrong. The girl ran her way through two solid hours of candy begging. By the end she couldn't even lift her bag, but that did not deter her a bit. She would hand it to me in between houses, then hoist it up when it was time for more candy. The first few houses she turned around to me in disbelief crying "MAMA! MAMA! MAMA!" while showing me her bag. Gotta love this American tradition!

Jonah, show us your face!

And this was before the sugar (except for Jonah who already has something going on in there).
And to change threads completely, here is the kid's lemonade stand from Saturday. We live 3 blocks from a major University football stadium, and it was game day. Time to make some money. They earned $6.50 and got several tips (probably because they looked at people like they had 3 heads when asked if they could make change. Most people just said, oh never mind, keep the dollar. Nice sales tactic.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Adoption Day, Maddie Rae!

October 30 was Maddie Rae's first adoption day. It was a fun day with lots of celebrating Maddie Rae. We began the day with her Halloween party at the Mom's Day Out she attends with her cousin and BFF Mallaney. I haven't been able to get her into her Halloween costume yet, but Miss Hailey worked her magic at MDO and she wore her ladybug costume with pride.

Maddie Rae and Mallaney modeling their costumes for us. This picture looks quite a bit different from the ones taken last year at this time!
Daddy feeding her wonton soup. Jon is so in love with Maddie Rae, and I'm not sure that he will ever be able to bring himself to actually discipline her! He was always the kind of dad that wanted all boys. He wanted a house filled with testosterone, hunting, football, wrestling, and lots of 7th grade boy smell (that's what I call that "outdoor, wet dog" scent that kids come in with after sweating outside. I coined the term after teaching 7th grade and having to endure an entire hour of that smell times 30 when the kids would come in from outside.) Who knew he would be such a softy for a little girl?! When we first brought her home last year, she was terrified of Jon. She would just scream and scream when he would come in the room, hold her, or look at her. Little by little he won her over, and now you would never know that he was that big scary guy to her.
Cupcakes......and presents. Maddie Rae's adoption day will always be a very special day for me. We will celebrate her birthday because what kid doesn't want a big birthday bash, but to me her adoption day will always be the real celebration. I couldn't help but tear up a little behind my sunglasses today at her little school parade as I saw her confidently march out right next to her cousin and stand in her place with a huge smile. What a stark contrast from the scared little girl that was handed to us last year. She has truly blossomed, and we thank God that he chose us to be her family!

Thursday, October 9, 2008


This is one of Jack's vocabulary words, and it is a perfect description of my three boisterous children. Let me preface this post by fully admitting that I was spoiled in Hong Kong. We had a live in nanny/maid, and therefore I never had to take all three kids anywhere unless I wanted to. Well, obviously, we cannot afford that luxury back here in the good ole US of A, so I am back to the normal routine of hauling all three kids around everywhere. It hasn't been TOO bad until last Monday when I scheduled a doctor's appointment for the 2 boys at 2 and 2:30. First mistake: right at naptime. Second mistake: right after the boys have been sitting in school all day saving all their boisterous energy for good ole mom. So here we are in the exam room. Maddie Rae is on the brink of massive meltdown because she can't accompany Jack to the eye exam. Jonah is on the rolling stool pushing himself from end to end in the tiny room. Jack is talking non-stop to the doctor and telling her things like, "I sometimes wear my helmet when I ride my bike," and looking at her like she has 3 heads when she asks if he helps out at home with chores (I'm still getting used to chores myself!). Jonah spouts out our Hong Kong address and phone number when the doctor asks him, to which she tells me "Make sure they learn their NEW address and phone, mom." All this time, I am shooting Jack "looks" and just trying to corral all three of them into some sort of order just hoping and praying that they can all maintain some sense of pseudo calmness until the doctor finishes. But then the finishing scene. I saw it as if in slow motion. Jonah stealthily starts ripping exam paper off the table. Maddie Rae catches a glimpse and starts tearing. Jack can't be outdone, so he begins his destruction. The paper gets wadded up, the paper gets thrown, and suddenly the doctor is being pelted from every direction with paper bombs. I am frantic. I am grabbing whatever I can grab. I am scrambling for a kid and an arm. And the beauty of it all? I have to go back there next Monday with Maddie Rae who has been in our family for a year and has yet to see a pediatrician, be weighed, or have one shot. Mother of the Year award to me, friends.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Can't get enough of this...

Blue Sky!! Jon and I are constantly looking up and marvelling at the beautiful sky. I never really paid much attention to the sky unless it was a remarkable sunset or a dark rain cloud. Now after being denied blue sky for 3 years and living in a constant encasement of smog, I just can't get tired of these beautiful nonpolluted skies!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Living in America

Maddie Rae has adjusted really well to all the recent changes in our lives. She is a busy little girl these days with all sorts of new activities. She is attending a local Mom's Day Out program with her cousin two days a week, and so far she seems to love it. She bops in with her backpack and lunchbox and usually a toy or two from the car, gives me a hug, and gets to playing. On Wednesdays, a speech therapist comes to our house for an hour to do speech therapy with her. Her speech is extremely behind due to her cleft palate, but we are making small gains. She can currently only say the vowel sounds and "m" and "n". The speech therapist has explained that these sounds are all nasal sounds, and that is why it is easy for her to say them. Saying consonant sounds requires a flap in the back of your throat to close off. The therapist is a bit concerned that this flap is not there or else not working right because she can't make any other sounds, but there is a surgery to correct that if needed in the future. We are working on getting her air flow to come out of her mouth rather than her nose by doing things such as blowing party blowers, blowing bubbles, blowing bubbles in milk, and blowing a cotton ball across a table with a straw. Last week she couldn't do the party blower at all at the beginning of the hour. Slowly, we started to see the blower wiggling a little bit, and by the end of the hour she could blow that thing all the way out! The speech therapist could not believe how much determination, will, and attention span she had to keep working on that thing until she could do it. She's a tough little cookie! I have also noticed her trying to repeat words more and saying more sentences, even though most people wouldn't understand her. She came out of Mom's Day Out last week with a duck puppet on her arm saying, "Quack!" (well, really "AAaaaa"), so she's trying! She can say several sentences and many times will repeat the same thing over and over to me, but I won't know what she's saying. Most of the time though, she is really good at communicating her needs either through sign language, body language, or pointing. She understands everything, and we are praying that she will be able to talk soon.
She and I get a lot of one on one time now that the boys are in school. We usually eat our breakfast and drink our coffee and milk watching the Today show together on the couch :) She entertains herself really well at home and usually spends the morning playing or "helping" me with whatever I'm doing. She loves to be out and about and likes to stand on the back of the cart (NOT sit in the seat, thank you very much) while we're shopping. The car puts her right to sleep, so a lot of days she falls asleep in the car and then I transport her inside to her pack n play and she never even stirs. Once the boys are home, it is time to really play. The kids usually spend the afternoons outside playing while I make dinner, and she loves to be outside. She was a little bit scared of our dog, Chloe, at first, but now she loves her and loves to give her treats and make her do tricks.
She still loves her pink crocs, and won't wear any other shoes. The other day when I had her try on some winter shoes in Target, you would have thought I was trying to break her arm. She screamed and screamed. She is already so picky about her clothes and shoes, and I am finding myself already telling her that I'm the mommy and I get to pick out her clothes. I foresee some fun in the future on this one! She is very physically advanced, I think. She has always been able to control her body really well, and she is very muscular. She can do a perfect somersault and loves to tumble through the grass while we all cheer. She can also run FAST, and she always walks out to the car on this little rock wall we have with nearly perfect balance. I think there may be some gymnastics in her future.
And just so you don't think it's ALL sweetness and sugar, here she is throwing a fit. She must cover her eyes and not look at me....
but, she always peeks out just to make sure she has an audience :) She's a cutie!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Here are photos of our "new" home. Just disregard any boxes or unfinished mess...they still abound! I'll put down info on paint and shopping for all you shoppers out there who are like me and like to know where things came from.

(Rug and curtains: West Elm. Table and chairs: Shambala, HK. China cabinet: flea market find. Mirror: Tequila Kola, HK. Paint: Ladyfinger, Benjamin Moore)

Maddie Rae's room. The "artwork" is fabric in embroidery hoops. Super easy and super cute! (paint: Irish Mint, Benjamin Moore. Bed: Custom made in HK, but it's the Anderson from Pottery Barn with trundle. Duvet and pillows: custom)

The view out our front door. 2 things I didn't see in China very sky and the American flag!
Bathroom "after". We ripped out the old shower doors and put in a new pedestal sink. (paint: Gray Owl eggshell, Benjamin Moore. Sink: Kohler Bancroft. Shower curtain and window fabric: Target)
Our bedroom. I originally thought this would be the boy's room, so I painted it this color. Then I changed my mind, and I'm actually glad that this color ended up being our bedroom because I love it. It is the most beautiful paint...sometimes looks blue, sometimes green, sometimes gray. (Gray Cashmere by Benjamin Moore. Bed: Tequila Kola, HK. Lamps: JC Penney. Curtains, duvet, shams: custom. Artwork: LoWu, Shenzhen. Silk throw: Suzhou Silk Factory) Boy's bedroom. (rug and shelves: IKEA. Bunk beds: custom made in HK, but same as Pottery Barn. Paint: Silver Fox, Benjamin Moore)
Not a great photo of the kitchen, but at least you can see some of our progress. Still a lot of work to do... (Appliances: LG. Cabinetry: American Woodmark, Gettysburg White. Handles: Lansa, IKEA. Faucet: Price Pfister. Butcher Block countertop: IKEA. Granite countertop: Blue Sapphire. Paint: Gray Owl eggshell, Benjamin Moore)

Breakfast area. (Pot Rack: Grundtal, IKEA) You can see our back deck through the window. Our entire old kitchen is still out there. Like I said...a lot of work to still do!
Living Room. (Wythe Blue by Benjamin Moore. Coffee Table: Stockholm, IKEA. Rug: ApLeiChau, Horizon Plaza street level carpet shop, HK. Can get a similar one from West Elm, "Woodgrain". Curtains: custom. Artwork above mantel: HK Chan Gallery in Stanley, HK. Porcelain lamps and decor: Overjoy Porcelain, HK. Chairs: Rimba Rhyme, HK.)