Thursday, July 31, 2008

When Sarah Met Yi Jianlian

We received a wonderful surprise this morning from China! Sarah's orphanage emailed us some photos - Yeah! The first one shows Sarah (in red) performing in a play/musical and the second one was taken in front of the orphanage.

The last three photos are of her with Yi Jianlian who is currently in the NBA and plays for the New Jersey Nets (Kevin just corrected me -- I had his old tean, Milwaukee Bucks, listed. Sorry!). These photos were taken prior to Yi Jianlian arriving in the US to play basketball.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Watermelon Thief!

Oh, the horrors! One of Kevin and Sarah's watermelons from the garden has disappeared! Only the broken vine remains. The suspects have been narrowed down to an ever so coy and charming little deer OR the black masked bandit raccoon. Plans are in the works for 10 foot tall security fencing, flood lights and an around-the-clock security detail!

Okay, seriously, if you all knew how much Kevin and Sarah LOVE watermelon you'd realize that the above paragraph, while written in jest, is not too far from the truth. Right now, approximately half of our food budget is spent on watermelon. Sarah is the official watermelon picker and has tried on several occasions to teach me how to select just the right one.

"Okay Mom ... listen ... do you hear that this one is not good?" she'll say thumping on the rind.

"Nope," I say. "It sounds just like the one you said was good."

Then there's the head shaking and the look of disappointment on her face. "I'll pick Mom."

Whew! At least the pressure is off me for picking such an important part of our daily food intake! Now if I can only get someone to pick a kind of toilet paper. We're still in the "too soft" or "too crunchy" paper phase with each of us selecting a different brand. But, being a little shifty myself, I don't let them in on my secret that they actually get whatever I have a coupon for!

So the hunt for the missing watermelon continues. Sarah has set up her drawing easel outside just in case she spies someone wandering into her garden!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yep, It's PINK

Sarah would like for her blog to be pink -- go figure! So, here is the start of it. I'll try to get it in shape in the next few days, but at least for now it's PINK!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

DONE at Last!

Just wanted to let everyone know that our final home visit by our social worker is completed and everything went very well. So, we are done!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

LAST Social Worker Visit!

Our FIRST family photo -- Sept. 4, 2007

Well, today is our LAST visit from our social worker!!! Hard to believe, but in just a few shorts weeks we'll have been together as a family for ONE YEAR! So, it's time for our final home visit and for the final report to go to China.

Sarah has been ready for a few hours now. She has on her favorite pink dress and jewelry. We sat this morning and picked out the photos we want to give the social worker for the report, found her report card from last year and made sure we had the doctor's letter all ready. Hopefully we haven't forgotten anything!

Sarah helped me pick up the house and make some cookies. Her room is spotless! So, here's to the very last stage of our adoption -- we knew even before we met Sarah that we were a family but soon the paperwork will confirm it! And, today, I won't even cry like I was in the first photo!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Don't Take Licorice to China!

First, we were at the store a few days ago and I picked up a bag of red licorice. Sarah looked at me, looked at the bag and said "Why would you buy that! Tastes like medicine!" I told her I liked it. She said she had eaten it before in China when some Americans had brought it as treats. She said she thought it tasted horrible and so did all the other kids! The kids actually talked about the candy and had decided the candy was "broken"! So, if you are on your way to China soon, save your money and your luggage space and don't take licorice!

Okay, now some cute photos of our girl. Here is she learning to peel potatoes. She's wanting to learn to cook so she's been helping me in the kitchen. In classic Sarah style, she wasn't content just to peel the potatoes but instead had to put a cute face on them first.

Here she is with the new easel that Aunt Kimberly and Uncle Jason brought for her. She loves it! It can be used as at table-top easel or you can put the legs down for a more traditional style. It also has straps so you can fold it up like and transport it like a backpack. Sarah's exact words were "Pretty awesome!"

And here she is with her Barbies. One Barbie is in her wedding dress, but she doesn't have a boy Barbie to marry. So the girl Barbies decided just to party instead! And if you run out of chairs for your Barbie party, just use a little lamb to sit on like the Barbie in the front of the photo.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Round and Round They Go

We had a fun visit with Aunt Kimberly, Uncle Jason and Little Man Quinn! Pretty much the photos say it best -- aren't they cute!?!?!? Quinn thought it was great fun to have Sarah sit on the floor and he would run circles around her waiting for her to grab him.

Come on Sarah! Get your butt off the couch and chase me!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Groundhog Golfing & More Sewing

Today we needed to go to Target and Walmart so Kevin and Sarah decided we'd make a small pit-stop at the golf center to hit a bucket of golf balls. I think this is the third trip to the golf center and I have to say that Sarah and Kevin both are improving -- at least no innocent bi-standers had to be rushed to the ER today!!!!

Now, you also may notice that Sarah is wearing the same shirt that she's worn in many of the other photos on the blog. Rest assured the girl does have a whole closet full of clothes, not just this one shirt! She actually has so many clothes that we've had to take the winter clothes out and put them into storage just so all the summer clothes would fit. But right now THIS shirt is her favorite and every load of clothes I do it pops up again just like the movie "Groundhog Day" when the same day repeats over and over again.

Sarah tends to go in cycles like this. She especially does this with tv shows, clothes and food. I think in a way it's a comfort mechanism for her. It's a little part of her life that is familiar to her and that she can control. We TIVO her favorite shows and most of them she's seen 4 or 5 times each, but she watches them again. With food, for awhile it was rice with eggs, then Pringles, then an everything bagel (extra toasted), then bananas, etc. There's no warning to when one cycle will end and the next one will start. Literally she was eating bananas every day and one day she ate three bananas; the next day she didn't want them anymore.

Several people have asked about Sarah's bag that she made. The print is a blue background with white flowers and red ladybugs. She's working on two more bags that have already been spoken for and Grammie just emailed to say she has a cat print she'd like made into a bag as well. For the second bag, we added an inside pocket that wasn't in the pattern but that we thought the bag needed. Besides the bags we've also started making our own pattern for an oversized hot pad for the kitchen. Next we're going to try something new. The fabric store had patterns on sale so we've picked out a few new things. I told Sarah that if she likes sewing and wants to she can make items and we can sign up for a craft fair and see if we can sell them.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag

Here is Sarah's very first completed sewing project. It's a hobo style purse bag that ties at the top. She was so excited to start and finish this bag yesterday that this morning she was up early cutting out pieces for a new bag! She learned to thread the sewing machine, cut out patterns, fuse interfacing, apply Velcro, rip stitches when the machine goes haywire and to use the serger. Whew! That's a lot for one day, but she did it and the look on her face when the bag was done was awesome!
And, yep, I get the first one -- sorry, no bidding and no under the table offers to buy it from me -- it's ALL MINE!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Jump in the Way-Back Machine!

One wonderful thing (among the MANY wonderful things!) about Sarah is that she knows Chinese. Over the past few days she's been messing around on the computer and by using a Chinese search engine has unearthed some marvelous photos of herself!

So let's jump in the "way-back machine" and go back a bit -- back to China. Before our journey starts, on a few occasions people have asked about where Sarah is from in China, so here are two little maps that show Jiangsu Province (in orange below) and then a close-up of the province showing Nanjing (lower left) which is the city Sarah is from. Nanjing is about a one hour car ride from Shanghai (lower right).


Jiangsu Province
Nanjing City

And now ..... the photos! Several were taking during Children's Day celebrations. In China, Children's Day is June 1. NOTE: Sarah wears the same skirt (sometimes looks pink, sometimes red) below, but the photos are from different years. You can tell the difference by looking at her hair (some short with no bangs, some short with bangs, some with ponytail, etc).

Sarah (right side)

Sarah in Bejing at Tiannamen Square (right side, black stripped shirt)

Doing a magic show

Playing drums (left side)

Singing for Children's Day Celebration (Back row, right side)

Children's Day (Back row, second from right)

And the last photo -- adorable in orange! The sign says something to the effect: "Thank you for coming for Children's Day and for giving your love!"

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Another Sarah "First"

Well, here's our girl with another "first" -- her first BLT! The tomatoes are from our garden and we already know Sarah LOVES bacon, so it was just natural to make BLTs. Then we realized Sarah had never had a BLT before!

What I hadn't calculated is just how much she LOVES bacon! The first package was gone before you could say "BLT" so I pulled another package out of the freezer, threw it in the pan and it wasn't even cooked yet when she came back into the kitchen wanting to know how long until more bacon was ready! After her first BLT sandwich, she just skipped the L, T, mayo and bread and had a plate of B!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fishing Report from Branson

Just wanted to add a link to the "Fishing Report" that our guide in Branson publishes on his website. There are several photos of Sarah and one of Kevin under the "July 2" heading. If you are going to Branson, we highly recommend "Chartered Waters" fishing trips!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Branson or BUST!

We've just returned from a 2-1/2 day trip to Branson. Fun was had by all! And look at that HUGE fish that Sarah caught! Okay, the photo was really taken at Bass Pro Shop.

We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and after checking into the hotel we went to the Titanic exhibit. Last week we watched the movie "Titanic" so we'd all be ready for the things we would see. Sarah really liked the movie and enjoyed the exhibits as well. When you enter the hall you are given a paper "ticket" with the name of an actual passenger on the Titanic. Throughout the exhibit there are items that had belonged to different passengers and at the end you find out if your person survived or died during the sinking. This was one of my favorite parts of the exhibit.
Kevin was Isidor Straus from NYC who was traveling as a 1st class passenger with his wife, a man servant and a maid. Mr. Straus had been a US Senator and was the co-owner of R. H. Macy & Company -- today known simply as Macy's Department Stores.

Sarah was Eleanor Elkins Widener from Pennsylvania who also was traveling as a 1st class passenger. Mrs. Widener was traveling with her husband, son Harry and two servants (a female maid and a man servant). Mrs. Widener had one of the most extensive jewelry collections in the US.
I was Alma Cornelia Berglung Palsson from Sweden who was traveling with her four small children to Chicago where her husband had moved 2 years prior. It had taken Mr. Palsson two years to save enough money to bring his family to America. Alma and her kids were raveling as 3rd class passengers. On the night of the sinking, Alma did not feel the collision with the ice berg and when she was alerted to come up to the deck it took her a long time to wake the children and dress them warm enough for the cold winter air.

You'll have to wait a bit to see if "we" lived or died!

We weren't allowed to take any photos inside the exhibit, but if we could have you would have been able to see Sarah's eyes widen as we entered the room where the actual red "jump" dress that Rose was wearing when she climbed over the railing to jump was on display. The dress took over 1000 hours to make and Sarah stared at it for quite a long time trying to see the stitching, beading, etc. They also have the long pink wool coat that Rose was wearing as the ship sank as well as about 8 large fancy hats that were worn in the movie. The signs indicate that the red "jump" dress is about a size 4/6 yet the pink coat is a size 8/10. The coat was purposely made big so Rose would look scared and small when she was wearing it as that is the time the boat is sinking. Sarah was very interested in the reasoning to this and how sizing, colors, etc, can change the "look" of clothing. Yep, fashion designer in the works!

At the end of the exhibit you can start a timer and stick your finger into water that is the same temperature the ocean water was the night the Titanic sunk. Sarah was only able to hold her finger in the water for about 18 seconds as it was COLD! She understood then why so many people died simply from being in the water.

Now, onto who lived and died! Well, as for Kevin's Mr. Straus, he and the man servant put Mrs. Straus and the maid into one of the lifeboats. The lifeboat was only half full so a crew member told Mr. Straus he could get in the lifeboat too even though a "women and children" only policy was widely being held. Mr. Straus refused. However, before the lifeboat could be lowered, Mrs. Straus stepped back out and declared to her husband "We have lived together for many years. Where you go, I go." She gave her warm fur coat to the maid who remained in the lifeboat knowing she would be needing it. Mr. and Mrs. Straus then took seats in deck chairs, held hands and went down with the Titanic. The maid survived.

Sarah's Mrs. Widener and her maid boarded lifeboat #4 and survived. Her husband, son and man servant died. After returning to the US, she devoted herself to charitable works and donated enough money that the Harry Elkins Wilder Memorial Library was built at Harvard University. Upon donating the money for the library, she stipulated that every Harvard graduate must know how to swim as she thought that if her son had known how to swim he might have survived the sinking of the Titanic.

As for my Mrs. Palsson, she and her four children arrived on the upper deck too late the make it into a lifeboat and perished. This was the fate of 527 of the 699 third class passengers. Only 25% of 3rd class passengers survived.

Before we left the Titanic exhibit, Sarah wanted to buy a replica of the "Heart of the Ocean" necklace that Rose wears in the movie. The necklace, along with the drawing of Rose, are Sarah's two favorite parts of the movie. Plus, as she was given the passenger Mrs. Widener who had a giant jewelry collection, it only makes sense that she would want to buy a necklace to remember the occasion!

Sarah was so cute -- she kept looking through all the replica necklaces to find just the right one and then when we were outside she said "I think I got a real one!" I love our little dreamer! Here she is with her "Heart of the Ocean" necklace standing out front of the Titanic building which is designed to look like the front of the ship - complete with iceberg!

On Tuesday evening we went swimming for quite awhile in the hotel pool and then lounged around in the hotel hot tub for a bit before heading out to dinner, a walk along the new river walk shopping area and a trip to Coldstone Creamery which is one of Kevin's favorite stops. By then, we were ready for bed.


On Wednesday, we went shopping in the morning and then headed down to Lake Tanneycomo for a 4 hour guided fly fishing trip in the afternoon. Sarah and Kevin both fished and I, being the wimpy one, did not fish! (Hey, somebody had to take the photos!). We had a great guide who took us right up the dam between Tablerock Lake and Tanneycomo and then let the boat drift down, then brought us back up -- he did this four times. Both Kevin and Sarah are new to fly fishing, so the guide first let them cast a bit and told them the "ins" and "outs" of fly fishing. Then they were off! I was amazed at how many fish Kevin and Sarah caught!

And, yes, Sarah is wearing lots of PINK but she wasn't one bit afraid to hold her fish even when they flopped out of her hands! We did not keep any of the fish, instead allowing them back into the water to swim another day!

Here are photos of just three of the rainbow trout Sarah caught and one Kevin caught. Sarah caught the first fish, the biggest fish and the most fish! And, trust me, she won't be letting Kevin forget it! When the day was done, Sarah had brought 8 fish to the boat and Kevin had brought in 6. Pretty darn awesome for about 3 hours of fishing!

Look at the smile you get when you know you've caught the BIGGEST fish!

After fishing we showered off only to go jump in the pool again! It felt to good after a hot day of fishing. After dinner we headed out to the go-cart track and raced our little hearts out! Sarah's go-kart was Jeff Gordon's #24 -- what do you think about that, all you race fans!?! Then it was on to Cold Stone Creamy - again - for a late night ice cream fix!


Our last day in Branson. We took in an early IMAX showing of ocean life (complete with popcorn), stopped by Krispie Kreme (Sarah declares the strawberry filled to be the best) and then headed home. Yes, fun was had by all!