Saturday, January 31, 2009

My 300th post!

In honor of my 300th post I'm doing another give away. First of all, I can't believe I got to 300 posts. I remember setting up the blog and sitting down to write that first post in August 2007 and not really knowing what I wanted to say. Blogging truly has been therapy in a way for me, and the people I've met through it are a blessing. The give away is the above necklace that I've worn for almost as long as I've been blogging. The winner will get a brand new one(not mine). It's made by this designer and is sterling silver and has 2 small round charms and a cultured pearl hanging from it. It's 17 inches in length and the words say "I Am Blessed." I am fortunate for the blessings in my life of God, my husband, my children, my parents who are healthy and happy, wonderful family and friends and I could go on and on . During the wait for William those 3 words helped me through some of those long days and difficult times because they reminded me of the those blessings. If you'd like to enter to win this please leave a comment and Grace will draw 1 name next Thursday, Feb. 5. And you don't have to be adopting or an adoptive parent to put your name in.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Favorite Foto Friday

William Michael-- Christmas 2007, in his foster home in China. It was his 2nd birthday. I'm very fortunate to have quite a few pictures of him as a young baby up to the day we adopted him. This is one of my favorites. :)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Friendship Award

My dear friend Lea of Oh My #6 gave me this award a couple of days ago. Thank you Lea, I'm quite honored. Lea is the definition of a true friend to me. I started blogging 18 mos, ago as a way to help myself with the wait to my 3rd child, which I thought at the time was a daughter and turned out to be a son. I never in a million years dreamed where blogging would take me as far as friendships and getting to know such selfless and compassionate people. I can only give the award to 8 people and could have chosen many more.

"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find friends and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement.Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships will be propagated.Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly- written text into the body of their award."
I chose some new friends and ones I've known for a while:
2. Janet-A Joyful Life.
5. Michelle-Born in Our Hearts.
7. Kerry-No Matter What.
8. Jill-All for Lucy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday(2)

{Shoes are Jie Jie's}

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year!

Xin Nian Kuai Le!
translated from Mandarin is 'Happy New Year!'

Me with Grace(18 mos.) celebrating her first Chinese New Year with us 5 years ago.

Miss Grace(age 3 & 1/2) and her big brother Nick(yes, he is a real person).

Grace last year right before we left to celebrate with local families for CNY.

Happy New Year! We started celebrating Chinese New Year 7 years ago with our local FCC group and since Grace's arrival to our family we continue the tradition with getting together every year with her travel group in some capacity. Sometimes at a restaurant or at one of our homes. This year we'll be celebrating as a family tomorrow night at our favorite restaurant. It happens to be owned by a Chinese family from Will's city of Fuzhou in Fujian Province. This family dearly loves William and Grace. For the next 2 weekends we'll be at a local celebration of families with children from China and also Grace's travel group will get together for 2 days. Since I didn't have pics yet to post of those events I thought I'd post a few from years past of Grace. This year I'm hoping to wrangle William into his traditional Chinese outfit...we'll see how that goes. Some bribing with chocolate may help. Wishing you a healthy, prosperous and happy year of the Ox!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Favorite Foto(s) Friday

These are 5 photos taken earlier in the week of my most favorite little girl in the whole wide world, my 6 year old daughter Grace. I speak a lot about Grace and what she's like and how much she means to me. There are times I think that maybe I post too many pics of my 2 young children on my blog and I shouldn't so much. With the wait to adopt from China, sometimes I think it might make people feel bad or worse if that makes any sense. I asked Lea this question in an email and she told me no, she felt that seeing Grace and William gives people hope that someday their children will be home too. May you continue to have hope during this agonizing wait. It will happen. My heart is with you all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fabulous Blog Award

My dear friend Lea, of Oh My #6 has given me an award. Lea is possibly one of the kindest and most supportive women I've met. And she has a wicked sense of humor! She is always making me laugh in her emails. Thanks for the award Lea, I am honored.

The Rules are:

Pass it on to 5 fabulous blogs, including the one that gave it to you and link them.

1. Cyndi of Waiting for Lilly Rae. Cyndi has a great sense of style and is a wonderful mom to her son, is waiting for a daughter and I always enjoy her posts.

2. Lisa of The Long Road to China. I'm fairly new to reading Lisa's blog. She's a talented photographer, a devoted mom to 2 and waiting for a daughter from China. Lisa is an ovarian cancer survivor. And I almost forgot to add that she's an awesome cook and I love her posts about her very large extended family.
3. Tonggu Momma at Our Little Tongginator. Another blog that I'm fairly new to reading. What I love about her blog is that she keeps it real. And she's very funny. She speaks about adoption issues, her family and of course her daughter the Tongginator. TM has a true gift of writing. :)

4. Lori of Stress in the New Black. Lori and I have bonded because we are about the same age and we both have grown sons and 2 young children. She has a social life that I envy and stays very busy with her 'twins' from China. There's always something going on in her house. I have laughed until I cry with many of her posts.

5. Missy of Live Big Laugh Often. Been following Missy's blog for a while, I adore Missy and her younger sister Paige. Missy is another talented photographer and the love she has for her sister shows through in every post.
List 5 of your fabulous addictions.
1. My new camera. I'm addicted and have been trying to learn more about it and take pictures everyday. Eventually I'll get off the auto setting. I'm taking 2 classes locally in February and another class in May in Michigan with this talented photographer.
2. Decorating my home. My mom says I decorated my room as a young girl, so it's no surprise that this has continued all my life. I'm always on the quest for something different to add to a room, whether it's a piece of furniture, a small accessory or different curtains. This year we are painting the interior and I'm picking out tile and a design for our kitchen back splash. I also love to rearrange furniture and art for a change. Sometimes fairly frequently to Dan's dismay. I've helped several friends with design choices and have even staged a few for moving.
3. Shopping at flea markets, antique shops and 2nd hand stores. Always one for a great buy or finding a diamond in the rough, I've been a flea market shopper since WAY before it was in style. This Spring I'll be traveling to one of the best of the best flea markets in not just the Midwest, but the U.S. that's in Sandwich, Illinois and I'll do a post and pics about it.
4. Gardening. January in Wisconsin gets my brain working and thinking about what I'll be doing in my yard when Springtime arrives. I designed the landscaping and perennial beds for both the front and backyard of our home 2 years ago. I'm thinking about what I want to do for this year.
5. Blogging. That's obvious.
And I have more than 5, but that's my top 5 right now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

6 months together as a family

William's adoption announcement.

6 months ago, we met William for the first time in a conference room in the Lakeside Hotel in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China. I've thought for a while about what I wanted to say about William's first 6 mos. with us. I guess I could sum it up as...he's come a looong way. Those challenging times have passed for the most part. 'Challenging' is one of those words that you use when you're trying to be nice and really mean it was horrible and chaotic and Will was terribly, terribly sad, angry and grieving. Adopting a toddler is very different than an infant. Somethings are harder but many things are easier. It's not better or worse, just different. I find it ironic in a way that we originally requested a NSN girl, as young as possible. I was afraid of adopting a SN child. With my nursing background I'd seen so much. Through some dear friends from Grace's travel group who adopted their second daughter from China who had the SN of a cleft lip and palate, we saw the miracle of this little girl. So a year ago exactly (Jan. 2008) we changed our request with CCAA to a SN boy OR girl with a cleft. 3 months later William Michael appeared on our agency's list. I fell in love with his picture and his story. We asked to adopt him and were approved. Will's repaired cleft lip and palate is not an issue, the bigger issue was a 2 and 1/2 year old going from a foster home who gave him outstanding care and endless love to our home. He has learned to love us. Those first few challenging months are what they are and you can't wish them away. They are part of the process. After the initial grief, a little boy who is charming, funny, bright, kind and very loving has emerged. And it has been worth every single second with him...getting through the hard stuff to see the real child that he is. A joy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cabin fever

cabin fever (noun)

Boredom, restlessness, or irritability that results from lack of environmental stimulation, as from a prolonged stay in a confined indoor area.

The wicked cold of a Wisconsin Winter has set in. School was cancelled on Thursday and Friday and with no school tomorrow for Martin Luther King Day we are finding things to do. The high temps were -20 to -25 (that's the regular temp, not the wind chill). Today we'll have a heat wave of 6 degrees, so we are venturing out to a movie. It will be William's first movie experience in a theater...Hotel for Dogs. Stay warm and toasty. :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

And the Winners are....

I originally had 2 key fobs and was able to get another, so Grace drew 3 names. We put the 31 names of the people that wanted to be in the drawing in a bowl...

Grace picked the 1st one....Felicia of The Fleur-de-lis Cottage.

Second one...Kimberley of The Seventh Diamond!

And the last one....Lisa of The Long Road to China!

Congrats to the winners! I wish I had enough for everyone. This was great fun for us and please look for more giveaways in the weeks to come. You all support me so much and I want you to know how much you all mean to me! I'll be contacting the winners today. And thanks to my assistant, Miss Grace. ;)
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Update on Will and Thank You!

We are home! We were up really early, got Grace over to a friend's house who was taking her to school, woke up Will, changed his pull up and put him in his car seat. We are fortunate that the Children's Hospital here is only 25 minutes away. The hardest part was probably William not being able to drink anything this morning. Will turned on the charm for the nurses and pretty much figured something was 'up' when the anesthetist walked in the room in scrubs and a head cover. Anyway, his tubes are in...he's eating, drinking and a happy little guy back in his own home. Thank you for your heartfelt thoughts and prayers, they have been so appreciated and felt. I worked here for quite a few years as a Registered Nurse in their NICU and Peds units, and I can't say enough about children's hospitals in general. They do it so well as far as caring for children and supporting families. Above pic was taken last week, right now he's wearing his Superman cape. Lots of hugs, kisses and snuggling for Will this afternoon!

Monday, January 12, 2009

A request for Will

This Wed. Jan. 14th William is going to have ear tubes placed in both ears at the Children's Hospital here in Madison. I haven't spoken about it on my blog, but Will has had 6 ear infections in 6 months. Will has been pretty miserable when he gets them with high fevers and discomfort. His ENT doctor felt that it was best to put tubes in his ears and it's pretty much standard practice with cleft affected kids. So that's what will happen here. I know it's not a big deal and it's a common procedure that's done but Will has had 2 big surgeries in China and I don't know how he'll react to this. The best part is that they are letting me carry him into the OR and stay with him until he's asleep. I know he will be okay, but it's part of being a momma to worry a bit and hope he's not too afraid. I ask for your prayers as he'll be under general anesthesia for a little while and it's hard for kids this age to transition to the awake state afterwards. We appreciate all good thoughts and prayers for our little guy...and hoping these ear infections are behind us now.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My daughter

'A daughter is a gift of love.'

'If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.'
~Chinese Proverb

This incredibly beautiful little girl is the child I hoped to have for many years. When you meet Grace in person you see qualities of serenity, peace, kindness and absolute love. Grace is the perfect name for her. I think her personality comes forth in photos, but I'm not sure. Grace has had many changes this year with going to China and getting a new brother and starting Kindergarten. She has faced them all head on. She loves William with all her heart. She adores school and is starting to read. Grace has an infectious laugh and it comes easily. She swims like a fish. She loves to have fun. She is a sensitive soul, just like her momma.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Favorite Photo Friday...snowy day with Will

Will is just not sure about Winter and all that goes with it...snow and cold. He has been pretty reticent to go outside until yesterday. He wanted to wear his rain boots instead of snow boots and that was fine with me.

He loves to make footprints in the snow. He went outside twice yesterday, once in the morning and then in the afternoon so you can see the difference in the above photos and the one below in the light.

'Mom, I no yike(like) the cold!'

Please keep entering the drawing on my previous post for the key fob, or leave a comment on this post if you're interested.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Brighton "China Tales" key fob.

Miss Grace holding key fob, it's about 3 and 3/4 inches long.
To celebrate the new year and the upcoming Chinese New Year which begins on Jan. 26th, I'm doing a giveaway of the above key fob. You can put your house and/or car keys on it, or not use it for keys and hang it from your purse or tote bag. There's a little clip attached to it. I have 2 of them, so 2 people will get one. It's very sweet and has 3 charms hanging off of it. A fish(commonly seen in Chinese art), the round charm has the Chinese character for 'happiness' on it, and the third charm is an adorable little girl wearing a pink enamel dress. Please leave a comment if you'd like to be entered in the drawing, your comment needs to be linked to your blog so I can notify you when you win. I will be announcing the 2 winners in about a week...on Friday, Jan. 16th. Grace will be drawing the names!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bringing a little of China into your home

Eggshell pottery bowl from Jiangxi Province where Grace was born. The ceramic pieces come packed in wonderful boxes, but we still hand carried this back on the plane. Way too fragile to ship.
My dining room, showing a table with an antique teapot, Tang horse(new) and red lacquer box (about 40 years old). The box has an image of a Phoenix on it. The green horse sits in a window, Grace was born in the year of the horse.

Antique jade incense burner that normally sits in a cupboard in our dining room. The lion represents power and it was usually reserved for royalty. We bought this piece at an antique shop in Guangzhou. It's small, only about 4 inches tall.
Antique cloisonne urn (bought in Will's province), it sits on our mantel. Also folk art print hangs in our family room with 2 others. I love the vibrant colors and primitive style. The red dragon box on top of our armoire in our family room was bought from China Sprout.

Our hallway on the landing going upstairs. The celadon green vase is an antique piece from China, the emperor next to it is from Pier 1. The scrolls(4) have a whole story behind them, found them at a little shop in Nanchang and they are original watercolors. The artist and his wife invited us in for tea and we stayed about an hour. Negotiate for everything you buy (that part was fun for me).

Some of Grace's room. Asian toile print on her duvet cover, a Chinese kite and old cupboard on her dresser with her baby shoes from China and a panda teapot.

These are 2 of my most treasured possessions, a tea set from Grace's province and silver bracelets that were given to her by our guide when we traveled in 2003. I put them in a shadowbox and keep them on my dresser but they will be Grace's someday.

Master bedroom and I used a toile print with an Asian theme for the duvet. Also the print above the bed is of boats on the South China Sea.

We started the process to adopt Grace in the summer of 2001. Of the many questions asked of us in the interviews for that first home study, I distinctly remember our social worker asking us if we had any Chinese art or anything with a Chinese theme in our home. I had to think about it a bit and told her no. Our social worker was born in Korea and adopted by an American family here 40 some years ago, recommended to us that it would be a good idea to start reading about China, some of it's history and bring something into our homes that we loved from that culture. I took her suggestion to heart and since that day have read about China and it's history and people. I wanted to learn everything I could about my daughter's birthplace. My daughter and son both had a history before they came to live with me. And so will yours. So I started to learn about Chinese art and the different themes of nature, how flowers and fish are frequently used, the Lion, the Rabbit, the Phoenix and the Dragon and what they represent. Those are just a few. I firmly believe that it's important to have a part of China's (or your child's birth country) culture in our homes. The above pictures show how I've brought some of China to my home. I can't explain my style of decorating other than it's eclectic and reflects our life, our travels and our family's history I suppose. I've been to China twice and I've been fortunate that my husband has traveled with his work quite a few times to China, Korea, Japan and Singapore and brought some things back too. But you can find Asian style items in antique shops and flea markets and in stores like World Market, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, Gumps(in San Francisco), stores in Chinatown in any major city and my ever favorites Target and Pier 1. You can find Asian inspired fabrics at any fabric store and if you're crafty you can sew something or if not, have it made. There are also websites like....Gumps, Wisteria and China Sprout.Start out small...maybe with one inexpensive item and see if you like it. My home by no means is all Asian in style. Grace and William actually play with the ceramic Fu (good luck) dogs that are in our entryway. When you travel to China buy what you can fit in your suitcases and ship some things home too. You'll see colorful folk art paintings, paper cutting, Chinese knots, embroidery, ceramics, jade carvings and jewelry, cloisonne, calligraphy, silk fabric, ink and wash paintings and countless other art forms. Your child's province will have something specific that it's known for. Grace's (Jiangxi) is known for a specific type of pottery. Will's (Fujian) is known for it's tea. I encourage you to celebrate your child's culture.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

First post of a new year

For the new year and my first post of 2009, I thought I'd celebrate by completely changing my blog. I also added a quote right below the's a part of the Robert Frost Poem, "The Road Less Traveled." In one of my very first blog posts I spoke of taking the road less traveled and what that meant to me. If you want to take the time, you can read that post here. But basically I feel that the road less traveled for me has been my journey with adoption to my 2 youngest children. I never in a million years thought that in the middle part of my life that I'd be a mom again. It's amazing and humbling that we think our life might be a certain my case, I couldn't have anymore children... and God had different plans. This road has made all the difference in my life. Thank you for supporting me on this journey with William and now I look forward to doing the same for all of you who are waiting for your children. 2009 is going to be a great year, I firmly believe that!
To continue my New Year's celebration I'll be doing 2 give aways this month, so please look for them. And I want to mention that the very talented Jennifer did my blog re-do...I think it's awesome and very "Gail." Thank you Jennifer!
© Aging with Grace and strong Will
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