Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Olivia Xi GeGe is now officially two. Technically she has been two since the 12th. I am just now getting around to pulling myself away from the day to day management of home, hearth, and Pink Evita business. (Not necessarily in that order...there is some tending to the home and hearth that is well...in quiet desperation of some windex.)

Nonetheless, my precious wittle "w"one...turned two last week. We began the day with making cupcakes for her Mommy and Me play group which includes our beloved twin friends whom we met in China the same moment we met Liv. Of course there is also her BFF Mei Mei. Each and every time we get in the car Liv shouts "Mei, Mei?" which means do I get to play with Mei Mei? Being the slacker mom that I am we whipped together a few cupcakes and frosted them on the way out the door....so of course the frosting melted into a gooey glaze by the time we got to share them. I considered making up a story about how Olivia's cupcakes were frosted with the newest form of sheer fondant that the cooking.com had to offer but secretly thought no one in their right mind would buy that coming from me. Kudos to the other mom's for tactfully neglecting to mention the mess.

Then I realized I pretty much had NOT ONE OTHER THING planned for the blessed event that marks the auspicious occasion of my dear daughter's birth.

What is a girl to do? Go to Build A Bear. When in doubt...there is always build a bear.

The girls and I headed off to the mall as a special treat for Olivia's birthday with specific promises of one small bear and one small (aka cheap) outfit for said bear. These specific instructions were mostly for Ava's complete understanding and comprehension of the trip to the mall. But perhaps that goes without saying.

Take special note of the size of that bear. It is not small. Apparently Build a Bear knows nothing of the words tasteful and in moderation.

They both got big bears. Is it weird that Ava looks more pleased with the whole birthday trip to the mall than Olivia?

Everybody gets a bath immediately upon being born yes?

Bears born at the mall do. In a sad turn of events the super bear drying machine scared the bejeezus out of Olivia and she had to move quickly into the bear clothes section of the store.

With bears in tow we then chose to eat chicken nuggets at the food court. A birthday feast to befit the occasion.

Back home at the ranch...there were left over cupcakes. Slacker birthday cupcakes, but cupcakes.

It turns out when you set the bar low...everyone is happy with a melted cupcake. That is my tidbit of wisdom for you today.

And that was birthday number 2...Olivia style.

Maybe next year she will get a pony.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Make A Left Onto The Cul-De-Sac

Johnny's Rolling MeMe of Doom has made a left and is now at my driveway. Here are the rules as I understand them.

1) Read the meme that was dumped assigned to you. Answer the questions.
2) Add TWO new questions to the list. Answer those questions.
3) Forward Dump this onto the next blogger victim (and list their name and link to their blog).
4) This series will conclude when we get 50 questions - so yes, it's 25 bloggers in the chain.
5) Please make sure that the next victim in the "link" doesn't have a password protected blog.
[Optional 6] Update the links so people can follow along (this is similar to the method I used in the Why China series).
[Optional 7] When you see an update, down the chain, update your own page with the new questions and answers.
[Optional 8] Copy these micromanaging instructions into the top of your meme post.

1. What secret/surprising/personal goal (that is realistically achievable within the next 15 years) would you like to fulfill?
I'd like to expand my wee little bitty handbag business into a storefront and run it with some friends. We'd be happy and comfortable while filling our souls with creative work every day. I'm completely fine with keeping my "dropped out" status in corporate America.

2. Can you list an event in which you made a last minute decision or guess that significantly changed the path of your life?
In 2001 I found out that I was in remission from breast cancer. In an overly dramatic and tearful display I made my husband promise we would never again try fertility and we would adopt a child. We attended an adoption meeting at a church several weeks later after I heard an advertisement on the radio. I wore a wig. On the drive home we easily agreed that we would send in the application money to start an adoption from China. We never researched agencies or programs. 18 months later we were on a plane bringing Ava home. Then in 2005 we did that same thing and brought Olivia home. It never occurred to either one of us to read up on cancer recurrence rates, or adoption agencies, or countries or domestic vs. international. After I strong armed him into the decision we simply lept with closed eyes, wounded souls, and open arms. It was the best decision we ever made as a couple.

3. What is one unrealistic goal (but your total secret dream) that you would love to come true, but are pretty sure it won’t ever happen?
Oprah calls me and says I must be on her show since I've lead a pretty interesting life so far. She likes my handbags, she thinks I'm talented and she secretly reads the blog. I politely decline saying I don't need the publicity I'm very busy woman. However, I'd be happy to have dinner with her in Chicago at the restaurant of her choice. She pays of course. We have some wine and good conversation, then I happily come home.

4. Who has had the most influence on your life and what did they teach you?
Probably my parents and their teachings of leading a life rich with family and kindness towards others.

5. You are on a deserted island. You are stranded with someone from any point in time for 2 months (they are coming to rescue you but are busy right now). Other then family/friends/naval engineers, who is it?
The Dalai Lama is too busy? Are you kidding?

6. Name and describe 3 things on your mind lately. Is there any particular reason why you’re thinking about a particular thing?
Did I make the right decision in putting Ava in full time Kindergarten? She's very tired. And sort of whiny. But loves it. She's more clingy than normal. I worry about her at school.

Is Livi speech delayed, or simply laid back? Shouldn't I just relax about it already, she is using more words?

Is making almost 100 handbags too many in 3 months for a part time job?

7. If you could go back to one moment in time and change it, what would the moment be and what would you change it from and to?
I think I would rethink how much I spent on a pair of jeans yesterday. Seriously, no regrets in the large scheme of life . Everything is right in its own time, it is not time well spent to Monday morning quarterback your life.

8. What is your biggest pet peeve and is there anything that you can do or not do to stop other people from doing it?
Don't you think the word actually is overused? It is driving me insane. I do it and I cringe. Why does every other sentence need to start with the word actually? The neighborhood kids do it and Ava does it. Poor English or over use of slang iritates me.

9. Who has been the most influential teacher in your life and why did he or she have such an impact on you? Have you sent them a note?
Mr. Brixus in 7th grade. He made me feel smart when I needed it. He made me feel normal when I wasn't. When I was in his class I loved learning. No, I never told him thanks. I moved and have no idea how to contact him. I did ask a very old friend what became of him. She told me he fell out of favor with that Catholic school when he obtained a divorce. Their loss, hands down. I hope he is happy in whatever he is doing.

10. What three things do you regret not learning to do?
Play piano.
Learning more about how to take care of a car. My husband does this for me and I think it a little lame.
I wish I had tried to teach my mind to be a little more analytical in school. Math and physics were difficult for me. I never valued how those skills can open doors to other types of learning later in life.

11. What is your biggest fear?
Sometimes I get a twinge of worry about a cancer recurrence. I'm not afraid to die but I do not want to leave my girls before they are self sufficient adults.

12. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
More patience. I can be pushy and driven in a slightly obnoxious way. I don't want my kids to get that from me.

13. What is the answer to life, the universe, everything?
Love, not romantic sappy love. Love is non-judgment and peace for all people.

14. If you knew, beforehand, that the wait for your child from China would take this long and drastic a time frame, would you still go through with it or would you choose another country?
We waited 13 and 12 months respectively after log in for our girls. It would be easy for me to say we'd do it all over exactly the same no matter what...but I'm not sure we would if we had to wait 3 years for a baby.

15. What is one food that most people like that you do not like at all?
Tomato soup and juice. Love fresh tomatoes, hate the juice and soup. It's weird.

16. Name one place in the world you would love to spend at least one month visiting?
Yueyang, Hunan China and Yangxi Guangdong China.
Machu Pichu
New Zealand
Northern Ireland
Obviously, one place is simply not possible for me. I have serious wander lust and would pick up tomorrow and travel.

17. What book have you just finished reading and why did you pick it up? Would you recommend it to others?
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. She is hysterial and I loved it. I bought it because I'm a sucker for spiritual journey books.

18. Share a relatively quick and easy recipe for Fall. One pot/dish recipes given extra credit.
Back to #10. Can I add learn to cook better?

19. Would you rather be financially well off, but unhappy, or a happy person who is always in need of money?
I have a friend who is divorced and she jokes she will marry for money the next time around. It sounds all well and good but we all know truly happy people don't need tons of money. Just enough. Sign me up for happy.

20. What is the most comforting sound in the world to you and why?
The kids laughing together. Although the ocean tumbling is a close second.

21. What is your all time favorite book? If you aren’t a reader, what is your favorite movie? And why?Favorite book?
Too many to name one. When I was a young girl my favorite book was a Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. But I have read so many great books since then. There is simply nothing better than losing yourself is a wonderfully written story.

22. Share one of your most cherished childhood memories.
For a short time we lived on the Mississippi River in a small town in Iowa. There was family down the street with 13 children. My brother and I spent so many carefree days running up and down the bluff that overlooked the river with all those kids. We put pennies on the train tracks to see them flattened. We hunted for Indian arrowheads and collected frogs and toadstools. We walked ourselves to the local pool and back again when it was near dark. We even walked to the local Dairy Mart for ice cream when we could get $.75 from our parents. It was easy living.

23. What are you paranoid about?
Losing my child in a public place. I have overreacted so many times when one of them strays only 10 feet from me. I almost couldn't read Deep End of The Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard it was so emotional for me.

24. What trait of yours do you MOST hope your children will carry on?
Love of books, of course. Also, critical thinking on matters of most importance ie...spirituality and personal integrity.

25. What’s your guilty pleasure?People magazine at the pedicure salon. Heaven on earth people.

26. What would you buy if you had a thousand dollars to spend on yourself?
This sounds rather materialistic, but shoes good shoes. And then some fabric for fun sewing. And then a pair of fine leather boots.

27. Help me update my iPod...name your favorite artists, and then your favorite song that they perform.
I'm so lame in this department. I have Black Eyed Peas on my ipod. That is the only band that makes me feel a little cool when I listen to it. Are they cool anymore? Who knows.

28. What is your favorite charity?
Susan Komen. Half The Sky. And...Ava just brought home this amazing program from school for Heifer International. We put a few cents in a box everyday and it tells us all about how the money will go to buy livestock and farming supplies for people in need around the world. Teach a man to fish. . .that is a cool charity.

29. In The Shadow of the Wind, there is a beautiful passage that says “few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart.” Do you think this is true, and if so what is your “first” book and why.
This is unromantic, but no. I am passionate about books and I simply cannot remember my first book. I do remember reading Charlotte's Web as a little girl and crying and crying when Charlotte died. I loved that book. I guess it was the first book that found its way to my heart...so I'll change my answer to a resounding yes, it's true.

30. What is your favorite wilderness hike and why? (You knew I was going to ask this-if you aren’t a hiker, you can modify it to drive by landscapes or whatever speaks to you.)
Taquamannon Falls, Upper Penninsula Michigan. It took my breath away. Does the Great Wall of China count as a wilderness hike? That was also pretty damned rock'in.

31. What were/are your nicknames? Do you like them?
When I was little kids at school called me Klutz. It rhymed with my maiden name. How unfortunate that I was the tallest kid EVER and not terribly graceful.

32. What was your first concert? Your most recent?
Van Halen.
Polka Boy at the local Rathskellar. Those dudes can jam. :)

33. Have you ever done someone the dirty? I mean really, foully, badly wrong. And would you do it again, and why?
I bet I have but I don't think it would have been intentional. I don't consider myself mean spirited.

34. If you found out that the universe HAD been created, and you could ask the Creator one question, what would it be?
Why are Men from Mars and Women From Venus?

35. What were your dreams as a child?
I remember wanting to be a lawyer. But it was probably because I thought my parents wanted me to be a lawyer. Then there was a time when I wanted to be a famous dancer in New York. Which I'm not sure where that came from since I never really danced beyond 8 years old.

36. What can you do better than most people?
Oh, lots of things. See #12 and the obnoxious stuff.
I have an eye for colors and textures. That hasn't made me my first million or anything but it is proving helpful in my old age.

37. What's your favorite bird and why?
Oh dear, here is where I have to admit that I have a deep seeded bird phobia. My dear friend has a few in her house in little cages and I simply cannot understand it. I have to breathe deep and self talk the walk in her living room. I sometimes have nightmares about chicken feet, it truly creeps me out. I hate bird feet. However, I am learning to relax a bit about it and I do like watching the bluebirds and cardinals in my wooded backyard...as long as I can focus on their bodies and not their feet.

38. When/where did you last go camping? I've never been on a real overnight camping trip. Does a lower end Marriott count? I would like to try it. The older I get the less fussy I get. I could pee on a tree.

39. Is there something that you feel you should love doing with your kids but you really don't enjoy at all?
Ok, I don't really enjoy playing imaginary stuff with the girls. I like board games and reading but I dread when they want to play house or Dr. I avoid it like the plague.

40. What home improvement project is next on your list? Something as small as changing a light bulb counts.
We are adding cabinet door knobs after being knob'less for 13 years. This is a major event in our lives. When it is done I'll have to share a picture.

Red Hot n' Rollin': Johnny(1,2) -> Our Journey to China (3,4)-> 3D’s Adoption Journey (5,6)->Waiting for Pumpkin (7,8)->Two Kayaks (9,10)->Watch Our Family Grow (11,12)-> Our Journey to Little Maple and Back (13,14)-> American Family (15,16)-> Chicago Mama (17,18)-> The Further Adventures of Spacemom (19,20)-> Mrs. Figby (21,22)-> Mortimer’s Mom (23,24)-> Mimiboo (25, 26) -> Sopapilla (27, 28)->Jiangli (29, 30)->Beeb (31,32)-> FD Chief (33,34) -> The Daily Grind (35, 36); Different Dirt (37, 38); Twoladybugs (39,40)-> Forks and Chopsticks (41,42)

Forks and Chopsticks has been kind enough to play along next. Check her out soon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Genie and The LadyBug

All's well that ends well. Most importantly I, I mean the girls scored large amounts of Almond Joys and Kit Kats.

In a flurry of post 45 minutes until we leave for Halloween party madness Ava whipped herself in to that genie costume, wearing only the headband. She paused only long enough to ask if I would FORCE her to wear her hair up. I replied, "No dear, when have I ever FORCED you to do anything with the exception of that hepatitis shot in 2006?" in my very best Mommy Dearest voice. I quickly followed, "You don't have to wear the head thingy...and don't answer that previous question, it was rhetorical." Again, she rolled her eyes at me. If I only had a dime.

Meanwhile back in the nursery, Olivia was happily tossing halloween costumes around the room like Gatsby in his dressing room. Ava and I chided Olivia into choosing a costume in our awful sugary voices. She chose ladybug over the Panda. (Mental note to self: Panda costume definitely goes into the TO BE SAVED plastic bin in the attic for future grandchild torture.) Or, if you send me an email I will ship it to the next victim free of charge.

Then we paused in all our grandness for the annual Halloween photoshoot.

The rest of the evening went off without a hitch. Ava went to trick or treat at our friend's house while her father walked the kids around the neighborhood. Livi stayed glued to my hip somewhat overwhelmed and overstimulated by all that is Halloween nowadays. I ate 2 bowls chilli, Livi ate pizza and sugar coated marshmellows by Cadbury. Did you get any this year? They did not disappoint. Livi stole 3 on the way out.

We hope your Halloween was filled with peace and joy in this of all seasons. (I'm gearing up for December, what can I say?)