February Gumbo

January 30, 2008

We are getting ready for the busy month of February when we will be celebrating Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras, Noah's Birthday, Nana's Birthday, Gotcha Day and Valentine's Day. February kind of sums up our family...a gumbo with an interesting mix of cultures and customs. One February I think we should just have one big party complete with a King cake, red envelopes, Mardi Gras beads, valentines, Chinese dumplings and noodles, gumbo, bagels with lox, and chocolate, lots of chocolate! Today we started working on Valentines and Chinese lanterns.


January 29, 2008

Birds are a big thing in our house right now. We have been reading some good books from the library. This one is great because of the sounds. And this one has a sweet story with beautiful illustrations. And this one has great photos which I think have been the inspiration for all of the nests that have been appearing in our house. Blankets entwined with other random items tucked into corners and filled with books and giggling children pretending to be hatching or waiting for worms from their "mama bird". It is very sweet and makes me smile.

In addition to the reading and daily discussions about birds, we also watched "March of the Penguins" for the first time. And I can't stop thinking about it. I wasn't quite prepared for how extreme it would be. I have always thought of penguins as cute, happy, cold weather creatures, but I now have a whole new level of appreciation for them. Really gives new perspective on nesting. The father bird sits on the egg for nearly four months without eating and enduring some serious winter storms! While the father protects the egg, the mother is making a tortuous trek to and from the ocean to get food for her family (while also trying to avoid some very scary seals). With all of the challenges and extreme conditions, it is amazing that they continue to reproduce!

Winter Beach Day

January 28, 2008

A Year of Reading

January 26, 2008

Tonight was the one year anniversary for my adoption book club. Our first year together has been filled with lots of laughter, emotion, support, brownies, wine, and friendship. When I proposed the idea to our larger adoption group, I had no idea that it would grow to become such an important part of my life here. A mix of women, different ages, different backgrounds, different life experiences, but we all share the common bond of being mothers (or waiting to be moms) to children from China and Taiwan. We read books that are related to China, adoption, or parenting. Not always easy reading (which is why we try to mix in some light humor reads), but our monthly gatherings are always lively and interesting. I eagerly look forward to another year of reading!

Here's our 2007/2008 reading list:

January: Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Februrary: Digging to America by Anne Tyler
March: Western Dress and Bound Feet by Pang-Mei Natasha Chang
April: Chu-Ju's House by Gloria Whelan
May: Beyond Good Intentions by Cheri Register and Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolfe
June: "The Dying Room" (British Documentary about Chinese orphanges)
July: Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah
August: China Doll by Talia Carner
September: And Baby Makes Two by Julie Sheehan
October: The Good Women of China by Xinran Xue
November/December: : The Zhang Empresses (documentary film)
January 2008: China Ghosts by Jeff Gamage
February 2008: I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Re-inventing Modern Motherhood
March 2008: Peony in Love by Lisa See (we'll be attending a reading by the author which should be a lot of fun)


January 24, 2008

Finished! Don't look too closely....lots of things I should/could have done better, but overall I am happy with it. Four Valentines for our front doors. My favorite piece of embroidery is the bird on the birdbath. Noah came up with that idea when he saw what I was making.

Winter Treasures

A few winter finds that have been on our kitchen table recently:Poppy seed pods from Aunt Janet's garden. We planted the seeds yesterday in hopes of having a nice spring patch of poppies. Aren't the pods interesting just by themselves?
These funny "gumballs" are from our sweet gum tree in the back yard....keep thinking we can do some projects with these little guys.
Pecans that we picked while in Louisiana (thanks Vicki!)...now we won't be paying outrageous amounts of money for those little packets of chopped pecans in the baking section.

January Picnic

January 22, 2008

The past few days have been cold and grey so when today turned out to be warm and sunny (almost 70) we decided to have a picnic at the park. Tadpoles, ducks, and us.

Keeping the connection

January 21, 2008

Tonight I have been going through the past few months of photographs. Trying to pick the perfect ones to send Camille's birth family. We do this twice a year and it isn't easy. I spend way too much time analyzing each image...does she look happy enough? clean enough? why is her hair always in her face? are there too many photos of us as a family? should there be more of just her by herself? will they wonder why she's dressed like that or will they understand our strange Halloween customs?

And I can't help but think about how I would feel if were to receive these packets of photos and letters twice a year. Images showing growth and change. Images showing all of the milestones that have been achieved. Images showing family characteristics...the way she smiles, her eyes, her chubby little hands. It would make me sad to see all that has happened to a daughter so far away living a very different life. Would it make me wish I hadn't made the same decision? I don't know. I think I would have very mixed feelings about seeing those envelopes with stamps from the U.S. Happy to know she is doing well, but sad to be missing so much. I wonder what happens to the photographs. Are they kept in a scrapbook? Shown to others? or Too painful to look at again? It is so hard for me to pick these photos every few months, but I think it is an important part of the process for all of us. Keeping the connection and keeping our promises.

We have one of those?

January 20, 2008

This was Noah's excited question when I mentioned I needed to mop the floor today. And he quickly followed up with "I've always wanted to try doing that". Hearing his words brought forth a flood of feelings and thoughts...first thought was "how sad that my son has never seen me mopping".In my defense it isn't because I never do, but because I usually mop the floors at night while the kids are sleeping (and I admit I should do it more often than I do). The next thought was "wow,here's another opportunity for child labor" I am more than happy for him to try his hand at mopping. He's become pretty good at sweeping and great at vacuuming so mopping would the next step, right?

Since returning from our trip and dealing with several weeks of illnesses, I have to admit that our house has become a pretty big mess. At the library yesterday I picked up a book that I hoped would motivate me to get back on track (ie clear more than a pathway through the room formerly known as our living room but currently used as a dumping grounds for laundry, legos, and crumbs). The book seemed to be yelling to me from the shelf...how could I ignore the title "For Busy Moms, How to Clean Your Home Fast" ?

I quickly browsed through the book last night and I have to give the author credit. She has been able to market a technique for cleaning that I ( and surely other moms, too!) are very familiar with...the frantically run through the house stashing all clutter into closets, laundry baskets, and under beds (ok she doesn't advocate the under bed part, but it has been known to happen here). She calls it the "8 minute Emergency Cleaning Plan" which is put into place when someone calls to say they'd like to drop by. And she even has a 5 minute plan for "extreme emergencies" (like when the doorbell rings unexpectedly. She recommends three important steps (these made me laugh):

1) Drag out the vacuum cleaner and place in
middle of the living room

2) Squirt furniture polish into the

3) Put the can of furniture polish and a
semi-clean rag in the middle of the coffee table

When guests arrive, act happy to see them. Then
say "I apologize for my messy house, but I was just getting ready to clean".

I am committed to getting our house back in shape (beyond the emergency cleaning plans discussed above). Headed right now to show Noah what a mop looks like!


January 18, 2008

My recent felt food obsession got my creative juices flowing and prompted me to do something I have been meaning to do for a long time. I finally let go of the excuses (no space, no time, small helpers,) cleared my dining room table, and got out the sewing machine. The last time I sat in front of the sewing machine I was close to my due date with Noah. I honestly thought I would continue sewing after he was born. I imagined myself sewing little outfits, multiple blankets, bags, but my delusions about the early months of motherhood quickly evaporated as I became consumed with delirium. The haze of nursing, sleep deprivation, and endless hours of admiring tiny toes...starting/finishing anything was a big accomplishment and sewing wasn't nearly as high a priority as a shower. So I packed up the machine and moved it with us to Japan where I again assumed I would be sewing...imagining I would make beautiful keepsakes out of hand dyed Japanese indigo. But the sewing machine spent all three years taking up precious closet space while we spent our free time traveling and eating sushi. We have now been back in the States for over a year and the machine is finally seeing the light of day. It makes me happy to discover that I still remember how to operate it (kind of like riding a bike). And I have been reminded of what I really love about the whole sewing process...the fabric. I love seeing it grouped by colors, patterns, and designers in those fancy quilt shops. I love playing with fat quarters. Stacking them, mixing and matching, visualizing all of the wonderful potential projects. It brings back memories of spending time in my mom's studio. Playing with scraps of fabric, watching her cut and piece quilts together, learning to sew with her patient guidance. I think I enjoy the anticipation of a project more than the actual process. I tend to get frustrated and disappointed when things don't turn out the way I had hoped. And I tend to get burned out on projects too quickly. So knowing these things about myself. I am starting with small projects. Right now working on a Valentine's Day hanging for our front door. A combination of quilting, hand sewing, and embroidery. If all goes well, I'll post a pic of the final outcome. For now I am just enjoying the thrill of having the machine finally set up, renewed my love for fabric, and staying up way too late happily sewing.

Child Labor

January 15, 2008

Is it child labor to have my nearly 5 year old son changing diapers? Is it bad if I offer him money to change the poopy ones? or what about using it in place of time-outs? I haven't done any of these things (yet) but they have entered my demented mama brain. I am tired of diapers, yet I keep putting off the whole potty training thing. Hoping we can wait until summer when she can just run naked in the back yard (that worked for the first one, should work again, right?). There will be a lot of celebrating around here when we are finally a diaper free home.


Camille loves bags, shoes, glasses, hair things...the more accessories the better! Today she discovered Adam's military issued BCGs (birth control glasses!) and she can't get enough of them. The grey "headband" is part of Noah's walkie talkie set which she confiscated for her ensemble.


A big part of the holidays is always the food, right? This past holiday season I enjoyed the traditional treats, but also had a chance to get hooked on a few new things that I have now been craving.

The first is the tomato bisque at The Loop. It is truly divine and even more delightful is the fact that my kids also love it (actually begging to go to The Loop for soup...not to mention that their salads and pizzas are good,too). So yesterday I picked up some tomato bisque from Fresh Market. Today we had the Fresh Market bisque with grilled cheese sandwiches and I am happy to report it has also become a family favorite. Which now means I am on the hunt for a good tomato bisque recipe. If you have one, please send it to me!

The second favorite new food discovery is Dale and Thomas Popcorn. Thanks to the Hess family we (ok mostly me) devoured one of their six sampler boxes. I am not usually a huge popcorn fan, but I am telling you there is something special about this popcorn. Now I know why it is one of Oprah's favorite things. Fresh, flavorful, and not full of kernels. My favorite flavor is the Twice-as-nice chocolate drizzle ...makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

And the third new discovery is BBQ Shrimp. Pris and Eddie swore this was an easy and tasty dinner and they kindly sent us home with two River Road seasoning packets (although I think we could use seasoning we already have for future dinners. We were lucky to have some very fresh locally caught shrimp and this is now a family favorite...super easy to make, quick, flavorful, and shrimp is a favorite food already (especially for Noah).

The fourth new delight is Galatoire's Godchaux salad. What a wonderful mix of flavors and textures. We had a nice, leisurely (ie no kids!) lunch with Pris and Eddie at Galatoire's Bistro and in addition to lunch they sent us home with the Galatoire's cookbook which means I will hopefully be able to replicate some of the good things we had that day.

I promise I am not receiving any endorsements or payment for singing the praises of the above listed companies/products. Just wanted to share some tasty discoveries. I recently heard an interesting interview with Michael Pollan which has prompted me to think more about savoring food and the communal aspect of dining. So in that vein, I share these new favorites with you. I am sure food will be the topic of future posts since I am getting ready to read Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" for one of my bookclubs. After reading Barbara Kingsolver's " Animal,Vegetable, Miracle" I have made a stronger effort to buy locally grown produce (or grow our own). I have a feeling Pollan's book will spur me on to do even more.

Sweet Cure

January 12, 2008

Who says Krispy Kreme donuts aren't good for you? Adam brought these sweet treats home this morning after he spent the night on call. Unfortunately, he also seems to have come home with fever and a sore throat. When will this end? At least I can comfort myself with sticky sweetness, right?


Yesterday our seclusion came to an end with two wonderful visits. The first was from a huge group of birds. Noah came running to get me and I was stunned to see our back yard full of birds. Robins, Cardinals, and a Downy Woodpecker. It turns out we have a flock of robins roosting in one of our trees for winter. Our two bird baths were filled with feathered bathers. The tree was symphony of bird sounds. The grass was full of birds hunting for worms. A storm of activity. We watched in awe. Noah opened the door just a crack and they all flew up into the tree. And suddenly the visit was over. We hope they will be back for baths again soon. Noah made drawings of the birds and posted them on our front door so Adam could see them when he got home.

Soon after our feathered friends' visit, we had our second batch of company. Noah's teacher and her daughter, Annie came by to deliver some amazing get well wishes for Noah. Each of his classmates made a card for him. Very thoughtful and colorful. Noah examined each one carefully. He and Annie got a chance to run around in the back yard for awhile and I had a chance to have some adult conversation after a very long week of "quarantine". Those two visits made us all feel better.

Seeing Red

January 9, 2008

Red spots. Red cheeks. Red lips and tongue. Poor Noah has scarlet fever. The rash appeared this morning and he has been miserable. Scarlet fever sounds so scary and in days prior to antibiotics it was a scary disease...reminded me of Beth in Little Women (didn't she have scarlet fever?). When I told my mom about the diagnosis today, she said she remembered hearing stories about her mother's family being quarantined because of scarlet fever...people leaving food for the family, worrying about the spread of the fever, etc.And my dad told me he was quarantined for six weeks because they suspected scarlet fever but it wasn't...six weeks of quarantine would drive me crazy (both as a patient and/or as the parent!) It has been hard to see our usually active little monkey boy so lethargic and uncomfortable, but hopefully the medicine will start making an impact soon. I am not a huge fan of antibiotics, but today I was grateful to hear that there is something that will hopefully bring an end to this. I can only imagine how scary and helpless mothers in previous generations must have felt as they watched their children suffer without much to offer for relief.


January 8, 2008

We are sick. Noah has a sore throat and fever. Camille has the runniest, snottiest nose I have ever seen and she is more than happy to share her excessive snot with anyone and anything within close range. I have a sore throat and I am very grumpy as a result of extreme lack of sleep. The van is still full of stuff from our trip and I just can't bring myself to tackle it since it is hard enough to just get one load of dishes done with two sick kids clinging to my legs. Camille loves medicine and has spent most of the day "drug seeking"...coming up with all sorts of reasons why she needs meds. Noah on the other hand refuses to take medicine despite his raging fever and his chills. I have to bribe him with Hershey's kisses. And in the midst of this all I want to do is curl up in my bed and sleep. But that isn't possible.

So instead I spent part of this morning venting to myself about the rising costs of milk. Why aren't more people talking about this? (perhaps they are, but I have been too caught up in our little domestic bubble). Seriously. The cost of a gallon of milk (over $4) is more than a gallon of gas. And I am not even talking about the organic stuff (over $5). Just plain old regular whole milk. It used to be more expensive to buy soy milk but that isn't the case for us since we became fans of Costco's soy milk which we buy in bulk and especially not with the recent cost of cow's milk. I did a quick on-line search and came across this article. Turns out feeding kids and feeding cows are both becoming expensive endeavors. And the funny thing is that around this time last year I was thinking/blogging about milk, but from a different angle. Perhaps we should get our own cow...

Home Again

January 5, 2008

We are back home after spending nearly two weeks in Louisiana. I think one of the best things about traveling is returning home. Walking into a house with familiar smells (except for those bad trips when we forgot to clean out the refrigerator before leaving), sleeping in your own bed again, back on your own time schedule, etc. I can tell the kids are always happy to be back home because they are thrilled to discover their toys and spend the next few days rummaging through the house taking inventory. I first noticed this phenomena when Noah was little and he was so excited to get home after a trip he would literally run through the house with excitement to see his belongings. Jumping up and down as if he had won the lottery. So surprised because he seemed sure that he would never see them again. And that still continues. That old saying about absence makes the heart grows fonder apparently applies to matchbox cars, blocks, baby dolls, and even junky McDonald's toys.

We had a good trip. Packed with visiting friends and family. Lots of holiday celebrations. Lots of good food. Lots of presents. And as with most of my trips back home I felt pulled in many directions. Wanting to see and do way more things than possible in such a short amount of time. But overall a good trip. Especially good to see my kids with their grandparents, laughing with their cousins, running in the fields with the dogs, playing with some of my favorite childhood toys. Good to see them so happy and free. Doing so many of the same things I used to love doing. The time flew by too quickly and before we knew it was time to load up again for our return trip. That was a big part of our two weeks. Lots of time in the car.

We are still working on the art of family car travel. I think we have almost perfected family air travel. We are pretty good at packing light. We have a good stash of items for in-air entertainment. We know what to expect (delays, lines, and eye rolling from other passengers traveling without kids). But long car trips are still fairly new to us (living on an island for our first three years of parenting didn't provide much opportunity for practice). My problem is overpacking. I get so excited thinking about all of the space we have in our van that I start justifying the need for more stuff....we might need extra jackets or more toys/books for the ride or that craft project I started four years ago,etc. And by the time we hit the road the van is packed to the gills. I tried to convince myself (and Adam) that we would surely return with less stuff since we were bringing holiday gifts, but somehow we came home with more stuff (which is still packed in the car since neither of us wants to deal with the dreaded task of unpacking).

A few things helped us survive the long drives. We broke the trips up by stopping to visit friends. Always nice to see familiar faces and gave us all something to look forward to after spending five hours stuck in a car. We also loaded the car with music (we enjoyed listening to Elizabeth Mitchell for the first time), This American Life episodes (especially enjoyed this one, books on cd (Shel Silverstein and Garrison Keillor...both have amazing words, memorable voices and both were favorites on the drive), and when really desperate we pulled down the screen for a mid-drive movie (do kids know how good they have it these days? if not, parents certainly appreciate the modern invention of in-car dvd players!). And the other important car trip tool...a bright yellow soccer ball which got kicked around during several stops.

So instead of dealing with the large pile of mail, the unpacking, the laundry, I am finishing up this post and heading to bed. Our own bed. My favorite pillow. My little "nest" next to the bed of books and magazines. A favorite family photo on the bedside table. Home again and it feels good.

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2008

We spent the first day of 2008 exploring Avery Island's Jungle Gardens

Then we headed over to St. Martinville. One last afternoon of visiting with family before heading back home. We also hid our first letterbox by the Evangeline Oak.We wish you all a Happy New Year!
May 2008 bring you peace, happiness, good books, and lots of adventures.

Latest Instagrams

© Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish. Design by FCD.