Friday, August 31, 2012

4 Months

Posted by Angie at 7:00 AM 1 comments

We pray that our decrees come soon.  We are ready to hold our son.  We want so desperately to let him know that he has parents, and that we love him so much.  Levi turned 4 months old yesterday.  1/3 of his first year is behind him already.  Today we are a little bit sad, but also filled with a little bit of hope...hoping that we hear something soon!!!

Much love,
Blessed Mama

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

April Date

Posted by Angie at 9:28 AM 0 comments
Adoption involves a lot of waiting!  To help pass the time, I planned 12 dates for my husband and I.  Some are goofy, some are sweet, all are inexpensive (many are free).  So far we have enjoyed our adventures, in our August date, September date, October date, November date, December date, and January Date, February Date, and March Date.

Oh my goodness, still behind in sharing these!  Here's April's catch-up.

Finally, warm weather was blowing back into the South!  To celebrate this, Future Papa enjoyed our April Date.  Below is the date card I created for this month.

I loved the idea of Mason Jar meals, from here, but we ended up just having sandwiches, apple sauce, cheese and crackers, and some brownies.  Here are a couple of pictures from our adventure, which began with a hike!

What's that you see?
OH MY!  Little did we know, this was the beginning of our "spider trail" walk.  To tell you how many spider webs we walked through...shudder...I'll spare you.
Choosing the path
Pretty creek
A fun date!
It rained (April showers, right?!) so we ended up eating in the car.
Much love,
Blessed Mama

Monday, August 27, 2012

Birth Mother Gift

Posted by Angie at 7:00 AM 10 comments
What do you give to someone who has given you the most beautiful, selfless gift you have ever received?  It is impossible.  Absolutely impossible.  So instead, we decided to shop for something small for Levi's birth mother as a token to represent our love.  

After shopping and searching for hours, I stumbled across a locket on Etsy that I fell in love with.  I stared at it and thought about it for weeks.  After our court date, we knew it was time to order.  Introducing a very special locket.

With a discount (tell her if you are adopting!), purchased from MintDesigns

Actually, I ordered two.

They are exactly the same.  They have the same words on the back--our son's first name, chosen by my husband and me, and our son's middle name, chosen by his birth mother.  Beneath this special name is a special date, Levi's birth date, a day that changed both our lives and hers forever.  I will be placing the same picture inside both of these necklaces--a picture our son.

One locket, I will keep.  I will wear it when I meet Levi for the first time.  He will grow up seeing it, playing with it around my neck, tracing the letters on the back.  And I will tell him, "Your first mommy...your Taiwan mommy, she has this same necklace too, with the same picture, the same words."

One day, if or when Levi chooses to marry, I hope to let his bride take this down the aisle with her...either has her "something old," "something borrowed" or "something blue."  Perhaps she will tie it around her bouquet, and when she does, know that as she walks down the aisle a small part of Taiwan, and a big part of Levi's life, is with her.

We don't know if we will get to meet Levi's mother, but if we do, I hope to get a picture of her and I wearing our lockets together.  In some ways, we have so little in common...and yet...we also share so much.
Much love,
Blessed Mama

Please join us in prayer that we will receive our decrees soon!  This mama is ready to TRAVEL!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Consignment Shopping Success

Posted by Angie at 8:38 AM 0 comments
At first, all the baby things we needed seemed overwhelming.  Sorting the "must-haves" from the "gadgets" and the "would-be-nices" is a task we are still trying to balance.  We have been blessed with some FANTASTIC hand-me-downs (and picked up some more last night...thank you again Katrina!!) and Sunday two of my dearest friends are throwing me a baby shower.    

But when the opportunity presented itself, I couldn't help but do a little shopping too!  Our town has an ENORMOUS consignment baby sale that takes place twice a year.  Essentially, all the local parents sell their gently used baby items in ONE place.  It was pretty fabulous and took place last weekend.  Here's what we walked away with.
Check out this fantastic hiking carrier...for $10!!
Modeling it for you :-)
A cute little fall outfit, a snow suit for cold days, and a baby tux for a wedding we have in December!  All for well under $20 (total)!

Another new piece in our house is this long, lean, toy-holding machine piece of furniture.  We found it on craigslist for a great price ($35 or $40, I think) and with a new coat of paint, it looks perfect in our living room!  Love finding those bargins!

Have you found any great deals lately?

Much love,
Blessed Mama

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

We may be biased...

Posted by Angie at 7:00 AM 2 comments
Whew, Monday's post on lifebooks was a long one! I loved reading all your comments...and seeing the great tips.  Since that post was pretty words-heavy, I felt like a picture post today :-)

We may be biased...but we think he gets cuter and cuter!!

Saying a little prayer today for all the families waiting on their own special cutie!

And we are praying that those decrees come soon for us...BECAUSE I AM READY TO HOLD THIS LITTLE BOY! 

Much love,
Blessed Mama

Monday, August 20, 2012

For Adopted Toddlers: The ABC Lifebook

Posted by Angie at 7:00 AM 11 comments
Let's talk lifebooks!  You know, "the kid-friendly book that tells her whole story in words and pictures—it tells about her birth, her country, what adoption is, information about her birth parents and the reason for leaving them, foster parent information, information about your family and how she joined your family, etc." (from Do They Have Salsa in China).

I hate to admit this, but our social worker never even mentioned a lifebook.  Since our meetings with her, I discovered the idea online and have fallen head-over-heels in LOVE with the idea.  I think creating one gives parents a chance to imagine questions a child is going to ask and figure out age-appropriate answers.  I think having one is an awesome way to instigate meaningful conversations with your child.  Reading through this type of book will not only help an adoptive child feel comfortable with his or her story, but also give that child practice talking through it, so they, in turn, know how to answer difficult questions appropriately to classmates and friends.  Sold yet?

So there are ALL sorts of kinds of lifebooks out there.  The best advice I saw?  Don't over think it.  Every page and every word does not need to be perfect.  The husband and I chatted about it and we going to go ahead and make two lifebooks.  One we will gear towards an elementary-school-aged Levi, and my husband is in charge of that one.  This is what he will be using as his model

I took on the "toddler" aged lifebook.  Essentially, what I did was a personalized ABC book for Levi, made on my favorite photo website, Shutterfly (honestly, not paid or perked by them, I just love their stuff).

Here are some of my pages:
"A is for ALWAYS!  We will ALWAYS love LEVI!"  This is probably the most important idea I want to emphasize in this book, so that's where I began.  See the gray rectangle to the left?  That's all set and formatted for me to just drop a family picture in once we have one!

  "B is for BIRTHDAY!  April 30, 2012."  This day is an important part of Levi's identity, even though we weren't there for it.  I'm sure this was a day of very mixed emotions for his birth mother/first mother, and it will likely bring about mixed emotions for Levi as he grows up.  But as a toddler, we won't be getting in to all of that!  Instead, what Levi gets is a fact (the day he was born), with an exclamation point (it's exciting), and pictures of him as a week old baby.  We are introducing the idea of a "birth day" and planting the seed for future discussions.

"E is for EXCITED, we were so EXCITED to meet Levi!"  With a blank square for a picture of when we meet Levi.  "F is for FOREVER FAMILY!"  We will probably use another picture of when we meet Levi, on our "Family Day," the day we become a family in person.  Again, this introduces the idea that we weren't always with Levi, physically (we have to "meet") but despite that, we are a family "forever." :-)

"M is for MOMMY!"  "N is for NANNIES who took good care of Levi"

"O is for OTHER babies you lived with in Taiwan."  I just caught that I used "you" instead of the third person "Levi" that I used in the rest of the book.  Need to fix that ;-)  But if I hadn't caught it, it would not be a big deal.  Remember, don't over think it!

"Q is for QUESTIONS, which are always ok!"  This is an important page for me.  I never want Levi to feel like he can't ask us "tough" questions (or easy ones, of course), about his adoption.  Again, planting the seed for that here!

"U is for USA, which is where we live!"  "V is for VISITORS who came to see Levi!"  Just an example of completely blank pages, formatted and ready to go.  You know, so when I am sleep-deprived and exhausted, all I have to do is drop in the pictures to finish this book and click "order."

The last page reads "Mommy and Daddy will ALWAYS love Levi, don't ever forget, as you read your alphabet!"  This ties back in to the main theme of the book (mommy and daddy will always love you) and rhymes, so points there!

What I like about the ABC-style book is that it gives me a chance to introduce "adoption lingo" in a short, easy to manage, simple way.  It's simplistic, and for a young toddler, that's exactly what I think we will need.  For example, on page "R" I wrote "R is for REFERRAL, when we first saw Levi's face!" along with the first (crying) picture we saw of him.  Will a toddler have any idea what a referral is?  No.  But the word is introduced so that when he is ready to talk more specifically about adoption (with the book my husband is making), it's there.

This book really made me think about how we might explain adoption to a toddler-aged Levi.  We have a picture of his first mother in there, the letter for her first name, and right now it reads "HER-NAME-WHICH-WE-AREN'T-SHARING-HERE, Levi's tummy mommy in Taiwan."  The term "birth mother" requires that you understand birth (which we will not be explaining to a toddler, ha).  We like "first" mother vs "forever" mother (me), but that also might be confusing/scary?  So I settled on "tummy" mommy for now, with the idea of explaining "you grew in her tummy."  But again, nothing is set in stone...I can keep tweaking up until I order the book, and if things change after that, not a big deal!

You might be can I come up with something for every letter of the alphabet?  Here you go!

A = Adoption Day, All About You, Always
B = Birthday, Birth Mother, Birth Family, Brother, Baby, Boy
C = Celebrate, Cherished, Chosen, Caregivers
D = Daddy, Daughter
E = Excited
F = Family, Father, Forever, Foster Family, First
G = Grandfather, Grandmother, Grandparents, Gotcha Day
H = Home, Heritage, Hope, Happiness
I =  I love you, Irresistible
J = Joy
K = Kisses
L = Loved, Lullaby
M = Miracle, Mom, Memories, Map (of birth country)
N = Nursery, New
O = Orphanage, Official (Adoption Finalization), Our Dream Come True
P = Parents, Passport, Plane Ride
Q = Quiet Time, Quilt, Questions
R = Referral, Ready, Room, Remember
S = Siblings, Sister, Son, Smiles, Special
T = Together, Toys, Travel, Thankful
U = USA, Us
V =  Visit, Visitors, Visa
W = Wishes, Waiting, Welcome Home
X  = X Marks the Spot (location on a map), XO (kiss/hug)
Y = You
Z = Zodiac Sign, ZZZZZZ (sleeping)

{list from here}  And obviously, feel free to tweak for your own adoption story!  H, for us, is His Hands, the name of Levi's orphanage.  T is Taiwan for us.  You get the idea!

If you are a waiting mama, this is something you can get started on now!  It will be easier to make without a little one running around.  Format your pages on your favorite photo book site, a word document, or even hand write it out on sheets of paper (which would be adorable!  my handwriting is terrible, unfortunately).  Then, all you have to do is add in the pictures.

If you have already adopted, it's not too late!  Keep it simple and toss it together.  It only took me a couple of hours.

If you are past the toddler age, check out the link above for the elementary-school version!  Once my husband has that done, maybe I'll convince him to write a post ;-)

Above all, just remember, it's worth it!  Adoptions involve pain and loss.  For us, this will be an important tool to open that conversation and begin the healing.

Much love,
Blessed Mama

Friday, August 17, 2012

I really must dash...

Posted by Angie at 7:00 AM 1 comments
This will have to be a short post today, I really must dash... see, this week we got a new video of our darling son...

...and he seems to have a lot of energy.

Looks like we have some more baby proofing to do before we welcome him home!  He is going to be crawling in no time...

Have a lovely weekend, all.

Much love,
Blessed Mama

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Will I laugh or will I cry?

Posted by Angie at 10:02 AM 5 comments
These are the things I think about.  When I hold Levi for the first time, in the middle of a busy train station in Taiwan, will I laugh or will I cry?

At my wedding, I laughed.  I laughed uncontrollably the entire way down the aisle.  I was quite the giggly bride.
After the ceremony, walking down the aisle, still laughing.
When I announced our adoption plans to my mom, I cried.  Big, bawling, crying the second we hit play on the video.  So many tears I think she thought we were announcing a family catastrophe.

And so, when I think about that moment when I see Levi across the train station, after so many years leading up to this adoption, and months of staring at his pictures, I wonder how the emotion will come out.  I love seeing the pictures of other parents.
from this post
from this post
from this post
from this post
from this post
from this post

I'll tell ya one thing...I will be wearing the waterproof mascara just in case.

Much love,
Blessed Mama

Monday, August 13, 2012

Spring Onion Pancakes and Pineapple Tarts

Posted by Angie at 7:00 AM 2 comments
Yep, this is another Taiwanese cooking post!  If you were in my kitchen this past weekend, you would have seen some interesting ingredients, inhaled some sweet smells, and listened to some LOUD Taiwanese music (courtesy of online radio streaming).  Let's see how this went, shall we?

First up were some Pineapple Tarts, a Lunar New Year treat.  I used this recipe.  
Shaping the tarts
The dough and filling
Taking a deep breath and putting them in the oven

Ta Da!!  I was SHOCKED they came out this pretty :-)
While those baked away, I began the dinner portion of the meal, Spring Onion Pancakes, using this recipe.
Into the pan
Turning golden brown
Our "HAPPY" Taiwanese dinner!
I liked my dinner with soy sauce...husband liked it without.
The verdict?  The pineapple tarts were a bit time consuming, but delicious...not too sweet.  The spring onion pancakes took less time and are perfect for that "breakfast for dinner" kind of meal.

I can't wait to try these foods in Taiwan to see how our versions match up!

Much love,
Blessed Mama

Other Taiwanese culinary posts?  Bubble Tea (not my favorite), dumplings (whew, so much work from scratch, but so good), and shrimp fried rice (which we make like once a month now!)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chinese Children's Songs

Posted by Angie at 9:37 AM 0 comments
So, I chatted about the tastes of our is a new "sound" of summer (and beyond) that I am super excited about!

To see the CUTEST video, go to their website...or watch it below.  ADORABLE!

Little Dragon Tales is a collection of 12 classic Chinese Children’s songs with a modern twist.  Think hip-hop mixed with electronica, sung by adorable children.  The songs are seriously catchy!

Since my singing voice is less than amazing, and my knowledge of Chinese children songs is even more limited, we were so excited to discover this.  So, for those of y'all with Asian children, or just a desire to broaden your music selection, check it out!

Much love,
Blessed Mama

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dropping in on Day Cares and Our High Energy Boy

Posted by Angie at 7:00 AM 2 comments
Goodness gracious, this is becoming very real, y'all!  The husband and I are officially visiting childcare centers.  We're answering questions about our son, looking at daily menus, walking though playgrounds, and peeking in widows at all types of little cuties napping and playing.  Ah!

We've been told that in our town, the best day care facilities have about a six month waiting list.  In January, I will be returning to work, which means that Levi will be making a bunch of new friends.  So the touring has begun...

My mom was a stay-at-home mom, so honestly, this has been tough for me.  I love Levi and I love my job, so finding a place that I feel comfortable leaving him for the morning/early afternoon is probably one of the most important things for me.  If I don't LOVE where I leave him, I know I will be consumed with guilt.  Two places quickly soared to the top of the list, and I am pleased to report that today I will officially be e-mailing our favorite place to go on the waiting list, with a January start date.

With my folder of information
All these's very real...could we be in Taiwan next month?! 

Speaking of Taiwan, His Hands posted this on their facebook page this past weekend, with the caption "It's only August, but we're getting ready for the 2013 His Hands calendar! Here's a behind-the-scenes photo of our hard workers getting the babies into position for a photo."

Levi is the little boy in blue on the far right...causing some I wrote, "Aww!! LOVE! Looks like Levi is causing some mischief too :-)"

The response?  We have a high-energy little one headed our way.  "Levi was causing mischief the whole time with his squirmy little body. Sara kept having to adjust him because he wanted to move all around :)"

Thank you to ALL of your who are helping pray this little one home soon!!

Much love,
Blessed Mama

Monday, August 6, 2012

Taiwanese Home Study...check!

Posted by Angie at 7:00 AM 9 comments
Friday morning we received some awesome news.  If you read our post on our successful court date, then you know that next up in our process was waiting to hear when the home study (for Levi in Taiwan) would be scheduled.  We were hoping to hear soon, and praying that the date would not be too far out.  For instance, it would be bittersweet to hear that we had a home study date (yay) on September 10th (boo).

Anyhoo, on Friday we got an e-mail from our case worker...that...


Say what?!?!


What does that mean, you ask?  WELL...the social worker has to write up the report, and he/she has up to 30 days to do so.  The report goes to the judge.  The judge issues decrees.  Decrees = Levi is legally our son.  Decrees go to American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).  AIT sets appointment date.  We are in Taiwan for that date.

But HOW much LONGER does that mean?  WELL...the social worker could take the full 30 days to write the report (September 3), the paperwork could sit on the judge's desk for a month (October 3), and we could get the decrees/travel dates in October.


The social worker could turn in the report this week, the judge could look at it right away, and we could get decrees THIS MONTH!  Dare I dream?  Well, I will certainly pray!!  This little boy is ready for a forever family and we are ready for our son!

Levi getting love from one of the nannies
"Come get me mom and dad!  I rocked my home study!"
We would love it if you would say a little prayer for us, that things move swiftly and smoothly, whenever we come to mind!  Because your prayers have REALLY been working for us.  We are in awe...

Much love,
Blessed Mama

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Taste of Summer: Bubble Tea and Gardening

Posted by Angie at 7:00 AM 1 comments it already August?!  This summer has flown.  What a wonderful season this has been.  It's hard for me to believe that this was our last "just the two of us" summer.  We packed a lot in!  One local adventure we enjoyed was sampling bubble tea for the first time. 

Bubble tea is a Taiwanese specialty, consisting of flavored tea and small chewy tapioca balls.  See them in the straw? 

Oh how I wanted to love bubble tea.  I tried to convince myself that the tapioca tasted like gummy bears, but less sweet.  I tried to focus on the strawberry flavor I selected, and not the tea portion.  But alas...not only did I not enjoy it...being a novice at tea drinking, I forgot that tea contains caffeine...which caused me to lie awake in bed until 3 am.   I'll give it another go in Taiwan, I suppose!  But for thank you ;-)

We've also been enjoying the fruits of our labor garden and I discovered the best pasta sauce EVER!  Seriously, here is the link.  If you have a garden that is over-producing, give this a whirl...especially with the roasted tomatoes.  I froze half of what I made and am already dreaming about it.

I also made bread and butter zucchini pickles...with less success, I think.  I tasted one right before the boiling process and it was terrible.  Hopefully they will be better once they sit for awhile...otherwise...I have 9 jars of inedible pickles.

And there you have it, a taste of our summer!  
It will be interesting to see what next year brings.
This is what I am dreaming about for next summer...
Not Levi ;-) {source}
Much love,
Blessed Mama

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