Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Frugal Living: Update

A few of you are interested in the websites I use to get my killer deals (I just got back from a Walgreens run where I spent 17 bucks only to get back 19.50 Walgreens bucks for my next purchase... essentially, I earned 2.50!).

So, I do subscribe to The Grocery Game. It costs me 5 bucks a month (there's a free trial to start), and I just get the Kroger list. I still make one Walmart run a month because I like a juice I can only find there, and I think Walmart's generic baby wipes are the absolute best; I don't care if I get free baby wipes someplace else; I don't mess around when it comes to baby wipes.

I also use the following websites to compile my Walgreens and CVS runs. Both of these sites are free and tell you what to buy and what coupons to use for the best deals. You'll also find info about everything: from free Redbox movies (like every week) to killer Amazon deals.
Southern Savers
Frugal Coupon Living

I could use these other sites (or many, many others like them) for my Kroger stuff, BUT... I like that the Grocery Game list tells me, based on its extensive history database, what to buy and when. Something might be on sale, and I might have a coupon, but the Grocery Game list tells me to hold off until later. I'm sure in a few years (or months... at this rate), I won't need someone to tell me that, but I like someone just telling me what to do right now.

I've made a ton of rookie mistakes in the last month, and I've had many a moment where I realized I was "that woman" at the checkout line (like today when I squabbled (politely, mind you) with the Kmart clerk about my extra 5 dollar off coupon) who has the clerk run a few price checks, has a PILE of coupons, and asks about rain checks on items out of stock! But, today, when I walked out of Walgreens with 17 bucks worth of free stuff, I was one happy girl--a geeky happy girl, but a a happy girl nonetheless.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Frugal Living

When I was a kid, I had a best friend named Jennifer who lived a few houses away from me. Jennifer's family was very different than mine in many ways: she had a very strong (too strong) father figure at home to my single mom; she had an older brother to my only-child-life; she was a first generation Cuban-Amercian, and I was not; she lived in a frugal household, and I lived in a poor one.

I have one troubling memory from my time as Jennifer's best friend: I remember being told that if I peed at Jennifer's house, I was not allowed to flush the toilet. Flushing the toilet, I was told, was only for big jobs. The concept of letting pee rest grossed me out (still does); I didn't care if there was the cute little rhyme they used: "if it's brown, flush it down; if it's yellow, let it mellow." I didn't care if they thought I pooped every twenty minutes, I had to flush. I just had to.

So, Jennifer's family created my first distaste with frugal living. Now, I'm all for being smart and debt free with your money. I'm all for delayed gratification (heck, I've had tray tables as end tables in my living room for seven years), but real frugality, the kind of frugality that measures shampoo by drops and doesn't let you flush the toilet, not only grosses me out, but it kind of makes me mad.

Similarly, my mother-in-law takes a lot of grief, namely from my husband, for her couponing ways. She's not shampoo-counting-not-let-you-flush kind of frugal, but she knows where her money is going, knows the cheapest spot for gas, and doesn't mind asking for a rain check.

And, until recently, her ways seemed a tad bid foreign to me. But, thanks in part to the Zotti family (Madeline, I swear, we're going to connect at some point!), I've started going frugal. You see, the Zotti's introduced me to a website that will tell me what coupon to use and when. I don't have to clip coupons or track sales; it does it all for me. That's my kind of frugality. So, for about a month now, I've been sticking to a plan: collect piles of coupons, print list, cut the coupons I need, shop only one day a week. And, here's the deal: I've saved a boatload of money... enough money to buy a freezer for the garage.

But, then, I think partly because I'm not consumed as much with the China adoption community, I've started to go overboard. No, really. It's starting to become a competitive thing. Like today, I bought: 9 boxes of cereal (yes, nine!), the largest jug of All laundry detergent, 6 things of fabric softener, 2 jugs of spot carpet cleaner (hello, two kids!), 2 boxes of Ziplock bags, 3 things of Secret deodorant, 2 bags of Hershey kisses, two Reece's bars, 3 doses of Nestle Toll House cookie dough, 1 bag of Pampers Cruisers, a really snazzy new lotion from Olay, Clean and Clear facial cleanser, a new mascara, a thing of Tide detergent, and 2 dental flosses all for 46 bucks. It was crazy. I think my total bill was over 156 bucks... and then, the coupons began. I walked away with half of the stuff for free (well, sales tax).

At one point, near the end of this trip, I lost my coupons. I had spent an hour collecting everything in my cart, and with two screaming kids, one who had just dumped chocolate milk all over the only outfit I had (what was I thinking?), I was about to lose it. I ran up and down the aisles looking for my accordion file (yes, I admitted it). At one point, I thought the woman who had stopped to talk to Grant was baiting me with her kind conversation only to take off with my coupons (I told you: I'm in deep). I even said out loud, "Now, who would take off with my coupons?"

But, I found them, went home, put two grumpy kids to nap, and later in the day, ventured back to the same store for one more round (but this time with Daddy). This is when I knew it was bad: Grant approached five different employees to ask if they "had seen his coupons." At one point, he even said, "Now, who would take off with my coupons?" The sales lady at K-Mart was both concerned and confused. Daddy and I cried with laughter.

So, I'm just going to admit that we've hit a new level of frugal in our house. I'm still not going to worry about how many baby wipes I use (oh, because believe me, if I need twenty a diaper, I'm okay with that), but I do now know how to use the system and have finally made time to use it.

So, Jennifer, hats off to you and your family. I still don't want to count squares of toilet paper, but I'm closer to that than I might want to admit. I almost asked for a raincheck today, so I'm starting to see my mother-in-law's wisdom. Tomorrow's schedule: off to Walgreens for free lotion, free chapstick, free cough syrup, free cough drops, and this time, I won't forget to bring a sucker or two for the kids in hopes they stay quiet long enough for Mommy to make it out alive.

Here's a pic of what my day at the store did not look like: two kids playing peacefully.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Bus Stop

On the way in to work this morning, I noticed small throngs of kids waiting for the school bus at the corner near our house. What I also noticed was that there were some people my age, parents apparently, hanging out with them, both inside and outside their parked, still running, vehicles.

Something has obviously changed since I was a school bus rider. For starters, I waited alone, in the dark, for the school bus at the end of my driveway as an elementary schooler. By the time middle school rolled around, we had moved, and the sins of the past (namely making good grades and being pudgy) had been buried with my old address, so I waited for the bus with a handful of other kids down at the corner.

I don't remember my parents ever waiting for the bus with me, or watching me from a parked car while enjoying the morning paper and a cruller. I was pushed quietly out the door at 7am, and a while later, I'm sure one of my folks checked the end of the driveway for bloodstains or discarded clothing.

During the winter months, I've noticed that the kids in our neighborhood don't even bother to get out of their parent's cars. They sit in the heat listening to the radio and dive out when the bus approaches.

In contrast, I can remember boarding the school bus during the winter months and feeling the slow burn as the blood flow resumed to my ears and fingers, activating what would inevitably be frost bite by the end of the school day. I was never the type to wreck a perfectly planned outfit with accessories like gloves or a hat, choosing instead to further damage an already debatable looking face with red splotches -- the human equivalent of freezer burn.

I'm not trying to be all "10 miles in the snow both ways," but come on. What does it teach our kids when we don't even let them wait for the bus alone in a well lit, heavily populated neighborhood? If not at the school bus stop, where else will they learn to fight off an abductor while suffering the early effects of hypothermia?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Response to comments

It's rare that someone posts a comment on here that I feel requires a response. But someone posted this comment (2nd one in the list) last night, and I think perhaps I should clarify things a bit.

First, I absolutely love Grace. She IS beautiful, and boys WILL be lining up on our doorstep in a few years. Grace has already proven herself a funny, intelligent, and highly adaptable baby girl, and I couldn't be happier that she's a part of our family.

What I was trying to suggest in my previous post was that I don't think you can be completely ready when you receive your child from China. Yes, I realize we've been waiting for over 3 years. (Trust me...we March 2006 LIDs know how long we've waited.) But similar to the way you can't be completely prepared for marriage despite a long engagement, you simply cannot be completely ready for the added pressures of a new toddler. I would contend that if you're absolutely confident that you've got your bases 100% covered, you'd best be prepared for some surprises.

So let me be clear -- I do not consider Grace a burden. She is a gift from God, and I only hope I can give her the upbringing that she deserves, in exactly the same way I'm trying to give Grant the life that he deserves.

I might suggest to the individual who left the anonymous post on our blog that they do not, apparently, know our family. We love both of these kids with all our hearts, and I'm sorry if that wasn't clear in my post. I was simply trying to be honest and let people know that no matter how long you've been patiently waiting for your baby to come home, you simply can't be completely ready for the life change it will bring. And I suspect that I'm not alone in that sentiment.

Now back to your regularly scheduled pictures of the kids and occasional commentary on what has happened to me recently while in the bathroom.

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Heed! Vacation! Now!"

Erin and I have spent the last two weeks spiritedly debating whether or not we should take a brief vacation in early October, just prior to her return to teaching. Two factors have held the most sway in this discussion -- 1. Cash and 2. My sanity.

We've told many people since we returned from China with Miss Grace back in August that poor Grant, in some ways, got the shaft. When momma has a baby the old fashioned way with the big belly and the mornin' pukes, the already livin' child gets a chance to accommodate his new sibling at a leisurely pace. But in this wacky world of adoption, poor Grant suddenly had a toddler competitor on his hands, willing to steal his stuff and crap on him while sharing a bath in the tub.

And while this has assuredly been Grant's predicament over the past few weeks, truth be told, it has also been mine. I simply wasn't prepared, mentally or emotionally, for the added strain of a second toddler. I think I kept telling myself that it wouldn't really require much of a change, but I was wrong. (And yes, the greater part of the increased work has fallen to my amazing wife. How she's keeping it together is a mystery to me...as are most things.)

Grace is a peach, don't get me wrong. But she screams a lot. And cries for no reason a lot. And doesn't like going to bed a lot. We always knew that Grant was a gem, but I think he lulled us into a false sense of security. And while Grace is also a wonderful child in her own right, the addition of a second kid to the family definitely has changed the dynamic.

So in an effort to relax a bit, we began discussing vacations. Erin immediately noted that we have traveled a lot this year, which is true. We've made trips to Disney World, Los Angeles, and oh yeah, China. But for me, both L.A. and China started as business trips. And anyone who has done the China adoption journey will tell you that that trip is NOT a vacation, in any sense.

Additionally, one of the many blessings of my job is that my many trips to China mean we rack up frequent flyer miles and hotel points at a pretty fast clip. Right now we have hotel rooms that we have to use between now and the end of the year, so with some careful planning, we are able to take trips that don't blow the budget too badly.

With all that said, we wanted to stay someplace where we could enjoy the cooler temps and changing colors of fall. Plus we didn't really want to fly any place. So initially we looked at the old staple of Gatlinburg, which we have come to enjoy over the past few years. The unfortunate part about Gatlinburg for us is that it doesn't really let us take advantage of any of our accumulated free hotels, so it ends up costing us basically full price.

We next looked at Amish country in Pennsylvania, but there's just something about "goin' Amish" that I can't get excited about for a vacation. We also tossed around Williamsburg since we could make use of some discounts there, but decided it was simply too long a drive.

So we settled on a trip to Holiday World in southern Indiana. We were going to go to the theme park, then go over to Louisville for some, uh, something. Then we were going to drive home.

On Saturday evening, Erin began to question my commitment and excitement level regarding our proposed trip. I informed her that I was "all in" for some time at the Holiday Inn Express in Jasper, Indiana. "Perhaps we can catch a Broadway show or do a little mountain hiking" while in, uh, Jasper.

With that, she returned to a careful examination of our finances and options. After looking things over, she informed me that we should just "go to freaking Williamsburg." And quite honestly, there is more to do in Williamsburg than Jasper. There's the historic stuff (Who can resist a picture of a toddler in stocks?) and there's Halloween stuff at Busch Gardens. Plus they have a "Lunch with Elmo" thing which will undoubtedly make Grant's day.

So we're going to Williamsburg instead. We've made the reservations and booked the hotels. We're breaking the drive into 2 day chunks, so hopefully it won't be too bad. And as far as financing the trip goes? What are the chances that BOTH Grace and Grant will go to college? I've always said that the problem with having 4 kids is that ONE of them is going to jail no matter what. With 3, you're probably safe. With 4, somebody's doing time. The same holds true with academics, but on a tighter scale. You can always get one kid into college, but two?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Softer hands, but...

Earlier this week, Erin stuck a free sample bottle of Vaseline's new "hand lotion for men" in my work bag. As many of you know, I wash my hands frequently (some might say "compulsively"), leaving me with the care worn hands of a 19th century iron worker. So I appreciate her efforts to return my hands to their natural, unused state.

After a few days of use, I must say that this is an excellent new product -- assuming you don't mind your hands smelling like arm pits. In an effort to make their new line of skin care products more "manly," they have gone the route of giving their hand lotion the same scent as most male underarm deodorants.

And while I do like the fact that the hand lotion isn't greasy, absorbs quickly, and returns my hands to looking like something other than meaty stumps attached to my forearms, I could do without them smelling like I've sat with my hands tucked under my arms ala Mary Katherine Gallagher on SNL.

Perhaps for their next trick, they can create an aftershave that smells like hemorrhoid cream...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thanks for the birthday wishes!

Thank you to everyone who sent me a kind email or card on my birthday yesterday! My lovely wife made me a wonderful dinner, after which we all went on a walk around the neighborhood. Eventually my mom called and informed me, as she does on a yearly basis, that I was a pain in the a** because I kept her in the hospital all day, waiting until 9 or 10 in the evening to "be born."

After her call, I spent the rest of the evening suppressing all thoughts of the circumstances surrounding Christmas Break 1974 which led to my eventual arrival. I didn't want to lose that fabulous dinner Erin cooked, now did I?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Stuff that's happening to me that I don't like

1. I'm molting. That's right. For whatever reason this year, my forehead and nose have begun shedding their skin on a nightly basis. Each night I exfoliate until I look like I took a punch from Muhammad Ali, and I look fine until I get to work the next morning, at which point I look like someone used a cheese grater on my face. It sucks. I look like an idiot. Nobody climbs the corporate ladder with eyebrow rot.

2. I have a cold. Nobody bothered to tell me that having kids meant that my own health would deteriorate, leaving me healthy approximately 6 and a half hours per month.

3. I'm on a diet. Usually when I go to China, I lose weight. But when you take a month long adoption trip, you eventually give up and start eating pizza and cheeseburgers whenever possible. Now I'm fat again. Crap.

4. I have a thing behind my ear that I keep hitting with the razor when I shave. Each time I hit it, it comes back bigger and meaner. Perhaps I'm growing a new ear, not yet deafened by hundreds of concerts. Or perhaps it's a wart.

5. It's my birthday. Erin and I went on a solo outing the other night, and on the way home discussed how quickly life was zipping along. I now understand why old people say, "but I still FEEL like I'm 16." Yeah, well, tell that to your molting face and that belt buckle buried beneath three weeks worth of quarter pounders. At least when you sneeze in your coffin, it won't wake you up and cause a throbbing in your new third ear. Happy birthday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I don't know why, but starting on Thursday, our family started running a sprint. I'm not a sprint girl. Well, come to think of it, I'm not a running girl either; I like to take my time, but we jammed everything we possibly could into a four day span. And, here's the proof.

Thursday, we piled the kids in the car to run an errand for school, and on the way, we decided to do some apple picking. Grant LOVED every minute of it! In the last four days, I have made killer applesauce, apple butter and apple pie (well, killer apple pie crust [just wait until I give you THAT recipe] as Bret was reading me the apple filling recipe part, he messed up BIG time, leaving everything but the top crust inedible. ARGH!).

Then, on Friday, Grace had her big appointment with Riley Children's Hospital International Adoption Clinic. We had a great appointment, and Grace was declared one healthy chica. We have a few minor medical issues which require some follow up, but on the whole, we've got a happy, healthy, beautiful child. We knew that. Poor Grace did have to get some blood drawn, only to be told that she'd have to come back two more times as the lab was not allowed to draw enough blood for all of the tests ordered.

Then, Bret and I headed out for a bit of a date night, and it was nice to have an uninterrupted conversation over dinner. It's been awhile, and I don't think Bret and I really knew what to do with ourselves.

But, why stop there. We loaded in the van very early on Saturday morning to hit three local neighborhood garage sales. I love garage sales! I found the long awaited double stroller on major clearance, and I loaded up on 4T clothes for Grant and 3T clothes for Grace. It was fab. After a quick nap, we headed downtown for the Chinese American festival. Grant and Grace loved the dancers and the music. But, needing dinner, we headed out to Bazbeaux's Pizza. Yummy.
Bret headed out to the Colt's opener on Sunday (played hookey from church as Grant had a touch of a cold), but in the afternoon, the kids and I headed to Zionsville's Fall Festival. It was hot, but little man sure had a blast. This was our first visit to our northern neighbor, but we might just have to make it a yearly tradition.

After cleaning the house, grocery shopping for the week, and bathing the kids for tomorrow's picture session at Target (much less ironing their clothes), I've had it, and I'm going to bed. There might be a glass of wine involved in that process.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pics... and two cute things my kids said

Okay, here are some recent pics:

Grant on his first every pony ride at the Oktoberfest (read next entry for all that fun)

Grace with pigtails (you knew I'd have to go there). It's not the best picture, but she's a wiggly one, so it's the best I've got.

Grace in her retro outfit, circa 1975. My mother gave me a bunch of my old baby clothes awhile back, and I just adore them, so I couldn't wait to surprise my mom by having Grace in this cute get-up. My mom comes in the door, says nothing, and then, when I tell her about the outfit, my mom tells me that it wasn't mine (I never wore it), but it was a stow-away outfit from some other baby who borrowed some of my real clothes. So much for nostalgia.

One thing I love about being home is the ability to spend more time cooking and baking. Here, Grant and Grace enjoy the brownie batter (and no lectures about raw egg; I survived... and so will they).

Grant and Grace started their one morning a week Mom's Day Out program. When I am at school, it serves as needed care for them, but as I am home right now, it's just a little time where I don't have to referee. Grace seems to be doing fine with a few hours at "school" or in the nursery at church, so we're really thankful. Here they are for their first day of school.

Okay, and the two cute things my kids said:

Grace: During our dinner at Santorini's (ah, the best Greek food ever!), Grant became the restaurant's mascot, as every time a plate of saganaki burst into flame, he'd say "OPA!" as loud as he could. Everyone thought it was darling. But, by the end of the evening, Grace joined in saying "opa," in a much softer voice. The owner came over to hear; people were requesting tables by us and buying saganaki just to hear it. It was darling.

Grant: Yesterday, it was foggy outside as we headed on an errand (Indiana doesn't have a clue about real fog... schools were delayed yesterday, and I could still see about a half mile. Now, California, that's where fog is fog). Grant kept talking about how "froggy" it was outside, and I didn't have the heart to correct him. He can say that when he's thirty, and I'm still going to think it's to die for cute.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Labored Day

Saturday night we ventured to the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the German-American Klub's Oktoberfest. Faithful readers may recall that we tried this back in 2006 with little success, but since the festival had moved to a new, larger location, we thought we'd give it a second run. Boy was that a krappy decision.

For years, the local Oktoberfest was held just down the road from where I lived as a child. In fact, we used to ride our bikes onto the grounds, leaving little bike tracks all over their nice soccer fields. It always seemed like an odd location for a festival, tucked back into the trees in a relatively small space. Therefore when I saw that it was now being held at the fairgrounds, it seemed like a good thing.

In reality, all the new location accomplished was killing off any remaining ambiance that the previous site held, leaving visitors with only high priced food and beverages to show for the evening. The new location was one of the exhibition halls at the fairgrounds. When we entered, there was no music playing and virtually no decorations indicating a celebration. There were a few tables featuring people selling things like gutter guards and ShamWow's -- both staples of German kulture.

Outside there were a handful of rides for the kids, including pony rides in which Grant partook. Someone forgot to remind my mother-in-law that pony's poo, leaving her with a shoe-full of fun. Otherwise, there was a place where they were showing the skills of police attack dogs (yet another staple of German kulture), and a few food vendors. That was about it. We lasted about a half an hour, deciding that rather than spend $20 each on food at the festival, the money would be better spent at one of our favorite local restaurants -- Santorini's.

I guess I don't understand why the German American Klub doesn't take some cues from other, more successful local heritage festivals. The Greek Fest is perennially enjoyable, and you could almost replicate it exactly by replacing all the blue and white with red, black, and gold and selling strudel instead of baklava. Otherwise -- pretty similar. For our family though, returning to Oktoberfest in the future will be a hard sell.

At some point between Saturday and Sunday, our family began experiencing what can only be politely referred to as "the sh*ts." It was miserable. Poor Grant was awakened by it in the middle of the night, unsuccessfully trying to navigate to the bathroom in the dark before his shorts received a donation. Erin got it the next day, and I got it in the middle of the night Sunday. We're not sure if we ate something bad (this might be a warning against the intermingling of Germans, Greeks, and Mexicans...apparently they don't all get along, despite a general love of oom-pah music), but luckily it appears to now be making an exit. (Actually, it's always been about the exit.)

On Monday, we loaded up on drugs and took the kids to the park in an effort to escape our afflicted house. We went to Holliday Park in Indy because it was rumored to have a massive playground for kids. This turned out to be correct. There were basically three huge sets of playground gear, with enough slides to guarantee Grant both enjoyment and injury.

For my amusement, Holliday Park is also the site of a set of ruins which I wanted to check out. The short story is that Indianapolis acquired a set of statues from a building in New York that was being demolished back in the 50's. The statues were placed in the park, and Indianapolis spent the next 40 years trying to do something meaningful with them, resulting in what now appears to be a hodgepodge of statues and stones from various buildings previously standing in Indianapolis. The original statues are still standing, but are now surrounded by lots of weeds and ugly fencing. It's still an interesting display, and it gave me something to look at while Grant tried to decide if he was ready to try the taller slides in the park.

During our visit, Grant learned a valuable lesson about bees. He was standing just a few feet away from me when he let out a shriek and began doing a little jig. I ran over to find his finger quickly swelling, and him screaming about "bees" through his tears. This ended our fun at the park, and we spent the rest of the day nursing Grant's stung finger back to health.

So to recap our holiday -- bad festival, diarrhea, and bee stings. Bring it on Fall Break. Show us watcha' got.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Second Child

As an only child myself, I am traversing the path of siblinghood with mixed portions of shock and awe. Grant continues to love on Grace with one breath and step on her face on purpose with the other. Grace, this week, has learned to fight back in the form of the "blood curdling scream," an official practice, no doubt, shared by younger siblings the world over. If he takes her toy, it's on, and I think she whispers to him before she screams, "watch how quickly Mommy comes running when I let this one go."

But, adding a second child is not only different for Grant, but it does change how Bret and I parent. I get why first borns get to tell their younger siblings that they came from outer space because, somehow, there are no pictures and no baby books filled with pictures, records of growth, little lists of their words, their foods, their every movement in that first year of life. In addition to this blog, Grant has a large scrapbook of his first year and a calendar I filled out noting what he did and where he went in that first year. I'm trying to keep up with Grace, at least in the form of this blog (that counts, right?), but time to do all those cutsie things completely evaporated when she came along... what happens when you add a third?

So, in an attempt to make sure Grace has some adequate information, here's a quick update.

Grace will eat anything, but she has started to show that she has key preferences. She's not a big bread/carb girl (which I TOTALLY don't get). She likes meat. Every meal. Any meat. She's okay with cheese, loves fruit, loves veggies, and isn't a big American snack fooder. She'll down some goldfish and Cheerios with the best of them, but she doesn't like crackers or cookies. But, she does have a bit of a sweet tooth, a quality Grant doesn't really possess. She'll try anything, which is nice. She has started to use a sippy cup (not used in China), so that's an important skill we are glad she is mastering.

She's really working on walking, and I think she'll take her first steps by Halloween. She pulls up and walks around furniture, and in the last week, she has started to pull herself up--on her own--in the middle of the room.

Grace sleeps soundly through the night without as much as a peep. She does not want to go to bed, so she starts crying if any two of the following are in place: it's dark outside, she's in footed pjs, you start singing to her, you rock her. She screams for awhile in your arms, ultimately starts chewing on her shirt, and as she gets tired, we put her to bed. She cries for about 45 seconds in bed before conking out for the next 12 hours. She isn't quite the napper Grant is (he's working on three hours right now), but she's content to play in her crib for a bit upon waking.

Grace's language was pure babbling for a bit, but now, we are starting to hear some words. She said Mama and Dada in China, but now she waves goodbye and says "buh-bye," says "thank you" (but not on command), and just today, said I love you, which came out "Ah lob boo" (but was a clear mimic), and she calls my mom, who has been able to watch her some while I sneak in some errands, NeNe. It's amazing to me, as she's only been in the States a few weeks, but it's an amazing testament to her resilience.

Okay, that's enough for now. Here are some pics, which are really the reason you come anyway!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Argh...Not Again...

I knew it would happen, but I wasn't prepared for it to happen so quickly -- my presence has been requested in China for a meeting next week. It's not clear yet whether I'll actually end up going or not, but the thought of returning to Asia after being home less than a month from our adoption trip is less than appealing.

In other news, we went for a walk through the neighborhood with Grant and Grace a couple of nights ago. We ran into some kids from our church who are quadruplets, and they have a 4 piece wagon-train-thing in which they ride. Grant saw the 4 boys, each with their individual cars, and immediately began crying because he wanted a similar ride.

Erin, in true English teacher fashion, decided that this was the time to introduce Grant to the word "jealousy." He seemed to grasp the concept, and after gathering himself, we returned to our walk.

A few minutes later, we passed a group of 10-12 year old boys playing soccer. Grant immediately tried to take the field and run offense, resulting in me having to chase him down and inform him that the older boys would most assuredly not be able to keep up with his superior skills, therefore he wouldn't be able to join the game.

After a moment of contemplation, Grant looked at Erin and said, "Mommy, I'm feeling jealous again," thus validating Erin as a teacher and Grant as a pupil.

It won't be the last time, Grant...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Hanging out at home

Riding a "snowmobile" at the mall

Bath time

I love my life!