Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Garden Bug

...has bit!  I did say I wanted to get busy with another project, didn't I? Well, this one will keep me good and busy for awhile.

Been at it since Saturday. When it warms up around here we get pretty excited. The first nice weekend we practically sprint outside to clean up, weed, plant, mulch, and all that jazz.  We get so excited, in fact, that we forget that our muscles haven't moved this much all winter! I was out since today from 9am off and on till 7ish and Jeff joined me mid-day after he was done with his work. Tonight we are tired and achey, but BOY, did we get a lot done!

I was going to call this post "Me and My Bright Ideas" a few days ago, but was too exhausted to type! I decided it would be a grand idea to put boxwoods around the edge of the patio. Simple, right? Buy some boxwoods, dig a hole, plant, water. Yea, well, not exactly the way it went.

Turns out when we had the patio done they laid a lot of rock and some heavy black tarps around the whole perimeter of the patio and I was not aware of it. Oops! This made for a LOT of extra work and Jeff was not particularly thrilled with my latest "good idea". In the end, we worked together, dug out the layers of rock, cut the tarp back, planted the boxwoods, and topped it off with some good shrub-growing top soil. Took a few days, but it is done! Ahhh. The sweet smell of success! It looks pretty good and while Jeff finished digging the "mote" around the patio, I planted some pretty snapdragons and other flowers and weeded a lot. I must say it is amazing to me how those darn weeds can survive under any circumstances. There is much more to do out there yet, but we made some definite headway.

Headed to the bath now to soak my weary body. Tomorrow they are calling for rain. We are secretly doing a happy dance. On the inside. Outside won't be moving for a few days. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nice Visit

Sitting outside for the first time this year!

It was so nice out yesterday and perfect for an impromptu visit by the in-laws! Jeff's parents were so excited to see Ruby's video that they drove up from Harrisburg (2 hours) for an overnight. It was a really great visit. Woody couldn't resist picking up a little bubble making kit for his granddaughter and gave it to us. We all can't wait to blow bubbles in the yard with her! 

Evidently the sunshine followed them because it turned out to be a real sunny day. We ate lunch, watched the video, and chatted. Later we took a ride through the country, then shopped a bit. Picked up some incredible olive oil and fig balsamic vinegar at a great little Italian shop. They were getting ready for a birthday party for a group of 10 year olds when we got there. So cute! The birthday girl wanted a cooking-class themed party for her birthday. For some reason this got me all teary eyed. I guess cause there are so many wonderful things we can share with Ruby and I want them to start NOW.  Been feeling very "up" lately with all the pics and updates, but find myself a bit impatient today and sappy now and then. Must go busy myself!

Anyway, back to yesterday... we got our yummy oils and dips, some cheese from the little gourmet shop, and fresh focaccia bread from the bakery then headed home while the sun was still up to feast on all our little delicacies and sip some sauvignon blanc. A very nice evening!
The in-laws headed home today and Jeff resumed working while I resumed thinking. Time to go find another project to dive into! 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend in The City

How I love New York! And more importantly, how I love to see my dear friends there! Drove up to the city on Saturday. My friend Tammy lives there and two other friends were in town working the auto show so I went up to see them all. Had a really great time. Tam and I had a nice leisurely dinner and got to catch up, then Christine, Darci, and I went out on the town later. It's so funny, I've been to NY a zillion times, but this weekend I played tourist. We hired a rick-shaw and how this poor skinny guy could bike carrying the 3 of us, I'll never know. We had a ball! Had drinks at the fab Hudson Hotel up on the roof. Cool place but crazy expensive drinks! It also got really loud later in the night and turned into a night club which is SO not my scene. But what the heck, you only live once, right? It was great to hang with my friends and we had a good time.
Darci, myself, and Christine getting a ride through Times Square. 

Sunday proved to be another wonderful day, as I got to meet Rosemary (from Becoming A Family). We met for brunch at Sarabeth's - great place, BTW - and chatted easily for hours! Felt like we already knew each other and it was really such a great afternoon and start to nice new friendship! (Thanks Rosemary!! It was nice to meet Brian and see that cute puppy of yours too!) Among the many things we have in common, we also both have the exact same dog - an American Eskimo. Hers male, mine female.

We had to get a quick shot, of course, to capture the moment!

Central Park East

It was such a pretty day that I decided to walk all the way back to the hotel. I walked from the upper East side (around 96), through the park to the West side and then to Times Square. Good thing I brought a pair of flats! And as I was being a tourist this weekend, I stopped and had someone take my picture amongst the pretty scenery. Hey, why not?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring Has Sprung!

And all I can say is YAY!!!!! The long, cold winter is over. Spring is here and with it comes with promise! Sunshine! Warmth and beautiful flowers and blossoms popping up all over the place! The yard is no longer a dull shade of brown, but instead a glorious green. 
Our Magnolia tree in full bloom with big, beautiful pink blossoms!
Wonderful smelling hyacinths!

Our neighbors are all coming out of the woodwork and we even met a new one today. While taking the dog for a stroll around the neighborhood we stopped to talk to the nice man that lives behind us. Well, he asked about the adoption and mentioned that a lady a few doors down adopted a little boy from Vietnam recently and he's around the same age. REALLY? I asked. I nearly leaped in the direction of her house hoping for a glance. Low and behold there they are getting in the car. Of course, I ran over and introduced myself while Jeff was walking behind me trying to catch up. She was super nice and we both were so excited to meet each other and know we have a playmate for our kids right across the fence! Who knew? We never even saw each other before today and we've lived here for 7 years. Geez, I really ought to take more time to meet all my neighbors, shouldn't I? We know quite a few, but somehow our paths never crossed before until now. Amazing, huh? She just brought him home in October , he's adorable and just 2-1/2. Perfect!

Of course, the best part of Spring is that we feel that much closer to our daughter. The long wait, just like the long winter is coming to an end. THANK GOD! We are basking in the sunlight, and daydreams of trips to the park, the zoo, the shore - even just sitting in the backyard - are floating around our heads.

Gotta go, the sun is calling me! Or is that just Jeff wanting help with the yard work? :-)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Baby's Got Rhythm!

Well, what an amazing few weeks it has been. Updates, pics, the whole family celebrating her life, and now today we got the video that Mary from Wacap took while visiting the orphanage. She did such a great job. The video is over 6 minutes long!  In a word: AMAZING!

While I thought she looked sad and pensive in the photos, she actually was smiling and having fun in the video. Must have just caught her in the beginning when she didn't know what was going on with all the people there. It was rather noisy and in the first minute or so you can see her just looking around taking it all in. She is definitely the strong, silent type or perhaps a bit shy. She is just the most perfect little thing we have ever laid eyes on and our love grows stronger for her every day! 

She seemed interested in her little bear, but more for the shiny, twirly hot pink ribbon than the bear itself. When she started playing with it I thought, you go for that ribbon girlie-girl! Lots of those waiting at home for you! She seems real comfortable with one of the nannies and you can see the nanny really loves her too. She is stroking her head and holding her hands. So beautiful for us to see! At the end of the video they are showing her our photo (attached to bear) and saying Paw and Mae. The nanny squeezes the bear paw and I can hear myself speaking in Thai loud and clear! I guess I recorded it louder than I thought. Not sure if she heard or not as she is interested in the photo at this point. She pulls it closer for a look then decides the paper itself is really just so interesting that she must flip it around and feel it and open and close it. Too cute. She may not get who we are yet, but she sure will soon!

Not only does she look oh so sweet and such an angel for the nannies as they measure her head and chest and then sit her next to her bear, but other little bits of her personality came out, too. For one she seems to love balls to which her Daddy replied "See, I told you she was gonna like sports!" :-) Then for Mom she pulled out all the stops and claps, taps her feet around, and plays first one and then two tamborines! She is shaking them around and quite pleased with herself!  Clearly, she hears them cause two seemed much more fun than one! It is taking all my restraint to not run out and buy a bunch of balls and a percussion set. LOL. Gotta save something for that first trip to Toys R Us!

For now, one happy Mommy & Daddy are reveling in the beautiful child that will soon light up our every day. We are gonna be one dancing, singing, percussion playing, ball playing family!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Weekly Inspiration

Music speaks what cannot be expressed
Soothes the mind and gives it rest
Heals the heart and makes it whole
Flows from heaven to the soul!

Boy, I haven't done a weekly inspiration quote in awhile! LOL, I should call it "Monthly Inspiration"! Just been so busy. But really, LIFE itself is an inspiration. Music uplifts the spirit and brings it peace. Friends and family bring great joy. Every new day brings it's own special and unique gifts or opportunity to grow and learn. Hope comes when you least expect it or most need it. And beautiful little surprises are glittered along the way. Life unfolds it's ever growing, ever changing mystery and it is always in God's perfect way.

Today I Am Grateful For:

1. My Mom had her grandest dream come true today. 
2. I gained a special relative.
3. We finished the music for my new CD and it is everything I could hope for and more.
4. Finished a few vocals and am real happy with them now. Will finish the rest tomorrow.
5. Going to make a difference in the world! Hope to sell a lot of CD's for charity!
6. Getting closer to my daughter every single day. 
7. Making wonderful friends along the way.
8. I am married to my best friend.
9. Our whole family has been so supportive and excited about our daughter!
10. The political unrest in Thailand is quieting down. Peace is on it's way back!

Isn't life just great?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Songkran Day!

Need to go back and fill in Easter (hope you all had a great one!) but too many pics to upload and too much to talk about, so have to get to it later. It was a GREAT family weekend. Somehow the love of our newest addition has brought an already close family even closer. For now, I wish you Suksan Wan Songkran (Happy Songkran Day) and Happy Thai New Year!

This beautiful video above was sent to me by my Aunt Lu today. It is called the Dance of 1000 Hands or 1000 Handed Budda and is performed by a special needs dance troup in China. They are all deaf yet must feel the music. Pretty darn beautiful and so thoughtful of her to find and send to us. Another sign that little Ruby will be okay. She will still hear and FEEL music and I will get to share that and much, much more with her. More posts of the weekend coming up soon! Headed into the studio for a full day so no time to post right now!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Happy Easter Weekend

This will be a long, picture laden post! What a great weekend we had with our family this weekend! Drove to Harrisburg on Saturday afternoon and started with a lunch at Dad's house. He and Lynn prepared a nice spread and we all had such a nice time. We ate, shared the new pics of Ruby, watched Ryan open his Easter basket, talked, and then watched Mamma Mia. Great movie, perfect afternoon! They were so thoughtful to think of Ruby. The gift bag below included a Barbie kite, some bubbles, and the most adorable tutu!
Ruby's first Easter presents.
Lynn and I with the cutest tutu ever!

My sweet little nephew! He ran into my arms as soon as he got there! I was feeling a little down on the drive there and he came in and kept hugging and kissing me, saying "I love you, Aunt Jennifer!" It just made my day!

The guys.

The girls. It was such a nice day out, too!

Next we headed to Jeff's parents and then my Mom, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew met the four of us over at Paca's Thai restaurant. So nice to celebrate the birthday of our daughter with everyone. Thank you all so much for being there!

Me and the Hubster at dinner.

Jason and Mom with their infamous Mona Lisa smiles! :-)

Tammey (Jeff's sister) and Dailan (her son).

Ryan being silly in the restaurant. He was so good!

Easter Sunday was also wonderful. Before the activities of the day, Jeff and I shared a special moment alone together in the kitchen. We started the day with a very special prayer. A prayer thanking God for the blessings of Easter, for our beautiful daughter, and for us to be with her very soon. We prayed for our dear friends also adopting that they may too get their children home soon and that we would all have strength and patience at this time.

Our nephew, the budding rock star.

Grandma and Tammey.

After an amazing meal I played my still unfinished CD for them all, including Down in The Valley dedicated to his Grandmother. When Jeff was little he used to call her Grandma Valley because she always sang this song to him and all the grandkids. She really liked it and it was so great to see the look on her face when she heard what song it was! 

Ooops! In looking at these, I realize I didn't get any of my in-laws! I didn't take many at all on Easter cause we were just busy eating and talking and listening to music. I have pics of them from Sat. night's dinner but didn't post cause they are holding Ruby's picture in it. I made everyone in the family choose their favorite picture of her and pose with it. Either looking at it, smiling, or being silly. I am going to make a collage out of it for her Life Book so she see how we all celebrated her birthday and how we all love her already!

Got to see my Mom later that day and made a visit to see my brother David too. We sat and sang songs together for at least an hour. He is so cute. He likes to take center stage and sings louder and louder than you so you can mostly hear him. Cracks me up! He doesn't always remember the words but will make them up and sing them LOUD and clear! LOL! 

Dave & I singing.

Hope you all had a very Happy Easter!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Ruby!

Your 1st birthday present from us.
Happy 2nd Birthday, little love!

The rain is coming down this morning and somehow it seems fitting. Both for my mood and for the Thai holiday taking place over the next few days. Songkran Day is approaching on the 13th (some celebrations and ceremonies have already started) and the water is meant to wash away the past, as the Thai New Year begins. For you, dear Ruby, a new beginning is taking place, too. You don't know it yet, but the wheels have been set in motion by a higher power long ago. Your life is about to change and this will be a new year full of love, surprises, some insecurity in the beginning perhaps, but lots of happiness to follow.

Yesterday, knowing this day was approaching, I was down. I want to hold you so badly! I worry about your hearing and want to take you to the doctors here and get you the best speech therapist and audiologist immediately! I long to let you know how happy we are that you were born on this blessed day! That for now on, you will have someone that will love you more than anything and make sure your every need is met. And that whenever you need a hug, a smile, a shoulder to cry on, or anything at all - we are here. Now and always.

Daddy's wish for you today: " To have a happy and playful day with smiles and laughter and some hugs and kisses from the nannies. I can't wait to meet you, hug you, love you and celebrate your birthday later and for every future birthday."

Mommy's wish for you today: "To have peace in your heart and somehow know that we are out here loving you and coming for you soon! I wish for someone to give you a little extra hug or attention today so that you know how very special you are! And of course, I wish for you to be with us very, very soon!"

Mommy's wish for your Birthmom: "No words are enough to say the gratefulness I have for you.  I can't imagine your very hard decision to have the baby and then to have to put her in someone else's care. Thank you for creating this beautiful little being! Yet I also feel so much empathy for the difficult path you had to take. I pray you can heal from the great loss you have suffered. I pray for you to find peace and happiness in your life. And I pray we can meet someday so Ruby can know the beautiful person you must be and you can be comforted in knowing how much we love her."

Today, I am letting the rain wash away my own sorrows. I am having faith in the great promise of Easter, respecting the sentiment and meaning of Songkran, and being grateful for your beautiful little life. We are gathering with our family tonight in your honor. We are having dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant in our home town with your grandparents, uncle, aunt, and cousins. We will show them your newest pictures and we will celebrate the day you came into this world together with great anticipation of your arrival. We love you little one. More than words can say.

Happy Birthday, Sawadee Pi Mai (Happy New Year), and Happy Easter weekend, dear Ruby! Many beautiful April celebrations are in your future!

Mommy & Daddy

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Making Music!

Wow. What an incredible few days. Been pulling 8-9 hour days in the studio and man, oh, man, what an experience it has been! This whole idea was born last summer. I went into the studio to record a few songs to send to Thailand for my baby. I thought if she could only hear me sing to her maybe it would be of some comfort to her - now and later.  I don't know if they ever got it but hopefully she will hear me sing to her someday soon. (If it's only when CD is in stereo and turned up a bit that's okay but she WILL hear it!)  I recorded 5 songs.

The vocals were raw with emotion, but shaky since I hadn't sung professionally in a year or so. To be honest, I really tried to let that part of my life go. I thought I just didn't have what it takes and it was time to throw in the towel and just be a mom and wife. Not that those things are the not the MOST IMPORTANT on the planet, but I realize now I need a little something for me, too. Not full time, but just enough to keep it alive. And didn't my beautiful daughter just inspire it all! That is really the coolest part. I wrote a song for her and it seems to be everyone's favorite. I wasn't really trying. For once, I just let go and the song popped into my head so easily I feel I can hardly take credit for it! It wasn't me...it was divine intervention!!!
Really, all I wanted was to sing from my heart and make the CD good enough to raise money for childrens' charities. I feel so happy at how it is turning out. We have ten tunes so far. Some real magic this week. Hopefully, I can touch a lot of people. That is my goal.

So the last 3 days have been non-stop. My Uncle Bob is my producer and has a far better ear for things than I EVER will! He hears things that I never could dream of and found this pianist/guitarist/whateverist(!) that is so incredible that I still can't believe he would even want to work with me! What is cool about George is that he can play ANYTHING and yet there is no ego whatsoever. That is rare! And he is just this incredible musician! He helped me with my original and made it what it is. In fact, he made ALL the tunes come alive. We all had a great time this week and created some seriously pretty stuff! I can't wait to share with all of you! Going back in on Monday to finish up vocals and do 2 more songs and then late next week it should be all mixed and done. So stay TUNED! Lullabies are on their way!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Play Date With Ava & Logan

These are our good friends' kids, Logan and Ava. We've been doing "play dates" with them for a few weeks now. My friend Charlsey thought it would be a good idea for me to get used to the routine and practice a bit. It's been such a GREAT experience! We go over and play with the kids, sometimes baby-sit an hour, and also get a chance to hang with our friends. Ava is such a darling! The precious little thing lets me carry her in my sling, dress her, feed her, and even change her diaper. I tried out my cloth diapers on her and they are GREAT! She seemed to like them. So soft and easy to wash, too. If Ruby needs them for night time, I will be ready!

We found out yesterday that Ruby and Ava are actually the same exact size! So bizarre since Ava is 16 months and Ruby is nearly 2! When I found out her size I called Charlsey right away and when she got home she measured and weighed her immediately for me to have a frame of reference. Ruby is 30" tall and 23-24 lbs and Ava is 31" tall and 24 lbs. So at my dear friend's suggestion, I brought a bunch of clothes over tonight to try on Ava and see how they fit. All but one dress fit her! All the Gymboree 12-18 months stuff fit great. Was really happy about that cause they are some of my favorite outfits! She was so cute while I tried the clothes on her. But funny, too, cause I had to chase her silly, squirmy, dancing self around to get the stuff on and off.  She liked it but had to be on the move! Good practice! Fun, too. 

Logan is a such a little love and was so excited to talk to Jeff about all things pirate. It's real cute how his little sis likes to follow him around and do what he is doing. The kids are so good and we really enjoyed ourselves tonight, as always.
Our friends and the proud parents - Cheryl (aka Charlsey) and John

Ava happily sitting in my sling a few weeks ago and letting me cart her around and practice! She is so darn cute and actually smiled when I put her in it!

After the kids were off to bed, the four of us had a drink and got to catch up. Really a nice evening with some terrific friends!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

One Little Signature

is keeping us from our referral. That's it! The orphanage and social worker confirmed that there was only one paper that needed an official signature before the referral can be sent. It may not sound like it, but this is very good news. There isn't something major holding up our case. We shouldn't be waiting for months. Everything that needs to be in her file is there. So that referral really will be coming soon!

Mary Moo with Wacap came back from Thailand this week. She did a tremendous job there. She gently nudged the social worker and she found out the status of our case. She took lots of pictures of her with the bear we sent and got video that we can see next week. Plus she did a very thorough observation report. I have her current height and weight and it looks like she will still fit into the many 18-24 months dresses I have upstairs for her! She is already potty trained which is great, but the kids tend to regress a little when they come home so maybe we will still get use out of the cloth diapers I bought. Kinda funny that I spent hours and whole days researching cloth diapers to find the best fitting, most comfortable, and reliable diapers on the market and she will not use them much! LOL. But hey, not having to clean poopy diapers is not something I am going to complain about! Jeff gave this news 2 thumbs up!

Now for some not so great news. Her hearing is worse than we thought. It is not just one ear. It is both. She can hear, but is hearing at 50 decibels in one ear and 60 in the other. It's considered moderate hearing loss. Normal every day conversation is around 60 so she will hear that fine, but whispers, soft voices, and soft singing (like mine) she won't hear without a hearing aid. This breaks my heart. I so hope with a hearing aid she can hear me sing to her! A silly thing to worry about, I guess, in the grand scheme of things, but it was one of the bonding things I was so looking forward to. They are giving her speech therapy so the orphanage is on top of things. This is good to know. She has 2 hearing aids and this was the first time we saw pictures of her with them in. We both cried. Maybe it was a stressful week for her and she is still getting used to them because she does not look happy in the photos and looks a bit tired. Cute, though. They dressed her in a pink outfit that matched the bear (on purpose, I wonder?) and her hair grows like a weed! Her bangs that were just cut in the pics from a few weeks ago are already grown out! We have a total of 9 pictures. Mary really took her time with the children, it seems, and we are really grateful.

There is a shot of her with the Build-A-Bear I sent where one nanny is holding the paw very close to her ear and the other is adjusting her hearing aid. I just wasn't thinking when I recorded it. I guess I didn't realize it was that bad so I recorded myself singing and talking very softly.  All the love and care I put into that and she may not enjoy it much because it is difficult for her to hear. Wish I had thought about that and recorded it all much louder. Ah, well. We know for next time.

So this was all a bit for us to digest last night, but the light of day has given us more clarity. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has one of the best ENT centers in the country. We know we can handle this and get her the best care. Jeff woke me this morning with coffee in hand and drug me to the computer, eager to show me all the near-invisible hearing aids out there and adorable little butterfly and flower accessories for the ear tube to make it fun for kids. He is so sweet. We are going to have to adjust some things here and there, but she will still be able to have a rich and full life. This we know for sure. We also know that we love her more with every passing day and can't wait to go get her!

And Jeff said it best...Hey, with a family as loud as ours,  she'll be just fine! :-)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Well, I sure am getting a lot of culture, these days! Loving it! Last weekend was the Festival of Many Lands, this weekend is the Cherry Blossom Festival, and all week I have been working Japanese/Cherry Blossom related events leading up to the big festival on Sunday. Plus I go into the studio Mon and Tuesday to finally record songs for my new lullaby CD so I'm rehearsing around the clock! I am SO excited about this project. Wrote an original tune to include on the CD and it has been very well received by the few people that have heard it so far. Will post on here when it is recorded and in final form. It feels so good to be singing and creating again. Never realized how much I missed it! Now, I still want to be a Mommy, first and foremost, but it's good to brush up the chops and sing now and then.

Speaking of which, I have some rehearsing to do! I leave you with a few pics from today's Kimono presentation. They decided to use me for a model (don't laugh). I REALLY wanted to say yes, only if I get to wear the really pretty pink or the green and orange one...but, no, they gave me this one and I was too polite to say anything. They were so excited for me to wear it so I just went along with it. It was fun and interesting to see how they dress you in one. It's more comfortable than I imagined, but you have to "walk like through water" (in their words) because you have to take small graceful steps in it because of the way it fits.  Hoping to find a cute little one to buy Ruby on Sunday at the main event.

Now here is the REAL model. How gorgeous is this little girl????

I'll answer that...VERY! 

And look at this little one...is she cute or what?

Fun day looking at all the cute kiddos dressing up...and playing a little dress-up myself!