Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'm at it again...

Weight loss, that is! I've decided to join in on Lisa's Weigh-In Wednesdays and the Feb 2006 DTC group's Great Wait Makeover. I've lost 36 pounds slowly over the last 2 years but now it's time to get the job done!!! I noticed on the CCAA Website that there are new guidelines and qualifications for potential adoptive parents coming out soon. Rumor has it that these will most likely include a weight requirement. I don't think that I will be refused a child because I'm 10-20 pounds overweight but I would like to be able to climb the Great Wall without having a heart attack and I'd like to look back at Gotcha Day pics and see something besides the "Oprah Flab" under my arms. I also know that when I'm at my goal weight and exercising regularly, I have alot more energy. With 5 kids, I'm going to need every scrap of energy that I can get!!!

So here's a bold move-and more of a reference for myself than anything. I'm 5' 9" (if I round up) and my starting weight is 163.0-I'm up a few since my surgery last month. My official WW goal weight is 155 but I was able to get down to 145 before I became pregnant with Xander and I was very happy at that weight. I could wear 8's and 10's which on my frame is about as good as it is going to get. So...a 10 pound loss would be good and a 20 pound loss would be great! I think that if I can get down to 145 again, a new China-travel wardrobe is in order. I'll keep you posted!

I'm thinking that in honor of "Weigh-In Wednesday" I'll post a low-cal recipe each week. Here's a good old standby to start with:

Weight Watchers Garden Vegetable Soup
(0 Points per 1 Cup Serving)

2/3 cup sliced carrot
1/2 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fat free broth(beef, chicken or veg)
1 1/2 cups diced green cabbage
1/2 cup green beans
1 T. tomato paste
1/2 t. dried basil
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup diced zucchini

1. In a large saucepan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, saute the carrot, onion, and garlic over low heat until softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Add broth, cabbage, beans, tomato paste, basil, oregano,and salt; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until beans are tender.

3. Stir in zucchini and heat 3-4 minutes. Serve hot. Makes four 1-cup servings.

Ok, let's see how long this diet will last!!! ;oD

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Audrey's Baptism

We had a great time with family in town to celebrate Audrey's baptism. Enjoy the pics!

The Whole Crew

Four Generations

With Matt's Parents

With Jenn's Parents

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bowling Party!

Audrey and Grandma Debbie

Me (ok, so now you've seen the braces) and my mom

The Birthday Girl

The Bowling Crew

What a fun party! Audrey had 6 friends and neighbors plus both sets of grandparents, Great Grandma Johnson and uncle Jared in town for the occasion. My kind of house prep and no clean-up!!!

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Photo Shoot

Well, we did it! We managed to get Audrey to the studio for some pics in her white dress while it was still white! I thought it would be nice to also have a regular casual 8 year-old picture while we were at it. I think that they turned out great. So glad to have another girl on the way. This is too much fun!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Referral Wait Brownies

Here's what I'm doing to deal with the increasing referral timeframes. It involves eating myself into a chocolate-induced stupor. Anyone care to join me???

Referral Wait Brownies (Formerly Cherry Brownies ala Debbie Vida)

Bring to boil in saucepan:

2/3 c. shortening (what we wish the wait times were doing)
5 T cocoa (in honor of the coveted brown envelope)
1/2 c. evaporated (like our hopes of having our babies home before Christmas) milk
2 c. sugar (how sweet it will be to finally see a picture of our little ones!)

Mix in a bowl:

4 eggs, beaten (what the next person who asks how long till referral will be :o) )
1 t. salt (in our wounds to hear that only 9 days of dossiers were matched this month)
2 t. vanilla (or cherry juice-a touch of red for good luck)
1 c. flour (for our little cherry blossoms waiting for us in China)
1/2 t. baking powder (I know, we'd rather be working with baby powder...)
1 c. nuts (because that's where we are all headed if we don't start getting some good news!)

Add saucepan mixture to bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour into ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool, frost, and top with halved maraschino cherries (pretend they're ladybugs and consider it your sighting for the day!)

Frosting: 3C powdered sugar, 1/3 c. butter, 1 t. cherry juice, 1-2 T. cocoa, 2 tsp. milk

Picture coming soon. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Goodbye Preschool, Hello Kindergarten!!!

Noah has been involved in a co-op preschool for the past two years with these cutie-pies. We will miss it but it is time to move on to bigger things for Noah. I still can't believe he will be going to Kindergarten next year. It's hard to see the kids grow up. It makes me want to have another child...oh, yeah-we are!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Audrey's Baptism Dress

Audrey turned 8 last month and is looking forward to being baptized this coming Saturday. I procrastinated purchasing a dress and don't have time this week to scour the malls so I hit the internet this morning. We hunted for a while and knew that this was the one when we saw it. It looks a lot like the dress she was blessed in as a baby, just on a larger scale. I called to see if it could be shipped by Friday (I'd like to have her picture taken in it while it's still new!) and found out that there was only one left in her size in the entire country. So, I called Dillard's in Georgia and they will express mail it out tomorrow. Matt hasn't been consulted yet, but oh well it is done!!! I'm sure the sticker shock will wear off when he sees how beautiful she will look wearing it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mail From China!

Yep, we received our brown envelope last week from the Consulate in Guangzhou! It was very exciting to get mail from China. I opened it (not sure if I was supposed to or not) and nothing inside of the envelope looks exciting at all. Lots of forms and we've had enough of that this year to last a lifetime! I guess the good thing is that someone in China knows we are coming!

Also...I saw this info posted on the Yahoo! boards from Faith International. I thought it was good info about the reasons for the extending referral wait times and interesting statistics about the number of international v. domestic adoptions in China and the number of orphans and the percentage of them that have special needs. ..

Families from every agency and from every corner of the US are experiencing dramatic delays right now for referrals from China.This has been occurring, and the wait times have been steadily increasing, for the last 4 months which has resulted in wait times from the log in dates of 10-11 months with the very real likelihood of hovering between 10-12 months for some time to come.As a bit of background, there are several things happening all at once at CCAA which have caused some delays:1) the recent news coverage of baby trafficking in Hunan has forced the CCAA to scrutinize every file at length before making referrals. From our contacts it seems the CCAA has been very focused on this issue internally while saying very little publicly about it. As with any Chinese organization that is cast in a negative light by the international press, they tend to slow their processing to an almost glacial pace to show a strong resolve in remedying any dilemmas (look at the SARS aftermath at the Ministry of Health as a recent example)2) There are, for the first time in CCAA's history, more adoptive applicants than there are children who are paper ready at CCAA. Basically, every year CCAA has to forecast how many adoptions they will have (based on years prior) and ask for that many files per month. They don't want to go over as they do not want files in the office that go unmatched. However, the past few months have seen such a dramatic influx of new applications that they have been caught totally unprepared. Last year there were 8,000 adoptions from China into the US with at least 1,000 applications hitting their offices per month. Late last year and into this year they were seeing as many as 2,000 applications (from all over the world) per month. This increase has been, and continues to be, dramatic at CCAA.3) They are in the early stages of moving all their offices across town which hinders their efficiency dramatically. They have put this off for several months due to the above noted issues. However, our primary China rep has told us as of last Friday that they are just now in the beginning stages of transferring offices.4) There are more domestic adoptions at present than at any other time CCAA has seen. A new push in China by the government to promote domestic adoption is still in its nascent stages, and coupled with the economic upswing in the cities this is a very real possibility for many Chinese families (almost 90% of all abandonments occur in the countryside and the majority of domestic adoptions occur in the cities). Certainly it is only starting to take hold yet more Chinese parents are adopting girls domestically than we have seen in the past. Last year there were as many as 25,000 domestic adoptions registered with the state, versus the 13,000 international adoptions from last year. This year there may be even more. 5) There are, on a whole, fewer abandonments than we have seen in years past. At present, official statistics suggest the total number of orphans from ages 0-18 living in China is right around 600,000; however, most of these "orphans" live with relatives and the number of those living in orphanages throughout China, ages 0-18, is around 70,000-100,000, with 50% of those children deemed "special needs". This number is certainly lower than one would imagine, as are most statistics done in China concerning vexing social issues- but it has been overseen by external parties and seems to be rather consistent with their findings as well. This is certainly a smaller number than what has been noted in the past which suggests a reduction in children entering the social welfare institutes in China. These things combined have caused a sort of perfect storm which has really slowed things down considerably. Although each issue seems easily remedied or attended to by itself, combined they have caused one of the more dramatic slowdowns in recent history in China. The CCAA has stated it hopes to move things to the 10 month time frame for referral and it is highly likely they will be able to do this. However, the timeframe until they can reach this is still unknown. We recognize this impacts families on many levels. On an emotional level we understand how hard it can be to have a date in mind, no matter how flexible, and be told the wait for referral will almost double. It is a frustrating issue and we know the staff at CCAA are equally disappointed as well. On a procedural level, families must be very cognizant of fingerprint and I-171 expirations. Please look at your paperwork and see if the expiration dates are fast approaching. Faith will also go through all files to backup this process.Hope this helps shed some light on the current wait times. Please let us know of any questions.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Recuperating From Hernia Surgery

I had inguinal hernia surgery this past Monday and almost feel like a human today except that I'm fighting a migraine. I've been spoiled by friends bringing dinner over (THANK YOU!) and a wonderful husband that took the week off of from work to take care of me. See what he brought home for me from his business trip in Dallas? He thought I could use it to get his attention when I needed something (didn't work but a nice thought, anyway.) I'm hoping to be up and about tomorrow...or should I milk it for all it's worth through the weekend???

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Warning: China Adoption Wait May Cause Brain Damage

Yep, if this picture isn't proof of it, I don't know what else is! Never in a million years would I ever think that I would purchase luggage with a tapestry-ladybug motif. I don't know what's worse: the fact that I bought them at all, or the fact that Meili and I will match. Next I'll be picking out matching outfits!!!

Thank You Bouton Secret Pal!!!

It has been so much fun to get packages in the mail! I just love the little nightgown with ducks on it. The little rubber duckie tests the water temperature to see if it is ok for baby. Seems like there is something new out on the market for babies every time you turn around. I thought that was really cool. I can't wait to have a freshly bathed Meili Grace running around the house wearing this!!! Thanks again!