Sunday, September 30, 2007

Moon Festival, Bouton Style.

We were a bit delayed, but we did it! After church on Sunday we had Chicken stir-fry, spring rolls and salad for dinner. Audrey brought her 'Mrs. Frizzle' book about China
to the table and follwed the instructions for using chopsticks.
Noah has his own modified 'both chopsticks in a fist' method of using them.
Taylor's got it down and has declared himself, "China-Ready."
After dinner, we read about the history of the holiday and took turns saying what we are thankful for. The common theme was family-the people we have and the little person who we hope to welcome soon. When the sun went down we went outside and ate these. Six WW points each, ouch! There was a beautiful full moon on Wed. but tonight we had too much cloud cover to even see the moon. Next year, we'll plan better.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy Autumn Moon Festival!

We have had a crazy day and Matt and I both have meetings tonight so we are going to have to postpone our celebrations until Sunday evening. We have started a Bouton Family version of the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival celebration that includes Spaghetti (our version of longevity noodles), oranges, etc. We made moon-shaped cookies last year. I think I'll pick up some 'Moonpies' at the grocery store this year... For those of you who may be interested in the history of the holiday, here is an excerpt from an article in a FCC publication:

In America each fall, families gather around a table laden with turkey and pumpkin pie to celebrate Thanksgiving. But did you knowthat in China, people have an autumn celebration of their own? Each fall, in China, families gather on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival. (It's called Zhongqiu Jie in Chinese.) The Chinese use a lunar calendar to determine on which day the Mid-Autumn Festival will fall each year. This year, the festivities occur Sept. 25, when the full moon lights up the night sky. On this day, Chinese children get to stay up past their usual bedtime. Families gather in open spaces - sometimes on mountains or beaches - to gaze at the full moon. While they're doing this, they eat mooncakes. These are small stuffed cakes with intricate designs on them. In Hong Kong and Singapore,people celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival light paper lanterns as well.

Just like the Thanksgiving holiday that we celebrate in the UnitedStates, the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates the harvest. But while we talk about Pilgrims and Indians, the Chinese celebration starts with much older stories. Long, long ago, one legend goes, there were 10 suns that took turns rising in the sky. One day, all 10 suns rose at once. Because of this, the earth was too hot, and crops were dying. The emperor asked an archer named Hou Yi to shoot down nine of the suns with his bow and arrow. For his deed, he was rewarded with a magical potion that would make him immortal. He asked his beloved wife, Chang E, to hide the elixir for him. One day when Hou Yi was out hunting, a man came to his house to steal the elixir. Rather than give him the potion, Chang E drank itherself, and she immediately floated away to the moon. Hou Yi returned home to find her gone. When he looked into the nightsky, he saw her in the moon. He couldn't get to her, so he put a table in his garden and covered it with her favorite foods. Eversince, the legend goes, Chinese have worshipped Chang E in the moon.

There is also another legend about the festival: About 700 years ago,the Mongols controlled China. The Chinese wanted to rule their own country, so they plotted a revolt. Bakers hid the battle plans inside tiny mooncakes, which were then given to the people with instructions that they should eat them on the 15th day of the eight lunar month. On that day, the people cracked open their cakes, read the plans, and overthrew the Mongol government. Thus, the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates Chinese ingenuity and independence.

There are many more stories about the origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival, and there are many different ways to celebrate. But most Mid-Autumn festivities have this in common: Chinese people all over the world gather with family members to eat mooncakes and gaze at the moon. Mooncakes are hard to make. They have a delicate, flaky dough on the outside, and inside they are stuffed with a filling that may be made from lotus seeds, red beans, or other ingredients. All types of mooncakes have beautiful designs stamped into them. Many people order mooncakes from Chinese bakeries. (They can even do this on the Internet and have them mailed to their homes.) You could try making your favorite cookies to share with your family on this special Chinese holiday. Ask your parents to let you stay uplate, so the family can eat cookies and look at the night sky. Can you find Chang E in the full moon?

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Baby is 4!

Yep, Xander turned 4 today and we have been celebrating all weekend. We let Xander choose what he wanted to do on Saturday and he picked bowling so bowling it was. I love this pic of X and Matt. Matt always teases me about closing my eyes in pics and here he is guilty along with his son...
After bowling we headed over to Swensen's. They have amazing hamburgers and homemade icecream. Xander calls it the train restaurant because they have a model trail running around the restaurant up near the ceiling.
Xander ordered bubble gum icecream and was a bit surprised to find about 20 whole gumballs in his scoop. He wasn't quite sure what to do with them...
Here he is on his actual birthday making sure we know how old he now is...
I love this. He really struggled to open this one.
I love how quickly his face recovered.
We had plans for a friend-party but the scheduling just didn't work out. One of the many nice things about having a large family is that even though we don't have any extended family nearby, there are enough of us to be our own party! When Xander mentioned that he wanted a Spiderman pinata for his birthday, it seemed a little silly to have a pinata all to ourselves but we certainly had enough participants to make it worth while. Xander was a little nervous with his eyes covered...
He was much happier to take a whack at it with his eyes open. And yes, that is a light saber and not a baseball bat. After Noah saw this done at Camden's Star Wars party last weekend, a baseball bat mysteriously 'could not be found' in the garage...
In my never-ending quest to save a buck, I decided to buy a cake decorating kit and make my own Spiderman cake. We had a few casualties (it was supposed to be a round cake, etc.) but it turned out okay for a first try. Someday when I am bored I think I'll make some frosting and practice with the different tools. Xander was happy anyway and like Papa Jim-Jim says,
"It's gonna look worse when it hits your stomach."
Happy Birthday, Xanderbonie! We love you!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another Thing to Check Off the List

Our new I-171H came in the mail today. It's good for 18 more months and the fingerprints are good for another 15. I really hope that we don't have to go through that process for a third time. The thought of it alone makes me want to curl up into a fetal position and drool.

I did some amateur number crunching yesterday and came up with the following scenarios for when we may see a referral. With a LID of March 10, 2006, that leaves 106 LIDs ahead of us. The best case that I am willing to hope for at this point is for the CCAA to get through November and start issuing 15 days worth of referrals at a time next month. If they can pull it off, we might see a referral in April. If they can only get through 9 days per month, then we might see a referral in October of 2008. That's the worst case I'm willing to even think about at this point. If reality falls somewhere in the middle and the CCAA is only able to get through 12 days per month, then we are looking at a referral in June and travel in August. That would put us smack dab in the middle of Olympic sized chaos. If Murphy's law prevails as it almost always does in this household, we are probably going to be affected in some way by the Beijing Olympics. My latest survival technique is to tell myself that I just need to hold on until April. By then, if we don't have a referral yet we should at least have a pretty good idea about when we can expect it. This could be completely flawed but right now it's all I've got...

They've Got Her!!!

Dana and Co. are now a family of 5! Hop on over to their blog for details! Congratulations to you all! We can't wait to meet her!!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

This and That...

It was another busy weekend in the Bouton household-one of those where I know that we were busy but not quite sure what we have to show for it until I sit and think about it. Matt, Taylor and Audrey woke up early Saturday morning and participated in a service project. I stayed behind with the little boys and canned 72 pounds of pears. They are delicious! Matt was a great help with them in the afternoon when I was running out of gas. He made the observation that he had spent the morning pulling tree stumps out of yards and the afternoon canning fruit-in touch with his masculine and feminine sides all in the same day!
Noah attended the 'best birthday party ever' on Saturday for his favorite fellow China adoptive sibling-to-be, Camden. He is still talking about it! While he was at the party, Matt and I spent some time in a book store. We left with some great finds including a Mandarin/English dictionary. In addition to our weekly Mandarin class and CD series that we listen to, we are going to start learning a new Mandarin word from the dictionary each day. Our first word was lí (2nd tone) which means pear.
Anyway, back to our Saturday... Later that night, we split up and Matt took X and T to a Wildcats (U of A not HSM) football game while I took N and A out for dinner and shopping. We came back home and watched 50 First Dates. Thankfully, the kids fell asleep before I realized that it probably wasn't appropriate for them to watch!

I should also mention that I received a surprising email on Friday from our brand new Orphan Officer at our local USCIS office. It said that our I-600a application had been approved and our new I-171H was going out in today's mail. I don't know what surprised me more-that it was processed in less than 30 days (has been taking 90+!) or that the OA not only contacted me by email but also gave us her direct line in case we needed to contact her in the future. I would hate to jinx things by putting this down in print, but I may have just witnessed something that could pass for customer service from a government agency!

In the most exciting news, Dana and Co. are in China and will be meeting their Meili while we are sleeping tonight. I can't wait to wake up tomorrow morning and check their blog!

Speaking of sleep, I've been dreaming lately that referrals start coming for whole months at a time and suddenly we are only 3 months away from our own referral!!! How would THAT be??? The other dream that I have had several times is that we receive our referral for Meili, bring her home and print up adoption announcements with her picture and the caption, "It's about damn time!" I really thought that I was doing ok with the wait recently. Maybe it's because my subconscious is working things out for me while I sleep! =)

Monday, September 10, 2007

18 Months Since LID...

...and look what we did to celebrate! Matt hung a curtain rod to display the quilt upstairs where we will see it every day and think about Meili and how much we can't wait to bring her home.

The next time you see this quilt, Meili will be sitting on it! I've updated Meili's One Hundred Good Wishes Quilt Blog. There's a link to the right under 'Meili's Pages' if you are interested. Thanks again to everyone who has contributed!!!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Another Desert Dweller Get Together

The Desert Dwellers-minus Shannon and family and Ann's Matt ;o( - reunited last night to celebrate MeiLi H's recent arrival from China and Meili R's recent referral and her family's upcoming trip to bring her home. We met at a pizza place and had a wonderful time visiting and stuffing our faces! Here's the cupcake cake! How cute is this? Thanks, Heather and Mark!
Lisa and Rob M.-Thanks for fitting us into your busy schedule. We're so glad you came!
Ann drove about an hour and a half (one way!) to meet up with us which always makes us feel special! We missed you, Matt. We'll try to plan better for you next time. Ni hao!, Heather and Mark-our Mandarin class buddies! and Xie Xie for the goodie bag-you guys are too much!!!
Lisa and Jon brought all 5 of their cuties including 2 adopted from Ethiopia and the star of the show, MeiLi, who has been home for less than a month! This is the first time that our group has included a Chinese daughter which makes it all seem 'real'. Love it!
You don't have to think too hard to figure out why Dana, Burt and Co. are smiling. They leave this Friday for China to pick up their Meili!!! Dana plans to update her blog daily and I have offered to 'blog sit' in case it is easier to email so follow along and leave them some comments!
Happiness on my face and game tickets in my hand.-X
Matt was wonderful with the kids as usual and kept them entertained while I chatted away with the girls. From the pic, it doesn't look like he minded all that much.
Thanks for a great time everyone! Can't wait to do it again!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday Tradition

For the last few Fridays, I've been taking X to Gymnastics World for open gym. Thanks to Addison (hip hop teacher), X's life's pursuit is to be able to do a backflip. I tried to sign him up for gymnastics class but missed the cutoff so open gym it is for the next few weeks until a new session opens up. I think this has been a good way for X to get used to the place and the different 'toys' that are found there. Here he is on the trampoline:

and hanging from the parallel bars.

He usually starts with a death grip on the balance beam...

then gets a little more brave.

Once he realized that there are mats to cushion his fall,
he has been fearless jumping off of things.
I love the mid air shots!
In the picture above, you can see the rings over this pit in the background. X is too tiny for the rings but loves to dive into the foam pit. His smile says it all. Check out his face in the 'in flight' pics below!

Even though X rarely takes a nap, he usually sleeps on the way home from gymnastics. What a great way to burn up all that extra energy!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

2 Years Ago Today...

We submitted our application to Great Wall China Adoption on September 6, 2005. Five months and 11 days later, our completed dossier was sent to China. Our file was logged in at the CCAA on March 10, 2006. It is hard to believe that next week will mark 18 months since that date. It is even harder to believe that today we still do not know when we will meet our daughter. One thing I do know is that this wait will end and one day the Bitty Baby in this crib is going to have to move over for our Meili!

I've GOT to see this...

According to RQ...
Arthur: Binky gets a sister from China
From PBSkids, premering this Friday, September 7th-
In an upcoming Arthur show, his friend Binky Barnes gets a sister from China. The producers are said to have done their homework and researched the process as well as talked to families to get their input on the show. People who have seen it say it is very well done and they are impressed.

This should be quite entertaining. X watches this show almost every day, anyway. I'm not going to say anything and see if he makes the connection to himself when he watches the show.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Big Boy Preschool

My littlest guy had his first day of preschool today! We have been talking about this day for months and he has been excited. At least he was until I brought out the camera...Here he is telling me that he will only let me take his picture if he can be IN the tree. One thing that parenthood has taught me is that you have to pick your battles. I decided that this wasn't one of them and into the tree he went.
I did a co-op preschool with X last year and with N the two years before that and several times with A and T. I've decided that I am done with those for a variety of reasons. This year X is going to preschool at Mrs. Jackson's (X loves that she has the same name as his dog) so school will be held in a home, just not mine!!! Since preschool won't be at our and his friends houses and and his teacher won't be me or his friends' moms, X has decided that this arrangement is called 'big boy preschool.' I call it FREEDOM!!!! j/k
Mrs. Jackson has a very nice preschool set up in her home. When you step into the preschool room, you forget that you are actually in someone's home! X followed his first set of instructions and found the journal with his name on it and sat down. Whew!
What a sweetie this boy is. He has his challenging moments but he is a smart and imaginative boy. Dare I say, one of the hidden blessings of the delay in our adoption has been the opportunity to spend one on one time with him all day this year while the other three are at school. He amazes me and cracks me up every day. I'm excited to see what this year brings!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day

Matt had a rare day off today. I'm sure that he was thrilled with what we ended up doing-shopping and home projects!!! We had a few hours this morning with Grandma Debbie before she had to be at the airport so we headed out in search of Littlest Petsh*p toys. The kids are addicted to these things and Grandma Debbie treated them to several. I was quite pleased with myself for showing up at the place with the big red bullseye on the sign when it opened on the day that the flip flops hit the clearance rack. I bought 13 pairs for just over 22 dollars total. I took the picture to document my insanity. In my defense, though, I do live in a place where I can wear these year round and several pairs were for A. Now that I think about it, for $22 do I really need to defend myself???
Of course, Labor Day would not be complete without a trip to H*me Dep*t! We bought some soil and about 9 plants and bushes to replace the ones that Jackson (aka Dogzilla) has destroyed in the backyard. We also bought some stakes and wire fencing to keep him out. I hope it works!
We also spent some time at the local pool and had a lazy evening hanging out with the kids. I can't believe that we have to return to reality tomorrow. We have had such a fun weekend...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sunday Pictures

On the way to church. Today was a big day for T. Now that he is 12, he was able to become a deacon at church.
Me and my boy.

Grandma Debbie and T.
Grandma Debbie and A.
Grandma Debbie and N.
Grandma Debbie and X. I love this picture!Grandma Debbie and one of her boys! Many people at church thought that she was Matt's sister!