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Lilypie Kids birthday Ticker
Monday, July 30, 2007
Wouldn't This Rock?
I mean winning it, of course. If you want to enter, click on the television.


Sunday, July 29, 2007
Vacation Recap, Part Three
Sera and Brantley

Pete and Josie

Sera and Aunt Marcia waiting for our table

Aunt Jessica and Josie

Pete and Ben
It seemed like I took so many pictures, but then I got home and saw how many I didn't have. I don't have Sera with most of the adults. I wanted to get pictures of Sera's and Josie's hands side-by-side. It was too funny because Josie's hands and feet dwarfed Sera's. Jim was upset that I didn't get pictures of my dad's new house because he hasn't seen it. I need to work on my photography.
Sera and I had a wonderful trip. She did so well. She is such a laid-back, easygoing child. She took the long car rides, all the new faces, and three different new places to sleep in stride. There is no denying, however, how excited she was to get home and see her daddy.


Vacation Recap, Part Two

Sera's first time in a pool. She wasn't sure about it for about 30 seconds. Then she decided it was okay.

It's exhausting being this cute.

Time to pile on the oldest cousin.

Grandma with her girls.

The dark clouds came in, so everyone came to the condo. Sera thought it was lots of fun!

Just cuteness. Virginia, Pete, and Josie.

Here, you take Mei Mei, and I'll sit on your leg.

Virginia, Brantley, and Sera. Sera decided Brantley's lap was a good resting spot. She stopped every time she ran past him.

Ben taking Josie on a motorcycle ride, or was it a Jet Ski?

Bret and Josie playing ball and making faces.


Vacation Recap
Sera and I left on a Tuesday morning and headed for Atlanta to my sister's house. Marcia and her husband, Derek, have two boys who are 4 and 6. They just sent in their LOI to adopt their daughter, Ava. Ava is three years old and currently living in China. She is adorable. The 12-hour drive took us 15 hours, so we arrived much later than expected.

The next day we hadn't planned anything big because it was mainly a day to give Sera a break from the car. We made arrangements to meet Shana and her daughter, Hattie, from our travel group for a late lunch. My sister lives south of Atlanta and Shana lives north. We headed her way because we needed to pick up the car my sister had just bought on our way to lunch. The dealership must have thought they were going to be paid by the minute. What should have been a 15-20 minute process took about two hours. Poor Shana and Hattie hung in there and waited for us at the restaurant. We finally got there and enjoyed our visit. Marcia and I ended up splitting an appetizer even though we were starving because we were going to have dinner with her good friends and neighbors. Their file was logged in to China in 1/06, so they're still waiting. It was wonderful to meet them, and I think they enjoyed meeting Sera. It's just nice to see there is a child in the end when you are stuck waiting.

On Thursday, we headed south to Gulf Shores. Our sister, Kati, lives in Mobile with her family. Our sister, Jessica and her family just moved to Austin, TX from the San Francisco area. Jessica and her daughter, Josie also arrived on Thursday. Marcia's two boys were already in GS as they had come down the week before with her in-laws. They joined us when we arrived. We had three adults and four children in a two-bedroom condo. Sera and I had one bedroom. Jessica and Josie had the other bedroom. Marcia, Ben, and Pete shared the sofa bed...to the boys' delight and to Marcia's aching back.

On Friday we hit the outlet mall. Kati and her daughter, Virginia met us there. On Saturday morning, Marcia took her son, Ben, on a promised parasailing adventure. It was a first for both. We then headed out to our dad's new bay house. Kati and her family have had a bay house for a few years. Our dad bought the lot next door and built a gorgeous bay house. Between the two houses, we'll easily fit all four daughters, our husbands and children for future family vacations. We all love it there. We spent Saturday afternoon, night and most of Sunday there.

I forgot my camera on our first day at the dock. Kati took a bunch of pictures that day and will email some to me.

We started each morning in my bed. It started our first morning in the condo. Sera always woke first. I snuck out to the kitchen to make her bottle and found my nephew, Pete, awake. I invited him to join us. As everyone woke up, they made there way in. Breakfast was dry cereal in bowls for everyone with sippy cups filled with chocolate milk. Some of us had coffee instead. We watched Playhouse Disney, played, and caught up.

Sera and Josie getting to know each other as we packed to spend the night at the bay.

A proud granddaddy with his girls. We bought those matching outfits the day before at Gymboree at the outlet mall.

Getting a good shot with seven children is a challenge. Grandddaddy with all the grandkids.

Ben, Virginia, and Pete enjoying the hammock on the dock.

Silly faces.

Sera, aka Superbaby, and her cousin, Bret. Bret was amazing with the babies.

Pete and Virginia keeping an eye on Sera.


Welcome Home!
Where to begin?

I think I'll begin with the end. Yesterday morning, I woke bright and early. I jumped in the shower and dressed for the day. While I was dressing, Jim got his shower. Then I headed to the nursery to wake Sera. I was slightly surprised that she wasn't awake, but she'd had a difficult night. She cried out several times in her sleep. Each time was just for a second before rolling over and "plugging in".

When I walked in to the nursery, I was hit with the most noxious order. She had on one super stinky diaper. She's normally pretty chipper in the morning, but she was whiny and clingy. I brought her into our room and offered her a bottle, which she refused. She just clung to me with her thumb in her mouth and closed her eyes. Jim and I debated whether or not she was feverish. I thought slightly. He thought not at all. We took her temp and it agreed with Jim. We were dressed and had a bag packed for the day. The reunion picnic was 2 1/2 hours away. If she was just tired, she could sleep on the way there. If she was sick, we didn't want to torture her by going. We just couldn't decide which she was. We finally decided to head out with the thought we could turn back. I got our things together. We both took one more look at Sera, looked at each other, and decided to stay home. It was the right decision.

Sera spent most of the day, until mid afternoon, on my lap cuddling with me on the couch. She slept for a lot of that time, too. Finally, she got down and started to play for a little while. She went to bed just a little late and everything seemed to be back on track. I stayed up way too late catching up on bloglines. Just as I decided to turn in for the night at midnight, I heard her screaming. I sat in the rocker with her until 3:30 am. Everytime I moved, she'd start to scream and clutch me. She thought I was going to put her down. Finally, at 3:30am, she let me put her back to bed. She woke up this morning back to her normal, cheerful self. Jim took pity on me and took her out this afternoon for a few hours at our local zoo. After driving 14 hours home and then taking care of a sick baby, mom was/is exhausted, plus I still have tons of vacation laundry to catch up.

Instead of doing that laundry though, I got some photos ready to post.


Friday, July 27, 2007
Mea Culpa
I'm so sorry for not updating while we were out of town. The advantage of a vacation is disconnecting. The disadvantage of a vacation is disconnecting. The only time my laptop got turned on was when I set it up at my dad's house for anyone who wanted to see our China pictures. The ones I've posted are only the tip of the iceberg. The best tip, but the tip. Jim suffered the most because we had trouble connecting by phone, too. Our carrier is a popular one where we live, but not where I was so it didn't work very well. I was usually operating on one bar.

We got in last night about 11pm. It was after midnight before we got settled and in bed. Sera is such a trooper. She did so well with all the driving. She didn't sleep much in the car though.

My camera is filled with pictures to download, so photos will be coming soon. Tomorrow, we head off to our agency's annual reunion picnic. I promise a huge update with photos on Sunday.


Thursday, July 26, 2007
Almost Home
Magi and Sera are on their way home. They should arrive late tonight. Expect a post tomorrow afternoon when I take Sera out for Daddy time!

Sunday, July 22, 2007
Vacation Update
Husband Jim reporting again.

I really don't have anything to relay, except to say that Sera is a big hit with her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I haven't received any pictures, and cell phone reception is terrible down on the gulf so I don't have any detailed stories, either. I'd say that Magi owes all of you some extra-long posts when she gets back!

Thursday, July 19, 2007
Vacation Underway
This is husband Jim reporting for Magi. She and Sera arrived safely in Atlanta and everything is great. Sera didn't sleep much on the way down (until it got dark) and had a rough first night, but she is doing wonderfully. Magi hopes to be able to blog again soon!

Monday, July 16, 2007
Vacation, Gotta Get Away
Tomorrow morning Sera and I will be hitting the road for our summer road trip. We're heading down to Gulf Shores via Atlanta. Atlanta really isn't on the way, but my sister lives there. We'll spend a couple of nights and then head down to GS to see the rest of my family. It will take approximately 12 hours to get to Atlanta. That's 12 hours in the car with a 15-month-old baby and me. Yikes! Sera is a trooper, but I'm sure this will tax her. My plan is to stop about every two hours when she's awake to let her walk around a bit. If she's sleeping, I'll keep going. She is still taking two naps a day, so she will sleep a good part of it.

I can't wait to see my family and for them to meet Sera. I'll also finally get to meet my new niece, Josie.

My poor beleagured husband has to stay home and finish the summer school session. He's looking forward to the first two weeks of August when he'll finally be off work. Teachers report 8/13.

I am bringing my laptop. I will try to blog, but, believe it or not, internet access isn't easy to come by in GS. Check out Jim's blog for updates if you don't see anything here.

Honk, if you see us on the road!


Saturday, July 14, 2007
Today is my birthday.

Our celebration started last night. We met our good friends, Doug & Laura et al, at the drive-in for the new Harry Potter movie. We got there early, so we had plenty of time to visit. It was another lovely night. I had checked the weather forecast earlier, so we knew that the temps were supposed to get into the 50's. Sera was in her fleece sleeper. Jim and I wore long pants and brought a jacket and a hoodie. Plus, we keep a couple of throws in the car. We were set.

Because it was such a late night, we all slept in to 9:00 am today. Shadow woke up first. His barking woke up Sera. With those two up, Jim and I had no choice, but to get up too. On the weekend, Jim likes to go get Sera. While he does that, I mix up her morning bottle.

The smile she gave me when they came in the room was the best birthday present I could ask for. While I fed her, Jim went downstairs to let Shadow out. We heard some kitchen noises, so it wasn't a huge surprise when he brought breakfast in with him. That is until I looked at it. He was carrying a PLATTER! On the platter, he had eggs, sausage, hash browns, pancakes, and toast. It was like having a diner breakfast delivered to us in bed. Sera's pancake was filled with blueberries. As you saw from the previous post, it was a huge success. The sheets are already off the bed and ready to be washed.

After we played for a bit, Sera went down for her morning nap. I took that time to do a little blog check. Amy has a link to a blog I hadn't seen before. This blog had a video up. Since I had time, I decided to check it out. It stirred up feelings that I haven't thought about in a long time. It's especially funny when I think of how often those feelings seemed to dominate my life.

After watching, I was trying to figure out exactly what feelings I have now. I am so completely happy and thrilled to have Sera in my life. I cannot imagine my life without her and Jim. While the video did bring up some old feelings, I realized that it's different now. The sadness I felt was for having gone through that time, but more for those still there. If given the chance, I would not change one single thing that I have done or has happened to me. This is the road I travelled. It has brought me here and now to the two I love most.

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Ode to the Blueberry, Part Two
Daddy brought Mommy and me breakfast in bed.
He made a blueberry pancake just for me!


Friday, July 13, 2007
A Trip to the Mall
Sera and I will be heading out next week on a road trip. In preparation, we had to take the car in to the shop. Just standard maintenance stuff, but we wanted to make sure it was done before we ventured out. The dealership told us to have the car in by 1:00pm, and they'd be done by 3:00pm. This was new as we usually have to have the car there by 7:30am.

When Jim got home from work he switched the car seat to the Tracker, and we headed out. Jim opened up the top of the Tracker, so Sera got hr first taste of being in a semi-convertible (he didn't remove the top entirely). She loved it. The Tracker is really a one person car. It's a '92 with only one working seatbelt in the front. Luckily, the back ones are fine or we wouldn't have taken Sera in it at all. We kept our running around to a minimum. First, a quick lunch, then a stop at a frame shop to drop off a picture, and finally, off to the mall.

We're not mall people. I've taken Sera there once before. We exchanged an outfit she'd received as a gift and looked for the play area. We didn't find the play area as it was no longer in the middle of the mall. Our mall was, basically, T-shaped, with four main anchor stores. Two of the anchor stores were purchased by the same parent company. They kept one and closed the other. That part of the mall has been demolished and they're building an outdoor plaza area with additional shops. Why outdoor malls and strip malls are replacing the indoor malls in an area that has severe winter weather is a mystery to me, but it's also an entire rant of its own. Anyway, I didn't find the play area because it's located in the section of the mall where the old demolished anchor store used to be. I didn't even go down that section because I didn't think there would be anything but construction going on. I was wrong.

When we got to the mall, Jim headed one way to take care of his to-do list. I didn't even want to be tempted to shop. Gymboree, The Children's Play, and Gap Kids were calling my name, but Sera really doesn't need any clothes right now. Not that I let that stop me when I see a good sale. So I didn't go in the stores to see them. Instead I went in search of the play area.

It is so cool. It's totally enclosed with only one entrance, so you see who's coming and going quite clearly. It's designed for younger children, but it's fun for kids up to around 7 or 8. One end has bookshelves filled with books and child-height bench seating. Adult bench seating surrounds the entire area. Next to the book section is a changing table with a diaper disposal and wipes available. It's set up so you have a little privacy while changing. There are big stationary things to climb aboard: a rocket, a cow jumping over the moon, and a car. There is a large Disney-style mirror mounted on the floor. In the center is a play house area. You enter it through a tube, or one of two child-sized door cut-outs. The fourth wall has a small slide to exit by.

Sera and I were the only ones there when we first found it. She stood in front of the mirror for a few minutes, but was a little intimidated by everything else. She wouldn't get in or on anything. About ten minutes after we got there, we were invaded by about a dozen more children and their respective parents. All the kids behaved well, but there was lots of running and screaming and having fun. Sera started walking all around. She loved watching all the children. She even went up to one little girl, about her age, and said hi. She would walk away from me, check that I was still there, walk a little further, and then run back to me, laughing the whole way. She kept going to the doorway of the play house and peeking in. She had just gotten the courage to go all the way inside when it was time for us to go. The dealership called and the car was ready - on time. Can you believe it? I think we'll have to squeeze in a few more mall trips before school begins again.

Here are some pictures from our day. And, by the way, if anyone has any ideas on how to entertain a 15-month-old on a 12-hour drive, please let me know.

Jim took these of Sera while I ran into the store.

Checking out her reflection on the side of the play house

Who is that cute girl who follows me everywhere?

Get yourself to the Disney Store! They're having a huge sale, 50% off already marked down items. This Mulan was orignally $14.99. We got it for $6.99. It was not part of the 50% off sale, but it's a Mulan plush!


Favorite Ingredients Friday - Healthy Edition

Jim and I tried this recipe last summer, and we thought it was amazing. Very summery and light. It makes a huge amount. We cut it in half and still had a ton of food. Don't let this recipe intimidate you. It's really easy.

Grilled Meats and Vegetables over Saffron Orzo
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

For marinade:

1. 5 cloves garlic, minced
2. 1 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 5 lemons
3. 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
4. 2 teaspoons smoked salt, or kosher salt
5. 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
6. 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
7. 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

For grill:

1. 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2. 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3. 1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
4. 2 ears corn, husked and cut into thirds
5. 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean
6. 1 red bell pepper, halved and cored
7. 1 yellow bell pepper, halved and cored
8. 1 orange bell pepper, halved and cored

Saffron Orzo, recipe follows

In a medium bowl, combine the marinade ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine half the marinade with the chicken breasts, chicken thighs, and shrimp. Toss to combine. Cover and let marinate for at least 1 hour. If marinating for longer than 1 hour, make sure to refrigerate.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Brush the corn with reserved unused marinade and wrap in foil. Toss the mushrooms with 1/4 cup of the reserved unused marinade. Grill the chicken breasts and thighs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, about 7 minutes a side. Grill the corn inside the foil, for about 5 minutes a side. Grill the peppers for about 5 minutes a side. Grill the shrimp and the mushrooms, about 2 minutes a side. Brush the grilled peppers with the last of the reserved unused marinade. Slice the peppers and mushrooms before serving, if desired.

Arrange grilled meats and vegetables over the saffron orzo on a large platter and serve immediately.

Saffron Orzo:

1. 4 cups chicken stock
2. 1 teaspoon saffron threads
3. 1 pound dried orzo
4. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5. 1/2 lemon, juiced
6. 1 teaspoon salt
7. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8. 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, bringing the stock to a simmer. Add the saffron, stir, and allow the saffron to bloom, about 5 minutes. Return the heat to medium and the stock to a boil, then add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain orzo and transfer to a large bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and parsley. Toss to combine.

Yield: 6 servings

Go visit Overwhelmed with Joy for more fantastic recipes!

Past FIF recipes:
Crockpot Red Beans
Better Than Almost Anything Cake
Fruity Sangria
Outrageous Brownies
Enchiladas de Pollo
Catalina Chicken
Croissant French Toast
Corned Beef
Sloppy Joe, Mac 'n Cheese Casserole
Shredded Chicken
Baked Bean & Burger Casserole
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Crab Rangoon
Sausage con Queso and Ro-tel Cheese Dip
Blueberry Multigrain Coffeecake
Banana Bread
Bananas Foster
Old-Time Beef Stew
White Chocolate Snack Mix
Gorilla Bread
Ginger Shrimp
Roast Chicken
Tex-Mex Chicken Taco Soup
Shrimp Mold
Pasta Puttanesca
Pork Milanese
Pumpkin Dip
Oven-fried Chicken
Best Bundt Cake Ever
Hot Dog Casserole
Chicken & Rice
Peanut Butter Fudge
Omelets in a Bag
Shrimp Boil
Apple Cheese
Pulled Pork BBQ

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Thursday, July 12, 2007
Ode to the Blueberry

How I adore your lovely purpleness
The sweet juices that run when I bite you in half
The neverending supply as I attempt to eat my body weight
For Daddy bought the big box at Sam's
But the most fun was the look on Mommy's face when she changed my diaper
You're welcome in advance for not taking a photo of that.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007
You know you're getting old when your new glasses cost almost as much as your first car....and you didn't get new frames.


Special Dark Memories
aka semisweet

The night didn't end there.


Monday, July 09, 2007
Sweet Memories
It's three hours past bed-time when the baby cries out. A moment later, another cry. Check the video monitor. Everything's okay. Wait a minute. Is she still sleeping? Another cry. Go to her.

Walk in the room, and the cry becomes continuous sobbing. Pick her up. Crying stops. Hold her. Rock her. Kiss her. Everything's okay. Mama has you. One thumb in mouth. Other hand goes up and rests on mama's face. Snuggle in. Big sigh.


Why is it that within five minutes of a diaper change you see that tell-tale semi-squat and the face that lets you know another change is imminent?

I've added an Amber Alert banner to the top of my screen. I saw it on Kate's blog and thought it was an important message to get out whenever it's necessary. Too bad it's ever necessary.

Julia brought this petition being hosted on Lifetimetv.com to my attention. If you are a woman or love a woman, please sign this petition. Here's one woman's story to learn why it's important.



Saturday, July 07, 2007
Seven Wonders of the World
Today, the locations of the new Seven Wonders of the World were announced. Apparently the old ones were too old-fashioned or something. These were voted on by the public. I've been to two of them. Five more to go.

Magi & Jim at the Great Wall
April 2007

Magi with younger sisters and mom visiting the pyramids in Mexico
December 1977

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Friday, July 06, 2007
To Whom It May Concern
To Whom It May Concern,

I do solemnly swear that regardless of what you may think upon observing my daughter at play with her doll, I have never:

dragged her by her ankle
jammed her sippy cup up her nose
poured a pretend drink in a stacking cup in to her ear
sat on her head
carried her by her hair
held her by the arms and shaken her
buried her under the blanket.

I do, however, admit that the following actions she did learn from us:

cuddled her
stroked her back
stroked her face
rocked her
given lots of kisses
held the sippy cup to her mouth
covered her and said night-night.

Sera's mom

p.s. don't you love watching pretend play?


Favorite Ingredients Friday

I found this recipe this week on a cooking board I follow. I love red beans and rice. I don't make it often enough because I don't have my beloved Camellia beans up here. They make the creamiest red beans. Anyway, this recipe is very similar to what I do, but with measurements, plus it's a crock pot version. It's given me a taste for red beans, so I think I'll try this recipe soon.

Red Beans - Crock Pot Style

1 16-ounce bag (dry) kidney beans
1 ham bone OR bone-in ham hock
1 large red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
3 stalks celery w/ leaves, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 TBS Frank's hot sauce
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1 cup red wine (or beef broth)
water to cover all ingredients
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper

Garnish: 3 TBS each of chopped fresh parsley and green Spring onions

Place all ingredients (except garnish) into crock pot stir well and cook on low, covered for 8-10 hours. Check liquid level, adding water if needed to cover the beans. If there is too much liquid, turn the heat on high and leave the pot uncovered for a few minutes.

Reduce heat for several more hours or until ready to serve. Beans should be very tender. Remove bones and bay leaves; add garnish before serving. Serve over rice. Freezes well, too!

Go visit Overwhelmed with Joy for more fantastic recipes!

Update on last week's recipe, Better Than Almost Anything Cake. I made it again. This time I used hot fudge instead of caramel topping and whipped cream instead of whipped cream cheese frosting. It is even better!

Past FIF recipes:
Better Than Almost Anything Cake
Fruity Sangria
Outrageous Brownies
Enchiladas de Pollo
Catalina Chicken
Croissant French Toast
Corned Beef
Sloppy Joe, Mac 'n Cheese Casserole
Shredded Chicken
Baked Bean & Burger Casserole
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Crab Rangoon
Sausage con Queso and Ro-tel Cheese Dip
Blueberry Multigrain Coffeecake
Banana Bread
Bananas Foster
Old-Time Beef Stew
White Chocolate Snack Mix
Gorilla Bread
Ginger Shrimp
Roast Chicken
Tex-Mex Chicken Taco Soup
Shrimp Mold
Pasta Puttanesca
Pork Milanese
Pumpkin Dip
Oven-fried Chicken
Best Bundt Cake Ever
Hot Dog Casserole
Chicken & Rice
Peanut Butter Fudge
Omelets in a Bag
Shrimp Boil
Apple Cheese
Pulled Pork BBQ

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Thursday, July 05, 2007
Only My Brain

This morning I was watching TV and saw a new French's Mustard commercial. You may have seen it. The mustard is listening to her phone messages. She's quite popular as hot dog, pretzel, and hoagie call for dates. What cracked me up is the person doing the voice over is Didi Conn, or someone who sounds an awful lot like Didi Conn. Does anyone else besides Jim and me catch things like this?

Why is this funny? She played Frenchie in this movie.

I was 16 when this movie came out. I remember taking my younger sisters to see the movie that summer. They would have been 14, 11, and 8. We loved the movie and the music. That soundtrack became standard road music for us for years. In fact, I still enjoy playing it when I'm on a road trip.

That was also the night of my first car accident. When we left the movie theater, I pulled into the left turn lane. The car in the left lane cut over and clipped me. No one had told me not to move the car when you're in an accident so I went through the light and pulled into a gas station. The other driver insisted that I must have entered the turn lane before it had officially started. I claimed otherwise. Since I had moved the car, they took the word of the adult over mine. I was livid. I even tried to fight it. I made my mother bring me to the police station the next day. I insisted that an officer come with me to see that it was not possible to enter the turn lane early if you're leaving the movie theater's parking lot. The officer did agree that he saw my point, but claimed nothing could be done to change the report. I still get annoyed when I think about it. I did learn not to move the car though. Unfortunately, I had several more opportunities to use that lesson. Thankfully, those days appear to be behind me.

I still love Grease.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Happy 4th of July!
We've had a busy few days around here. Sera has passed, with flying colors, her hearing and vision tests. Still waiting for the dental appointment. After that, we'll finally have all the doctors visits done. Just in time for her 15 month check up.

On Monday, we headed to the outlet mall. It's about an hour away from us. It was a gorgeous day and perfect for a day spent outside. Most of the shops had sidewalk sales, so I got some good deals. They also had some warmer clothes marked down. Sera now has a couple new sleepers that will allow her to fully stretch back out without pulling on her neck, and she's got a decent base of clothes for cooler weather. We received so many outfits as gifts when we came home with Sera, but they're all for summer. I bought a few things with long pants and sleeves on them.

We don't have big plans for this 4th. I'm making potato salad, devilled eggs, and that Better Than Almost Anything cake. I've got some chicken breasts thawed and ready for barbecue, and some fresh corn on the cob waiting to roast. Sounds like a pretty typical summer holiday menu to me.

I've been tagged for a meme that I'll put together for later this week. In the mean time, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with your loved ones.

Sera all dressed in her 4th of July outfit and sitting in her new Dora chair that Daddy bought her. She loves this chair!

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Monday, July 02, 2007
Three Months
Five months ago yesterday, Jim and I learned the name of our daughter, Liang Xiao Sheng. Three months ago today, we met her, and she became Sera XiaoSheng.

On that day in April, Jim and I were over the moon. Sera? Not so much. Understandably, of course. We were these big people with big noses and glasses who didn't say a word she understood. We looked funny. We sounded funny. We smelled funny. But she wasn't laughing. Not yet, at least.

She did laugh that first day once we were back in our hotel room. She saved all her smiles and laughs for our hotel room. When we went out in public, she became very clingy and afraid. I don't blame her. She'd already been passed from one set of caretakers to another. What was to say we wouldn't give her to someone else, too? She was going to hold on for dear life whenever anyone else came around.

This picture was taken Sunday afternoon. She was bringing me her purple block. I had to snap it quickly before she got too close for the camera. All her pictures have to be quick now because she is moving. She rarely crawls anymore. It's all walking now. Today she was practicing her running. The stopping was giving her some trouble. Each day she gets steadier. She's mastered stopping and starting, turning, and changing course when Shadow's tail whacks her across the face.

Sera is a strong happy baby now. Yesterday, I was noticing how big her hands have gotten. When did she grow? Her 12 month clothes fit her now. Last night's sleeper is getting too tight. The same size sleeper fit just fine the night before. Did she grow overnight?

She also loves to visit with people now. She loves being the center of attention. Friday was the last day of the first session of summer school. Jim's students wanted to meet Sera, so he asked me to stop at Krispy Kreme, pick up some donuts, and visit his class. All the girls surrounded us at the table and oohed and aahed over Sera. She ate it up. Then she noticed that the boys were still sitting at their desks. She started making eye contact with them, waving, and saying hi. She's such a little flirt now who's only happy when everyone is paying attention to her. She still prefers to flirt from mommy or daddy's arms though. And that's perfectly okay with mommy and daddy.

She's changed so much in three months. I can't imagine what the next three will bring.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Look at this awesome collection of books. My friend, Lori, sent these to Sera this week. Lori runs the Media Center at a high school in Kansas. For those of you who have been out of school for a while, it's what we used to call the library. School libraries are far more than books now, so they're called media centers.

Lori and I met in our sophomore year at Bay High School in Panama City, Florida. We've never lived in the same town, rarely the same state, since we graduated from high school. We both took different paths, yet we've both ended up teaching in high schools. She's a wonderful friend. Months, years for that matter, have gone by between conversations, yet when we meet again, it's like we were never separated. You know a true friend when you don't suffer through those awkward silences. Lori and her husband, Eddie, have raised three wonderful children. I hope to do half the job she has with Sera.

Thanks again, Lori. I promise we do and will read to Sera every day.

Receiving this big batch of books and seeing this library on Erin's blog reminded me that I had saved the link and planned on adding it to my blog, too. If you scroll down the right side, you'll see Sera's library. I put this on here for Jim and me to use so we have a record of books Sera already has. If you're family and plan on buying books for Sera, take a look and see if she has it already. It's a pretty cool service.

On Thursday, Sera and I met with our friend, Terry. Terry is piecing together Sera's 100 Good Wishes Quilt as her gift to Sera. She is an amazing quilter. She is almost finished the top, so we met on Thursday to find fabric for the border and the back. She took the border with her, but here is a picture of the fabric that will be on the other side of the quilt. It's looking absolutely gorgeous, and I can't wait to show it to you all. What's even more amazing is that she's doing this as a summer project when her daughter is getting married on July 14th! She's having quite the busy summer. We also signed up on a waiting list to get it quilted. The wait is 6-8 weeks for that part.

There is no other word to describe Sera, but as a blessing in our life. We are so incredibly lucky in many ways. One major way is that she's decided she loves her crib. This morning when I went to get her up, this is what I found. She's awake in this picture, but was closing her eyes because of the flash. It took me three tries to get a good picture. Inbetween shots, she'd open her eyes and turn the corners of her mouth up in a smile.

This is what she looked like when I went to get her after her morning nap. She was just playing away. When I asked her if she was ready to get up, she shook her head no and kept playing. It's now Sunday afternoon. About 45 minutes ago, she walked over to me and climbed on my lap. She then looked at me and gave me the sign for go to sleep. She lets us know when she's ready for a nap. She said night-night to daddy, and I brought her upstairs. She's still awake. I've been watching her as I worked on this post. When I laid her in the crib, she stuck her thumb in her mouth, pulled her doll up to her shoulder and smiled at me with sleepy eyes as I started her music, said night-night, and left. Within seconds, I watched her jump up and start playing. Right now, she's sitting on that Tigger with her baby doll laying on the bed facing her. She's babbling away. I think she just wanted to play in her crib. She will play in her crib for a good 30-60 minutes before she finally falls asleep.

I know how incredibly lucky we are that she sleeps so well and that she's so happy in her room. I'm going to go listen to her sing now.

By the way, video monitors rock!

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