Tonight we got a babysitter and went to the Cheesecake Factory with our friend Tracy who is here from England. We talked it up in the car, discussed what kind of cheesecake we were going to eat, and when we arrived we ogled at the 30+ varieties in the glass cases, I swear I heard at least 27 of the flavors calling my name (except coconut, amaretto and cherry - yuk).
We sat down to dinner and ordered yummolicious steaks, by the time we were halfway through we decided that we had to take the remains of our dinner home, and that we'd order cheesecake to go. Once we got home we knew there was no way humanly possible that we were going to be able to ingest a single mouthful of dessert, despite the fact that it is so sinfully delicious.
This my friends was definately a case of our eyes being bigger than our bellies.
As a Hobbit might say, "that'll make a nice second breakfast in the mornin'"
Hobbits l-o-v-e cheesecake, I thought everyone knew that!
30 May 2007
28 May 2007
Today is Memorial Day, it's supposed to be 'pool season'. Although it did hit 80 degrees, Piper's pool was a little chilly, so we opted for the sprinkler instead. She kept trying to 'dip' her toes into the sprinkler, she stood for several minutes, leg elevated, trying not to get too wet. Aquatics superstar? maybe not, but horizontal beam...maybe? She has the balance of a Morman at a bachelors party!!
Something about museums makes me want to bounce...it's all that white, open, airy space, and the q-u-i-e-t...it's not natural, it needs life injected. It needs me. And so, I add some life, a splash of pink, a moment of reckless abandon. I'm sure Gerry (the chap who designed the Walker museum) would be proud of my statement of anarchy, my anti-establishment non-conformist protest.
finally a family photo! Mummy's friend Tracy is here from England. We are showing her the sights and sounds of Minneapolis. Well, Mummy & Daddy are showing her the sights, I'm supplying most of the sounds...and cheesy smiles!
I'm an art lovin' kid, I like museums, I like sculpture parks, I like paint. I've read 'Olivia' I know what a Jackson Pollock looks like. This has to be my favorite piece of 'art' to date. Very very Minneapolis.
This is the 'spoon bridge' in Minneapolis, we went there on Sunday to see all the sculptures. I especially like this one because it is funny, a giant cherry on a spoon! How silly is that! The Basillica in the background makes a nice backdrop though.
I got to feed the ducks in Lake Calhoun, they were rather fussy ducks, they weren't terribly interested in the whole wheat organic bread that was on offer, I guess they like the white stuff a wee bit better.
I love the swings, it's got to be the best feeling in the world, even better than an ice cream sundae with chocolate and sprinkles. I go up and I feel like I'm flying! I could stay on all day, in fact Daddy's arms have to physically fall off before I'm ready to get out and move onto other playground wonders.
I have to say the slide is one of my very favorite activities at the park. I especially love hanging onto the bars and swinging like a monkey onto the slide. I think it's appropriate to wear skirts, even when it's windy. Just because I'm an active little girl doesnt mean I can't be cute! Sunday is also perfect for pink cowgirl boots. Every girl should have a pair, even Mummies!
25 May 2007
This morning I took the kiddo's outside for a photo session, the light was great, the sun was out but soft and the kids were in a great mood! They held hads, ran in the garden, gave each other hugs and were full of smiles. I was pretty sure I was going to get the best photos ever...until I went to take the flash card out of the camera...it wasn't there, it was still in the printer.
Can anyone say BUMMER! I discovered this 5 minutes after Rhys and the Grandparents left for the airport.
"Piper, please let Rhys have a turn on your bike"
"no - my bike!"
" Piper, it's Rhys's turn, you can use 'beepbeep' and then we'll switch"
"NO - MY BIKE!!"
transition to 'beepbeep', prompt flipping of said car, and SCREAMING ensued.
"uh oh, time out"
in this picture Piper is trying to ward off her cousin...there was no way she was letting him near her precious bike!
Sharing sucks...need I say more? This is what happens when a two year old doesn't want her cousin to share her new bike, well, what led up to this 'time out' was Piper tipping her push car over in anger because she wanted 'MY BIKE'...we felt that it wasnt very good sportsmanship. Poor Piper.
Piper has this cousin Rhys, he's six months older and quite a ham. This week Nana Pam & Papa David flew all the way from West Virginia to Colorado, picked up Rhys, then flew to Minneapolis to visit with us. The kiddos have been inseperable, despite an occasional spat over who gets to ride the bike, and who gets the push car.
Nana & Papa took the kids to the zoo, it was the first time in about 8 months Piper has agreed to sit in a stroller! They had a great time feeding the animals and hanging out with the Grandparents.
The next day they went to the indoor park at the Mall of America, they went on a bunch of rides and had a blast.
Then there was bathtime, always fun...Piper got to see how Rhys pees...standing up, and guess what, she tried it herself...in front of Mike, who by the way was totally weirded out by that whole experience! funny.
Overall it has been three days of pure, undiluted fun.I just wish we all lived closer!
Here's a fun fact for those of you who don't know. Cousin Rhys is also half New Zealander! How did that happen? Well, Mike's sister Laura married a kiwi too! So there are two New Zealanders in the family and all the kids will have duel citizenship...cool huh! We are just waiting for Mike's little sister to marry an Australian so that we can have REALLY interesting family vacations!
24 May 2007
100 WISHES QUILT...PLEA FOR FABRIC!
Now I know we posted about this not so long ago, but I am getting a little bit desperate. I have had some lovely squares and wishes come in from our CCAI adoption groups which is lovely. But...we are nowhere near reaching the 100 wishes we need for a quilt for our next child.
I don't want to whine, but we really see this quilt as a gift to our new child, something that they can grow up saying "hey, a bunch of my family and friends got together and wished me a happy life", something that will be especially poignant to a child who will never know her true background, and needs to feel welcomed into her new life and family with warmth and well wishes.
I can tell you that Piper loves her quilt, and can tell me who sent which square, Grandad Pete in New Zealand sent Pukeko bird fabric, Nana Rosemary sent Buzzy Bees, The Fitzgerald's in New York sent Winnie the Pooh, Great Auntie Julie who make hats for fancy people who attend galas and the Melbourne Cup in Australia sent hat fabric, Mummy's friend Tara sent horse fabric, which is easy to remember because Tara is a world class equestrian rider/person/showjumpey lady. It's one big beautiful story!
Please consider sending in a squish and most importantly a wish for this baby. For with out the wish it is merely a piece of fabric, with the wish it is a gift of love.
Send one 8x8 inch square of 100% cotton fabric, no flannel or heavy fabrics please, just good old fashioned cotton. If you dont have a rotary cutter (I'm sure a lot dont) please send a 10 x 10 piece or a fat quarter or 1/4 yard of fabric along with a note/wish. Thats all it takes. Easy peasy!
22 May 2007
BLANKETS FOR BABIES
A couple of years ago I made a bunch of baby blankets to raise money for our adoption, I think I ended up spending more than I made and I discovered that I take too long to sew anything! I have decided to donate my last four blankets to CCAI's 'blankets for babies' project. I would also love to put a word in everyones ear to think about donating a baby blanket for an orphan in China. CCAI has sent hundreds of blankets to children in need, and we are going to start an outreach to our friends and family to join in.
The blankets can be purchased from a store (no need to wash) or made by you..there are a few requirements which I will list directly from CCAI's website. Please take the time to send just one blanket to CCAI's blankets for babies coordinators.
1 Keuka Business Park
Penn Yan NY 14527
Blanket and Quilt Guidelines:
The most important decision to consider when preparing to make a blanket will be the fabric type and quality. The fabric should be soft, warm, and durable, while also being hypo-allergenic, safe, and clean. Suggested fabrics are: fleece, waffle-knit, heavier weight flannel, heavy weight jersey, but others can certainly be considered. You can even purchase a regular bed-sized blanket and cut it into baby- or kid-sized blankets. Please do not purchase the $1.00/yard, Wal-Mart sale-bin, fabrics for use in blankets. This fabric is not durable and won’t last long as a blanket. It only takes a single yard of fabric for a baby blanket and better quality flannel runs from $1.89 to $6.99 a yard, so even buying the “good stuff” is not expensive. A good rule of thumb would be – if you’d like this fabric to make a blanket for your OWN baby, then it is the right fabric to use. The blanket you make is likely to be the only blanket this baby will own so we want it warm, soft, and nice.
If you prefer to make a quilt, please make sure it is securely sewn and most importantly, that it contains no substances which may cause allergies (no down, feathers, wool, etc.) and that it contains no buttons, bows or other decorations which may be a choking hazard to children if they are pulled off the quilt, or chewed on. Appliqués are welcome, as long as they are sewn on securely. Do not rely upon fabric glues to secure your appliqué – they are a great start, but please finish the appliqué by sewing it securely to the quilt. Simple, colorful, soft and warm is all we need!
Consider pre-washing your fabric if it is dark in color (red, black, brown and dark blue tend to bleed), has a fabric odor, or is “shop-worn”. If you do pre-wash the fabric, please use scent-free detergent and NO fabric softener, in case of allergies. Again, think about what you would want for your own baby – is this fabric suitable?
Method of Construction:
Blankets may have the edges serged, or if you do not have a serger, fold the edges of the blanket over about ½ inch all the way around, fold again to encase the raw edges, and then topstitch. Or use blanket binding, reverse stitching the last ½ inch so the threads holding on the binding do not unravel.
Fleece blankets can certainly be constructed with the edges cut and tied into fringe. Please make sure that there are no loops in the knots, or in the fringe, which may catch and wrap around small feet or toes.
Quilts can be completed by sewing the right sides together, leaving an opening of approximately 6 inches, then turning the quilt inside out and finally stitching the opening closed. You also may use blanket binding around the edges, or even serge the edges together. Another idea is to simply fold in all of the edges of the quilt tops by ½ inch, and then topstitch the two tops (wrong sides together, with batting in between) along the edges. You can stitch the body of the quilt by machine or by hand, or tie it, making sure the ties are tight and will not unravel or come untied. Remember – no buttons, bows, or other decorations which may cause choking hazards.
Size is less important than quality of construction. Several inches larger or smaller will not be a problem. Fit the size of the blanket to the size of the fabric you are using to get the most out of it.
Generally, our blankets are approximately 34” by 34”. They do not need to be square, however. If your fabric is 45” wide, you can use a yard of it, without trimming, to result in a blanket approximately 43” x 34”. This is a great size for an older baby. We like to round the corners, which makes it especially fast and easy if you are serging the blanket. If you are folding the edges and topstitching, leaving the corners squared will be easier for you.
If you like super-easy, and super-soft, consider fleece panels. They come in many printed designs, are very easy to finish by serging or by zig-zagging the edges. One fleece panel makes a nice blanket for an older child, or can be tucked into the seat of a wheelchair or around the legs of a child. Plain fleece (without a printed design) is often found on sale and makes a wonderful blanket too, either for a larger child, or cut into smaller blankets. Again, you can also finish the fleece with tied fringe, making sure there are no loops in the knots or fringe to catch and wrap around small feet or toes.
For quilts, you can purchase quilt tops with juvenile themes and they will generally be approximately 43” by 34” when completed. You can also make your quilt tops from patchwork squares, strips, or any other design you wish, to use up your scrap fabrics. Just make sure the fabric you use is clean, strong, and soft. We recommend you purchase quilt batting for “stuffing” inside your quilt, but as long as the material is clean and in excellent condition, you can use mattress pads, beach towels, or older blankets as stuffing inside the quilt. Again, make sure the material you use is hypo-allergenic – do not use an old wool blanket, for instance, as stuffing inside your quilt.
Remember, the most important guidelines to consider for your blankets and quilts are safety, hypo-allergenic nature, cleanliness, and that the fabric be good quality, soft and warm. If you’d like it for your own baby, it’s the right fabric to use for OUR babies.
I just wanted to take a few minutes to say how much we appreciate our Adoption Agency CCAI (Chinese Children Adoption International). Sometimes all you hear about agencies are negatives, but in our case we consider ourselves extremely lucky to have made the choice to go with CCAI. We can't thank them enough for all the patience and respect they had for us during our first adoption, and now with our second. The staff are very helpful and informed, and although there is always a sense of uncertainty that walks hand in hand with adoption, the CCAI staff are there to help us understand. CCAI has been around since the inception of adoptions from China, Josh & Lily are the owners and themselves have adopted from China. If anyone is considering adding to their families through adoption we as a family can only encourage you to check out CCAI! The charitable work they do for children in China is astounding, from supplying basic needs like formula, food, clothing, to larger needs like washing machines, water storage tanks, air conditioning units. They also raise funds to train orphanage workers in China...wow thats an agency with a heart & soul! In just the past few years they have donated $600,000+, and manage to have the lowest adoption fees, and non profit operating costs(%'s) to boot!
Here's a picture of Mike with Josh & Lily last year.
19 May 2007
Last night we went to see Jon Stewart at the Orpheum theatre in Minneapolis. He has got to be one of the 'smartest' comedians out there. We watch 'The Daily Show' all the time, it's our "late night, gotta stay up, need a good laugh" bedtime story. I have had a secret crush on him for about 15 years...there is just something about intelligent funny guys!!
This was our 7th anniversary present to each other.
If you ever get a chance to check him out, he is one funny, sarcastic, smart little man!
17 May 2007
Today Daddy worked on 'Habitat for Humanity', a project to build homes for families that otherwise could not afford to buy their own home. With the team from work, Daddy helped put siding on the houses. This is a project Daddy has wanted to do for a long time, Poppy Hoppe (aka Daddy's Daddy), has worked with Habitat for years and years, it's a great organization and I think he will continue the family tradition for a long time. The houses looked very nice, I'm sure their new families will be happy there.
Daddy also stated upon his return home "I need a real toolbelt"
hmmmm....ideas for Father's Day!
16 May 2007
You know how some people want new shoes or a closet full of handbags, perhaps a shiny new Audi in the driveway...not me, I just want someone to teach me how to make a DVD with sound and text of our adoption. Piper has been home with us since November 2005 and I want to make this while my memory still serves the adoption journey well (seriously, I cant find my car keys and credit cards on a daily basis)
Now there are some great professional adoption story DVD people out there, but we just can't stomach the $600 it takes to make one, at least not while we are saving for adoption #2. So if there is anyone out there who knows about Adobe premiere elements (the software I bought thinking it would be a snap) please let me in on the secret.
Maybe I need to go to night school to learn all this stuff.
Oh, and instead of a pair of Manolo Blaniks(never owned a pair but lived next to his shop in Chelsea when I lived in London), I would like a blog template upgrade...I searched and searched but cannot find anyone who can help me make this blog a bit prettier.
Okay, enough whining...off to bed.
I feel like a PC today, wishing I was a Mac. I've been trying for a few months to navigate some new software we bought so that we can make Piper's adoption dvd...needless to say, this ad sums up how I am feeling...why why why dont we have a MAC?!
15 May 2007
On Sunday, yes Mother's day, Piper was feeling...how do we say, um...PRECOCIOUS! She was in true 2 year old form, and lovin' every minute of the chaos and disaster that she decided to wreak on our lives. Then, later in the afternoon a calm came across our little possum, and she played happily in the closet for 10 minutes, giggling and laughing, like it was just the best trick ever.
open-shut-open-shut-open...repeat 57 times, much giggling and muffled laughter.
It did help, Mike and I needed some serious martinis after a day like we had. We always say that but we never make them.
It might seem that way but in reality we aren't. We're just trying 'creative fundraising' efforts to help us in our journey to bring home another child. Blogging is turning into a HUGE thing, it's exciting and fun and sometimes a little weird!
So, from time to time you'll see different ads, mostly AMAZON links, we love Amazon and feel that we can feel good about directing our friends there. We'll post our favorite books, music, DVD's and products, as well as loads of great adoption resources that we've found helpful or insightful...and each time you click on a link and buy the item listed we get a small % of the sale that will go right into our adoption fund.
Also, we'll try to post a direct link straight to Amazon, so the next time you feel like buying that 62" plasma TV you'll remember us and go through our link!!!
Okay, so maybe that 62" plasma is a pipedream...but hey, you can always hope!
Mummy & Daddy's favorite...for obvious reasons!
14 May 2007
Daddy & I got Mummy a sweet necklace for Mother's Day, here it is. It's itching for another charm, but we'll have to wait a little while before we can order that very special second name. Mummy thinks it's the best present ever. We love this lady's jewels, we've put a link on this blog, check it out!
13 May 2007
I have a REAL tinkerbell dress. It's green and very pretty. It has wings and a flowered head band thingy. I am pretty sure I am also a REAL fairy. I wonder if I can fly? I also know my shadow is firmly stuck to me, unlike Peter Pans. I have a very good shadow, it follows me everywhere!
On Friday it was lovely and sunny, Mummy bought some chalk paint from Target, we spent a good hour creating a lovely painting on the driveway and on my legs. I liked singing Justin Roberts "I chalk' song while we were creating our masterpiece. At the end I proudly announced to Mummy "JACKSON POLLOCK", now for all you arty people out there, I'm not an art history prodigy, I just love my 'Olivia' books, and anything that is wild and crazy I deem to be a JP creation. We'll be looking into Matisse and Renoir later this summer.
I love reading in Mummy and Daddy's bed. I have lots of books. Today I read all about Farley the Frog, he has an upset tummy and passes gas a lot. Mummy isn't sure if she wants to use the 'real' word yet, so we say 'fluffer' instead, okay, literary elitists, don't snarl, Mummy just doesnt think FART is an appropriate word for a two year old. There will be plenty of time for that when I'm three!
Today is Mother's Day, let us remember all Mothers everywhere, those we love and know, those we may never know. We send our prayers and love to all mothers around the world, and those in our own homes.
11 May 2007
Piper loves the water. It has been very difficult for her to wait for summer. For weeks after returning from our vacation to New Zealand Piper would announce to Mike & I that "I'm going to the beach!", sadly the weather in Minnesota was not really helping her in her quest for water, sun & sand.
On Thursday we set up her new paddling pool, by the afternoon she was itching to go in and finally took the plunge! Within minutes Piper's bikini was off and she was having a grand old time. Within half an hour I think the entire neighbourhood had turned up and were in the pool with her! bikini bottoms went back on but there was adamant refusal to put on her top. somewhere deep down in this child is a beach lovin' girl from Epinema!