30 July 2007

tickets remain. So far we have 37 people entered to win...thats such great news! We have friends, relatives of friends, neighbors, neighbors relatives, blogger friends, CCAI families, several of my baby nursing clients, and even some people who just 'happened' across our blog and decided to join in the fun! To all of you I have to say thanks, I mean it, thanks ever so much...we wish you could all win!

Always look on the bright side of life...

Last night we saw 'Spamalot'! It was unbelievably funny and was just what the Doctor had ordered, especially since I'd been feeling kind of glum this past week and needed a bloody good laugh. Thank Goodness that I'd had the insight to purchase tickets, oh 7 months ago.

This my friends is no ordinary Broadway performance, this is PURE 100% genius at work!

We went with our friends David & Sarah(the couple who got married in June). We met for dinner at a local St Paul sushi restaurant for dinner before the show, the food was great but sadly the service proved to be almost as comical as the show and we only just got to the theatre in time, another 10 seconds and we would have missed Act I! The show was awesomely hilarious, we laughed and laughed and laughed. I wont give anything away, but you really don't have to be a Monty Python fan to enjoy it! I have to say that it was probably the BEST show I've ever seen, and if you ever get a chance to go, take it!

and my leaving words.....

"I fart in your general direction"

(said with a French accent for authenticity)

29 July 2007

Sunday at Lake Harriet

28 July 2007

The notorious 'STAIRS OF DEATH' and other gruesome tales....

I really should rename them the 'stairs of doom', death seems to be just a little harsh, but our neighbors coined the phrase, and it's stuck.

This photo was taken on the day we had our home inspection, the color of the house has since changed, not by choice mind you, we had to have all the siding replaced after a horrible hail storm six weeks after we moved in...but, to this day the stairs remain the same.

When Mike and I looked at this house we knew the stairs to the back yard needed replacing, they were clearly not to code, were shoddily attached and there was only one makeshift wobbly handrail on one side of the steps which swayed back and forth if you dared to use it! In fact, we knew that as soon as we bought the house we'd have the stairs torn out and replace it with a nice medium sized deck...sounds good right?

Well, as it happens, this house had WAY WAY WAY more things wrong with it that we could have even imagined, horrible things, things that made me cry, made us furious, and made us empty our bank accounts of every last penny! I'm talking true deception, non disclosure stuff...yep, and I'll post photos of that at the end...

Well, it's been two years and we still haven't replaced the stairs, we almost never venture into the back yard these days, we only open the door to let our dog Olive in and out of her very own dog park! It's a nice yard, we'd love to use it but Piper almost fell down the stairs last week and that in itself has sealed it's fate, and the back door for now!

This photo was taken last fall, at which point we KNEW we needed to replace the entire back door...again it seemed that we had not been told that all the seals on the door were broken and that the hinges would freeze shut in the winter! The previous owners had failed to mention this, along with the fact that they had done a wee 'cowboy' job on the step sill, which was in fact rotting away underneath from all the moisture from the broken seals...we know they knew because there was crappy foam sprayed under the sill to 'pack it up'. This little ditty of info was discovered when we had to replace all the aluminum siding because of a hail storm! Funny, we also discovered no tyvek under the existing siding, no sealant weather proof around the windows and no drip caps?...now tyvek was available in 1995 when this house was built, so I wonder why there wasn't any? Curious and curiouser!

Well, among other things we learnt that the sellers had lied about the basement flooding...in just under 8 months we experienced four floods of varying degree...hmmm, seems funny that we just got unlucky huh (yes, there is a hint of bitterness in my voice). So, being good and contentious homeowners we fixed the problems, regraded the yard on the side of the house, added gutters, put in back up sumps....y'know, that pesky kind of homeowner stuff you need to do to maintain a home. We had one flood so severe that our newly laid carpet needed to be ripped up...I wont go into it...but here are a few pics...

This is fun, because we'd just finished the basement and had to replace all the baseboards and some of the drywall because the idiot who finished the basement put the drywall all the way to the floor...duh! Mike truly summed it up in this one!

The best one, was when the bathroom plumbing sheared off inside the wall....turns out the homeowners never had 'final' inspection on their home-job basement remodel. Do you want to know what that took to fix...about $5000! We'd just had the adjoining bedroom re-skimmed and painted (sellers applied wallpaper to skim coat without sizing the walls, so when we took off the paper half the wall came along for the ride), we then had to turn around and get the plumbers to come and crack open the wall and replace the leaking & broken pipes with new ones, get the drywallers in, the painters back...you get the picture right? If not, here's one you might enjoy.....

We also had to replace EVERY appliance within a year, oh, the dishwasher still works - touch wood! We replaced every stitch of carpet too...seems 'febreeze' can't cover up pet urine after the carpet cleaners come. $7500 and 5 gallons of oil based primer for the sub floor later we actually have clean, soft carpet underfoot (thanks to a great discounted/discontinued piece we found at our local carpet warehouse)

So, I know I whine, I complain and I get disillusioned at times...but we've been in this house for two years and it seems we've had our fair share of disasters. That is why we are trying to raise the funds for our next adoption, we cleaned out our bank accounts on this 'money pit' and we need to get creative.

Maybe after Paisley comes home we'll fix the steps? If anyone knows a great builder who would like to trade his services for my doula/nanny services let me know...I think it's unlikely...but it's worth asking!

..and the all live happily ever after...we hope!


I wish this was working like the old shampoo ads in the 80's...

"and she told two friends, and she told two friends, and so on and so on and so on"

Another busy Saturday....

the day started with swimming lessons,...funny thing though, we arrived 45 minutes early, seems a week away from lessons and we completely forgot the time slot we were in..luckily there is a Starbucks nearby and we trotted over for an iced coffee - oh how inconvenient, boohoo for us!

In the afternoon we went to a bbq hosted by another FCC family, although we aren't part of this family's travel group, the Mom kindly invited us to join in their festivities. We arrived with a tray of brownies to be greeted by at least 20 kids, all adopted from China! What surprised me the most was that there were SO many boys! It's great to see a few more boys in these groups...such fun, and a whole different dynamic!

The family had hired a bouncy castle for the day, and boy was that the biggest hit ever! Piper had a blast jumping around with all the kids, as you can see...she was sometimes even to fast for Mummy to get a good shot!

TRULY MADLY DEEPLY...in love with this child


It's true, I have playset envy. In almost every backyard there is one of these fantastic playsets, each one has it's own amazing setup ranging from your average swing & slide to your fully fledged kids commando center fitted with climbing walls, slides, monkey bars, tire swings and sandpits! Piper LOVES them, I mean this girl would be on one from dawn until dusk if she could. I feel guilty, our backyard is an abyss, we rarely venture into it because of the 'stairs of death' (long story, I'll explain in another post!). I'd love to have a small playset for her, but until we fix the stairs we really can't even entertain using the backyard on a regular basis.

One day I promise I will put something in our backyard for our child to play with...maybe I'll scour the last of the summer yard sales for a seesaw? Maybe not this...but you have to admit..it's a rockin piece of equipment!

A serious case of the bathing suit bum-munch!

hmmm....the beginning signs, we should have known...

...oi...what the...get out of there..oooh...almost got it...


I hate to post this, but I swear it was so cute! Pipers suit had been riding up all day, I guess she just had enough and delt with the issue at hand! At this point in her life there are no issues with modesty...she saw a problem, she fixed it, end of story!

Piper & her new friend Grace.

We met a lovely family at the bbq today, Joni and her daughter Grace. Grace is nearly seven and as sweet and charming as can be. She took Piper under her wing on the bouncy castle and made sure she was okay. We look foward to having them over sometime soon!

Angry football hooligan in training.

Seriously, our child has it in her to be one of the notorious football(soccer) hooligans!

How much fun can one girl have on a seesaw?

Last weekend we attended a BBQ for families with Children from China, it was our first time that we'd met any of the families but I have to say we had a wonderful time. The food was great, there were lots of kiddos Piper's age, and a few 'big brothers' too. Piper had the best time with some of the boys, they played HARD...I think it was one of the boys mission to see how hard he could seesaw in order to propel Piper into the stratosphere! It almost worked, but the little chaps Dad stepped in and told him to settle down...does it look like Piper minded? People commented on how brave and resilient she is..one even suggested she is quite the Tomboy. Watch out for the toddler bucking bronco competition, Piper will surely surpass the required 8 seconds...

27 July 2007

37 tickets left....I hope we can sell them before I myself turn into this magic number...

thanks to everyone who has purchased tickets so far, I know we have been monumental pains in the lower regions...but hey, we're crusaders...on a mission to Paisley.

26 July 2007


When Mike & I talked about adding another child to our family, we initially wanted to wait a year or two after Piper had come home. Well, as many of you know, the China adoption process has changed considerably since we adopted Piper and because of the lengthened wait times and new restrictions we felt we had to move quickly and get our paperwork to China asap - and more importantly, before the new restrictions came into play. So before the one year anniversary of Piper being home we started the process.

We knew it wasn't going to be easy finding the financial resources to support a second adoption, but we wanted to move ahead and we kept our fingers and toes crossed that we would be able to be 'creative' when the time came.

We are new to 'fundraising' but I've been dipping my fingers into the art of raising money for good causes...I started with organizing a fund drive for Pipers orphanage in 2005, our travel group raised almost $700 and purchased water tanks for the SWI, giving them the much needed security of fresh clean water in times of drought or water shortages.

We then signed up for the nutrition donation program for the orphanage where Piper lived, LWB a non-profit agency that organizes nutrition and medical charitable programs throughout orphanages in China.

More recently I was able to get several great artisans to donate products & services for our agency's fundraiser in August, this time the revenue generated from these donations will help aid training for orphanage workers in rural China.

So, as you can see, we have been busy. We joined a fundraising for adoption group in the hope of finding ideas for raising money for our next adoption but by using ideas that we think are not purely about 'us'. I thought long and hard, and here is our first official fundraiser...

A (RED) Apple Ipod, 4GB(1000 songs)!!!!!

We are selling tickets to raise money for the orphanage donation and will also donate $1 dollar from each ticket sale to the (RED) project for Africa. Read more about (RED) in the important link section.

We decided we'd sell 150 tickets to family and friends, and charge $5 a ticket. We will keep the auction open until we sell all 150 tickets and then we will draw the winner. $150 of the proceeds will go to the (RED) project.

For $5 you will have a 1 in 150 chance of winning a fantastic red 4GB ipod...now even Vegas can't beat those odds.

To join in the fun, purchase any number of tickets through our chipin, then send a message with your email and I will email you a number between 1-150. I will keep a record of all the names and numbers.

If this works, we'll try another fundraiser later on down the track.

Thanks for all your support, we can't wait to announce the winner!

25 July 2007

Order of the Phoenix...

Saw it, loved it.

Not only did I get my Alan Rickman fix, but I thouroughly enjoyed the movie. Ralph Fiennes plays Lord Voldermort like he's been doing it all his life(and only taking breaks to strump airline stewardesses on the side). Helena Bonham Carter did a fine job as Bellatrix Lestrange, she is somewhat typecast into these weird, dark, tragic roles...but I wonder how far they are from her true personality?! I do think Imelda Staunton did a lovely job as the b#*"h Umbridge. I just love the fact that the cast has remained British through the entire series, Hagrid is a gem, Robbie Coltrane is a wonderful dramatic actor, I watched him in 'Cracker' for years. Of course the Harry/Ron/Hermione trifector was in top form. Overall, a great movie experience.

One of my favorite parts was seeing the 'flashbacks' to the first movies, wow have these kids grown! I am so impressed with this series of books and movies, I can't wait to share them with my girls (in about 8 years!).

Now, I wait for the next installment of the Lion Witch & the Wardrobe series of films!


Last night as I was checking the movie timetable for HP5 I came across a local theatre playing a kids flick...all it said was 'Flushed Away" 10am. I figured Piper might like the film, especially since it was made by the same blokes that do Wallace & Grommit...and that's a sure fired winner in Piper's book! Anyway, I took her to see it this morning and was surprised to learn that it was part of 'summer movie camp', and even more surprised to learn that entrance was FREE!

Cool, we all love FREE stuff! The movie was funny, a bit dark in some parts for Piper but I managed to distract her with my stash of chocolate raisins! Overall it was an hour and a half of good clean(ha, pardon the pun) fun!

24 July 2007

We need a babysitter...

no, not him!!!

I have been dying to go and see the newest Harry Potter movie, I just finished the book and now I am needing my next Potter fix. Mike and I need to line up a sitter for Miss P first, I'm hoping we can find one rather quickly.

Harry and his buddies Hermione and Ron(God you have to love a redhead!) are great, but I just adore Snape, not his character mind you, but the lovely man cast to play the self tortured professor. Alan Rickman rocks, he is one of my very favorite actors. Yes, I have a little crush...but that's only natural, he is a demi-god after all!

41 tickets left.

The age I might be when Paisley comes home - 41. Okay, I'm only 36 right now but I'm aging quite ferociously.

23 July 2007


That's today's headline. I am praying we can sell the remaining tickets in the next week or so...just look at what a cool prize it is....

We're 2/3's of the way to finding a winner...turns out this little fundraising idea was a bit harder than I initially thought. But, ever the optimist I refuse to give up. Our family needs to get creative, we need to figure out how on earth we will manage financing this dream to return to China one last time for our daughter Paisley.

You'd think because we're considered 'middle class' that this would be easy, but like many average families before us, and I'm sure many after us, finding the finances to adopt a child is a harrowing and daunting task at best. Many families like our own foot the bills for fertility treatments and medical testing not covered by conventional health insurances. Some, the lucky few have some form of fertility coverage offered, but most people dont. We, like our peers in adoption are faced with maxing out our credit cards, getting home equity loans, second mortgages, cashing in 401K's to build the dream of a family.

In the past four years we have spent this amount on treatments & adoption expenses...

Porsche Cayenne Turbo cool car, but I know what I would rather have.


Something has to be said...

I wont post a picture of the piece of garbage that was recently indicted for dogfighting charges...but I will say...

"Michael Vick you rotten SOB...You deserve to rot in jail, a nice maggot infested federal penitentiary for the rest of your life"

The story of this football superstar shocked me to my very core...the NFL needs to can his arse, and get tough on crime by their so called 'money makers' Step up, set some standards, grow a backbone. This guy should never be allowed into a stadium ever again, unless it's to clean out the bathrooms!

okay I'm done, I'm still fuming, but I'm done!

monkey monkey...

On Saturday night we attended a party in honor of one of Mike's colleagues husbands 40th birthday. We had a really nice time sitting on the lawn watching the children play. Of course Piper was having a great time, what 2 year old wouldn't when there is a swing, slide, trampoline and monkeybars!

I swear his child is a dare-devil! She is 110% determined to do the most challenging and potentially dangerous activity available! Awesome for her poor Mother's nerves! Mike hoisted our little spider monkey up to the monkey bars after she had climbed up and was reaching out for the first rung...uh, dude, you're TWO, can we help you? She actually hung on for about a minute before asking to be taken down, she kept eying the next rung and at one point tried to reach it...I think a gymnastics class in in her near future!

Slides are good, I'm cool with slides, they are easy, for the most part they are safe...of course unless they are made of steel, then the 85 degree days just make them a giant sliding cookie sheet...a surefire way to get third degree burns! Luckily these days metal slides are few and far between.

Sandpits are normally off our list of healthy play places, but this one seemed okay...I didn't see any suspicious lumps of kitty treasure in it and Piper seemed to enjoy digging her way to China with a teacup. I told her there was an easier way to get to China than that, she looked at me and I could see her thinking "yeah, right Mummy, 14 hours on a plane with you and Daddy, I'll take my chances with the teacup"

22 July 2007

I had matching dresses made for Piper & Charlotte. I think I must have taken about 150 shots but never managed to get them standing in just the right place at the right time, so these will have to do. I just LOVE flyawayhomeclothing.com, the dresses are to die for, perfect for twirling! I also had one made for Paisley when she comes, that way both she and Piper can wear the same dress for pictures.

I just remember my Mum sewing dresses for my sister Tracey and I, we often wore the same style, but usually I was allocated the blue or purple while Tracey, the first born girl had won first prize in birth order and 'earned' her right to be dressed in various shades of pink...oh boy, did I hate that! Luckily I'm not too scarred, I still prefer blue and purple to pink anyway...unless it's paired with orange!

enamoured by reptilian wonders