30 December 2007

28 December 2007

just another reason to love the Minne-apple!

27 December 2007

look what Rudolph left for Olive!
no no, he didn't leave something 'special' on the yard...apparently the whole herd of reindeer did their business two doors down! hehe! Rudolph left a very special hedgehog for Olive to maul....aaaaah, how sweet! Olive threw up seven times on Christmas day, poor dog. I think she may have 'sneak'd' some of that pannattone after all. Olive is six in a few days and for her birthday she is getting a bath and a trip to the groomer. lucky doggy! She looks a bit like an ewok right now, we love her scruffy but she feels so much better when she is all 'clean & tidy'! Thankfully, after a little low residue food she is back to her happy self...rolling in the snow and pulling stuffing out of her hedgehog.

26 December 2007

today's lesson bought to you by the letters
P & A
Two little letters...not the really really important ones, but it's a start! Today we got PA 'pre-approval' from China to adopt Paisley. What it means is that China has received out LOI 'letter of Intent' and has agreed that it covers the necessary guidelines and outlines of what we need to do to care for Paisley. The next BIG letters we'll be waiting for are LOA 'letter of acceptance'. This is the major important one! This means China has reviewed our file alongside Paisley's and 'deemed' us able and acceptable parents. After that TA 'travel approval', and then CA 'consulate appointment'....it's a veritable cornucopia of letters!


Well...when it snows you shovel! At least Mike got one days reprieve! We had such an idyllic snowfall on Christmas Day that we all decided to stay inside. But when the sun came out this morning we got our gear on and went out to play! Mike shovelled the driveway while the girls across the cul de sac helped Piper make a snowman.

Piper ADORES Dillon, Bryce and Avery...as do we, they always always include Piper in the fun they are having! We are so lucky to have such nice neighbors! This is Piper's first snowman a 'collective' effort! I think he's rather dapper! Piper came inside with cheeks aglow and an appetite to rival any competitive eater! I think she ate more than Mike today!

I think we will name him Sven!


Piper wants to say thank you to all her wonderful friends and relatives that sent her sweet gifts for Christmas....I know, I know...she looks pained about it doesn't she! Actually I just think she's tired of me taking her photo! Our day was spent huddling on the sofa in our jammies watching Christmas movies and eating delicious food and playing 'chutes & ladders'. Outside the snow fell continuously throughout the day. What a perfectly perfect Christmas day!

A rockin' Christmas morn'

What a wonderful day of noise and food and celebration! We woke up early (of course) with Piper heralding at her loudest that "it's Christmas time, it's Christmas time!"
Her parents on the other hand would have loved to spend another hour or two tucked away in deep slumber, but alas it was not to be, and in the spirit of Christmas we dragged our sorry buttocks out of bed and crawled downstairs to see what Santa had delivered!
Piper blasted past all the gifts under the tree and went straight for the kitchen to check if Santa had eaten his pannattone and milk...her eyes widened as she saw the empty glass and scant remains of the cake, and noted quite sincerely that "Santa put the tray on the counter so that Olive wouldnt steal his cake". Piper was extremely excited about the stockings, and could not believe her luck that Santa had left her a microphone! and a candy cane and chocolate Santa! In fact it took quite some coaxing to get her to come and sit by the tree and unwrap her gifts. There were two blue sparkley packages from the big guy in red, and since Piper had been asking for a guitar since February and had requested one in person we thought she 'knew' that was what Santa was giving her....when she unwrapped the first gift and found a guitar shaped Hannah Montana handbag her little face fell...she wasn't ungrateful by any means, she just thought Santa had not heard her heart felt requests for a REAL guitar....I wish we had it on tape because it was priceless!
Mike quickly showed Piper the other gift that Santa had left....and belive you me, Piper did not put that guitar down for at least 8 hours!!! She is a rock star in the making!

24 December 2007

Twas the night before Christmas

and all through the house,

not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse!

(thanks Terminix!)

Merry Christmas Eve!

On Christmas Eve we get to open ONE gift from under the tree, I think it's a throwback to Mike's German roots. This situation suits Miss Piper just fine! The gift she opened was actually two gifts that I had paired together, a Charlie & Lola suitcase that our good friend Tracy in England sent over for Piper, and a pair of Charlie & Lola jammies that I found a few months ago on eBay. Piper was so excited she wanted to wear them right away! They say Lola says "I never get tired"...hmmm, just like Piper.

After a crazy evening of tears and tirades we finally settled Piper down and got her upstairs and into bed. Mike & I are well and truly 'shattered' as they say in my part of the world. Here's hoping Miss P doesn't wake up at 4.30 expecting to open pressies!

Pannattone and pink milk for Santa

Due to unforseen time constraints this afternoon we opted to give the big guy something a little more interesting than plain old Christmas cookies, we cracked open the Italian Pannattone that we were planning on making French Toast with tomorrow morning and sliced off a snack sized piece to help Santa keep his energy up. Piper decided that the perfect accompaniment was PINK milk in true Charlie & Lola style! eat up Santa, eat up! The pepto is in the top left hand drawer in the bathroom...go to town!

One very excited little girl....showing us Santa's snack.

mmmm....mmmmm....looks tasty!

One of Santa's Helpers!

We woke up this Christmas Eve morning to a beautiful full moon ... although it was a bit brisk to go outside with my camera I stood on our front step and took a picture through the trees. It was a lot prettier than this photo, but I thought I'd post it anyway.

When Piper woke up she grabbed her Christmas dress and black shiny shoes and said "okay, lets get ready for Church Daddy"...she was more than a little disappointed to learn that she will have to wait until this afternoon to go...I think at this point in her life, the motivation is that cookies are served freely at our Church and she knows that if she puts on her best smile she can just about get anyone to give her one!

Piper and her Daddy went out on a last minute mission, to gather a few 'bits & pieces' for Christmas dinner and our first attempt at making cookies for Santa. When I went outside to bring in the trash cans I came face to face with our neighbor Brady who in the spirit of the season had snowblown our driveway and was shovelling our walk...thanks Brady, you made Mike's Christmas wish come true! No shovelling!
We have always thought about the need for a snowthrower...especially during the five years we lived in Vermont, when three feet of snow could fall in the matter of a day! We've been in Minnesota for two and a half years now and we still want one, but have never got up the courage to write the check. There have always been so many more important things that a snowthrower seemed 'frivolous', but now that we are going to have two little ones, and the fact that Mike travels for his job, perhaps we should consider a small one for those winter blizzards that just about knock your socks off and can leave you stranded at home with no chance of getting your car down your driveway...hmm, perhaps its a good idea after all.

20 December 2007

Merry Christmas Baby!

We want to send some Christmas cheer to the Orphanage Director and the Nannies who care for Paisley, and since the postage for anything bigger than a small shoebox is astronomical, we have decided to send a Christmas cake from Blessed Kids on behalf of our little sugarplum! Apparently China is starting to embrace the commercial side of Christmas (really?? who'd have thought), so a Christmas cake will be a nice treat for the staff and older children.
We also decided that Piper & Paisley should be giving as they are receiving and we donated a flock of geese to two families in China through Heifer International.
We are so incredibly lucky to be Piper's parents, and I long for the day we will be Paisley's legal Mummy & Daddy (for now we must suffice being her parents in our hearts only). We waited so long to become a family, that not even 1000 Christmas's could give us a greater gift than our two sugarplum fairies.
We also are grateful, and we have decided to donate to Love without Boundaries medical fund. This year we chose to donate to a specific child on their list. Please visit Love without Boundaries and consider one of the children on the medical list, perhaps that would make a good stocking stuffer for someone you love! You can also donate a safe crib to an orphanage for just $52. We could be Santa's elves for a few days.

Put coal in their stockings!!

This morning as I was looking online for information about the earthquake in New Zealand I came accross this devastatingly heartwrenching story. These people should be so ashamed of themselves. This is abominable. They look nice don't they...but look what they did to their daughter! I have no issue posting this link

19 December 2007

Where the Good Things are...
Wow! The other day I was searching for something to occupy Piper's mind for a few minutes as I got dinner ready. I did a quick search on our cable menu and found that they offer Scholastic books animated...I just had to check it out so I put on Chrysanthemum...then I put on Harry the Dirty Dog(one of my childhood favorites and Piper loves it too)...and before you know it I was as sucked in as Piper, the melodious voice of Meryl Streep carried us through one of the stories and I kept on wanting to hear more and more.
Then I found that there was a set of animated classics available at Amazon.
Guess what Piper is getting for her birthday!
Honestly, if you have kids, and you want to avoid mindless TV shows, try these Scholastic books that are animated. Very very sweet! I loved Chrysanthemum so much I ordered the book!

17 December 2007


Now it's time for me to spread some good cheer! Grant me a Chance is a fantastic small charity that helps special needs children come home to their forever families in the United States.
Currently Grant me a Chance has six beautiful children on their Holiday fundraiser that need your help.
One of the children is our friends the Novak's son Ethan.
Please visit Grant me a Chance and donate a few dollars to a magnificent cause.
Our family has been so blessed to have the support of our family and friends and the adoption community we wish we could help everyone realize the dream of adopting a child, and we are pledging to help other families raise the funds for to bring their children HOME.

Please join us and grant these children a chance


Woohoo! We got our fingerprinting appointments! Ours run out on December 21 so we had to apply to *USCIS for new ones. The upside is that the fee is waived through a new bylaw that allows us one renewal of biometrics during this adoption. I'm never really 'thrilled' to see envelopes from USICS...it normally means "give us your money", but this time I was excited! Our appointment is for January 8. Which means we'll probably have our FBI clearance by the end of January. Who knew getting fingerprinted could be so much fun!

Why does a carseat cost more than a car?

Well, maybe not that much, but it sure seems like it, and no offense to my '99 Forester! We were set, we really were...we had a pre-loved Britax coming from our friends in Massachussets, I was so excited! But alas, after much consideration we have decided we need to buy Paisley a newer version, we need extra padding and protection for our little pumpkin pie and the Marathon just aint gonna cut it. This is the Boulevard, it's the shiznit of carseats and it has the right amount of head support and padding for Paisley. (it will work both prior to, and post surgery). I was hoping to get inserts for the Marathon, but we just can't find anyone to retrofit a carseat for a little girl with a cranial mass.

We have done extensive research and it came down to this puppy. oh boy...I think I'm gonna have to call Grandad Pete! I think it is the best option even if it costs more than all my clothing combined.

We have been working very hard with our adoption agency to get some clarifications on Paisley's medical condition for the past week. I've been close to tears a few times today but I know I need to keep it together so that we can do whatever we need to to make sure Paisley gets the diagnostic procedures she needs so that our Doctors in Minnesota know how to move foward. After speaking with FIVE doctors we have determined that Paisley NEEDS an MRI now rather than later. We have requested this through our agency with the condition that we will cover all the costs involved. There is no guarantee that they will comply...but we hope they will. Knowledge is power, and this kind of knowledge could give us the means to make the right kind of choices for Paisley once she gets home.

This post isn't really about the carseat...I'm just researching products to take my mind off our sweet baby. I know Mothers worry unecessarily sometimes, but when you cant be with your child, hold them, wipe away their tears, then you have to do something.

Thankfully Piper just woke up from her nap...my best diversion...off I go

15 December 2007

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

First prize, a (RED)iPod goes to lucky number 94! Leah Thomas!

Second prize goes lucky number 103! Anna Beardon!

Thank you so much to everyone who helped us with our ipod fundraisers for Paisley. We are so incredibly humbled by the generosity of both friends and strangers and we are so grateful and thankful for all your help to bring our beautiful little girl home. Xie xie!

13 December 2007

Four days left...

We have sold 55 iPod tickets, not quite the turnout we'd hoped for but still pretty darn good considering Christmas is 11 days away! I have four days left to sell as many as I can, hopefully we'll sell a few more before Tuesday because that is when we will draw the winner! This will be our last fundraiser. We have really had fun trying to raise the money for the orphanage donation fee and we are almost there. Hopefully with a bit of babysitting here and there over the next few months we will hit our target. We're still begging for NWA airmiles...if anyone has any...we have no pride when it comes to getting our daughter home. We are also working with our adoption agency to request an MRI for Paisley while she is still in China, we have offered to pay for the procedure because it is so vital to know what kind of professionals we need to have ready when she gets home, an MRI will give us some ideas as to whether we need to assemble a team of Neurosurgeons or Plastic Surgeons, or both. Thankfully, MRI's only cost a few hundred dollars in China...Mike & I gladly will give up any festive cheer to provide our daughter with the diagnostic tests she needs.

Even though China knows we are asking to be allowed to adopt Paisley, she is not officially our daughter until the day we sign the adoption papers. We have thought of her as 'ours' from the moment we saw her face, but the reality is, we are on borrowed time...and until that day when we can walk away from the provincial government offices in Nanchang with a little red book proclaiming her as ours, our faith is all that keeps us together as a family. For anyone who has ever had to endure the wait for the 'legal' part of an adoption, whether weeks, months or in some cases years...my heart goes out to you...it's not easy.

10pm we have only four tickets left! FOUR, so if they sell we might just be doing the drawing TOMORROW! That means whoever wins will have the ipod in time for Christmas

Merry Christmas Baby

Piper & I started putting together Paisley's second care package. It's fun to find things that we think she will enjoy, yesterday we scoured the aisles of Target in search of a special toy or two and found the most adorable Baby Einstein octopus, perfectly perfect for our little girl. It has a very soft musical sound, and each of the eight legs has a color on it, which when pressed says the color in English, Spanish or French..ohlala!

We also put in the very special taggie blanket that our friend Kris sent Paisley, it is absolutely beautiful. Taggies are fab, and Sam makes wonderful ones. Throw in another camera, some more long sleeved tops(64 cents at Target!), a pair of butterfly shoes and some of those delicious ginger candies and our little shoebox is full. Merry Christmas baby...we love you.

Today as I was opening the mail I opened a card from Nana Rosemary in New Zealand, out of Piper's Christmas card came a smaller card for Paisley filled with the kindest words from her Nana. Mum, that was awesome, Thank You.

Piper & Paisley represent'n

In the post today we got a lovely package from our friends the Novaks...inside were some gifts for Piper & Paisley...AND the most amazing ornament! A Chinese flag...Piper and I hung it on one of the highest branches...to make sure everyone will notice it. There was an adorable ladybug too. What a nice surprise...but seriously...you shouldnt have! We LOVE this family, we enjoyed spending time with them in China in 2005 when we were adopting Piper and they were adopting Maggie, now both of our families are returning to China for waiting children, Paisley for us, and Ethan(Dash) for the Novaks...how lucky are we to have such wonderful friends to share our journey.

Wanted : Hair Monster

A large reward is being offered for one incredibly large and obviously talented hair monster. This happened in a little under two hours yesterday...yep, I know...it would normally take oh, 10 - 12 hours to create this kind of masterpiece.

check this out...it's even cooler from the side angel

12 December 2007

How many minutes until Christmas?

We have an Elf. Yep, a bonafide Christmas Elf. She wears the hat, she walks the walk...she loves all things remotely Christmas and is pretty much obsessing about Santa. Piper has become a Santaholic. It doesnt help that she has the Charlie & Lola DVD that has an episode called 'how many minutes untile Christmas', or that our dear friends in England sent her a Charlie & Lola avent Christmas card, just like the one on the show! She wants to open all the little doors NOW NOW NOW...but I only let her do one a day! She asks for candy canes when ever she sees them...although she has only ever had two of them in her life(one last Christmas, one a couple of weeks ago at an event). Basically, Piper is planning and re-planning how Christmas will play out. Yesterday she told me that Santa likes pink milk and gingerbread men cookies. We have created a monster! She wears her Santa hat to school and on Monday she marched into the Directors office and asked very sweetly in her best Lola English accent..."'scuse me Miss Valaire, but how many minutes till Christmas?" you know, Miss Valaire actually got her calculator out and worked it out for Piper!

How many Mummy, how many...

Too many Piper..too many.

Better get a bigger fireplace!

A family we completely adore has a HUGE announcement! If you don't already know who I mean, click here and watch, it will take your breath away. I personally think they need to be on Oprah! Here's your clue...

No Way! That's Impossible! I don't believe it!

Someone very special is turning forty today! We wish we could spend your special day with you! Go here to wish her a Happy Birthday!

11 December 2007

I'm no Annie Lebowitz...thats for sure...and while I love having an SLR camera I truly do not like my lens. I can't get a decent macro shot of Piper, never...not ever. If I could shoot pictures of my beautiful daughter like this Snappy Snapperson then I'd be in photographic Heaven...or if I could take candids like this genius, or these guys...but alas not. I am just about ready to throw my lens over the back fence!! Here are a few of my mediocre shots from our attempt this morning to get a Christmas card worthy shot. I may have to try again tomorrow.

When life hands you Piper, you make Piperade!

Ipods and air miles and flying monkeys - oh my!

Only one week to go and we still have 47 tickets to sell!!! Don't worry, we'll still draw a winner on the 18th regardless of how many tickets go. I'm so grateful to everyone for purchasing a ticket or two...or EIGHT(you know who you are!). Every, I mean every little bit counts!

We are also putting out the call for anyone who has leftover NWA frequent flier miles that would consider donating them to us so we can use them for our domestic portion of our trip. We were able to use them last time, but this time we don't have enough of them 'banked'. Thanks to Mike's Aunt who is transferring her earned miles directly to Mike's account, we have enough for one domestic flight. We'd love to collect enough for Piper & I as well so we can keep our costs down. We have also decided to only purchase a lap ticket for Paisley, she will be almost a year old when we get her(fingers crossed) and we hope she will be okay sleeping on our laps or sharing a seat with Piper. We also hope we have enough room on the plane with only 3 seats and 4 people for 15 hours!!!

wait a minute...two grown ups, one three year old and a screaming one year old on a fifteeen hour trip...in three small economy seats with our knees up by our ears??!!! I have to go and lie down...just thinking about it makes me get heartburn.

and here it is...your moment of Zen...

10 December 2007

A few months ago I found out about Danielle, our blog angel. I saw our friend Stef get a blog makeover and I was so impressed with the results that I contacted Danielle and had her make ours over as well! Danielle is a very special person, I knew this from the minute I saw her blog and saw what she was doing with the funds she was generating from her designs. Danielle donates a large portion of her blog fee to several different charities! From animal shelters to Love without Boundaries and Our Chinese Daughters Foundation...her heart, generosity and talent is touching lives around the globe, not to mention making a lot of bloggers and their readers happier because frankly we were all getting a little tired of the plain black & white, or putrid greens and pinks that are offered on blogger!!

For someone so young to have such a giving spirit is refreshing, especially to us old jaded folks! She is inspiring!

I'd like to take a moment to sing her praises, and to direct you to her design service. Like I told a friend of ours a week or two ago, this could be the best Christmas gift for your wife (incidentally the 'wife' decided to get her blog tricked out on her own dime under his nose, so her poor hubby has to look for another good idea for Christams!).

Danielle had a little misfortune in the past few weeks and has lost her job, it's an awful time of year to be looking for another one, so I am hoping as many people as possible look her up and get their Blogs redesigned by her!!! We are so pleased with ours that we will be doing something new in the next few weeks to make it even more special! so keep your eye out for the new and improved Hoppe blog-over!

My friend the rock star!

One of my awesome friends Kris sent me this most incredible parcel for my two little cupcakes! Seriously, are these the cutest dresses you have ever seen?! I can't wait to see Piper & Paisley in these TOGETHER! They are magnificent! I usually don't buy anything from this store unless I find it on eBay, so this is probably one of the most fabulous gifts I have ever received!!! You are too kind, and you are a rock star! Piper was so excited that she actually jumped up and down!

Not only did Auntie Kris send these cute ensembles, but she also sent this adorable taggie blankie for Paisley...I know exactly who makes these, and I want to tell everyone that these are the most perfect taggies in the world! You can even get a little travel taggie a 'kittie' to go with it, perfect for attaching to your sling, or stroller! I am sending one of my Taggies to China in Paisley's next care package and ordering another for her to have when we get home! Babies love the ribbons and the soft minky!! I adore this one, I love the China girl fabric! I just know a bunch of you will want them for your little ones...you can get them here!

I love you Kris, you are not only my friend and Piper's honorary Aunt, but you are an inspiration and a guiding light to all who know you.