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January 31, 2009

Paper Heart Animals for Valentine's Day

In preparation for Valentine's Day, the girls made animals out of construction paper hearts this weekend. Emma can cut heart shapes out on her own now, but I cut up a pile of heart shapes (in varying sizes) prior to our project so that they were ready to go.

I just love owls and I think their creatures turned out super cute. If we made them a bit smaller, they would even look cute on Valentine cards.

Along with the owls, we made a frog, a couple of butterflies, a ladybug and a mouse. If you click on the image to make it larger, you can see how to assemble the animals. They are pretty easy and the designs are endless. The main supplies needed for this craft include construction paper, a hole punch for punching out little circles to decorate the ladybug's back and butterfly's wings, scissors and glue.

In case you're wondering what Josie was doing while Emma was putting together the heart animals, she was busy stamping and coloring pre-cut hearts in her high chair. We're still getting her to try and use her right hand more since her cast came off. She's definitely now a lefty (which I don't mind) but I want her to move, bend, flex her right thumb more.

Happy crafting and stayed tuned for more Valentine's Day projects.

PS. Our friends Susan and Roger had their gotcha day yesterday in China. Their daughter such a cutie!!

January 30, 2009

Reflections & A New Adoption!

On March 16th, we’ll be celebrating our 1 year anniversary of being a family of four. This year has flown by. I look back at these pictures taken on a disposable camera that we sent to her orphanage and I think who is that little girl? I don’t even recognize her.

We’ve seen far more doctors, specialists and medical staff that I ever envisioned since our return home from China, but this experience has positively exceeded anything I could have ever imagined. NOW, I understand why families complete multiple adoptions.

For any of my readers who love watching families travel to China to complete an adoption, my friends Susan and Roger are on their way to China and will receive their daughter (Maiya) on February 2nd.

Their daughter was also born with the same heart condition as Josie but she received corrective heart surgery while she was in China. I can’t wait to follow their journey. They also live near us and we are eager to introduce our daughters to their newest addition. Congratulations, Susan and Roger!!

PS. In sleeping updates with the new bunk beds, the first night went really well for the both girls. Last night, Josie was up at 2:30am, 3:30am and then finally for good at 5:30am. The Mommy is now starting a 2nd cup of coffee...yawn.

January 29, 2009

Haircut & Big Girl Bed

Josie visited the beauty salon this evening with her Daddy and I have to say her trim looks super cute. I just love the short bangs.

The girls new beds were delivered today. Unfortunately, the dresser didn't quite live up to everything we had hoped for, so it's going back to the furniture store.

Josie was THRILLED, EXCITED, ELATED, FILLED WITH JOY..etc. over her new big girl bed. I have no idea how that's going to translate into sleeping tonight. As you can tell from the picture, Emma was mighty happy with their new bunk bed setup.

Emma still has her own bedroom, but as much time as she sleeps in Josie's room (every night) we decided to put a bunk bed in Josie's room which can be taken apart and made into two single beds. Emma's promised to help make her portion of the bed. I'm holding her to that promise.

Here's to hoping for a good night's rest. Sleep well, my sweet girls.

January 27, 2009

Recycle your glass jars and make CNY lanterns!

The end of the Chinese New Year is marked with a Lantern Festival. Traditionally, children carried simple paper lanterns to the temple at night. Over the years this has evolved into parades with thousands of lanterns lighting up the night sky.

Emma and I enjoyed creating our own version of red lanterns out of tissue paper and recycled glass jars. They turned out so pretty I don't think we'll limit ourselves to just CNY to use them.

Supplies needed for this craft include:

Empty glass jars (with the labels soaked off)
red tissue paper
(glitter, ribbon..etc) for embellishments

Step 1. Gather up some empty glass jars (here's a good excuse to clean out the refrigerator) and let them soak in hot water to remove their labels.

Step 2. Make a simple solution of white glue and water, using equal parts of each. I poured our solution on a paper plate.

Step 3. Cut up a bowl full of one-inch squares of red tissue paper (the size isn't that important). You could even tear up your tissue pieces for a more custom look. Set aside your tissue paper.

Step 4. Using a brush, paint the sides of the jar with the glue solution.

Step 5. Paste one layer of red tissue onto the jar.

Step 6. We then covered the tissue with another coat of glue and set the jars aside to dry. I put our jars over a heat vent to dry faster, but you could even put them in front of a fan to speed up the process. It took a little over 2 hours for them to dry completely.

Step 7. Decorate your jar with glitter, stickers, gold wire, ribbon or whatever you can find. We had several different types of red envelopes for the CNY and I cut out some of the decorations on the envelops to put on the jars.

Step 8. Put a tealight candle in your jar, and you're ready for your very own Lantern Festival parade! Happy Crafting!!

January 26, 2009

Fabulous & Addicted!

Thank you Shanna from One Big Crazy Family! I actually had gotten this award last week from Kimberely and I’m soooooo terrible at doing anything with these awards that I never followed through and posted anything on my blog.

Now here are the rules for this award:
1. Pass it on to 5 fabulous blogs, and include the one that gave it to you (and link them).
2. List 5 of your fabulous addictions.....

Drum roll please.......... And, the Fabulous Blog Award goes to............( and no pressure to any of my award winners to post or pass the torch)


When we first started out over three years ago with our adoption to Josie, Steffie was one of the first people I connected with. Her advice about taking Emma with us to China is what started a beautiful online friendship. Steffie's in the process of going back to China for her second adoption. I can't wait to follow her trip back to China in the next few months.


I watched Barb's journey while she was in China and have always enjoyed her honesty and beautiful birthday cake designs. Her food presentations are pretty amazing and very creative.


I got to know Buffi through Barb's blog and have always been inspired at how much Buffi is able to bring Christianity in her daily life. Her family blog is now private, but she has a separate blog that focuses on making a difference at:


She has an amazing sense of humor and her wit often comes through in her blog posts and selected video clips. She and I also share a love for classic movies and television shows. Her daughter Lili is a stitch and cracks me up.


She and I met through the Rumor Queen SN forums and had similar timelines for traveling to China. It was wonderful having a friend go through the journey a few weeks ahead of us (her packing list was exhaustive!!). Tammy has also gone through multiple surgeries with her daughter since her return home and it's been nice having another SN Mommy to connect with.

Her sewing skills are amazing and I'm in awe of how she keeps it together while her husband is serving in the military. Every time I use my bag or the girls use their crayon bags from Terri, I get tons of compliments. Her sewing is outstanding!!

These are just a few of the blogs I eagerly look forward to reading each week. They are wonderful families who have opened their hearts to adoption and I am inspired and moved by them. You make blogging ADDICTIVE!!!

So, here are my fabulous addictions

1. James Bond films. My favorite Bond character is Sean Connery with Roger Moore running a close second. It’s not necessarily the men, or the storyline, it’s all the cool gadgets, amazing locations and glamorous clothes that have me hooked. For Christmas, Chris gave me the entire James Bond collector’s edition on DVD. Each DVD has 2 disks. The second disk contains the behind the scenes stuff, the tv ads, radio ads and the original movie trailers. In other words, I have a ton of great work-out material to watch while I’m on the elliptical machine in our downstairs family room.

2. Digital Scrapbooking. I love changing my blog design on a weekly (somedays daily basis). One of my favorite blogs is the digi-free search engine where I get all kinds of ideas and free scrapbooking elements.

3. Antiques. I really enjoy attending antique stores and antique markets. One of my favorite antique markets is the Allegan Antique Market held outdoors April through September. There are usually 400 featured dealers and I can always find something I must have. It's also one of the few times that I do something without the kids in tow. My mother, my sister and I usually try and sneak to them a couple of times throughout the summer.

4. Crafts. As you can tell from my blog, I love doing craft projects. A little secret, I can’t sew to save my life. I'm handy with the paintbrush and glue gun, but I can't use a sewing machine at all. I actually had to smuggle home a sewing project in my required home economics class in middle school because I was failing at sewing. I’ve heard that Grand Rapids is finally getting a Super JoAnne’s store and I'm eagerly awaiting the store opening.

5. Cheese and crackers. I love, love, love cheese. My favorite treat is cheese and crackers with a nice glass of wine on the side. I usually give up cheese and crackers during Lent (not the wine) and it about kills me.

Well, there's my list. I wonder how many of these addictions my readers also share with me?? Smile.

January 25, 2009

Birthday Celebrations!!

We spent Sunday celebrating birthdays for our nephew, my father and my Aunt. We hadn't been back home since Christmas and it was nice to get together with everyone again.

Grandma and Emma

Carson, Josie and Liam

Carson turned the big 7 years old and celebrated with a demolition car birthday theme. My sister even found a way to make demolition bingo for the kids.

Playing demolition bingo

Grandpa and Carson reading birthday cards

Grandma made him a demolition car cake. Isn't she clever?

Josie...the party animal!!

If any of you wonder where I get my crafty skills from, it's my mother. Thanks for always keeping art supplies available and encouraging us to be creative. Love you, Mom! Speaking of crafts, on Saturday Emma and I made the neatest red lanterns for Chinese New Year out of recycled glass jars and tissue paper. Instructions and pictures for these festive lanterns will be posted soon.

January 24, 2009

Chinese New Year Gala Show

We had a wonderful time eating dinner with Kelly's, Kimberely's and Cindy's families prior to attending the Chinese New Year Gala Show Saturday night. We need to do it again, friends.

The girls were completely memorized with the beautiful music and costumes during the show. Chris and I both remarked that it felt like we were back in Beijing again. Enjoy the pictures.

Still going strong after a night of food and entertainment...

A few fun pieces of Chinese New Year trivia...

Chinese New Year is Jan. 26 2009, which is the year 4707 in the Lunar Calendar.
For good luck, the house should be cleaned before New Year Eve.
You should try to repay your debts by this time.
Many families give their doors and window panes a fresh coat of paint.
It's a lucky sign to hear a song bird, red-colored bird, or a swallow.
Do not use scissors as this may cut off your fortune.
Chinese New Year is characterized by street celebrations which include the performance of lion dance and dragon dance with exploding sound of fire crackers. The loud noise made by the fire crackers signifies the getting rid of sadness or bad events of last year and ushering in a good and prosperous coming year.

We're looking forward to making lots of loud noises over the next couple of weeks to celebrate our own version of Chinese New Year. We are definitely rejoicing in all that we've been through this past year as a family of four and can't wait to see what 2009 brings!!

January 23, 2009

Goldfish CNY Craft

The Chinese believe that goldfish bring good luck, abundance and great fortune to their keepers. In homes where goldfish are kept, residents are said to live in harmony. Here's a fun way to admire goldfish without having to change their water, or remember to feed them.

Supplies needed for this craft:

Tissue paper
Goldfish template (click here)
Glitter (optional)

For the easy toddler proof version, I printed off the template from this site.

I then gave Josie a sheet of decorative stickers and let her stick them all over the fish template.

At the time that we worked on this craft, she was down to one hand and getting the stickers on the paper was entertaining. She LOVED it. You could also take the fish template and use colored pencils or crayons to decorate your goldfish. We just happened to have a lovely sheet of butterfly stickers available. It was an easy way to keep Josie entertained while Emma and I worked on the more elaborate version.

For a more elaborate goldfish, you can follow these steps.

Step 1: Print off 2 copies of this gold fish template from this site. I put orange construction paper in our printer when I printed off the template.

Step 2: Take one of the templates and cut out the center portion.

Step 3: For the scales, cut long strips of colored tissue paper and lay the tissue paper strips vertically over the cut out portion of the fish template. Tape or glue in place. Be sure to overlap and alternate colors with the longer strands hanging down near the tail area.

Step 4: Take the 2nd template and place an outline of glue around the edges and place over top of the first template.

Step 5: Let the glue dry, then trim the excess tissue paper from around the fish. We decided not to trim the excess tissue paper hanging down from his tail area because we liked the way it looked. We also used gold glitter around his outline to embellish our fish a bit more. Our gold fish are hanging on our CNY tree in the sunroom, but they would also look nice hanging in a window.

Happy crafting!!

We're attending the Chinese New Year Gala Show at the Forest Hills Fine Arts Center Saturday night. We can't wait. Expect lots of pictures later this weekend.