Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our first Christmas

What can I say other then we had the greatest Christmas of our lives because we were given the biggest gift we could have asked for, Our daughter Sophia Joy JinTe. We had so many traditions we wanted to continue with her and new ones we wanted to start. Our dreams came true and it was better then we ever thought it would be. Sophia enjoyed the Christmas Eve Mass and the Live Nativity at our Church. She loved the Chinese food we ate for our Christmas eve dinner (that has been our tradition for several years now, it was nice to share it with Sophia). We left cookies and milk for Santa and before she went off to bed we opened her China gift, a Luck drum and new Christmas Pj's That the elves left while we were gone to Christmas Mass...It was a great evening. Christmas morning we have always gotten up had coffee and Cinnamon rolls and we did this year too along with Sophia while she had yogurt and of course polished off the rest of Santa's cookies. She loved seeing all the packages wrapped under the tree. She was so cute going to the fireplace and looking up it as if she was looking for Santa...she had a great time opening all her gifts and played for hours with her new car, doll baby, and eventually the Rose Petal Cottage my mom got her and the play kitchen Riz's parents got for her. Our family had the most wonderful are a few pictures from our holiday.....Enjoy....

Got Eggnog
one of my favorites from Christmas Eve
In the Beautiful dress Aunt Wendy gave her.

She looks fantastic in this green

our angel

Sophia's favorite Christmas Ornament Hand Manny

Riz putting the Kitchen together the kitchen that her grandparents got for her

Sophia finding the new Christmas Jammie's and the Luck drum from China that Santa's Elves left for her while we were at Christmas Mass...

Our Traditional Chinese food Christmas Eve Dinner.

The tree with all the gifts

Sophia seeing the tree and all the gifts Santa brought for her for the first time on Christmas morning.

WOW look at all of this

Look santa left half a cookie behind

Sophia finishing off the cookies that Santa left behind on Christmas morning

I love my new Mini Mouse hat
A Car and and Mini Mouse hat, Life is good
Let me at it...Oooo The Rose Petal Cottage

A new doll Baby

a Pretty new outfit

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Riz and I want to wish everyone a wonderful joyous Holiday Season.
This year for us was filled with more blessings then we can count. Sophia becoming our daughter was the highlight. I am not sure we will ever be able to top that. We are excited to share our first Christmas together as a family of three. People always said to me before I had kids that having children makes Christmas all that more special and now I know what they mean. Sophia Knows who Santa Clause is (although she is not to fond of the real guy, pictures are OK), she loves the tree and all the decorations. She has really enjoyed the cookies we have been baking and has enjoyed unwrapping the few gifts she has received from friends. The last few years we have started a tradition of having Chinese food for dinner on Christmas Eve. We plan to do that again this year and of course attend Mass. We usually go to Midnight Mass but this year we are going to the 6:30 Mass. Our plan for Christmas morning is to get up like we normally do on Christmas morning and get coffee (Sophia will have her morning yogurt) and I will make Cinnamon rolls. Then we will let her open all of the gifts that Santa brought her (and from what I hear it is a sled full). Then Riz and I will exchange our gifts to each other. Later around lunch time my Mom will come down and we will do our gift exchange with her and have some coffee. We are hosting Christmas dinner at our house,we do this most years. Riz's side of the family will come over for dinner and we will exchange gifts with them. We are looking forward to watching Sophia spend her fist Christmas with her family, Our first as parents.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our changing life

Two of my favorite pictures from Family Day..

Six months ago today our lives were changed in the most wonderful way...We can hardly believe that it has been 6 months since we became a family of three. Six months ago today we were standing in a hot room in China, it seemed like it was 400 degrees in that room that day. We were there with ten other families and Zhou. Uncle Zhou is the most wonderful caring man, those words are not nearly enough to describe just how much he means to us. In that room that morning we could all feel the nervous excitement. We all paced the floor waiting our turn, listening for our babies cry, any babies cry. We all had cameras and video cameras in hand taking pictures of each other and of the room. Several of us clung to the "lovies" we would give our children when they were handed to us for the first time. My friend Susan from Atlanta and I broke down in an embrace that still makes me tear up when I think about it. Everything that we had waited for dreamed of and longed for was about to happen in that hot steamy room in Nanchang, China. The emotion of the moment over came both of us. When the first baby arrived the excitement was palpable and everyone clambered to see who she was, which family was going to be united first with their child. It was a family from Ohio, their daughter Abby was there in the room with us all. The joy that they felt in that moment was shared by all of us, along with anticipation for who was next. Would it be us? or maybe our friends from Atlanta, Or the great couple from NYC, or our neighbors from Jacksonville or one of the others? We would have to wait about 30 minutes to find out. That 30 minutes seemed like an eternity, more like 30 hours then 30 minutes. When it all started to happen it was a blur, but from what I am able to piece together from our pictures and video, Chubby little Lucy and Chubby little Stephine were next to come in the room quickly followed by the twin girls, Eleanore and Lily Kate, then finally Sophia was there in the room with us. The moment we saw her we both started to cry. She was thin, hot and sweaty and scared to death. The room was loud and there were lots of people coming and going, cameras flashing and people crying. Sophia had just been driven 5 hours from the Wanzai County Social Welfare Institute on a bus with 4 caregivers. She had been car sick on the way to Nanchang that morning. She was wearing a clean lavender and white long sleeve sweat suit,(remember it was HOT that day at 10 Am it was nearly 100 degrees) white socks and pink sandals. Her hair and been neatly trimmed by her foster mother. Her nose was running and she clung to the orphanage director. They called our Name RIZZO!, Riz and I approached, Riz began to cry, I clung to the Mini Mouse doll we brought for her from Disney World. They checked our passports and our paperwork and then the orphanage director motioned for me to take Sophia. As I reached my arms out for her I could feel the breath leaving my body. I could feel all of the stress and nervousness coming to the surface, the blood rushed to my feet. I could feel PURE! joy and love for the first time in my life. I took her in my arms and embraced her for what seemed like an eternity. I held her close to me, kissed her head patted her on the back and dried her tears. She was scared, terrified was more like it. She had just been handed to two strangers who were crying and kissing her. We looked different, smelled different sounded different then anything she had been used to for the first 14 months of her life. I handed her to Riz who also kissed her head and embraced her close. We talked to the Orphanage director and caregivers about her bus ride that morning, her diet, her schedule. All I could say to them was thank you over and over again. Thank you for the greatest gift, Thank you for caring for this precious child thank you for making us parents. There are no words to express what it is like to stand there with your new child facing the people who cared for her and kept her safe through the harshest of winters, biggest earthquake and one of the hottest summers on record. There are no words to express what it is like to stand there in front of these people knowing you are being given the biggest gift anyone could ever give you. There are no words to express the emotion, gratitude or guilt that you feel in that moment to those people. We did not speak the same language our conversation was brief but our connection is ever lasting. We took pictures with these people and they took pictures of us with Sophia. In that moment our lives were changed, all of us our lives changed in that moment. Ours lives because we became Sophia's parents. There lives because they were giving her up and Sophia's because everything she had know was now gone. Some say that these girls have a "Better life" here with us but the child we were handed on the hot June morning in Nanchang, China did not think so. She was happy were she was, being cared for by a loving foster mother, with the other children in the home. That child was perfectly happy in rural China. Riz and I feel that it is very arrogant for us to say that our life is better than theirs. Maybe better by our American standers but to them their life is OK. They may not have as much, they may be poor but they are happy. Riz and I have enjoyed watching Sophia become comfortable with us and her new life, her new family, but we never want to forget the people from her life before us or that moment when all our lives changed forever in that Hot steamy room in Nanchang, China...... Two of my favorites from now

and a few more for good measure :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ivy Lane Give Away

UPDATE!!!!!! I Won, I Won, I won!!!! Can you believe it I won the Ivy Lane Give Away! I am so excited that I will be getting one of these beautiful necklaces with Sophia's name on it. I can't wait to see it in person. Thank you so much Ivy Lane..

Go on over to check out the give away at Ivy Lane. She has a great a ETSY and EBay store with lots of pretty clothes for children. I love her Hair bowes for little girls hair. The give away is for a beautiful necklace called The cup of Love.. I would love to have that with Sophia's name on it....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Creative Deprivation

As Christmas day approaches quickly. We are struggling to control the AMOUNT of toys in our house, as I am sure many of you are as well. Sophia has been home a mere 6 months and I have already thinned her toys twice. We are so fortunate to have the ability to give her so much. We have the desire of course to spoil her to bits, especially this year, our first as a family. But is that the best thing? IS that healthy for her? I don't know the answers to that, but we are striving to not raise a spoiled brat. We want Sophia to have what she needs and even what she wants so we are learning how to do that at a slower more controlled pace.. The following was sent to me by a friend who I know feels the way I do about raising appreciative, well behaved, giving children....I hope you enjoy it...

As a result of all this stuff and stimulation, kids regard overload as a normal
condition. Anything less--a walk in the woods, making cookies, or sitting in a
classroom listening to a teacher--is boring."

She used "creative deprivation" to raise her children saying that every event
should have space around it, so that the event can stand out and be appreciated.
A simple example is a frame around a picture, which provides a space to make it
stand out from the busy wallpaper.

Until this century, the space occurred naturally. Entertainment and material
goods were hard to come by, so they were appreciated when they came along. A
child cherished his few toys, and music was a special event, because it could
only be heard when musicians were assembled.

The challenge of modern life is that we have to actively create the space. With
mass production, toys are cheap enough to swamp even poorer families. With TV,
videotapes, and video games, flashy entertainment can come into every home 24
hours a day.

The best parents understand that their kids can have too much of a good thing.
They place limitations on the stuff and stimulation. They are tough enough to
slow down the flow of goodies.

Often, people think we refuse to a avalanche our kids with toys because we're
tightwads. But saving money is not the main reason. I just feel there's nothing
sadder than a jaded eight year old.

Conversely, it's delightful to see a kid thrilled by a simple pleasure.

During a rare trip to a mall a few years ago, each kid got a junior cone, which
they consumed in complete silence, savoring every drip. She was very proud of
their ability to enjoy these little treats.

Many parents, seeing their children appreciate junior cones, would buy them
cones during each trip to the mall. Soon, seeing the kids enthusiasm waning,
they would assume they must wow them with banana splits. When those no longer
produce the desired effect, they would move up to the jumbo deluxe sundae..and
so on, until the kids became impossible to please.

She feels that "diminished appreciation" is a barometer indicating when kids
have had too much. Instead of moving up to the banana split, she simply
decreased the frequency of the junior cones.

Saving is a natural by-product of creative deprivation. Not only did she save on
the constant expense of the ever-increasing amount of stuff and stimulation, but
when I do treat the kids, they get the same wow for far less money.

Creative deprivation does have a few rules. Limit the things kids don't need,
but don't limit the things they do need--such as good nutrition and parenting
attention. Second, provide them with alternatives. Our kids have their own
"office" in my office where they do artwork, a tree house they can build on with
scrap wood, a playhouse in an attic, and a selection of Legos and other toys
that demand creativity. If you limit passive entertainment, kids eventually get
beyond the boredom and begin to be creative.

Incidentally, this insight isn't new. About 2500 years ago, the Chinese
philosopher Lao-tzu wrote:

Guard the senses
And life is ever full...
Always be busy
And life is beyond hope."

Very cool

Our friend Carolyn sent this to us and we wanted to share it is very cool and worth the time to view it...

Monday, December 08, 2008

there is nothing like HANDMADE!

You all know that I have had a goal this year to buy Handmade for Christmas. I have been somewhat successful and have really enjoyed searching out the perfect gifts for people. I have found great things on ETSY and want to share my favorite sellers. I also wanted to mention that over on Imagine Alyzabeth An it's easy if you try Alyson has put together her top favorites as well. Our goal is to promote these Artisans and maybe spread the word how wonderful ETSY is. I have been shopping on ETSY for about a year now. My first purchase was a great gift box of Great hand made Burp cloths for my friend Cheri just before she left for China to bring Hope home (that will be a YEAR! WOW! tomorrow). If you shop ETSY or any other Handmade artisan please go over to Alyson's blog and leave a comment about your favorites...

so with no further ado here are my favorites you might see a running theme with mine...LOL

Ocean and Moon Studio ... Mel is a friend and fellow adoptive mom. Her store is small she has much more in her Studio. If you don't see anything you like contact her she can make whatever you come up with. I have seen her stuff and purchased several things from her as gifts. She does fantastic work and everything is very well made and has a uniqueness to it... She has really pretty jewelry made from clay with the characters for different family members in Chinese.

Tiny Tots Baby Boutique ... I bought the Panda onesie it is ADORABLE...

Tip Top Apple Sauce a saucy mix of fashion ..... GREAT hats! Take a guess which one I bought? LOL

Blue Bird Blessings hand made for your little blessing .... I love these for stocking stuffers

Dos Besitos culture and Language hand crafts ..... I love the "Forever Family Magnet set...

Purr Prints ... if you love cats than this is the place for you...

Evelyn and Kate handmade things for baby handmade thingamabobs for baby .... there just isn't a better bib out there... I got one as a gift from my friend Layla and I am hooked I bought a second and have bought several more as gifts for friends and family.

Cottontail a bit of fluff for baby & toddler .... this is the artiest I bought the burp cloths for Cheri from

Daisey Mae Designs little luxuries for everyday life ... I just think her stuff is pretty

Imogen's Garden fresh petals for your little flower ... I wish I could sew like this...

High on Craft ... a great site if you are looking for the perfect soft and cuddly gift or scrapbooking material.

These are just a few of my favorites and I am always on the look out for more. If you have favorites please share. If you are looking for unique well made hand crafted items check out some of my favorites as well as Alyson's over on her blog... and of course always look around on ETSY you are bound to find something you like...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Blog Give-Away

Melissa's Studio
The first is a family that belongs to our FCC group. Melissa is a very talented artist. She has great things and last night she had a nice open house where I was able to get a few nice things as gifts for Christmas. I was able to fulfill part of my pledge to Shop handmade this year.

Go check out these blogs for some cool Blog Give-Aways. This on is a family that we met online during "The Wait". If you are a baker you will love this Give-away

"My Mom Shops" is a favorite of mine for great gifts and great Give-Aways....Keep checking back to this site.

and then there is the MAC Daddy of all Blog Give-aways...Just keep checking here there is some great stuff

I hope everyone is enjoying the Christmas season..

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Our 1st Christmas tree as a family of 3

We always get our tree either the day before or the day after Thanksgiving and then decorate it over the long weekend. This year we got ours the day before Thanksgiving, but since we went out of town over the weekend we just got it decorated today. I still have some things to add to it like a few Cloisonne ornaments we bought while we were in China. They are in the attic so I have to get those down tomorrow. We also need a new tree topper so we are on the hunt for a great new tree topper.

More pictures of it decorated coming soon........It started out looking like a Charlie Brown tree but I think it turned out pretty nice......

I think the tree skirt is to small, so I may have to get a new one of those too....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

This year Riz and I have so much to be thankful for. We have a great circle of friends, a wonderful family and most of all we finally have our daughter here with us to celebrate the Holidays. Sophia has done so much for us, besides making us first time parents she has added to our life, our family, our marriage. I love watching Riz be a Baba (Daddy) to her. He is a great daddy, not only pitching in to do things around the house, but also in the fact that he loves her beyond measure, we have that in common. I always knew that I would love Sophia to the deepest part of my soul, but I never knew just how deep that would be,I still don't. Each passing day I feel more and more love for this little child. She has enriched me, us both, in ways we never dreamed of. We love being with her seeing her grow, laugh, learn, play,sleep, we love just watching her be...When we are away from her we think about her and wish we were there to see all the little things she does during the day. We never take for grated for one second that Sophia is our daughter that we have been blessed to be her parents. We are so thankful to China for allowing us to adopt one of their children. We are grateful to Sophia's foster family, I know that giving her up must not have been easy for them. Sophia is 19 months old and has been with us a mere 5 months. She had an other life before us, 14 months of an other life. We are thankful to her foster family for loving her and providing for her care and well being during that life. Our daughter is happy, healthy and adjusting very well, that is because of her foster family. I think about how much Sophia's life has changed in 5 months and I wonder what she must think. She is adjusting to her new life with us very well but, at night when her conscious mind is relaxed and she is asleep the anxiety of the change shows the most. We are grateful that things have started to improve in her sleep and that she is finding peace with us as her parents. She now runs to us when we come home, cries when we leave and gives the best kisses any parent could want. We are thankful for that...

So besides all the normal things to be Thankful for this year..

our health
our family
our friends
our jobs
our home
each other

we are most Thankful to God for watching over Sophia until we became a family.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An amazing family

We are very lucky to have a supportive FCC family in our area. We may not see each other often enough, but when the time comes when we need each other we are always there. Please read below and contribute if you can.

Melissa is a very talented artiest and mother in our group. She has an open house every year at her Studio. This year it is extra special because of the Harris family and what they are going through. The Harris family also belong to our FCC group. We ask you all to keep the Harris family in your prayers this year...

Studio Open House and Sale

It is that time of year again....

Studio Open House and Sale

This years sale will help to benefit the Harris family. They are a local adoptive family whose daughter was diagnosed with cancer in August. They now have a new battle to fight because Lisa, Anna's Mom, was just diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Please keep them in your prayers and I know they will win this battle. If you are in Central Florida and would like to join us just let me know.

Ocean and Moon Studio
Friday Dec. 5th 4-8pm
Come enjoy good company, a glass of wine and do a little Christmas shopping.
Lots of unique handmade items all priced below retail for this once a year sale.
Items starting at $3.
20% of ALL sales to benefit the Harris family. Raffle with all proceeds
benefiting the Harris family.To learn more about the Harris family please visit...

Thanks and I hope to see you there:)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

SEMI-Handmade Christmas

Our goal for this coming year is to pay off the adoption and save enough to start again. We both want to give Sophia a Mei Mei(little Sister) so we are going to work hard at this goal. Saving where we can and reducing coast wherever possible. I am working on a project that will help reduce our grocery budget. There are other things rattling around in my head but i have to work on one project at a time or I will become overwhelmed and thus unsuccessful.

I have decided that this year I want to spend enjoying Sophia and taking her to sit on Santa's lap and to the Christmas tree farm to pick out a tree. Maybe to the petting farm to see the animals. I want to let her draw (scribble really) Christmas Cards for her grandparents and play in the fake snow that falls on Main Street in Celebration.I want to start a tradition that every year we make a Christmas Ornament to give to friends and family.I want to bake Christmas cookies with her and share with our neighbors. I want to start teaching her that it is as much fun to give as it is to get. I want to sit on our couch cuddled under a blanket with her and watch all the Christmas specials and movies. Don't get me wrong I enjoy shopping especially Christmas shopping and I am sure we will do a bit of that too. I love to be in the mall and feel the excitement, hear the Christmas music and see the kids all lined up to sit on the jolly mans knee.This year I have decided that the majority of the gifts we give will be homemade..Not necessarily by me mind you although some of them will be. .My new favorite Shopping site is ESTY.... if you have not heard of them you must check them out. I do a lot of shopping there (that is going to have to stop until we meet our goal). Why homemade?, you ask.. Well, for a lot of reasons. One I love the look of things that someone took the time to make with their own hands. I love to support people who are trying to run a small business. I love to give unique or unexpected gifts. I love the adventure to search out the perfect handmade gift for that special person. Of course there are other reasons buying home made is a step in the right direction to being "Green". The quality is many times better then mass produced products we would buy in a big box store. I get to avoid the Big Box store :). I can stay home and be curative with my family rather then fight for that last parking spot. Our first Christmas as a family of 3 will be a Semi-Handmade Christmas, maybe this will be a Christmas tradition as well.....

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Big announcement

Ever since we came home with Sophia I have wanted to change my blog to reflect more of Sophia's personality. I wanted some place to blog about her life and our life post adoption. For several weeks now I have been working on a new blog with the help of some really great friends. Donna even helped me name the new blog. I was looking for something short and simple, two words that captured my daughter. The new blog name is "SIMPLY SOPHIA,it's he life". Please take a moment to go check it out. I plan to blog here on "Sunflowers and Ladybugs" from time to time about things that are happening in our lives and fun things like the "TAGS" leaving "SIMPLY SOPHIA,it's her life" solely for post about Sophia. I will post pictures and if I ever learn how to do it video's of her as she grows. Thank you to each and every person that took the time to read and cared enough to post comments her on "Sunflowers and Ladybugs" we will forever be grateful for those of you who felt our lives were interesting enough to follow along our journey to become a family of 3. We hope that you will continue to follow us as we grow as a family, who knows what is to come maybe an other big announcement........

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Do something, do anything

November is National Adoption Awareness month. Riz and I have been blessed beyond measure with a beautiful daughter. Sophia is our dream come true. One night while visiting our best friends, Lisa's mom, Bonnie was looking at Sophia and said to us This is what an answered prayer looks like. That touched me and I will always remember her saying that, it is so true. Our prayers were answered in a big way. Three years ago when we started the adoption Riz and I felt the need to do something to help the orphans that were in China, some of which may never be adopted. We decided to sponsor a child through Half The Sky. We have done this for 3 years now and have been happy to do it. For the price of a dinner out we are able to provide the loving arms of a foster mother to a child in China. We provide the loving touch of a trained nanny.It is worth eating at home a few nights to provide this care to children who need it so desperately. We have seen the benefits of these programs in children that we know. We have seen first hand the impact that these programs have on children. We ask you to do something, do anything you can to help the orphans of China.

Below are links to some of the many charitable organizations that provide a wide array of services to the orphans of China. The video was posted to our local FCC group by a mother who traveled with the women in the green when she adopted her daughter.

Warning you will need tissues....

Half The Sky

Love Without Boundries

Starfish Foster Home

Our Chinese Daughters Foundation

Shaohannah's Hope

A Mothers Love for china

Altrusa International Foundation

We want to announce to all of our readers that the blog is in for some changes. Please stay tuned.... We want you all to follow along and hopefully we wont loose anyone in the process. If by some chance you know of someone who reads our blog please pass it along that there are changes coming very soon that they will need to be around for...and NO we are not adopting least not yet!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Day

Today we decide on who will lead our country for the next 4 years. How lucky we are to have that choice, that right, that privilege. There are a lot of things you can argue about this election. Know matter who you support this election is certainly a historic election no one can argue that. We stand on the brink of having our first women Vice President or first African American president. That is overwhelming to me, that in my life time history will be made. Being the mother of a Girl adopted from China it makes me emotional. The possibilities that lie in front of her now that she is an American citizen are endless. We voted early on Sat. and as we sat there amongst a cross section of our community I could not help but get emotional about the process and my daughter. Her life is so different now then it would have been had she remained in China. We love China and it's people don't get me wrong but the view of women in that part of the world is a slow changing thing, It is changing but slowly. I realized as we sat there waiting for our turn to cast our votes that Sophia now has the right to make her voice heard to participate in the process by casting her own vote. We sat there and talked about her future and what is in front of her and realized that because she was born in China she might never have the opportunity to be President (something most parents say in jest "Oh he/she is going to be president one day"). Maybe just maybe her voice will help change that one day.

If you have not voted please get out today and cast your vote....