Sunday, December 28, 2008

What do you do when it rains all day on a Saturday?

Plain onesies are just so...plain. So look what Crafty Dan made with the assistance of Sidekick Jen! Much more fun, eh?

Misfit 2008

Some people just get you. Like, in a real deep, kindred spirits, never have to explain anything or be someone you're not kind of way. And we love H & P for that. For your viewing pleasure, a few shots of Misfit 2008:

Thanks, H & P, for your amazing friendship. We love you guys.

(And, no, I have no idea what H is doing in the background of photo #6.

Christmas Day 2008

Christmas Day is always relaxing at our house. Since our big festivities happen on Christmas Eve, we have a few year old tradition of my parents coming over for lunch and then spending the afternoon at the Domes. (You've long wondered who the h-e-double hockey sticks goes to the Domes on Christmas. So now you know.)

Thanks for being goofy and fun, Mom and Dad. :)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve 2008

Ahhhhh, Christmas. I'm sitting here looking at our adorable Charlie Brown tree and all 12 of his heavily weighted down branches and feeling a little sad that he'll soon be coming down, along with the rest of the holiday stuff that has a way of making a house feel so warm and snuggly... even when the particular house has 80 year old leaky windows preventing the indoor temperature in December from ever breaking 68. Ahhhhh, Wisconsin.

So another Christmas has come and gone. And our house is even more over-flowing than it was before with toys and clothes and well-wishes for Kennedy. (Have I mentioned how badly we want to hop a!) Being surrounded by our families the past couple days makes me so excited for Kennedy and all the love waiting for her.

Christmas Eve day is always split between both our families. We spend the morning into afternoon at Dan's parents' house and the evening at my sister Lisa's house. Dan and I take about a zillion photos between the two places and are always amazed by how much the kids have changed from the year before. (I don't understand it, but these kids just keep growing and changing. It's the darnedest thing.) Watching them play and goof around this year, I tried to imagine next year with Kennedy in the mix.... They're all such great kids.

So below you have a few of the zillion pics from Christmas Eve 2008. Enjoy!

The early day celebration...

Syd and Jake and the "pickle prize" hairballs.

Jake is such a cool little dude. (And clearly he understands the basics of good customer service.)

Nicole and Kaitlin...I can distinctly recall the days both of them were born and now look a them...
This doesn't mean I'm getting old, does it?

Nick and his super awesome girlfriend Ashley. The first time Nick and I met (he was 6 then...), he and I stayed up later than everyone else putting a puzzle together. I am sooooo not getting old. (But he is. :)

Kennedy scored some Legos from Grandma and Grandpa! (Grandpa even went online to order them!
Grandpa has decided he likes shopping online!)

Grandpa (Dan's Dad) is building Kennedy's crib and we got a sneak peek! Isn't it neat-o?! We are soooo excited about it.

The report came in that Santa had made it to Beijing. (Like, for real, can we get on a plane NOW?!)
Mom, Dad and Sophie pose for a photo to go in Kennedy's picture book in her soon-to-be-mailed care package.
The evening celebration...

Dan and my Mom and the best of all holiday traditions...brandy slush.
Ya know, I have to wonder if the artist intended this particular outcome. Mmmm...appetizing.
My Mom and her little sister, my Aunt Janet. (After I told them to smile big.)
The night is young and the goofballs are ready. John Thomas and Samuel are such good buddies.
Recognize these from a 1979 memory? Yep, that's right. I found the TOMY water games. I told the boys how much fun we all had with those as kids and they were totally intrigued by these old school relics. :)
Josiah is growing up sooooo fast. And his toys confuse me. :) (I'll stick to the circa 1979 TOMY variety.)
My sister Lisa made a book of our 2008 Door County trip on Shutterfly for Mom and Dad. It is BEAUTIFUL and the boys loved seeing themselves in a "real book." (This might become my new hobby. It is way cool. If you haven't checked it out, you should.)
Tommy and his Mommy. :)
My Dad takes the cake as the toughest person on the planet to shop for. So I bought him and Elmer Fudd hat. I think that was a good decision, don't you? :)
No, my Mom is not Jewish. Yes, my Mom loves all things Jewish. (I wonder if there are other people who get a bunch of Judaica for Christmas?)

Aunt De Anna is a friend of the family who I think of as an Aunt. She has such a love for the kids and is already spoiling Kennedy... :)
Yep, 1979 was a great year.
Our Christmas Eve hosts: Lisa, Tim, Josiah and Samuel. Thanks for the great time, guys!
Some of the Christmas gifts waiting for Kennedy's little hands! Thanks to our families for thinking of her, not just with gifts, but with your excitement. It is such a joy to share this anticipation with you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Visa Day

Early last week, Dan and I sent our referral acceptance packet back to our adoption agency. They will wait for signed documents from all families in our travel group and will then send all of our information together back to China. China will then respond with what is called 'TA', or Travel Approval. Upon receipt of our TA, our agency can make Consulate appointments for us at the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou. Once we know when that appointment is scheduled for, we can book our tickets! We still hope to be in China by the second week of February.

Besides researching where we will be traveling to, gazing at Kenny's picture every 5 minutes and turning our dining room table into a mound of things to be packed, one of the several administrative things yet to be done is applying for our Visas to enter China. In order to apply for a Visa, applications must be hand-delivered, along with actual passports, to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago. Because the windchill today was expected to be about a zillion degrees below zero, Dan and I decided this would be a good day to trek to the Windy City (ha!) to check another step off our list. (Dan was off work today because of the cold, so it actually did make some sense to go to the Windy City today...)

The Chinese Consulate is right downtown on Erie Street and we lucked out with meter parking just a couple blocks away. The Consulate was full to the gills with waiting people, but talk about a smooth movin' operation! In just over 10 minutes we were called to the window and our documents were reviewed for completeness. Our applications, passports and money order were clipped to the FedEx return envelope supplied by us and placed in a processing bin. We were given a receipt indicating they expected to process our request and FedEx it back to us by 12/30/08. This literally took 30 seconds. Efficiency is a beautiful thing. Seriously.
With the official business behind us so quickly, we decided to attempt a trip to FAO Schwartz for a celebratory toy for Kennedy. We lucked out again with meter parking just off Michigan Avenue (Seriously? Twice in one day?) and walked over to Watertower Place...only to be told that FAO Schwartz moved to State and Randolph. Normally we'd trek the mile over there, but given the 30 zillion below zero windchill, we got in the car and drove over there. On the way we spotted a European-style holiday market that we just had to get to, so we did the crazy and unthinkable when there was no street parking to be found--we parked under Grant Park. (Yes, it was approximately a million dollars to park for 2 hours.)
ANYWAY, we walked over to the market and bummed around the vendors, most of whom were from Germany, and bought some crazy mushroom ornaments. It may have been freakin' freezing cold out, but nothing stops Dan and Jen from eating bratwurst and potato pancakes. Yep, we ate lunch outside. And it was GREAT. Ya know, I really love the cold around the holidays. Don't get me wrong, this is extreme cold, but it's just fun to be all bundled up in layers and wrapped in a 3-mile long scarf inhaling a brat while the beat of Chicago hums all around. Magic-like.
We did eventually make it to FAO Schwartz only to discover that it is now part of Macy's and is not the amazing toy store I remembered from a childhood visit to Chicago. It sucked. There are no pictures because it sucked that bad. Seriously. It was so sucky it was funny. Poor Dan, all those years of hearing my tales of FAO Schwartz grandeur and then it sucks. Hilarious.

It was a great day! And we even made it home on time for Hank's 6:15 insulin shot. Life is good. Oh, and have I mentioned how badly we want to be in! Thank God for the distraction of the holidays. (But how will we make it through January?!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Life on Cloud 9

What a whirlwind couple of days! Dan stayed home Friday to catch the DHL guy who was delivering the original copy of our referral packet. We put a sign on the door to make absolutely certain that he not leave before Dan sprinted from his workshop to the front door...

We are happy to report that we are now in possession of the original packet! Dan said the DHL guy didn't seem to understand my sign... But he did take a pic of the back of the delivery guy for posterity's sake...

I tried to work on Friday, as Wednesday and Thursday my excited state left my work brain a little mushy. I was slightly more successful working on Friday, but I'm hoping for grand improvement by Monday. :) Anyway, my friend and boss Lisa took me out to lunch and we stopped at Freckle Face, this adorable baby boutique in the Third Ward. Okay, so I'm not proud of what I dropped for this ONE outfit, but DANG, it sure is freakin' adorable. I mean, seriously adorable. (Read: Must Justify. Must Justify.) But it is cute as all get-out, isn't it??

Friday night we had a date with our friends Elisabeth and Michael and their amazing kiddos. We thoroughly enjoyed "sock skating" around their house. :) Elisabeth is a very modest person, but let me just say that she has mad skills somethin' fierce. Dinner was FANTASTIC and followed by an awesome session of post-kiddo bedtime cookie decorating and goofin' around. I really can't adequately describe the cookie decorating skill this woman possesses, so let me try showing a birds-eye view of the table after a couple hours of frosting and should be able to pick out E's cookies...AMAZING. Thanks for the great time, guys!

For a couple months now, Dan has been working on something really special for Kennedy. While I spent our anxious waiting-on-referral time on the couch with diabetic cat (What? He needed me. :), Dan poured his phenomenal creative energies into designing and building a dresser for Kennedy. The Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing provided inspiration. He finished up the dresser the day we received our referral after 120 hours of painstaking, detailed work. This morning he finished up moving it into Kennedy's room and trust me when I say the photo below doesn't come close to doing it justice. It is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful...just like Kennedy. :) What an amazing heirloom to have from your Dad, don't ya think? (I know you read this blog, Dan, and let me just say again: You are amazingly talented, honey.)

Today was a day of nesting around here. I cleaned the house and Dan worked on Kennedy's playroom remodel. (Pictures of that coming soon!) In the middle of our day we got a visit from my friend Lisa, her friend Frank (visiting from LA), and their kids. Frank's little guy is such a joy and is just a few weeks younger than Kennedy. I hope next time Frank is in town that our kiddos can hang out and sit in upside down end tables together. :)

At 4:30, Dan and I decided it was well past the time to take Kennedy's original referral photos to Walgreen's to get prints for us and the grandparents. We ordered an 8x10, several 5x7s and some wallets. When I returned to Walgreen's at 6:00 to pick them up, the 8x10 was still printing. So I stood there and waited for it, answering the photo guy's inquiry about who the adorable kid in the pic is. ;) When he brought the 8x10 to me, I just reacted--STUNNED--completely in awe--SHE'S REALLY REAL. And then I welled up with tears AGAIN because I am now officially a big--make that GIANT--sap.

So I bring the photos home and take a right of passage... Notice someone new on our photo wall?

I can't wait to fill that wall with photos we take of her. In the meantime, I am so grateful for these photos. So very grateful that she looks healthy, well cared for, and I think a bit strong-willed, if I do say so myself. :)

There have been some other changes around the house. Notice something new in the family room?

See it? Over there in the corner? Yep, it's my crazy sheep-seated mid-century mod rocking chair! YAY! (Can't wait for those jet lag-induced, all-night rocking sessions! Tee hee.)

So, how is Hank feeling about the big change that's headed our way? I'll let you decide.

Life is good. (Even for Hank.) :)