Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Forever Family Day

August 28th 2007 is the one year anniversary of our life with Pearl. We will never forget the moment we first met her. It had been a very rough few days for us preceeding that. We were sick and Pete's brother had just passed away unexpectedly when we arrived in Beijing.

Pearl was so thin. She had a big smile on her face and she walked right up to the three of us (we had Chloe). She approached Pete first and addressed him as "Baba", then she looked at me and called me "Mama". Then she looked at Chloe and called her "Mei Mei" which means little sister. She seemed so happy to see us. We immediately left the small conference room and were given a tour of the orphanage and we met her teachers/nannies. She proudly showed us off to everyone we met. It wasn't until we headed for the van to go, that she began to realize she was leaving the only home she had ever known for three and a half years, and she started to cry. Fortunately, it didn't last long.

Following is a list of adjectives describing Pearl starting with the letters of her name:

P = pretty (we knew she was cute, but didn't expect her to be so photogenic)
E = enthusiastic (this girl has enough energy and excitement for two kids)
A = amiable (she is eager to please and has a friendly disposition)
R = restless (she is always on the go and fidgets constantly, even in her sleep)
L = loveable (she is very engaging and charming...what a doll)

Pearl is a joy to have around and it is especially great to see the love between her and her little sister Chloe. We are so lucky to parent these two girls. Here's to another wonderful year with our daughters from China.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chloe's First Day of School

Pearl started her second year of preschool yesterday, but today was the very first day of school for Chloe. She has been very excited about this day for a very long time. She has also been amazingly fussy and impossible this week. I don't know if the two are related, but she did express some fears yesterday about "bad kids" being mean to her.

We reassured her as only parents can and prepared her as best we could the night before. We took her to the school this morning and I think there were at least two adults for every child there. The first 15 minutes was just playing in the playground and we took an opportunity to take a couple of pictures. Every few minutes, Chloe would ask "Are you checking on me?", because of course, I told her yesterday that I would check on her. Finally, she looked at us and said we could go home now; she was fine. After being dismissed, we left, apparently earlier than most of the other parents. I think Chloe is gonna be just fine.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Long Weekend

Well, it was just another two-day weekend, but it felt very long. We had a nice dinner out on Friday with Chris after dropping the girls off at "A Good Time Out". Saturday morning we got up early and drove two hours to the LA Zoo to meet up with some friends. On the way, we got into a small accident when a teenager didn't notice us at a stop sign and ran into the back of us. We had to wait for his parents to come before we could leave. After that, we still arrived 15-20 minutes early at the zoo.

David is a friend of mine from high school. Denise is his wife from Taiwan and they have two wonderful little boys, Damian and Ian. We met up at the zoo and proceeded to watch the animals. It was hot and sweltering and we had some afternoon reprieve with a bit of cloud cover. Both Chloe and Pearl took turns having meltdowns and now Mom was so agitated that she cancelled next week's plans for the girls. We probably won't be going to any zoos or amusement parks for a few months. Next week, Pete is taking Chris sailing for her birthday with his friend Marc.

Sunday, we hung out around the house and played together. We figured out how to get 'Skype' going on the computer with video, so Chris was able to talk with her parents in China and see them on video for free. We also called our first exchange student, Daisy, who was also in China. It was fun to show her the girls and to see her again.

That's about it for this weekend. I'm ready to get back to work. Tomorrow, Pearl starts preschool.

Monday, August 20, 2007

First Day of School

Today is Chris' first day at Shafter High School. She will be attending as a senior. We accompanied her to the senior councelor's office and walked to a couple of her classrooms until they paired her up with a student to show her around campus and get her settled in. After that, we said goodbye and headed off to work. Her classes include Calculus, English, Government/Econ, US History, Sculpture and Physics. Her history teacher used to teach English in China, and he married a Chinese woman, so he also speaks Chinese. Hopefully, he will be able to help Chris if she has any difficulties understanding what is going on.

The school is undergoing major renovation which was started over two years ago and should finish up sometime this school year. It doesn't really look like $20 million worth of improvements, but school construction prices don't come at a discount.

I look forward to this evening when we can find out how Chris fared. I think we are almost as excited as she is about this new adventure.

Next week, Chloe begins preschool!

UPDATE: Chris had a good time the first day and made a lot of friends, especially in her Physics class. She spent much of her class time writing each student's name in Chinese characters. She said her Calculus teacher had a picture of Daisy and her classmates on his desk.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chris' First Trip to the Cabin

Since this was the last weekend before Chris started school, we didn't really want to plan a big road trip, but we also didn't want to hang around the house. So, we decided to go to the cabin and relax.

Chris wasn't ready to venture into the pool, so she just sat with us on the sidelines while Chloe and Pearl had the whole kiddie pool to themselves. It has been a beautiful weekend, except for the occasional reminder of a large forest fire in the distance. The smoke would sometimes choke out the sun and our car was covered with ash. This has been going on for over a week and has extended across the whole county.

Hopefully, we will find out tomorrow if Chris has a good class schedule at school. I am not yet sure what she will like for breakfast. We are still experimenting. She is very eager to try everything.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Pete took Pearl and Chris to Berkeley's birthday party. How do I begin to explain who Berkely is? Well, in today's world of mixed families, it probably isn't that unusual. We have known Berkeley since she was a little baby. She is like a niece to us. Her mother Jane was once married to Pete's brother Ray. Jane divorced Ray (long before I ever knew him) and married Dave (whom she is no longer married to) and together they had Berkeley. Fortunately for us, Jane and Berkeley (and even Dave) are still considered close family and they attend all the major family functions.

This party was not only a birthday party, but it was also a "going away to college" party as Berkeley is now headed for Chico State. She aspires to become a veternarian.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A New Daughter

Today we welcomed a new daughter for the school year. "Siwei" AKA, Chris has come all the way from Beijing China to attend high school just down the street.

In addition to gaining a new daughter (for the year), this was our first chance to see our new local airport terminal. With our last exchange student 3 years ago, we had to get her luggage on the carousel outside (in the 100+ degree heat). Now everything is indoors and very nice. There is even a replica of the first private aircraft to venture into space. It was designed and constructed here in Kern County.

Not even 4 hours after arriving in America, Pete took Chris and Pearl to a birthday party/going away to college party for a friend of ours. Mom stayed home with Chloe who is sick and a bit fussy. Stay tuned as there will be lots more to come!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


We spent the majority of the weekend lounging around home and trying to rest up. Like most little kids, Chloe and Pearl love to jump and rough-house and get wild with Mommy and Daddy, especially right before bedtime. Chloe has a way of sneaking up on you and then...........ATTACK!!!! Pearl is more direct, but less careful, so she can hurt.

Here are the girls jumping on Dad's back. It wasn't just Dad they were attacking, Mom has some battle scars from this evenings' wrestling match. So much fun with these two wild ones.

Pink Cupcakes

Chloe is very verbal and makes her requests known (Tinkerbell jigsaw puzzle, a trumpet, and a pink house). Her latest request that she has been repeating for the last three weeks was to help Mom make cupcakes. Pete has also been requesting cupcakes. Well, we do have muffin mixes for blueberry and apple streusal, so I thought we had all we needed, but our eggs were borderline too old. Then she went on an on about wanting pink cupcakes. I knew we were due for a shopping trip, so after she woke up from her nap, I took her to the grocery store. She is so much fun to shop with. I purchased a confetti cake mix and then found pink frosting. Chloe always helps me put all the items on the conveyor belt. What a little helper!

Pearl got to take her nap late (and short) since she was especially good and cleaned up her toys all by herself, at her request. She may not ask for alot up front, but once she laid her eyes upon the cupcakes, she really wanted one.

FFFF #42 Waiting

This past Friday's foto challenge was entitled Waiting. Saturday was a big family reunion in Bakersfield and I guess we showed up a little bit early. We watched as they inflated two bounce houses and the girls were very impatient and kept asking if they could go in yet. It didn't dawn on me to take a picture of them inflating the bounce houses, but it would have been perfect for the challenge.

Here are pictures of the girls waiting for it to be ready and then finally going in. They were especially excited because Tinkerbell is currently one of their favorite characters. Chloe recently demanded that I get her a Tinkerbell jigsaw puzzle and I had to resort to Ebay to find one.

Year of the Pig

It is the Year of the Pig. The babies born in this year are called "Golden Piglets (Jin Ju Bao Bao)". They are believed to bring wealth and happiness to their families.

I borrowed this picture from my good friend Betty. I just couldn't resist these adorable faces. We used to raise and show these furry creatures before Chloe and Pearl. You can see many more pictures of these wonderful animals at her blog for the Northern California Angora Guild

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Surprise for Mom

We are just settling back into our regular routine. Pete and I pick up the girls at daycare, bring them home, let them ride their bikes, then play in the playroom until dinner time and then bath time.

The big challenge is always trying to get the girls to clean up their playroom. Usually it takes threats, pleading, bribing, nagging, and occasional yelling (when Mom finally loses it). As usual, I gave the girls "the speech" during dinner. This is where I explain my expectations and prepare for round two. For the most part, I assist the clean-up while directing their every move.

To my astonishment, the girls finished their dinner and proceeded downstairs on their own and then managed to clean up their entire playroom, without a nag or bribe. I was totally amazed and the girls just beamed when I told them how proud I was and that they could have an extra book at storytime tonight.

Too bad I don't have a before picture, but I am sure you can imagine this room with jigsaw puzzle pieces, legos, baby dolls, and an assortment of trinkets all over the place. I was very proud of my girls tonight.

Tuesday at the San Diego Wild Animal Park

Tuesday was our final day of vacation. We decided to meet up with Joy and her parents one more time for a trip to the Wild Animal Park. Joy's grandparents also joined us, all the way from Pittsburg PA.

The weather was warm, but not miserable and the crowds were low. It was a fun time for everyone and we were able to go at our own pace. Chloe doesn't do well in lines, and fortunately, here there were none. We rode the tram to see all the giraffes and rhinos and antelopes. We also saw cheetas and lions and lots of other creatures. The girls were able to pet deer and feed lorikeets. There was also a lot of time to play and even splash in the water fountains.

It was a long trip home, but it was a great day and we will all miss Joy and Sharyn and Paul.

Monday Evening - Long Lost Friends

We stayed in a hotel in Carlsbad. It was very nice and we had a full ocean view from our room. On our first night there, they had movie night on the lawn, just outside our room. It was "Curious George" and it was a special enough occasion to let the girls stay up late. They really enjoyed the show (and the popcorn).

The following evening we reunited with friends Mike and Annetta. Pete went to high school with Mike, but they have lost contact over the years. I think we reconnected on the internet when we found out that they adopted a little girl domestically, shortly after we adopted Chloe.

Their little girl Waverly, is now 22 months old and quite the beauty. What a sweet little girl she is and she was especially nice to share all her toys with Pearl and Chloe.

Monday Morning - A "Joy" ful Visit

When we were waiting to be matched with Chloe, Mom was cruising the internet, making friends with other hopeful parents. One of the families we shared our wait with was Sharyn and Paul from Oregon. We were matched at the same time and ended up in China at the same time too. Our daughters were from different provinces, but we all ended up in Guangzhou to pick up our daughter's visas to take them home. We had a couple of brief opportunities to meet up in China, but we have been internet friends ever since.

They decided to travel to Oceanside for a summer vacation and we wanted to catch up with them while they were so close. We were also dying to see how much their daughter Joy had changed since she was a 9 month old baby.

The three girls hit it off right away and went wild in their condo, jumping on all the beds and getting out of control. We don't usually let them get this crazy, but it seemed OK with Paul and Sharyn, so we let them be little girls.

After the initial craziness, we walked to a playground on the beach and then later to a restaurant for pizza.

Sunday-A Trip to San Marcos

We have a good friend from college, Karl who lives in San Marcos. It has been quite a few years since we have visited with him, although we do keep up through his annual Christmas card letters. He is quite the traveler and sportsman. This year he has a new girlfriend Chung Wei. She is very sweet and we had a wonderful time visiting them. Karl studied structural engineering with us in school, but he has been designing golf clubs for Calloway and Cobra ever since. Consequently, he and Chung Wei have become avid golfers.

The girls loved playing with Karl and Chung Wei. After a nice afternoon dinner, we headed to the park for a game of Bocce Ball (I hope I spelled that correctly). Chloe and Pearl played awile on the playground equipment, then they played ball with Karl and Chung Wei, and then later, they entertained us with their musical skills on their newly acquired trumpet and harmonica.

Last Summer Vacation-CCAI Picnic

This weekend was another 4 day adventure to Southern California. We started off on Saturday morning to go to the annual CCAI West Coast Family Reunion. CCAI is the agency that we used for Chloe's adoption. We went to this same reunion last year, just before we adopted Pearl in China. This year, most of the faces had changed, but we still had fun visiting with other families who had either adopted from China or were still waiting to be matched with their Chinese child. One of the couples was from a nearby town to us and we both drove 3 hours just to talk to each other. They may have to wait another year before they receive their referral; I sure hope not. We were so lucky to have only waited 5.5 months from the time we finished our paperwork until the time we first saw Chloe's face. It was then another 8 weeks until we traveled to China.

The girls had a great time jumping in the bounce house, playing with their goodie bags, riding the train, and riding the ponies. Chloe rode a gentle pony in the morning and then declared that she wanted to ride the "fast pony". Those are the ones that trot. Apparently, Chloe was just old enough to ride the fast pony, so we let her ride again in the afternoon and she totally loved it. Pearl specifically requested the "slow pony". She too, had a great time.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

We are selling our home!

Saturday we put our home on the market. I am not sure this is really a subject matter for a blog that is about two little girls growing up in the Central Valley. We aren't moving out of town; we are just looking to downsize. In addition to that, we are designers, and as such, we have always wanted to design our own home. We just couldn't afford to build what we wanted. Hopefully, we may soon be in such a position.

We will certainly miss this amazing home we live in. The whole property is like a park with big old trees. To see our property listing, click here. Since it is such an unusual property and the market is not ideal right now, we realize that it may take a long time to sell this place. If you know of anyone considering a move to California's Central Valley, please spread the word.

Chloe doesn't seem to mind that we may be moving. She loves our current home very much, but she says she wants us to design her a pink one. I think she might be willing to compromise and settle for a pink room ("with blue and purple and yellow and light purple on the walls" she says). Pearl hasn't responded, so I don't know what her thoughts would be on moving. We will just have to play it by ear.