Thursday, May 29, 2008

Time to Let Go

It has been two years since I moved to NJ from Texas. As I was typing a phone chain list for an organization I serve on, I realized it was time to let go of something I have hesitated to part with...my cell phone number. Yes, after two years of living in NJ, my cell phone number was still a local Dallas number. For many of my friends and acquaintances it meant dialing a long-distance number to call me across town.

It had been my telephone number for 18 years. I didn't want to part with it. It was a last vestage of Texas. I kept telling myself that I didn't want a NJ number---psychologically that would mean I was here to stay and not just passing through.

Alas, today I psychologically put down the roots in NJ and changed my cell phone number to a local area code. I guess I am here to stay for the long haul. Besides, I still possess one thing Texana that can't be taken away...my accent!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Life's a Beach

Over Memorial Day weekend we decided to venture out to unchartered territory for us and went "down the shore" as they say in Jersey. Apparently, everyone else in the NY-NJ-PA area also goes "down the shore" for Memorial Day as well. What would normally be a three-hour drive turned in to bumper to bumper traffic on the Gard*n St*te Parkw*y. Eventually, we made our destination--Cape May.

Now, I am not a beach girl. Sorry, I just don't like beach towns. I prefer manicured green grass and pristine-looking houses that don't look like they are always in need of a coat of paint from battling salty sea air and sandy winds. It's just my opinion--I prefer the mountains. With that said, Cape May is adorable. I like this beach town (and I am sure there are others I would like as well). As luck would have it, Chloe is a beach girl. She loves the sand, the wind, the salty sea and searching for crabs and seashells. She doesn't care how cold the water is, she wants to dive in (of course, after doing so she immediately wants to get out b/c its cold). It doesn't really matter where we go. When we go camping it is about getting away, relaxing and spending time as a family. So, beach or mountains, we always have fun.

On this trip we walked the beach of Cape May and collected shells, watched the fisherman on the beach and the ferry boat in the ocean. Chloe single-handedly climbed up and down the 199 steps to the top of the Cape May lighthouse and showed up a seven-year old boy who couldn't do it on his own. We had lunch in downtown and strolled by the lovely Victorian homes. Its definitely a place we would return.

On Sunday, we stayed at the campsite and swam in the pool (ok, I didn't swim as it was freezing but Chloe and Matt braved the waters) and watched the Mona*o Grand Prix and the In*y 500. In the evening the young couples camping next to us brought Chloe some sparklers and we had fun roasting marshmallows and lighting up the night sky with the golden sparklers.

On Monday, we had breakfast and cruised the 2 mile boardwalk at Wildwood. While the boardwalk was something everyone told us we should do, Wildwood is what I think of when I think of beach town (sorry to offend again). We can check that one off as, been there done that.

We can officially say we've been down the shore of NJ now (which we have been to before but it was winter). We enjoyed our time as a family and cemented in our minds (well at least Matt & my mind) that we heading for the hills next camping trip.


**A Side Note: When we were leaving to return home we stopped at a gas station to fill up. Matt checked the oil level only to discover that we had a baby bird living in the engine bay of the Navigator! The bird was ok. As it turns out, a bird lover/watcher was getting gas next to us and she took the bird from us to drop it off at the bird sanctuary where they could take care of it. Matt said it was good karma!**

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Field Day

Today was Field Day at Chloe's pre-school. Chloe thought it was a major holiday and kept going around telling people "Happy Field's Day!".






Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Dance Recital

Today was Chloe' s dance recital. She has been taking dance since September at a local dance studio. Her class is called "creative movement" and at Chloe's age, its an appropriate class title.

Chloe had told me earlier in the week that she thought her dance routine was "tricky" so I didn't know what to expect. It turns out that the girls did basic ballet moves and one dance, led by their instructor.
When I took Chloe to the stage before the performance I worried what her reaction would be as 2 little girls were already in hysterics and another refusing to go on stage (and ultimately had to be taken home without performing). As it turns out, Chloe is quite the ham and loves to perform in front of an audience.

Chloe looked so darling, smiling and waving from the stage. It really made me get teary-eyed looking at her, so confident and self-assured. We were very proud.

The show was absolutely precious and the dance school and others know how to market the event. There were professional photos you could have taken of your child in their outfit, DVDs you could purchase of the performance and flower bouquets you could buy to present to your child after the performance. When we arrived, we paid for the DVD but vowed that we would not get suckered into the flowers and photos. We had promised to take Chloe for ice cream at her favorite (and one of Jersey's best) ice cream shop. However, after the performance we met Chloe coming off the stage and her first words were, "Where are my flowers?!". Can we say "peer pressure"? And, yes, we succumbed and bought her flowers (and ice cream).










Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

We went to church this morning and then lunch at a local restaurant that had a special Mother's Day luncheon.

I got some perfume and some great cards from Chloe.

Happy Mother's Day!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

On Being a Non-Mom...

Sometimes there are ad campaigns that are so stupid that I wish that I were a fly on the wall when it was pitched just to see how the advertising company managed to sell such a ridiculous idea.

I wish I were the fly on the wall when Teleflora and NBC were pitched the categories for their America's Favorite Mom contest. The photo to the left is of the original categories. Please, click on the image and enlarge it. When you do you will find the following 5 categories:

  • The Military Mom
  • The Working Mom
  • The Single Mom
  • The Non-Mom Mom
  • The COE (The ChairMAN of Everything) Mom

Please, read the descriptions. Yes, according to Teleflora and NBC I am a non-mom and I wonder if that makes Chloe a non-child?

I try not to get what I call over-sensitive to this stuff but this campaign is ridiculous and highly offensive to so many people. Read on and you will see a mom who parents "her own daughter" and six "meth babies". I wonder if that is how she introduces them? "Have you met my family? Let me introduce you this is my OWN daughter and these are my six meth babies?" Or how about the COE--the mom who is the "Chairman of Everything". Not only is she a MAN but she had to quit her busy job in order to attain that title.

It just scares me that this marketing ploy could make it on a major U.S. network without anyone saying, "Hey, wait a minute....". Is this kind of ignorance of adoption that pervasive and widespread? I am aware that it is obvious that I am not Chloe's birthmother, but I am her mother. I didn't have to give birth to her to love her as my own. I didn't have to give birth to her to be a great mother to her. Heck, I would like to nominate the mom at that Y the other day at swim lessons for the non-mom mom category. She should be a non-mom but she has two "of her own" (according to Teleflora that is the correct verbiage for someone who gave birth to a child). I watched her jerk her 3 year old son out of the pool scream at him and then slap him so hard across his back it made a red welt all because he wasn't listening to his mom when he was in his swim lesson listening to his swim instructor. Can I nominate her Teleflora?

If you go to the current America's Favorite Mom contest site, you will see Teleflora realized the error of its way (thanks to the barrage of letters and calls I am certain they received) and posted an apology and corrected their incorrect verbiage.

So this Mother's Day, thanks to Teleflora, I will remember that it was on Mother's Day 2005 that I became the non-mom of Chloe.

Friday, May 09, 2008

In the News

A few months ago, Matt and I made friends with the owners of the local cooking school. Its two ladies who opened the school about 9 months ago. They host all sorts of cooking classes and are trying to build their business, especially in the children's cooking classes. One of the owner's of the school is adopted, and the night we met her she spoke in-depth to Matt and I about her life as an adoptee. She told us she wanted to meet Chloe and she got the chance to only a week later when Chloe's pre-school went on a field trip the cooking school. She loved Chloe and she called only a few days later to tell me that the local newspaper was going to feature the cooking school in the newspaper's magazine insert in the spring. The newspaper wanted to feature the children's cooking classes in the magazine but the time the newspaper wanted to take photos was not when they had any children's classes. She asked if I would be willing to bring Chloe in and cook with her at the school in a made-for-Chloe cooking class while a photographer took photos.

I have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the spring magazine to see what shot(s) were selected. Not realizing the magazine was in today's paper, I did what I usually do when the paper arrives, look at the front page. When I did, I realized that I was on the front page with two of my friends at a house tour. True, you really can't tell it is me, but hey, I know myself and so do my friends, who the proceeded to call and ask if I saw myself on the front page and if I saw Chloe in the magazine.

Yes, Chloe and I are all over the local paper today. I just love the photo of Chloe cooking (that's my hand BTW). So, for your viewing pleasure, here we are....




Thursday, May 08, 2008

Forever Family Day #3

Chloe on FFD #3

One thing that hasn't changed about Chloe in three years is she still loves to help dandelions spread.

It's amazing how in one instance (our current adoption from China) time can drag out and in another, time can race by.

I can hardly believe it has been 3 years since we became A Family United . It was on this day, Mother's Day in the U.S., that we officially became the parents of Qu Le Wen and from that moment forward she was formally known as Chloe Elise LeWen.

The years have flown by. So much has changed in our lives since we became a forever family. By Chloe's 1st FFD, we had moved from Texas to NJ. The 2nd FFD, found us well-settled into our new lives and waiting for a sister for Chloe.

This 3rd FFD, marks a new chapter, Chloe is beginning to understand the meaning of FFD--that she is adopted, she was born in China, she had birthparents in China and she was a 10 month old when we 1st met her. She says it matter-of-fact now. We haven't entered into the questioning.

Chloe gets to go eat tonight with Daddy and our guest, Tom, who Chloe enjoys visiting with, because Mommy has a meeting. She keeps telling me that she wants to go to her favorite restaurant--Outba*k Steakhouse! We shall see if that happens or if on her 3rd FFD she gets over-ruled by Daddy & Tom.

Chloe got to pick out some toys from the toy store. Her favorite is the Bar*ie horse that eats (she could care less for Barb*e, just the accouterments). She also had a friend over for a playdate. I asked Chloe what was so special about today and her reply was, "It's special because Daddy got to drive your car!" True, but it's a little more special than that....
***And just to keep the records intact--on this date, Chloe is 46 months old, weighs 36 lbs. and is 40.5 inches tall.***

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Valley of Vegetables


My sister bought this book for me a while back:

It's a fabulous book full of ideas for gardening with kids. Very creative stuff inside. Several months ago I ordered some plants and a raised garden kit. Matt and I set it up about a month ago and our local nursery delievered the soil for the garden. Chloe and I planted Walla Walla onions, garlic and some English peas (just for the fun of it) and we are getting ready to plant two kinds of tomatoes, bell peppers and eggplants. I will post more photos after we plant.


In the meantime, Chloe has been studying about how seeds become plants and our basement walls have been plastered with posters about how seeds become plants. I was so proud the other day when Chloe was playing in the basement, turned and looked at a poster, pointed and said, "Hey, that's what's happening in our garden!". Very clever indeed.

Even though it may be a little too advanced for her to "get", this is my favorite poster on our basement wall. I think it's cute and Chloe likes to look at the veggies and tell me which ones are "too spicy" for her (which is her way of saying "I don't like this vegetable").

Monday, May 05, 2008

2008 Camping Trip #1

Chloe and Mommy taking a photo. It's dark, but there is a lovely lake behind us.

Chloe and Daddy roasting marshmallows on the campfire.


For the weekend we went camping in Pennsylvania, about 10 miles from the Delaware Water Gap. Its not too great a distance and is relatively easy to get to.

Of course, our first camping trip couldn't go without some hitches.


  • We forgot the walkie-talkies and when we arrived at the campground on Friday night it was dark. Matt drives and I direct. The campsite was not a pull-thru and had trees and rocks on either side making it a fairly narrow entrance. Luckily, Matt didn't hit anything, but we did have some heated discussions on how I stink at talking loudly and directing.


  • While setting up camp we noticed that our kitchen counter split into two by the stove. The road to the campsite was winding and bumpy with open grate bridges. We assume that the twisting of the trailer caused the split. We dropped the RV off at the repair shop on Sunday to get this replaced. Lets hope its under warranty.


  • It rained.


  • The camp had an indoor pool and we forgot our swimsuits. A trip to Wally World rectified the situation.


  • We made smores on Saturday night in lieu of cake for my birthday. Chloe didn't like them. I never thought I would meet anyone who doesn't like the combination of graham crackers, chocolate and toasted marshmallows! Much less have it be my child!
  • The Birthday


    Saturday was my 35th birthday. Normally, I don't give two cents about my age and really, half of the time when people ask me how old I am I really have to give it some thought. It just means very little.Up until last Friday, I was approaching turning 35 in much the same way. I didn't care. That's until Chloe's soccer class.

    I guess age means so little to me because I have always been the youngest. So, I kind of enjoy turning one year older and knowing that I am still my parent's youngest child, the youngest among all my close childhood friends, the youngest in my marriage, the youngest among my friends and cohorts in NJ (or so I thought).

    Friday at soccer it was mentioned that Saturday would be my 35th birthday. One of my close friends mentioned how I was "the baby" of the group when another pal chimed in that technically she was the baby. How could that be I wondered to myself...you have to be at least 3-4 years older than me. NO, NO, she was 5 years younger than me! Thus began the spiral...everyone that I know that is younger than me came popping out of the woodwork. Thus, my eternal bubble of youth was burst!

    It's not like I never knew there were people younger than me! Its just that some of these women are very accomplished and they achieved things I am still struggling to acquire...they've done things that I thought made them much older than they were. It was the kick in the pants I needed. I can't keep putting things off because it is hard work. Friday was the jolt I needed to shore up some plans to motivate me to get fit. So, for my 35th year on this planet I am going to kick it into high gear and shed 35 lbs. (one for each year)!

    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    Back from Texas

    I am pleased to report that our return flight from Dallas to NJ was uneventful (except for the flight delay in taking off). We had a great time seeing everyone and "warming up". We returned to NJ with temperatures in the 50s. Our heating is still on in the evening...will it ever warm up?

    Below are some photos of the remainder of our trip with captions for explanations.
    Chloe holding "Chickypoo", one of the six Rhode Island Red chicks that PaPaw bought for her. PaPaw set up the lights, feeder and cage for the chicks in the garage of their home so Chloe could mother them. She checked on the about 4-5 times per day. We had to hold each of the six chicks every time. She named each one: Chickypoo, Fluff, Fuzzworth, Penny, Piggy & Zee.


    PaPaw & Chloe at his booth at the Farmer's Market. If you are ever at the McKinney or Frisco Farmer's Markets look for "PaPaw's Farm".


    A random shot, I know, but I felt compelled to photograph two of the best food products from Texas. And, no, they weren't enjoyed together.


    Matt holding our nephew, Harrison.



    Chloe and cousin, Bryn, posing on the turtle statue at the Dallas Zoo. Everyday was nice and warm except for the day we all decided to go to the zoo.
     
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