Sunday, December 31, 2006

Merry Christmas to All!

Well, our first Christmas as a family was wonderful! Fun, hectic, full of memories, presents and food! Little Miss Kelsey had a great time and Kurt and I loved making her first Christmas extra special.
We started out at Church on Christmas eve morning and Kelsey was an angel in the Children's pagent. She decided while sitting with me in the sanctuary that she didn't want to sit there with the other kids, so she toddled off (I tried to hold her back, but lost!) She ended up in Pastor Brooks' lap for the rest of the kids' pagent.
Then we came home and Kelsey took a nap while Mommy baked some cookies. Then we got dressed and headed off to my sister Janet's house for our traditional Christmas eve celebration. We celebrated and exchanged gifts with my Mom, Aunt Audrey and Janet and Michael's family (kids Alyssa, Mikey and Marina) We ate antipasta, macaroni and meatballs, shrimp (not Kurt) and fritas (our favorite Italian treat!) then of course, loads of desert!
During the evening, Kelsey made one wardrobe change from her red "Santa dress" to her pj's. I bought Kelsey, Kurt and myself matching pj's for Christmas morning, a tradition I'd like to keep :)
By the time we made it home around 10ish, we were all beat! Kelsey went to sleep right away and our tree was all set up, so Kurt and I went to bed early and fell dead asleep.
The next morning, we all woke up early and Kelsey experienced her first Christmas! As you can see, there were a lot of toys, but the big gifts we kept in the family room/office (her radio flyer wagon, a bean bag chair and her mega bloks wagon) Kelsey really loved her toys and I think she was a little overwhelmed at all the stuff. Kurt and I have been opening up a few toys each night so she can see and play with everything at least once and then we'll put some aside for later.
We had our traditional puffed apple pancake breakfast and then began cooking for our next Christmas event, dinner with Daddy's family! Lola, Uncle Rich, Aunt B, Cousin Peter, Jocelyn and Dylan came to dinner! More fun and more presents forKelsey! She had just woken from a nap and was a little cranky until I brought her downstairs and she saw her Lola, well she was so happy to see Lola and everyone else!
We had ham (Daddy's favorite) sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, roasted asparagus and creamed spinach. Plus tons of dessert. Aunt B (Liz) made a whole bunch of yummy cookies and we had a ton of leftovers! I was sad to see Christmas end, but a little relieved it went so well. Kelsey could have been overwhelmed and fussy and cranky, but she wasn't. She truly enjoyed the 3 huge events in less than 24 hours. I was concerned it would be too much for her and she took it all in stride. I was and remain so proud of her!
Kelsey had a great time with her Daddy's family and took a real shine to Dylan. He's 15 and was very sweet with her!
I think Kurt either videoed this part of the night or took photos with Lola's camera, I don't have any photos of the evening Christmas event on mine! :(
The big hit of the holidays was calendars I made on for our Moms. I personalized each month with lots of photos of Kelsey and they were really special. Everyone really seemed to enjoy them!
On a personal note, I want to say thank you to my very own Santa, Kurt. I loved spending this first Christmas together as a family. You are the best husband and Daddy ever! I loved everything about our weekend!
The one tradition I didn't get to keep this year was my trip with my girlfriends early in the am on the 26th for the next day Christmas markdowns! First of all our fav after Christmas place, Treasure Island closed, and Shawn left early Tuesday for a trip to see her family and I had to work, so we skipped it this year. I was pretty bummed to go back to work the day after Christmas, but NEXT YEAR...the tradition will go on!
I hope all my readers (all 3 or 4! :) had/have an extra special holiday! And if you didn't get what you wanted for Christmas, all the stores are having mega sales!
JoAnn, Kurt and Kelsey

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wow! What a Month!

This happened
This happened (twice!)
The Tree was put up and decorated!
Kelsey did NOT cry when she saw Santa! Mommy was proud!
The last month has flown by so quickly!
We've spent it:
creating some adorable holiday cards (in the mail as I write this!)
Meeting Santa
Celebrating Advent dinner
Making 200 dozen cookies for our church's annual cookie walk and a YWCA event
celebrating my Mom's birthday with our family
Christmas shopping!
Christmas planning....decorating and having fun!
Cutting Angels for our YWCA event, Hanging of the Greens
Creating the Hanging of the Greens event and running it (Dec 11)
Another ear infection for Miss Kelsey!
Another cold for Miss Kelsey!
Another cold for Mommy!
Another cold for Daddy!
Our Angel Face is a petrie dish of germs!
Mommy and Daddy working up a storm
Kelsey now feels confident enough to walk most of the time now...the first time she really walked (not just baby steps) it brought me to tears and I was so proud of her!
Christmas cards are starting to pour in from our China travel group and Kelsey loves all the photos of the babies! She holds them and walks around with them.
Our good friend Rachel (Auntie Rae-Rae) gave Kelsey a magna doodle toy and our girl just loves it!
One exciting piece of news...Kelsey's going to be an Angel in the Children's Pagent at Church Christmas eve morning. I can't wait to see our Angel Face become an Angel for real!
On a sobering front, China has put forth a new set of criteria for new adoptive families to meet before being approved for new adoptions. They are fairly strict and I wonder if this eliminates all possibility of a Chinese brother or sister for Kelsey. We're no-where near ready for this (perhaps never) but to have zero choice in the matter is sad. Many of my fellow adoptive parents (who adopted very close to the time we adopted Kelsey) have compressed their timelines in order to try to swing another adoption before the new rules go into effect. We won't do that...but I have faith that if there is another child out there for us, we'll find him/her.
I know that China is looking out for their children the best way they can, and they should be applauded for their care and concern. It's just sad to know that many people's dreams ended this month....
Work is going very well, but its strange to have little festivity (no holiday parties or luncheons in this non-profit world) so we've been making our own. I am about to complete my 3 months of employement (hello benefits!). The company I worked for before this is such a distant memory...and I worked there almost 6 years! I tried to remember my phone number the other night and couldn't! :)
Kurt made his annual trip to Chicago and his work is going very well too. HG really appreciates him and I am very happy that they do! He's such a dedicated hard worker, and he's reaping the rewards he is due!
I can't wait for Christmas morning! I can hardly believe that THIS is THE YEAR that we celebrate Christmas with our daughter instead of being a couple. Kelsey understands the concept of presents and toys, it will be so interesting to see her interact with the warehouse full of stuff she's getting! (Mommy was very indulgent this year!) We'll take lots of photos and hopefully video of the raucus event!
Have a joyous Christmas with YOUR family. Celebrate whatever you believe in and your family most of all!
Love, JoAnn, Kurt and Kelsey

Monday, November 20, 2006

Emotions Run Deep...

Well, I spent the whole weekend with tears in my eyes. However, these were happy tears, anticipating the joy of the quickly upcoming season. I think my biggest challenge is trying to cram everything we/I want to do into less than a month.

Readers, I won't kid you. My emotions are always close to the surface. Anything to do with children, especially adopted children makes me weepy. Here's the emotional scoop on the last week:

1. After much consideration, earlier this week, I made an appointment to bring Kelsey to Target to take her holiday photos. Just making the appointment in person and telling the sales person that it's Kelsey's first Christmas at home made me tear up. I was embarassed that I "welled up" and quickly left the store.

2. When I told Kurt, he wanted to make this appointment a family photo session not just Kelsey. However, I know that everyone wants to see photos of our precious daughter, not so much us :) It meant a lot to Kurt, so I switched it.

3. I had an appointment to interview a new pediatrician. Due to change in our insurance I had to find a new one. I am not pleased about this at all! I love our Dr. group and find them incredibly flexible to our needs. We didn't have much choice in Dr's but I felt good that it was close to our house, in the same town as our original Peds and had a large group of Dr's working in it.
I must have had a miscommunication (no!) in our meeting because I thought I was scheduling a one on one appointment with a Dr. who had experience with Chinese adopted children. When I got to that appointment, I was appalled to see a few women in a room with one very young very very blonde Dr. It seems I missed the "introduction meeting" that they had scheduled me for instead. When I insisted that they gave me the wrong appointment to the very young very blonde Dr, she had the freakin' nerve to suggest that this might not be the right practice for me! As if I had a choice! Anyway, I rescheduled an appointment to bring Kelsey in. All I want right now is to have an interim Dr. until my NEW insurance kicks in and we go running back to Dr. Singer. Stupid Young Blonde Dr will not be seeing my baby!

4. I had my very first meeting on the major project I work on all year. I went with a co-worker and we had lunch at Maggiano's (a new restaurant in Bridgewater). The place was really cool and fun but the food was not good at all. Will not be going back! Plus I got lost going half a mile on 206 and was 10 minutes late. Luckily Jane was her usual charming self until I got there.

5. We are having a big fundraiser on Dec 11th. I was told the printer handling the invitations would handle everything, but they were sent the files too late so they didn't have time to do anything but print and fold our invites. That meant I had to get 4000 invitations stuffed and bulk mailed. Needless to say, not fun. However I finished them with a great deal of help from my new colleagues and they're off to the mail house first thing Monday am. (sidebar, the guy I'm working with knows Kurt's uncle from highschool and has very fond memories of his paternal Grandmother! small world!)

6. When I was going to pick up the last 2000 invitations, I fell down the cement stairs and hit the sidewalk. I felt myself fall in slow motion and all I could think about was I was going to hit my head and it was going to hurt. My Angels were looking out for me. I didn't hit my head AND I only had one bad bruise on my side. But I cried all the way to the printers! And spent about 6 hours stuffing the invitations at home.

7. Kelsey is still having trouble sleeping through the night. She wakes up crying or screaming and won't go back to sleep unless she comes into our bed. And she tosses, turns and kicks all night. We are so upset over this, because she was a fairly good (but light) sleeper all spring. Summer really screwed us up because we don't have airconditioning in her room. This is one of the things I intend to discuss with the new Dr. We have read a lot about this, and we're trying things that have worked before, but she is stubborn! (she's definately our baby!)

8. Kelsey is walking more and more. However today she didn't want to walk at all and crawled everywhere! Kurt thinks she is mad because we tried to make her stay in her crib last night.

9. The 3 of us got dressed and took Kelsey to Target for those photos. I had a few dress choices for Kelsey and went with a traditional "Santa Dress" (red knit velour with white fake fur trim on the sleeves and hem) She looked adorable! (There isn't a color I've put on her yet that I don't love on her...she looks wonderful in everything! ) It was hard to choose which photos to use because they all came out so well! I got all teary again creating our very first Christmas card. I can't wait to see it! Then we took her out to breakfast...she is such a Hoover!

10. I'm trying to finalize our marketing plan for the YWCA. I've never written one before without a few collaborators. Long and challenging, but good for my career.

11. Went to Church this morning. It always makes me a little weepy because I thank God for my beautiful baby every week. One of our congregation just returned from Guatemala with her first child. Isabell was so cute and sweet! It's hard to put into words how you feel when your adoption dreams become reality.

10. Our friends came over and took their Christmas card photo in front of our fireplace. Kelsey just loves their son....he's 13! Let's face it, my baby is a huge flirt! They also brought their dog. Kelsey just loves puppy dogs!

11. Went to Wegman's this afternoon to wrap up Thanksgiving shopping. We ate at the store. Kelsey ate Chinese food and shared half my sub sandwich! Our girl can eat up a storm! Can't wait to see her at her first Thanksgiving eating event!

12. While at Weggie's we saw our friends Jeff and Laura (the newlyweds and my former colleague and cohort) Jeff left PHI a few weeks ago and said things have gone from bad to worse. Thank God I am out of that place!

13. We are shopping for a new bedroom set. Kelsey routinely gets stuck in our bed and it's too high for her (she's fallen off a few times). Plus we've never had a real bedroom set and have been married almost 10 years! Trying to decide one of 2 sets is challenging!

14. Got weepy at dinner again...everytime I look at Kelsey I am overwhelmed at how beautiful she is. It would have been enough to get a baby. I never dreamed that she'd be so smart, loving, funny, and friendly. The cherry on top is that she is beautiful. People stop us everywhere to tell us how gorgeous she is. And people, her photos don't do her justice. She's prettier than her pictures! I am always amazed at how blessed we are.

15. Here's what I hope to get in this season:


Advent Dinner

Cookie making with Friends

Decorating the YWCA for Hanging of Greens

Mom's Birthday

Hanging of Greens Event

Rich's birthday

PW dinner

Circle dinner

cookie walk at Church

baby shower for Gillian

Open house at Rachel's

Christmas Eve

Christmas Day

New Year's Eve

New Year's Day


Hope your holiday seasons are chock full of friends, family, children and love!


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Making up for lost time

I really wanted to post a lot last week, but I wasn't able to get to Target to scan in the photos of the past week until Sunday. After we got Kelsey's haircut last weekend, her Grandmother, Lola, came to visit. Lola brought Kelsey a toy piano that Kelsey loves and tries to play like Jerry Lee Lewis (aka foot or feet on top of piano). We all hung out and had a great time

Work is going very well. I am currently working on a Holiday event that will have lots of wonderfully warm touches.

Also, we've booked our first official family photo next week. I have 2 dresses that I"ll bring for her and do a wardrobe change for them. I can't wait to see our First Family Christmas Cards!

Kelsey's First Haircut

Look at our baby! Her first haircut completely changed her look! She looks so much older to me now.

I had her hair cut because she didn't like us putting her hair in a top knot ever day and her bangs were getting in her eyes.

We took Kelsey to a kids haircutting place called, oddly enough, Kids Kutz in Westfield. They were great and really only trimmed her bangs and neatened her sides. The salon has video at every station and the kids get to choose what to watch. We picked Elmo for her. And she's sitting in a red wagon ringing a bell. She loved that! The salon also has the tables with trains that are so popular right now and both Kurt and Kelsey enjoyed playing with the trains.

Look how brave she is! I was so proud of her...she didn't flinch or get upset or anything! All the girls in the salon ooh'd and ahh'd over her.

Finally, we got an official certificate and a lock of her hair to keep forever. I'm going to create a special scrapbook page to remember this special day!

We had a great time and then took our lovely little girl home!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Fun!

Happy Halloween Everyone!
Kelsey had a great time at her very first Halloween Trick or Treat! Kelsey was an Indian Princess (Thank you Old Navy!) and she carried an Elmo treat bucket. She enjoyed herself dressing up (didn't love the headband for long, unfortunately!) but loved being out in the warm NJ afternoon.

My wonderful new company was completely supportive of my idea that I had to take her out in the afternoon and in fact, wanted me to bring her into the office so everyone could see her (what a life change!)
Here she is with her good friend Lily, the little Devil.

We tried to teach her Trick or Treat, but she wasn't really interested in saying it. She did love the Indian Woo-Woo we taught her (hopefully that's PC :)

And she liked the idea of collecting candy in her Elmo bucket, but has no idea that it's candy and she could possibly eat it! (and I intend to keep her in the dark as long as possible! Kelsey, you'll thank me some day!)

We went to a few houses, and then Daddy came home and we went to a few more, then Daddy took his tired Indian princess and Mommy out to dinner and then home again!

Kelsey also got to experience helping Mommy hand out candy to other Trick or Treaters. All in all a good time was had by all!

Enjoy the photos!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

In Sickness and In Work...

Hey All,
Sorry not to post in two weeks, but work is starting to get really busy. That lovely honeymoon time of being "the new girl" is over and now I am expected to deliver. Life is busy. It's all good, and I've been to two meetings/events since my last post. Good times.

Kelsey's also been sick...she's had what the Dr. calls the Daycare "ick" - a runny nose and a cough. She doesn't seem particularly run down, and we did get to a new work colleague's baby shower last Satuday and Church last Sunday.

Unfortunately, I got the Mommy "ick" on Sunday and it's lasted a full stinking week! A full blown, miserable cold, complete with larengitis. I felt guilty going to work and exposing my new work-mates (sorry Jane!) but I can't call in sick so early in my new job. Plus, the work events could not wait.

The worst part of it, was that I felt so awful that I didn't want to expose Kelsey to my cold in addition to her "ick" so Kurt had to take care of most of the evening parenting duties. And I missed my baby so much...I could tell she was puzzled that I wasn't picking her up and hugging and kissing her, but I didn't want her to get sicker.

We took no chances this weekend, cancelled our dinner plans with the family and hunkered in trying to get better. I know I feel alot better. Kelsey doesn't seem as congested today as she has this week, but we'll see.

Tuesday is Halloween and I know I was sick a lot with colds as a kid and didn't get to trick or treat much...I will be damned if Kelsey has to go through that too! I was trying to teach her to trick or treat today...we were practicing sticking out her Elmo bucket to get candy. Not that she knows what candy is (and she won't be able to eat any of it...she's way too young to eat candy!)

Our plan for Tuesday is to pick her up from the babysitters early and take her to work to show off her outfit. Then meet up with Susan and Lily to do some light trick or treating. Kurt will be home by 6pm and we'll take her to a few neighbor's houses then. And of course, tons of photos for the big day. Can't wait!

We also practiced walking...she's so close. She's very comfortable now walking holding onto our fingers...something that she couldn't do a few weeks ago. We'll see when she feels comfortable doing this on her own...she's close. I really want her to reach this milestone, so we can see what happens next!

No photos today, I promise more on Tuesday!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Our Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

Our adoption agency, WHFC, hosted
all their families at an event today. The day was sunny and crisp (bordering on cold) so we wrapped ourselves and Kelsey up well and headed off to Ort Farms in Chester NJ.

Kelsey loved the pumpkin patch! We rode a haybale filled tractor ride to the patch and once she was on the ground started crawling all over the place! She really enjoyed the hayride too, everytime we went over a bump, she's say "oooohhhh!"

We were able to catch-up with another family who adopted their daughter almost one year ago, the Rings. Jason, Colleen and Ashley are doing great and Ashley is the most extrodinarily little girl....I am in awe of her personality...she is pure sunshine and very mature for being barely 2 years old!

After we left Ort farms, our girl was really hungry, so we stopped at Perkins for a combination of lunch and dinner (for Mommy and Daddy). Kelsey had a great time making friends at Perkins and chowed down on a grilled cheese sandwich, fries, a taste of waffle and ice cream for desert! She had a great day and came home took a nap, had a light dinner and off to bed!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Kelsey's 100 Good Wishes Quilt

While we were waiting for China to process our paperwork and give us our referral (match us to a baby) I decided to do a traditional 100 Good Wishes Quilt.

A tradition in China, is that when a baby is born, friends and family give the baby's family a scrap of cloth and a wish. The scraps of fabric are then sewn into a quilt for the baby, who literally comes home wrapped in the good wishes of the family.

This is the front of the quilt and you can see the squares that everyone gave us. Included in the scrapbook are wishes and a piece of the fabric, so we can see which fabric corelated to which wish/person.

I spent about 4 months getting the fabrics/wishes from friends and family and also participated in a lot of swaps from different groups online. The outcome was well worth the effort and I got Kelsey's quilt about a month before we left for China.

I scrapbooked the wishes and completed that project right before my baby shower. People were very touched by the wishes, some were absolutely lovely!

This is a great gift that I am honored to give my daughter. I am incredibly proud of this quilt.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Autumn Moon Festival

On September 30, we went to LI to attend the FCC Autumn Moon Festival Picnic. We were invited by Kelsey's orphanage sister, Emily. We had a great time, although, at their very young ages, the girls don't really play together. But they had a great time on the swings and playing in Emily's wagon.
Emily's Mommy, Vicky is an amazing woman and has an incredibly generous spirit. Vicky invited us to visit and shared her yummy picnic lunch with us. Vicky's Mom, Marilyn was also there. It was a great treat to see her again, as she went to China with us and shared that very special time.
Emily and Vicky gifted Kelsey with a beautiful bracelet that has sisterhood and Chinese symbols on it. Emily wears a similar one as does another orphanage sister, Addie.
This is Kelsey and Daddy on the swings at the park in LI.

What an Angel Face!
Emily shared a wagon ride with Kelsey. I think Kelsey really liked that wagon!
Emily is such an adorable little girl, she is barely 3 months older than Kelsey, but she has a calmness and a maturity that is very impressive. She is also a fashionista! Check out that hairband!
That time in China was so special and important to us. Vicky and Marilyn were so wonderful and friendly on our trip. It was a journey of a lifetime! Many of our photos contain them and the other 17 families who made that trip with us. I will soon begin to post memories of that time with photos so you all can share the journey with us.
Take care!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Good Stuff!

This is Kelsey on May, 27, 2006 She was 10.5 months old
Kelsey was an honorary flower girl at her Uncle Rich's and Aunt B's wedding. Uncle Rich is Daddy's younger brother, who has just graduated from medical school and has since begun his residency in rehabilitative medicine.

See why Kelsey's nickname is Angel Face?

Here are two more photos, one with Mommy and one with Daddy on the same day.

I Should Introduce Myself to Cyberworld

No one's reading this blog yet; it's a private secret that I've started one. I really only showed it to my husband, Kurt last night. He said he liked it and with that ringing endorsement, I've decided to test drive it to the rest of the world. Now to decide how to promote it....

Why read JoAnn's blog? Well, I will be talking about any and all of the following topics:

  • Our daughter Kelsey, adopted from China 6 months ago. She is 15 months old now and a very happy baby. We are so blessed and lucky to have the opportunity to raise this child. She is smart, funny, fearless and amazing in every way. Plus, she's gorgeous! There will be lots of photos published of our Angel Face.
  • Being a Mommy. The main reason I've created this blog is that I want to give Kelsey the opportunity to peek into my head now while I remember all the little things. I think it's the opportunity of a lifetime for her to really know what I think and how I feel.
  • Adoption in general is a passion of I will talk about it very openly here.
  • Work? I am a Development Manager for a non-profit organization that is well known. However, marketing is a passion of mine, so yes I will discuss it.
  • Marriage and family...natch...but I promise only in a good way. No bitching about taking out the garbage on my website! Kurt and I have been married nine years and love each other very much. At first blush looking at us, we may not appear to have much in common, but our values and goals are completely aligned. That being said, adding a new baby into our mix has definately mixed things up a bit.
  • Gardening, cooking, scrapbooking, home decor/improvements...all topics I love!
  • Fashion...perhaps
  • Books? Love them, wish I had a chance to read lately. Baby books are another story.
  • Politics and religion? Probably not, my faith is personal. My political views are a mishmash at best, so not worth the effort to discuss in print.

So that's may be interesting for some, others may just want to see that adorable baby girl. Please feel free to offer opinions/advice/comments on improving the blog. Once I take it out in public, I want it to be well received!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

In Honor of Kelsey's 15 month...15 things I love about her!

1. The way she seems to delight in the world...She's such a happy baby!
2. When she crinkles her brow when she's contemplating something.
3. Her new habit of shaking her head "no" whenever you ask her a question...Even if she really means yes
4. Big sloppy drooly kisses!
5. She's a snuggler
6. Her love of Elmo
7. Her fascination with commercials...What's up with that?!?!
8. Her beautiful eyes
9. Her long piano fingers
10. Her new "word" ahhhhhh-tst! (sound like achoo!)
11. Her screams of happiness when she sees her "ga's" (the cats)
12. Her fearlessness
13. She loves puppy dogs
14. She loves my collection of Willow Tree Angels and says good morning to them every day
15. The way she's completed our lives in ways we always hoped, but never dreamed could happen!

Monday, October 09, 2006

My First Blog Post EVER

I've toyed with the idea of creating a blog for while. I'm addicted to reading other people's blogs and wanted to leave something of positive permanence for our daughter, Kelsey. Plus, it's a great way to keep up with family and friends if you can't be together in real life.

However, I knew I would never create a blog while I was employed at Profits Ho Inc. I knew that the negative feelings I had about that environment would seep into any writing I did and ruin a place that I wanted to dedicate to our family.

So I waited....

And I've been blessed...Incredibly blessed...No longer do I have to work for the "man." And yes, I know that because I worked at PHI, we were able to afford our adoption and remodel/decorate many rooms in our home.

Last Monday, I started a new chapter of my career. Or rather, I went backwards and re-started the career I should have kept 6 years ago. Doing something constructive and positive for humanity, not corporations. But, if it weren't for the skills and processes I've built by working for PHI, I would never have the opportunity I currently have.

And can I share that my commute is half a mile? That's TWO WHOLE MINUTES!!!!!!

I feel so much more relaxed than I have in over 2 years...I think it's already reflective in my face and I am feeling pretty good about our future.