Miss Gioia

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


On Saturday night in Macao, we decided to see how Gioia fared at a Cirque du Soleil performance. It was only a 90 minute show, so we were hoping she would not get too tired and chatty. We guessed right.

As the lights went down and the music came up, she started dancing in her seat. It was almost more fun to watch her reaction than to watch the show itself. For 50 minutes, she sat at the edge of her seat, eyes fixed to the performers. For the last 40 minutes, she sat back and ate some chicken nuggets, still watching the show.

On the flight back from Taiwan, she kept talking about the "crazy man with the egg" (one of the two main clowns) and the polar bear (also a random part of the show).

So the experiment was a big success. Zaia itself was standard Cirque fare - trapeze artists, jugglers, tumblers and super strong contortionist peeps - but Gioia's reaction made this show really spectacular.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Christmas Card Photo Shoot

Tis that time of the year again. Our photo shoot was much more successful than last year's attempts. Gioia is old enough now to be motivated by an ice cream bribe.

These are some of the outtakes from the session. We ultimately selected a photo of just Gioia, not one of her and Frankie. But it was a close call.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Big Girl Bed

We had a very uneventful flight home yesterday. Gioia slept on the plane and then again from 1 to 6 am, which was amazing really. She was such a big girl on this trip. We started potty training in earnest the week before we left. Turns out, it only took a series of gummy bear bribes post-pottying to get her focused on the task. I thought perhaps she might regress during our two weeks in the States, but I was wrong. She doesn't even ask for the pee pee beans (i.e., gummy bears) anymore.

When we were in one of the many hotel rooms on this trip, the housekeeping staff forgot to bring a crib. By the time it finally showed up at 9 pm, we had tucked her into the other double bed in the room. Which worked fine. Chris erected all sorts of pillow barriers to make sure she would not roll off, but she barely even turned over in her sleep.

So today, while we were keeping busy, kicking our bodies into a new time zone again, we transformed her crib into a toddler bed. A big girl bed. And she loves it.


Thursday, October 1, 2009


At the end of the ceremony and last prayer, Gioia said Amen. Indeed.

More pictures are here.


Saturday, August 1, 2009


On a typical Saturday morning, we jog to Da-an park, which is about a mile and a half from our apartment in Taipei. There is a playground at the park, and Gioia loves, loves to go on the slides.

This shot was taken about 5 seconds before she flew off the bottom of the slide and landed bewildered on her back. Ummm, you gotta stop at the bottom sweetie. Try again.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Gioia Stories

Some Gioia stories from this weekend:-

For the second time in just as many days, there was an unfortunate incident. One that involved a naked kiddo running straight to the crib after using the potty. Yuck. The sheet that had been washed the day before was MIA, and Chris was searching the apartment. "Where is the sheet Gioia," he asked. Two seconds later, she comes running up. "Daddy, Daddy - in here!" And she pulls out the stuffed Starbucks sheep from Easter. Now I'll give her that - distinguishing between 'sheet' and 'sheep' is very difficult. But the crazy thing is this: Mr. Sheep basically has been sitting on her shelf since April. He hasn't been touched or played with, not at all. He certainly isn't part of the inner circle, the special menagerie who sleep in her crib. So how did she know where and what he was after all this time?

We have been trying to get Gioia to speak English on the weekends with us because the rest of her week is basically conducted all in Chinese. Often when she speaks to me in Chinese, I tell her to "Please speak English because Mommy doesn't speak Chinese." So yesterday, we were riding home from Church when Gioia says to Chris in Chinese, "I want to eat food." He says, you should tell your mommy. To which she sadly responds, "Mama ting bu dong." Which essentially means, Mommy doesn't understand. Bwah. Ting de dong, silly billy (I DO understand). But you can ask me in English too.

Lest you think it is all fun and games around here, though, let me assure you that is not the case. We have been working very hard on "please" lately. She much prefers to scream MORE MORE MORE. Come to think of it, screaming is par for the course these days.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Church Dress

I didn't make this dress, but a friend of mine did. It is so special that I wanted to post some pictures here. The silk ribbon embroidery on the bodice and collar is delicate and lovely.

My friend owns a factory in Ecuador that makes the most beautiful children's clothing. I heard a rumor that she recently sold it. So it is a very good thing that I asked her to make dresses for Baby G from age 2 to 6. My mom's closet at home is full of dresses for years to come.

And that is a very good thing.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sweaty Days

It is that time of year again, when Taipei is so sweaty and sticky that you wind up taking two showers a day. Luckily our air conditioning works great now, so we don't have to escape to the Hyatt like last year. We spend our weekend days going outside on an adventure to entertain kiddo and then coming in and resting in the cool dark house, gathering energy to go back outside again. As I type, we are resting up in a quick break between a park outing and a grocery store run.

Speaking of running, Gioia was a tasmanian devil at the park this morning. In the picture on the left, you can see her little feet lift off from the ground in a blur. We saw turtles and ducks, flowers and kites.

More pictures are here.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

When Daddy's Away

Chris is in Singapore this week, so it is just me and G. Some highlights from our day.

- Kiddo wakes up at 6:05 am (yikes!) so I bring her and her menagerie of stuffed animals back into bed with me. After finishing her milk, she snuggles up to me, places her hand on my cheek and her nose by my nose. "I love momma," she says.

- After dropping Miss G off at school, I ran into one of her classmate's moms. "Oh, are you *Jill*'s mom?", she asks in Chinese. Jill being a pseudonym for the only little white girl in the class. "Nope, I'm Gioia's momma." Blink. Blink. I wonder how long it will take her to figure that one out.

- Daddy called while G was taking a bath. She had a full on conversation with him while standing in the tub, complete with kissy sounds. For a second, I thought she was a six year old disguised as a toddler. Right up until the point where Chris asked - "Where's Daddy," and she immediately stared intently into the phone (trying to find him inside). Perhaps Georgia Tech can wait another year after all.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Water Wings

We bought some water wings this week, in anticipation of another visit to the pool. We were not quite sure if she would take to them or not (the package said the wings were for 3-6 year-olds), but she had a blast. She swam all around the pool by herself. "I'm coming!" she shouted as she paddled from one person to the next. She was so excited that she swam around with her mouth open in a constant squeal, which meant that she swallowed quite a bit of pool water. But it was all good. Very good. Best NTD100 I have ever spent.

More pool pictures are here.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Sweet Baby Tu

It is very interesting to watch your kiddo start to mimic some of the phrases that you normally use. For example, I often say "my sweet baby Gioia" or "my sweet baby Frankie." Just as an affectionate aside.

Yesterday, Gioia walked by the couch cradling her most favorite of rabbits. "My sweet baby Tu," she said.


Chris made the drawing of Tu on Gioia's new Magic Drawing Slate, which she received as a birthday present from Grandma. A very well-used gift.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fun With Momma's Hat

Step 1. Find Hat.

Step 2. Try it on as many heads as possible.

Step 3. Giggle.

Step 4. Chase dog around the house when he grows tired of the game.

Step 5. Give dog a big hug. Thanks for playing.

Welcome to the new world order (Sorry Frankie).

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Babies

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

First Semester? Check!

Gioia finished her first semester of Montessori school this week. They sent her home with a CD full of pictures from her time at school so we could see what she had been up to. My, so busy. Stringing beads and climbing,

making the daily bread,

cleaning her shoes,

extracting the edamame,

mastering Ikebana,

reading with a friend, and

scooping up sand. Such a busy girl.

More pictures of Gioia's school activities are here.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Learning to Smile

Yesterday Gioia and her Daddy were making pancakes for breakfast. I tried to shoot a few pictures without anyone noticing, but Gioia started smiling for the camera right away. Unfortunately, she does not really have the smiling thing down quite yet. She is trying so hard though. It makes me and Chris laugh every time we see it. Which probably is confusing for her, but we have a hard time stopping ourselves.

She can usually get to something like a smile if you tell her to "Giggle," but "Smile" is a command that typically results in a hilarious grimace.

On an unrelated note, Miss G's vocabulary continues to grow. On Saturday, we were getting ready to go for a morning run. Usually we run to the park and then Gioia can play on the slide. This day we had other plans. Here is how the conversation went.

Gioia, Do you want to go for a run with Mommy and Daddy?

Yeah. Go to park.

Well, today we are going to run to IKEA to get more glasses. How about that?

No IKEA. Park.

Ok. Well, let's put your shoes on. You do want to go for a run, right?

Yes, but to the park, though.

I don't know why I continue to be surprised by the things she says, but I am. Who taught her to use "though"? And properly too?


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Birthday Girl

What luck! We are in the one country in the world where we can be sure they will spell Gioia's name correctly on the cake. Yesterday we celebrated two events: baby G's second birthday and our dear friends' wedding. It was a full, fun day.

Since there was a lot of wedding stuff going on, we had a small celebration by the pool for lunch. A few other wedding guests joined us in eating a little cake and singing Happy Birthday (in English and Dutch).

Such a big girl. So proud of you.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009


On Saturday evening, Chris and I left baby G with a babysitter. We have used a babysitter in the past, but this time we left before bedtime, before she was in her crib for the night. All day long, we talked up the babysitter. She is coming over to play with you! Isn't that fun? You can read books together...play legos...yay!

But as we were getting ready, Gioia went to the cupboard and got out her own shoes. She even put them on. When the babysitter arrived, Gioia happily called out her name. But after a few minutes, she figured it out. We weren't taking her with us. I looked over at little G, sitting small on the couch, glancing between us and the babysitter. And I saw her eyes well up with tears. Tears of knowing. Of recognition.

She survived our leaving that night. Everything worked out fine. But in that moment of stillness and tears, my heart broke for her a little bit.

This picture is my Every Day in May 5.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Dress #2

I actually think I like this version a teeny bit better than the Liberty one. The yellow looks so fresh on Baby G. She was mighty funny this morning when we took these pictures. For some reason, she needed to go sit by the wall and then eventually lie down as she posed.

Chris and I had our first parent teacher conference this week at the Montessori school. Most of it was in Chinese, but we did have the English teacher there to help Chris translate for me. We reviewed a great number of pictures they had taken of Miss G at her "work" and discussed her development.

The meeting was really a matter-of-fact report about her progress. There was no praise given at the conference, no statements like "she is SO great at blah blah," for example. Nope. Just comments like, she can pour water into a vase but often it overflows. When she is the bread maker, she remembers the correct order to add the ingredients. Good to know. I guess I didn't come to the meeting to sit around and blabber about how great she was. I think that if it had been a similar conference in the US, though, there would surely have been a little more affirmation. I'm just sayin.

We also learned that she has trouble with her Chinese pronouns, like knowing when to use wo vs ni. We nodded and said that, yes, she has the same problem in English (using me vs you). And then we said, but she is not even two yet! So its all good, really.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Funny family shot - BBQ dinner on the town with my dad

The Good: The Montessori school was on Spring break last week, so Gioia stayed home. All week she asked about her classmates, her teacher, the bus. When we were getting ready to go back to school yesterday morning, she practically raced to get ready, standing by the door with her backpack. Saying "Let's go school, Mommy."

The Bad: Last night, we had an episode in which Miss G fought valiantly against sleep. We had a difference of opinion regarding how to handle it. During the discussion, Chris said "But she is too young to be manipulating me." Ha. Double Ha.

The Ugly: Apparently Gioia got into a tussle at school today. The story we heard was that she and a boy went for a ball at the same time. Gioia got scratched in the eye, but the boy got punched in the stomach. We are not quite sure who hit whom first, but Chris says that good parents would view it the same either way. No fighting allowed. But secretly, I say - if she hit first, that's bad. If she fought back, though....is that bad?


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Where Go?

Miss G looked especially cute today in her Church dress, but she proved extremely challenging to photograph. She will run around the house, smiling and giggling. Yet the second you pick the camera up, she gets all shy and looks away. It is very much like how she behaves with strangers - talking up a storm when she is alone with us and silent as a clam when someone else joins the circle.

Speaking of talking, she is clearly progressing linguistically. It is quite interesting to watch her assimilate two languages at once. This week, she has been using Chinese grammar in her English speech. Instead of "Where did Daddy go?" it is "Daddy where go?" At the rate she is learning, though, it will be smoothed out in a jiffy. For example, she is starting to use "I" instead of referring to herself in the third person. Also, when she does say her own name, it is much clearer (i.e., "Yaya" is a thing of the past now).

It is a bit sad to see my baby morph into a little girl, but so fun at the same time. Each day she has a firmer grasp of life's many complexities. I am quite proud of her.


Monday, March 30, 2009


It is a sad day when you realize that your 22 month-old daughter's Chinese is better than yours.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thank You Friend

After we put Gioia down for the night, she often talks to herself as she goes to sleep. Normally she repeats words or phrases that she learned during the day over and over. Last night she fell asleep saying: "Xie xie peng you. Zuo mian bao le." Which means, thank you friend for making the bread.

You see, each day at Montessori, one child is the master bread maker. He or she puts on a special chef's hat and is in charge of making bread (rolls?) for the other kids. When the bread is done, they all sit down together and eat. Its so very socialist. Love it.

Thank you friend. For the bread.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Park Troubles

Most of the time Gioia is a super sweet kid. However, she has been struggling lately with strangers. Franky, she is a bit rude sometimes. Today at the park, she wanted nothing to do with the other children. Screamed at them when they joined her on the slide. Refused to say hi or play.

I don't want her to grow up to be "that kid." It is hard to watch. Perhaps it is just a phase. She is a smart kiddo, though, so I think she knows what she is doing. If this behavior persists, we are going to have to start taking her home as soon as she acts up like that. Not fun for anyone, but something needs to be done.

On a related note, Chris tried to introduce the concept of "turns" on the playground toys today. It went over like a ton of bricks.

In contrast to this slightly dour post, I leave you with a shot of what you get when you ask Miss G to smile. Not quite there yet, methinks.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Start

This week, as I gave Baby G a bath, she turned to me with a pained look on her face and said, "Pee pee!" Normally when this happens, I ask if she wants to sit on the potty. She often says yes, so I hold her over the potty. And wait. Nothing comes out though, and she goes back to the tub.

Except this time. When she actually peed. In the potty.

It was a surprise to both of us, I think, but we both broke out in big smiles. There were high fives and woo hoos all around.

I think I owe the Montessouri school an apology. They have insisted that she wear big girl pants to school so she can "feel when she wets and become self aware." I thought she was too young. I thought they were wrong. But we brought six pairs of big girl pants to school anyway, dutifully washing all of them every night. Yet despite my disdain, progress seems to have been made. Perhaps it was me who was wrong.

I don't think this means she is ready to ditch the diapers just yet. But it certainly is a big step.


Friday, February 20, 2009


Chris came home on Wednesday after a quick business trip to Japan. I worked late Thursday night, so he got to give Baby G a bath and put her to bed. As he was putting on her diaper and PJs, she said "no sleepy."

No sleepy, huh? Well, whatcha want to do then?

"Kah Toon"

Cartoons? You aren't allowed to watch TV, Gioia. So who let you watch cartoons?


Yeah. Busted.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Visit to the Park

Gioia, Frankie and I walked to a little park yesterday. Even though we live in downtown Taipei, we still have a great number of parks to choose from. Some are big, like the Sun Yat Sen Memorial hall on our street, and some are small neighborhood parks, like this one. The jungle gym and accessories are excellent at this particular park.

You can see from the collage above that Gioia was quite good at the rocking horse. You know the kind: a wooden horse stuck into the ground with a big bouncy spring. She rocked back and forth, almost violently. I think (hope) she was having fun. She didn't want to leave, which perhaps means that it was a good park visit. More pictures are available here.

It has been a rough couple of days. Gioia has been sick again with a little fever, a hacking cough and a constantly dripping nose. On top of that, though, she is getting quite defiant. Throwing little tantrums when she doesn't get her way. Being rude to people we interact with, like refusing to say thank you and screaming BU YAO when the guards at our apartment wave hello. I know this is normal, that toddlers can be difficult as they develop their own sense of self and identity. And I know it is a cliche for me to be exasperated. Tonight after her bath, Gioia gave me a hug and said, "Mommy, no time out." Hmmm. This is going to be tough.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gotta Walk Da Baby

This is one of her new favorite hobbies. Walkin' da baby doll. The littlest baby is the one which has captured her attention. She does not seem to want to walk the bigger ones, the ones which actually fit in the stroller.

Baby sleepy, she says. Sleepy.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Montessori Update

Baby G has been going to Montessori for a few weeks now. This week she basically skipped into class, she was so happy to be there. She waves BYE MOM like a big girl and then turns away from me to get started with her day.

Chris got a call from the teacher yesterday to say that Gioia had passed the probation period and would now be allowed to stay an extra hour to have lunch. Apparently she is very well behaved. Her parents mess up more than she does (forgetting to bring a change of clothes, not having the right potty-training underwear). Gioia is rocking it while we stumble along, trying to catch up.

Gioia painted these two pieces at school last week. We love them. Not just because she made them. Truly. Because they are fabulous. We are going to frame these for our living room. I have always thought it was funny how parents I knew would proudly display their kiddo's art. Look how great it is! Yay. When it really was just a little scribble. Not special at all. Not art. But perhaps there is a little parent hormone that kicks in, and you think your kid's art REALLY IS brilliant. Perhaps.

Or maybe Gioia's art just is awesome.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lantern Festival

Taipei is celebrating the lantern festival this week. Technically, the Lantern festival is supposed to be celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month of the new lunar year. I believe that would be Tuesday Monday, but practically speaking, the party has already started. We are just down the street from a big display at the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. Last night, we went for some ice cream and a stroll through the lights. I forgot the camera, so we will just have to make do with a picture of the souvenir Ox lamp (above) that now resides at our house.

Chris came back from a business trip to Japan yesterday, and we have had a nice little relaxed weekend. Gioia is really growing up. Not really a baby anymore. She still likes some of her old board books, but she is staring to bring us longer and more complicated books to read, like The Little Engine that Could. She actually sat through Peter Pan this evening. Granted it was a simplified Disney version. But still. It was not a ten second book.

Such a big girl.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009


It seems like forever since I made anything 'round here. But friends keep making babies, so sew I must. This is a ribbon blankie for a new baby girl born to our friends in England this past weekend.

The blanket is not really very girly, but since we met her parents in Beijing, I thought red would be appropriate. I also used materials from the stash, which is always good. It is about 18" square, made from two pieces of fleece with little ribbon tags lining the edges. They say that babies like these kinds of blankets a lot. When we first met her, Gioia often loved the tags on her stuffies almost more than the object itself. This little blanket was pretty simple to make. I loosely followed this tutorial.

Poor little Gioia has been quite sick lately. A little fever and a hoarse throat means that she can't go to Montessouri school for a few days. She is a trouper though. Despite being cranky and a little prone to tears, she still seems energetic and talkative. In the past month, she seems to have had a little language explosion - forming more and more short sentences, both in English and Chinese. Crazy.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Re: College (again)

Chris keeps saying that there is no way he will allow Gioia to go to Georgia Tech. Because it is a crazy difficult school. Unnecessarily hard, he says. Better to go to a silly party school, like...well... (perhaps better to keep quiet on that one).

So even though Mom, Dad, Uncle Hugh, Aunt Mary Beth and Pappy all went to Tech, she is not allowed.

Even though Smart Money magazine just said GT has the #3 best payback ratio (tuition cost relative to future earning power) of all US public colleges.*

Something tells me she may not listen.

*I went to the website to see if this Smart Money article was referenced in the top GT news stories of 2008. Umm, nope. It didn't make the cut. Apparently the news that three GT alumni are going to be on the next space shuttle was more important. So while we can't win a football game to save our lives (except the UGA game - heh), apparently we GT peeps kick ass in all other aspects of human interaction.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

First Day of School

Miss G starts Montessouri school this week. She is easing into it. Yesterday she went for an hour; today will be two hours. By the end of the week, she will be there for the full half day. The school is closed for Chinese New Year for the next two weeks, though, so this truly is a starter week.

Poor little kiddo. So jet lagged. Poor mommy and daddy who are up at 2, 4 am to play and entertain said kiddo. Rough times. At least there is school.


Sunday, December 21, 2008


Apparently Gioia is afraid of animated dolls. We first noticed it when a friend gave us a giggling and shaking Zoe doll (something like this but with animation), whom she did not like at all. Last week, Chris also saw that she was terrified of the dancing and singing animated penguins at the mall.

So the Stitch bubble machine that I got her for Christmas... How do you think that went over? Ummm, not so well.

Not good that I made her cry when opening her presents. Oops.

More Christmas present pictures are here.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gioia's Art

The other day, Gioia walked over to her easel and drew this picture. I was on the office computer, and I looked over to see her with a black crayon in one hand and a gold crayon in the other.

Obviously, her work is a graphical representation of the Georgia Tech vs Georgia Thanksgiving football game. See the overwhelming gold and black with only a faint hint of red? Smart child, that one.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things I Am Apparently Teaching My Daughter

Chris was in Australia all last week, which meant that Gioia and I took showers together each morning. She wakes up too early for me to do it in advance, and it is just easier to bring her in with me than to having her stand outside of the shower and cry.

So guess what she picked up from last week's shower time? Yeah.

Sharp, that one.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Shutterfly Love

Chris' Oma, Gioia's great-grandmother, lives in the United States. She is not a big internet user, which is not surprising as Oma is 89 years young. That means, though, that she is the only one in the extended family who does not get regular kiddo love through this website. But we really do want her to see Baby G grow. So we send her little photo books from Shutterfly every three months.*

We like the 4x4 brag book. It is the perfect size for stashing in a purse. With these little books, Oma can easily carry 18-20 pictures of Gioia around her community. Low tech for her, but easy-peasy, high tech for us. We just upload the pictures, organize them in a little book, click 'Send to Oma' and voila! It is only a little over 20 bucks too, with shipping.

A great way to keep non-wired family abreast of all things Gioia.

*I have absolutely no connection to Shutterfly. Well, no connection except for the fact that I use the company to make little books on a regular basis. Hidden blog adverts are creepy. I'm just sayin'.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008


Miss G adores bubbles. It is pretty much the only two syllable word that she can say well: Buh-BLES. Actually, she has been able to say that word for months now.

Sunday was rainy, which meant that we were pretty much stuck inside the apartment all day. We broke out the bubble shooter, the one that Gioia and the Nanny use at the park all the time. Essentially, we tried to recreate the "park" experience in the living room. Bubbles are always a hit.

This bubble device is fabulous. You dip the tip in bubble soap, pull the trigger, and then a stream of bubbles come pouring out accompanied by space blaster sounds. I could do without the noise, actually, but this little thing makes me a bubble rockstar.

We bought the bubble shooter from a vendor at the Sun Yat Sen memorial hall. In truth, Chris brought one home one day and showed me. It looked just like a little gun and I wigged out. No guns, No guns! I said. So we went back and bought another one, this time shaped like a more innocuous dolphin. The guy must have thought we were crazy, buying one bubble device and giving him one back at the same time.

Do you know how hard it is to take pictures of bubbles? Goodness.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yes, I Cut Her Hair

Gioia had her first haircut at Tony and Guy this summer. It was a success. But then our family hairstylist moved back to Hong Kong, and we haven't found a new one. About a month ago, we walked into Aveda and asked if anyone could cut her hair, as it was falling in her eyes. Well, they cut it alright. But it wasn't cut well.

As her hair was growing out, it was getting shaggy. The bangs were looking especially ratty and uneven. Since we have no one to turn to, I broke out the scissors and trimmed her bangs myself. Chris is in Australia this week, and he is asking for pictures. Hence this post.

Cutting straight hair is hard. Really hard. Her bangs are much shorter than intended, primarily because I kept adjusting to get them somewhat even. It looks better than the shaggy mess it was before, but I certainly shouldn't quit my day job.

Anyone know of a pediatric hair technician in Taipei? Call me.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Evidence That They DO Like Each Other

Lest you think from my earlier posts that Gioia and Frankie do not get along, here is evidence to the contrary. She likes him. She just doesn't want to hug him on command.

Perhaps one of these days I will get a decent shot. Probably wishful thinking, though.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Play Kitchen

Chris finished the play kitchen I wrote about earlier this week. As I mentioned before, we started with plans from this version that was posted on Ohdeedoh.

One of my favorite things about the kitchen is that Chris made a removable mini-table to insert under the sink and stove instead of a fixed shelf. This design allows Gioia to take the table out and play picnic or have a little tea party with bunny. Two toys in one.

Some design notes from the handy man himself.
- The top wooden shelf in the original version seems to just sit on top of the GRUNDTAL towel rack. All attempts to glue it down were unsuccessful. A loose wooden board is kind of dangerous, so Chris is going to have to secure it to the backboard with L-brackets.

- We could not find cabinet hinges at B&Q, so Chris used a regular door hinge for the little door. But then he had problems because the screws were too long, poking through the other side of the door. So if you make a door, remember to use screws which are smaller than 1/4 inch (or smaller than the depth of the wood you use for the door). Generally, the 1/4 inch screws were needed all throughout the project.

- Placement of the "sink" is key. We used an old stainless steel bowl from the kitchen for our version. It was larger than the one in the original and deeper. Once the sink was fixed in the top, it impacted options for other things, like the shelf and door. Shelf placement issues eventually led to Chris' removable table/ shelf idea, so it ended well in this case. But it is a good thing to be thinking about.

- The IKEA S-hooks we brought home did not quite fit over the towel rack, perhaps because they were designed for a real kitchen rack. But after Chris bent one side of the S open a bit, they worked just fine.

- Our kitchen materials and parts came to approximately US$100, more than double the claim in the original Ohdeedoh article. We bought our materials in our lovely island home of Taiwan, though, which probably was the main reason for the inflated costs.

Now that the woodworking part is done, I can play with it and add some real kitchen touches. Like sew a little curtain to hang under the stove and left of the door. Perhaps paint some staple goods on the backsplash behind the sink and stove - a sugar jar, a flour container.

Of course we now need accessories. I ordered a cute little dishes and pots set that is made from recycled milk jugs. And some wooden fruit - apples, pears, grapes. What else? Perhaps more play food.....

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Attempt #2

Argh. I can't believe you are trying to make me take a picture with Frankie again, Mom. I am so angry. Watch me throw my Tigger. There - ha HA! I showed you!

So much drama, yet Frankie stays calm through it all.

Perhaps it is time for Plan B.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Christmas Card Photo - Attempt #1

Not happening.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Parting Gift

The director of Gioia's orphanage (technically - social welfare institute, or SWI) is retiring. Fuling Kids International, the organization for children who were formerly adopted from this institution, is going to present her with a farewell gift: a digital photo frame loaded with pictures of former Fulingers. This picture was the one we sent in as Gioia's contribution.

The Chinese characters in the picture represent Gioia's original Chinese name, Fu Le Xin, which was given by her ayis at the SWI. We have kept most of her Chinese name, changing only the first character to match Chris' surname character: Bei. But for this picture, she remains a Fu, just like her brothers and sisters* who will appear with her on this retirement gift.

I hope that when the director sees the pictures of all of the happy, healthy kids, she is reminded of the special role she played in their lives. All of our children were blessed to receive such good care while they were waiting in China. Even though each child's story invariably has dark, sad elements, there are some wonderful parts too which are worth celebrating.

*Mei Mei, Jie Jie, Ge Ge, Di Di - Chinese culture has a wonderful inclusiveness of language which links little children together in a community through naming conventions. All little boys in the neighborhood are big or little brothers to Gioia; all little girls are big or little sisters. In this case, Gioia's Fuling brothers and sisters are probably closer to true brothers and sisters, beyond just the standard community language, as they all share a common heritage in a single institutional experience.

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Monday, October 20, 2008


Gioia has learned how to smile on command. If you point a camera at her and say SMILE, she will do her very best. Sometimes it looks more like a grimace than a smile, but she is clearly getting the idea.

So the next time you see her, ask Miss G to smile. She will.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Learning to Swim

What a difference a few months make. When we were last on the beach in July, Gioia was very apprehensive of going into the pool. She would cling to you in terror, like a little monkey, as you entered the water. On this trip, however, she begged, pleaded, and cajoled us to drop her in the water.

This past weekend, she made progress in three main areas: putting her mouth in the water and blowing bubbles (well, attempting to, as you can see in the picture below); jumping from the steps or the side of the pool into a parent's arms; and lying on her stomach and kick, kick, kicking in the water. In the previous picture, she is jumping off of a step into her father's embrace. Pretty brave for a 16 month old.

Not bad progress, I would say. Pool. Pool. POOOOOOOOOL.


Friday, October 10, 2008


We have always raved about how Gioia is such a good traveler. Well. That was true until yesterday. On our four hour flight to Thailand, she was THAT CHILD. You know the one. To be fair, it wasn't all her fault. She had a hard time napping on the noisy plane where they announced stupid things every five minutes: "And now the flight attendants will pass out juice and water." Argh, people. Do you really need to be that loud? In multiple languages? Sigh.

As soon as she got to the hotel, though, her mood cleared. Gioia loves hotels, most especially the fluffy beds with fancy sheets. She learned how to say "pool" this morning, and she seems unlikely to forget anytime soon. Pool. Pool. POOOOOOL. In addition to swimming, she has also met the hotel's resident baby elephant. A pretty good start to the trip, I think, despite her shenanegans on the flight.

More pictures from the trip so far are here.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Operation Nap

Ever since we met her in Fuling, Gioia has been taking two naps a day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This was the status quo for eight months, and it was working well until lately. She has been going down fine for her first nap, but she fights the second one like a champ. It takes her 45 minutes to an hour to fall asleep, which in turn pushes her wake up time to late in the day. Which interferes with dinner. Also, she has been staying awake in her crib at night longer than usual, sometimes all the way through her music. Not good.

Something had to be done.* Specifically, we need to make the inevitable transition to one nap a day. The key to success (we think) will be keeping her up through the morning without too much crankiness and tears. After all, her body is still used to going back to sleep at around 10 am.

The plan: keep her awake and distracted. Today was the first day. Operation Nap. We got up, went out for breakfast, came home and showered (I know - gross), and then went for a strategic, distracting walk in the park.

By the time we made it out the door for the park (10:45 am), Gioia was a little woozy. She demanded that we take bunny along, teetering on the edge of tears. We quickly caved in, even though we generally do not like for bunny to leave the house. God forbid he go AWOL. That would be a disaster akin to a nuclear war. Thankfully, no bunny was left behind on this mission.

It was a gorgeous day for the park - the sun was bright, but the wind was gentle and cool. When it got too hot, we ducked beneath the shade where students were practicing drumming exercises and old ladies were doing tai chi. We saw fish and birds, and Gioia danced around with bunny, tap tap taping in her new shoes.

At 12:20, we headed back home for lunch. She ate well and was yawning by the end. She went down at 1:30 with no fuss at all. And then, she slept for two hours and ten minutes. Enough time for me to take a deliciously long nap as well. You know - sleep when the baby sleeps and all that. Ha.

It was a success, this first day of Operation Nap. Let's see how tomorrow goes. And tomorrow. More pictures of today's outing are available here.

*She also is going to be attending Montessori school every morning (9 to 12) starting in January, so she needs to learn to be active in the morning and save the sleeping for later in the day. Truth be told, though, this decision was not 100% driven by Gioia's needs. We have a beach trip coming up next week and a larger family vacation to Turkey in December. Two naps a day is not so convenient for traipsing around Istanbul. Like I said, something had to be done.


Thursday, October 2, 2008



Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our Pediatrician Needs a Crash Course in Statistics and Inference

Chris took Gioia to the doctor today to discuss a little rash on her face. No biggie there, but they took her vitals for her records (as they always do when we come). Turns out she has gained 0.4 kilos since her 15 month visit, which was a month ago. So the doctor says, "She has gained too much weight this month. You need to watch what she eats. No more rice or noodles. Only fruit and veggies and meat."

Um, what? Before we dissect Gioia's diet, let's take a step back and see if the conclusion that Gioia is gaining too much weight holds up to scrutiny.

Data Review #1 - Peer Group Comparison

First, let's look at how she compares other 16 month old females.
  • Height 32.5 inches/ 83.6 cm (88th percentile)
  • Weight 11.5 kilos/ 25.3 pounds (75th percentile)

So the data confirm what we can tell by just looking at her: Gioia is big for her age. But not fat. She is very tall and of an appropriate weight fer her height. Taller than 88 percent of her peers, and heavier than 75 percent of them.

If she were in the 75th percentage in weight, but 40th percentage in height, then we might have an issue.

Data Review #2 - The Historical Record

Second, looking at Gioia's historical weight data, we see that she has been between the 68th and 81st percentile in weight since we brought her back to Taiwan.

Data Review #3 - The Height Perspective

Third and finally, the same pattern holds in her height data: she has been in the 82nd to 94th percentile since February.

So she has been tall (OK, really tall) for a long time. Again, if she were heavy and short, that would be one thing. But she is not.

To top it all off, here is a nice little internet tidbit: "Toddlers aged between six and eighteen months can have widely fluctuating growth curves because the rate of growth is higher in this period. So the doctor will especially be looking for changes in the percentile ratings to see if the relative size of your baby is stable."

Conclusion: Dr. X's* assessment that a one month weight gain of 0.4 kilos (taken in isolation) is cause for a diet was not consistent with the data. I have a sister-in-law who is a pediatric nurse and a brother who is an internal medicine resident, so I am sure that if I am wrong here someone will correct me. Please do. But for now, I stake my claim that my daughter's doctor needs a refresher in statistical inference.

She eats a balanced diet - no junk food - with lots of veggies, fruits, and other healthy things. She is fine.

For those of you who have made it through this boring rant, I leave you with a sneaky night shot. Note the position of her beloved bunny. Today, we fed bunny lunch and tried to put shoes on him, all at Gioia's request.

*Not his (or her?) real name. Ha.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lifebook (version 1.0)

One of the things that social workers encourage you to do for your child is to create a lifebook, a book to help tell the story of her early life. Research has shown that is good to encourage open and honest communication about a child's adoption, about her story, even from a very young age. Little ones will spend quite a while just listening to you, but one day they will start to ask questions and have a real discussion about some pretty deep issues. It is our job as parents to help our kids learn about their story and to feel safe in asking all the questions they need to ask.

Adopted children have some pretty big holes in the story of their life. We cannot answer all questions, not even most questions. We only can try to tell her what is known. How much she was and is loved: by us, her parents, by the ayis at the social welfare institute who bathed her and fed her, by the person who placed her near the gate to be found instead of killing her.

I have been meaning to make Gioia's first lifebook for quite a while. This is hopefully the first of many, as she will need a deeper and richer story as she gets older. Perhaps one day she can help assemble her own lifebook.

For now, we started with the basics: a blank board book, some pictures from her time at the social welfare institute, and a simple narrative of her life from birth to the day she officially joined our family. A book to foster a conversation about who she is, where she came from and how much she was loved and cared for, by God and by man, even in the bleakest of times.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Genographic Project

Image source: Wikipedia

I am in the US this week for business. Guess what I am carrying around in my backpack, in a small envelope ready to drop in the mail? Gioia's DNA samples. Yep. Kinda weird, huh?

I read about the Genographic Project a few months ago and ordered a kit right away. If you are not familiar with the project, this is an effort by the National Geographic Society and other researchers to track and catalogue the paths of our ancestors by examining our DNA. If you send in a sample, you receive an overview of the migration path of your ancestors - your specific haplogroup - over tens of thousands of years. Women can test only their matrilineal line, while men can test matrilineal or patrilineal lines (those crazy Y chromosomes). Participation in the project not only allows you to obtain personal information about your ancestors' path from Africa to wherever you landed on this green earth, but you also are contributing to the advancement of human knowledge about such things. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

My daughter was adopted from China. She does not know anything about her birthparents, her birthgrandparents. One day, that fact will be a hard one for her to bear. It is hard for me to bear some days, frankly. One of the things that drew me to this project was the opportunity to give her some connection to her ancestral past, to her genetic heritage.

So that is why I am sitting in the Dulles airport this afternoon with two little tubes of DNA. Weird, yes. But also very cool.

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Friday, September 12, 2008


Gioia loves, loves, loves to read. In the morning, after she finishes her milk, she immediately signs "down" and "book." If you ask her to go get a book from her room, she will bring one of her favorites:

What Do You Say?
Where is Baby's Belly Button?
And the whole Baby Be of Use series*

She doesn't have the patience for longer books yet. We keep trying to foist them on her, with a false cheerfulness. Hey! Let's try this one! What do you think? Because frankly, reading the same books OVER and OVER is ... ummm ... tedious. But she is not fooled. Oh no. Get away from me with your Guji Guji and your Mister Seahorse, she says. Now let's do the belly button book again, Mom.

OK baby. Let's do.

*I bought these books as a joke, especially the Baby Mix Me a Drink book, but she adores them. Perhaps they are the right size, the right, length, the right amount of pictures. So now she knows how to balance my checkbook and to make me a margarita.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Xie Xie

One of Gioia's favorite phrases lately is Xie Xie, or thank you in Mandarin. Each morning, she repeats:

Xie Xie. Xie Xie. Xie Xie. Ma Ma. Ma Ma. Xie Xie. Ma Ma.

Well, you are welcome baby. Certainly.

It is interesting because I don't think many English speaking babies are saying Thank You at this age. Thank you is hard for a fifteen month old. They have to put the "Thanks" with the "you," which is hard to do. But Xie Xie is easier, at least for Gioia. It is one word, really, just repeated. She tends to turn words into repeated phrases anyway - like saying "fu fu" for Dou Fu (tofu). Xie xie is much easier for her than thank you. The pleasant result of all of this is that I have a fifteen month old who thanks me all the time.

On an unrelated note, we just found out that babies should not be given bubble baths. They can cause yeast infections. Umm, ooops. Because she has had a bubble bath every other night since...well... we got her. Yeah, oops.

So bubble baths are now a thing of the past. But, as a remnant from our previous, ignorant days, we have this massive tub o' bubbles sitting in the bathroom. Tonight as I gave her a (bubble free) bath, she repeatedly pointed at the container. I finally brought it over and asked, "Is this what you wanted?" She looked straight at me and said: "bubble."

Oh dear. No more bubbles, kiddo. How do you explain "Mommy screwed up" to a toddler?


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Catching Up

I have been a little discombobulated lately, primarily because I took a quick little business trip to Macao this week, from Sunday to Tuesday night. I forgot my camera, which was frustrating. It was probably just as well because I never left the Venetian during my entire stay. The rooms there were quite fancy, as was the spa pedicure I sneakily arranged after my official day was done on Monday evening.

If you have been to the Vegas version, then you would recognize the Macao one for sure. But the interesting thing is that in Vegas, everyone drinks while gambling but no one smokes indoors. In Macao, everyone is sober, but the cigarette smoke is so thick it could kill a horse.

It was a good time, though. Not a bad place for a conference, really.

While I was gone, Chris took Frankie to the vet to see if a spot on his tummy was cancer. It wasn't. Thank God.

Speaking of medicine, Gioia went to the doctor today for her 15 month check-up and Japanese Encephalitis shot. Because ... WOW.* Yes, we let the nurse stick Baby G in the leg with a big ol' needle. Last time, with the MMR shot, she cried out in surprise and anger, one of those silent screams which break your heart to watch. You know the one: the scream where she squeezes her eyes super tight, opens her mouth in a noiseless yowl, and turns bright red, shaking with rage. Ya. Scary.

But this time, it was more of an indignant scream. A "what in the world" and "ow, my leg" kind of scream. Baby G is growing up. She is fierce and independent. On the way out of the hospital, she walked all by herself. We kept offering her our own hands as support, but she kept shaking her head - no. No.

* Full disclosure - I was worried about safety and efficacy, so I did a *little* research. Reassuring.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Playdate: Yu Kids Island

Gioia had her first playdate today with a daughter of one of my co-workers. We met up at a Yu Kids Island outlet, which was basically a playcenter full of balls, slides and bouncy things tucked away in a corner of a shopping mall. Gioia was very tentative at first, but by the end she had to be carried away kicking and screaming because she was having so much fun.

Gioia seemed to like the ball area most of all. She didn't even care when an older boy pelted her in the head with a big bouncy one. Intentionally, I might add.

It was a good day. The little ones didn't really play with each other, more around each other, but I think that is normal social interaction for 12-14 month olds. We need to find more opportunities for Baby G to get out an socialize, though. Chris and I decided to put her in a Yo-yo Ban (which means toddler) class at a local Montessori school, but that will not start until January. We want to make sure she learns how to play nicely with her peeps before then.

More pictures are available here.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I have been wanting to make Gioia a pinafore dress for a while now. In my mind, it needed to be A-line and have a pocket in the very front. Nothing less would have been acceptable.

The base pattern for this dress was a vintage ebay find: the Jiffy play-set from 1964 (#5480). This is a size 1, but I think it is a little bit big for my 14 month-old kiddo. But it should be useful for a while, even perhaps as a top as she grows taller.

I fiddled around a bit with the pattern. I made it reversible, mainly because I strongly dislike facings. I also used buttons in the back instead of a zipper closure. I added the pocket to one side, and an applique heart to the other.

The floral fabric is a Liberty lawn, and the plaid is of unknown origin (but matches the weight and hand of the Liberty).

For the record, MissG was not too keen on posing in her dress. She started by the chair, dropped quickly to her knees, then moved to her crib to kiss bunny. When I moved her back to the chair to see if I could get a good shot, she pitched a big fit (as you can see in the lower right quadrant above). Nice.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Like Father, Like Daughter


Saturday, August 9, 2008

First Haircut

Gioia had her first haircut today. We took her to the Tony and Guy stylist who does both Chris' and my hair. He seemed a bit surprised to have a baby for a customer, but he did a great job.

Gioia was really good. She sat on Chris' lap, and hardly fussed at all. She only needed one water break.

As a treat after the haircut, she was allowed some gelato from the Italian restaurant across the street. She hated it, as you can clearly see from the picture below (jk).


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Breakfast Photo Shoot

It has been a while since I posted pictures of my pretty little baby. Since I was away last week, I have been using all of her awake time for playing instead of picture taking.

This week, she is working on walking by herself. The nanny is teaching her to hold her shirt while she walks, which keeps her upright and balanced. Without that trick, she tends to race along with her arms stretched out, zombie-like. Not sure how zombies do it. For little Miss G, arms outstretched while tottering is a recipe for a crash.

Look who uses the sippy cup without any help now. If you ask her how big she is, she will definitely tell you: So big!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

This Past Week

Our life in the past week was a bit unconventional, even by our standards. We lived in a hotel for four days (unexpectedly) because our landlord agreed to replace the AC units in the apartment - all at one time. Which produced a tremendous amount of dust, noise and mud from 25 year-old pipes. Chris called me at work on Tuesday morning (about 1 hour after all of the workers arrived) and said - "We are moving in to the Hyatt." I responded - "Whatever you say, baby." Sign us up!

At the end of the week, we moved back home to a completely filthy house. Dirt is splattered all over the walls, floors, pictures, and papers. We seriously need an industrial cleaning crew to come scrub-a-dub, but we have no idea if such a thing even exists in Taipei. I am sure our comlpetely useless maid will come on Monday, do some half-hearted sweeps with a rag, and then delcare herself finished for the day. Meawhile I am not able to clean a thing as I am scheduled to be in Orlando and Chicago this week. As I sit here, sipping my business class lounge coca cola, I am very a little guilty to be skipping town immediately after the wrecking ball descended on our little apartment. On the bright side - Chris and Gioia are now much, much cooler.

Some neat experiences from this past week:

- As we were leaving the hair salon last Saturday, my stylist noticed that Gioia's hair was a bit long. He said - oh let me trim her bangs a little. As he leaned forward with the scissors, Chris immediately snatched her away, almost instinctively. NO THANK YOU. Please don't cut my baby's hair. As he said to me later - we haven't even talked about that yet!

- Gioia is understanding more and more every day. Yesterday she crawled to the bathroom and gave me a shoe. I said - now go get the other shoe. And then she actually did.

- We were taking Frankie out to go potty this morning. As he was doing his business I said: "Frankie's poopin'." She responded with "Da bien," which is the Chinese way of saying #2. Well, yes sugar. That is correct.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

A Girl Needs Shoes, Doesn't She?

About a month ago, Chris came to me and said, "the credit card company just called. Did you really buy US$XXX.XX worth of shoes over the internet." Ummm, yes. Busted. But they were not for me. Oh no.

I bought nine pairs for little Miss G in sizes 5.5 and 6, the next two sizes up. Oddly how they all seem to be different sizes now that I see them. One shoe is supposed to be a US6, but it is smaller than another shoe that purports to be a 5.5.

Little shoes, all in a row. So cute.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Big Day

Gioia's daddy has been in the US all week for work, so it has been just the two of us (OK, and the nanny during working hours). Yesterday, we went to my friend's house to swim in her super phat pool.

It was a seemingly small thing - go to pool, swim - but it took a whole lot of effort. First, Miss G babbled in her crib for a whole hour at naptime and then slept for another hour, so we were miserably late even getting started. When we finally made it out the door, I struggled to find a taxi with seatbelts, install the carseat, get Gioia settled, and then get in myself so we could get going. Stupid me remembered later that I could have just called up our car guy and had him drive us around for the day. That would have been immeasurably easier.*

We made it to the pool - albeit two hours later than promised - and had a fun time. The nice pool dude even blew up Gioia's floaty thing, so she was able to splash around with ease. She was much more comfortable in the pool this time, perhaps because she had so much practice in Indonesia.

We went to Costco next, to stock up on baby wipes and vittles. By the time we made it home, it was 6 p.m. We had missed Miss G's second nap and she was starting to lose it. I decided to lay her down in the crib for a quick cat nap. She slept, and slept, and slept. The catnap turned out to be "down for the night." Oops.

It is hard to work it all out alone. How in the world to single parents do it? Wow. Hats off to ya.

*We decided not to buy or lease a car here in Taiwan, primarily because it works out to be much cheaper to just rent a car and driver whenever we need it (which is usually for four hours or so on the weekend). But in order for this deal to work, I have to actually remember to hire the car service on days like these.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Baby has pretty bad diaper rash.* Probably because it is four billion degrees in Taipei and humid as a rain forest. Poor thing.

I had the pleasure of staying home with Gioia today. The nanny's brother in-law passed away suddenly last night, so I told her to go be with her family. Kiddo and I had a nice little unexpected day. Every time I asked if she wanted to have her diaper changed, though, she would cry sadly. When I laid her down on the changing table, she looked up at me and made the baby sign for gentle. This happened two times today, so it was not a fluke.

I was (and still am) shocked by this. It makes sense when she uses signs back to us for concrete things, like cheerios or doggie. But "gentle" is a very abstract concept. Yes, we have been teaching her the sign for gentle for a few months now, mostly using it when she yanks my hair or bites her daddy's chest (ha ha). Goodness, doesn't it just seem crazy that my thirteen month old child can instruct me to be gentle when I am starting to change her diaper? It signals that a bunch of things are going through her brain. 1) Her bottom hurts. 2) If I touch it roughly, it will hurt more. 3) If she tells me to be gentle, I MAY HURT HER LESS.


Baby G is sleeping bare-assed naked in her crib tonight in hopes of letting the fresh air heal her little bottom faster. I hope it works. I also hope she doesn't poop on Bunny.

What a crazy thing, to watch her grow.

*No pictures on this post because........ewwwwwww....


Crazy Cakes

One of the foundational books in the Chinese Adoption cannon is I Love You Like Crazy Cakes. Written by a lady who went through the China adoption experience, this book focuses on a single mom's trip to China and back again to adopt her daughter. Before we got Miss G, I thought it was a sweet little book. I still think it is sweet, but probably will not read it to her again.

Tonight, as Gioia and I read Crazy Cakes together before bed, I was struck at how personal the story was. It is written in a direct, clear voice - "Your nannies brought you and your friends from the countryside to the city to meet us." "On the long trip home, you stood up in your seat and smiled at the man behind us."

A nice story, yes, but not our story. First of all, there is no Daddy. If there is one thing which is fundamental to our family's adoption story, it is the fact that Chris and I were both 100% participants in the process. He and I shared everything about that trip, from the day we received Baby G's first photos to the three and a half weeks of traveling to bring her home to Taiwan. We fought over carrying her in the mei tai, and traded off rocking her back to sleep when she filled her diaper at 3 a.m. Single parenting is fine, of course, but not our story.

As I read through the book, the small details that were not quite right kept leaping out at me. Baby G, you slept in a pack and play that we carted from hotel to hotel so we could establish consistency in your bedtime routine. You did not sleep with linens from America, but in a sleep sack that your mommy made and a little elephant from Bangkok.

When we finally made it home, we opened the door to our apartment in Taipei and collapsed in a pile of suitcases. We did not have a welcome committee of family and friends that first day, but they all came to see you over the next four months - one by one, flying 24 hours just to meet you, hug you and say hello.

This was your adoption day story, not the one in the Crazy Cakes book. I was perhaps so bothered by it all because little Gioia seemed to be listening so seriously to the story. Here I was, saying things like - and then we dressed you up in crazy hats and took funny pictures. But we didn't. And I don't want to tell you a story that is not yours.

Maybe when you are much, much older Baby G. But for now, I will put this book away and instead tell you your story.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Chris, you are a wonderful Father.

Happy Daddy's Day.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bunny (again)

Several of you States-side peeps offered to keep your eyes out for the elusive bunny. Even if it all comes to naught, I am so tickled that people are willing to help a little bitty girl who lives so far away.

Here he (she?) is, admitedly a little more worn out than a brand new one. Originally, this bunny had a super soft fuzzy fleece exterior, with slightly darker soft fur in the ears and feet. Bunny is approximately 12 inches high from his toes to his head (ears not extended).

If anyone finds another bunny, I'll happily pay for any and all associated acquisition and transportation costs. Such sweet internet friends you all are.

More pictures from today's photo shoot are here.


Monday, June 9, 2008

More Bunnies... Must Have More Bunnies!

Gioia has been sleeping with a little, soft bunny rabbit. My mom brought it as a gift for Gioia when she and my Dad visited us in Beijing for Christmas in 2006. When we first met Baby G, she was pretty indifferent to her sleeping companions. She needed something to suck on, yes, but was not concerned if we substituted the elephant for the Waldorf baby.

Apparently much has changed. We - stupid parents that we are - decided to wash the bunny today. Because it was stinky. Because we are all going to Beijing tomorrow and we thought it would be a good idea to take a clean rabbit on the journey. Surely we can give her another rabbit to fall asleep with tonight. Or the elephant. Whatever.

Oh my gracious, were we ever wrong. She cried and cried. The bunny was still in the dryer, so we rocked her for the longest time. Chris burned his hand checking on the bunny in the dryer early in the crying episode. Still wet.

Guess what finally calmed her down? Yeah. Only the bunny. When he was finally dry.

As soon as she fell asleep, I scoured the internet to find more bunnies. But hey - guess what? Pottery Barn no longer carries that exact type of bunny. I even checked Ebay sellers. No luck.

I ordered two new PBK bunnies that look semi-close, but aren't exactly her bunny. How much you wanna bet she will know the difference? I think so.

Please Lord, do not let us lose this bunny.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

She Loves to Swing

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

How Big Are You?

When he was growing up, Chris and his sister had their measurements marked on a wooden stick made by his Opa. The stick said, in Dutch, the following:

This stick shows you
at all times
how small you were
how big you are

A few months before Miss G's birthday, Chris asked his parents if they could make her a measuring stick too. Wow, did they ever.

Chris' dad designed the stick to fold in half for easy storage in our apartment and traveling life. He cut out the wood, printed out the images, and painted and varnished it from top to bottom. There even is a custom carrying case that Chris' dad designed and sewed. The top has a circle for easy hanging, and the back has precise measurements marked in inches/feet and centimeters/meters. Chris' mom selected all of the images; some even came from this website!

What a fabulous, thoughtful, homemade gift. Thank you Rod and Linda!

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Almost There

Just three weeks ago she would cry when we put her hands on this push toy thingy. Now look at her go.


Monday, May 26, 2008

First Bday Party

A successful birthday party is one in which you have "happy birthday" sung to you in three different languages (English, Dutch and Mandarin). One where you have your first cupcake and suck the frosting all off. One where every person at the party wanted to hold you (but you only wanted mommy and daddy).

The cupcakes were good, the guests were so lovely, and you were adorable, dearest Miss G. We love you baby girl. More pictures here.

This was also a party where the dog swiped a cupcake off the coffee table and dropped it on your mom's boss' feet. Nice.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Birthday Welcome

Welcome to my party!

I turn one this week, and everyone is invited to celebrate with me. Come on in. Have a cupcake (or two).

Door hanging made from nursery fabric scraps (yes, I still have some), fabric stamps, and sitchettes made long ago from a WeeWonderfuls pattern.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mother's Day Outing

This has been a crazy week. We are at the peak of the peak season at work, and it is hard for me and my team. As a result, I am writing about our Mother's Day outing almost a whole week late.

While Mother's Day may be a bit of a commercial holiday, designed to get people to buy cards and flowers and things, it is nonetheless nice to have a whole day in which you are reminded every minute that is is a sweet and wonderful thing to be a momma.

People take Mother's Day very seriously in Taiwan. The restaurants and sidewalks were packed with families in their Sunday best. Everywhere we looked, we saw little girls in nice dresses and mothers - young and old - with flower bouquets.

Our family went on a walk to the flower market to buy a tree for the balcony. Then we stumbled upon Da'an park, which is a large and verdant space very close to our house. I was so excited by the farmers' market at the entrance. We bought seedless (!) grapes, corn and other delights. The corn turned out to be gross (fit for only pigs back home), but everything else we bought was yum.

I have always been puzzled why Chinese people eat chewy tasteless feed corn. Why not plant some sweet corn? Do they just not know how delicious a good ear of sweet corn is in the summer? Lately I have begun to wonder, though, if they really do prefer the non-sweet kind...But I digress.

All in all, it was a lovely Mother's Day. We walked around in the sunshine and breezes, bounced to the beat of a group of geriatric drummers marching in the park, and snacked on street food and stray grapes. Wonderful indeed.

More pictures here.

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Monday, May 12, 2008


Come help us celebrate with
a cupcake or two…

Little Miss Gioia is
turning ONE!

Sunday, May 25
4:00 p.m.

The party invitations are finished! Phew.

I had a difficult time with these. First, the laser printer did not want to print my text without smudging. So my tech support (Chris) and I printed almost 20 of them to get to a useable number. Then, the cardstock I used for the invites was not really watercolor paper. So the paint tended to sit on top instead of soaking into the paper like normal.

But I wound up with eight passable invitations. They are pretty close to the idea I had in my head.

Chris asked what the party theme was, and I said "cupcakes"! He says - that's not a theme. That's a food. Hmmm. My position is that - for a one year old - I am not sure if I have the energy for anything more elaborate. Wine for the adults, juice for the kids and cupcakes for all. Good enough, I say!

On a related note, we have searched all over Taipei for cupcake baking pans and cannot find them ANYWHERE. We have conscripted my mother-in-law to bring some pans when she comes. That means no practice cupcakes, but at least it is something. Although, she did ask if we had been to IKEA yet. Stupid us, probably IKEA does have cupcake pans. If I get any spare time, maybe I will check there too.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Completing the Gift: Mattress

Gioia's birthday gift is nearly done. I made a mattress and little bitty pillow. The mattress is anchored in four points to simulate the indentations of a real one. It would have been cuter to use covered buttons in each of the four points. Perhaps I can add those later when choking is no longer a risk.

The pillow is cute too, but a little too small. Maybe I can make another, bigger one. Maybe not.

So much to do still this month. I have to:

-Make invitations for G's party (this weekend)
-Start on the doll quilt for the swap (this weekend)
-Find a cupcake pan (this weekend)
-Make dolly outfit, perhaps knit a little sweater (on my flight to/from Shanghai next week)
-Finish the swap quilt (next weekend)
-Make trial cupcakes for party (next weekend)
-Prepare for the party: shop, cook, decorate (whenever possible)

If I have extra time, maybe I can also make some party decorations, perhaps some bunting....Hmmmm. Better get started.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Hug Me

We have been teaching Gioia baby signs, and she has learned quite a few. She recognizes /makes signs for more, doggie, eat, stars, and others. This week, though, she made up her own sign for hug (shown above).

This sign derived from hugs with her stuffed bunny rabbits. We would say - give bunny a hug - and then wrap her arms around her bunny and encourage a hugging, rocking motion. After a few times of being directed, she now can hug any toy on her own after you say "give (insert toy name) a hug."

Anyway, one day she wrapped her arms around herself and looked at us. One of us (I can't remember if it was me or Chris) said - do you want a hug? And then we hugged her. She immediately made then sign again. So we hugged her again. The first session was such a fun surprise. I think we gave her four or five hugs in a row that first time. You can see Chris responding to her baby sign for hug below.

Yesterday, she was sitting in the middle of the floor after a crawling and exploring session. I caught her eye and she made the hug sign. So I went over and gave her some hugs, all on her command. Then Lisa came over and continued the hugging under Gioia's direction. After about eight hugs in a row, she suddenly made the sign for "all finished," so we stopped. All finished is a sign we make after eating, when it is time to get out of the bath, and when the bottle is done.

So she now has the ability to command a hug and to have the hugging stop, all under her own direction. At 11 months old, I think that is incredibly cool.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Quilt One

The first doll quilt is finished. I am actually pretty happy with the final product. I used my new walking foot to machine quilt around each little rectangle in the Chinese coins pattern. For the binding, I loosely followed Heather Bailey's tutorial. I say loosely because I was all like - oh yeah, I totally get the mitered corner dealios. When I did not get it. At all. So, on the next quilt - the REAL swap quilt - I will pay more attention.

But despite the crazy corners, the binding looks nice overall. I sewed it up quickly the first time and it looked like crap. Then I spent 20 minutes on the internet saying dear Google, show me a better way! Two times is a charm, apparently.

So the birthday quilt is done and draped over the assembled IKEA dolly bed that Chris brought back from Atlanta. Yes, I am desperate enough to import doll accessories for my daughter's birthday. We even have an IKEA in Taipei, but they don't sell doll beds. How stupid is that?

I want to make a little mattress and pillow this week to complete the bedding. Then on to other projects.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dear Daddy

We have missed you this week. Mom says you are bringing my doggie home. I am not sure what a doggie is, but perhaps I will like him.

While you were gone, I have been crawling more, mostly with the nanny. When Mom's around though, I want her to hold me instead. She is a sucker for sure.

Today we went for Mexican for lunch. I think I looked pretty hot and stylin' in my borrowed shades.

Jack let me play with the water at lunch, which made me giggle.

We are having a good time, but we can't wait for you to come back.

I love you,



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pile o' scraps

I have been in a creative rut lately. I am missing my normal urge to get off the couch and make something. I contemplate, yes. But the actual "doing" is a problem.

I have, however, birthday gifts for my baby to plan. After seeing all of these fabulous doll quilts, I decided to try my luck with a pile o' scraps.

To make sure I follow through with actually making something, I signed up for a doll quilt swap. By the end of May, I need to make two bitty quilts: one to mail out to my swap partner and one to give to a little girl who is getting bigger everyday.

Speaking of whom, I know that some of you care not one whit for my crafting plans. You only come here for kiddo pics. OK, fine. You twisted my arm.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Adoption Announcement Outtakes

I ordered Gioia's announcements when we got home in February. For many reasons, they just arrived last week. Of course it would have been best for me to have the photo inserts shot, printed, and ready for stuffing. But no.

So we had a little mini photo shoot this weekend when we had an extra pair of arms. These are some of the outtakes from the day.

I dropped the final photos off at the print shop today. Now I just need to find time to pick them up. And stuff and address 100 envelopes. Else we will be sending these out when she graduates from high school.


Friday, April 4, 2008


What!? I'm not supposed to eat the bubbles?

Dude. Where's the fun in that?


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mail Goodies!

We just got a fabulous package in the mail. Well, not really we. It was a gift for Gioia. But I like it so much that I am secretly calling it mine. When we opened the package, I said, Gioia these are from your first cousins... once removed... and second cousins... Hey, how about we just call them family.

Our cool relatives from Texas sent wonderful embroidered gifts. First, a cotton blanket that is a perfect weight for the stroller on these cool-then-warm-then-cool-again spring days in Taipei. Gioia also got a sweet monogrammed shirt and these fantastic bloomers. I think bloomers are one of the best things about having a daughter. Seriously, aren't they fabulous?

Thank you guys! We love them. Megan, you do very nice work.


Thursday, March 27, 2008


Gioia is ten months old today.

In the two months we have known her, she has learned to wave hello, sit up without support, stand steadily while holding on to something, go from a sitting position to standing in her crib, pick up her feet and move forward while we hold on to her hands, roll over, crawl backward.

She starts dancing to Bob and Ziggy Marley immediately when they come streaming over the internet. Sometimes she will dance when you sing to her as well. It is a rocking, rocking dance, one that is quite intentional. Mozart, for example, does not cut it. Elvis and the Marleys, though, KICK IT.

She munches up her veggies, but makes faces at chicken and yogurt. She does not like to be on her back for changes, especially after lunch. She sleeps from 7:30 pm to 7:30 am. Every night. She loves to be held upside down and will throw her head back and arch her back to try to get you to do it again and again.

When she wakes up in the morning, she talks to herself for quite a while. Chris and I fight to be the one to get her up (seriously, we fight). That is because when you walk into her room in the morning she looks over sleepily. Then she slowly, slowly breaks into a smile of such joy that it completely makes your day.

She is fabulous, this little girl of ours. We asked China to give us a daughter. And by goodness, they actually did.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter in Taipei

This was our first holiday as a family. It was such a lovely day. Gioia had a great time digging through her Easter basket. When you can't give someone candy, putting an Easter basket together is quite challenging. Two items were really for when she is bigger: a jade cross and a bunny charm. We had to watch her like a hawk when she opened those. We we sure she would put the jade bunny straight into her mouth and choke and die. The tiny bunny was a hit, actually. Chris had to wrestle it away from her in the end.

I really liked the recycled fabric bunny from Muji, but she really wasn't that into it. Perhaps she liked the one her Grandma sent better. And see the basket - which isn't really an "Easter basket"? Yeah, that's what happens when you remember at 11:30 the night before that you actually need something to hold all of the goodies. But, really, who needs a long handled basket cluttering up the apartment?

After the basket was opened and breakfast eaten, we headed off to mass with our friends. But we decided to take the subway instead of a cab, and...well...we got a bit lost. Did you know there are at least TWO 51 Zhongshan North Road places in Taipei? Yeah. We made it, though, just in time to light some candles and sing some songs. An usher gave Gioia a real hard boiled egg, which kept her busy and quiet for at least 20 minutes. After church we had fajitas and margaritas. It was excellent. Perhaps Mexican food can be a new Easter brunch tradition?

Sooooo let me tell you about Gioia's dress. I finished it last night at 11:44. Yes, nothing like last minute sewing. The truth is that I started it late. We just got back to Taiwan a month ago, and the materials I ordered took a couple of weeks to arrive from Australia. And wasn't Easter so crazy early this year!? As a result of all of that, I only started the dress a week and a half ago. I told myself that if I didn't finish for Easter, then it could be her birthday dress. But I finished, and it was really cute today.

I used Cherry Williams' Baby Bishops pattern as the base for the dress. The smocking plate and scalloped edge technique came from an article in an old Sew Beautiful magazine.* I made some silly mistakes,** but it came together quite nicely in the end. Here is a closeup of the embroidered chickies with french knot eyes. Precious.

More Easter pictures are here.

*I think this was the Spring 2007 issue. Hard to say, though, because I have been subscribing for so long that I have to sort through every magazine and save the articles I like in binders. The issue date is not printed on each page, so the articles and patterns can get mixed up in my files. The article was called "Chicken Scratch," and the designer was Linda Richards. Oh wait, good old google tells me it was issue #111 after all.

**Like forgetting that it is important to remove the smocking gathering threads AFTER finishing the neck binding, not before. Yargh.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008


We returned yesterday from a quick visa trip to Hong Kong. Chris stayed with the baby while I continued on to Shanghai for two days. When I came back to meet them on Tuesday night, I found that Chris had taught Gioia to wave HI on command. He took this great picture of her waving at her reflection in the bathtub. She is fascinated by waving now, and will get quite confused if the recipient of her enthusiasm does not wave back.

In related news, the visa trip was successful. For certain reasons, we were a bit worried that she would not get it (long boring paperwork story which has to do with the fact that she was born in China and trying to live in Taiwan), but it looks like this long road indeed leads to a residence card.

When we checked in for our flight to Taipei yesterday, the counter agent said, "Make sure you get to your gate early because of all the travelers." And we said - Yeah, what's up with all of the people going to Taiwan on a random Wednesday? Hah. The election. Everyone is flying home to vote. Crazy times.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

I am a Dinosaur. RAR.

We had a little photo shoot of Gioia modeling her dinosaur outfit this weekend. These pictures are evidence that we are, indeed, trying to give her lots of tummy time. Even though she hates it. Which is weird, actually, because she immediately flips on to her stomach at night to sleep. Flipping her back makes no difference. She will just return to her tummy immediately. So if tummy time is OK for sleeping, then why not for playing?

Puzzling. More Gioia pictures here.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Incriminating Evidence

I am sure my daughter will bring this episode up when she is a teenager.


Monday, March 3, 2008

More Things That Worked

Two more things - one prompted by my husband and one by Bes' comment.

12) Sleep sack - So no blankets in the crib means that baby needs another way to stay warm, especially in Chongqing in January. I brought one of the two sleep sacks that I made from an Ottobre pattern last year. It was great. Loved the sleep sack. Both are made from a waterproof fleece, which has proven quite handy now that we are home and using cloth diapers. Big fan of the sleep sacks. Do they make them in a 168 cm size?*

13) Hot shower trick - Gioia came to us with a pretty nasty cold. By the fourth day, she was waking up in the middle of the night with a persistent, hacking cough. Chris decided to run a hot shower and rock her near the open shower door. The steam build-up helped clear her airways and the white noise soothed her back to sleep. It was brilliant.

*That is a European sizing joke. Perhaps not so funny for those of you who haven't spent the last year trying to figure out if a size 74 cm is a 9 month, 12 month, or 18 month size.

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Things That Worked

Before we left for our China adoption trip, we read lots of lists from people who have gone before on what to take and what not to bring. Well, most of that advice was useful, and is widely available if anyone is interested. So no need to rehash thoughts like *bring a thermos* and *lots of ziplock bags*.

Instead, I thought it may be helpful for us to share some of the more unusual things that worked for us on the trip.

1) Bedtime music routine - We preloaded her ipod* with a BeddyBye playlist that we would start right before we put her down. The list contains 15-20 sleepy time songs, mostly from this collection. Within a week, we had basically conditioned her to go into sleep mode if the songs started playing. Often, she would start to yawn about 30 seconds into the first song. If she woke up in the middle of the night and had difficulties settling back down, we just started the list again. It is important to play the songs consistently at the same time and in the same order every night. Also, we didn't play those particular songs during the day. Now that we are home, she falls asleep almost instantly after we put her down in the crib. I think the bedtime music is a big reason for that. This trick helped her to get over jet lag too.

2) Pack n' play - We knew we were going to be in three cities and three different hotels before we could fly home. We also were going to be traveling with her for a LONG time (about a month), so we wanted to establish as much consistency as possible during the trip. As part of the plan, we brought along a pack n' play given to us by one of our good friends in Beijing. Although the website says this product is not to be used in place of a crib, it worked really well. It was a pain in the butt to lug through airports, but it made her transition from hotel to hotel and finally to home much easier.

3) Carseat - There is much debate about whether one should bring a car seat on the trip or not. Chinese people really do not use car seats at all, so it is a bit of an oddity. Nonetheless, bringing a car seat was a great decision for us. She rode in it in every car we took (except for one - and that was a BAD experience). If a taxi did not have seatbelts in the back, then we waited for the next one. We also had a private guide take us to the orphanage, so were lucky to have had use of a regular car for much of the journeys. In the hotel, she took some her naps in the car seat for two reasons. First, her head was a little flat in the back from lying on her back for so much time. We wanted to give her every opportunity to stay off of her head. Second, she was getting used to being in the carseat. After six days, she would calmly sit there for thirty minutes or so. We also brought wheels that attach to the seat so it can be wheeled through airports.

Our only problem was that Air China forbade us from using the seat on the plane from Chongqing to Guangzhou. We even went to the airport the Saturday before the flight to show them the seat and try to convince them to let us buy an extra ticket (my husband speaks Chinese pretty well). We waited for an hour and a half while they called Beijing. The final response was no - not on 737s or 738s. Hmmm, China.

FYI, the rationale for using the seat on the plane has to do with turbulence, not crashes. Babies have flown out of people's arms and crashed into the ceilings of planes. I fly transpacific quite regularly, and I cannot remember the last time I was on a flight to/ from the US that did not have serious, scary turbulence for a period. For me and my family, taking a car seat was the only decision.

To balance that, however, we asked our guide in Chongqing how many other people he had seen with car seats in his ten years of doing adoption tours. He said - only you.

4) Mei tai carrier - This thing was fabulous for fostering attachment. She really relaxed once one of us had her strapped to our chest. We used a Babyhawk Mei Tai that is AWESOME. We also brought a Snuggli, but it sucks. Too much strain on the back. When she was fussy during the day, we just plopped her in the Mei Tai and walked around. It worked like a charm. In fact, now that we are home, she much prefers the carrier over the stroller.

5) Soft dolly for self-soothing - The orphanage rooms did not have heat, and all of the babies were swaddled up to sleep in large sleeping bag contraptions, tightly wrapped up in layer after layer of fleece. We think that Gioia learned to suck on the lip of the blanket as she went to sleep. Sucking was her automatic self soothing mechanism whenever she was stressed. So when we put her down in the crib to sleep, she needed something to suck on so she could settle down. We couldn't put a blanket in the crib, for fears that she would smother herself. I brought one of the simple velour doll babies along, and it worked perfectly.

6) Putting powder in all of the bottles - We had a veritable assembly line going in the bathroom in the morning. All powder for the bottles ( at that time, it was still cereal and formula together) was put into the bottles before she woke up. Then when a bottle was needed, we added room temperature water and then 50 ml of hot water from the kettle. A quick shake and we were ready to go.

7) Emergency food - We kept a few scoops of dry rice cereal powder in small bowls in the diaper bag at all times. If she needed a snack, we just added hot water and we were good to go. We also brought several jars of baby food with us because I was sure we wouldn't find organic where we were going in China. We did find lotus paste baby food though. She liked it.

8) Bath strategy - The first time we tried giving her a bath she screamed bloody murder and made us scramble for a fluffy towel. The secret lay in getting in the tub *with* her and her favorite toy. Which leads me to...

9) Stacking cups - Best invention EVER. The version we brought were bath toys too, so they were doubly great. Beyond that, no expensive toys were needed. We wandered into a toy store one day and bought a fancy rattle. That was not money well spent. She MUCH preferred to shake the tube of gum that we bought for one tenth the price.

10) Gerber stars - Baby crack. Awesome.

11) Casio point n' shoot camera - This little, inexpensive camera was excellent for taking quick little movies that could be quickly uploaded to the web. Our immediate and extended family all live in the United States, and they still have not met her in person yet. So movies are a really important way for everyone to share the Gioia experience. We have a big video camera too, but we barely used it on the trip. Actually we only used it one day: on the day we picked her up in Fuling.

*Yes, our infant daughter has her own ipod. To be fair, it is a hand-me-down. And we use it for play music, wakeup music, bedtime music.

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Friday, February 29, 2008


We took Miss G to her new pediatrician today, just to make sure she had been given the right inoculations and all that jazz. The head of pediatrics at Taiwan Adventist Hospital, this doctor was the same one who reviewed her referral file to double check the medical information. He seems to be a nice guy. He remembered me, at least, which was good. Although it was probably unusual to see a foreigner with a stack of papers about a baby, but with no ACTUAL baby in hand. So perhaps I was memorable.

Today's visit went well. We mostly talked about shots. We also talked about things that were on our minds, like is her head abnormally flat (probably not) and is that strange wheezing sound she makes every so often normal (yes). We also received confirmation that she is a big girl. At nine months, she is 9.6 kilos, or about 21 pounds. Which puts her in the 75-90% range for her peers. The nurse saw her weight and wrote "a little fat" right next to it on the chart. Heh. Despite the nurse's proclamation, neither we nor the doctor are worried about her weight. Now that we are home, she is eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits and veggies (super baby food!). When she is full, she stops eating. I just hope that she doesn't lose her lovely chubby cheeks as she grows.

As we were packing up to leave, the doctor said, "She doesn't look like a girl." We had heard this before, so we immediately pointed out that she was indeed wearing pink. But interestingly, he then said, "No, that was not what I meant. Most boys are very active and verbal in my office, while girls don't move around much. Your baby is behaving like a boy."

To which I promptly and proudly responded, "That's my daughter!"


Tuesday, February 26, 2008


make avatar

We think Miss G is using the baby sign for "more," as illustrated above. These two pictures were taken at breakfast this morning. She seems to only use this motion when she is eating, so perhaps she is catching on.

In other news, she has now learned how to actually get the Gerber star* into her mouth on her own. And that, my friends, is a BIG DEAL round these parts.

*Also known as overpriced baby crack.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Going Home

We are booked on a 7:15 am flight to Taipei tomorrow, all because of some recent good news.

1) We got Miss G's Certificate of Citizenship yesterday morning and marched it straight over to the passport office.

2) Today, we picked up her passport, which not only affirms her US citizenship but also makes her a lady going places.

3) We were told by the Taiwan Consulate (my bad, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office because we cannot call it a REAL consulate) that they would not issue her a tourist visa without an authenticated birth certificate. So we have to bring her in on a landing visa instead. This means we have to take her back out of the country again in 30 days. The tourist visa would have given us 60-90 days, with possibilities of extension for up to 6 months. But this also means that we don't have to wait around in Honolulu for a tourist visa. Hopefully in 30 days we will have all of her papers authenticated (please, oh please) so that this next trip out to HK can be a residence visa trip and not just another landing visa trip.*

So home we go, on an 11 hour direct flight, to our own little apartment with non-restaurant food and cloth diapers and my own bed and immeasurable other joys. We have been traveling now for 3.5 weeks doing Gioia's paperwork, and we are DONE.

Now off to get some sleep before our wake-up call at oh-God-thirty tomorrow morning. See y'all in Taiwan.

*The residence visa requires a lots of paperwork to be authenticated by the Taiwan Straits foundation, and it takes a looooong time. So no hopes of applying for a residence visa until all that jazz gets sorted.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Saturday in Guangzhou

We had a lovely outing on Saturday in Guangzhou. As usual, Miss G slept through most of it on her daddy's chest. After lunch at IKEA, we headed to the other side of town for a puppet show. I was expecting New Year's lions and cute little cuddly puppets - like singing frogs or something - but instead it was a Chinese folklore puppet show. Quite disturbing actually.

The essence of the story was this. There was a bad monkey warrior and a good monkey warrior. The bad monkey kept impersonating the good one, who was only trying to protect his good master on a pilgrimage to a holy mountain. The bad monkey stole the master's purse of gold, so the master's other companion (a pig with big porcine boobies) went to find the monkey. He found two, though, and couldn't tell them apart. So they went to seek enlightenment. First, to Kuan Yin, the female bodhisattva. She was no help. Then they descended into hell, where some officials looked in important books, but still could not tell the two apart. Finally, they all ascended to the BIG buddha, who discerned the true monkey from the false one through a series of profound questions. Then buddha told the good monkey not to hit the bad one (which was odd, because they had been stick fighting throughout the whole show), and then banished the bad one for 500 years.

The show had decapitation, hanging, hell, demonic smoke and lights, swordplay and other dark things. All for kids. It was a very interesting cultural experience.

After the puppet show, we took a stroll through Shamian Island, which is full of green trees and old European buildings. It is also where all of the adoption tourists normally stay (at the White Swan hotel), so no one was surprised to see a baby strapped to our chest. They did still ask us: "Is that a Chinese baby?" Perhaps they do not often see non-Chinese babies, so they do not know how to recognize babies of different ethnicities.

All in all, a very good day. More pictures here.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

In Guangzhou

We made it to Guanzhou and to our medical exam. Now all we have to do is wait for our US Consulate appointment on Tuesday. YAY.

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

And Then She Peed on Me

Good news! We figured out the key to successful bath experience. Add a daddy, bath cups and warmer water, and you get a very interested baby. The only key is to not sit with a naked Gioia on your lap for too long before putting her in the water. Else you get peed on.

After the bath, she read a little fantasy novel. She prefers Terry Brooks, but what can you do? And then some mommy snuggle time before bed.


Friday, February 1, 2008

It is Official

Now Gioia has officially been adopted into our family. Yesterday, we drove to the Chongqing city center for marriages and adoptions. We took a family picture, signed a paper saying that we would never abandon her, and then put our thumb prints all over the adoption decree. Even little baby G's finger prints were placed near her pictures, perhaps to signify her participation in the process.

The officials were ever so sweet. Everyone wanted to say hello and make sure she was warmly dressed. Gioia seems to elicit great interest wherever she goes. On Wednesday, we went to the grocery store for some vittles. As we walked in, the greeter lady started her typical welcome: Huan Ying Guang Lin. But she only made it halfway through the "Guang" before she stopped and stared at us, open mouthed. There are not many lao wai (foreigners) here in Chongqing. And certainly not many with a baby strapped to their chest.

Once they discover she is Chinese, they are quite taken aback. Most stare and smile. Some come lay their cheeks close to hers. Only a few have made rude comments about foreigners buying babies. Chris says that they are not being rude; they just don't know how to say adoption. But I am not quite so sure about that. It is a good thing my Chinese is not good enough to respond.

We had a little trauma at bathtime yesterday. Other than that, things have been pretty smooth. She is smiling and giggling now, and we are much better at distracting her during diaper changes. She is displaying some institutional behaviors that are interesting. She is an expert self soother, for example. When we toured the orphanage, we saw that every baby was snuggly bundled in a tight pile of blankets in the crib. There seemed to be no (or not much) heat in the nursery, so all babies were tightly wrapped up. As a result (we think), she learned to suck on the softest thing close to her mouth when she was upset. Which probably was the lip of the blanket. Whenever she is fussed, she immediately turns to something soft and sucks (her coat, her hat, a washcloth).

She also rocks herself back and forth sometimes, which to us non-experts (i.e., googlers) seems to be pretty common for institutionalized children. She also sucks down her bottle at the speed of light. And if you let your finger linger in her mouth while giving her some bites of food, she will chomp down hard with her four little teeth. Very hard.

All in all, she has a very sweet disposition. So far, no one can make her laugh like her daddy can. She LOVES his silliness. She also loves to be in the carrier. We can take her anywhere - dinner, Walmart, walking around - and she doesn't make a peep. She just watches the world with her big serious eyes.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Introducing Little Miss Gioia

And now we are three. Gioia is very serious and contemplative. She LOVES to be held. Thank goodness for the Mei Tai. She is absolutely beautiful. Chris and I spent the whole day just staring at her. And she stared back.

The formal adoption process is tomorrow. This is technically an "adjustment period." Adjustment period or no, she is our baby now. Forever and always. Until she becomes a teenager, until she gets a family of her own, until we all pass away. Family.

I am sitting here typing this with a Bobby McFerrin lullaby playing on the laptop. She sleeps close to me in a sleep sack in her pack and play. We are parents now for sure.

Chris has posted pictures and movies, if you have the patience to dig through it all.

Peace to you all tonight.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One More Day

Such drama. Our travel approval letter was stuck in Guangzhou over the weekend with all the weather troubles, so it did not arrive Monday afternoon. After much freaking out, I discovered where it was and phone numbers of people handling it. After much sweet talking through intermediaries, I managed to get the EVA courier people to allow me to come straight to their handling facility at 7 a.m. to retrieve the package.

Letter in hand, I jumped on a plane to Hong Kong and then another to Chongqing. And I am here! Chris and I just spent 30 minutes packing our stuff for the trip to Fuling tomorrow. It is a 2 hour car ride, and I swear we are taking enough stuff to enable a baby to survive a nuclear holocaust.

So, a little baby will be here tomorrow. Whooooooo!

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Baby Bell Bottoms

In the 11th hour before we leave for China, I managed to finish one more project. These pants were started back in the fall. My interest in knitting has been touch and go lately, though, so they sat unfinished in a plastic bag for the longest time.

The pattern is available here (for free). This is the 18 month size, knit on size 6 straights and circulars with KnitPicks cotton.

Very nice pattern, very cute pants. Now I just have to go pick up the little baby bottom to go in them.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Super Baby Experiment One

Through a reference here, we discovered the Super Baby Food book. Basically, this book encourages people to feed their babies real food, not jarred Gerber stuff. The author claims making your own baby food is healthier and cheaper than store bought. Well, OK. That makes sense. She also claims that feeding your baby homemade food is easy. Hmmm... let's see.

The key to this process is pureeing a bunch of food at once and then freezing it in ice cube trays to create baby-sized portions. When baby needs food, you pull out a couple of cubes (i.e., servings) and feed her.

This is super baby food experiment #1 - papaya. I started with a ripe papaya from the grocery store. I washed it with warm water because it was not an organic papaya,* despite the fact that I spent a good thirty minutes at the grocery store looking for organic. Once clean, I sliced it in half and scooped out the pretty little black seeds.

The next step is to scoop out the flesh with a spoon and puree it in a blender. Like so.

Once blended, you pour the papaya "sauce" into ice cube trays. I bought three trays that came with their own little plastic lids to cover the baby food while freezing. One papaya filled almost all of the three trays (all but two cubes in the last tray).

Once they are frozen, I can remove the cubes from the trays and pop them into a labeled freezer bag. Then we are ready for when Miss G has a craving for papaya. Obviously, we will have to wait until we get back home with her until we can try this out. I am encouraged by the prep process, though. One papaya took 15 minutes, tops.

*According to the book, you can use cold water for washing organic veggies; supposedly cold water is better for preserving nutrients. However, non-organic veggies and fruit should be washed in warm water so that the pesticides wash off. Now you know why I tried so hard to find organic. Bleagh.

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