Sunday, February 27, 2011

We're Back.

We survived the 2011 Blackout! Power was restored late Wednesday night and we were back in our home by Thursday morning, with cat in tow. Ella screeched and ran through the house in delight, the cat not far in front of her. My parents were beyond wonderful and I think we all did quite well under the circumstances (other than the withdrawal my parents endured from their 24/7 Ella time).

Some pictures from our 1st Family Day - at breakfast with 'KatieRoz', and our evening with Ella's Gamma and Papa.

(Candles in chocolate chip pancakes for everyone!)

(They even pose alike these days.)

(Daddy and Ella screw-balling around.)

(Celebratory Family Day hot fudge sundaes.)

(Proud grandparents, huh?)

Enjoy your Sunday evening :) H, L & EML

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This First Anniversary is for the books

It is Tuesday, February 22 as I write this. Ella-land got blasted with an ice storm on Sunday night. We lost power just before 6am on Monday. We piled into our bed with flashlights, book lights and books. And although Ella was curious, she wasn't scared. She fell back to sleep draped across both of us for a short time. I was able to watch her sleep. It has been months since I've been able to do that. Funny how it all works out, you know?

Suddenly, all the air drained out of my plans for a perfect day, or at least the day how I imagined it. I guess what I'm saying (or admitting) is that one year later, I still have some work to do in the flexibility department. The last 24 hours have been a good exercise.

We still don't have power. The house is a balmy 47 degrees. But my parents have provided a perfect 'bed and breakfast' for the three of us. And what says Family Day better than being steeped in family? Good stuff.

We were able to meet Roz and her Mama for breakfast yesterday (pictures to follow once I get downloading capabilities back); and Larry headed out in the snow last night to get Chinese take-out for all of us to enjoy together.

Here's hoping our power is restored before tonight. In the meantime, a few photos from a year ago...perhaps new to you.

(Returning to hotel, exhausted, after adoption proceedings.)

(An afternoon walk.)

(Ella's first bath!)

Stay warm.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Best Year of Our Lives

An excerpt from our journal: "We said a prayer, ate breakfast, and now we're out of here. Diapers? Check. Formula? Check. Throw up towel? Check. Let's go get Ella Man Li."

It all started here....in a Civil Affairs Office in a time zone, a culture, a city we were still trying to embrace. It all fell into place the very second we laid eyes on our little Man Li. Without a doubt, it has been the biggest, best (and most exhausting, yes) year of our lives. Happy Family Day to us. Thanks to you for following along.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nervous anyone?

The Camel Bar. It was our last night as a two-some. I was a hot mess, as the kids say these days. Larry was the cool cat he always is. We wanted to make sure we had a snapshot from that night - literally.

In a blink of an eye (or maybe a million because this mom-to-be did NOT sleep), we were on the trip down the elevator to meet Xiulan in the lobby. T-Minus 30 minutes to Ella Man Li...

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I don't think there is anyway around it. All this reflecting, looking back through our travel journal and our photos...it has made me homesick for China, homesick for Kunming, and despite all the peaks and valleys - it makes me long for those first hours and days with Ella.

Last year at this time, Larry and I, the two-some, were taking in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Kunming - Xiulan our trusty sidekick leading us. (I do miss her.)

One year later, we are celebrating The Year of the Rabbit with our FCC Family (of course, KatieRoz included)...

...finding air vents to stand on...

...and building stuff!

Enjoy your Saturday! ~H, L & EML

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Departure Day

One year ago today, we boarded a jet plane to bring our baby home.

I took this photo with my cell phone just before boarding, sent it to our blog mistress and powered down my phone for a liberating 16 days. She was sweet enough to post it to our blog that day. (It wasn't until we returned home that I saw how well she kept you updated. Remember, we couldn't access the blog from China.)

One year later, my hat still goes off to Gretchen for connecting our world in China with your world during that time.

Smile, laugh, get choked up or cry out loud looking back on our first weeks with Ella. The next two weeks will be full of flashbacks. Until then, I'll leave you with a few reminders of how far we've come!

(No pockets? No problem. Kitties fit nicely in a onesie!)

(A little painting and playing at our art museum.)

H, L & EML

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On A Lighter Note

She's pretty full of herself here. Big week coming up! Let's see how many of you know HOW big before the next post? ~H, L & EML

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A tough week if ever there was one...

This past week we lost a dear friend, N, to cancer. Really, it was/is more like losing family. For certain, this loss comes within the concept of extended family, if one ever did. L's relationship with N goes back 25 years, give or take. Lots of parties, music, dinners and good times. Lots of serious discussions, too.

N and his wife R were among the very first to learn about our adoption plans. They were part of the small group that gathered with us on the night of Ella's referral call. One of our fondest post-adoption memories has been N serenading Ella with his guitar, while two of his own children looked on.

The cross-cultural aspect of our relationship with N and R has been part of the reward. Now, in the vacuum of his sudden death, we too have taken comfort in traditions of N's Jewish faith. Ella's presence has been expressly requested by the family during the Shiva process, which we take as a compliment, an indication of our closeness, and an example of N and R's emphasis on family. The fact that our 21 month old can help lighten the sorrow and burden at this time, with her laughter, new words (and let's face it, party skills) is a wonderful feeling.

~L, H & EML

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lunch Guest

Ella and I took a break for lunch today and you'll never guess who surprised her? Thank you 'KatieRoz' for giving us reasons to giggle and smile today. Your timing was perfect.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I've been having issues with video downloads. I'm including one here. Comment. Let me know if you can view it?

Thank you, The IT Department

A New Year and maybe a few new twists

Happy Chinese New Year to you! The Year of the Rabbit has arrived! Throughout our home, there are traditional Chinese lanterns hanging from lights, railings, cupboard knobs along with a variety of good fortune decorations on our doors. The floors have been swept (sweep out the bad to allow for good, of course). And oranges are a BIG hit. Oranges are symbolic for good luck and wealth. They are also perfect for carting around in her play grocery bag for pretend shopping.

On Friday, Ella shared her Chinese traditions with five of her good buddies at her care giver's house. There were red envelopes filled with lucky money; oranges, of course; Chinese zodiac coloring books; several of Ella's Chinese New Year books to share at story-time and cupcakes.

OK. I'll admit it - I have yet to find mention of cupcakes in any of the new year celebrations. But you have to give me a little credit for this decorating:

May your Rabbit Year be filled with a thousand reasons to smile goofy little smiles, just like this...

H, L & EML

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bubbles and Snowflakes

A little bath-time fun for you on this cold, snowy day. Today, I work from home. Based on the weather forecast for Ella-Land, it looks like we will all be snowed in until Thursday. I think over half of the country is going to have cabin fever by the end of the week!

Make the most of your extra time together, if Mother Nature dumps on you. We hope to!