Monday, November 28, 2011

Under the Weather

I loved having my 4 day weekend.  However, I was sick the entire time.  I was sick even during Thanksgiving, though I was able to mask most of it and leave the room to cough. 

But as of Friday night through now, I can't fake it.  I'm coughing, sneezing, my nose is running a marathon, I feel hot then cold and I have a headache.  I can't tell if I have a terrible cold verging on a flu or just terrible sinusitis.  I think I'm over the worst of it as medicine is finally subduing some of the symptoms.  I was sleeping all of the days away Saturday and Sunday.

I went to work today, as I had 11 reports to get out today.  Once I did, I told them I was working from home.  I feel too bad to keep getting up and down.  Between my stomach and head forcing me to stay "seated", I love working from home with my kitties and puppies around me.  I also can take mental/physical breaks and just stare out into nothingness and try to will to be normal.  One of the perks of the job is if it gets too bad I can work from home (as long as I don't have to get any reports out).  Being in marketing all my printing and sending is done from there, so I do have to go in.

What is sad about being sick during my time off is 1. I didn't get to enjoy the time off and 2. the house is a wreck and we just sent our stuff to the Home Agency... so our home study call/appointment will be soon. 

So a social worker will be assigned to us in the next 14 days.  Between now and the 14 days (however long it takes them to go through our application paperwork) the social worker will contact us to begin the home study!

The entire home study process I think takes from 6-8 weeks.  I think there are 4 home study visits total.  I'll have to verify everything, but that is what I remember for now.

And being sick of course we not only didn't clean up after ourselves this weekend and create a bigger mess, we haven't even started on putting up all the Christmas decorations. Sigh!

I guess we'll have to "boogie" this weekend to get it all up. We also have a wedding to go to this Sunday. So our weekend is booked!

I want this house in a good way for the social worker.  My husband isn't worried, and I shouldn't be.  I know it'll all be good, but I still want to try and get the house as perfect as possible with the Christmas decorations all up and in place.  But with my husband working extra hours for the Superbowl (being "sick" himself-yes I unfortauntly shared my germs) and me being sick, I wonder how much can get done.  I wonder when the social worker will call...
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Friday, November 25, 2011


Yesterday was a great Thanksgiving.  Grandma came, along with my mother, and she taught my husband how to make pounded steak and noodles.  (yes, we didn't have the traditional turkey.  I love turkey, but my grandmother's pounded steak and noodles are my FAVORITE!)  I haven't had my grandmother's pounded steak and noodles for years!  I think she stopped making it shortly after my grandfather passed away.

This noodle recipe was passed down from my Grandfather's Grandmother... so it went from Grace, to Pearl, to my Grandma Lucy, to my Husband.  (yes skipped a generation... my mother never learned. 

Now you may ask why did my husband learn and not me.  I'm awful in the kitchen.  I have no patience for it.  And my husband used to be a chef.  And he calls it his kitchen.  He's very good.  So it only makes sense that he learned the recipes.  And what is great is that the recipe can be passed on to Ashton!  I wonder if she'll be a natural in the kitchen or avoid it like me?

Anyhow, when my husband found he had to go to the store for an ingredient we didn't have, and my mother left the room for a moment.  It was just Grandma and me.  I thought this was the perfect time to tell her we were adopting.  She took it in stride.  She wasn't excited or disappointed.  She took it like I told her I was serving biscuits instead of cornbread.  I'm sure she'll get "excited" when we get a referral.

So I hope she gets to meet her.  I know she's up in age, but she's my last grandparent living.  I lost both my dad's parents last year.  It was hard.  I lost my grandfather several years ago, and grandma misses him terribly, but is still feisty as ever! 

After a wonderful dinner, Grandma said my husband's cooking passed, we played a dice game and had dessert. 

It all went very well.  It was a lovely Thanksgiving.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Last night my husband finished his autobiography!  Can I hear a hallelujah?

During work I called my husband and asked him again if had time to fit in doing the autobiography.  He asked me to call Ms. D and see if she was available in 30 minutes.  He had no time to call as he was getting a call at that moment.
I called Ms. D and said I wasn’t his secretary, but if I could schedule him in to meet with her.  She said YES!

So he got it done!  I was so happy I was eager to send it all off.  I double checked everything and my husband is running down to the Home Study (Hague accredited) Agency to drop off the paper work as I type right now!
They’ll review and get with us in 2 weeks to schedule our 1st Home Study!!

Yippie!  What a wonderful thing to be thankful for. 
Thank you to all my friends and readers who sent me words of encouragement.  What a load off my mind!  I’m glad I didn’t have to turn into the Grinch!  Mwah-ha-ha!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Flight of the Bumblebee

I've mentioned that my husband is very busy.  In fact, I compared him to a busy bee.

And so far he has had a good few months to write his autobiography.  I wanted mine done before my birth certificate came in so that nothing was waiting on me.  However, my husband decided not to start until everything was waiting on him.

Fine.  Whatever works for him.  I got my birth certificate back and I still had our photo op to take, which I got done the weekend right after I got my birth certificate.  So I personally could have added a week to our wait.  But if that wasn't there, technically as of October 17th we should have turned everything in and started our home study.  It's now November 21st, with Thanksgiving days away and my husband still hasn't found the time to do the autobiography.

Thus I'm comparing him to the "Flight of the Bumblebee".  For those who don't know what it is, here is the song SUPER fast by David Garrett!  I love David Garrett!  I have many of his songs on Ipod, along with 2Cellos and Bond.  Wonderful music if you're into that type.

So as I was saying, my dear husband won't do the autobiography unless he can get off of work early and get to Ms. D's to type it all out for him while he dictates.  So far he's only done it once and only got a bit done.  He hasn't made it back since.

In all fairness, his weekends are busy with work.  With the Superbowl looming, he has many deadlines to meet, and has to work overtime.  Also, he had a set to build before opening weekend (last weekend) for our community theater.  Then there is the normal day-to-day stuff, helping my mother out with projects, tending to his mother (she's fighting cancer), and now getting ready to host Thanksgiving.  He's very busy, bless his heart.  So I understand when he comes home from work on the weekdays and notices if he isn't required somewhere else that he just "crashes" so to speak.

I can't blame him.  I can't.  But I am now beginning to feel the twinges of anxiety about getting this autobiography done so we can start the home study.  I'm afraid we're going to "time out" somehow.  I want to get this all going.  And I'm afraid with the holidays looming it won't happen until next year.

I can remind him all i want, but it does no good.  I either irritate him by mentioning it, or it doesn't matter because his plate is full.  I feel at a loss at the moment.  I want to enjoy the holidays, but I know in the back of my mind will be, "We should get going!"

So please, I need more positive vibes, thoughts, prayers, ANYTHING... heck if anyone will write it for him, I'm thinking about taking up that as Plan B.  Ha!  I don't care whose biography it is almost anymore.  I'm getting anxious to take almost anything.  But I'm trying to stay zen!  Breathe, and relax.  Enjoy the holidays looming ahead.  Know it's okay if he doesn't get it until DECEMBER!  Eeek!

It will be okay!  It will be okay.  I am patient.  It will all work out...  How much repetition does it take to brainwash yourself? 
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Monday, November 21, 2011

10 Things You Should Never Do

Found this from  Enjoy!  (I commented after each one.)

Ten Things Never to Do in China By Wendy Abraham

This article may save you from certain embarrassment and possibly even outright humiliation one day. It gives you ten important tips on what not to do if you really want to win friends and make a good impression with your Chinese acquaintances. Take these tips to heart.

1. Never accept a compliment graciously
You may find yourself at a loss for words when you compliment a Chinese host on a wonderful meal, and you get in response, "No, no, the food was really horrible." You hear the same thing when you tell a Chinese parent how smart or handsome his son is — he meets the compliment with a rebuff of "No, he's really stupid" or "He's not good looking at all." These people aren't being nasty . . . just humble and polite. Moral of the story here: Feign humility, even if it kills you! A little less boasting and fewer self-congratulatory remarks go a long way towards scoring cultural sensitivity points with the Chinese.

My take: I have never taken a compliment well anyhow.  I usually say thank you and move on.  I find it a bit embarrassing.  And then I wonder, are they wanting something, is it a segue to get on my good side.  Or are they fishing for a complement of their own?  I think too much.   I guess I just never believe that the compliment can be just a sincere compliment.  My grandfather chided me on that once that I couldn't take a compliment.  So I've at least consciously always say thank you.  Guess this is good for me for China!

2. Never make someone lose face
The worst thing you can possibly do to Chinese acquaintances is publicly humiliate or otherwise embarrass them. Doing so makes them lose face. Don't point out a mistake in front of others or yell at someone.
The good news is that you can actually help someone gain face by complimenting them and giving credit where credit is due. Do this whenever the opportunity arises. Your graciousness is much appreciated.

My take: I'm adopting a child.  I'm going to be in such good spirits, I can't imagine humiliating or embarrassing anyone.  But if anyone can do it, I'm sure I could... somehow unintentionally.  I'll just try and keep quiet and let my husband do all the talking - just in case.

3. Never get angry in public
Public displays of anger are frowned upon by the Chinese and are most uncomfortable for them to deal with — especially if the people getting angry are foreign tourists, for example. This goes right along with making someone (usually the Chinese host) lose face, which you should avoid at all costs. The Chinese place a premium on group harmony, so foreigners should try to swallow hard, be polite, and cope privately.

Uh oh, are we talking food again... see my fear (bottom 3 paragraphs of the blog).

4. Never address people by their first names first
Chinese people have first and last names like everyone else. However, in China, the last name always comes first. The family (and the collective in general) always takes precedence over the individual. Joe Smith in Minnesota is known as Smith Joe (or the equivalent) in Shanghai. If a man is introduced to you as Lî Míng, you can safely refer to him as Mr. Lî (not Mr. Míng).

Unlike people in the West, the Chinese don't feel very comfortable calling each other by their first names. Only family members and a few close friends ever refer to the man above, for example, as simply "Míng." They may, however, add the prefix lâo (laow; old) or xiâo (shyaow; young) before the family name to show familiarity and closeness. Lâo Lî (Old Lî) may refer to his younger friend as Xiâo Chén (Young Chén).

My take: Last name first and first name last.  Got it!  But with my memory, I'll probably forget the name in the first 10 seconds.

5. Never take food with the wrong end of your chopsticks
The next time you gather around a dinner table with a Chinese host, you may discover that serving spoons for the many communal dishes are non-existent. This is because everyone serves themselves (or others) by turning their chopsticks upside down to take food from the main dishes before putting the food on the individual plates.

My take: Take with end, eat with front.  Got it!  But I may just order pizza to keep it simple.  I don't think they eat pizza with chopsticks... do they?

6. Never drink alcohol without first offering a toast
Chinese banquets include eight to ten courses of food and plenty of alcohol. Sometimes you drink rice wine, and sometimes you drink industrial strength Máo Tái, known to put a foreigner or two under the table in no time. One way to slow the drinking is to observe Chinese etiquette by always offering a toast to the host or someone else at the table before taking a sip yourself. This not only prevents you from drinking too much too quickly, but also shows your gratitude toward the host and your regard for the other guests. If someone toasts you with a "gân bçi," (gahn bay) however, watch out.

Gân bçi means "bottoms up," and you may be expected to drink the whole drink rather quickly. Don't worry. You can always say "shuí yì" (shway ee; as you wish) in return and take just a little sip instead.

My take: Coming for a little girl. I don't think me being passed out with a baby needing me is such a good idea.  I'm sure this won't be an issue.

7. Never let someone else pay the bill without fighting for it
Most Westerners are stunned the first time they witness the many fairly chaotic, noisy scenes at the end of a Chinese restaurant meal. The time to pay the bill has come and everyone is simply doing what they're expected to do — fight to be the one to pay it. The Chinese consider it good manners to vociferously and strenuously attempt to wrest the bill out of the very hands of whoever happens to have it. This may go on, back and forth, for a good few minutes, until someone "wins" and pays the bill. The gesture of being eager and willing to pay is always appreciated.

My take: I'm sure it will just be my husband and me paying/eating.  I doubt there will be a "host" per say.  And my husband and I can't fight over who is paying the bill, it comes from the same source.

8. Never show up empty handed
Gifts are exchanged frequently between the Chinese, and not just on special occasions. If you have dinner in someone's house to meet a prospective business partner or for any other pre-arranged meeting, both parties commonly exchange gifts as small tokens of friendship and good will. Westerners are often surprised at the number of gifts the Chinese hosts give. The general rule of thumb is to bring many little (gender non-specific) gifts when you travel to China. You never know when you'll meet someone who wants to present you with a special memento, so you should arrive with your own as well.

My take:  Little gifts in red wrappings.  Got it.  I'll figure out exactly what I'll take when I'm closer to going to China.  Not something I see worth worrying about now.  I've got plenty of unnecessary worrying to do. ;)

9. Never accept food, drinks, or gifts without first refusing a few times
No self-respecting guests immediately accept whatever may be offered to them in someone's home. No matter how much they may be eager to accept the food, drink, or gift, proper Chinese etiquette prevents them from doing anything that makes them appear greedy or eager to receive it, so be sure to politely refuse a couple of times.

My take: Easy enough.  But when they offer me the baby, I'm not going to refuse her even once!!  I don't care, I'm very "eager" to receive my baby girl!  But I guess she's not a gift.  She's mine.  But could you imagine if you had to play the refusal etiquette upon receiving your child?  That would be hard!

10. Never take the first "No, thank you" literally
Chinese people automatically refuse food or drinks several times — even if they really feel hungry or thirsty. Never take the first "No, thank you" literally. Even if they say it once or twice, offer it again. A good guest is supposed to refuse at least once, but a good host is also supposed to make the offer at least twice.

My take: So when I say "No, thank you" I've got to say it several times to mean it?  Yikes.  Okay then. 
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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Etiquette & Customs

It is good to know about the country you're going to visit.  I've touched upon luck with numbers and colors and the zodiac.  Now, I'm focusing just on basic Chinese etiquette and customs. 

How do you greet properly in China? 

Many adoptive parents want to give small gifts to the caretakers of their children.  What's the protocol on that? 

There is a lot of eating out, unless you were able to pack food for two weeks.  So, there is etiquette and customs about eating covered here too. 

Thanks to for a lot of the bullet points and blog.asiahotels and china-mike.
The good news is that the Chinese give laowai (foreigners) a lot of leeway when it comes to etiquette. They almost all expect foreigners to be clueless to their customs so any possible offenses will be overlooked.
Li, the Chinese word for etiquette, used to mean “to sacrifice” because following strict guidelines and codes of conduct of the Chinese is not easy and entails a lot of patience and sacrifice.

Meeting Etiquette
  • Greetings are formal and the oldest person is always greeted first.
  • Handshakes are the most common form of greeting with foreigners, however the Chinese are known to nod or slightly bow as a form of greeting.
  • The Chinese are not comfortable with physical contact, so refrain from hugs, back-slapping or arm-touching.
  • Many Chinese will look towards the ground when greeting someone.
  • Address the person by an honorific title and their surname. If they want to move to a first-name basis, they will advise you which name to use.
  • The Chinese have a terrific sense of humor. They can laugh at themselves most readily if they have a comfortable relationship with the other person. Be ready to laugh at yourself given the proper circumstances.
  • When you start a conversation with a Chinese person, you will usually be asked about your marital status and if you already have kids. Don’t be surprised if conversation suddenly turns to topics that you feel are too personal. For instance, comments about your personal appearance (such as their weight or size of their nose). Similarly, don’t be surprised if you’re asked questions about how much money you make . Or why you’re not married or don’t have kids. In China, these types of questions aren’t considered rude. Try to stay away from topics like politics and sensitive topics that will seem forced and awkward. 
Gift Giving Etiquette
  • In general, gifts are given at Chinese New Year, weddings, births and more recently (because of marketing), birthdays.
  • The Chinese like food and a nice food basket will make a great gift.
  • Do not give scissors, knives or other cutting utensils as they indicate the severing of the relationship.
  • Do not give clocks, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, cutting implements, pears or straw sandals as they are associated with funerals and death.
  • Do not give flowers, as many Chinese associate these with funerals.
  • Use red or pink colors for wrapping for your gift; do not wrap gifts in white, blue or black paper.
  • Four is an unlucky number so do not give four of anything. Eight is the luckiest number, so giving eight of something brings luck to the recipient.
  • Always present and receive gifts with two hands (this includes business cards).
  • Gifts are not opened when received; it is considered rude.
  • Gifts may be refused three times before they are accepted.

 Dining Etiquette
  • The Chinese prefer to entertain in public places rather than in their homes, especially when entertaining foreigners.
  • If you are invited to their house, consider it a great honor. If you must turn down such an honor, it is considered polite to explain the conflict in your schedule so that your actions are not taken as a slight.
  • Arrive on time.
  • Remove your shoes before entering the house.
  • Bring a small gift to the hostess.
  • Eat well to demonstrate that you are enjoying the food!
  • In Chinese restaurants, the standard is for a fish to be served whole. After working your way through the tender top side, it may seem logical to simply flip the fish and continue. Unfortunately, doing so has an unforeseen consequence: meaning you’ve capsized the boat. The fish symbolizes the boat; by turning it over, you’re casting the hapless fishermen into Davy Jones’ locker.
 Table manners:
  • Learn to use chopsticks.
  • Wait to be told where to sit. The guest of honor will be given a seat facing the door.
  • The host begins eating first.
  • You should try everything that is offered to you.
  • Never eat the last piece from the serving tray.
  • Chopsticks should be returned to the chopstick rest after every few bites and when you drink or stop to speak.
  • Wherever the setting is, one rule is that you should not point your chopsticks directly at anyone.
  • Chopsticks must not be placed on a rice bowl in a way that it looks like it is in upright position because these will resemble incense sticks that are burned during funerals.
  • The host offers the first toast.
  • Do not put bones in your bowl. Place them on the table or in a special bowl for that purpose.
  • Hold the rice bowl close to your mouth while eating.
  • Do not be offended if a Chinese person makes slurping or belching sounds; it merely indicates that they are enjoying their food.
  • Don’t leave an empty plate at the end of the meal. Otherwise, your host loses face.
  • In restaurants, you will notice that knives are not commonly seen on table tops. This is because Chinese foods are already pre-cut into bite sized pieces, as in the case of dim sum, or tender enough for chopsticks to be used to separate meat from the bones.
  • Chinese meals are also characterized by overflowing food so don’t be surprised if the host of your meal orders so much food that is enough to feed an entire community. The Chinese order food generously because this is their way of showing their hospitality. Your host will also continue to serve you pieces of meat, vegetables, fish, etc during the entire meal. Again, this is their way of showing that they are taking care of their guest.
  • Restaurant bills are never shared (they don’t “go Dutch”).
  • When it comes to “bill out” time, it is customary for the inviter to pay for the meal. To be polite, of course, you can offer to pay for the meal but your Chinese host will strongly refuse. Not accepting their offer to pay will hurt their feelings.
  • When using a toothpick, use your free hand to cover your mouth.

Tipping Etiquette: Tipping is becoming more commonplace, especially with younger workers although older workers still consider it an insult. Leaving a few coins is usually sufficient.
My thoughts?  I think I'm okay with most of this, except I'm terrible with food.  That means, I have a 1st grade palate!  I hope I'm not forced to eat things I don't want to eat.  I'm going to have to research that.  I am one of the world's pickest eater!  I have a bad gag reflex and can't force food I don't like.  I can't even "sample".  Therefore, I wonder how I'll fair there with food.
One of my nightmares is seeing all this food come out and placed before me and it's seafood and other things I've seen pictures of in the street of bugs (and other unmentionables) and I literally gag.  Or I insult them by not eating it. 
I've read on some blogs how other Americans who can't speak the language aren't able to order what they can't read off the menu.  Therefore, the chef or waitress just bring tons of food out for you to have.  I'd hate to insult anyone.  Maybe I should just stick to pizza joints and burger places to stay safe.  But I don't know how few and far between those are.  But at least I have a couple years to worry about all of that.  Mastering chopsticks will be the least of my worries.
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Thursday, November 17, 2011


As for today, I was having printing problems for a program I was working on.  I tried rebooting my computer.  Right when it booted up, around 1:00 p.m., the fire alarm went off.

I have a huge 75th anniversary party for the company this Sunday I'm scrambling to do, along with other marketing projects pressing. I appreciate the break, but wondered how long the drill would last. 

I grabbed my phone, my Ipod, my jacket and my purse and filed behind others to go down the stairs. Thank God it is only 4 floors. 

While going down, you felt deaf from the sound of buzzer ringing.  But while going down, the smell of smoke filled your lungs.  It got stronger the lower you got and I started coughing.

Once down on the bottom floor we filed out of the stairs and in the hallway out the door.  It was smokey.  Something was definitely up.

Once out and across the street, my co-workers and I were like, "what now"?  It was so cold.  So each of us went to our prospective vehicles and sat. 

About 6 fire trucks came.  Only 2 stayed.

It ended up that there was a mulch fire.  Somehow in one of the vacant spaces on the first floor.  I'm not sure of all the details.  But there were fans blowing/sucking the smoke out.

After an hour we were allowed back in.  The smoke was still hanging around the first floor and I still coughed. 

Up on the 4th floor, you could smell the smoke.  It was worse near the stair exit.  But it was a pleasant smell everywhere else, like a fireplace fire.  Thank goodness it didn't smell like a popcorn burn.  That smell is awful!!

When I left work, the elevators smelled like smoke.  And the first floor was freezing, as they had it aired out best as possible.  Upon coming home, my husband said my hair smelled lightly of smoke.

Very crazy!!

On top of all of this it was odd that the smoking mulch fire that just filled our building occurred on Great American Smokeout Day today.

I'm just glad everyone is okay and that it wasn't raining or snowing during all of this, else it would have been worse sitting in those vehicles. 

What a day!
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Okay, time for more fun Chinese culture stuff.  I thought perhaps the Chinese Zodiac. 

Now I’m a Sagittarius.  I have no idea what that makes me in characteristics of the Zodiac.  Just as I am not superstitious, I don’t follow horoscopes.  But I think it’s just fun to know.  So here is the Chinese version.
Once again, thank you Wikipedia for this detailed information. 

The Shēngxiào, better known in English as the Chinese Zodiac, is a scheme that relates each year to an animal and its reputed attributes, according to a 12-year mathematical cycle. It has wide currency in several East Asian countries such as Korea and Japan.
Identifying this scheme using the term "zodiac" reflects several similarities to the Western zodiac: both have time cycles divided into 12 parts, each labels at least the majority of those parts with names of animals, and each is widely associated with a culture of attributing influence of a person's relationship to the cycle upon their personality and/or events in their life. Nevertheless, there are major differences: the "Chinese" 12-part cycle is divided into years rather than months; contrary to the association with animals implied in the Greek etymology of "zodiac", actually four of the Western "signs" or "houses" are represented by humans (one such sign being the twins "Gemini") and one is the inanimate balance scale "Libra"; the animals of the Chinese zodiac are not associated with constellations, let alone those spanned by the ecliptic plane.

The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat. The following are the twelve zodiac signs (each with its associated Earthly branch) in order and their characteristics.
Rat: Forthright, tenacious, intense, meticulous, charismatic, sensitive, intellectual, industrious, charming, eloquent, sociable, artistic, and shrewd. Can be manipulative, vindictive, self-destructive, envious, mendacious, venal, obstinate, critical, over-ambitious, ruthless, intolerant, and scheming.

Ox: Dependable, ambitious, calm, methodical, born leader, patient, hardworking, conventional, steady, modest, logical, resolute, tenacious. Can be stubborn, dogmatic, hot-tempered, narrow-minded, materialistic, rigid, demanding.

Tiger: Unpredictable, rebellious, colorful, powerful, passionate, daring, impulsive, vigorous, stimulating, sincere, affectionate, humanitarian, generous. Can be restless, reckless, impatient, quick-tempered, obstinate, selfish, aggressive, moody.

Rabbit: Gracious, good friend, kind, sensitive, soft-spoken, amiable, elegant, reserved, cautious, artistic, thorough, tender, self-assured, shy, astute, compassionate, lucky, flexible. Can be moody, detached, superficial, self-indulgent, opportunistic, stubborn.

Dragon: Magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, eccentric, intellectual, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, artistic, generous, loyal. Can be tactless, arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, intolerant, dogmatic, violent, impetuous, brash.

Snake: Deep thinker, wise, mystic, graceful, soft-spoken, sensual, creative, prudent, shrewd, elegant, cautious, responsible, calm, strong, constant, purposeful. Can be loner, bad communicator, possessive, hedonistic, self-doubting, distrustful, mendacious, suffocating, cold.

Horse: Cheerful, popular, quick-witted, changeable, earthy, perceptive, talkative, agile, magnetic, intelligent, astute, flexible, open-minded. Can be fickle, arrogant, childish, anxious, rude, gullible, stubborn.

Goat: Righteous, sincere, sympathetic, mild-mannered, shy, artistic, mothering, peaceful, generous, seeks security. Can be indecisive, over-passive, worrier, pessimistic, over-sensitive, complainer, weak-willed.

Monkey: Inventor, motivator, improviser, quick-witted, inquisitive, flexible, innovative, problem solver, self-assured, sociable, artistic, polite, dignified, competitive, objective, factual, intellectual. Can be egotistical, vain, arrogant, selfish, reckless, snobbish, deceptive, manipulative, cunning, jealous, suspicious.

Rooster: Acute, neat, meticulous, organized, self-assured, decisive, conservative, critical, perfectionist, alert, zealous, practical, scientific, responsible. Can be over zealous and critical, puritanical, egotistical, abrasive, proud, opinionated, given to empty bravado.

Dog: Honest, intelligent, straightforward, loyal, sense of justice and fair play, attractive, amicable, unpretentious, sociable, open-minded, idealistic, moralistic, practical, affectionate, sensitive, easy going. Can be cynical, lazy, cold, judgmental, pessimistic, worrier, stubborn, quarrelsome.

Pig: Honest, gallant, sturdy, sociable, peace-loving, patient, loyal, hard-working, trusting, sincere, calm, understanding, thoughtful, scrupulous, passionate, intelligent. Can be naive, over-reliant, self-indulgent, gullible, fatalistic, materialistic.

In Chinese astrology the animal signs assigned by year represent what others perceive you as being or how you present yourself. It is a common misconception that the animals assigned by year are the only signs and many western descriptions of Chinese astrology draw solely on this system. In fact, there are also animal signs assigned by month (called inner animals), by day (called true animals) and hours (called secret animals).
While a person might appear to be a Dragon because they were born in the year of the Dragon, they might also be a Snake internally, an Ox truly and Sheep secretively. In total, this makes for 103,680 possible combinations (60 year cycle (5 elements × 12 animals) × 12 months × 12 days × 12 periods of the day) that a person might be. These are all considered critical for the proper use of Chinese astrology.

The inner animal is the months you are born:
January - Ox
February - Tiger
March - Rabbit
April - Dragon
May - Snake
June - Horse
July - Goat
August - Monkey
September - Rooster
October - Dog
November - Pig
December - Rat

The true animal is the day you are born:
still looking for that one.

The secret animal by the time you are born:
Rat- 23:00 - 01:00
Ox- 01:00 - 03:00
Tiger- 03:00 - 5:00
Rabitt - 05:00 - 07:00
Dragon- 07:00 - 09:00
Snake- 09:00 -11:00
Horse- 11:00 - 13:00
Goat- 13:00 - 15:00
Monkey- 15:00 - 17:00
Rooster- 17:00 -19:00
Dog 19:00 21:00
Pig 21:00 23:00

Gee, now I know what I am internally and secretively, but not truly.  And I'm still not sure what they have all in realtion with each other.  I have NO IDEA!!  Crazy!!  But fun! 

Right now, the year 2011, is the year of the rabbit and next year, 2012, is year of the dragon then snake, 2013 (in order as it is listed up above). 
Of course since I’m a dragon, I would love my little girl to be a dragon as well.  I mean how cool would that be?  But I have a feeling she’ll be born the year after and be a snake.  If she was year of the rabbit or dragon, I could see putting some of that affiliation in her room somewhere.  But a snake?  Not very pretty or girly!  I mean rat, I could do cute mice toys. Ox, not very girly but we could make it work. Cows and bison can be cute. Tigers would be fun, just like horses. Goats, monkeys, dogs, pigs… adorable!  Roosters not so much, lump with ox on a bit of stretching, but again doable. 
  I bet that’s what I’ll end up with.  A little snake!  Ha!  Oh well, I won’t care, as long as the little snake is my girl!  But a little dragon, little rabbit would sound so much cuter!!  I guess I could think of Slitheran, like in Harry Potter, and try some kind of spin-off that way to make it magical and fun. Again, with the stretching.
But have you noticed that the descriptions of each animal characteristics start of positive then end negative and you think, “No I’m not like that!” and it just ends on that negative note and you feel robbed. But I guess that’s the ying-yang of each sign, huh?

If anyone knows where you can find your "year/month/day/hour = meaning" of your animal sign on the Internet let me know.  I think it’d be fun to find out.   
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Numbers and Colors

Lucky coins

Personally, I'm not supersticious.  I can walk under a ladder.  I used to have a black cat.  I have no problems with the number 13.  But I do not make light of other people's superstitions.  If someone believes you should say "Break a leg" instead of "Good luck", then I'll follow along and respect their beliefs.  So of course I wanted to see what China had to offer in their culture.

Cultures are so rich and fascinating!  Of course on learning about China, I'm starting with some of the fun stuff.  I'm learning about lucky and unlucky numbers, and what colors mean/represent.

So the information I've learned I'm sharing.  If you know anything worth adding, please do so!  This is taken from Wikipedia, chinahighlights and China-Mike. I give credit where credit is due!  Enjoy!

In China, whether a number is considered lucky or not is often related to the similarity between the pronunciation of the number (i.e., its sound byte) and the sound byte of another word which carries a positive connotation.  Though such association may seem silly to an outsider, the question is whether this is any sillier than any other justification for holding a particular, non-scientific belief about the luckiness or unluckiness of any given number (think of the number 13 in Western culture, and how potent is the belief associated with its negativeness).

The role of numbers in determining luck has a long history in Chinese culture. For example, it is said that in the Forbidden City there are 9999 rooms. When buying a house or choosing a telephone number or a license plate number for one's automobile, the choice is generally made with an eye to the perceived luckiness of the available numbers.

The number 2 is most often considered a good number in Chinese culture. There is a Chinese saying: "good things come in pairs". It is common to use double symbols in product brand names, such as double happiness, double coin and double elephants.

The number 3 sounds similar to the character for "birth” and is considered a lucky number.

The number 5 is associated with the five elements (Water, Fire, Earth, Wood, and Metal) in Chinese philosophy, and in turn was historically associated with the Emperor of China. For example, the Tiananmen gate, being the main thoroughfare to the Forbidden City, has five arches.

The number 6 in Mandarin is pronounced the same as "lio" and similar to "fluid” and is therefore considered good for business. The number 6 also represents happiness. 

The number 7 symbolizes "togetherness". It is a lucky number for relationships. It is also recognized as the luckiest number in the West, and is one of the rare numbers that is great in both Chinese and many Western cultures. It is a lucky number in Chinese culture, because it sounds alike to the Chinese character meaning arise.

 The word for 8 sounds similar to the word which means "prosper" or "wealth". The number 8 is considered extremely lucky, perhaps partly owing to its unique symmetry, and perhaps partly owing to the fact that the 8, laid on its side, resembles the Greek symbol for infinity.  88 is considered particularly lucky because it symbolized the “double happiness” characters.  The Beijing Olympic opening ceremony started exactly at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8pm on August 8, 2008.  9,000 Chinese couples got married on August 8, 2008 in Beijing, more than doubling the previous single-day marriage record.

The number 9, was historically associated with the Emperor of China, and the number was frequently used in matters relating to the Emperor, before the establishment of the imperial examinations officials were organized in the nine-rank system, the nine bestowments were rewards the Emperor made for officials of extraordinary capacity and loyalty, while the nine familial exterminations was one of the harshest punishments the Emperor sentenced; the Emperor's robes often had nine dragons, and Chinese mythology held that the dragon has nine children. It also symbolizes harmony.  Moreover, the number 9 is a homophone of the word for "long lasting", and as such is often used in weddings.

Number 4 is considered an unlucky number in Chinese because it is nearly homophonous to the word "death". Due to that, many numbered product lines skip the "4”. In East Asia, some buildings do not have a 4th floor. (Compare with the Western practice of some buildings not having a 13th floor because 13 is considered unlucky.) In Hong Kong, some high-rise residential buildings literally miss all floor numbers with "4", e.g. 4, 14, 24, 34 and all 40–49 floors, in addition to not having a 13th floor. As a result, a building whose highest floor is number 50 may actually have only 35 physical floors.

 Although five can represent "me" in Mandarin, it is usually associated with "not". If used for the negative connotation it can become good by using it with a negative. 54 means "not die" or "no death". If used for the positive it can be used as a possessive. 528 is a way of saying "no easy fortune for me". 

Seven is considered spiritist or ghostly. The seventh month of the Chinese calendar is also called the "Ghost Month". See Ghost Festival for more detail. During July, the gates of hell are said to be open so ghosts and spirits are permitted to visit the living realm. However, the Chinese lunar calendar also has July 7 as Chinese Valentine's Day, so the number 7 is not generally associated with bad luck. In most of the regions in China number 7 remains neutral or associated with luck.

In 2007, Chinese mothers stampeded maternity wards during the “Year of the Golden Pig”, considered an auspicious year that is also associated with fertility. 2007 was the first year in six decades that the “Year of the Pig” was astrologically associated with “gold”, which supposedly “double blesses” new babies.

Now on to colors.  In ancient China, the character more accurately meant color in the face.

Black, corresponding to water, is a neutral color. The I Ching, or Book of Changes, regards black as Heaven’s color. The saying “heaven and earth of mysterious black” was rooted in the observation that the northern sky was black for a long time. The Taiji symbol uses black and white to represent the unity of Yin and Yang. Ancient Chinese regarded black as the king of colors and honored black longer than any other color. Lao Zi said that five colors make people blind, so the Dao School chose black as the color of the Dao. In modern China, black is used in daily clothing. Black may also be used during a funeral to symbolize the spirit's return to the heavens. A black ribbon is usually hung over the deceased's picture

Yellow, corresponding with earth, is considered the most beautiful color. The Chinese saying, Yellow generates Yin and Yang, implies that yellow is the center of everything. Associated with but ranked above brown, yellow signifies neutrality and good luck. Yellow is sometimes paired with red in place of gold. Yellow symbolized royalty and power of the throne. The first Emperor of China was known as the Yellow Emperor. China was often referred to as Yellow Earth, and its mother river is the Yellow River. The skin color of Chinese people is yellow. During the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), yellow glazed tiles were used to build imperial palaces. During Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1636 - 1911) Dynasties, emperors were dressed in yellow imperial robes. They rode in "Yellow Palace" carriages and traveled on "Yellow Paths". Official flags were yellow. Official seals were packaged in yellow fabric. Overlooking the Forbidden City from Beijing Jing Mountain, one can see a sea of yellow glazed tile roofs. Gilded copper urns and animals adorn many palaces.

Red is the Chinese national color and represents happiness, beauty, success and good fortune. Red, corresponding with fire, symbolizes good fortune and joy. Red is found everywhere during Chinese New Year and other holidays and family gatherings. A red envelope is a monetary gift which is given in Chinese society during holiday or special occasions. The red color of the packet symbolizes good luck. Red is strictly forbidden at funerals as it is a traditionally symbolic color of happiness. In modern China, red remains a very popular color and is affiliated with and used by the Communist government. Red is used extensively in everyday life. Red lanterns adorn businesses and residences. Double rows of red "Xi" (happiness) letters are pasted on gates and doors. People wore red during weddings, festivals and other celebratory events. Red envelopes stuffed with money are given as gifts during Chinese New Year.

Blue-green, corresponding with wood, represents nature and renewal and often indicates spring. The color implies vigor and vitality. Its base colors also have distinct meanings.

Blue symbolizes immortality. Dark blue is also a color for somber occasions like funerals and deaths.

Green symbolizes money. Buildings, banks and restaurants are often painted in green and red. Generally green is associated with health, prosperity, and harmony. However, green hats are associated with infidelity and used as an idiom for a cuckold. This has caused uneasiness for Chinese Catholic bishops, who in ecclesiastical heraldry would normally have a green hat above their arms. Chinese bishops have compromised by using a violet hat for their coat of arms.

White, corresponding with metal, represents gold and symbolizes brightness, purity, and fulfillment. White is also the color of mourning. Unlike the Western meanings of purity, chastity, holiness and cleanliness, white is associated with death and is used predominantly in funerals in Chinese culture. Ancient Chinese people wore white clothes and hats only when they mourned for the dead. Sometimes silver takes its place, as silver is often offered to the deceased in the form of joss paper.

So maybe my dream, back when, of my little girl in yellow is a good thing!!  Who knows?  But I'll take it!
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Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Signature

I created a new signature and wanted to try it out.  It's still my beautiful LadyBug Dragon, but with new cherry blossoms and font for the signature.  I just wanted to freshen up my signature for whatever reason.  I identify with the LadyBug dragon, thus the picture of one. 

From my first original post, "Why I named my myself Ladybug Dragon is because I see that ladybugs are a unofficial reference to Chinese adoption and it seems to tie in with the red thread proverb. The dragon part, is because I love dragons and I am year of the dragon. So I thought it was a good tie-in."  Is it right to quote myself?

But I see cherry blossoms and think of Ashton.  Thus why I have cherry blossoms in my signature and my wallpaper.  I guess she's my little cherry blossom.  Not original, I know, but I still really like the imagry.

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Busy Bee

My husband is a busy bee.  He still hasn't finished his autobiography. 

He did go over to Ms. D's on Wednesday to start on the autobio, but then when I had to leave work, my car was dead and needed a jump.  So he had to leave to jump my car.

Next he tried to fit her in, but was too busy with work and then building the set for theater.  Yesterday, he was very sore and tired.  Now he is working overtime.  So as I said busy guy.

I'm not anxious.  We have all the time in the world, really.  The sooner we're "done" the sooner we have to make more payments, so this is good.  We're pacing our selves so that we can afford this venture.  But now and then I wonder if we're shooting ourselves in the foot.

He thinks I'm trying to go too fast and I think he's dragging too slow.  But as we're not on a schedule we're okay.  AS long as our prints and photos and whatever doesn't "expire" by the time he writes his autobio we're fine.  So he has some months to write... technically.

I'm sure he'll get done sometime next week.  He has 2/5 of it done, so he tells me.  And having Ms. D involved to help write it is a step in the right direction.  But let me tell you, his autobio should be a masterpiece after all this time ;)
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time as I See It

I’m sure there is wonder out there why I haven’t been posting about our home study.  Truth is I’m still waiting for my husband to complete his autobiography before we can start the home study. 

Yes, it is frustrating that I’m waiting on my husband rather than “the system” however, I’m at peace with all of this.  I’m not anxious or upset.  I remind him daily, but know my husband will do it when it’s right and he finds the time.  Having me pushing him will only make a dark autobiography, so I don’t want that.

I’m really surprised that I’m okay and not angry at the situation.  However, trying to internalize why I’m feeling at peace, I think it’s because we’re still in control.  And I know it’s a long wait anyhow.  Our girl will come when it’s right.  And if my husband (who writing is very hard for him) needs a few more weeks, then he can have it. 

I don’t want to help him in any way with the autobiography.  I’m afraid to influence it.  I want it to be straight from him as mine was straight from me.

However, since he does seem to be struggling (I have seen him attempt twice at it… I don’t know how much he’s gotten through) a good friend of ours, let’s call her Ms. D,  said that she will have him come over today and allow him to dictate what he wants to say.  She will happily type it up.  (I would, but I know I’d interject with, “but we could elaborate here”, or “that’s not how it happened”.)  To keep me out of it, she’s going to help him.  I’m so grateful!

So everyone please cross your fingers and toes or pray or send good vibes that this does get completed and well.  Then we can move forward.  But if it takes him a few more days, fine.  As long as it doesn’t take by Christmas!  I want everything in good order when we send it to start the home study.

On a different note, I can’t believe how quickly the holidays are approaching.  Thanksgiving is right around the corner!  I’m looking forward to it.  My grandma, mom and friend, Ms. M, are coming over for Thanksgiving.  My grandmother still doesn’t know about our adoption plans.  I don’t know whether to tell her yet or not.

Grandma is from another generation, I don’t know how she would process it.  She did mention once when I mentioned I’d adopt rather than have kids (I wasn’t pursuing adoption at the time) she said I’d want my own and not someone else’s.  So I’m curious if that comment was of the moment or if it still applies to “real life”.

I would really love to have my daughter know her great-grandmother.  And I wonder if, God willing, my grandma will still be around when we get our little girl.  But I know that we can’t have our perfect planned out ideas.  But if I can… I’d love the chance. 

I wonder if during Thanksgiving would be a good time or not.  I guess if the moment presents itself. But this is more a passing thought than some obsession.  If it happens great, if not, fine too.

Hopefully the next post will come in the next few days sharing that his autobiography is complete and we’ve sent everything to begin the Home Study.
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Friday, November 4, 2011

China's Edgy Architecture

An Hui Province's eye-catching "Piano House." Photo: Xinhuanet

China has some amazing, eye-cathing architecture. If you like the Piano House, go to  to see what China has planned!  Comics and Animation Museum is really wild, but the rendering of the planned Sports Complex in Huainan, China takes the cake!
You gotta love the night version too! The "Piano House" in Huainan City offers music lovers and students from local colleges a performance and practice venue as well as an exhibition hall for local government to highlight the area's new developments.  Way to go China!
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Go Bulldogs!

I am a Butler Alumni.  A very proud Butler Alum.  So I was very excited when I was given free tickets from work to the homecoming game.  So last night, my husband and I had date night and went to a Butler University basketball game.  It was game 1.  And it was Butler vs. Northern State. 
Blue II, the mascot
It was so fun seeing Blue II, Brad Stevens (without his glasses for this game) and the yelling/routing from fans for my fellow dawgs!

Unfortunately we lost at the final buzzer.  We were ahead 9 points, then tied, then lost!  It was sad we lost, but the the night as a whole was great.  I still had a very fun time.  I'm still very proud of my dawgs!  I loved seeing them in the Championship game the last 2 years!  I hope we make it to the Sweet 16 at least.  I'd be ecstatic for the Elite 8.  I'd be giddy for the Final 4.  And I'd be dazed for another Championship game.  Who knows!

Anyhow, we perused the gift shop.  I saw fun exercise gear, key chains, padding seating, t-shirt, sweatshirts, but then right on our way out, what did I see?  I saw toddler Butler cheerleader outfits!  Seriously, it leaped right off the rack and into my hands.  I mean that's what cheerleaders do right?  Why not their outfits?  I swear this outfit had Mexican jumping beans in it.  It bounced into my hands and said, "BUY ME!"  I had no choice!  My husband thought it was adorable!  I was so ecstatic!  I can't wait to see her in it!

I was never a cheerleader, but toddler cheerleaders are too cute!  I can see her now in this outfit with a little blue painted paw on her cheek and in pigtails. Ooh, I can't wait! 

I don't expect her to enroll to Butler or be a fan, but before she has a choice I can put her in a little Butler blue!  But who knows maybe she'll love the Bulldogs after all?  Or maybe a Purdue Boilermaker like her Daddy?  I wonder if he'll sneak in a Purdue outfit too?
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Language Littles

So just when you thought I got enough dolls for Ashton... yes, I did it again.  This was one of the first dolls I noticed and read about when we first decided about adopting, but they were discontinued (just proof again of my unwanted super power - see my post).  Which doll did I notice?
The Language Littles dolls.  The Chinese doll, Ling, caught my eye.  (Yes, she now has 2 Ling dolls, one Language Little and one Karito Kids.)  What is really cool about this particular doll is she can speak Chinese (Mandarin) and English!  This is the only Chinese/English speaking doll I know of.  She can speak over 25 words and phrases in English then Chinese.  How fun!!

She is 16" tall and is for ages 3 and up. 

I found only 1 used one a few months ago, and she was missing her jacket and backpack and bonus booklet.  So I decided against it, though I thought I may never see another one for sale again.  But hoped and wished that one would come along.

Then about a week ago I found a brand new Ling doll still in her box!!  I couldn't believe my luck!  I didn't think I'd ever find a used one, let alone a new-one-in-a-box!  She arrived last night in perfect condition.

I love listening to her talk.  It's so cute!  I'm super excited to have gotten the doll for Ashton.  If you press her right hand you hear greetings.  If you press her left she counts to 10 and lists her favorite activities.  And if you press her knee she says, "I love you!"

Just another way I feel closer to China and my little girl!
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