Thursday, June 26, 2008


It's been a great week here in Cali. Apparently we missed the "heat wave" (gee, wish I had an ocean at home to cool off in) and the weather has been sunny and beautiful with a COOL breeze. I emphasize that because Arizona's breezes are like the rush of air when you open a hot oven.

The guys have really enjoyed the conference and actually said they are "worshipped out" (is that possible???) I got a dvd that has tips on playing bass guitar for contemporary praise and worship and also has some tips for the fretless bass (my next future endeavor). Can't wait to watch it. I stopped by the conference on Tues during lunch and listened to Christian jazz and rap while we ate...yes they were literally at opposite ends of the plaza. Then, right before the next session, they had some motorcycle jumpers doing amazing stunts.."Riders For Christ". VERY cool! They also had the lead singer from the group, "Ambrosia" perform ("How Much I Feel", "Biggest Part of Me"). Apparently he attends Saddleback. I didn't get to hear that but the guys raved about it. I wish I could've attended the worship part too because I love hearing the different groups leading.

Wed., I took Nate to Balboa beach & pier. As soon as I sat him down in the sand, he got freaked out when he saw the water rush up onto the beach. It took a few minutes for him to feel comfortable playing in the sand and even then, he kept a watchful eye on the surf. After awhile though, I carried him down to the water and as long as I was holding him, he had a good time in the waves. I almost biffed it a couple of times when the waves crashed down on me...thought for sure we would go under but managed to keep us both up. It was a lot of fun but tiring. I wanted to maximize my time there so Nate took his nap in the stroller and I just watched the Jr. Lifeguards run up and down the beach countless times, doing push-ups...I think it was like boot camp for middle schoolers. It's cute because all the little boys at the beach have long wavy surfer hair, like in the 70's, and carry their boogie boards around.

Today, I went to the Balboa Fun Park and took Nate on the ferry over to Balboa Island. It's a little island with multi-million dollar cottages, quaint shops and restaurants. Of course, I had to get my mint chocolate chip ice cream while I was there and man was it yummy! I rarely ever eat ice cream so it's a real treat. This afternoon, I met up with the guys and we saw Indiana Jones again. I love all the special effects and action and the fact that Harrison Ford can still pull it off as Indiana Jones after 20 years. But I don't love the story...just never been into the whole aliens bit. Tomorrow we're having breakfast at Ruby's Diner on Balboa Pier. They have AWESOME cinnamon roll french toast! After that, we're staying with my art agent for the weekend and attending a satellite church that Saddleback started. A satellite church is where they have a video of the sermon instead of a live pastor. You'd think people wouldn't like that but this church has over 800 members!! So we're going to see how they do things. I won't have internet access after today so I'll see you all in blogger land on Monday!

Here's some photos from our trip.....Click on the photos to see them larger.



Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Sorry it's been awhile since my last post. We have been in CA again this week...this time at the Saddleback Worship Conference. Actually, Don and our worship leader Danny are at the conference. Nate and I are being beach bums (what a life!) I'm a little too tired to write and about ready to crash so I'm thinking I'll do an update tomorrow. Played too hard at the beach today (I know how much you pity me.) Nate has been a crazy boy since we've been here. I think I fed him too much apple juice to keep him regular. Danny is on Cloud 9 getting inspired by all the worship people and workshops. Don feels like he's in a strange country and doesn't know the language. haha.

Will write again soon. Good night!

Friday, June 20, 2008


I forgot to post about our date night! We dropped Nate off at our friends house. He looked around with big eyes like, "I'm not sure what to think about being here". Then he ran to me as we were walking out the door and started crying. We've learned not to let that get to us because as I found out (and is always the case), he cried for like 3 seconds after we left and then started playing.

We went to the Olive Garden for dinner and had a nice time. Funny's been awhile since we've been out because we didn't know what to talk about! We started talking about Nate at first but quickly changed the subject because we're ALWAYS talking about Nate. So....silence for awhile as we tried to think of other things to discuss. I remember the dating days when it seemed like we NEVER had enough time to talk. What in the world did we talk about then???

We sat down at the table and had Stuffed Mushroom appetizers, which were very tasty, and Don had the mixed grill and I had soup and salad. I love Olive Garden's salad and breadsticks. Finally we ended up talking about our childhood (just can't get away from kids!) and by the time dinner was over, we felt like we were just barely getting started. It felt so strange to be out by ourselves..together...without a kid to worry about. I felt like I forgot something..sort of the same way you go off and forget your cell phone or purse.

We were glad to see our boy again, but sad at the same time that we couldn't spend a little more time together. I think we definitely need to spend a few more quality date nights together instead of one every 6 months! What do your baby sitters charge? Out here, they charge $6-$10 per kid, per hour. By the time you pay for a sitter and a movie or dinner, you're plunking down $50-$80! Ouch! It was very generous of our friends to INSIST on giving us a freebie but we often feel guilty about doing that so we never ask people to babysit (we have no family here either). Kind of a Catch-22. was great to get out and about. If we weren't so stuffed from dinner, it would've been nice to get ice cream afterwards. ha!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Up until now, Nate has only been to the movie theater while he was sleeping. It was the only way we could get a movie fix without worrying about a baby sitter. But today, I had to pick up a hiking backpack from a friend, for another friend (stay with me here) and she mentioned that she was taking her kids to see "Surf's Up". The kids got in FREE and adults were only $1.00!! That's right, ONE DOLLAH! I thought, "Dude! Even if we had to leave early, you can't beat a buck!" So today Nate went to his very first movie. He did MUCH better than I expected and was so excited to sit in real chair and eat popcorn like Mom. Sat through most of a little squirmy at times..tried to stand up in his chair a couple of times (yeah, we nipped that in the bud) but never got OUT of his chair. He actually laughed at the movie a few was hilarious. Toward the end, all the excitement got the better of him and he conked out. You know you're a parent when you don't mind a theater jam packed with kids. I was relieved that Nate could burst out talking and no one cared. haha. Actually, it seemed quieter and calmer in the theater than I remember in the past. Or maybe it's just that I have a kid now and am more sympathetic. It was only after the movie that I realized they had booster seats for the kids. Doh!

P.S. Don REFUSES to have a photo of his hair taken. I will have to take one while he's sleeping. hee hee!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I put off dyeing my hair as long as I could possibly stand it. But Don and I both got tired of pulling out the grays...can't keep up with them anymore. So we both dyed our hair last night! I put reddish highlights in mine (although they came a little more orange than I thought). All in all, not too shabby if I do say so myself! I would've taken a photo of Don's but he shaved most of it off after he dyed it. He didn't mean too, but the blade was smaller than he thought and bzzz....whoops! Oh well, he still has leftover dye. ha!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


.....the neighbors start dressing up the cactus instead of their dog.

Monday, June 16, 2008



When Don and I were expecting a child, we were hoping to have one who liked a lot of the foods we do. Well so far...Nate does. We're often amazed and impressed at his palate for a 20 month old. Below I listed a bunch of the more INTERESTING foods he likes, just for fun. Don't know how long this will last but for now, we're lovin' every minute of it. (now I have that song in my head and so do you..all you 80's teens).

1. Thai curries (yes even the spicy ones)
2. Vietnamese food
3. Indian curries
4. Edamame
5. California Rolls with ginger and wasabi mixed with soy sauce
6. Horseradish sauce with prime rib
7. Tempura
8. Anything grilled (asparagus, broccoli, squash, etc.)
9. Fish (grilled, blackened or fried)
10. Risotto
11. Calamari
12. Medium salsa (by the spoonful)
13. Chinese food
14. Mexican food
15. Tropical fruits (papaya, pineapple, kiwi, guava, melons)
16. Ceasar Salad
17. Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie)
18. Couscous

In fact, I think it's because of these foods that he hates these (haha):

1. Green beans
2. Steamed veggies

For Father's Day we went to BluePoint, a seafood restaurant. He scarfed down the Calamari and ate some of my blackened Mahi Mahi with rice and asparagus! I gave him a small spoonful of my Key Lime Pie and he didn't even bat an eye. I, on the other hand, made a huge puckered face from the tartness (it was really good!)

We started putting Nate on a more structured schedule and he has responded beautifully! The first day he was MAD because of course, mom and dad started taking away some of the freedom he had gotten used to. That wasn't a fun day, but the days after that have been MUCH, MUCH better as far as his behavior and attitude. Sunday he was perfect. I kept waiting for a tantrum or meltdown because he is always so overstimulated and over tired from church and people but he never did. He never went in timeout once and was happy and laughing ALL DAY! We praised him like crazy for being so good and mindful. I started doing something different and instead of saying "NO Nate" all the time I began saying "You don't have the freedom to do this or that". I couldn't believe what a difference that simple phrase makes. Every time I told him "No" before, he would become defiant and have a fit. This has not been the case since I used the "freedom" phrase. For example, I told him to play with a couple of toys I picked out for him in the living room. He did that for a few minutes and then wandered into the kitchen. I said, "Nate you don't have the freedom to leave the living room. Come over here and play with your toys". He ran back into the living and played happily. I was really surprised and I'm glad to see that he is happier with this structure (and so are we). That's not to say he doesn't have his moments (usually if it's naptime or mealtime) but we are down to only one or NO timeouts per day now. YEA!!

He's also added another phrase, "Shoes on." I hear squeals from Nate in the living room (and from Don) so it sounds like the boys are having some bonding time. haha. Tonight we are going on a MUCH needed date night. Whoo hooo! A friend from church gave us a gift certificate to the Olive Garden and informed us that they were babysitting for us tonight. Who were we to protest? We are very excited and Nate loves being around them so I know he'll have fun too. I'll post more about it tomorrow.

What are some of your favorite foods? Leave a comment!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


To all the dads out there...YOU ROCK! Thanks Don for being an awesome dad to Nate. Love you!!


Friday, June 13, 2008


I was trying to figure out why Nate has been spending more time than usual in timeouts lately. Don and I started looking at his daily routine and realized we are allowing him too many decision making "freedoms". More than he is capable of handling at 20 months. There's a book called "ToddlerWise" that's written by the Ezzos, a Christian couple who also wrote the "Growing Kids God's Way" series. One of the things they talk about is if you give a child more freedom than they can handle you will start seeing certain behavior problems. Another mom who also expands on the "BabyWise" books had this to add:

Does your child debate? Does he fall apart when an impulsive desire is denied? Does your child struggle to submit to instruction? Does he do what you ask, but do less than you asked for? If so, it is likely he has too many freedoms for his age.

Nate is exhibiting ALL of these behaviors. When we re-evaluated his daily routine, we realized we were allowing him to have free rein of the house, play with whatever toys he wanted and not always requiring him to clean up afterwards. All of this requires him to make constant decisions on what to do each day. He's relying on us for boundaries and structure and if we don't provide it, he'll have to make decisions that he's not capable of handling at this age.

I don't know why we get out of routine so easily, but let me tell you...these kids are sharp and their behavior is a reflection of what we do or don't do. Nate's behavior problems are because of us, not him. So...back to a better and more structured routine and I know we'll see a happier little boy.


I should've known...I knew I should have prepared ahead of time. But noooooo....I had to procrastinate. I was preparing lunch today when suddenly I saw Harvard jumping around, attacking his feet and chasing after something on the floor. "Oh greeaaat", I thought and sure enough I was right.

ANTS!! Those little buggers had 2 trails in our by the dining room table (of course) and one in the laundry room by the dog food. I always know the monsoon is on it's way when the ants find THEIR way into our house. UGH!

Nate said his first sentence today! "I'm sorry"...although it sounds more like "I sor". He had a timeout this morning when he climbed onto the sofa and tried to stand up on the arms. I told him to sit down and he just stared at me as if he were waiting to see if I would make him sit. Well I did and he got mad and kicked at me and refused to listen, soooo....he earned his trip to the corner. After timeout was over, I told him again why he went into timeout and to say "I'm sorry". I really didn't expect it to happen but to my surprise he said it! "I sor". His first sentence. haha.

He's been spending more time in timeout lately because he'll refuse to follow an instruction or get mad about it and push us or whatever's in front of him away or he'll throw his toys. We're trying to curb this behavior because we don't want him to start doing this to other people. Part of it is his need for everything to have a certain order or routine. If something is "off" to him, he expresses his frustration by throwing, crying, pushing or kicking. The other part of it is just wanting to do things his way. There's no bargaining here. He gets one warning and then immediate consequence if he chooses not to follow. One thing that's nice is that he always stays in timeout. At least since he was 15 months, so we don't have to constantly put him back in it. He always complies after the timeout is over and then he laughs, smiles and goes back to his play like nothing happened. Kids are funny.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Here's your healthy tip for the week........This is a great snack or substitute if you have a kid who's picky about their veggies. The kids think it's hilarious to see the soybeans "pop" out of the pods (especially if you add sound effects) and they are an awesome source of protein and just healthy all the way around. Even if YOU don't like them, your kids might. Nate likes all kinds of food that I don't (cottage cheese and olives for one). He pops these things like Cheerios.

I found a gianormous 6lb box at Costco for $7.99. They're in individual containers that you keep in the freezer and pull out to defrost when you want to eat them. You usually eat them cold so they're a cool snack during those hot summer days.

Monday, June 9, 2008



Poor Harvard. Can't even get a moments rest in his own bed!

I think our son is turning into a neat freak. He's always been a very careful eater but lately, he can't stand to have sand in his sandals or dirty hands. He'll look at me, frown and hold out his hands for me to clean or look down at his sandals and whimper for me to shake the sand out of them (usually I tell him that's just the way it goes when you walk in the sand. I mean c'mon...I can't brush sand out of his shoes every 2 seconds!) He started picking up after dad in the living room, bringing me the glass that Don left in there or the popcorn bowl. ha! He'll even put our clothes and shoes away for us.

Maybe he'll be able to help us get more organized. haha.

Friday, June 6, 2008


One year ago today, our phone rang and before I could get to it, the answering machine came on. I heard our adoption agent's voice saying something about how our referral came in and our child was beautiful....and on and on...but the words didn't register. We'd waited so long, the word "referral" sounded unbelievable. Suddenly it hit me like a brick wall. We were getting our child! I will never forget how a wave of excitement, panic and confusion hit me all at once. Don wasn't home and I wanted him to be there so I called him up and he said "I'll be home in 10 minutes!" (he was 20 minutes away. haha).

He raced home and we got everything set up on the table...the video camera, the phone on speaker and we were on pins and needles...almost aching to hear our agent's voice. But instead, we got her answering maching....7 TIMES (I felt like forever!) Finally we got through and she began telling us the bits and pieces that she knew about our child, and then the most awesome news of all...


We didn't even have a name picked out because we totally expected a girl. The rest of the day was spent calling up family to spread the exciting news. We were floating in a dreamworld going to the store to pick out special congratulation gifts for our parents and just not knowing what to do next. Our 2-1/2 year wait was over.

Our son's chinese name is Qian Li Wang (Beautiful King). And his American name is "Nathaniel Owen Li" which means "Our Gift from God - Beautiful Warrior". Sometimes we just stare at him wondering how we became so lucky to be given such a beautiful perfect son.

We love you Nate. You are the most awesome gift in the world.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


This week we had dinner with some friends, Rudy and that BBQ brisket! Rudy takes awesome photos and we were hoping to catch a glimpse of their Night Blooming Cereus. A huge cactus flower, the size of a dinner plate, that blooms one day a year. Unfortunately, we were one night too late! Here's some photos of Nate with Rudy's mom, Cora. Cora is a sweet, awesome lady who always has a smile for us.

Today, Nate and I went to Tohono Chul Park with friend Dawn and her daughter, Valerie. It was Nate's first storytime and he did pretty well. Got figidty in his seat but stayed put. After that, we went to the kids garden and he had a great time sailing his wooden "boat" down the mosaic river.

My parents sent us a super cool pool...THANKS GRANDMA & PA-PA RAMOS! Nate loved it and it's perfect now that the temps are hitting 100+.


Thanks Kayce for the totally cool dragonfly quilt square! Kayce is a fellow blogger who is also adopting from China and awaiting a referral for a little girl. I love the dragonflies. It reminds me of when we were in China..we ran across a little boy and his sister and he had caught a dragonfly on his finger! It was cute to see them so excited about it. There's a photo of them below.