Sunday, May 31, 2009


Almost 5 months ago on "Gotcha Day", the absolute best day of our lives, Halainah's director of her orphanage handed me a small Winnie the Pooh photo album.  Inside the photo album are the most precious photos of our little girl's past.  I will be forever grateful to the director for giving me such an indescribable gift.  For without these small clues to her past, we don't really have many answers on how Halainah lived the first 14 months of her life.  

I often sit and think about the time when Halainah will come to me and ask about her birth mother.  And it pains my heart that I don't have many answers for her other than to assure her that her birth mother loved her so very much that she chose a very safe place to leave her knowing that she would be found right away.  And to assure her that her birth mother wanted her to have the best life that she couldn't provide for her.  There are a lot of unknowns for Halainah.  But what I do know deep within my heart was that she was loved.  

I know that because Halainah is the most loving and affectionate little girl that I have ever known.  She gives tons of kisses and hugs to us, to her extended family and even to her stuffed animals.  She also has a very special way in which when you are holding her, she rubs your arm or back almost in a way like showing you "everything is going to be alright."Halainah would not be so affectionate if she was never shown love in the beginning of her life, I am certain of that.  

I also know that she was happy and content.  I know this because she is one VERY happy little girl.  She laughs all the time, she smiles all of the time, she simply has a smile that is so contagious that we are constantly stopped and told that we have such a "happy and beautiful baby."  Halainah has never shown signs of being anything other than happy from the moment she was placed in our arms.  

I also know that she was shown security.  She is secure in who she is and she is secure in who we are.  If she was shown anything other than security, it would have been difficult for her to trust us and settle into her new life.  This photo album only proves my theories.  Her nannies collected these memories for her, so that she will have answers to part of her past, where she came from and who raised her for 14 months.  This is a gift to her that most adoptive parents do not get.  We are so very thankful and truly lucky for this wondrous gift.

Now let's take a little peek into this tiny photo album filled with enormous memories for Halainah when she gets older.

This is the front of Halainah's orphanage which is the Social Welfare Institute of Xinzhou District of Shangrao City in Jiangxi Province.  Halainah was placed in front of the gates 1 day after she was born by her birth mom in hopes that she would be found right away.

This is a closer view past the gates.

This is one of the rooms in which she slept when she was younger, but we are unsure which crib was hers.

This is the playroom.

Look at our beautiful China doll.  Wow it is amazing that we actually have this picture.  It was taken shortly after she was found.  Jiu Jiu, check out the spot by her lip that shows up in some can see it in this picture.

I love this picture.  Although I am not sure of her age.  I am guessing between 5 - 8 months based on her referral picture that we received in which she was 8 months old.

Not sure of Halainah's age here either but I'm guessing about 9 - 12 months of age.  She is so beautiful.

Many prayers were answered the day I wrote the post, Happy Birthday Baby Girl!  I asked for prayers that Halainah was being celebrated by her nannies.  This photo was taken on Halainah's 1st birthday and shows her little birthday celebration.

We are uncertain who this little girl is but I plan on posting this picture on my yahoo group to see if I can locate her family.  Wouldn't that be really neat if I can locate them?  Perhaps we would be able to unite the Rao girls again.

Here's a picture of Halainah with the orphanage director on her 1st birthday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I don't have a lot of time to post as Lainey and I have to get up early tomorrow. We are going to visit Aunt Chrissy and Uncle Joe in the hospital. She gave birth to her "oh so adorable" little boy last night. Vincent Joseph was born weighing in just a smidge over 7 pounds and is 20 1/2 inches in length. I am so excited for the proud parents and can't wait to see our new nephew.

So on mother's day my father stopped by our house and gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. And they are still as beautiful today as they were on May 10th. Maybe that's a sign that my long living flowers represents me being a good mom. I certainly hope so because our beautiful daughter deserves the best mommy and daddy in the world.

Above is a picture of Lainey's special bamboo that Tony and I bought when we first started her adoption. Hmmm perhaps I need to buy more bamboo for Halainah's mei mei. First I found the beautiful vase. I fell in love with it as it was very "girly" to me. Than we purchased three stalks of bamboo. 1 for Lainey, 1 for mama and 1 for daddy. So there you have it our family of three. It has grown so much in the 2 years we waited for our daughter. I hope it lives a long time so we can share this story with Halainah. Silly I suppose but it's something we did special for her way before we saw her beautiful face.

And just in case you are wondering...Lainey still walks around all day long with that darn plastic measuring spoon!

Monday, May 25, 2009


"A happy family is but an earlier heaven." - George Bernard Shaw

I am sitting here on my couch enjoying the cool breeze blowing through the open window and listening to the sound of our waterfall hitting our fish pond that we strategically placed a few years ago. I am completely satisfied and engulfed with happiness over this glorious weekend. Why you ask? Simply because it was a weekend chock full with family. And in my opinion it is how life is supposed to be lived. Family is so important to me. Friends come and go. Acquaintances will offer up advice and give praise. But in the end, well in the end is always family. And if you don't have family to turn to in your darkest hour or in your happiest moments, than somewhere along the way your path has veered off in the wrong direction.

On Friday we headed off to Staten Island to visit Grandma and Grandpa. It has been a few weeks since we were there and I simply miss our visits. Grandpa looked great. It was wonderful to see him up and about and off of the oxygen for long periods of time. He was tired at times but praise God he looked and sounded wonderful. Grandma was able to spend some quality time with Halainah which I loved. And we even got a surprise visit from Aunt Chrissy and Uncle Joe. We had a great time enjoying pizza and calzones and talking baby talk. Aunt Chrissy looks better than anyone I have ever known with her 9 month belly. And the icing on the cake is that Aunt Chrissy's water broke today and little peanut will be with us shortly. We are not certain if she will be able to have a normal delivery or a C-section so please keep her in your prayers for a safe delivery for her and little peanut. I have said my prayers to God and to Saint Gerard. Little Peanut we can't wait to see you and hold you in our arms. I am so thankful to have been able to spend Friday with them right before their family grows.

Saturday and Sunday were spent with our immediate family catching up on yard work that so desperately needed to be done and simply reminiscing about these last few years. Halainah had a blast outside walking from toy to toy to toy. She has some scraped knees to prove it but hey...that's what being a kid is all about. We enjoyed a wonderful BBQ each evening and it really felt like summer. But the best part happened on Sunday evening. Tony and I completed our adoption application for Halainah's mei mei. You heard me correctly, we are sending it out in a few days we just need to have a few things notarized. We are placing the next adoption in God's hands just like we did with Halainah. We sent in Halainah's application in May of 2007 and here we are exactly 2 years later sending in Halainah's mei mei's...we did not plan that. Who would have ever imagined that we would be traveling down this road again. Dumb question I know...God's written in our book.

Monday was fantastic. We headed off to Aunt Bonnie's for a big old fashioned BBQ with family, Halainah's godparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, Nonno, Nonna, great grandma, and Opa. We ate the most delicious foods that started off with Pasta of course...we are Italian you know. But than came the hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage, chicken, crabs with old bay and all the salads and fixings you can imagine. Oh wow am I stuffed. Halainah had a blast. She is such the little spitfire. I don't know how her little legs can go on and on all day long. She was her natural little ham self blowing kisses, talking up a storm, laughing, hugging and playing all day long. She passed out in the car 1 minute after we left. Today brought back a lot of childhood memories for Tony. As Halainah ran in and out of the isles of fresh vegetables that Uncle Mario grows every year he reminisced on how he would do the same as a child at his grandma's. It saddens me that Halainah will never meet a few of her grandma's. Well not here on earth that is. I love spending time with family and I love seeing Halainah loving her family. Every time she smiles, laughs, hugs, kisses, plays and clings to family it just melts my heart in a way that is indescribable. I thank God for Family every day and always will.

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend as much as we did and I certainly hope it was filled with family because that is how life should be lived!

Going for a car ride to Grandma's on Friday night!
Daddy and his China Doll in our backyard!
Lainey bug sporting her cute spring outfit for a family BBQ!
Cousins Alyssa, Cassandra and Halainah playing with letter magnets
A tender moment, Aunt Bonnie gently kissing Halainah. I caught the shot through the sliding door!
Halainah had a BLAST on the to talk daddy into getting one for our backyard!
Halainah really wanted to go swimming but mama said the water is too cold!
She is such a happy happy little girl!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Last night I made the most luscious lemon sauce for dinner. We poured it over grilled chicken and white rice. But I can think of a dozen other dishes it would taste great on...especially breaded chicken. Tony and I always order lemon chicken when we go out for Chinese food. So I got the idea to look up lemon sauce and try it myself. It was very simple...the hardest part was shredding the lemon peel and squeezing the lemons.

So here's the recipe if you want to try it. I'm posting it so that I always have easy access as well. I know I'm going to be making this dish again. It is not the top pick for all you dieters out there as there is milk and butter in it but it's well worth it.

20 minutes from start to finish and makes 1 1/3 cups

2/3 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 egg yolks, beaten
6 tablespoons butter, cut up
1/4 cup half-and-half, light cream, or milk (I used milk)

1. In a small saucepan stir together sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more.

2. Gradually add the egg yolks into the hot mixture. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Gradually stir in butter until melted. Stir in milk. Serve warm. (Cover and chill any leftovers for up to 3 days.)

Let me know if you decide to try it.

And of course I have a few pics. to share:

Halainah has a habit of going into the food pantry and pulling out snacks. Well today she grabbed a box of goldfish that were bigger than her and insisted on eating from the carton!
Sitting in her toy chest that is in her new play room!
Helping mommy put her books away on her bookshelf!
We went out with Opa for lunch on Tuesday. Halainah spots Opa pulling up!
Waving hello to Opa!
Getting all excited because Opa is walking up the stairs!
Halainah is such a HAPPY girl...all of the time. And she loves her Opa!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


When Tony and I started our adoption journey back in April 2007 we knew the wait was going to be a very long time. So we passed our time collecting special items for Halainah which seemed to make everything real. One of the first items we bought was Big Bird in China on DVD. Halainah was not interested in television for the first couple of months at home. And honestly American Idol was the first thing that she would actually stop to watch. Every once in a while we catch her watching something on TV. So I decided today would be a good day to watch Big Bird in China.

Halainah was fascinated with Big Bird. She loved the singing, the school children and the dancing and she certainly loved the little girl who starred in the film named Xiao Foo. It was very interesting to watch Halainah while Xiao Foo taught Big Bird a few Chinese words. I often wonder if she remembers but by watching her today, I know for sure that she does. She showed great excitement which was totally different when watching anything else. It was also really neat that we actually stood in a lot of the same spots as Big Bird. So when Halainah is older we will be able to show her pictures of all of us in China. I think she will relate so much more with Big Birds help. I have to admit that I cried when Xiao Foo had to say goodbye to Big Bird and asked if he would remember her. It was weird, I just thought about the day we left China to come home and wondered if we would ever return. I was very sad to say goodbye to Halainah's homeland. We will return to China, that is a promise.

I was able to snap a few pics. of Halainah and I hope I captured some of her excitement. You'll notice that she moved around a lot...but her eyes stayed glued to the TV.

Halainah started off on the couch!
She had to get closer for a better look!
Look at those hands...she's totally into it!
Halainah is pointing to all of the school children. They spoke a lot of Chinese in this scene. She really lit up at this point!
Getting closer so she doesn't miss any of the action!
Here she is pointing at Xiao Foo! She loved this little girl!
Settling back on the floor for some rest with her favorite bear!
5 minutes after the movie ended...too much excitement I suppose!

Notice anything wrong with this picture?

Daddy changed Halainah and got her ready for bed. Silly daddy the ruffles go in the back on my bum! Poor little angel...her eczema is back on her neck!

Monday, May 18, 2009


For all those that have been following our miraculous journey you will already know that Halainah eats anything and everything. Our amazing guide in China told us that the Chinese eat anything with 4 legs except a table and anything that flies except an airplane. In Halainah's case, yup 100% true. Even dirt, weeds and now sand. One of the main reasons that I keep blogging is to always treasure the cute little things so that we will never forget them. Hence today's entire post on peas.

So what other child do you know that loves veggies? Halainah loves her veggies which makes feeding her so very easy. Well I am trying to keep her away from junk food and keep her interested in all of the healthy foods so hopefully she will never change her awesome eating habits. So when it's snack time, I give her a cup of something healthy. I couldn't resist snapping some pics. of my Asian angel eating a snack cup full of peas...yup you heard me...peas. And I had to refill her snack cup twice. Now I hate peas and my mother hated peas as well. As a kid I would get so upset because my mother would force me to eat my know...I couldn't get up from the table unless I finished my peas. I couldn't in my right mind understand how she could make me peas and force me to eat them when she hated them herself. Oh what fond pea memories. Lucky for me...Halainah loves peas. So I don't have to think of clever ideas to get her to eat her peas. Unfortunately, I cringe when I see her eating them but laugh at that beautiful face. And I kindly say, "no thanks, mama is full" when she tries to feed them to me.

Halainah is so darn cute! She is so happy to have a cup full of peas!

She licked her fingers to make sure she got every last morsel!
This was refill #1 notice the cup is full again!
Ok so here she spilled a few. Now don't judge me...I usually don't let my daughter eat off of the floor. But I had to snap some pics. What child do you know that loves peas so much that she'll eat them off of the floor?
There's still a few more left that she wants to get!
Almost got them all!
Got the last one!
Refill #2. Notice her oh so cute panda backpack that came all the way from China!
We were pretending to pack up for a sleepover at Grandma's. But not without her cup o' peas!
Oooppps dropped one....let me get that!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I am so tired and every single muscle in my body hurts. Yard work is tough on the body especially when you're another year older. Tony and I spent the entire weekend working outside of our house. We bleached and power washed our patio and washed down all of the outside furniture, so let the BBQ's begin. Halainah had a couple of meltdowns but they usually don't last very long. We have come to the conclusion that she has become very attached to us. We need to be in her sight at all times otherwise she gets nervous. So it was very hard to accomplish everything that we wanted to outside but I guess welcome to parenthood...right? Luckily, Opa had bought Halainah a sand box because he is so in love with her. So we ran to the store and picked up 250 pounds of play sand and stocked her sandbox up. Well, she LOVED it to say the least. As we were pouring the sand into her sandbox she already started saying, "ohhhhhhhhh." She was trying to get in while we were pouring the bags. I get so excited when she is excited about something. And I keep in the back of my head that a lot of things that she is experiencing is the first time. I am so thankful that I can witness a lot of her firsts since we missed the first 14 months of her life. Halainah was entertained with her sandbox for most of the afternoon. Of course I took tons of enjoy!

Halainah trying to climb into her sandbox while we were still pouring the sand!
She was so happy and loved touching sand for the very first time!
She poured the sand all over herself!
Look at me hands!
She also liked the rocks outside of her sandbox!
Ummmm...yeah...she ate the sand too. It must not have been as bad as the dirt she ate because she didn't scream!
This sandbox is the best thing since sliced bread!
Just chillin in my super cool sandbox that is also a picnic bench...having a snack!
Halainah had so much fun playing outside today that she fell asleep during dinner!