Friday, July 18, 2008

You know what they say about all good things!

Well, our family vacation is coming to an end. The last two days have been absolutely spectacular!



Yesterday David and I took the boys over to Bowman's Beach on Sanibel Island. What a beautiful place! The water looked only as it does in pictures: a beautiful blue-green, crystal clear. The beach had a lot of families, but it was absolutely pristine. The boys had a great time in the surf and sand. Unfortunately for me, even though I slathered myself with Coppertone, I got sunburned. UGH! I avoid sunburn like the plague! Oh, well...



After our trip to Bowman's Beach, we took a sunset dolphin cruise. It was so nice, the weather was calm, and finally, on our way back to the marina, we saw a group of three dolphins. It was a beautiful night.



This afternoon, after nursing my sunburn for most of the day, the boys and I walked down to the beach. It was another beautiful sunset, we saw a small sting ray swimming among literally hundreds of sand dollars. We found dozens of tiny shells, inhabited with tiny hermit crabs. It was funny because every time Jeremy picked one up, he squealed and giggled. Shelby, being more subdued, studied the underside of the sand dollars and counted the tiny crabs that hitched a ride on them.



We ate a wonderful dinner after our walk at Matanzas Inn. Delicious and I would highly recommend this restaurant!


















Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NiHao from (not so sunny) Florida!

NiHao from Sunshine-less Florida! This is the first beach vacation that we've taken without sun! What's it like with two kids, a hubby who has barely had a day off in six months, and a restless waiting mom? Not so pretty!

Only kidding! We are trying to make the best of it. We have a really, REALLY nice condo on Ft. Myers Beach, and we are enjoying being together. It's rained all day today. There is a non-tropical low that's formed in the eastern Gulf of Mexico that's really been kicking up some downpours and thunderstorms. When you plan these trips months in advance, the weather is the one thing that you can't really depend on. You plan and hope the weather is sunny. If not, you make lemonade out of lemons.

Here are a few pics from our first (sunny) afternoon here:





Shelby finds starfish in the tidal pool at low afternoon tide

















Shelby explores the tidal pool at low afternoon tide (ALWAYS the explorer!)












David chills while Shrek looks on! (I thought the photo looked strange with Shrek's one eye peering from the towel!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Agony of Waiting

This post really says alot about the wait. The long, long wait. The impatience, frustration, anger. The wonderment, the excitement, the expectancy. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Our Little Tongginator: Just Waiting, Part 25 ... or Large Thorns, Large Blessings

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

High Gas Prices

OK, I'm not complaining here, but the gas prices are really hitting our family hard these days! As a middle-class two-income working family, our budget is so tight these days. Seems like there's nothing left at the end of the paycheck!


I received an interesting open letter today from Delta Air Lines, of all places. I didn't have the best of experiences when I went to Boston at the end of March. Many of you, if you are a frequent flyer or in a miles program, may have received the same letter. Since it is an open letter, I'll post the contents here:

Our country is facing a possible sharp economic downturn because of skyrocketing oil and fuel prices, but by pulling together, we can all do something to help now.

For airlines, ultra-expensive fuel means thousands of lost jobs and severe reductions in air service to both large and small communities. To the broader economy, oil prices mean slower activity and widespread economic pain. This pain can be alleviated, and that is why we are taking the extraordinary step of writing this joint letter to our customers.

Since high oil prices are partly a response to normal market forces, the nation needs to focus on increased energy supplies and conservation. However, there is another side to this story because normal market forces are being dangerously amplified by poorly regulated market speculation.

Twenty years ago, 21 percent of oil contracts were purchased by speculators who trade oil on paper with no intention of ever taking delivery. Today, oil speculators purchase 66 percent of all oil futures contracts, and that reflects just the transactions that are known. Speculators buy up large amounts of oil and then sell it to each other again and again. A barrel of oil may trade 20-plus times before it is delivered and used; the price goes up with each trade and consumers pick up the final tab. Some market experts estimate that current prices reflect as much as $30 to $60 per barrel in unnecessary speculative costs.

Over seventy years ago, Congress established regulations to control excessive, largely unchecked market speculation and manipulation. However, over the past two decades, these regulatory limits have been weakened or removed. We believe that restoring and enforcing these limits, along with several other modest measures, will provide more disclosure, transparency and sound market oversight. Together, these reforms will help cool the over-heated oil market and permit the economy to prosper.

Now, I'm normally not the type of person that buys into alot of hype from the airline industry. I mean, they are charging us for peanuts, service isn't what it used to be, plenty of flights are delayed or cancelled for seemingly no reason. However, I believe that the health of the airline industry is somewhat of a gauge for the health of our nation's economy. I've heard before about the speculation on the commodities markets, but, not being an economist, well, it's just so hard to understand!

Right now, it's my understanding that the price of oil is really NOT $150 a barrel in actuality, but it's all on paper. The traders and speculators are making it go up. David explained to me that Bush signed a bill de-regulating the commodities markets way back when. I can't really comprehend all the politics behind it, but the de-regulation is basically letting the traders do whatever they want.

Here's the thing: What can we do about it? Right now, I'm not in a position to do much. I can't afford to go right now and buy a new vehicle that will get better gas mileage. I'm buying less, making less trips trying to conserve fuel. I work 14 miles from my home, so it's 28 miles round trip. I can't move closer to work right now, I can't afford to!

One thing we can do is to contact our federal legislators to let them know how we feel about the gas prices and commodities trading. This paragraph was at the end of the letter:

The nation needs to pull together to reform the oil markets and solve this growing problem.
We need your help. Get more information and contact Congress by visiting
www.StopOilSpeculationNow.com.

Don't stop reading. I got an email from a friend recently telling me about the Gas Price Protest. You can read on Snopes and other websites that internet-based petitions simply don't work. However, letters to our congressmen and senators do! Especially in an election year. If you visit the Stop Oil Speculation Now website, you can generate emails or printed letters to your representatives urging congressional action. Gas prices, in my opinion, will only continue to rise if Congress does not step in and do something soon!

And, finally, if you want to read an interesting blog about traffic, transportation, and gas prices, visit this web site.

I've Been Tagged!

Dusty over at Adoption Voyages tagged me today! My job select is to 6 words to describe how I'm feeling right now. Then, I'm to tag 5 more people to do the same. Let me see if I can keep it positive:


1. Proud! I am so proud of my two boys. They are growing into such fine young men. It's hard to believe that I don't have babies anymore. Shelby and Jeremy are so much alike, yet so different. All in all, despite some major mishaps along the way (don't ask me about the cooktop!), they are great kids!


2. Anxious! I'm so anxious to receive Kaelie's referral. It's hard to put it in the back of my mind and just enjoy living for today. I'm really looking forward to experiencing China and all she has to offer. God is so wonderful...I'm so blessed that I've had the chance to see the world through international adoption.


3. Lazy! I have so many projects that I was going to do this summer, that haven't gotten done. Summer's not over yet, though! I'm really looking forward to our trip to FL next week for some serious "Sun-Time!" I've been thinking, however, that we stay on the go so much, the down time has been refreshing.


4. Loved! I'm so blessed to have a wonderful family, a terrific husband and an incredible extended family! Lisa is going to help me with a fundraiser this fall. At our town's annual peanut festival, she is going to help me run a food booth raise money for our adoption trip. We are going to sell donuts in the morning, then we are going to sell peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, drinks (canned and lemonade), and snickerdoodle cookies for dessert.


5. Confident! I'm looking forward to my ATA school's promotional testing this week - I'm testing for my first-degree black belt.


6. Tired! It's 1:26 AM and I'm still not through with everything. Oh well, there is always tomorrow. What was accomplished today? Getting some items ready for Ebay, laundry, ATA class, organized some junk baskets, got a package ready to mail, among other things. Still not enough! I guess I'm thankful for my Scarlett ("I'll think about that tomorrow!") attitude!


WHO'S GETTING TAGGED!?


1. My fellow Precious Panda Lori. She just started her blog and she needs something to write about! LOL!


2. My travel buddy Evelyn


3. My travel buddy Stephe


4. My travel buddy Donna


AND....


5. Another Precious Panda, Rhonda!


I've had the distinct pleasure of meeting all 5 of these terrific ladies in person during this wait. Have fun, girlies!! Can't wait to read your posts!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Province Series #1: Jiangxi

Hi Everyone!

Well, I must tell you that I feel like my blog is a rambling of boring glimpses of a waiting mom! In an effort to make it a little more informative, I'm going to begin a series on the different provinces of China. First up: Jiangxi!



Jiangxi province, located in Southeastern China, is known for its natural beauty. Beautiful mountains and pristine lakes and rivers surround Jiangxi. Jiangxi is located in the lower Yangtze River Basin as well as being centered on the Gan River Valley. The area is agricultural, producing such crops as rice, sweet potatoes, and wheat, as well as the cash crops of cotton and peanuts, among others.

Poyang Lake, the largest freshwater lake in China, is home to the largest wintering habitat for white cranes in China. Mt. Lushan in the north is a beautiful summer resort area. Jiangxi is mountainous in the south, with lower evelations in the north.

Jiangxi shown in dark peach (above)



Jiangxi is home to some 40 million people. The current boundaries of Jiangxi were established during the Ming dynasty. Named during the Tang Dynasty, sometimes Jiangxi is known as Gan for short. Ceramics and porcelain have been produced in Jiangxi for at least 1,800 years.

Jingdezhen, a city in Jiangxi, is known as the capital of porcelain.

San Qing Mountain

















16th century porcelain




Nanchang (NAN-chung), the capital of Jiangxi province, is home to approximately 2 million people. It is an industrial and economic center featuring many factories, including a Ford plant. Nanchang is also a transportation center, known for both rail and air service. In years past, Jiangxi served as a corridor for migration between the southern and northern provinces (due to the river structure of the area).




Nanchang International Airport




There are many historial sites to see during a visit to Nanchang and Jiangxi. The Star of Nanchang is currently the world's tallest ferris wheel at 535 feet. Air-conditioned gondolas carry up to eight passengers on a slow rotation for spectacular views of the city. Bayi Square is the second largest public square in China, followed only by Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Tengwang Pavilion is one of three famous pavilions along the Yangtze River. The Donglin Monastery is a rather interesting place to visit, built for monk Hui Yuan.


















Tengwang Pavilion


Though not well-known outside of the province (as opposed to say, Sichuan cuisine), Jiangxi hosts distinctive flavors in its culinary style. Chile peppers are used in many dishes, as well as pickled and fermented products.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Referral Rumors and New Predictions

Hi Everyone!


Well, thank goodness that I've gotten really good at guarding my heart! No, only kidding...this wait really sucks. While I was hoping against hope that the CCAA would issue referrals through January 27, 2006, the newest rumor is that the cutoff will be January 25, 2006. A friend got this information from her agency. I feel that it is pretty accurate.

5 calendar days, two of those days were weekend days, so actually only 3 calendar days. I guess we are 5 days closer, but this is a VERY SMALL batch. It figures, with the Olympics so close and all. I'm disappointed, but not surprised.

My new referral predictions still have us with an October referral. I'm glad of that...I was just hoping that we could somehow get moved up to hopefully a September referral. Here's what I think might happen for August, based on an average number of 100 poll families (RQ) and average number of days (6, per China Adoption Forecast):

August Referrals: Through February 7, 2006
September Referrals: Through February 14, 2006
October Referrals: Through February 21, 2006
November Referrals: Through February 27, 2006
December Referrals: Through March 5, 2006
January (2009) Referrals: Through March 11, 2006

China Adoption Forecast and Wren's Referral Calculator haven't updated their sites yet. I'll post their thoughts when they get their new info out.
(Scene above is from Mexico Beach, 2007)