Monday, March 30, 2015

Skype call #4

I can't believe we've already had four Skype calls with our girl. Each one is awkward and amazing. When we first start the call, everyone is nervous and doesn't know what to say. As the call progresses, my husband and I and the translator loosen up a bit but Cin-Ru remains nervous throughout. It does seem that she is warming up to us with each call, though. I am glad to see that progression.

The best thing about this call was learning that Cin-Ru likes sushi and stays up past her bedtime reading. One, Jeff and I love sushi and make it at home regularly. Two, my girl is a reader! For someone who visits the library regularly, that is blessed news. I know a lot of parents discourage their children from staying up late reading, but I think it's a good sign. As a child I spent many nights curled up under my blankets with a book and a flashlight. To hear that my future daughter is similar to me in that regard warms my heart.

Our next Skype call is in three weeks. Hopefully by that time we have some adoption movement. The local mayor still has not signed our paperwork (as far as we know) so we cannot yet be submitted to court. I have to remind myself daily to have patience, that there is no point in stressing over something I cannot control. I just want to bring my daughter home and it's frustrating to feel like we are making no progress. Hopefully soon.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Skype and hotpot

I wrote this last week but didn't get to share it with Cin-Ru on our Skype call. Instead, I'll share it with her tomorrow. I'm trying to show her that I am making a genuine effort to learn Chinese. My Chinese skills might be incredibly basic, but I keep plugging away at it.

上個星期,我們去了一家中國餐廳. 在那裡我們吃了火鍋. 我們都非常喜歡! 我喜歡那裡的蘑菇和豆腐. 而爸爸喜歡蘑菇和土豆. 我們想和你一起在那裡吃飯.

"Last week, we went as a family to a Chinese restaurant. There, we ate hotpot. We both really liked it! I like the mushrooms and tofu. And baba also likes mushrooms and potato. We want to eat there with you."

I can't believe we already have another Skype call. I am so grateful because I miss her already. I can't wait to spend time with her in person and truly get to know her. Skyping is hard, but I'm glad that we have the opportunity to talk with her while we wait for the court process.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Skype call #3

We had our third Skype call on Friday evening. This one lasted 40 minutes. Our girl is slowly becoming more comfortable with us. When discussing our trip to Taiwan with the translator, our girl seemed very accepting of us coming to Taiwan to spend time with her. We haven't yet discussed anything about life in America, though I'm sure that will come in time.

Several things tell me that she's going to fit into our family well. First, she loves food! Both Jeff and I love to try new foods and it sounds like Cin-Ru is a pretty good eater. She even bought stinky tofu with her own money. Second, she prefers cooler weather. Of course, cooler weather in Taiwan is 80 degrees. Third, she seems to like going out and visiting parks and museums. Jeff and I stay home a lot but we also love to explore.

Our next Skype call is in six days! The only downside to multiple Skype calls is that each one makes me more impatient to travel to Taiwan. I want to start showing our girl just how much we already care about her. I want us to start working toward being a family. These Skype calls help her to feel more comfortable with us and we are succeeding at that. But I want to get to know her in person. Hopefully soon.

Now if we can just get the mayor to sign our adoption agreement...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Let the thought of God allure thee

Lately I have been reading The Pursuit of God. I'm not familiar with the author, though I do recognize his name. I don't yet have any comments on the devotionals themselves, but I have discovered that I rather like 18th century Christian poetry.

Tis not enough to save our souls,
To shun the eternal fires;
The thought of God will rouse the heart
To more sublime desires.

How little of that road, my soul!
How little has thou gone!
Take heart, and let the thought of God
Allure thee further on.

-Frederick W. Faber


Do you have a favorite poet? Now I want to browse my library to see if I can find some poetry compilations.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting Things Done

Last week was very different in terms of productivity. I had my eye on the list I had made at the beginning of the week but ended up doing something completely different. The one thing I did try to complete was staying on top of my Chinese studies, clocking 3.25 hours for the week.

Instead of my list, I read and started implementing the principles discussed in Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. My husband and I both read the book and are trying out the principles. Both of us are using Asana to manage our commitments.

It's only been a couple of days since I put everything into Asana but it already seems to be helping. The main principle of GTD is having everything down on paper so that you don't use brain space to try to remember commitments, projects, etc. Instead, everything is managed on paper (or in my case in an app) so that I can just pull up the app and remind myself every morning of what I have committed to do that day. This frees up energy for creativity.

A couple quick examples:
I have a reminder to email my agency first thing tomorrow morning about our Skype call on Friday. We had a time change since the call was scheduled and Taiwan (as far as I can tell) does not participate in time changes. So we need to verify that our call is still at 7PM.

I have a reminder to fill out my husband's expense reports on the 10th of every month. Too often I forget and then we have to wait an extra two weeks for reimbursements. Every penny counts when you're saving up for adoption expenses!

I have yet another reminder to follow up with our book order on Wednesday because we need to know if our daughter's birthday present will arrive in time to mail it before her birthday. If not, we'll need to take a trip over to the Chinese bookstore in Seattle on a Sunday before the end of the month.

The benefit of having these reminders set up in Asana is that I don't have to remember. I just pull up my calendar tomorrow and know that I need to email my agency. Instead of stressing to make sure that I remember, I can forget because my calendar will remind me. Instead of realizing at the end of the month that our daughter's birthday present is incomplete, we can track the shipping and buy something else if needed. And we won't be left scrambling the day before it needs to be mailed.

So far I really like the principles and hope that I will be able to maintain the system. The key is to make sure that I write down everything as it happens. If I don't, I'm forced to again remember to do such and such. As I am someone who tends to lay in bed at night and stress over details, this should be really useful for me. Now I can just lay in bed and practice sentences in Chinese that I can say on our Skype call...

Friday, March 13, 2015

Tiny updates

I don't know how I manage to let an entire week go by without posting. It's probably because nothing major happened and I don't want to bore my few readers with stories that aren't interesting to anyone but me. :)

This week we had a tiny, tiny bit of movement on the US side of our adoption. Our USCIS clearance expires this summer, the one that says that we are eligible to adopt internationally. Our agency sent us some paperwork to apply for our one free extension so we signed it and mailed it right back. This will generate a new fingerprinting appointment so that the government can verify we haven't committed a crime since our last fingerprinting clearance. Too bad they won't just take my word for it! It would save us all a lot of time.

We also received an update from Taiwan. Our girlie has voluntarily asked when our next Skype call will be! That is a very positive sign. We will be Skyping with her exactly one week from now. We have already started prepping for the call. On the last call, she read us something she had written in Chinese. For this call, I am going to write a paragraph in Chinese and read it to her. We are going out for hot pot this week so I will write about that experience. Hopefully she is able to see that I am trying very hard to be able to communicate with her!

Also, the t-shirt arrived that we will be sending for her birthday next month. I hope she likes it!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Weekly goals

Listing my goals really did help last week. I'm going to see if I can make it a weekly habit.

Last week's goals:
1 - Study Chinese for at least four hours. Success! I clocked 4.1 hours.

2 - Send out birthday cards for the sponsorship kiddos who have birthdays in March. Nope. No excuses; it just didn't get done.

3 - Start applying what I've learned in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Yes! I posted about it here and here.

This week's goals:
1. Another four hours of Chinese.

2. Send out the birthday cards that didn't get mailed last week.

3. Finish knitting my gray hat. I've finished all of the pattern repeats and just need to knit the decrease rows. It shouldn't take more than an hour.

These three items should keep me busy. If I am feeling particularly ambitious, I will start tackling my bookshelves like I tackled my closets. I can't wait!

Friday, March 6, 2015

A pile of clothes - literally

Here is my second project inspired by The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. First I found all of my clothes and tossed them on the bed. I didn't realize the pile would be so big...

Then I started asking which clothes bring me joy. I actually found two beloved skirts that I had forgotten about. Whoops!

Here are the clothes that didn't bring me joy, didn't fit, were worn out, etc.

My half of the closet is still rather packed. It would help if we owned a dresser and could fold some of these things. But at least now everything is in one place so I can tell what I own.

I have a feeling there are still a few items here that I could probably donate. I know of one sweater that is perfectly functional but I despise it. I just can't get rid of it yet because it's one of the few sweaters I can wear in public (the rest are too worn out). My winter wardrobe will have to be replaced next year but not until we have some money for clothes shopping.

Until then I will just enjoy knowing that I don't have a bunch of clothes laying around that I never wear!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sorting through the coat closet

I started applying what I've learned in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It's already made a huge difference. I feel lighter, having gotten rid of unneeded and unwanted excess.

This is our coat closet at the top of the stairs.



I did a couple of things. First, I moved two pairs of shoes downstairs to our bedroom closet, hiking shoes that we only use a couple times per year. Second, I sorted through my jackets and coats, taking out four that I never wear. I kept four (which still seems excessive) because we do live in Washington and have colder temperatures 2/3 of the year. Because there is now extra room in the closet, I added Cin-Ru's coat on the far left. Now I can enjoy seeing her coat and look forward to her wearing it.

My library bag is down on the floor. I add books to it throughout the week as I finish them and just grab the bag on my way out the door to the library.

I love the difference just half an hour made!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Weekly goals

I find that I get more done when I write down goals for the upcoming week. So here is what I am aiming to accomplish.

1 - At least four solid hours of Chinese studying. My February total was rather low (12 hours) and I plan to make more progress in March.

2 - Send out birthday cards for the sponsorship kiddos who have birthdays in March.

3 - Start applying what I've learned in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I plan to post separately about my thoughts regarding the book. In short - I loved it! I wanted to tackle something small today because I didn't have enough time to go through my entire wardrobe. So I sorted through a stack of paperwork, tossed out at least 75% of it, and filed the rest. I'm so tickled to have the motivation to seriously make a difference in our home.



So much better!