Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

Happy Mid-Autumn Moon Festival! Tonight we reminisced about how we celebrated our first Moon festival last year with the families of Austin's FCC chapter.  It is amazing how far we have come in one year. Tonight we stare at our daughter's photo in awe of her strength and beauty, we are so blessed to have such amazing and supportive family & friends, & in only a few short months we will be together forever.  We sat and sipped our tea, ate our moon cake and watched the rain fall on this wonderful evening.

Moon Cakes

Today we experienced our first Authentic Chinese bakery, the aroma that filled the tiny store was unbelievable and moon cakes of every flavor, shape and size were out for the Mid Autumn Festival.  We purchased various flavors and both agreed that pineapple filling was our favorite.  Below we found some more information about Moon Cakes.
"Mooncake (simplified Chinese: 月饼; traditional Chinese: 月餅; pinyin: yuè bĭng) is a Chinese bakery product traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhongqiu). The festival is for lunar worship and moon watching, when mooncakes are regarded as an indispensable delicacy. Mooncakes are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the four most important Chinese festivals.

Typical mooncakes are round or rectangular pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 4–5 cm thick. A rich thick filling usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste is surrounded by a thin (2–3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. Mooncakes are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by Chinese tea. Today, it is customary for businessmen and families to present them to their clients or relatives as presents, helping to fuel a demand for high-end mooncake styles. The caloric content of a mooncake is approximately 1,000 calories (for a cake measuring 10 centimetres (3.9 in), but energy content varies with filling and size"

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dim Sum Dinner at Ivy's Deli

Dim Sum dinner at Ivy's Deli is the best especially when sweet Emily helps us learn how to speak and properly pronounce words in Mandarin. Today's lesson was how to pronounce Lottie's city & province and learn about various areas throughout China.  We plan on meeting Emily once a week to learn Mandarin and everything we can absorb before we leave for China in a few months.  We enjoy the traditional Dim sum, dumplings, soup, and other treats including bubble tea!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Referral baby girl in Northern China

Today at approximately 4:18pm, we received the call that changed our lives! Our social worker Mary called to inform us that "today is your lucky day" We were matched with a baby girl in Northern China.  We were amazed, stunned, shocked and hysterical with tears!  We had no idea we would be matched only 3 weeks from LID and were unprepared to say the least.  All we can say is she is absolutely stunning and so beautiful we are in awe of her beauty and strength.

We will have so much more stories to share and cannot wait to post a photo of our sweet, beautiful baby girl!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top English Phrases Borrowed from Chinese


Wednesday, September 12, 2012 | By: Christian Allen

Although a debate currently rages amongst Chinese academics, linguists and lexicographers over English’s place within the Chinese dictionary, English speakers all over the world continue to use bits and pieces of the Chinese language on a daily basis, through various phrases and loanwords previously “borrowed” from Chinese. Here are the top 10 Chinese phrases that made it over the Great Wall and into the vocabularies of English speakers everywhere, with a few that might just surprise you.
10. “Gung ho”
In some ways, the fact that this English phrase meaning “extremely enthusiastic and eager” has its origins in the Chinese language isn’t exactly a huge surprise – it certainly sounds Chinese, due to it remaining largely unchanged from the Mandarin phrase gōng hé (工合), which means “work together.” The actual history of the phrase is perhaps a bit more interesting; as an abbreviation for the small industrial cooperatives that emerged in rural China during the 1930s, it was noticed by a US Marine Corps Lieutenant named Evans Carlson, who admired the work ethic of these organizations and decided to take it back to the States as an unofficial motto for the Marines. Though its origins remain deeply rooted in Chinese history, it’s now often used in situations that aren’t related to China in the least – a testament to the phrase’s punchy appeal.
9. “Chop chop”
“Chop chop,” a not-so-polite way to ask someone to “hurry up,” has its origins in the Cantonese word gāp (急), which also means “quickly.” Evidently, the technique of repetition for effect (“go, go, go!”) is truly universal, and if the drivers in China are any indication, so too is the need for speed.
8. “Chow”
One of the pillars of Chinese culture may very well be its delicious cuisine, so it should come as no surprise to find its imprint on our food-related vocabulary in addition to our dinner plates – the English word “chow,” slang for “to eat” or “food,” comes almost directly from the Mandarin chǎo (炒), which means “to sauté” or “to stir-fry.”
7. “Typhoon”
While we may not have “typhoons” per se in the United States (we call similar storms “hurricanes”), the word “typhoon” still spun its way into the English language, mostly unaltered from its Mandarin root dàfēng (大风), meaning literally “great wind.”
6. “Paper Tiger”
Here’s one for history buffs. You probably know that “paper tiger” means “a person or thing that has the appearance of strength or power but is actually weak.” What you might not know, however, is that it comes from the Chinese phrase zhǐlǎohǔ (纸老虎), which has the same meaning and was first documented in English by Sir John Francis Davis in 1836. It was Mao Zedong, though, who made it famous – he routinely used the phrase to criticize the United States during the 1950s and ’60s.
5. “Lose face”
Initially, this one may come as a bit of a shock, until you consider that putting together the words “lose” and “face” doesn’t really make a whole lot of literal sense within the normal conventions of the English language. Sure enough, this phrase meaning “to be humiliated” comes from the somewhat haphazard separation of the Mandarin phrase for humiliation, diūliǎn (丢脸), into its constituent parts: Diū meaning “to lose” and liǎn meaning – you guessed it – “face.”
4. “Long Time No See”
While the exact origins of this phrase remain unclear (it may have come from Pidgin English spoken by Native Americans), this affectionate greeting is widely thought to have derived – perhaps even in tandem with the Native American phrase – from the Mandarin phrase hǎojiǔ bùjiàn (好久不见), which literally means “very long no see.”
3. “Brainwashing”
A product of American interaction with Chinese during the Korean War, this English term meaning “the systematic change of attitudes and beliefs” comes from the Mandarin xǐnǎo (洗腦), which means more or less the same thing. One of the more commonly used phrases on the list, this one just goes to show how language can be borrowed and shared in ways you wouldn’t expect – conflict being one of them.
2. “Tea”
We all know that the tea trade itself originated in Asia. What you might be surprised to know, however, is that the English word for “tea” followed a similar route, coming into English from the Xiamen-dialect Chinese word t’e, which is equivalent to the Mandarin chá (茶). Drink up!
1. “Ketchup”
This one blew my mind. Even though there may be nothing more quintessentially American than ketchup and mustard on a hot dog, the actual word for the ever-popular tomato condiment may originate from the Cantonese kèhjāp (茄汁) or fānkèhjāp (番茄汁), which roughly means “tomato sauce.” So, the next time you chow (see #8) down on a footlong while watching America’s favorite pastime, keep in mind that you may be experiencing a little Chinese linguistic history at the same time!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cheer on a rainy Saturday

As blessed as we have been throughout our adoption process, ADOPTION is HARD and I had no idea the "waiting" period would be so difficult. I thought I would be too excited to be so close to the end, ha! Really we are just at the beginning. After speaking with a friend who could relate to my challenges she sent me these gorgeous flowers to brighten my day.  It worked!  Thank you sweet friend these flowers cheered my day,  gave me hope, and reminded me all all the beauty in my life thank you!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A gift from CHI

Today we received a surprise in the mail a package from our agency CHI containing a book all about China, a Mandarin Language DVD, and  an official document of our Log in date. We cannot believe we are finally to this point in our journey and cannot wait to see what happens next!

Lottie Lee's BFF

I had to share how sweet my dear friend Sarah is...she has been such a wonderful support during this entire adoption process, always there to listen and calm my nerves & anxiety.  She has been our cheerleader and has made this process so much easier knowing we had her on our side.

This summer while spending some time together she told me she had a gift for me.  Assuming it was for Lottie Lee I tore open the paper, I love anything & everything for my sweet baby.  The cutest frame with two ultrasounds one with the outline of China and another with an ultrasound words at the top read, Best Friends from the start. At first I thought it was Lou's ultrasound (her first born) but moments later (yes took me a few) I realized baby number two was on the way!  Oh my tears and screaming that nearly scared the dear elderly women eating across the restaurant!  I was so happy for my sweet friend.  And maybe just maybe this baby will be a little girl.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Moon Festival for Lottie Lee


We invite our family and closest friends to virtually celebrate with us this year in anticipation of receiving Charlotte Lee's referral. We found out on September 6, we were officially accepted or "logged in" to China's adoption database on August 27, 2012. Although we could still be waiting for several months we are one step closer to our sweet baby girl and want to celebrate each milestone and receiving our LID we feel we have amazing reason to celebrate! Best part is this all falls during the Moon Festival!
So we ask you to choose a special time in the next two weeks to celebrate life & love, friendship & family.
Don't feel obligated to incorporate any fancy Chinese traditions (ie moon cakes, or an elaborate Chinese meal.  Make it simple like sharing some tea or a simple meal of noodles) but PLEASE do share your story and a photo of your special meal to celebrate our Lottie Lee as we want to document this in her baby book and  here on our blog.
The Chinese Moon Festival is a joyous time for family, friends, and couples to reunite under a full moon. All take a little time to appreciate the beautiful full moon on hopefully the clearest night of the year. This year the Moon festival falls on 09.30.12.
Best wishes to all everyone of you hold a very special place in our heart and have been so thankful for you to be a part of our journey.

China Adoption Terms and Acronyms

Here are some of the terms commonly used in China adoption referring to things involved in the process.  We find the Acronyms to be funny but it is helpful to use them in blogs and during conversations in our yahool gorups discussing adoption topics.

·Paperchase - working hard on all the paperwork
·Dossier - the collection of paperwork that is sent to China
·CCAA - China Center of Adoption Affairs
·DTC - Dossier To China, when the dossier has arrived in China
·LID - Log-in Date for the Dossier into the CCAA system
·Waiting Mom - What I am after LID
·Referral - When the child is matched to the waiting parent(s)

-LOA-Letter of Intent letter written to oficially request your specific child
-PA-Pre Approval China recognizes your LOA and offically pre-approved for adoption
·SWI - Social Welfare Institute, orphanage
·Embassy Appt. - Appt. at U.S. embassy in China to get baby's visa
·CA - Consulate appointment, same as embassy Appt.
·TA - travel approval (to go pick child up)
·Forever Family - Adoptive family
·FCC - Families with Children from China

A common conversation or email might go like this: "I'm about finished with my paperchase. I'm hoping to be DTC in a couple of weeks and think I'll get my LID about two weeks later. I hope the wait for my referral doesn't get any longer."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

LID-Log in Date

Oh joyous day how sweet it 8:31am Central time while leaving for work I opened an  e-mail from our Social Worker at CHI  Subject LID: and this is what it said

Castagno family's LID date is 2012-8-27. 
Castagno Family made my heart skip a beat, YES we are a family and soon we will be a family of three! Then I saw the date we were logged into the system on August 27th, the day after Scott and I met for the very first time!  We found out on September 6, we were officially accepted or "logged in" to China's adoption database which means we are now considered a waiting family. Although we could still be waiting for several months we are one step closer to our sweet baby girl and want to celebrate each milestone and receiving our LID we feel we have amazing reason to celebrate!