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Care Package


Be sure to ask the staff/nannies to bring any mementos that were on your child the day of her find. One family was told that because they asked before hand; they brought the clothes and bottle that were found on the child the day of her abandonment. Priceless.


Socks and Jammies
Soft-bodied Doll that can be thrown into the washing machine
Small Photo Album - referral photo on outside, photos of us, home, her room
Small, Plastic Toy - such as stacking cups
Blanket - a soft fleece (one of those crib size ones) Some wash it and sleep with it a few nights so that their daughter would become familiar with their "scent".
Some bring duplicates of the items, just in case.


Make sure you put the baby’s picture & name on camera. *Copy your daughter's Chinese name several times then cut and taped it to her camera, along with a few tiny photos of her, just to ensure the SWI workers knew whose camera it was.


Put family photos including hers in a "Who Loves Baby" album. One family sent a set of plastic rings with laminated photos of them & extended family with the hopes that maybe she'll get used to our faces. If you can label the photos in Chinese that would be great too. Below is a site you can use to print simple phrase/words to use in labeling your camera, album (if choose to do this), etc. There are others. Just print, cut out the Chinese characters and tape them on your items (http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/index.html#Contents)

Sent some small candies to the Nannies. Good choice are Hershey's and M&M's since these are well known American Chocolates. *assortment of Revlon lipsticks, chapsticks, hand lotions, scented soaps, bath gels, tea bags (imported British teas) and hard candies. *For the orphanage director, maybe a men's wallet with a note thanking him for the care that my daughter was receiving and telling him the other gifts were for the nannies. sent chocolates and lotions and a framed picture of our daughter for the foster mom.


Declare $0 it is a gift. DO NOT to send packages certified or registered Do not list a camera in the contents. *I would suggest sending translated questions of your child in one of packagesUSPS air mail 3.5 lbs cost $26 You can go to Blessed Kids and print off the address for the orphanage in Chinese characters. *…had very good luck with sending packages to China just using the US postal services Global Express. One thing you can do is have the orphanage write you out a label in Chinese and send it to me via email, then just print it out every time you need it so your boxes have both English and Chinese labels on them! Also make sure that you write clearly on the box "donation/gift" so that the orphanage is not taxed on the items in the box...so far, no problems there! Only send a shoebox size package to the orphanage to avoid any hassles for the orphanage in claiming the package. Sending a care package of this size costs about $30 to ship * mail it "global". Again, list contents and value enter $0. This way, the Orphanage does not have to pay anything at their end. Also, they will accept your package! mark the package as gift/charitable donation and check off the box for 'return to sender'


*You can find the address, written in Chinese and English, on the Yahoo group for your orphanage. You can also go to Blessed Kids and printed off the address for the orphanage in Chinese characters.


Chinese Currency Explained (found here)
"China's official currency is the Renminbi (literally "People's Money") and is internationally traded as the Yuan. "
There are 2 sub groups to the Yuan. The Jiao and the Fen.
1 Yuan = 10 Jiao
1 Jiao = 10 Fen
Therefore 1 Yuan = 100 Fen
The colloquial term for Yuan is the `Kuai' and for the Jiao is `Mao'.
The denominations of the notes are:

2 (sorry I don't have a picture)

The denominations for the coins are:
1 Yuan
5 Jiao
1 Jiao
5 Fen
2 Fen
1 Fen

"The RMB is tied (loosely they say) to the US$ where US$1 = RMB 8.08.
Based on todays cross exchange with the US$ - A$1 = RMB 5.97
1 Yuan = A$ 0.168 - say 17cents.
1 Jiao = A$ 0.017 - 1.7cents
1 Fen = $A 0.0017 - .17 of a cent
The trick is to look at the notes so you don't mix up the Jiao and the Yuan notes (like when I tried the pay a taxi driver 12Yuan, but instead gave him 10 Yuan and 2 Jiao - he wasn't too impressed).
All the Yuan notes have a picture of the man himself - Chairman Mao. So if you see Mao's smiling face looking up at you, then its a full Yuan. If no Mao its a Jiao.
The other way to tell a Yuan from a Jiao is on the notes themselves. The Jiao all say Jiao on them under the number Wu Jiao (5 Jiao), Er Jiao (2 Jiao) and Yi Jiao (1 Jiao).
On the coins, the 1 Yuan coin is the biggest, and it says Yi Yuan (1 Yuan). The 5 Jiao coin is gold and says Wu Jiao (5 Jiao) and the 1 Jiao coin is small and silver and says Yi Jiao (1 Jiao).
The Fen coins are basically worthless, but they are easy to tell as they are very tiny and have only a number on it (ie. it doesn't actually say Fen). "

Please Vote :)

I know from the photo to the left that some of you might not be be able to visualize the finished product. It's my photo collage in my upstairs hallway. Right now it looks pretty close to Design A with a couple of bordering frames missing. All of my frames are same proportions to those in the photo.
I plan to change out all the photos and make this my China Travel wall then it will become my Giorgia/me wall.
Anyway, which design placement do you find more pleasing to the eye? A or B? Any comments or suggestions?

Easy Tea Egg

"This is a sort of short-term storage staple. It only keeps in the refrigerator for about 3 or 4 days, but you can make them at any time and they are handy forfilling a corner of a bento box.
There are many more complicated recipes for tea eggs, a traditional Chinese recipe. The boiled eggs are usually meant to be kept in the tea-based marinade with their shells on, carefully cracked all around so that a lovely marble pattern is revealed when the eggs are peeled.

My method is way simpler, and is motivated by the fact that I don’t really want to be fiddling around with peeling eggs in the morning. Since the eggs are totally peeled, the marinade will penetrate it faster and deeper, so you can start using them just an hour after you’ve put them in the liquid if you like.

Lazy Tea Eggs
3 to 4 fresh hard-boiled eggs, peeled
About 2 cups of boiling water
2 tea bags of your choice - I like Oolong, though any black tea would do. (Even Earl Grey can be interesting.)
1/3 cup of soy sauce

Dunk the tea bags in the boiling water, and add the soy sauce. Put the liquid, tea bags and all, in a container you can cover air tight. Put in the peeled hard boiled eggs. The eggs should be immersed in the liquid. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remember that the longer you keep the eggs marinating, the saltier it will get.

You can use these sliced, cut in half, or even chopped up for an interesting egg salad. Or just whole! There’s a mysterious presence in our house who sneaks these out of the fridge when no one’s looking. "
At first glance, I immediately cringed. Yuk, but you know what, I like eggs, I like tea...maybe there is something to it. I think I'll try it the next time I come home with eggs!

Heath Ledger 1979-2008

"Academy Award nominee Heath Ledger, 28, has died of a possible drug overdose involving sleeping pills in New York, police have confirmed.

Ledger was found dead in his bed at his apartment on Broome Street, Soho, in Manhattan, by his housekeeper about 3.35pm local time, the TMZ website said.

Ledger's body has been removed from his New York apartment and wheeled into the back of a medical examiner's van.

A huge crowd of news photographers gathered outside the apartment in the Soho building lit up the scene with flashes as authorities wheeled his body on a trolley from the complex into the van.

A police spokesman told smh.com.au the cause of death was unknown, despite the presence of drugs.

Ledger was an Oscar nominee for his role in Brokeback Mountain and had numerous other screen credits.

Ledger's other film credits included A Knight's Tale, The Patriot and Monster's Ball.

Ledger was born in Perth, Western Australia.

He had a two-year-old daughter, Matilda, with former fiancee and Brokeback Mountain co-star Michelle Williams."

Well, I guess I'm into Porn now...

Mr. Bento Porn that is!!! (that is actually what the site is called!)

It's like an addiction. LOL. I'm trying to get into the habit of bringing my lunch to work, but have been unsuccessful. I'm thinking Bento Boxes are the way to go. They make healthy food actually look good. Now, I just have to get one of these.

Check out their gallery of lunch ideas, aka the Mr. Bento Porn site. (not really porn) Click link below...


Bad News

To all travelers: Put all your valuables in your carry-on. Nothing is safe anymore!! You think your luggage is safe with fancy locks ?? WRONG!! This is going to make you nervous every time it's out of your sight and you won't even know if it's been opened until you look inside to see if anything is missing. So much for luggage locks....

Watch the video.

What's in a name?

What Stephe Means

You are the total package - suave, sexy, smart, and strong.
You have the whole world under your spell, and you can influence almost everyone you know. You don't always resist your urges to crush the weak. Just remember, they don't have as much going for them as you do.

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life. You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home. You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone. You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together. At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are influential and persuasive. You tend to have a lot of power over people. Generally, you use your powers for good. You excel at solving other people's problems. Occasionally, you do get a little selfish and persuade people to do things that are only in your interest.

You are truly an original person. You have amazing ideas, and the power to carry them out. Success comes rather easily for you... especially in business and academia. Some people find you to be selfish and a bit overbearing. You're a strong person.

Well, I don't know about ALL that. I don't consider myself suave or sexy, God knows. I'm not very restless but impatient at times and ready to go to China. I use my powers for good only about 40% of the time and anyone that knows me know how I use 60% of those power. ;) Other than those...it's so on the money it's SCARY!!!

What Giorgia Means

You are deeply philosophical and thoughtful. You tend to analyze every aspect of your life. You are intuitive, brilliant, and quite introverted. You value your time alone. Often times, you are grumpy with other people. You don't appreciate them trying to interfere in your affairs.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing. You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long. You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are well rounded, with a complete perspective on life. You are solid and dependable. You are loyal, and people can count on you.
At times, you can be a bit too serious. You tend to put too much pressure on yourself.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.
You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense. You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection. You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive. You have the classic "Type A" personality.

Well, this should be interesting to see if this turns out to be Giorgi's personality. I'm sure she'll be a "handful" and I'll love every minute of it. Someone should give her a heads up that I'm a type A too!!! ;)

Thank You Susan

For nominating me for this Blogging with a Purpose Award.. It means a lot to me that others see my blog as a source of inspiration. Sharing all the info that I've found with others is rewarding and helps me to get my thoughts organized. Susan, we are almost there and I can't wait til all of us have our little ones home!

I understand these are the following guidelines for said award:

1. Awarded parties must nominate five people who have not received the award.
2. The blogs that receive the award must serve some purpose.
3. In their post about the award they need to link back to the original entry.
4. Awarded parties must post the award banner on their site. The banner must remain linked to Eric Novak's site.

So without further ado, here are my five nominations in no particular order (let me tell you, it's impossible to pick just 5, I LOVE all my bloggers):

1. My Chinese Dream
This is Alison & Mali's blog. Alison had one of the first blogs that I came across of a single waiting to adopt. Well, that was about two years ago and I'm still addicted to it. Being able to follow their journey has been a blessing and definately helped with my wait. Alison has been so open about her experiences and how she has handled things. Can I tell you how grateful I am that you have not only shared these things but more importantly shared how you handled them. You've given me great tips and sometimes a new way of looking at a situation, especially daycare issues. Forever grateful. Stephe

2. Eliza's Story
Tiffany's journey to Eliza was another single mom waiting for her daughter in China. I loved reading her blog of her waiting and doing Eliza's room. Her furry baby Beau always reminding me of my furry baby Pirate. Tiffany, like Alison, share their experiences of their journey of motherhood in a way that I feel that I can really relate. Being a single parent and doing all that they do is just amazing. My favorite part of Tiffany's blog though is her bullet point updates! I just love those! Thanks for sharing. Stephe

The daily grind is so educational and uplifting. Sandra is honest in her posting and is inspiring as a mom. She has expanded my world regarding cochlear implants and emotional issues. I feel that reading her posts will help me be a better mom. Through her WONDERFUL photographs, I can see the joy she sees in her beautiful girls and life. I thank you for all of that. Stephe

4. The Firehouse Journal (Adoption & Fire) new site to be is.
If you don't follow this blog, you really should, it's just fantastic. Wendy and John's life are dedicated to their family, Firefighter Ministries, the Fire Department and their journey to their daughter. I don't know if I could do what Wendy does. Everytime she shares and experience on her blog I almost feel like I get a glimpse of what it's like to walk in her shoes. I only know Wendy through her blog but her posts weigh on my heart like I've known her forever. She has a way with words. I think what she does and what she shares is just amazing. Click here to read why they chose to adopt and get a glimpse into their life. Thank you for all you do and share Wendy. Stephe

5. Waiting for Lauren Elizabeth
and last but certainly not least I love this blog because Donna IS my China Connection. Donna is with my agency and the same LID and I have a feeling that our daughters are keeping each other company right now! I love Donna's blog because unlike mine, she puts it out there. From her blog, you can see how great, kind hearted, creative and honest she is. I'd like to think that we are cut from the same cloth except I got a bit of crazy sewn into my piece. ha. ha. Thanks Donna for all you share with us! Stephe

P.S. Go check out her digital scrapbooking too, it's great.

Beauty Tips When Traveling‏

I know, I know...this definately isn't the post for my Packing Challenge Blog (maybe it is though). Anyway, I came across this post on one of my newsletters and I thought I would share. The original article is from Jamie at Looking Good.

Flying isn't as easy as it used to be with all of the added stress of long lines, security, and delays. No matter what mode of transportation you use when you travel on a trip, there are some tips that can help you feel and look your freshest and make going away a little less of an ordeal...
If you're flying, a pressurized cabin can severly dry out the skin on long flights. (Short flights too, but a little less noticeable). Never underestimate the need and importance of water during the flight. Internally and externally. Cut down the amount of alcohol you might want to drink or the caffeine during the flight and go for water instead.
If you can. spritz water on your face during your flight, by either a spray spritzer bottle stored in your tote. Go into the restroom and spritz your face a few times during your flight.
Keep makeup at a minimum for this reason. Use a moisturizer before your leave the house to maintain a level of hydration...
To cut down on the puffiness your face may get during the flight, lean forward in your seat when possible and rest your face in your hands for a few minutes. This will provide a slight pressure on the facial tissue which will help prevent puffiness...
To keep your lips from drying out, prick a vitamin e capsule and apply the oil to your lips over the lipstick...
While there are certain restrictions as to moving around an airplane cabin, try to not sit in one place for too long. Get up and walk to the restroom if you have to, just to stretch your legs and keep the circulation moving. The worse case scenerio is that everyone will think you have a weak bladder... :-)
To relieve some of the sinus pressure that can build up during a flight, use your fingertips to apply gentle pressure under the eyes from the inside to the outside of the eye. Massage the jawbone area where it meets the ear in slow circular motions and gently massage the temples...Worse case scenerio...people will think you're a massage therapist in training...
subscribe to this newletter, Looking good, go here.

Guide for Smart Working Moms

Leave at 5 p.m. sharp. Bring the kids to the dentist without taking a sick day. Catch the class play during work hours. You'll lose your job? Not if you follow the cheater's guide to the fast track.By Lee Lusardi Connor

This is a great article that can be found here. Below are bits and pieces that I liked.

"...without knowing it, you may have entered the Mommy Zone — you're still productive, sharp, and committed, but you've fallen off the radar screen when it comes to promotions, bonuses, or high-profile projects. Asking for a change in schedule to accommodate your family obligations can give you a quick image makeover — from player to worker bee. The fine print in your deal goes something like this: We'll let you have a life, but you can forget about career growth. And so the goodies go to your competition — women who don't have young children, or, more likely, to men. "Working on a flexible schedule can get you labeled as being uncommitted or regarded as less valuable," says Marcia Brumit Kropf, Ph.D., vice president of research and advisory services at Catalyst, an organization that advises companies on women in the workforce. "Which is interesting, because the reason you get these arrangements in the first place is that you are valuable."

Is it possible to escape the Mommy Zone — to have time for your family but keep the rewards coming your way? Your chances are getting better. Two-thirds of big U.S. companies have some sort of family-friendly option, and the trend is spreading to traditionally macho, work-'em-till-they-drop fields like law and public accounting.

More common, though, is the company that trumpets its new family-friendly policy but can't quite make it stick. Like the New York law firm that allowed its sole female partner to work a reduced schedule after her baby was born. The other partners began to call her "Chuck E. Cheese" in front of her and complained loudly if she took books from the firm's library to use at home. "The message was not lost on any woman in the firm," says a former female associate. Even big companies with formal job-flexibility programs have often seen them turn into mommy ghettos.

So don't wait for your company to get its act together. Women who've done it say there are ways to stay on the fast track when you're on your personal mommy track. To pull it off, you're going to have to be — as the career handbooks love to say — proactive, ready with the solution before your boss has even thought of the problem. You'll have to be a master of personal PR. And you're going to have to cheat just a tiny bit.

Eliminate Schedule Confusion
If you have any kind of nonstandard schedule — compressed workweek, flextime, working at home part of the week — count on this: No one but your babysitter will recall what your hours are (and that's only because they're her hours, too). "When are you in, again?" your colleagues and boss will ask, week after week.

Post your schedule on your office door, including your home phone and fax numbers. You want your boss and colleagues to walk away thinking, She's working at home rather than She's never around when I need her. State on your voice mail when you will be in the office and where you can be reached in the interim. Make sure that your boss's secretary knows exactly when and where you can be reached.

Spin, Spin, Spin
Choose language that reinforces your professional image: You're not working from home — you're working out of your "home office." And quash your instinct to tell all: You don't have to leave the meeting to go to a parent-teacher conference — you have a "prior commitment."

Get your support staff on board, too: Sandra Sullivan, 31, president of Flex-It Human Resources Consulting in Southington, Connecticut, instructs her assistant and her answering service to say, "She's with a client" on the days she reserves for her 2-year-old son. "Is my son an important client of mine?" Sullivan says. "You bet!"

Maximize the Power of Voice Mail
Change your message every day for that on-the-spot effect. "Hi, this is Jane Smith. It's Monday, October 16, and I'm not in the office today, but I will be calling in for messages..." sounds so much better than "I'm in the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays." Or try this message to make your clients feel really coddled: "I call in for messages at 9, 12, and 3, and will return your call within three hours."

Use Technology to Shine
Because voice mail automatically records the date and time a message is received, you can use it to wow everyone with your high energy and commitment. "I check messages and return calls before I leave for work in the morning, so my callback is the first thing they hear when they get in," says a human resources manager for a telecommunications company in Milpitas, California.

One executive whose managers prize late hours programs her e-mail to send messages several hours after she types them in. Another regularly gets business done on her cellular phone while she's commuting home. She doesn't mention that she's not calling from the office.

Hold the Reins — Loosely
You can supervise a project even though you're not in the office full-time. After all, nothing is lost when you're on a business trip or in meetings all day — so why should it be different just because you're working from home?

The key is never to leave others in the lurch because they can't reach you. When Sullivan worked for Aetna Life & Casualty, she telecommuted and worked a compressed week, and still managed a department. "I made it very clear to my staff that they could call me at any time, and I kept saying it until they were comfortable with that." She made sure to get back to them within two hours, a quicker response time than most employees get when their manager is working in the next office.

Don't Say, "I Have to Leave at 5 p.m."
At least not every day. Only the top dog in the office can pull this off; middle dogs have to finesse the situation a bit. Sure, you know you'll put in extra hours doing paperwork after your kid is in bed. But working late at the office is the norm in today's lean times. Sailing out the door at five sharp makes you look like a clock puncher; worse, you miss out on crucial after-hours schmoozing and impromptu meetings.

So don't box yourself in. Leave on time three nights a week, but get your husband or a sitter to help out on the other two nights. You'll still get most evenings at home, but escape the "She-has-to-leave" stigma.

Waste a Little Energy
It's environmentally incorrect, but many professionals admit they leave their computer and office lights on when they leave for the day, figuring it never hurts to keep 'em guessing.

Brainwash Your Boss
Does your boss know how active, committed, and valuable you still are? Not unless you tell her. She thinks you're in the Mommy Zone, remember? So memo her, phone her, be in her face on the days you're in the office. It's obligatory that you keep your profile high.

Sit in her chair (mentally) and view the situation from her perspective. Like most people, your boss reserves her most tender concern for herself: the results she needs to produce, the bosses breathing down her back. And so there will come a time — sooner than later — when she asks herself, "Is Jane's schedule working for me?"

You need to have an answer for that — before she even asks. Are sales up since you began your new schedule? Do you beat deadlines because you get so much done on your days working at home? Are your West Coast customers ecstatic because your schedule now better accommodates theirs? Mention these things or put them in a memo — so when she asks herself the question, the answer's there.

Minimize the "Pain-in-the-Neck Factor"
The PIN factor goes like this: Something's come up — the deadline's been shortened, or there's an urgent new mandate from headquarters, or your boss wants to brainstorm (now) — but it's your day out of the office and others are suddenly forced to find some way to accommodate your absence, perhaps grudgingly so. You won't be able to avoid such incidents entirely, but it's in your best interest to minimize them. Therefore, if your department is facing a deadline crunch, tell everyone you'll be in the office for the full five days that week. If Fridays are your day off, maintain babysitting backup so you can come in on a Friday that truly requires your presence. You needn't give back every advantage you've earned; just be flexible. One manager who usually has Thursday off says this when a customer requests a Thursday meeting: "I have a conflict that day, can we do it Friday?" Nine out of 10 times, the answer is yes — but when it isn't, she goes with the flow.

If the PIN factor intrudes too frequently, talk to your boss about modifying your schedule. "Often an employee requests an arrangement, the manager approves it, and it becomes carved in stone and is never talked about again," says Dr. Kropf, of Catalyst. "The flexible schedule becomes inflexible, even when parts of it aren't working — for either side."

Trade Time Whenever Possible
Yes, it's tempting to work through lunch. But think of that as your flextime: You'll be conspicuous if you scurry in at 9:20 a.m. or leave at 5 p.m. sharp, but presumably nobody is clocking your lunch hour. Use it to get rid of dull-but-necessary tasks that eat up Saturday mornings — drugstore runs, dental checkups, and hair trims. Or have fun: Ask your sitter to bring the kids to meet you for lunch in the park.

Such creative scheduling is particularly useful in jobs (or companies or industries) in which it's impossible to cut back your hours, but where some fudging is okay. Ilise Gold, 40, a partner in a counseling and consulting firm in Westport, Connecticut, believes that if you make your professional commitment clear to your employer, you'll get some latitude. "Let your boss know that you will do whatever it takes: 'No problem, I can come in on Saturday, but I'd like to leave at 3 p.m. on Thursday for my daughter's Brownie meeting.'" And who says you can't take your child with you on a business trip (with a sitter you pay for, of course)?

Don't Stop Shopping
When you have a child, you have less time, energy, and money for buying clothes. You may find yourself relying too much on the old faithfuls in your closet, like the suit with the big shoulder pads that screams "1980s!" As one manager says: "If you can't remember the last time someone said, 'You look nice today!' chances are you aren't making your appearance a priority. And that can send the message that you aren't making work a priority."

Create an Utterly Professional Phone Environment
When associates call you at home, they should get the impression they've reached a satellite office. Therefore, no kid noises. The 7-year-old who answers the phone, the toddler who adds a giggle to your answering machine greeting — these hold charm only for Grandma. Older kids can be trained not to bother you while you're on the phone, but don't even try to conduct business when your toddler's in the room with you. Let the machine take the call, and call back when the sitter shows up.

Though it's natural to answer your home phone with a simple "Hello?" consider something more crisp and professional, such as "This is Jane Smith." Instead of having call waiting — those annoying blips that interrupt your conversation — try call answering, which lets callers leave a message when your line is busy. You may want to install a separate line for business. Your company may reimburse you; at the very least it'll be easier to keep track of business-related phone expenses.

Immunize Yourself Against Naysayers
There will be colleagues who resent your flexible arrangement or see it as a vulnerability they can exploit. You know who they are — the ones who delight in saying, "Oh, I wanted to invite you to that meeting, but you weren't here on Tuesday." Or who leave an urgent memo sitting on your desk instead of faxing it to you at home.

Obviously, if your coworker has a legitimate grievance — for example, your schedule forces her to assume an unfair share of work — correct the situation. But if he or she is just envious or mean-spirited, there's nothing you can do.

So do nothing. Cure yourself of the congenital female urge to please and apologize. Do not get defensive, explain, or share your feelings. Think: I cannot control this person's emotions. Think: This is my job, my schedule, my life. Through years of proving yourself, you have earned the concessions you've gained (and probably more). Working a flexible schedule so you can have more time for your family is your choice. Own it. When you do, you'll send out strong, positive subliminal signals, and chances are the sniping will subside.

Wanted: An Understanding Boss
Sometimes all the smart tactics in the world won't budge a recalcitrant boss or a stuck-in-the-mud company. To have a great career and family life, you may need to make radical changes:

Look for a new job
Marianne Woodruff, 30, a single mother of two girls, now 3 and 4, spent six years working for a company that "preached the gospel of family-friendliness" but refused to promote her, even though she got good feedback and regular expansion of her duties. Why the career plateau? "They saw me pregnant a lot," Woodruff says, laughing. A turning point came when the president called a meeting at 5 p.m. and said, "I know you have to pick up your kids at day care. But this is important."

Woodruff was determined to find a company that would let her stretch professionally and respect her family obligations. She asked carefully worded questions like, "I like to come in early and leave by 5:30. How does that fit in with the way people work here?" She's now the special projects manager for the Herald Times in Bloomington, Indiana, and says, "Sometimes my boss will stop a meeting and ask me, 'Do you have to leave now to pick up your kids?'"

Start a business
In the last three years, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 43 percent, to 7.7 million, according to the National Foundation for Women Business Owners. The typical female entrepreneur is between 35 and 54; 36 percent have children still living at home. Although the demands of running your own business are tremendous, the rewards can be great.

Sylvia Ho, 34, an employment lawyer and consultant, has a consulting job with an insurance company and a fledgling business, Quantum WorkForce Strategies, in Simsbury, Connecticut. It's an 80-hour workweek, but Ho has never felt happier. "Sure, I'm usually up working until two or three in the morning," she says. "But when you're doing it for yourself, you feel positive about it. If I feel like taking my son to the zoo for the afternoon, I can. When my sister-in-law had a baby, I took my son and my laptop computer and stayed with her for a week. I got to help her out, see my family, and I still made money.

"Last week I arranged a dinner meeting with a man I want to hire," Ho says. "I picked him up to bring him to my house, and in the backseat of my car were my son and a bag of groceries. I told him, 'This is the difference between a male and a female entrepreneur. A man would take you out to dinner and leave the kid at home with his wife. I'm going to ask you to watch my son while I make dinner.' And he said okay!"

My Goddaughter

Happy New Year 2008

Cheers! No matter where you are!

Lori, this one is for you! :)
"Cheers! No matter where you are!"

"Even if you’re traveling, you might still find yourself in a position of needing to celebrate. However, as much as you might want to break open a bottle of champagne and toast a new merger (or the beautiful view or whatever floats your boat), it’s not very convenient to pack your beautiful and expensive crystal stemware. "

"Champagne flutesUnbreakable LexanBase snaps into rim."

"Champagne Flutes - - Elegantly shaped; they look like the real thing. Stem detaches and base snaps into the rim for compact packing and storage. What a great idea . . . for special occasions when you need extra glassware . . . for serving around the pool or on the boat . . . for camping, tailgate celebrating, vacationing."

"Only $6 apiece, you can pick up and pack up these Lexan travel champagne flutes. When you’re ready to raise your glass, simply assemble it and fill ‘er up!

You can buy them here.

China Snack Attach

"The capital's early birds don't have to munch worms to eat for dirt-cheap. Beijing's traditional snack spots, such as Shougongfang, offer bountiful breakfasts of fare for the frugal. For just 4.5 yuan, you can start the day with a roast cake, an aiwowo - a soft mashed bean cake stuffed with mashed red bean, a "donkey-rolling-over" - a soft multi-layered bean cake, and a bowl of bean curd jelly. Low-cost meals make for high competition among the capital's eateries, making it tough for dim sum diners - especially the pricier places - to keep the lights on and the trolleys rolling.

But Shougongfang is confident enough in its cuisine, it made the gutsy move of opening a mere 20 meters away from Huguosi traditional snack restaurant - a longstanding Beijing institution.

The reason for the eatery's hyperactive self-confidence is that the chef, Wang Shihua, comes from a lineage of pastry-makers spanning back to the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) who have remained local legends for making the best sesame cakes and fried crisp flour loops in the city. Indeed, the restaurant's "smart Wang" sesame cake is made a terrific treat by its distinct layers and rich herbal flavors.

Other Beijing bites worth tasting include the crisp shelled cake with mashed red bean stuffing and deep-fried glutinous rice flour with mashed red bean stuffing.

More adventurous snackers can sample the fermented bean juice, which is usually ordered with a plateful of deep-fried crispy flour loops and a few pickled turnip slices. It is believed to be a traditional treat for old Beijingers.

The place also offers standards, such as fried shredded cake, noodles and cake with pork stuffing.

These meals can be washed down with millet and rice porridge, fragrant ried-flour tea or mutton giblet soup. The restaurant is small, with only five tables for four, and a Chinese-language menu displayed on the wall.

Location: 74 Huoguosi Dajie, Xicheng District. " Found here.

Skip Hop Pacifier Pocket

Keeps two pacifiers clean and within reach...and way cuter than a ziploc!
The Skip Hop Pacifier Pocket holds up to two pacifiers and keeps them clean and handy. With its convenient strap, you can attach it to your stroller, diaper bag or anywhere else to keep your pacifiers within arms reach. This lil' pocket has a zipper closure and includes a small front pouch.

Keeps two pacifiers clean and handy
Secure zipper closure
Mini front pocket
Handle snaps open to attach to stroller or diaper bag
3.5" x 3.5" x .5"
Black - Shipping in March

Buy it here.

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