Beyond that, we have a NEW set of forms we need to start filling out (the paperwork never ends) and a 500+ page guidebook to start reading through. Things now feel like they are moving ahead, though, so that's a great feeling for both of us!
We are a family of three that is constantly learning and growing in so many ways. Becoming a family has been a constant source of joy and blessing for us.
Troy and Tricia consider “Dad” and “Mom” to be the most amazing roles they have ever had. In addition to those roles, Troy works as a computer applications engineer and Tricia works as a lawyer. Troy also enjoys college football, board games (which he blogs about here), comic books and bad movies (which he also blogs about, here). Tricia enjoys good movies, reading just about any book (but especially mystery novels - a love that began in fourth grade with Nancy Drew novels) and having coffee with friends.
Troy and Tricia met in high school in 1994 and were married in 2002. They spent the next eight years learning how to work as a team. Troy is a self-described procrastinator and claims he produces his best work a few minutes before a deadline. He also can do just about anything with a computer (including building his own arcade machine) and has programmed their entire house in one way or another - Tricia is still waiting for an instruction manual. Tricia has to admit to having a few perfectionist tendencies (except when it comes to cooking or cleaning the house) and has been making to-do lists since kindergarten. It makes us an interesting team, but we have lots of fun together and love each other tremendously! We especially enjoy spending time with our friends, going out to eat, and traveling together (recap of our 2009 Italy trip here).
Throughout their first eight years of marriage, Troy and Tricia each felt a growing desire in their hearts to expand their family by adopting from China. They submitted their application to adopt a few weeks after Tricia’s 30th birthday (minimum age requirement for adopting from China) and, on May 9, 2010, the Olsons were officially a family of three when Madelyn Yihong became their daughter.
Madelyn is a vivacious toddler who finds joy and humor in all things of life. She has an uncanny love of soft rock music, likes to put a smile on other people’s faces, and has a beautiful, active imagination that has added several friends to our family (ask Tricia for the list because, of course she made a list of Madelyn’s imaginary friends). Madelyn is teaching Troy and Tricia how to be parents and they are trying their very best to be good students of the subject.
The purpose of this blog is, first and foremost, to document our journey as a family so that we can look back on our favorite experiences and carry them with us going forward. We are perpetually learning new things and forming/refining /redefining our opinions about parenting and adoption. Putting these things in print seems to help our process of learning. It is also something we hope that our children will enjoy rereading when they are older and something we hope our friends and family will enjoy along the way. We realize that the content is specific to our family, but we are more than happy to share the lessons we have learned as parents and especially about adoption.
We have tried to organize our blog in a way that makes it easy to find information if you are looking for something specific. On the header, you can use the search tool to search for specific terms or the “Categories” tab to find posts on specific topics such as Adoption, China, and Cleft Lip & Palate. Our “Links” tab includes links to our Picasa picture gallery, YouTube video library, and Pinterest board. The "Store" tab points to our Amazon store, which contains items that we personally enjoy using in our house and may mention from time to time on our blog.
Questions about adoption or something else you saw on this blog?
Email us at: olsonfamilymatters at gmail dot com
Over the weekend we had our first non-family members visit the lot with us. So thanks to Linnea and Brian for making the treacherous drive up to check out the lot. All the snow in the picture below should now be gone (I hope) and should allow for building to commence once again.
Updates and pictures as soon as the foundation is poured!
For Christmas, Tricia and I both purchased a friend (or two) for Baby Olson. I just wanted to post a picture of these new friends...
We also received a good supply of kids books (Dr. Seuss, The Polar Express, Good Night Moon, etc.) and some movies (Polar Express, Happy Feet) already, so Baby Olson is already being sufficiently spoiled (which is the norm, isn't it). Lucky kid :)
And so it ends...
This day actually marked our first contact with Holt regarding our adoption application, as we found out the bevy of decisions that we would need to be making over the coming months.
And what better way to discuss such serious things than by starting the day with a trip to the Jelly Belly factory! We took the tour (hats and all) and got to learn how to make different flavor combinations. We still have a big bag of them in our pantry, if you want to try any.
Next up we headed to the Sebastiani Vineyards to take a look around. We weren't really sure how to fit in with the wine tasting crowd that was there, but did our best. Yeah, we have no problem fitting in at the candy factory, but the wine place intimidated us :P
I look at the pictures and wish it looked like this here in Salem today...
We did make our way to the Wine Country Chocolates to taste and buy some yummy stuff there.
We end the day with some pizza (it was hard to find a good pizza in Sonoma -- this place wasn't really that good), rewatched the end of The Big Sleep (which Tricia slept through the previous night) and then watched Blood Diamond (good, but more intense for Tricia than anticipated. Jennifer Connolly was kind of wooden throughout, but I loved Leo).
Had a yummy homemade breakfast that included some eggs with the awesome Mediterranean Jack Cheese from the Sonoma Cheese Factory, followed by coffee and pastries from the Basque Boulangerie.
After the intimidation at the winery the day before, we decided to go the easy route and took the tour and tasting at the Gloria Ferrer Champagne Caves.
Across the street we found the world's largest chair, which Tricia just had to have her picture in.
We went with a meat/cheese/bread picnic to get some food in our bellies and then headed off to Calistoga for a body mud treatment and massage. It was mostly good experience -- although I found the "chambers" you were in for the mud treatment to be a little claustrophobic and Tricia was quite sore afterwards from the extremely intense massage she was given.
We then went to go find a place to eat that we had read about. It was a little bit of a nicer restaurant, but we weren't really aware of that until we took a look inside. The thing was, after the spa, our hair was a mess (no product or hair dryer) and Tricia was without makeup. Needless to say, we have enough ego that we weren't willing to go into a nice restaurant looking like that.
So we went down to local Sav-On drugstore and bought makeup and hair product. The funniest part of this was when we were walking out the store, a hippie looking guy, with his hair all ratted out walked in. At that very moment Tricia looked up and did a double-take. Apparently she thought that the guy walking in the door was her reflection...hehe.
On to the restaurant (Zin) and since it was a Friday night and we didn't make reservations, we had to wait a bit to get seated and they could only seat us at the bar. So we waited and waited and the waitress and bartender obviously felt bad for us, so they comped us an appetizer (beer battered green beans) and they poured me a second glass of wine for free. So, obviously, the service was fantastic. Tricia tried the local sparkling pear cider and we had to go find several bottles of it for her the next day (it turns out they sell it at Roth's). For dinner, Tricia had a pesto veggie pasta and I had spare ribs. We split homemade jelly donuts for dessert -- yum yum yum.
It was a great way to end our last night of vacation.
We loaded up the car and began the long trip home (well to Medford for the night, then home). We had Barking Dog Coffee this time and it was great (we had good luck with the local coffee shops on the trip. That hasn't always been the case on our vacations).
The only thing we really had on our list to do for the day was to head to Bodega Bay. For those unaware, Bodega Bay is the location where a lot of the exterior shots from the Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds were filmed. Being the Hitchcock fans we are, we had to give this a look.
As these things usually are, it wasn't quite as cool as we had hoped.
To begin, we didn't know the actual locations of any of the places (despite my best efforts). We saw a school on top of a hill and thought that perhaps it was the school from the movie. It wasn't.
Next stop, the diner that was in the movie. Well, it's since been remodeled and looks nothing like it did 50 years ago. It also contains a restaurant with horribly overpriced food. It also had a small grill where you could get typical fried seafood (still overpriced, though). Considering there were very few restaurants in town, though, we opted for some frozen fish and chips. Yippee.
However, it did allow us to get some pictures with "the birds." I'll note that birds don't like to cooperate much when it comes to taking pictures with you. I meant to Photoshop some birds into these, but never got around to it.
We did found a book about the movie and it showed us where to go for one of the scenic vistas that is in the film. Exciting.
Most importantly, it told us where the exterior of the school building was (it wasn't in Bodega Bay, but one town over). So we ended up there before we left and Tricia did the honor of recreating the scene where everyone was running from the school. Use your imagination to place the birds in the picture.
And with that, we ended our vacation. Twas fun recapping it.
(There is a day 13, but it doesn't really count as a vacation day, since it was simply spent driving from Medford to Salem).
Hello to everyone who found out about our blog from our Christmas card. Feel free to look around and subscribe via the links over on the right.
Moving on to Part 3 of our vacation -- Sonoma.
We took one last walk along the beach the morning we were going to leave. You may notice the fear in Tricia's eyes as she was sure I was going to let the wave hit her without warning.
The travel from Aptos to Sonoma was MUCH easier than any of the other travel days thus far. That helped to keep us much more calm and relaxed. We arrived in Sonoma and found our rental house to be the nicest place we had stayed at yet (and very cheap, considering how expensive the area seemed to be).
Tricia was SO ecstatic that just a few miles away were the Napa Premium Outlets, so we headed there next. Most importantly, there was a United Colors of Benetton there, so Tricia was able to buy more of her Italian pants that she loves so much. There aren't any of these stores in Oregon/Washington and she was last able to purchase them when we were in Boston. Seriously, it was an exciting moment for her.
After all that shopping we were famished, so we did what all Californians do (supposedly) and went to In N Out Burger. Yes, amongst all the great restaurants in Napa County, we choose fast food :) Of course, it was great and we devoured it.
On the way home we got some cookies and coffees at Whole Foods (which reminds me how lame it is that Salem doesn't have one) and watched a few movies before going to bed.
We start the day with an awesome breakfast at the Big 3 Diner consisting of apple oat pancakes and lemon cottage cheese pancakes (I know that plenty of my comments relate to how great food is, but that's just because it's a very important aspect of all of our vacations).
The main part of the day consisted of a bike ride around Sonoma. However, there wasn't much of a shoulder on the road as was promised in the cycling book we got the route from, which made us have to trust the drivers on the road more than we anticipated. Looks like we still need to build up some courage for road cycling!
Still, the area we rode through was beautiful.
More food! We ate some burritos and Gourmet Taco, took a nap, and then went out to the Sonoma Farmer Market, where we picked up perhaps the greatest treat of the entire trip -- Uncle Bill's Gourmet Corn Dogs. They put the corn dogs at the Fair to shame.
Still tired, we headed back to the house, where I watched TV (I'm just assuming that's what I did) while Tricia picked up a book at the house to read, the Dali Lama's Art of Happiness, taking notes along the way :)
Today was our big day trip to San Francisco. It started off with more directional mishaps, as we ended up going to the wrong Legion of Honor. Yes, San Francisco has two museums called the Legion of Honor. Once we figured that out, we got realigned and set off for the Legion of Honor we intended on going to, the one that contains The Thinker, as well as some famous glass art (the artist's name escapes me).
The museum is situated on The Presidio and where we were parked had a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge (even with the fog).
Next we headed over to the DeYoung museum, just a few miles away in Golden Gate Park. We initially intended to eat lunch there, but we absolutely refused to pay the $7 they were asking for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a hot dog. We were positive there had to be some kind of food situated somewhere within the park. Much to our chagrin, that was not the case. So, even though we were starving, we made our way into the Japanese Tea Garden in the park, where we saw they had a tea room (which only served tea and crackers...but better than nothing).
The zen garden made us want to have one of our own at home and did a good job of relaxing us and our hungry stomachs (Typically, we get cranky when we don't eat, although I don't think there was any repercussions in this case :) )
Back we went to the DeYoung to enjoy the art. We've found that looking at art is relaxing for both of us. Plus, we got this great view of the city.
This carriage is made entirely of sugar. Neat.
NOW, we are starving, yet it's only 4 PM when we arrive at the restaurant we wanted to eat at, a Peruvian restaurant called Fresca. Unfortunately for us, it didn't open until 5:00 (always a problem when you try to eat at a actual nice restaurant). So we had to a) waste an hour of time without moving the car and b) get a snack so we didn't pass out from our hunger (remember all we have since breakfast is some crackers and tea). So we grabbed a bagel at the Noah's across the street and Tricia made the bad choice of getting a pumpkin bagel with a pumpkin schmear, which succinctly gave her a combo upset stomach/sugar coma from which she never recovered.
Eventually we ate dinner, which was great. Sadly (well not for me) I had to eat 1/2 of Tricia's meal since the she was no longer feeling well. Still, she had enough energy for us to take a cable car ride up and down California Street, ending with the Bay Bridge in the background. As silly (and expensive) as it may seem, it's a must-do experience to ride the cable car.
After the cable car, we arrived back at our car and took the trip back over the Golden Gate Bridge (which looks awesome at night) to our house.
I'll cover the last three days next time...
As mentioned previously, the picture album for the vacation is here.
Getting from Fort Bragg to Aptos (which is near Santa Cruz) was much more difficult than we ever imagined, with not much help from the GPS.
First off, we had a restaurant in Santa Rosa (about half way between our start point and end point) that we thought we would try out. So we plugged in the location on our GPS and let loose. After spending 30 minutes in Santa Rosa whilst circling the supposed location of this restaurant, getting stuck in contruction zones, and having to hear "Recalculating. *ding ding* At next possible chance, make a U-Turn" we were ready to throw the GPS out the window.
We found a Trader Joes and decided to stop there for some lunch. It was here that tensions exploded while I wandered around in the store pondering whether I should purchase some peanut butter cups or not. Clearly, Tricia was ready to get to the beach. However, our issues with the GPS did not stop there. While going through Oakland, it gave directions such as "keep left, then bear right." On a 10-lane freeway at rush hour, this isn't quite as easy to do and I nearly took another car out when trying to obey my master (the GPS), which caused Tricia to yell at the GPS and inform me that I don't have to do EXACTLY what it says at all times :P
Finally, we arrived in Aptos (traffic was attrocious all the way there). Our condo we were staying in had a gorgeous ocean view and we immediately felt much more relaxed. Here's a picture from the balcony.
We went out for a nice Italian dinner and made some fresh baked cookies, which made things feel a whole lot better.
Well, the day started by going to Pacific Coffee Roasters, which Tricia claims had the best vanilla latte ever. After that, I watched the beginning of the Oregon/Purdue football game and Tricia read. Soon after we left to go to Santa Cruz. We started at Zachary's and had some pancakes and french toast and then headed towards the boardwalk, on foot. However, as always, my sense of direction was atrocious and we had to wander into a Borders to find a map and see if we were going in the right direction.
So, after getting back in the car and starting up the GPS, we drove to the Boardwalk without any problems :)
While at the Boardwalk we watched the kite festival, took a ride on the 100-year old Giant Dipper roller coaster (which Tricia particularly enjoyed because I laughed the entire time on the ride), and had a grueling air hockey battle (that ended in a 7-7 tie).
Since I was preparing for the marathon, I had to get one long run in during vacation and this was the day I did that. Running along the beach is something I wish I could do everyday. It's awesome. While I was doing this, Tricia had time to get a coffee, walk along the beach, and do some reading.
That evening we made our way to Monterey. We began by walking along Cannery Row, which really doesn't have too many canneries left on it...
Monterey was the home of one of Tricia's literary heroes, John Steinbeck, and the setting of many of his books.
We had a great meal on the waterfront at Fish Hopper.
After that we wandered the area looking for some picture opportunities and just enjoying being on vacation.
Next time...on to Sonoma.