Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My visit with Heather, James and Hannah

This is Hannah Mei W----! She's 13 months old.

(photo deleted at request of parent)

I just got back Monday night from a four-day visit to my best friend, Heather, and her husband James, in Madison WI. They brought Hannah back from China in May, and it was about time for me to meet her. Her Chinese name is Ling Wan-Ji. All the babies in her orphanage were given the surname Ling, and Wan-Yan is the county she was found in. The diminuitive "Ji" means "little girl," so her name meant Little Girl from Wan (-Yan). Her middle name, Mei, means "beautiful." I flew into Chicago O'Hare and Heather and Hannah picked me up. It's a quick drive, about 2 1/2 hours, so we got to chatting right away.

Of course that night we had lots of fun watching her enjoy Heather's good spaghetti. Surprisingly, she did eat much more than she wore.


The four of us also explored Madison's amazing Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. It's HUGE! It surrounds the state capitol completely-- basically 4 enormous city blocks full of fresh veg and fruits, honey, preserves, fresh baked goods, flowers, and other goodies. This is one of the fresh corn stands.

And this is a flower stand, with the Hmong proprietor (I think):

This is Heather, and Hannah on her potty chair. (She wears diapers but only as a 'just in case'-- since birth she's been using the potty with increasing reliability. Since she was adopted she's had two poopie diapers, total!) Sorry if that's too much information for you... but the parents in the audience may be interested.


This is daddy James.


This is one of the two family cats, Millie. (Althea is not nearly as fond of Hannah. Millie tolerates and even enjoys the not-so-gentle "petting," as she seems to understand that Hannah is some sort of hairless, unbalanced, large kitten.)


So... what else can I say about my trip? There was only one blight on the joyous occasion. I checked my bag (because I inanely brought sample size shampoo and conditioner!) at the curb, where the skycap lady was offended by my lack of a tip. She was insulting and rude and basically ordered me to leave with a dirty look, and refused to give me her name. Her ultimate revenge? My bag was "mistagged" (OOPS!) and sent to Minneapolis. Where it remained for 3 days, it seems. Long story short, American Airlines was never able to conclusively locate my bag (it was like Schrodinger's Cat) yet somehow it managed to travel to Madison within 12 hours of my departure. Phew. I was rewarded for my patience though-- American gave me a $200 voucher (which is what my ticket cost in the first place) plus $75 towards incidental expenses (which covered the underwear and clothing I bought.) Hooray!

It was fantastic getting to see Heather's charming house (a 3 bedroom with a finished basement and a big gorgeous yard) and to spend time with her and James. She also forced me to eat lots of a rice krispie treat that sounded kinda funny when she told me about it-- but after the first bite it was more like forcing me to let go of the pan. Recipe:

1 cup white sugar, 1 cup light corn syrup, 1 cup peanut butter. Bring sugar and syrup to boil in saucepan, stir in peanut butter off heat until melted.

Stir into big bowl (measurement unknown) of rice krispies-- spread into greased 9x13 glass pan. It was the texture of a rice krispie treat before it sets, or like very thick brownie batter.

Melt in microwave 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1 cup butterscotch chips. Stir until blended, then pour onto rice krispies. Spread evenly to edges and refrigerate a few hours.

It tastes like a crunchy Reese's Cup. The 9x13 pan was gone in less than 24 hours, between the 3 of us eating at all times :)

James also treated us to a pancake breakfast fit for queens on Sunday morning. Heather and I picked up her friend Amanda (they're starting their third year of law school in a week, and she lives near campus about 15 min. away) and brought her over too. There were chocolate chips, pecans, apples, cinnamon, raspberries and blueberries for jazzing up the cakies, plus cantaloupe and juice... it was lavish.

Alas, my indulgence over the weekend resulted in a lavish expansion of my posterior. So, Heather, Mitch and I are joining together on the South Beach Diet, starting yesterday. I'm eating lean turkey, fat free/sugar free yogurt, low fat string cheese, plain almonds, lots of salad and veggies, and not really loving every minute. Theoretically though I will lose 8-13 lbs in 2 weeks, and then I can start slowly adding whole grains back to the meals. So we'll see.

Anyway, I have a deadline, brief due Friday-- so I better get back to work.

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