Sunday, November 17, 2013

Countdown to Thanksgiving - Day 2

On the second day of the Countdown to Thanksgiving, we did and read the following several things. Part of the day related to Thanksgiving, while the other part related to the tenth anniversary of Olivia's adoption day.

Picture of part of the dining room 
(with the paper lanterns for Olivia's adoption day anniversary) and 
the living room with the Thanksgiving Countdown Calendar.

Activities for the Day: 

The girls each wrote what they were thankful for today. They are doing this daily until Thanksgiving.

Sophia wrote that she is thankful for family.


We also went out for lunch at a Chinese restaurant to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Olivia's adoption day.

November 17, 2013, at the Chinese restaurant.

Here's a photo from ten years earlier...

Olivia and Sophia on November 17, 2003.
Olivia was pretty tired after a long day of travel to the government center 
where we met her, yet handled the transition very well. 
Sophia - clearly - was overjoyed at being a big sister!

I decorated the dining room with paper lanterns and tissue-paper pom poms to make it a bit more festive for her tenth anniversary of her adoption day.

Dining room with paper lanterns and pom poms.
There's a blue tablecloth and lace runner.
For a light dinner/snack, the food will be served on vintage China plates.
The China plates/bowls/tea cups/saucers will be Olivia's from this point on and 
will be used only on her adoption day anniversaries.

We opened a couple of presents.

Olivia ready to open her presents.

The first one was a set of connected picture frames. Told her she could fill them with photos that she took or we would take photos of our family and put those photos in the frames.

Olivia with a picture frame.

She was very excited to receive a LEGO castle set. She's already assembled it and used the catapults that came with it.

Olivia taking a look at the LEGO castle set.


In the evening, we watched Planes, Trains, and Automobiles as a family. It had been a few years since I watched the movie. Apparently I had blocked out the language used in parts of the movie, but remembered the story line.

The movie, written by John Hughes, is a very moving piece about the human condition especially around the busy holiday season. It reinforces the fact that to be a true friend is one of the highest virtues in life.

Movie that we watched.

There were parts of the movie that had the girls and I laughing so loudly: when they were driving on the wrong side of the freeway and the car went in between two semi-trucks. Images of skeletons and Del (played by John Candy) as the devil driving the car had us almost unable to catch our breath.

A scene shortly after that when they are on the road driving in their car that had burned after Del's cigarette lit the backseat on fire (and subsequently the entire car) also was very funny. They were pulled over by a state trooper who said:

State Trooper: What the **** are you driving here?
Del: We had a small fire last night, but we caught it in the nick of time.
State Trooper: Do you have any idea how fast you were going?
Del: Funny enough, I was just talking to my friend about that. Our speedometer has melted and as a result it's very hard to see with any degree of accuracy exactly how fast we were going.

Balancing out the comedic value of the movie, were some parts that were worth reflecting upon. When Neal Page (played by Steve Martin) launched a verbal attack on Del after countless mishaps and problems in the hotel room, Del said:

You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I'm an easy target. Yeah, you're right, I talk too much. I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you... but I don't like to hurt people's feelings. Well, you think what you want about me; I'm not changing. I like... I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. 'Cause I'm the real article. What you see is what you get.

It's a good reminder that being true to who you are is an important value and trait to possess.

Near the end of the movie, Neal is on the way back to his home in Chicago. As he thinks about who is waiting for him - his children, his wife - images of the challenging journey come to mind. It brings a smile to his face as he thinks about all the mishaps that happened with Del to bring him to that point.

And then he begins to realize by piecing together what Del has said that he is, in fact, homeless. He returns to the "L" train station and enters the building.

Neal: Del, what are you still doing here? Why aren't you going home?
Del: I don't have a home. Marie died eight years ago.

Then the movie makes even more sense. You understand why Del is so desperate to latch onto somebody; and makes you think back to previous scenes where Del says that his wife likes him and when Neal makes a toast, saying that at the very least Del has someone to grow old with.

The ending scene shows Neal and Del walking to Neal's house. They're finally standing together, side-by-side as friends, carrying Del's trunk (essentially, his home). At last, the uptight executive is capable of empathy and Del is finally understood and accepted.

We talked about how this was probably a beginning point for these two men in terms of a life-long friendship; and perhaps a pivotal change for Del in defining what "home" means to him. We talked about how Neal and his family could help Del transition from being homeless to having a home that he feels comfortable in once again.

Thanksgiving Fact: 

Abraham Lincoln issued a 'Thanksgiving Proclamation' on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving.

Gratitude Quote: 

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. ~Cynthia Ozick

Recipe of the Day: 

As I was looking for healthier food around the Thanksgiving holiday, I came across a pin on Pinterest that led to Mens Health for Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Nuts, Dried Cranberries, and Raisins.

Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Nuts, Dried Cranberries, and Raisins
that I made.

It's a bit labor-intensive taking all the leaves off the Brussels sprouts. Perhaps if the Brussels sprouts were larger is would have been easier. Nonetheless, the flavor was delicious and well worth the effort.


1 tsp vegetable oil (we used 1 tbsp)
1 shallot or onion, sliced
1/3 tbsp butter
4 cups Brussels sprouts (about 16 sprouts), leaves peeled and set aside, cores discarded
1 tsp golden raisins*
1 tsp dried cranberries*
1 tsp toasted shelled pumpkin seeds*+**
1 tsp toasted shelled hazelnuts (we didn't use)
1 tsp toasted shelled sunflower seeds*
1 tsp minced chives (we didn't use)
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a large sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, but not smoking, add the shallots and butter and cook for 30 seconds.

2. Add the peeled leaves of the Brussels sprouts to the pan and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring and seasoning generously with salt and pepper.

3. Turn off the heat, add all the remaining ingredients, stir well, and serve. Makes 4 servings.

*The recipe called for 1 teaspoon, but we used 2 teaspoons instead.

**Some grocery stores have these seeds and nuts pre-toasted or pre-roasted. If not, buy them raw and toast them yourself. Simply set a nonstick sauté pan over medium-low heat and cook the seeds or nuts until they begin to release their aroma and look slightly browned on the outsides, about 10 to 15 minutes.

A light dinner: some crackers with cream cheese and meat slices; 
and Brussels sprouts prepared two ways. 

Thanksgiving Joke: 

Which side of a turkey has the most feathers? (The outside!)

More Adoption-Related Happenings

Olivia was thrilled with the bouquet of flowers in honor of her special day.

Olivia with her first delivered bouquet of flowers.

The lilies were so fragrant and are opening a bit more today (she received the bouquet yesterday afternoon).

One of the lilies.

Later, we will be looking through the items we brought back from China in 2003. We do this every year; and talk about the trip there, and things we saw and did.

Olivia barely squeezed into the jacket she wore 
on the day she was adopted ten years ago.

While we went through the items, Olivia chose a decorative scroll that has a painted picture on it that she wants to keep out and enjoy.

Olivia tried on a beaded hat from China.
This may be the last year that she fits into it!

Eventually, by the time she is an adult, she will have a variety of items that were made and purchased in China around the time when she was adopted.


Ally and Woozle said...

Your daughters are beautiful! Your family seems to be a happy one and it's the most important. I'm stopping by from Marvelous Mondays Linky. I'm following through Twitter. Don't hesitate to return the favor ;)

Have a nice day

Rita said...

Wonderful memories and celebration day!
I remember that movie being so much better than I expected it to be, but I forgot the swearing parts, too--LOL! ;)