Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

I just wanted to pop in here and wish everyone the happiest of holidays. Holidays are such a magical time with children in the house. While the boys are (literally) bouncing off the walls with excitement and driving me crazy, I wouldn't change a thing. Their excitement is absolutely contagious and I am anticipating Santa's arrival almost as much as them. The thing I love most about the holidays is spending time with friends and family; cliche, maybe, but definitely true. I find such great comfort and joy in the simple traditions that we celebrate as family. A few of our favorites:

Each of the children has a tree in their room, decorated with cultural items from their birth country. This is HD's tree with a few of her many Kyrgyz ornaments; can you tell the boys helped her decorate?!?

The boys love making crafty goodness for family members. Here are a few jars full of yummy treats that we made. They had such a good time with this project.

Meet our resident Elf on the Shelf. Mr. Noodle is one of the boys favorite parts of the Christmas season. He hides in a different spot every day and is always causing mischief. He also reports back to Santa each night on the childrens behavior. He has been known to make surprises appearances throughout the year as well, when Mommy needs a little help in the discipline department. The boys will be so sad when he hops onto Santa's sleigh tonight and heads back to the North Pole.

Of course, what Christmas would be complete without the decorating of gingerbread men? Here the boys are hard at work...

And the finished product:

One of HD's favorite Christmas items is her nativity set I picked up in Kyrgyzstan. It comes with a yurt and Baby Jesus has a mohawk. She will play with this for hours.

This is after Christmas Eve mass. You can imagine the fun we had trying to get them to sit still during mass. Did I mention they seated us in the first pew? (Seriously, who puts a family with three kids in the front pew??!) Can you tell the kiddos are really excited about Santa's impending arrival?

And then there is just general silliness all day long.
Santa made a quick trip to Nana's house last week as we celebrated Christmas with the cousins. I couldn't believe it but HD actully liked him!

Monkey wanted to make sure that I put up a picture of him with his new Polar Express train. For my train obsessed little boy, this was the best present ever! We are so lucky to have such a wonderful Nana and Pops.

Guess what Chipmunk wants for Christmas?? Yep, he lost both of his front teeth this week (along with a bottom one he lost last week). The Tooth Fairy has been a busy woman at our house.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

There's Always Room for Pudding

I know I surprised many of you with our exciting news and you are anxious for details about our newest little guy.
Here's the scoop:
We've actually been working on this adoption for over seven months. We first saw his face on May 1st and the paperwork chase started immediately. Let me back up and say that Stu and I have always dreamed of four children. Yes, we have our hands full with our crew now, but we figure the more the merrier. I remember that within about 20 minutes after HD and I arrived home from Kyrgyzstan, Stu started talking about HD getting a little brother. After my long solo trip to bring HD home, another child was the last thing on my mind. But a few months after HD arrived, and we were back into our daily routine and our "new normal", I was ready to start the process all over again.
Initially we thought we would pursue a child younger than HD. She showed us quite quickly, however, that it would be in her best interest that she remain the "baby" of the family. So we agreed that a toddler boy sounded like a perfect fit for us.
Stu and I both knew that China was where our next child was. We felt that with our three young children, a country with one-trip was a necessity. We also knew that we wanted HD to have an Asian sibling (for reasons that I'll get into in another post). Lastly, we were very willing to adopt a waiting child and knew that China has a strong special needs program. Once those decisions were made, I started researching various agencies.
At around this same time, I received an email from an agency whom we had contacted about a Kyrgyzstan adoption (before the moratorium). The coordinator wanted to let me know that they had a big list of waiting children in China they were getting ready to release the next day. She said she knew we were open to toddler-age boys and there would be many on the list. So the next day rolls around and I checked out the list. There were so many adorable children but one little guy caught my attention right away, and we requested more information. We received his file as we were on our way to dinner to meet our good friends Rachel and Darren. Of course, that's all I could talk about over dinner. I'm sure Rachel thought I was a blubbering idiot! But as it turns out, our little guy's special need was a VSD and Rachel had just been through open-heart surgery with her daughter who had the same thing. I was able to pick her brain on many of the details associated with this need and felt so much better. We had our pediatrician and a pediatric cardiologist look over the file that weekend, and by early the next week they had both given us the thumbs-up on him! We immediately sent in our LOI (letter of intent) and the paperwork race was underway. I was amazed at how simple the Chinese dossier was to complete (after the monster dossier required for Russia); after a few bumps, we were DTC in early September and our LID was 9/27/09. We were prepared to wait until after Christmas to get our LOA (our official approval), but were thrilled when we received it on 11/25/09. Now we are waiting for our TA (travel approval). If all goes well, we are hoping to travel as early as the end of February! Not too much longer now. The boys are super-excited about the prospect of a little brother...we'll see how HD reacts. I think she will really enjoy having a sibling close in age to her (he's 6 1/2 months older than her), but it might take awhile for her to realize it:)
As for the nickname "Pudding", this one was Monkey's idea. Not long after we received his referral, we were eating super and Chipmunk looked really sad. I asked him what was wrong and he was upset that there are only four chairs (plus a highchair) at our table. He was so sad that there was no place for his new brother to sit. Without missing a beat, Monkey said "That's no problem. He's like pudding." I looked at him like he was crazy and asked what in the world he was talking about. He replied, "He's like pudding. There's always room for pudding." Smart kid.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

I love Thanksgiving. It seems to be the one holiday that isn't overcommercialized and still truly revolves around families coming together to count their blessings. I have so very, very much to be thankful for this year.

I am thankful for my beautiful boys who brighten my world every single day.

I am thankful for my adorable daughter who always has a kiss on her lips and a hug in her arms just for me.

I am thankful for my partner-in-crime. Not only is he a wonderful husband, he's also the best father I've ever seen.

And last, but certainly not least, I am thankful for our new baby boy. Although he is still waiting for us in China, he is always in our hearts and we can't wait to pick him up in just a few months.

I hope everyone had a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Fall fun. You'll notice Moneky is not in any of the photos; he's in an anti-picture phase. Should make Christmas card pictures fun...sigh....

Sweet siblings

Playing in the leaves

My little daydreamer

HD's first attempt at finger-painting

The end result (notice the paper is still blank!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday to You

My little Chipmunk is 7-years-old today. Wow. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around it. It honestly feels like just a couple of years ago we were in Russia picking up our tiny little 14-month-old who was barely crawling and never uttered a sound. Today we have a full-fledged boy that is always playing some kind of ball and doesn't know the meaning of the word quiet. Even though he sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out and loves testing boundaries, he is truly a joy ever single day. He holds such a special place in my heart and I am honored that I was allowed to be his mommy.

His CandyLand birthday cake...a great way to get rid of Halloween candy!

Can you tell what his favorite present was?!?!

His one request: Going to our favorite Mexican restaurant where they celebrate birthdays by shoving icecream in your face!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Another Halloween is in the books and it was a great one. The weather was perfect - a cool and crisp fall night. It is so nice when Halloween falls on a weekend night too; no running around after school trying to get changed, no having to stop trick-or-treating early to get in bed for school the next morning. The boys are at such a fun age - they totally get into dressing up and running from house to house asking for treats. HD had fun too. She didn't want to ride in her stroller though; she wanted to walk with the big kids. She was so funny - she would walk up to a door, get her treat, drop her bag, and then try to sit down on the porch and eat her candy. She did great though and walked through the neighborhood continually making the sign for candy at each house we passed:)
My kids know that on Halloween night, they get a free pass on eating candy. They can eat however much they can shove into their mouths. Boy oh boy, did they take advantage of that. Unfortunately, Chipmunk had a little too much candy and ended up getting sick in the middle of the night. He was sick throughout the next day too so I'm not sure if it was the candy or a virus.
I can't believe it is already November. I'm sure the rest of the year will fly by from this point on. Chipmunk's birthday is next week (can you believe he's going to be 7!?!) and then Thanksgiving and Christmas fesitivities begin.

Ready to start the night

Do you have any candy in there yet?

Trying to keep up with the big kids

Having fun with their cousin

Monkey going through his loot

HD trying to steal Chipmunk's candy


Can we say "sugar-high"?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

HD's latest obsession: her tutu. She wore it to a wedding on Saturday night and hasn't taken it off since. She puts it on as soon as she wakes up in the morning and doesn't take it off until bedtime. So cute!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

So Much to Say

The past few months have been such a whirlwind of activity around our household. I'll try to catch up on my blog but it will take several posts to cover everything I want to share.
First and foremost, our little HotDog. I can't believe she is already 18-months-old! She has turned into such an independent little girl. Gone are the days of our content, laid-back baby. HD has turned into a very feisty little girl - she knows exactly what she wants and will do whatever it takes to get it. I can't count the number of times a day that she throws herself on the floor, kicking and screaming, because she was denied something. We try so hard not to laugh at her when she is throwing one of her fits, but it is beyond adorable when she is pouting with her bottom lip sticking out; of course, I know it won't be that cute when she is a teenager and still pulling these shenanigans. Don't get me wrong, she is still a happy toddler most of the time - but when she's unhappy, she is pure drama!

I can't believe how much she is growing. We haven't had her 18-month checkup yet but as of 6 weeks ago she was holding steady at 32 pounds. Not sure about her height either but she is a tall girl. She's wearing mostly 2T shirts and 18-24 pants. I'm having quite a time finding shoes to fit her; she seems to have Fred Flintstone feet - wide and flat. She should wear a size 7 but I'm having to go up to an 8 in some styles just to get it to fit. It's so funny to see such a big girl with only 6 teeth! However much she lacks in teeth she more than makes up for in the hair department. Her hair has gotten so long and so thick and still has lots of curl. It is so much fun to fix into pigtails/ponytails with cute little bows. Even Stu has learned how to do it (because it drives him crazy to see it hanging in her face if it's not up). Look at the difference 6 months can make:
HD on her birthday, 6 months ago:

And now just 6 months later:

Despite the drama, she is such a funny girl with quite a sense of humor. She loves to play with her brothers and I truly think she believes she is the same age as them. She tries to do anything they are doing, and most of the time succeeds. You should see the fits she throws when we are watching their soccer games and she isn't allowed to run out on the field with them. They are such good sports about her always tagging along and make sure to include her in most games they play. She's even started playing hide-and-seek with them; they go and hide in a conspicuous location and let her come and find them. She squeals with delight as they let her catch them running to home base. She's also turned into such a mimic. One of her favorite activities is to sit on the couch with Stu and try to make the same silly faces he is making at her, like this one:

HD is still pretty bashful when we are anywhere away from home. We get asked all of the time if she's talking yet The answer is yes. She babbles all of the time at home and can repeat almost anything we say. The boys can get her to say anything. Chipmunk even has her saying "diaper change" when she's dirty! However, the second we step out of the house she goes mute. She might say "hi" and "bye" but that's about it. My grandmother, whom we visit several times each week, hasn't even heard her say any words.
Eating has become such a struggle for us. She used to be a fantastic eater, eating anything and everything you put in front of her. She has turned very picky lately and it's driving me crazy. The only things I can consistently count on her eating are: meat, cheese, bread/crackers. That's it. Fruit is usually a hit-or-miss. Veggies are impossible lately. She doesn't even want junk food most of the time. I gave her some sugar-filled cereal (something we never have at our house) and you would have thought I was poisoning her! I'm not too concerned about it, just frustrated. I'm pretty sure it's a control thing for her and she'll come around sooner or later.

Okay, I think that's enough of a catch-up on HD. We celebrated her first Family Day (the day I picked her up from the orphanage) last week. I still can't believe it's been a year since she was placed in my arms forever - I still have such vivid memories of that trip. Such an amazing year with such an amazing girl!

Next post: Our Disney/Florida vacation and a new house!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lazy Days of Summer

I don't have much to say with this post; instead I wanted to share some pictures of how we spent our summer. No big trips, not much excitement...just simple summer days around our house, enjoying our family time. Total bliss!

The boy with the first picks of the season

Chipmunk so proud of the fruits of his labor

HotDog is not so much into gardening (just like her mommy!)

She REALLY doesn't like gardening:)

Monkey is finally starting to feel comfortable in the pool

Chipmunk and HD having fun in the pool with Daddy

Monkey will play for hours with chalked railroad tracks and his trains. The simple things in the life...

Sleepovers with cousins

Playing, I mean "working", hard in the garden

HD wants her turn!

My freshly-bathed babies cuddled in my lap. Does life get any better?!?

Alas, all good things must come to an end. The boys started back to school last week (yes, the first week of August - we do year-round school in our area). I can't believe Chipmunk is a big first-grader! Not surprisingly, Monkey was so excited about starting his new preschool that he wouldn't sit still for pictures.

Of course, things aren't always this calm and content. Check back soon for some exciting news that will definitely liven things up around our house.