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.