Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dane-o Bo-nane-o

Dear Dane,

This past month has been quite a doozy for you, sweet Dane-o. You just started first grade, Mom and Dad were gone for over two weeks, and when we got home we brought a new sister for you with us. You've been pretty great through all of it. You've had a couple of rough days at school, but overall you're doing really well. You are reading like a champ, and most days fly through your homework like it's nothing.

You've been the best biggest brother a mommy could ask for. You play a lot with Aidan, and are very sweet and helpful with Emerson and Harper. You love to push Emerson on the swings an play outside with Daddy and Aidan. You are loving playing DS and video games a little too much for this mommy, but you're very obedient when we tell you to turn it off.

You love to read Geronimo Stilton books over and over again, and have been known to get your hands on a new one and read it until the end, all in one day. You love to read them before bed, and you keep one in the van to read when we're running errands.

When I wander out of my bedroom in a sleepy pre-caffeinated stupor in the mornings, I see you, wide awake, fully dressed, teeth brushed, sometimes breakfast eaten. You're my morning person, you actually enjoy waking up to your alarm clock at 7am, when you're not up earlier than that on your own.

The other night Daddy was talking to you about a funeral he was going to, about how we rejoice because this wonderful lady was in heaven, spending forever with Jesus, and about how her family would all see her again one day. You asked, "When we're in heaven, are you still going to be older than me, or are we all the same age?" You have big plans for you and your Daddy to be best friends in heaven.

You have informed us that you want to be Davy Crockett for Halloween this year, and Daddy brought a coon skin cap home for you the other day from the costume store. You love to learn new things, about how things work, people from history, and how things got their name. The other night we found ourselves googling "how did strawberries get their name".

Last year, in kindergarten, you ran a mile in PE in just 18:47 . I was surprised at the time that my little 5 year old could even run a mile. I remember patting myself on the back, fairly confident that your mommy could beat you in a foot race.

Then you brought home this on Tuesday.

And all confidence? GONE.

I just hope you use your foot speed for good instead of evil.

I love you so much, Dane Christopher, and I am so proud of my biggest. I am so thankful for you, and I know that God has big things in store for you!

Love, Mommy

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hello Fall, it's Lovely to See You

Fall in my neck of the woods officially arrived today, as I checked to find that the temperature this morning was a refreshing 57 degrees. Little known fact about me: I have an unhealthy obsession with I check it daily, more often sometimes, and I love to look at the monthly rainfall and daily averages and watch the storm systems in the Atlantic.

Yes, I am 100 years old.

I made an executive decision this morning to spend as much time as possible outside for the next three days, because according to my favorite website the temperature will be pushing 90 degrees again by Thursday. Boo for Texas in almost-October.

I loaded up 3 of the 4 and headed to our favorite park this morning, with a hidden agenda of getting some cute pictures of the girls.

Aidan politely informed me before we left the house this morning that he had no intention whatsoever of posing for any pictures at the park. There was too much playing to do.

This was the best I got of the distract-o sisters:

Unfortunately, my camera had its' own hidden agenda, and the freshly-charged battery decided to pooter out on me, which means a lot of my pictures this morning were flash-less.
And the term "pooter out"? Further evidence that I am indeed an 89 year old East Texas man trapped in a 32 year old woman's body.

I L-O-V-E Harper in this picture with her little boots.

After the picture taking portion of our morning at the park, I changed the girls and then we moved on to the playground where we threw mulch at the other kids.

Okay, that may have just been Harper.
We took a walk around the big pond at the park, and Aidan and Emerson held hands the entire time, protecting each other from the swarm of ducks that they were both terrified of.
Emerson was pretty excited to get so much attention from her older brother.

Fall, please stay a while. And kill the mosquitos soon, pretty please.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Your First Week in America...

You had your very first Cherry Limeade.

And your first Happy Meal.

You ate warm chocolate chip cookies for breakfast with your new siblings and your jet lagged parents.

You went to your first play group.

You played at the mall, and shopped at Old Navy.

You got bit by your little sister.

And read to by your mommy and daddy.

We had seven nights of bedtime stories, and seven nights of prayers.

You tried and loved spaghetti and meatballs.

And tried and did not love strawberries.

But that's okay, because your mommy loves strawberries enough for the both of us.

You love having your hair fixed, and like to look at it in the mirror.

You tattled on Harper.

And trashed Lego cities.

You ignored Charlotte's Web all together

But seemed to enjoy Sesame Street.

You played soccer with the boys.

You gave countless hugs to your mommy and daddy

You rode in your very first car seat.

And sang along to the Glee soundtrack.

You practiced your "picture smile" too many times to count.

And you (or maybe your sister) disassembled a wireless mouse into six pieces while Mommy was putting laundry away.

You're still getting used to nap time, but now smile and wave "bye bye" to us at bed time.

It's been a great week, Miss Emerson! Can't wait to share many, many more weeks with you sweet girl!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chinese Pajamas

I couldn't not post these pictures I took of our kids with their cousins, Joel and Uriah in the Chinese pajamas we brought for them.

When Brandon and I were in China, we had lots of time to shop in the area, and scout out the best deals we could find for these little embroidered silk pajamas for the kids, and I ended up getting them for about $5 per set. In retrospect, I wish I had bought a few more pairs.

Not that you can see the pajamas well, with six kids piled on top of each other as they are.
And if I thought it was tough getting a decent picture of four kids 6 and under, six kids 6 and under proved to be a whole new challenge.

Impossible, actually.
This time next year we will have another little cousin to add to the love seat. Brandon's sister, Adrienne is expecting a baby in February.
Maybe we'll let Harper hold the new baby in next year's picture.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Evolution of a Sibling Pic

I have a new daughter. And, as you may have noticed, I have a new blog banner picture, depicting four smiling children, all looking in the general vicinity of the camera. What can I say? Sometimes I just luck out.

We got t-shirts for the kids while we were in China. Emerson's says "Made in China", Dane and Aidan's say "ge ge", which means "older brother", and Harper's is little sister "mei mei".

Our little photo shoot did not start out well. Aidan had just gotten in trouble, and I was trying to convince myself that all four children would fit easily on our big chair.

And Harper?

The mei mei was not in the picture taking mood, much to the delight of her new big sister.

I had slightly better luck when we moved the kids to the loveseat, and kept the mei mei occupied with a book in her hands.
I can't stop staring at the forty toes.

Have I mentioned that Emerson is just full of personality?

After Aidan had lost interest in all the picture-taking, Harper got to know her new sister a little bit better

...and Dane helped teach her how to "touch nice". Poor Emerson looks a little freaked out here.
I have a feeling there will be many more "loveseat pictures" in our future.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, September 20, 2010

One More China Post

At some point during our last few days in China, our entire group that was adopting through our agency, Holt, gathered together at the White Swan Hotel for "red couch" pictures. It's become something of a tradition when adopting from China to take your picture on one of the red couches at the White Swan. I'm not sure how or why this tradition developed. Usually they like to get all of the children in the group together for a big red couch picture, but with over 20 families in our group, we had to split into "province groups". Here's Emerson with the other kids from her province in China (Guangdong) who were adopted through Holt:

She's already got the "fake picture smile" mastered:

Emerson with her mommy and daddy, apparently a bit bitter about having to pose for more pictures:
After the red couch pictures, our entire group from Holt got together for a group shot. I'm amazed that we were just a group from one of many adoption agencies, there for a two week period to bring home our babies. We met some awesome families on our trip, and it's weird to think that we will never see most of them again.

Next up: Our attempts at taking pictures with all four of our children. At the same time.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Home Again, Home Again

After traveling for over a day, Brandon, Emerson and I landed in Houston early Saturday morning and were greeted by some very happy faces! Four of my good friends from church woke up at 4 am to bring Dane, Aidan, and Harper to the airport to greet us. I don't think I've ever been happier to see anyone than I was to see our kiddos and familiar faces yesterday morning.

After stopping to pick up some donut holes and Starbucks (vast quantities of caffeine were consumed by Brandon and me yesterday) we arrived home to a yard full of these guys:

and a garden full of these:
I can't grow corn, but mutant okra I've got down pat.

We gave Emerson a proper introduction to our favorite donuts

Then we moved into the living room to find that our friends? The friends who had kept our three children for the better part of three weeks? The friends who fed them and put them to bed and hugged them and changed their diapers while we were gone? The friends who got up in the middle of the night to bring our children to the airport to greet us and take pictures and video of our children meeting their sister for the first time? Those friends, and many others, put together a gift basket of goodies and gift cards for us, made special gift bags for all four kids, stocked the kitchen with groceries, decorated the house with balloons and "Welcome Home" banners, and left us a note telling us which one of our friends would be bringing us dinner over the next week.

Needless to say, we are overwhelmed with gratitude, and are so, so thankful to have all six of us under one roof again!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Consulate Appointment

Wednesday of this week (aka 2 days before we leave) we went to the Consulate here in Guangzhou for “swearing-in”. This is the office that approves us (on the Chinese end of things) to be adopt her as our daughter. We sat in a large room full of about 50 other adoptive families, and stood and swore that all of the information we had given was true and accurate. Emerson will be a US citizen when we land at LAX on Friday evening and go through immigration there. It was a pretty cool experience, and of course, this is the one place we have been where cameras are forbidden.

They spoke to the group about Chinese adoptions, and we learned that they have processed about 3000 adoptions to US families so far this year, and about 2000 of those have been special needs adoptions. Emerson is considered special needs because of her cleft lip and palate, even though it has already been surgically repaired. I think all of the families in our group (20 families) with our agency are special needs adoptions, and all but a few are cleft lip/palate kids. We have seen many Chinese kids this week with their new parents who have cleft lip and palate, some repaired, some unrepaired.

Many people on the island make their living off of adoptive families, selling them souvenirs and sandwiches. Papa John’s Pizza delivers to our hotel, and when we ordered the other night, the delivery boy spent his whole night making deliveries back and forth to our hotel. It’s been an interesting experience to walk around the island and be “normal”, American parents with our Chinese daughter, as there are probably hundreds on the island right now. I know when we get back home our family will stick out like a sore thumb.

We’ll get Emerson’s passport Thursday evening, and be all set to leave on Friday. Because of the time change, we will leave China at 9pm Friday night, and land in Los Angelos at 6:50pm on Friday. It will be the longest Friday ever, and we can’t wait to hug all of our babies on Saturday morning!

It's a Different World

(I’m still blogging about our day at the Chinese zoo...)

I noticed a few differences about the zoo here in China that I would never see in a zoo back home. Such as:

Baby white tigers in the petting zoo

Baby white tigers being held by my husband. Apparently, there are no lawyers in China.

Tons of elephants, and my daughter much more interested in the ice cream that she was eating.

Brandon trying to feed our Chinese daughter to the giraffe

Emerson realizing that the giraffe is an herbivore, and isn’t so interested in Chinese food.

Emerson ate shrimp fried rice from the zoo snack bar. Clearly we are dancing with danger by eating seafood from a zoo snack bar.

Speaking of weird things sold at the zoo, how about this super-creepy play mat for your scared-looking Chinese baby?

And the reason that we didn’t see any alligators at the zoo?

Yeah, not so much in American zoos.