Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Brendan!

Brendan had a great birthday. He was really hoping for a snow day today but that didn't happen. It was so blizzard like last night that I can't blame him for wishing. He started out his day with singing-birthday-song phone calls from both sets of grandparents. After school he opened some more pirate presents and for dinner we went to his favorite restaurant, Steak N Shake. He's one happy camper right now.

On Sunday, the family (minus Kamryn who stayed at my parent's house) went to Medieval Times to celebrate Brendan's birthday. The boys had seen this show years ago, but Brendan was too little at the time - 4 or 5 - and says he doesn't remember it. Hmm, maybe I should think twice before taking Kamryn anywhere fun and grand until she is at the age of lasting memories. Okay, off topic and poll, how old were you at your earliest real memory?

Anyway, we all stepped through a window in time and entered the magnificent age of chivalry, knights, jousting and tournaments. We had a feast that we had to eat without silverware, and we sat in the very first row! We were close enough to see the sparks scatter as the swords clashed. Brendan enjoyed that and the smoke that filled the arena. I enjoyed watching the "horses of Kings" otherwise knowns as Andalusian stallions. They were all decked out in colorful costumes just like the knights and performed such great high stepping moves and then ran like the wind during challenges. The Queen announced Brendan's 10th birthday, and I think he felt like a King for the day.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Brendan's Birthday Party

Brendan is approaching a milestone birthday. He will be moving into double digits on the 30th which I guess means he is technically entering the preteen years. (help!) This year for his birthday party he really wanted to go to one of those fun hotels with an indoor water park. Yes, that would be fun, but the bill of $300+ for a birthday party is less than fun. So his second choice was to have a sleepover. Okay, not as expensive in terms of money to order a cake, pizza, get a movie, some popcorn and snacks, and breakfast for 5 boys. But it does cost you some sleep!

Three out of the five guests spent the night and the other two left the party at 10:30 pm. It all went pretty well actually. They got a bit crazy with the Nerf guns but then I'd redirect them to quieter activities like a board game. They actually played Risk and Stratego for a little bit which I was thankful for! They also played Playstation, the Wii, and watched a movie. By 1 am, I had to confiscate the Nerf guns and make some threats for them to quiet down. They set an alarm for 4 am which I heard, but they slept through it and woke up at 8.

After breakfast, I heard a big crash like something fell down and thought they threw something over the staircase. It was only until I went into the bathroom for a Kleenex that I noticed that the plastic cover to our ceiling light fixture had fallen down! Brendan's room is right above that bathroom and they were all running again with the Nerf guns. Good thing no one was in there doing their business when that fell down!

It's so interesting to listen to them talk to each other. They talk about kids at school who act funny, they talk about music, they talk about movies, they talk about sports that they play and their favorite teams, and they make up funny scenarios or just try to be goofy.

I tried taking a group picture but they ran and didn't cooperate. So this is all I have from the night.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Where are the small acts of kindness?

Warning: I'm venting!

Matt leaves the house at 7am to walk down to the corner of the street to catch the bus. I hate that I can't see him from the house when he gets on the bus. He goes to the corner and then turns the corner to wait at the first driveway. (and that person doesn't shovel his sidewalks at all, and since he's the corner, he has a huge property area. So Matt has to trample through the snow. I wanted to go down, ring his bell and ask him to start my snow blower so I could plow his sidewalk. Which I WILL do today, plow for him, when Kevin can start the thing for me;)

It's been so bitter cold all week and today finally I drove him to the bus stop. It's only two/three doors down but I've noticed that the bus has been late this week. Figures, the coldest week where it's below zero or 5 degrees out. So I'm mad at myself for not driving him all week, but even a little bit more perturbed at the neighbor lady who drops off her daughter there every day on her way to work.

Matt told me she literally parks right in front of the driveway where he is standing and waits for the bus to come. Not once has she offered for Matthew to come sit in the van. I would so offer to her daughter to come in for warmth even for a minute if the roles were reversed.

We got spoiled in Indiana. That's the place where small acts of kindness are taking place every day. Neighbors wouldn't just start your snow blower if you couldn't;), they would snow blow your entire driveway. And it wasn't even just in the neighborhood with friends. Small acts of kindness happened there with strangers too. I remember being shocked the first time someone held open the door for me somewhere. I remember one rainy day while checking out at the grocery store with Kamryn, I was kind of hanging out waiting for it to let up. Well, some nice older gentlemen who was also waiting to go to his car, offered to accompany me to my car first. I remember thinking and saying no thanks, it's not necessary. But he held the umbrella over Kamryn and I while I pushed the cart, loaded the groceries and got her buckled in her seat! OMG! Can you see that happening here? Not a chance!

One small act of kindness goes a long way. And maybe it's contagious. It's the little things. I guess these two neighbors have reminded me that yes, it's important to be nice. People notice. It's a wake up call for me to not get caught up in the hustle bustle around here and instead try to offer some Hoosier hospitality to everyone I come in contact with.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thankful for the snow blower . . . when I can get it started!

This is not a picture of our driveway. Our driveway was more like one HUGE drift.

Why does it always snow when Kevin is out of town? I know he doesn't plan his trips according to the weather, but seriously, he needs to buy a new snow blower . . . one that I can actually start! This morning we awoke to not a lot of snow for Chicago but enough snow that the driveway had a good amount of snow on it and more snow in most areas because of the drifting.

Kamryn and I put on our snowpants, boots, coats and mittens and out we went. I am out there disgruntled because I can't start the snowblower (it's the kind you need to put a lot of weight behind it and pull the string) and our shovels are in such sad shape. The only decent shovel we have is the one that my Carmel playgroup friends signed notes of affection on when we moved back here and that's hanging as a decoration in our garage now instead of being a useful tool. Then I remembered where Kevin is . . . sunny, warm, Orlando, FL. It did help a little knowing that he will probably not step foot outside of the hotel.

Kamryn was playing happily trying to make snowballs. But she didn't last too long so I had to stop and get her settled inside with Dora. Then I went back outside and got smart. I flagged down the guy driving by who had just plowed the cul-de-sac at the end of our street and asked him if HE could start the snow blower. I guess I would have been even smarter to ask him to just plow the driveway for me, but I didn't want to look that needy or like a wimp. I was secretly hoping he'd offer anyway but he didn't. At least he was nice enough to help me though, and at least I know when to ask for help. I finished the drive in no time and got back inside with Kamryn in just enough time to feed her lunch and get her to speech. What a difference it made having the snowblower do all the work!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

It is sooo cold here this weekend so we are staying in as much as we can. Last night we decided to watch our China videos. Oh my, the boys look so young! I had forgotten what we had taped, so it was interesting to watch. The most priceless piece of video we have is when we were walking into the Jiangxi Center of Adoption Service building. There were babies sitting on a bench together and Kevin videotaped them. One of those babies was Kamryn. (but we didn't know it yet) She was crying and the one nanny who was sitting with them lightly touched her head as if to calm her. It's the only sneak peak we have of her before she was placed in our arms.

Kamryn really didn't like to watch the video. She was obsessed with wanting to see mommy and daddy and her brothers and asked for herself. Then when she saw herself crying so hard during our gotcha moment, it really made her upset to the point of tears. She said she wanted to go bye bye and when Brendan asked her where she wanted to go, she said China. She's still saying that this morning.

We have on video Brendan feeding her cherrios for the first time and her first smile towards him. We have Matthew giving her the precious "snowman" blanket which she still loves to this day. We have her sitting up on the floor in the hotel room playing with toys. We have her laughing on the red couch as we are trying to take her picture. My goal this year is to get the videos and pictures to Pergamon Design so that they can create a DVD of the happy moments to music so that Kamryn will enjoy watching it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Our Good Fortune turns 3!

Our good fortune is having Kamryn as our daughter and sister. Today was her 3rd birthday! She really seemed to understand that today was all about her. Heck, the celebration started last Friday night when my family came over so she's had all weekend to prepare for the big day. My niece's birthday is also Jan. 14th so on Friday we had a little party for the girls. (Happy Birthday to you too Lexi! We miss you!)

(I didn't mean to cut off Hunter's head. It's just that he is sooo tall!)

Today Kamryn woke up ready for school saying that it was her birthday. The class sang to her at school. Here's a picture of Brendan and Kamryn before school.

After school, Kamryn was excited to see the balloons at home and her Little Mermaid cake. Some of her little friends came over for dinner so she put on her party dress.

Her friends Hannah, Kaitlyn, Josh, Sophie and Lilly came over with my friends, Heather, Kris and Tina. Grandma and Aunt B came over too and everyone had a great time. Kamryn loved all her wonderful, perfect presents and will probably go through gift withdrawal now that Christmas and her birthday are over with!

Aren't they all so cute?

Kamryn enjoying her cake. (well at least the frosting)

Her special gifts from China. Since she was born in the year of the Monkey, I found this cute embroidery while in Guangzhou. Not at all like the ones you'll find in Hunan, but perfect for a 3 year old since the base is plastic. Hopefully she'll keep the ladybug clips in her hair!

Kamryn was reading books in her bedroom while I ran downstairs for something. She was fast asleep when I came back up. She's a worn out little birthday girl!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Smiling because we had visitors!

We were lucky to see some of our Indiana friends over break. Our friends Karen and Marc along with their daughter Tess came by the day after Christmas. It was cute to see Tess and Kamryn play together and to hear Tess talking so much. I recently got my haircut shorter than I have ever had it in over 24 years, and Tess seemed to notice. When she saw me, she said, "you lost your hair."

After New Year's, Delilah and Marc came up for a few days and brought along Julia & Sarah too. We love to have visitors, and it was great to fill those last few days of winter break with friends and fun instead of the usual, "I am bored" syndrome. Even with the frigid cold temperatures and snowy backyard, the older kiddos bundled up and went outside to play football. It felt like old times to have a backyard full of happy kids. After the next afternoon of bowling, they still wanted to brave the sled hills so out they went again. How come kids don't seem to mind the cold like I do? Kamryn enjoyed her TWO times going down the hill; Matt said she said wee all the way down. But that's all I could manage to stand outside and witness after keeping her cooped up in the van for 15 minutes while the older kids sled without her. (It was only 18 degrees out I think) Of course I was too cold to take out the camera too, and now I'm sorry I don't have a picture of them all bundled up.

Delilah and I talked a lot about China and are anticipating the day when her baby's referral comes. Their log in date is Jan. 04, 06 and they are still waiting. She is starting to collect fabric squares for her daughter's 100 good wishes quilt so we went to a quilting shop. I found some really fun fortune cookie fabric for my square, now I need to write the wish. If anyone is interested in contributing to her quilt, please let me know and I'll get you the specifics. We're looking forward to getting down to Indiana in the near future to help Delilah with her packing!

Still a hoosier at heart

Before I had a girl, I always heard how little girls like to change clothes frequently during the day, and I just laughed. I'm not laughing anymore because Kamryn will go through her closet and find what she wants to wear and change clothes 2-3 times a day. If her shirt gets even the littlest bit wet or dirty, she wants to change. Yesterday, she came downstairs with this on. Mind you, this cheerleading dress is an 18 mos. size and really doesn't fit her anymore as a dress. Of course it's still hanging in her closet because I can't bear to part with her one "Indiana" outfit. After all, that's where she came home to. Anyway, she put this combination together all by herself, and I have to admit that she has more fashion sense than her mom. Why not wear it as a "blouse" with jeans? Today we put it back on her with a white turtleneck underneath it and of course her jeans and she looks adorable.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

More of Kamryn's thoughts

On Christmas Day while I was holding Gavin, Kamryn came running up and said, "That is MY mommy" and continued to be unhappy so I passed Gavin to Kevin. Well, she didn't like that either because then as you could probably guess, she said, "That is MY daddy!"

During crazy bingo (a dice game) I rolled for her and picked a present from the middle of the table for her. She looked at me sincerely and said, "thank you mommy." Next time around we told her to roll the dice and so she held the dice in her hands and rolled her hands just like she does in patty cake.

It's so fun to see (and hear!)

Kamryn playing with her Christmas gifts. She was pushing her new doll stroller and then stopped and said, "I have an idea!" She ran to get a pair of her new princess dress up shoes and put 'em on and then went back to strolling. Now months ago, we wouldn't hear her say that but she would still go and do it. Finally we can hear her thoughts!

Christmas Celebrations

Christmas Eve we went to Church with my mom, dad and Aunt B, then went out to dinner and came back here. Christmas Day we went to my sister's house and if the kids did not get enough fun and gifts, we played our traditional crazy bingo.

Here's a picture of Kamryn with her cousins Lauren and Gavin.

With Kevin's side of the family. Marc and Cathy came over one night with the kids.

Since Grandma Dianne and Grandpa A and Aunt Kathleen live in Florida, the kids get lots of packages by mail. One of Brendan's favorite gifts this year came from Grandma Dianne and he wanted me to post it. So here it is. A pirate coconut head for his bedroom.

Some gifts can only come from Florida like Kamryn's new Shamu slippers.

Kamryn wearing her adorable outfit from Aunt Linda when Kamryn came home from China. It's just fitting her now since she is such a peanut. It's so fun to have new clothes hanging in her closet just waiting for her to grow into them. The trick is to not forget about them before she outgrows them.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

This Christmas

was the first Christmas in two years that our family enjoyed a "normal" holiday. Last year we moved into our new home on Dec. 26th. The year before we landed back in Indy from China on Dec. 21st and were all very jet-lagged for the holiday. So this year we did enjoy the season and tried to get together with friends and family as much as we could.

Look at this huge lovely poinsettia that our builder brought over right before Thanksgiving. Yes, it is still alive although I think it's starting to look sick. I do not do well with live plants.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom's two out of town sisters came in for the weekend. My mom's sister, Bernice, has moved in with my parents, so now Kamryn and the boys get the pleasure of not only having one grandma and grandpa nearby, but also a great aunt to love on them too. It was nice to see Aunt Linda and Aunt Ginny since we don't get to see them very often.

My friend Tina made these matching scarves for Kamryn and I. Aren't they cute? Thanks Tina!

A picture of Kamryn with Tina's daughter Lilly at Bouncetown.

We also celebrated Grandpa R's birthday and Grandma Dianne's birthday this month. Here is a picture of Kamryn with her Grandpa.

We also had my friends Heather and Jenny (and their families) over for dinner one night. Here are two of Jen's beautiful girls.