Saturday, August 30, 2008

Panda Bear Heaven

The boys got their bedrooms painted first. We decided they should get settled in their rooms first after we moved in, and I'm glad we did that. After all, when Kamryn started climbing out of her crib, she came into our room. She wasn't in her room anyway! One Colts room, one Pirate Room, and now last but not least, one pink and purple girly girl room with a panda bear picnic theme going on in her attached playroom.

Just look at her playing in her playroom. I painted the walls in there a mint white and the angled wall & ceiling a pale blue but you can't really tell from this picture. This was before the mural was added.















I decided to keep her bedroom in the ladybug and flowers theme until she gets old enough to really express a liking for something else. Her bedroom walls are painted lilac and pink & any other girly theme will most likely go with them later too. I still need a few decorations but it's coming together. I love her quilted bedspread on her big girl bed which coordinated great with the accessories I already had. Knock on wood, she has been sleeping in her room all night long most nights now!

I really like the every other wall a different color. I was nervous to do it, but my friend Kris painted Sophie's room purple and green like that, and I loved it!

































Her playroom is really just an extension of her closet. I first thought of a teddy bear picnic theme to help coordinate the play kitchen she has in there and the ladybugs and flowers going on in her bedroom. Then I realized she has all these panda bear stuffed animals, and since pandas are from China and so is she, I decided a panda bear picnic would be more fun. So after getting quotes from 3 muralists, I found the one right for us. She does amazing work! Her name is Pam Nelson, and I found her online at www.findamuralist.com. Go figure. And she had just two weeks prior to my call decided to add herself to that website.

Here are some pictures. I just love how it brings the room to life and makes it so fun to be in there. Lately, I find myself just wanting to be in there by these panda friends.

Before:
















After:
















Before:
















After:
















Before:



















After:



















These pictures truly do not do it justice. Just try to look at the detail! Or come on over!














Look at this panda's eyes. I just want to hug this one!

















I don't know if you can see the shadows she painted on the wall. Check out the apple, bamboo and teacup on the picnic blanket. I wanted to add a tea cup because Kamryn has always loved playing with her play tea sets. Of course we added ladybugs and butterflies too.
















I hope that Kamryn won't outgrow these realistic looking panda friends too soon. Of course in my mind I tell myself that as she gets older and learns more about her heritage and birth country, she will have an even greater fondness for the panda bears in her big closet and it will be a special retreat for her.





One summer day















we took advantage of a free program at our local library. An X-games medalist BMX biker was in the parking lot doing his tricks. The boys loved it. Brendan got to participate in a race . . . a bunch of kids had to run to a finish line while MW biked it to the finish line. Who got their first? The runners. He wanted to prove that you are actually faster on foot so when you cross the street, you should really get off your bike and walk it across in case a speeding car comes by you. You could ditch the bike and run faster to safety! Great tip!

Brendan didn't want his picture taken, but Kamryn had no problem posing for it! Matt wanted his picture taken, but didn't want to admit it, so I told him he could use Kamryn as his excuse for getting in the picture!

Love this photo!

Teddy Bear Picnic




















One of the summer playgroup gatherings was a Teddy Bear Picnic. It was such a fun day in the park. The girls made a bear craft, lunched with their bears, played bear hunting games and just had so much fun!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wii Fit . . . or are we?
















As a back to school "gift" to the boys, I bought the game Wii Fit. I had heard that it is really good, has yoga on it and stuff I would like too, so I guess it was really a gift for all of us. Anyone who has the Wii game system knows that you can create a "me" or "mii" character which represents you in all of the games. In the past, the boys have had fun creating their "me's" and also some other funny characters. We all created our own game person when we first got the game system. You can choose the hair color, hair length, shape of your face, shape of your body, height, almost everything . . .

When you first start the Wii Fit game, it weighs you and tells you your BMI so that you can create a fitness goal and work with your "trainer" in the game to achieve it. Matt was the first one to get on it and he is within a normal weight range. Kamryn got on it, and she actually turned out to be underweight. She was told to gain weight. (I wish I had that problem!) The funny thing was that it automatically made her "me" person skinnier and really sickly looking lean. When we created her person, we made her look "average" I guess. There is no lying with this game! When I finally got brave enough to take the fitness test, it actually (sad to admit) made my "me" person heavier and shorter I think! So much for having fun trying to create the perfect me on this game system! Can't a girl dream? I was still rejoicing though because the number was right where I thought it would be and actually not higher. (whew!) If only I could grow taller.

The exercises on the Wii Fit are harder than you think! I tried the skiing activity, and I really had to move my hips. The hula hooping wasn't easy either. I haven't tried the yoga yet. In all honesty, I haven't taken the time to get back to the Wii Fit. My game trainer is going to be upset with me. It tracks the last time you logged on to play. Oops. At least school is back in session, so now I need to get back to Cardinal Fitness for some good old fashioned workouts!

Kamryn's Great Imagination

She really does play well BY HERSELF once in a while. Not very often, but when she does, she is really creative. I did not help her at all with any of these playtimes.
















Aunt Kathleen and Uncle Peter need this Mr. Potato Head!
















Here she was playing "airplane."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

All tucked in

Wow, you can tell school is in swing now. All three of my children were in their beds, lights off and well into dreamland before 10 pm. It's a good night. I imagine bedtime will crawl to an earlier time in no time.

I love when all of my children are snoozing. In fact, I hate when one of my children is not at home snoozing. Do I dare say it? I HATE SLEEPOVERS!






Not only friend sleepovers either. Just the other night Brendan stayed at my parent's house because he was going on a road trip with Grandma and Aunt B the next day to Indiana to visit cousins. The whole night I just felt unsettled. I could feel his absence especially when walking by his empty bed. The house just felt different. Of course I know he was fine, but I just do not like not having my kids home with me at night.

Now about friend sleepovers. I thought having boys, I wouldn't have to endure sleepovers so much. Not true. Boys just like girls like to stay up late. They have fun in different ways than I remember having fun at sleepovers. They like to play video games. We liked to make up our own games or play spoons or truth and dare. They like to watch You Tube. We liked to watch TV (but never at a sleepover, hmm, maybe a rented movie?) They like to talk about sports or cheat codes for their games. We liked to talk about boys. They like to play with Nerf guns. We liked to play with make-up or hair things.






(that's me, Heather, Sue and Jenny!)




The one thing in common is that everyone stays up late, giggling or laughing, and talking loudly into the wee hours of the night. Then the next day, the parents pay for it, even though everyone endures the slumber party hangover. The kids are cranky and overtired even though they will not admit it. (Being a night owl mom does sometimes come in handy during a sleepover)

I just sometimes don't get why it's not enough for the kids to stay at someone's house until later at night and then come home and sleep in their own bed. (Except for of course when we go visit our friends in Indiana or they visit us! I LOVE those kind of sleepovers!)

But now I sound like a hypocrite because in all truth, Kevin and I just had a date night that included a sleepover away from the kids:) and Heather, Sue, Jenny and I are trying to coordinate a spa retreat overnight. We'll see if it actually happens though because trying to get 4 moms away from their children on the same night could be tough. But we all know how valuable SLEEP is, kids don't. Especially when as a parent, we can't just sleep the whole next day.

Okay, sleepovers are fun. If they are few and far between.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kamryn's first pony ride















At a farm? At a fair? At a zoo? NOPE! At the local petstore!

One of our playgroup friends set up an impromptu playdate at the newest local petstore . . . strange place to have playgroup, huh? Not when there are free pony rides, a big bouncey, clowns doing face paint and balloon animals too!

Kamryn wasn't so sure about the pony ride but since I was walking in circles right next to her, she was liking it a bit better but I was getting dizzy!

We told some friends too and were glad that Sophie and Gavin came along. Aunt Melanie and Kris didn't go home empty handed. They bought some treats for the doggy in their families.

It was lots of fun. Cousin Gavin was the only boy in the crowd but he didn't mind.
















Thanks Wendy for letting us know about this fun event!

The boys are back to school
















I've been pleasantly surprised that our mornings have gone fairly smoothly the first two days of school. The boys are used to staying up late and sleeping in so I was afraid it was going to be hard waking them last Thursday and Friday. Especially Matt at 6:30 am. Both days they actually woke up with their alarms. I guess next week will be harder since it will be their first full week of school.

I asked Brendan on the first day back if I could take his picture, and he told me that he is too old for that. I didn't even try asking Matt that early in the morning. So this picture of the two of them is the closest I'll get to their first day as a 5th grader and a 7th grader!

We've been talking about wanting to go paddle boating downtown Naperville, so one day last week I called my mom to join the kids and I. When we got to the Riverwalk, we were disappointed to see that they are now closed during the week and only open on weekends. We had a good time just walking around down there though and we'll have to try again on a weekend.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Yikes, blood!

I try to not be squimish around blood, but yikes. Last night around dinner time I was out picking up Hunter so he could help Brendan with one of his playstation games. (since B had to take it easy) When I got back, K said that B's leg started bleeding and the steristrip was starting to come off already. So nurse mom takes a look and oh my. The area is all bruising and it's starting to look nasty. Not as neat and clean as it looked while at the doctor's. I know it's normal but I call the doctor on call anyway. Will this dermabond hold up? I covered his leg with a gauze pad for overnight. We'll see how it looks this morning when he wakes up. I hope it's okay.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Brendan's fine!
















I will have to say that it was a breeze today. We got there on time at 6:30 am for a 7:30 scheduled procedure. The doctor didn't get there until 8. Dealing with a waiting 10 year old is so much easier than dealing with a waiting three year old:) (remember, dental surgery) Especially when the facility is "children" oriented and the nurse wheels in a WII game system for Brendan to play while he is waiting. Wow. I had to giggle a bit because when we first walked into the room they had his name on a piece of paper with the doctor's name too and a SpongeBob character.










(Maybe if Spongebob had greeted Kamryn she wouldn't have been so insane. No, highly unlikely that would have made a difference.)


Brendan's surgery was only 45 minutes. This nevus was pretty well rooted in his leg so the doctor had to cut deep. He told us that there are two layers of internal stitches and then just dermabond on the visible cut. Brendan did fine afterwards and loved getting the royal treatment from the cute nurse. What 10 year boy wouldn't like a popsicle and than a gatorade and a wheelchair ride out to the car? (He could have walked, but why not spoil my cute boy?) Since he was so hungry then too, Kevin and I took him out for a big pancake breakfast.















Thanks Mom for coming over so early (7am!) to stay with Matt & Kamryn! It was comforting knowing that you were here so we could take our time with Brendan.

Even though we warned Kamryn that Mom wouldn't be home in the morning, when she ran into my room at 8:45 and didn't see me, she started sobbing. Matt then woke up, and he and Grandma comforted her.

Why do my children not sleep? Brendan has not slept a wink since we've been home. I am ready to take a nap, but no one else seems to be. Brendan told me that he did sleep during the procedure . . . hearing him talk about the laughing gas (before the IV and anesthesia) is funny. He said the one nurse turned into three people and he felt like he was floating above the room.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tomorrow will be an early morning

Brendan is having surgery tomorrow to have a birthmark removed. It is a pretty big nevus on the back of one of his thighs. Please say a prayer for him (& mom in the waiting room) that all goes okay. I'm sure it will but once again, here we go, that whole anesthesia thing again. We need to be at the Children's Memorial outpatient facility at 6:30 am! Yikes. Better go to bed now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Special Friends Visit















Our friends Chris and Kendra and their three sweet children stopped over one recent Friday night for a visit. It was a special visit not only because they are special friends, but because they live all the way in Texas! They drove to Crown Point, IN to visit Chris' family and then got back in the car the next day and drove to our house for the night to see us too. We were honored:)

Chris and Kendra's family became a family of five the same exact day and time our family became a family of five. It is an amazing moment to share that special delivery of a child. Our little Ling sisters had so much fun playing together. They are really so much alike. They both are talking the same and liked dancing and singing together.














Kamryn was not shy around them at all. Can you tell? She just loved on Jia's brother's (and daddy!) as if she sees them all the time.





























Look how tall Jia is! Look how tall her daddy is;) Kendra and I have always said that our girls just fit perfectly into our families. It's proof positive that God is the One who formed our families. For that we are very thankful. I wish we could snap our fingers and move Texas closer to Chicago so that we could see our friends more often. I've never been to the Dallas area so it's pretty top on our list of places we'd like to go. Funny how our destination places include family or friends that we'd like to see too.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Our Olympic Festivities
















It was fun to watch the amazing Olympic opening ceremonies Friday night. It was fun to watch the Travel Channel last week since they were airing shows on China. (I especially loved Samantha Brown's Passport to China when she was touring Beijing. It was cool to say, "We were there!" while watching it.) But nothing was as fun as our pre-Olympic party last weekend with our bigger FCC playgroup.

Our playgroup leader Kerry had thought of all the small details to make it a memorable day for everyone. The decorations made us feel like we were really at the Olympics.











Kerry took some time to explain the mascots to the kids. The five mascots each have a name. If you take the first part of each of their names, it says in Chinese, "Beijing welcomes you." Bei jing huan ying ni. Pretty cool!












The games and relays were fun for all the kids! Even for my boys, Kevin included!
























This game was so funny to watch. The kids, with help from their friends, had to put all this dress up stuff on, carry the suitcase to the next station and take off all the dress up stuff, put it back in the suitcase, then roll it to the next person and help them get dressed! (I don't know if I even have that right, but everyone loved it!)



















The medals were a big hit with the little athletes.












The crafts were Olympic style.



















The cooling station was not only a great way to cool off but a fun activity too. There were surprises frozen into the ice cubes!

























My mom and Aunt B joined us for the fun day, and I'm glad that they came! We loved spending the day with friends and family.
















Kerry gets the gold medal for organizing such a fun event! Thanks Kerry!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Kane County Cougars Game





























My next door neighbor Jen graciously gave us 4 tickets to the game one night a few weeks back since her family wasn't able to go. It happened to be on a night when Kevin was out of town so it worked out perfectly. Just enough tickets for the kids and I.

Jen is a teacher and had these special passes into the picnic area too so we all got a free dinner! Bonus! The boys enjoyed being spectators at this game. They really loved the fun things that happen on the field in between innings! I think I impressed them by catching a soft frisbee that was tossed into our area. Kamryn enjoyed the night too. She actually became an attraction for the folks sitting near to us. Watch the video and you'll know why. video

Boys Trip to Great America

My brother-in-law Todd was brave enough to take the day off work and spend it with Hunter, Matt and Brendan at Great America! The boys were thrilled. Even if it meant waking up early since traffic is a nightmare around here. My night owl, Brendan, has been sleeping in all summer sometimes until 10 am or later. I went into Brendan's room to wake him up at 7 am, and to my surprise he was already dressed, bed made, ready to go! He woke up by 6:37 on his own that morning. Figures. Do you think that will happen in a couple of weeks when school starts? Not a chance.

When the boys were much younger, Kevin and I took them to Kings Island in Ohio. They both rode the Beastie, and Matt and I went on the bigger roller coaster, The Beast. At the time, I remember looking over at him and thinking he looked scared to death. I was so worried that my sweet boy was going to have a heart attack.

Needless to say, I am glad I was not with them at Great America. I would have been worried sick to see them actually board the roller coasters. Especially Brendan because he never has really been on a bigger roller coaster.

Well they both loved every minute of it! Here's the proof.















Thanks Todd!