Monday, September 29, 2008

That's Chinese!

We finally ventured down to Chinatown. The boys both complained that they didn't want to go but on the way home they admitted they had more fun than they thought they would. Just look at their genuine smiles in the pictures.

As we drove down the street trying to find parking, Kamryn got very excited and started saying, "That's Chinese! That's Chinese!" She recognized the Chinese characters on all the storefronts. All this Chinese started rolling out of her mouth! We were pushing her down the street in the stroller and she was saying "Ni Hao, Wo Jiao Kami" and waving to everyone so excitedly. It was so funny.

I guess the Chinese language lessons are paying off. Kamryn and mommy have been taking Chinese language lessons now for about 10 weeks. It's amazing how natural it is for Kamryn to repeat the Chinese words. She can hit the tones perfectly. I, on the other hand, have a hard time sounding right. Heck, she almost speaks Chinese better than she does the English! (just kidding) She does know the difference. One day while I was in the laundry room I could hear her playing with her dollhouse. She was setting up the dolls saying, "This is daddy or baba."

She obviously LOVES Shanghai Soup Dumplings too. I didn't even know what they were until we got home from Chinatown and I googled the restaurant that we ate at. I think it's a newer one there - Lao Shanghai. The restaurant did get great reviews online and we enjoyed it too!

So there we are sitting in this quaint little one room restaurant (which after reading one review I noticed it said "Kids: No" - oops) and out comes this dumpling looking food. I thought, bummer, the pot stickers we ordered aren't fried enough for my liking;) Well, it wasn't the order of pot stickers.

We obviously didn't know what we were doing because the waitress came over to our table and told us to scoop out the dumpling with this spoon and then pour the soup over it and slurp it from the spoon. Well Kamryn really loved eating these just right off her plate. So we let her. She ate the majority of them although all the guys tried them too. (yes, even Brendan!)

What I learned online later is that Shanghai soup dumplings (also known as xiao long bao), are filled with ground pork and chicken broth. The secret to eating these steamed, juicy dumplings is to grab the tops of the dumplings with your chopsticks (don't poke them in the middle) and carefully place them on top of your soup spoon so that you don't lose the broth. Then you nibble off a tiny piece of dumpling skin so that the soup can pour out onto your spoon. They taste best dipped in vinegar and topped with slices of fresh ginger. (who knew? I guess we live a sheltered culinary life.)

Shopping in Chinatown took me back to China although the prices weren't as low like in China. Brendan wanted a wooden sword, Matt wanted a cap gun keychain thing, and Kamryn, my princess, wanted a mini wooden sword covered in jewels so she could be like Mulan. So I bought my princes their goodies and the princess a sword and a really cute stuffed panda bear eating bamboo.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mamma Mia

Kamryn's new favorite music to listen to in the van (when a DVD isn't playing) is the Mamma Mia CD, one of the gifts Dianne gave me for my birthday. (love it! thank you!) Kamryn has her favorite songs too. Today she told me "No honey honey how you thrill me" I had to giggle. I didn't realize she is really learning the words! Her favorite current song is Dancing Queen.

Another day she told me "not Daddy's song, I want Mommy to sing." I figured out that she didn't really want me to sing but she wanted to hear the song sung by the female singer. She prefers the female singers to the male singers but not her momma's voice because she tells me to stop! If only I could be so lucky to sing and sound good!

In the Spring of 2003, I actually drove up from Indy to see the play Mamma Mia with my Home Interior friends because I had won a contest. What I remember the most from watching the play was feeling a void in my life at the time because I didn't have a daughter. (and feeling guilty for it because I have two wonderful sons who were the world to me then and now!) I remembered really paying attention to the relationship between the mother and daughter and thinking that although I have that with my mom, I won't have that type of relationship with a daughter. This was just one of the many "signs" that my heart was on it's way to China.

When the movie came out this past summer, I was anxious to see it again to see if I would feel any differently watching it now or if I would remember one particular part that really moved me the first time around. I really didn't remember the whole story line and had slightly forgotten it was about a search for the girls' father.

I saw the movie Mamma Mia with my friends Kris and Heather on my birthday in July. On the way to that movie is when I talked to my mom about my dad not feeling well after his surgery. I was hesitant to go to the movie but mom assured me that my dad was fine.

I silenced my cell phone and instead of throwing it in my purse and forgetting the outside world, I had my cell phone in my hands throughout the whole movie. I jumped during the movie when I saw Kevin call me. Why was he calling unless it was an emergency? I fumbled in the dark and sent him a text message wondering if all was ok. I was nervous he heard some bad news from my mom or something happened to the kids. He replied he accidentally hit my number. Relief. Until the next morning when my mom did call me and tell me that my dad was in the hospital with a blood clot in his lung. I had a strange feeling that night before . . . my instincts are usually right on. (thank goodness he is doing fine today!)

I did enjoy the movie, and more so than I enjoyed the story the first time around because I wasn't sitting there wishing for something I don't have.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up months later is because I do find it a bit . . . I don't know the right word . . . ironic, funny, comforting . . . especially for my adoption friends, that as I am watching this movie about a girl in search for her real father, I am worrying about my real father . . . and the farthest thing on my mind on my birthday is my birth mom or my birth father. To tell you the honest truth, I don't ever recall really spending lots of time on my birthdays thinking of "them."

Maybe that's more a momma thought because yes, I do wonder what it was like for Kamryn's birth mom on the day that Kamryn was born. But I will silently wonder and let Kamryn have her own thoughts. Our birthdays are wonderful celebrations of us coming into this world created by our God. I love the cross hanging in Kamryn's room given to her by my friend Laura. It says, "God danced the day you were born." I like to remember that.

I may be a bit self centered on my birthday because I don't think about the two people who helped create me. I think about ME:) Yes, I do thank God that I am here. I am thankful that I have a loving mom, dad & sister who have always loved ME and continue to celebrate ME for ME. That's what's real.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Guitar Hero & Band Boy

Brendan is taking a new direction with extra-curricular activities. He wants to explore the world of music! He has started taking guitar lessons and also just joined the 5th grade band where he'll learn the saxophone. I hope he likes band because it will be a great way for him to make new friends. And he'll have to give up recess a couple of times a week to practice!

My little ballerina

Today Kamryn started her creative movement class. It's a pre-ballet class for 3 year olds. I don't know who had more fun, Kamryn or mommy watching Kamryn! The class takes place at the church where she goes to preschool. They actually have a dance room with a wall of mirrors and a bar just like at a dance studio. There was this big window so the parents could watch. Kamryn liked waving to me and doing extra little exaggerated dances just for my viewing pleasure. It was adorable to watch these 8 little girls dance around. Funny thing was when they were comparing their little skirts and then their ballet shoes . . . proof positive that the class is full of girly girls. We'll see what she likes better, gynastics, which she took over the summer, or ballet. Who am I kidding? At this age, she likes everything!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Saturday we drove down to Champaign, IL to see the Illinois football game. We went prepared to sit in the rain. I made sure to pack those yellow ponchos we got in Florida one year, and I found my pullover rain jacket from college. It says on it: Pi Beta Phi FIJI Football Block and the year . . . oh my! I can't believe it but it said '88. Yikes! I graduated from college in 1989, and I can't believe it's been almost 20 years since then.

We made it down there in great time and wondered why it always seemed to take our parents longer to get there? Do we just drive faster or is it because we live a bit closer now? We didn't make any stops either so maybe that explains some of it.

We left very early in the rainy Chicago morning. By 7:15am! That's early for us. We drove through lots of rain and lucky for us, as we got closer to Champaign, the skies were clear. It was hot, hot, hot though. (Don't know whose sign this is, but I thought it was neat! They tailgaters didn't mind the photo shoot. Future Illini?)

We walked up those long ramps to get to our seats in the stadium and when we got settled and started looking around, Kamryn asked, "Which one is Hunter?" It was cute. We went to one of my nephew's high school football games so naturally she thought of him right away. The boys were laughing and explaining to her that this was a different football team.

Sadly enough, we have not been back to U of I for a football game ever. I guess we got busy with our careers, then kids, then we moved to Indy. Now that we're back in state, I thought it would be fun to do with the kids especially because Matt loves football so much. Brendan enjoyed watching the game though too. Kamryn liked eating.

As I was sitting there, I couldn't help but think of all the memories of my college days in school there. I remember visiting the school when I was in high school and thinking "Wow, I'd love to come here, it's seems like it's full of tradition and a cool place to be a part of." This weekend I was thinking similar thoughts but they were more like, "Wow, I was a part of this a long time ago."

After the game we drove and parked in front of the Pi Phi house. I did ring their doorbell and ask if we could peek inside. (So my 13 and 10 year old sons have been in their first sorority house!) I was pleasantly surprised to see that it looks the same.

We then walked on the quad, and I pointed out which buildings I had lots of my classes in. I told them about how daddy and I used to pass each other on this sidewalk before we were dating and would shyly say hi to each other.

How many women can say that they are married to the first guy they met the first night of freshman year! It's true! Kevin was roommates with a friend of mine from back home. Tony and Kevin came to my dorm room to hang out that very first night. (we didn't start dating until the next year, but pretty weird, huh?)

In school this year, one of Matt's projects is to list a career he might like and from there pick out an in-state college that offers a program for that career. Amazing that in 7th grade they are already thinking of college. I don't remember thinking about it until High School.

Walking around the campus some things were the same, like the buildings, the big trees, the bike paths, the excitement of a win in the air. But we are not the same. Last time we were there, we were together but single. Now we are married and our three children are in tow. Wow.

Ready to go

Brendan's school had their carnival Friday night and someone was there painting faces. So Kamryn got ready for the Saturday trip to Illinois. It didn't last until then though. It bothered her and we wiped it off before bed.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

How Many Apples?

Did we pick? Too many to balance on top of our heads! Not that we tried.

But we did eat our share while we were picking.

This was our 2nd annual apple picking outing with the bigger western suburbs playgroup. We really enjoy it and hope to make it back to the orchard with the boys and dad for picking out pumpkins too!

Their sugar coated apple cider donuts are so yummy and worth the trip alone!

Spending the morning with friends is so much fun!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

My Littlest Blessing

is back at Little Blessings. She started last Tuesday and much to my surprise, she did wonderful at drop off time. She was a wee bit whiny that morning at home and during the ride to the church, but by the time the friendly greeter came to the car door, she turned it off and happily took the woman's hand and went right in.

Then Thursday came, and this is her long day at school. She stays to have lunch and then takes an art class in the afternoon. By noon that day I was really missing her and thinking what a very long day it is for her. (and me!) Bren had a follow up doctor appt for his leg that afternoon, so he was able to come with me to pick her up. (thanks Tina for being my back up in case his appt ran late!) I'm so glad we got to the school in time to pick K up because it was sweet relief to peek into K's classroom and see her having so much fun. There she was dancing and acting out motions to a story they were being read. I'm happy Brendan was with me too - he is my witness that she was all smiles!

Doesn't she look so grown up in this next picture?!

Kamryn is excited that her friend Lilly is going to the same school as her. Too bad they aren't in the same classroom. It's still nice for them to know that their friend is right next door:)