Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

Weather:  warm, nearly 70F, overcast and a bit rainy

Location:  the farm, western PA

From Santa:  Abigail got a tiny hedgehog stuffie, Joseph got a Blue Angel plane, and together they got a 4-person set of laser tag

Abigail's gifts: Legos, an MP3 player (which we loaded with a variety of music for her, yet she has gravitated towards the Broadway songs we put on it and has been walking around singing from Avenue Q and Book of Mormon), many Star Wars items (classic Han action figure and BB8 stuffie are favorites), t-ball set, Card and Go Seek game

Abigail got to go to a fairly new coffee shop in the town (there certainly was no coffee shop when my brothers and I were growing up there!) with her aunts and uncles, which was awesome to her.  She cherishes experiences with them so much more than gifts they give her.  The experiences (hot cocoa at the coffee shop, learning to play checkers, playing laser tag, watching her brother fall in the creek) are what she is still talking about several days later.  

Joseph's gifts:  Legos, a camera (it is SO adorable watching him taking pictures of everything), many Star Wars items, a kids' drum set (click here for a 30 second video), a lunch box (he has been so jealous of Abigail's), Good Night Construction Site PJs and Excavator stuffie 

My family put up with me trying to capture a new family picture to include Joseph.  The weather and lighting were weird and it was beyond muddy, but we did it.  

The Bittersweet:  My parents are saying this is the last Christmas at the farm.  I want them to live closer to me, closer to their 2 grandkids.  But I don't want to lose the farm. I cannot imagine Joseph never remembering it or Abigail pining for it.  I want the kids to grow up knowing the magic and beauty of that land, the woods, the creek, the quiet.  I wish we could just do a farm-transplant to Virginia.  

listening to music while waiting for everyone to
wake up and come downstairs 

taking 100 pictures while waiting for everyone to
wake up

hot cocoa at the coffee house

we were lucky to have such nice weather on Christmas
Day so Joseph could take tractor rides and Abigail
could play in the woods

Christmas #2 at our own home


Friday, December 11, 2015

Good-bye Terrible Twos

Happy Birthday, Little Guy!

As we finish your week-long birthday celebration, your Baba and I are amazed at your sudden on-set of a LOT of words being put together into LONG sentences.  You really have a lot to say and you desperately want us to understand you and we are absolutely trying!  Your mind is sharp and your problem-solving skills are great.  Right before your 3rd birthday you asked me for your toy broom.  I got it from the closet for you and you handed back the dustpan, saying that you didn't need it.  Then, I watched in amazement as you went beside the couch, laid on your belly, and stuck your broom under the couch to sweep out a toy you had lost under there!  Clever, clever little boy, we love you so much!

You are handsome and funny.  You still think your sister is the most amazing person in the world.  You asked for a birthday party with "candy, cake, ice cream and juice."  You picked out a box of Skittles at the store several weeks ago to be your birthday present and it stays in the closet and when you see it you point to it and say "my birthday" because you are demonstrating your first delayed satisfaction.  (You are sometimes mean to the dog: she is not a football.)  Your facial expressions while you tell a story are priceless.  You can never get enough YouTube.  For two weeks, you have slept until 5 in the morning.

The world can learn a lot from you.  Well, at least I certainly can.

Be silly. 
Be cuddly.
You don't always need to speak with words out loud to communicate.
Greet the people you love with abandon. 
Be empathetic.
Share your stuffies. 
Lavish your loved ones with tight hugs and sloppy kisses.
Read a lot of books.  
Use up all of your energy every day and collapse into bed knowing you had a full day.  (I do that too, buddy.)
Dream big: get big ideas and try to carry them out.

I hope the very best for your 4th year on this planet, that you are safe, healthy, and secure.  Many happy returns on your birthday, Joseph!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Abigail: Best Kid Ever

Abigail continues to amaze us daily with her kindness, creativity and dry sense of humor (often times it is complexly tannin-like dry, although at other times, it does enjoy a good fart or boogie joke). She is an AMAZING big sister, with lightning-fast problem-solving skills and we adore her.

For example, the other day, Joseph had his last speech therapy in his current program (he is aging out). Suzanne, his speech therapist, suggested we get him to practice controlling his air better, such as having him puff out his cheeks full of air and holding it. Three adults couldn't get Joseph to do this if our lives depended on it. But later that evening, I causally mentioned to Abigail that it would be great if she could get him to puff out his cheeks with air, she turned away from me as if she hadn't paid attention to anything I said. But without missing a beat, she went to the playroom and said "Hey Joseph, we are going to pretend we are under the ocean..." and for the next 5 minutes she had him practicing the air thing!  

Again, today, she used her allowance to buy a new toy she really wanted.  Then she let Joseph sleep with it tonight, telling him that he could have the first turn.  

With all the talk of thankfulness this month, I don't know what Larry and I did to deserve this child in our lives!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

An Abigail Update, on the Eve of Her Sixth Birthday

"Now We Are Six"

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six
now and forever.
 Author: A.A. Milne

Abigail has been looking forward to turning 6 all month.  Once we flipped the calendar over from September to October, she announced it was her Birthday Month.  The she lost another tooth, we all blinked, and the month is just about over.  

She had her first nervous day of first grade on September 8th.  Her teacher is a lovely, no-nonsense veteran with a style that reminds us of my dear mother in law, Kathleen Crosswell.  If only Kathleen were still around: she was my go-to source for "what the heck is going on with my kid" since she was a genius about children, whom she called "little ones" in the plural. I think she would like who Abigail is becoming.

First day of First Grade

Abigail is a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do.  Karate nights are difficult in our house:  Abigail gets home from school at 4 and usually is asleep by 7 or a few minutes after.  That gives us only 3 precious hours together every evening, (well, 2 and a half really, because we watch a friend of Abigail's until 4:30 every day because her parents work later than we do) and even fewer hours on karate nights.  And that 2 and a half hours has to include feeding the kids, bathing the kids, bedtime, and homework.

Currently, Abigail's favorite:
color is turquoise, movie is Lion King, drink is juice, book is Harry Potter, restaurant is IHOP, outdoor activity is playing with her brother, indoor activity is painting, outfit is collar-shirts, song is Let It Go, food is spaghetti and meatballs and dumplings, snack is Rice Krispy Treat and best friend is Aniyah.  She also says that "Joseph is my best-est friend ever."  Her nicknames are Abbers, Abs, and Jie Jie.  

She gets a weekly allowance of a dollar, which, together with money she gets from grandparents or the tooth fairy, she uses to buy clothes (she only has to pay half), toys to share with her brother, or small toy horses. She knows Hamilton is on the the 10 dollar bill and Washington is on the 1. She loves Broadway. She has lost 3 teeth and a 4th is wiggly.  It cannot be overstated how much she adores her brother and what best friends they are.    

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Snapshots: Pumpkin Patch

They did this jump castle slide
for about 25 minutes.  Over and Over and over.

Jos and Abigail with cousin Zoey: a big pile of Asian kiddos in the
jump castle.
More Asian cutie mosh pit action in the jump castle!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Fall Weekend at the Farm

We went to the farm last weekend.  I love the farm in October.  I love fall.  We went when we did to help out my parents, who have had some medical things to deal with in the past few weeks (like emergency surgery for one of them and a respiratory infection for the other one).  

But there was still plenty of time for fun too.
We took the kids to a fresh apple market that also had a fall festival/ pumpkin patch.  I don't have pics of that because none of us took our phones and I didn't have my camera on me.  

But the kids played outside all day/ all weekend in the warm fall sunshine and fresh fall air.  I love the farm.  (Well, not in the winter.  It sucks in the winter!  But it is absolutely lovely in the fall!!)

Enjoying some of the many apples they
ate this weekend

Swinging from one of the apple trees

Joseph found my favorite childhood stuffy:  Mulligan the Mouse

Me with Mulligan about
35 years ago!

Monday, September 21, 2015

506 Days

Joseph spent 506 days in the beginning of his life in a crummy, dirty orphanage.  
As of today, he has spent 506 days in a family!  He has evened the score.  Starting tomorrow, he will begin to widen that gap.

Our energetic, bouncy little monster
In his first 506 days he didn't do what most kids do in their first 506 days.  He didn't learn to stand up on his own, to walk, to speak a first word.  He didn't give hugs, receive kisses, he didn't learn to be held and he didn't know how to be tickled.  He didn't experience the daily rhythms of tight-knit family life.

In his second 506 days, he can not only stand, of course, but he can walk and run well enough to keep up with his big sister.  Today he asked me to dance with him as he led me to our "dance floor" in the living room.  He climbs everything; Larry recently secured the bookshelves from our little monkey.  Jos is a super loving little boy and a champion at giving hugs and sloppy kisses, good at reasonably expecting that the people in his life will shower him with affection, cuddles, tickles and so much love.  

If Abigail does it, it must be the right thing to do!
He probably spent his first 506 days sleeping a lot since he wasn't ever out of his crib and didn't have any toys or mental stimulation.  He spent his second 506 days making up for this - typically getting only 8.5 - 9 hours per day yet still thriving, learning, growing and soaking up the daily routines of our family. 

We are looking forward to watching our little monster grow over his next 506 days and beyond.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Our Mecca: New York City

Before kids, Lar and I made our pilgrimage to NYC at least once per year.  For 8 years straight.  We saw over 30 shows on the Great White Way.  We ate our weight in pizza.  We zipped around on the subway like we lived there.  It was our city and returning to it, smelling the NYC funky smell and getting in step with the crowds always made me feel like I was home.

I really wish that I lived in a suburb of NYC, not stupid, clean, no character, no Broadway DC with the terrible public transportation system.

Anyhow though, for the first time since Abigail joined our family, we returned to our adoptive home city, hoping to show the kids some finer points of the city we love so that maybe they would love it too and we can commence yearly trips again.

Abigail did love it.  She didn't want to leave and was very sad to go.  Joseph started every day with tons of energy, refusing to be carried, literally running down the sidewalks and into traffic with youthful exuberance that doesn't know how to budget your energy for the day, but so full of life and happy to be "in the greatest city in the world"

"Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.  History is happening in Manhattan and we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world."  (little quote from Hamilton there!)

Joseph was terrified of Times Square because, as I may have mentioned before, (here) he hates green things. He also hates people in costume, like mascots.  And Times Square is packed with people in costume, many are green (green M&M, Shrek, Hulk, Statue of Liberty to name a few).

Before I post pictures, I HAVE to tell you that Larry and I each got to see Hamilton (on different nights).
Yeah, that's right.  The hottest ticket on Broadway for a reason, we have been in love with Lin-Manuel Miranda since In the Heights and the man is a genius.  Hamilton will be in my head for a long time.  

I am a packing guru:  family of 4, 3 days in the Big Apple all
packed into 2 school backpacks and we took one
toddler carrier backpack which our toddler refused to ride in the whole time.

Big, huge playground in Central Park and my
kids spend the whole time digging a hole in the sand with
a little boy whose nanny kept calling him "Ewan."
Like McGregor, I guess.

Little bit of Belvedere castle.  
Me and my girl

Upstairs in Belvedere Castle
The Statue of Wigglety (as Abigail called it) is directly
behind Larry's head.

"Hey look, Joseph.  It is the Statue of Wigglety."
Our confident little man with his
shopping from China town.
He carried it all the way to our hotel on 79th.
Abigail and I saw Matilda.  She loved it.
Joseph was delighted to watch some major building
construction happening in the Chelsea area of the city.
It was like Goodnight Construction Site come to life!

Abigail and I studied bridges this summer and she was
excited to name some different types on our trip.
She really wanted this hat.  She doesn't even know what
the Yankees are, she just liked the hat.
We walked the whole High Line
on a very beautiful, cool NYC morning.

Abigail loved to see old pieces of track
on the High Line

Taking a break at the 10th Avenue overlook on the High Line

Oooh Look!  The High Line has a water feature!

This is Joseph, about 2 minutes before he fell
asleep on the Ferris Wheel in the
Times Square Toys R Us.  It was 7 pm.
Larry had to carry him back to the hotel.
(I was at Hamilton.)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Last Farm Trip for the Summer

We took new family pictures at the farm
This is the sort of insanely-beautiful
farm day I am talking about!
Since our first day of school isn't until September 8th, we can take advantage of the wonderful August weather.  Warm days and cool nights create perfect summer days.  What better place to enjoy this time together as a family than at my parents' farm.  

Abigail loved to pick apples.

She also loved to eat them and
feed them to the horses.

Tractor driving.