Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy 2nd Birthday Molly!

One year and 29 days old.
That's how old Molly was when she was placed in our arms in that hot, crowded office in Guangzhou. We missed her first birthday by 29 days...29 stinking days.

Molly's Children's Welfare Institute did a wonderful job caring for her, but they had too many children and too few staff members to be able to celebrate birthdays. I'm sure that is why her 2nd birthday felt so important to me. It wasn't just any birthday. It was the first time that anyone celebrated her birth. And if any birth deserved to be celebrated, it was this one. This little girl has so completely filled our hearts. She has enriched the lives of everyone that she has touched. A celebration doesn't seem like enough...she needed an extravaganza!

Well gee, that put a little pressure on the party planner, didn't it? And the party planner (me) was a novice at planning children's parties. Let me just say that I was just a wee bit stressed about the preparations for this party!

Jeez, where do I start?

A theme. I needed a theme. Since Molly doesn't watch TV (yep, I'm one of "those" moms), cartoon and television characters were out. Her favorite things at the moment were school buses. That didn't seem like an appropriate theme. Hmmmm. Well, Chinese New Year had just passed, and with our trip to Colorado we missed celebrating it. How about using that for a theme? Perfect! I even had cute outfits to dress her in for the occasion. Now on with the preparations.

Decorations. Have you ever tried finding Chinese New Year decorations the week after Chinese New Year is over? Not gonna happen. And with the party only a week away, I was in some deep doo doo in the decoration department. Luckily a friend mentioned the Oriental Trader catalog and they had what I needed. The express shipping needed to get the decorations delivered in time for the party cost more that the decorations themselves, but what the heck, I had decorations.

Cake. That's easy. We have a little privately owned grocery store in town. They make awesome cakes. I'll just stop in there a few days before the party an order one, I thought to myself. And that's just what I did. And when I told the gal in the bakery that I needed a cake with an Asian theme, she looked at me like I had a third eye. Apparently they don't have a lot of requests for Asian themed cakes in this small Midwestern town. Go figure. After looking through numerous books and talking with two different cake decorators, we finally were able to come up with the perfect cake.

Food. Well this was a no-brainer. Chinese food was the way to go. Despite my elevated stress level, I was a risk-taker and tried a restaurant that we had never been to before. Score one for me, because the food was awesome. In fact it is all everyone could talk about at dinner. Who knew that the best Chinese restaurant in town was next to Kroger less than a mile from my house. I think the employees of Dragon House will get to know me on a first name basis in the very near future.

Guests. Do I go for the big bash or for the smaller, private affair? Seeing as this was my first attempt at party planning, I opted for a small gathering: Grandmom, Uncle Jack, Aunt Karen, cousins Allison and Matthew, Tony and myself. And the guest of honor, of course!

Gifts. Luckily this one pretty much took care of itself. Packages started arriving by mail weeks before Molly's birthday. Family and friends were very generous. And I never have a hard time shopping for my daughter. The hard part is applying the breaks!

So there we had it. The planning phase of the party was done, and I was pretty pleased with the results. Not too bad for the novice party on with the show!

Molly has a great time from beginning to end. She loved dressing up.

She loved being the center of attention.

She loved her gifts.

And she loved her cake and ice cream.

There were giddy squeals all evening long. One of the biggest squeals was for a pair of floral short overalls and a blue shirt--a gift from my mom and dad. She carried them around for half the night, until I hid them so she would open other gifts.

I am glad that she liked the outfit, I really am. But it was killing me. Blue? My little girl loved something blue? I have worked so hard to make her passionate for pink and she went ballistic for blue. Good Golly Miss Molly...what is a mother to do?

Happy Birthday, Lil' Pumpkin!

(Remember, you can click on any picture to make it bigger!)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Molly's 2nd Birthday: A Photo Essay

(You can click on any picture to make it bigger.)

Here I am waking up with a smile on my face because I'm 2 years old today.

First thing I do as a 2 year old is drink my morning bottle. What? No chocolate milk? Come's my birthday, for crying out loud!

Next, I give baby her morning bottle.

Time for breakfast and pigtails (Mommy does pigtails while I eat...less stress and whining for both of us).

After breakfast we head to one of my favorite places: The Library. Their story time rocks! The best part of story time is bubbles.

Hey, there are bubbles in the air and in my hair.

Here I am reading with my friend Matthew and his mom, Peipei.

Coloring with Matthew. Well I'm coloring; Matthew is checking to see if gravity still works. Boys.

Second stop: The Mall. Does life get any better? Here I am at the playground.

And here I am with my new shades. It's actually sunny today...a birthday miracle in the Midwest!

Home for lunch and a few verses of "Wheels on the Bus." Then it's time for my nap.

Daddy gets me up and wishes me a happy birthday. Check out my wicked bedhead.

Time for dinner. It's spaghetti night so I have to eat sans shirt!

My party is tomorrow, but I get cake tonight, too. Here's me with my dad.

And here I am with my mom. This was taken just prior to the sugar high. Trust me, you don't want to see pictures of that!

A bath before bedtime.

Doing the post-sugar-high-crash. I'm ready for bed. I start my bottle with Mommy.

And end my bottle with Daddy. It's GREAT being 2!

Stay tuned for pictures of....THE PARTY!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Molly's Vacation Journal

Ni Hao!

Betcha wonder where we've been, huh? Well Mommy and I went on a vacation to Colorado. You see, I'm turning two soon and after that, no free lap ticket for me. I'll need my own seat. So my (cheapskate) mom booked one last "free" trip to visit family and friends. We had boatloads of fun...that is after we got to Colorado. Getting there? Well that's another story.

The day we left home it was snowing. Our plane pulled out of the gate on time, but we had to wait in a line to get de-iced before we could take off. Well that took a while. After de-icing, our plane had to wait in another line to take off. By the time it was our turn--you guessed it--we needed to be deiced again. Ugh! This whole ordeal took two hours. And to top things off, inside the plane it was about 500 degrees.

I had to sit on mommy's lap this entire time. All I wanted to do was to get down and run. After all, that's what almost two-year-olds do. I think this aggravated my mom a little. She looked a bit stressed. Once our plane finally was airborne, I took the opportunity to catch some much needed zzzzzz's. Mommy looked much more relaxed after I woke up.

Colorado was great. They actually have blue skies there. I mean look at this picture of mommy and me at the park. Not a cloud in the sky. Just pristine blue sky. The Midwest hasn't seen a blue sky since November, so I was really digging it. I played at several parks in Denver. At this park, I rode my first corkscrew slide. Totally awesome!

This trip was full of adventure for me. I spent the whole week with a dog. A big dog. Now I'm not afraid of dogs anymore! Kinda.

We stayed at my Aunt Michelle's house. It was a blast. She's got all of these open rooms and I could run in big circles and figure eights through the entire first floor. And run I did. I don't think that I slowed down for the entire trip. I never got tired.

We also got to visit a lot of mommy's friends. They were all so nice. They ooohed and aaahed at every little thing I did. It was kind of fun being the center of attention. These people were easy to please, too. Every little thing I did got a response. It was great!

Mom got to see her friends in Colorado and I got to see one of my friends, too. Luke lives about a mile from my Aunt Michelle's house. He slept in the crib next to me in the orphanage. When we first saw each other, we were both stressed out. After all, it has been six months since we've seen each other. We didn't know how to act around each other. It was kind of awkward. Luke ran upstairs and pulled out a toy that we used to play with in China and that broke the ice. We had a fantastic time after that! Mommy really seemed to enjoy seeing Luke's parents, too.

Since my birthday is just around the corner, Grandma, Grandpa, my aunt, uncle and cousins had a party for me. The put this flaming cake in front of me, turned out the lights and started singing at the top of their lungs. It scared the heck out of me! I started to cry, and everyone ooohed and aaahed over that (these people get excited about everything, I tell ya). I was able to regain my composure enough to blow out my candle and eat cake...not gonna let that go to waste!

By the end of the trip Mommy kept saying how much she missed Daddy. It was like I wore her out or something. She told me that I was going to be spending lots and lots of time with Daddy when we got home and then mumbled under her breath something about a spa visit .

Seeing Daddy was great! I missed him so much. Another great thing is that it snowed soon after we got home. I mean really snowed. Enough to go play in! Daddy let me help him shovel. Mommy kept grumbling, "Ya know, it doesn't snow in Florida. Why aren't we living there?" Whatever. I was having fun!

Well that's the recap of our trip. I'm sure that there is a lot of stuff that I left out, but it's my playtime and there are some puzzles downstairs with my name on them. See ya!



Saturday, February 2, 2008

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today our adoption agency phoned to inform us that we were the proud parents of a little 11 month old girl named Guan Hai Yan, who was living in Donguang, Guangdong PRC. During the call they emailed us this picture. Our hearts immediately felt a love that was so deep and so strong that no words exsist to even describe it.

The next day a package arrived containing these two pictures along with more details about this beautiful child. With each little piece of information we learned about her, with each inspection of the three photographs we held in our hands, we
fell more deeply in love with her. She was (and still is) the most perfect child we have ever seen.

February 2, 2007 ranks right up there as one of the very best days in our lives. It was a moment in time that completely changed our existance. We were now parents. And every single day since has been filled with joy. We love you, sweet Molly Michelle HaiYan.