Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father’s Day

Another Father’s Day, another stepping stone for the garden.

Several years ago we started a tradition of making Daddy a stepping stone for Father’s Day. I love this idea for a number or reasons.

  • Molly gets to participate in making Daddy’s gift.
  • Each year we select meaningful reminders of the year to place into the stone.
  • The stones add such a lovely personal touch to the garden, which we can enjoy year-round (except when they are covered in snow!).
  • We have a record of Molly’s hand print and can see how much she has grown each year.
  • I don’t have to think of a new, original, heart-felt gift each year!!!!

Here is Molly in the process of making this year’s stone:

Molly is really into dinosaurs. This is also one of Daddy’s passions, so it was a no-brainer to figure out what we were going to include in the stone.

Molly selected and carefully placed a plastic dinosaur at each corner of the stone. She picked an Ankylosaurus, Velociraptor, Hadrosaurus and Spinosaurus.

The reason for these particular dinosaurs was so meaningful: They were all duplicates in the set. She quickly figured out that she could give these up and still have the most variety left for herself. So thoughtful, my girl.IMG_6343

After the dinos were in place, Molly lined the edges with glass beads. This is the first year that she was concerned that the beads followed a set pattern of colors. Showing off her pre-math skills, my big girl is!IMG_6348

Final step: Handprint!IMG_6351

The stepping stone is done!IMG_6354

The completed project now needed to cure.IMG_6355

Molly was so excited to give the stone to her Dad, but heck, it was only Monday. She had to wait another 6 days to give it to him. That is a loooooong time for a little kid to have to wait. And keep it a secret. But she did.

Finally Father’s Day arrived and the gift could be revealed. As you can see, we showed great care in our wrapping.IMG_6357

A big smooch before the unveiling.IMG_6360

And then the moment finally arrived.IMG_6361

Molly and her Daddy showing off the stepping stone.IMG_6365

Placing it in the garden.IMG_6370

The full set of stepping stones.IMG_6371

A close up of this year’s project.IMG_6376

And here is a special little someone who will be celebrating Father’s Day with his very own Daddy next year!4 (2)

One last person that I must include in this post: My Daddy!

And yes, even at 47 years old, I still call him Daddy.IMG_4181

To Molly his is simply Grandpa, and she loves him madly!IMG_4180

Happy Father’s Day to these two very special men.

We love you both so much!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Molly Was Just Like A Kid In A Candy Store

Wait, she wasn’t LIKE a kid in a candy store, she WAS a kid in a candy store. For a birthday party!

How great of an idea is that? A  kid’s birthday party in a candy store. Genius, I say! It ain’t gonna get any better than that. Seriously.

Molly’s friend Alex turned 6!IMG_3720

And all of Alex’s (and Molly’s!) friends were there to celebrate her special day.

Mia was there…IMG_3679

And so was Avery!IMG_3722

The kids participated in many activities like a candy scavenger hunt….IMG_3687

…and a gumball and spoon relay.IMG_3693

They painted pictures of a candy shop.IMG_3694IMG_3696

Each girls filled her very own pixie stix style candy straw…IMG_3699

…and decorated her very own cupcake with candy.IMG_3705

Then it was time to sing to the birthday girl.IMG_3707

Molly and Mia posed with their matching cupcakes.IMG_3708

Time to dig in! The candy store had ice cream so each guest got to pick their favorite flavor.

Of course Molly picked chocolate.IMG_3709Yum!IMG_3711

And no party would be complete with out the group picture! Are these kids cute, or what?IMG_3715Happy Birthday Alex! Your party was SWEET!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Safety Camp

Each day this week at the crack of dawn (Okay, it was actually 9 AM, but that IS the crack of dawn for my gal), Molly attended Safety Camp. This was a program put on by our local Parks and Rec Department for the 4-6 year old crowd in order to teach them all about safety. Like you couldn’t figure that one out on your own.

Molly was thrilled that she got to attend. She started the countdown to Safety Camp at least a week before it started. Was she that excited to learn about how to be safe in her world? Was she so bored that anything would be better that staying home? Was she just plain eager to expand her mind and learn new things?

No, she was just ecstatic that she was going to attend Safety Camp with her best friend Mia.

Here she is on Day 1, waiting for Mia to arrive.IMG_3644

And here she is with Mia. IMG_3645Mia’s friend Alexa also joined in on the fun.

So everyday I would drop my baby off at 9 and return a few hours later to hear about all of the wonders of Safety Camp. I heard about the police department, the jail and the handcuffs. I heard about how to dial 9-1-1. I heard about the proper way to approach a dog. I even heard about how to sit properly in a car seat.

All of this learning really sparked the questions in Molly and every evening she would start in: “Mommy, what if I call 9-1-1 and no one answers? What if I forget our address? What if my car seat is broken and I can’t buckle the buckle right? Why do dogs bite people? Will Mia’s dog bite me? What if they put me in jail? What if they put you in jail? What if they put handcuffs on someone and can’t get them off? Why are sirens so loud? Have you ever been sprayed with pepper spray? Has Daddy ever been sprayed with pepper spray?”

This was a nightly event and Molly was relentless with the questions. It got so bad one night that I had to text Mia’s mom, Stacy, that “Molly keeps asking questions and won’t shut up!”

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that she asks questions and is eager to learn, but geesh! I was interrogated each.and.every.night!

On the final day of Safety Camp, the kids met at the fire station.IMG_3657

They learned all about the fire department, went through the smoke house simulator, toured the ambulance (yes, I got the full barrage of questions about each of these) and then got one final surprise….IMG_3662The police came and fitted each child with a brand new bike helmet!

Checking the strap and making the necessary adjustments.IMG_3666

And a high-five at the end!IMG_3667

A few parting pictures with the new bike helmet…

Standing on the fire truck.IMG_3671

And riding in the ambulance.IMG_3674

Let’s hope that with all you learned in Safety Camp that this will be your ONLY ride in an ambulance, sweet baby girl!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Block Party

The good thing about having a kid that is not yet a fluent reader is that they can be pretty clueless to the world around them. They are limited to what they can see, and are dependent on others to tell them what thing say. So situations can easily be manipulated to have the outcome that you, as the responsible adult, want them to have.

I took full advantage of this when the big, colorful signs went up around the neighborhood. They advertised that a local radio station was sponsoring a Block Party, and covering it live on the radio.

I knew that it would be right up Molly’s alley, but not so much mine. Inflatables, games, hot dogs, junk food, guys dressed up in funny suits, crowds. So when Molly asked what the signs said, I lied embellished and told her that they were simply advertising for a radio station. I mean it was partially true, right?

And all would have been perfectly fine had we just stayed at home tonight. But no, being the good mother that I am, I had to take Molly to the pool. I had completely forgot about the Block Party.

Wouldn’t you know it, we drove right past the park where the Block Party was going to be held. They were in the process of setting up and inflatables were already inflated. Grills were already grilling. Guy were already putting on funny suits.

Now I was stuck. I could make up an even bigger lie embellishment to cover my first one, or I could fess us and tell the truth. I picked the latter. I told Molly about the party and she was thrilled. So we went to the pool for an hour and then ran right home so that we could attend the party.

As expected, Molly had a great time. Me? Well I guess I enjoyed seeing Molly have a great time. So it wasn’t all bad.

Molly in the bouncy house!IMG_3654

Molly sliding down another inflatable attraction!IMG_3652

Molly posing with guys in funny suits!IMG_3648



And the best part of the night…junk food!IMG_3649

Molly’s dinner consisted of an ice cream sandwich, a bag of chips and french fries. I can hear the audible gasp from all of my friends and family. I am the mother that makes her kid eat well-balanced meals. I strictly limit junk food and never go to fast food restaurants. But tonight Molly got lucky, and she thought it was the best night of her life.

I guess it wasn’t that bad of a way to kick off our summer. Even if the guys in the suits did creep me out a little bit. Especially the hamster.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

He Had Us At Ni Hao

And now for the real reason why I didn’t blog in May…..

Introducing our son!Dang Qiao 3

Dang Qiao 4

On May 5, 2011, while playing at the park with Molly, I got a phone call that changed our lives. Judy from our adoption agency called to tell us that she had a file of a little guy that she thought would be perfect for our family. She told me that his date of birth was January 5, 2010 and that he was currently in a foster home in Henan, China.

My first thought was, “Oh my! He’s so young…and we are so old!” but I was anxious to get home and review his file. I quickly scanned his medical information to get the basics and then opened his picture, which simply took my breath away. He was beautiful. He was perfect. He could be our son! Molly, who was sitting next to me,wholeheartedly agreed.

The next step was to call Tony and share the news with him. He was traveling for work, and I caught him right in the middle of a big project. Needless to say, he was as shocked as I was. I mean how can you prepare for this kind of call coming from out of the blue.

I forwarded all of the information to Tony via email. He finished up his work, and quickly returned to the hotel to look over the file. Together on the phone, we went through all of the paperwork and made the decision that this little guy, a half a world away, was indeed our son.

Of course we did our due diligence over the next few days, having his file reviewed by doctors and talking with a variety of specialists. We got all of the information needed to go into this adoption with our eyes wide open.

The positive feedback on the part of the professionals was reassuring, but you know what?

He had us at Ni Hao!

When we looked into his big, beautiful eyes, we knew without a doubt that he was our son. And we were madly in love with him!

On May 9, 2011 we submitted a Letter of Intent (LOI) to adopt our precious baby boy. On May 12, 2011 our LOI was through review/translation and was sent to China. And on May 20, 2011 we received Pre-Approval from China to adopt our son. Praise God!

We actually began the adoption process on February 11, 2011 when we submitted our application to Chinese Children Adoption International. We spent the next several months paper chasing and going through our home study to adopt another child.

We decided to wait until we received our referral before sharing the news with family and friends. Since then we have been overwhelmed by your love and support. Thank you! It means the world to us.

When we got the call from CCAI we had just completed our entire adoption dossier and had just submitted our application to USCIS (US Immigration) which will allow us to adopt a child from a foreign country. This is the last step in the process before our dossier is sent to China. We are still waiting for that USCIS approval. It should be another 3 or 4 weeks for that to happen.

Even after we receive USCIS approval, there are still many steps to go through before we can travel to China to meet our son. In fact we don’t anticipate traveling until some time between January and March of 2012. That’s an eternity when you know you have a child waiting halfway around the world! We would appreciate all of the prayers and positive thoughts that you can pass our way!

You may have noticed that we haven’t share our little guy’s name. It’s not a big secret. We plan on telling everyone. There is only one problem…we haven’t chosen a name yet. We have narrowed it down to a couple of names, but I just can’t decide which one I like best. I look at him, and either one fits. I am usually so decisive, but for some reason I am having commitment issues.

At this point, we call our boy Baby Brother. And for right now, that’s the name I like the best. It seems to include Molly in this whole process. And that just warms my heart. She is so proud to be a big sister. I have much more to say about that, but it will have to wait for another post.

For now, I will leave you with an updated picture of Baby Brother. It was taken on May 13, 2011 when he was 16 months old. (If you are any good at math you will have already figured out that he is currently 17 months old!)Dang Qiao 2011-5-13

We love you, Baby Brother!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Moving On Up…

In my last blog post I said that I had some good excuses for neglecting my poor little blog. I just didn’t tell you what the excuses were. I did give a little picture clue, though:IMG_35

Did you guess my lack-of-blogging excuse?

Yep, we’re moving!

Early in May, Tony was offered a new job. It’s an incredible opportunity for him, and in this economy we feel very fortunate that something of this caliber was pretty much dropped in our laps. He eagerly accepted the job, and gave his notice to his current employer. However, the new job is located in another city a couple of hours south of where we live. So we’re moving.

Let the packing begin! Ugh.

We have lived in our current home for 11 years. That’s long enough to accumulate quite a bit of, ummm, for lack of a better word…crap. Because of this I have spent the past month decrapifying our home. We have taken truck loads of crap to the dump, some stuff that is less crappy to the Goodwill and moved the best of the crap into storage.

That has left us with a nice, crap-free home to show the public. Seriously, 50% of our belonging are out of our house. And you know what? I don’t miss them one bit.

It is so nice to open cupboards and closets and not have things falling out of them. It is wonderful to be able to walk through the house and not have to maneuver around extra furniture. So I say nothing is coming back when we move into our new home. All that stuff in storage can stay stored. Don’t want it anymore. Buh-bye.

As I was packing,I began to notice a redundancy in certain items. You know, multiples of the same darn thing. Now I am not blaming anyone for this, per se, but most of these items were not mine, if you know what I am saying.

I cleaned off the workbench and found 8 tape measures. EIGHT! On one workbench. That measures maybe 3’ x 6’. I know the size of the workbench because I measured it with one of the tape measures. When I brought up this fact it was defended by the remark, “Well, one of them is broken. And that one over there was given to me.” Insert eye-roll here.

This redundancy occurred in many rooms throughout the house with various items. In my frustration, I began to compile a list of things that can no longer be purchased and brought into the house. Ever. Here is a just part of that list:

  • tape measures
  • post-it notes
  • clamp style paper fasteners
  • complimentary hotel soap, shampoo, conditioner
  • chap stick
  • sharpies
  • pens
  • extension cords
  • surge protector power strips
  • flash lights
  • back scratchers
  • sunglasses
  • books (we have a Kindle now, so no more actual books!)
  • letter openers
  • knives
  • shoe horns
  • garden tools
  • hand tools
  • wood working tools
  • Ah heck, tools in general!!!!

Now I am sure that my better half, who I love with every fiber of my being—seriously, has his own lists of my redundant crap. But he doesn’t have a blog. Lucky me!

Anyway, the house looks great and has a bright and shiny For Sale sign in the front yard. Now, somebody please buy it so we can move to a new home. And start collecting new crap.

Oh, in my original post I said I had excuses for my lack of blogging. Moving is only one excuse. I have an even better one than that. But your going to have to wait a day or two for the reveal! Check back because it’s a really, really good excuse. Promise.

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Little Fashionista

Let me start out by saying, I was never a girly-girl when I was growing up. Never. Tomboy would be a much better descriptor. I liked sports and playing at the creek. I would take shorts over dresses any day of the week. I kept my hair short and easy to style. I simply didn’t want to fuss over what I looked like. I wanted to play.

So my question is, how did I get such a girly-girl? Molly wants to wear a dress She measures the dresses in her closet each morning to see which one will pull out the most, which ensures it’s spinability when she twirls.

Don’t even get me started with the hair. She wants it as long as possible and almost cries at the thought of a little trim to even up the ends. Each day she decides on a hairdo and selects hair pretties to match her outfit.

At five years old.

I shudder to think where this is going when she gets older.

I probably do feed the monster. There are such cute clothes for little girls and I do love to shop for her. So I may be partly to blame. Partly. The rest is in her DNA. She is just a girly-girl.

Each season I post pictures of her new clothes. This is mostly an attempt to have a visual keepsake.That way it is easier to give the clothes away when they don’t fit anymore. Good idea in concept, but I still struggle each time I have to put something I loved seeing Molly wear into the Goodwill bag.

This season’s selections ran the gamut in terms of where they came from. Hannah Anderson, Target, Gymboree, Walmart, Old Navy, Carters, Costco. Where ever there was cute, we found it. And purchased it.

First up…the dresses. These will be the most worn things in her closet. Guaranteed.

The dress on the left looks huge, but Molly picked it because it’s a twirly-whirly dress. Spin factor of 10!IMG_6258IMG_6266IMG_6271IMG_6272IMG_6267

Next up is skirts. These will get worn if all of the dresses are in the wash. Or I make her wear them.IMG_6257IMG_6279IMG_6282

Finally the shorts. Not a favorite for Molly, but some things just require that you wear shorts…despite the protests.IMG_6274

Ooooh, don’t forget the shoes!IMG_6283

Four bathing suits may seem excessive, but we are at the pool These will all be worn out by the end of the season.IMG_6337

And here is a picture of the bathing beauty who insisted that I take a picture of her in her favorite bathing suit and put it on the blog.IMG_6338Requesting bathing suit pics to be posted on the blog? At five?

Wow, the clothes may be the least of my worries when she gets older.