Easter 2011

Finally pics of Easter! This would be Jake's first real Easter as last year we were in China. My mom had Easter baskets for the kids when we came home, but I don't really think Jake remembered it as he was still just getting used to everything. 

However, this year.... well, let's just say he liked it! By the way, he came home from school the other day saying that Easter was about having "Jesus in your heart".  Then he immediately said, "Mom, did you know a rabbit put candy in this egg!!".  I had some 'splainin to do! 

Omi came up to visit and head to church with us!

All three kiddos!

You don't even want to know what I said to get them to laugh! It's such a shame they aren't ever happy!


The Big Apple

 What do you get when you have
one overnight trip,
two backpacks,
three kids,
Lots of subway rides?

Why, a trip to the Big Apple, of course!
Yes, we hit the road to see the sights. We started off with a walking tour of Chinatown that I downloaded off the internet. We found some "just like China" noodles in some small allystreet. They were delicious!

Then we visited Ting's tiny shop (tiny being an understatement). Mr. Ting was sitting there by the door with cane in hand as Allyson and I walked in. Then he started chuckling saying "Heng Bang" and "Good boy". I looked over and there was Jake sitting on the sidewalk in meditation mode with criss cross applesauce legs bowing back and forth with praying hands! Eye-Yai-Yai!!! We really aren't Buddhists, I promise! Where does he get that stuff? 

Little booger stole my bubble tea!

Jake wouldn't use any Chinese. But he thoroughly enjoyed his lunch including the herbal soup with cow's stomach. I think his noodle dish was a taste of "home" for him. 

If you go, I highly recommend the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. We had lime sorbet, red bean, zen butter, pecan, and mango/papaya. They also have black sesame, almond cookie, ginger, green tea, and lychee just to name a few. 

By the way, we stayed in Brooklyn. Yes, I said Brooklyn. It was so nice! It's much more laid back there and the brownstones are really beautiful. I didn't get a picture as I was holding two little sweaty hands of wiggly boys. The people were really friendly too. Sometimes, I think New Yorkers must get a bad rap. 

For dinner, we ate at the infamous Junior's. This restaurant hasn't changed since the 1950's and is charming. Jake enjoyed the beets!

Daddy enjoyed the ice cream soda!

Of course, we are all detoxing after all that deliciousness! The next day, we were off to Battery Park to catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty.

We were there by 10 in the morning and waited in line. By 10:35, they had run out of tickets for the day!
This is my crew a little "put out" that we couldn't get tickets! Darn French!

So we walked all around enjoying the scenery debating on whether to end the adventure there.

But alas, we aren't ones for giving up so off to the Empire State Building!

The views are spectacular on the 85th floor!

Look kids! I think I see the Statue of Liberty!

Jake looks thrilled, doesn't he? The views must have left him speechless.

After lunch, we caught a 2:30 train out of NYC to Newark, NJ and then drove home. This is how Grant sleeps in the car and it cracks me up. Just like a little, old man.

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig!


Happy Easter!

We celebrate Easter because I Know My Redeemer Lives!

Acapella version of Nicole Mullen's I Know My Redeemer Lives!


Helpful Hints from Bunny!

While at Bunny's house (no, not the Easter bunny. Our Chinese tutor's English name is Bunny! Gotta love it), she noticed Jake and I both have colds. She sent me home with fresh ginger so I could make ginger tea. Silly me, I thought there was actually tea in it. Nope!

Just ginger:

After cutting, put it into boiling water and then turn down and simmer with dark brown sugar.

This is Jake's usual coffee cup. It's a small espresso cup 'cause, well, he's hyper enough! Today, it was ginger tea.

I tried it today and I'll have to let you know if my cold is gone tomorrow! Either way, Jake and I both enjoyed it.  By the way, did you know when you make the meat mixture for Chinese dumplings, you are only supposed to mix in in one direction? She told me that she didn't know why, but that it was a rule in her house growing up. I'm certainly not one to break tradition!

In other news, the boys had their birthday party with their friends today. My friend made them a Beyblade cake. It turned out so cute! I won't bother to buy another grocery store cake. She did a wonderful job, and it was super yummy! And now, I'm all birthday'd out! NO MORE!!!! PLEASE!!!!!


Jiao Zi!

After our Chinese lesson today, our tutor showed me how to make homemade Chinese dumplings and Chinese pancakes. The kids lost interest (even Allyson my little chef did as our tutor has a little kitten to distract her rather easily).  Our "Lao shi" (teacher)  gave me lots of tips and encouragement while shaping my dumplings! Some of mine were not that pretty as I tried her technique. I had forgotten that we were doing this today so I did not bring my camera! UGH!! I can't believe it!  You'll have to settle with this one:

Everything was really delicious! Have I mentioned how much I appreciate our tutor?  She has become a great friend and I always enjoy our conversations.  She has a lot of insight on many things and I always learn so much from her. 


Growing Tall and Growing Older

I took Jake for his yearly physical. Seems as though we were just there, but that was for some post-adoption paperwork measurements. Jake has grown quickly this past year and has had many growth spurts even crying that his legs hurt. He has grown three inches this past year. Doc says it appears that he will be SIX FEET TALL or close to it! CRAZY!  No wonder he is almost as tall as Grant.  I've noticed that I have had more people stop and ask me if they are twins. Considering they do not look that much alike, it must be the height. 

Yes, that's Jake all ready for bed. He actually tried sleeping with that helmet on one night!

This is Grant's second cake (minus the large cookie we took in to school today. Sorry for the poor quality pic. Eric took this off his iPhone. Plus, Ally and I have our "gross" faces on watching Grant spray the cake when blowing the candle out!

Eric came home a little early to take Grant to the batting cages just the two of them.  Then they enjoyed his free birthday water ice. But we went overboard on the birthday cakes this year. Is that even possible? 
Three birthday cakes, I'll admit, is a little over the top. I hadn't intended to do three birthday cakes. You see, each son of mine had their own cake when we had family over for their birthdays.  For Grant's actual birthday, we were just going to head over to Rita's Water Ice. Alas, I caved and made a cake for him.  My mom didn't think I'd cave I guess because she walked in tonight with yet another cake. The third cake will come when the boys celebrate with their friends this weekend. Seems kind of silly, but you only turn eight once....or in this case, three times! 


Happy Eighth Birthday!

He's done it again. He grew another year older. My chubby little brown baby turned eight years old. I never thought I'd have an eight year old boy! 

Grant was very cautious of us when we first met him. He wasn't one to just greet us with open arms. He was quiet, subdued, and even seemed thoughtful at times. And yet, he was so easy to bond with and attach to. His transitioning time in our apartment in Kazakhstan was difficult. He threw a temper tantrum or two.....or several. But once we left Kazland, it never once happened again. He is the easy child at the present time. I say "at the present time" because I do realize that this could change in an instant.

He is kind and patient with his little brother. You know, little brothers can be annoying especially when they don't really know how to play catch or play chess! 

(I find this picture particularly amusing)

Everyone likes Grant. He is a pleasant kid that can play with anyone-- with everyone.

 He enjoys schoolwork and excels at it so we really don't have any issue there. I believe he is a self directed learner (can you hear me cheering inside?)

His name means GREAT.  And, yes, he is. We still laugh about our Kazakh translator that would actually call him Great as that is what she thought we had named him. The nannies would lovingly call him "Grantique" mixed in with his Kazakh name "Zhanbolat".

He may be smaller than other boys his age, but God poured lead in him. I'm sure of it because he is as solid as they come. His nickname on the ball field? Gran-tarrismo!

He is very loving and loves, loves loves his family. A homebody at heart, he isn't interested in going out of the house or away overnight. He'd rather play with dad in the backyard. I don't foresee him going off to summer camp any time soon! 

Grant, mommy and daddy love you sooo much and can't imagine life without you. We fell madly in love with you the second we saw you! You are one amazing boy! Happy 8th Birthday, Grant!


I'm wondering

Has anyone that applied for the adoption tax credit for 2010 actually received what they were supposed to?
Considering how many of us were counting on that tax credit to offset the costs of our adoptions and considering how many adoption took place in 2010, you'd think someone, somewhere would figure it out. I can't even imagine how much the #R^ actually owes adoptive parents. There were more than 11,000 internationally adopted children brought into the U.S. in 2010 alone.  That doesn't even account for the domestic adoptions that took place in 2010!

 Let's see, 11,000 multiplied by $13,170?    $144,870,000

Now, depending on a person's income, they may have some of that money phasing out. The point is, there is a lot of money that is being owed to taxpayers who have adopted. 

I read from someone else that they were approached by a news agency to be interviewed about this problem as they were waiting for their refund. However, they do not want to be the only ones on-air complaining about the problem and were recruiting others into the interview for "strength in numbers".   I've also heard here and there that a senator may get involved. (I'm wondering what they would even be able to do?)

Looks like we all will be learning another lesson in patience because I guess we just didn't have enough practice in patience while waiting for federal governments to push our paperwork through to the next desk during our adoptions so we could bring home our children. 

I'm getting impatient while learning patience!


Opening Day of Baseball

Opening Day of baseball started at 8:30 AM on Saturday with pictures. After a quick run to pick up Allyson from a sleep over, we headed to opening day ceremonies and stood in the drizzly, windy, cold while muffled sounds came from a microphone and first pitches were ceremoniously thrown out after standing there for and hour and a half. 

(insert cranky, cold mommy and kids here)

By then it was 11:30 and Grant's game was starting at noon. The wind picked up along with the "sideways" rain. The kind of rain you can't use an umbrella for.  Off I hustled to the car to pull it closer to the field so Ally and Jake could sit in there and warm up while I kept an eye on them. 

(I was by then praying for thunder and lightening~ )

The game lasted a half an inning and just as Grant was warming up with his bat, the game was called. It's a good thing too because I was having a hard time seeing him due to the water dripping off my baseball cap! 

(I may have sung the Hallelujah chorus out loud....maybe)

Mom and Dad met me at the house with hot chocolates and coffee (thank you, thank you!). Grant and I were completely drenched. I could actually wring out my socks! 

(no pics taken in high winds and sideways rain. Nope....not that kind of photographer. I think I earned bonus mommy points for just standing out there. But that's just me.)

After lunch with Grammy and Poppy, the kids and I were in our jammies eating popcorn by three. 

(my husband? In Florida. Need I say more?)


Conversations with Jake: Say What?

I was running through the drug store with Jake after dropping Ally off at soccer,  so I was kind of in a hurry. Jake had not stopped talking at all since we got out of the car, and honestly, I was only half listening as my mind was focused on the goal.  He crouched down by some pillow pets when I blaringly heard, "My girlfriend at my English school......".   Everything he said after that sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher, "Won Won Won Won.......". 

Me: "Your WHAT?"
Jake: "My girlfriend at my English school has a Pillow..."
Again, the only thing my mind heard was his girlfriend.  Because, as everyone knows, I am his girlfriend after all. Me! His mother! I'm the one he wants to stay with and ride in the car with! ME! This girlfriend thing is getting to be a habit. I mean, he usually goes for the older woman (i.e. one of his pretty teachers), but now he going for a woman his own age. 

Hmph! Boys! And the pain they cause!  


Just in Time For Easter!

Grant has been working on Crown Him With Many Crowns just in time for Easter. He is doing a great job! There are not many things that are difficult for Grant. He picks things up quickly. However, when he finds something difficult, he tends to get frustrated easily and cry.  I will tell you, tears were shed while learning this song! But once he got it, he certainly does enjoy playing! It is always wonderful to see hard work paying off! Great job, Grant!


Wordless Wednesday: Chinese Friends Song


Soul Surfer

I read Plugged In's review of Soul Surfer and knew I wanted to take Allyson. It is rare that there is a movie that's decent for kids. Top that off with having a real role model for tween age girls, and I'm in! Do you remember Bethany Hamilton, the young surfer girl who lost her arm to a shark? Yup, that's the girl the movie was about. She held strong to her faith and wasn't shy about showing it in the interviews she had after the accident. BTW, she was a homeschooler too.....that's cool, just sayin'.

We took Allyson and her friend to see it on Friday. (Thanks mom for watching the boys!) The girls loved it too. So, if my opinion counts for anything, take your girls to see this! Two thumbs up!


Because He Is FIVE!

I came downstairs this morning to find Jake dressed for school and eating a waffle while grinning from ear to ear. Why was he so happy? Well, he made his own waffle, cut it with the rocking T knife, poured the syrup AND put it back away, and was chowing down. Yes, he's definitely a keeper! He proudly said, "See, mom, I TOLD you I was big now that I turned five!".  Now, if he could only make me a waffle and deliver it upstairs to me!

Now that he's five, he also reminds me daily that he can now lift the house up with one finger  as well as the table, the frig, the chair.......    Evidently, turning five increases muscle strength. He certainly doesn't have self-esteem and self-doubt issues!

His other big accomplishment?  He read the words:  BIG,  BAT, BUT (that one was particularly funny), and HAT.  O Yeah!  Can I get a whoop whoop!???  He doesn't have all of the alphabet letters down yet, but was doing very well with putting blends together with the letters he knows. He picked it up very, very quickly.  (No video or pics because, well, because I didn't)

By the way, what it is with boys? Eric came home with baseball equipment for Grant including a "cup"...not the drinking kind either. The new gloves, new mitt, new bat -- all of these were exciting to him. The most exciting was the cup. Seriously. Such.A.Guy.


Thinking of Birthmothers on Birthdays

 I'm always happy for the kids on their birthdays. They get so excited to turn that next number!  However, I do feel differently when it comes to the boys' birthdays versus Allyson's. With Allyson's special day, I think back to my delivery of her and just how excited I was to finally see and hold her. She was super tiny and perfect in every way. All Eric and I did was sit and stare at her. We were amazed and mesmerized by a 6 lb bundle of joy! All my memories of that day are of pure excitement! 

But with the boys' birthdays, I still get a knot in my stomach. I little piece of me is sad for birthmothers on the other side of the world. I cannot help but think of their birthmoms and wonder just how they are doing, how they are living, how they are coping and thinking of their boys ~ my boys. How are they reliving the day they gave birth to their sons?  If I could actually let them know that the boys are happy, healthy, and loved, I would. I can't imagine a birthmother could really forget the day she delivered a son and then the day she took or left that baby somewhere to be cared for.  The next couple of weeks has to be a difficult time for them as they relive a difficult delivery, a sick baby, and the realization that they could not provide for them properly.  Maybe they even did receive the diagnosis of the boys, and it was too overwhelming for them. 

 Is she wondering if her son is alive? If he was adopted? What life would have been like if she kept him? If he has her nose or Birthfather's chin. (Grant has the cutest little cleft chin and I know he got that trait from some parent. )  My heart goes out to both moms, and I pray that they find a peace in their heart with the decision they made. After all, they chose to give these boys life and then chose to give them a chance at a better life when they gave them up for adoption. What a gift that was to both of them and to us. They make up our family and that is certainly something to cherish!


Let's Party!

 Well, the family party was fun! Both boys had a great time. Jake just fell in love with these hats and insisted on buying it for his party. He also bought one for Grant who was a good sport in wearing for the picture!

Funny thing: The cakes honestly looked horrible. I bought them from the local grocery store. As I was walking out of the store, I noticed a sign advertising that they needed  to hire a cake decorator.
Ha! No Kidding!

Woody and Buzz had a falling out before the party began.

He was super excited as you can see!

 Love this. Both by boys celebrating!

Grammy is such a good sport.

Grant thanked family with hugs!

I think he likes it!

Grammy and Poppy gave Grant a microscope. I can see this is a present we will be using a lot. Very cool!

More hugs!

Strange sightings around here.

Big enough?


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