Cole, Alex, & Anna Grace

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A weekend of elephants, dragons, and basketballs

This was not one of those weekends of picnicking in the backyard and relaxing with a movie in the basement. This was one of those weekends to go down in the record books for being crammed full.

We started the weekend with a Friday night trip to the circus. My grandmother gave us some money as a Christmas present with the instructions have fun as a family. In her exact words, she said, "Don't spend it on plastic," which meant we were not to buy toys with the money. So, we have been waiting since December for our trip to the circus.

Anna Grace was so excited to see the elephants. Actually, she has been looking for elephants for weeks now because Mike made up the very cruel game of telling her that she can talk in the car when she sees an elephant out the window! You would have to ride in the car with our little non-stop chatter box to understand why Mike made up that game. So, she has been looking for elephants for some time now, and she finally got to see them at the circus.

On Saturday we had Cole's last basketball game at the same time as the annual Chinese New Year event with our local adoption group. Alex and I took Anna Grace to the University for her event while my mom and Mike went to cheer Cole on. They joined us at Chinese New Year after the game.

Anna Grace enjoyed spending some time with her mentor, watching the Asian performances, and playing with some of her friends. What she did not enjoy was the dragon dance. She was so terrified of the Chinese dragon that she is still asking me where the dragon has gone. Thankfully, the dragon was only in the room for a very short time and it only came near us once.

Finally, today we had the end of the year celebration for Cole's basketball team. The event was held in a high school gym and had a ventriloquist performance. We really enjoyed Cole's season of basketball this year. This was the first season that he played Upward basketball, but we loved the time that was built into the program to help the children grow spiritually. We will have a one week break from sports in our house before Alex's soccer season begins.

After the weekend that we had, our busy school week is going to seem relaxing!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is this normal??

Ok, friends who have little girls, I need your help. Just when I thought I was beginning to understand all of the aspects of raising a daughter I get blind-sided. Anna Grace is taking a little beginner dance class for 2 year olds. Her babysitter takes her because it is in the morning. When they asked if we wanted her to perform in the recital, I said "sure." I thought the cost of the costume was steep (like $ 58 or something like that), but I did not want Anna Grace to be left out. Now today I find out that we have to buy tickets to see her dance- they are $16 a person!!!! She will be in one little short dance on the stage and she is 2 !! Seriously??? $16 a person. It will cost a fortune to take our family to see her dance. Plus- grandparents and her sitter will want to come. Someone please tell me- is this normal???

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

hamsters are aMAZEing

Cole is so relieved to be finished with his science fair project (and I think I might be more than a little relieved too). We have been working on this project since early January, and Cole finally presented it to his class today. He decided to see which kind of hamster is smarter- the black bear hamster or the dwarf hamster. He and Mike built a maze and we researched methods for training hamsters to run through a maze using seeds along the path. He called his project "hamsters are aMAZEing!"

This was the first science fair project for our family. If you have ever completed a science fair project, you know how involved it is. He created a research paper, a log book with the scientific method, and a backboard. Every time we thought we were getting ahead with the project, we realized that we had done something wrong. It was two steps forward and one step back the whole way through. Cole will have to do a project next year, and then Alex will be in the 4th grade and will be completing two years of projects. (Can you tell how excited I am???) I am really hoping that now that we have learned what is expected, the next projects will be a little easier.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Sweet Sunday

My mom recently made Anna Grace a gorgeous smocked dress. She spent hours hand stitching little rows of flowers and hearts, and I thought it would make the perfect dress for Anna Grace to wear to church for Valentine's Day.

I love how the sleeves have little ribbons that tie at the wrists.

This was the first Sunday ever that Anna Grace cried when I was leaving her at Sunday school. The minute I started to get ready to leave, her eyes welled up with big alligator tears and she said, "No, Mommy. I don't want to stay." Because of her past, we have to do things a little differently with her than we did with Cole & Alex. I never want her to feel like she is being abandoned all over again, so I promised that I would not leave her until she was ready. I stayed by her side while she ate a snack and started to play. She still did not want me to leave until she heard the teacher say that they were going to play outside on the playground. I told her that if she wanted to play outside, I was going to big church, but I would be back.
I feel like this was actually a big step for us today in the attachment process. She is such an outgoing and friendly kid that she really doesn't meet a stranger. Maybe I am the one that needed to know that she really does want me to be the one to take care of her. Attachment is a process. It doesn't just happen over night with an adopted kid. She has had so many let downs and disruptions in her life that she has learned to go with the flow. I worry that Anna Grace doesn't quite realize in her little 2-year-old mind that she is with her forever Mommy and Daddy, and she will never have to adjust to a new life again.

Anna Grace and I went to a birthday party after church. Her friend, Janie, who was adopted from Taiwan, was turning 2 and she had a party at the jumping place in the mall. Anna Grace was so excited that she was giving Janie a set of training chopsticks, some Kia-lan bubbles, and her all-time favorite Chinese cookies. Anna Grace will do anything for one of her cherished Chinese cookies, and she was thrilled to give a box of them to Janie- although she kept trying to convince me as we were driving to the party that we should only give one cookie out of the box to Janie!

I was amazed at the party to see Anna Grace scaling the climbing walls to the slides with the other 2-year-olds. I kept thinking about the baby who came to us just 9 months ago who could not even climb into her toddler bed or crawl across our bed in the hotel. And here she was, jumping and climbing and sliding with the other kids. We have truly come a long way!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mike's Projects

Over the last several years, Mike has been using his talents to create a special room for Anna Grace. His newest addition to her room is a little table with benches. It is hard to tell from this picture, but the table is white with green and pink benches to match her room. He also hand-painted the cherry trees on her walls to match her bedding.

One of his first projects was this cabinet to store her toys. It doesn't look so great with the space heater on top of it right now, but her room gets very cold at night and the heater keeps her cozy while she sleeps. You can't tell from the picture, but the doors are made of bead board to add a decorative touch.

This doll house was a true labor of love. Mike cut the shingles out of wood and spent many hours adding little details to the house. We still don't have furniture for it, but maybe that will be Anna Grace's birthday present in May.

My dad actually made this doll cradle for me when I was a little girl, but Mike cleaned it up and painted it pink to match Anna Grace's room. I love watching Anna Grace play with her dolls in the same cradle that I used when I was little.

This is a shadow box that Mike made for Anna Grace's traditional Chinese outfit she wore for her Red Couch photos in China. It is such a special outfit that I wanted to display it on her wall. The stain of the wood is very close to the color of her dresser and bed- that same furniture that was in my room when I was little.

Mike has used the Pottery Barn catalog for inspiration for many of the pieces that he has built. I love Pottery Barn, but most of the things in the catalog are not in our budget. Mike is thinking of building some of the little tables and benches to sell. Do you think other's will be interested in his craftsmanship?