Anna Grace and I recently met up with some of the other Asian adopted kids and Asian students from the university to learn the proper way to make dumplings.
We really love the time that we get to spend with other adoptive families and learn about Chinese culture from the students. We feel so fortunate to have this resource available to us. All of the students adore Anna Grace and of course she loves all of the attention. It is so cute to see them in the floor playing with her and trying to help her remember her Chinese language.
This Saturday was all about Alex. We started the morning with his first soccer game of the season. We lost the game, but Alex played well and saved several goals.
After the game, Mike & Cole headed out to get a surprise for Alex. He is on the verge of outgrowing his bike and his tires keep going flat, so he asked for a new bike for his birthday next month. Mike decided that Alex can not wait until next month for a working bike since he will want to ride when we are on our camping trip over spring break, so he and Cole headed out to get Alex an early birthday present. When they came home with the new bike, Alex was in the basement playing with a friend. He yelled down the staircase for Alex to come up immediately- someone was in trouble for leaving a bike in the kitchen!! Alex was really scared until he realized that the joke was on him!
After several hours of bike riding, it was time for Alex to settle into some homework time. He had a project assigned to write a recipe, cook the food for the class to sample, and prepare make-believe ingredients so that he can have a pretend cooking demonstration for his class. Alex made chocolate cookies using only 3 ingredients- sugar cookie dough, Special Dark cocoa, and chocolate chunks. The best part was that he got to squish up all the ingredients with his hands!
After he put the dough on the baking sheet he smiled for the camera claiming that he had a "Paula Dean Smile." That is very true except for the part that she has big white perfect teeth and he has no front teeth!!
We have been enjoying the warmer weather and the chance to play outside in the afternoons. Most of my herbs did not make it through the winter, so Anna Grace and I spent some time this week replanting.
When I told her that we were going outside to plant our herbs she ran to her little kitchen and found a tiny pink toy spoon that she wanted to use as a shovel. When we went outside, she quickly learned that her spoon was not going to scoop much dirt and took over my gardening shovel. She also insisted on wearing her rainboots, which are often her shoes of choice to match any outfit.
The other day when we were playing outside she discovered an inch worm who she named "Dancing." I never knew that an insect could be so entertaining, but she played with "Dancing" for well over 20 minutes until a gust of wind blew him away.
We can all tell that Anna Grace is truly a "two year old" with her constant insisting of "No, I do it!" and "My turn, my turn!" You would think that since she is getting very close to turning 3 that we would be getting past this, but this phase is holding on strong.
One year ago our family received the phone call that we had been waiting for- the phone call that would change our lives forever- the phone call that would forever change the life of a little girl. We had been waiting for this call for over 3 years, but I could not believe it when the phone rang and it was the lady at our agency asking me if we would like to look at a file for a little girl who needed a home. I was shaking all over and could barely speak- of course we wanted to look at her file!!! I waited for Mike to come home from work to open her pictures in the email that our agency sent, and together we sat down at the computer and got our first glimpse of our precious daughter.
This was the child that God had chosen for us, the child that God had put in our hearts, the child that we had been praying for. When we opened her medical files, we found that all of the information from before her heart surgery was missing and there was no record about her stay in the hospital. All we had were reports that were five months old- nothing current. We had our doctors look over the little bits of information that we had about her history, but in our hearts, we knew that she was our child and we could not wait to officially accept her as our daughter. It was a true leap of faith, but we knew what God had promised us when he told us years before that our daughter was in China with a heart defect. We found it truly amazing that our sweet little girl was born at the same time that God was urging us to change our adoption application to include a little girl with a heart defect.
It is so hard to imagine what our life would be like without her as I sit here on the couch typing this with my precious little girl curled up next to me reading her Elmo book in her ladybug pajamas smelling of sweet shampoo from her bath.
Alex had a very sad life lesson to learn this weekend. His beloved pet hamster died while he was at school on Friday.
If you know Alex, you know that he does not really ask for much in life, but several years ago he was adamant that he was getting a hamster for Christmas. At the time, I cringed at the thought of caring for another pet in our house. However he spent the entire months leading up to Christmas asking for a hamster, naming the hamster, and telling everyone that he met that Santa would bring him a hamster. This was the first time that he REALLY wanted something, so of course Santa brought him a hamster on Christmas morning.
Alex learned a lot of responsibility in caring for Laia. He was the one that was responsible for feeding her and cleaning her cage. We all grew to love her and her silly antics. We never knew that a hamster could be so smart. She would find clever ways to escape from her cage and roam during the night. By morning she would be back in her nest along with the little "treasures" that she collected during the night. Sometimes Alex would find Laia climbing on him in the night, and when we put her cage in the bathtub at night to keep her from roaming, she turned the water to a slow, steady drip! We have more stories to tell about this hamster than you can imagine.
When Laia became sick several weeks ago, we were all pretty upset. We thought she wouldn't make it through the night and Alex went to bed teary-eyed. Even though she got better, Laia never fully recovered, and Thursday night she was barely breathing.
Sometime during the day on Friday, Alex's little friend died. When Mike came home from work, he and Alex put her in a shoebox and buried her in the backyard. My heart broke for Alex as I watched him coming up from the backyard with a shovel and tears rolling down his cheeks. He came into the house and curled up in a ball on my bed. Together, we held each other and talked about all of the good times and funny stories that Laia gave us.
Today, when the weather was finally sunny, he sat in the driveway and mixed cement in a bucket to pour into a stepping stone. He used pieces of broken glass to make a heart and stamped her name and the word "love" into the cement as it dried. When the cement sets, he will put it in the backyard to mark her grave.
Thankfully, Mike has been working for some time now to refinish a desk to put into Alex's room, and Mike was able to put the final coat of sealer on it this weekend. The table that once held Laia's cage has been replaced with an antique desk. Still, Alex says that his room feels empty without Laia. I know that this is a life lesson for Alex, but watching my little boy learn and grow up is not always easy.