Saturday, May 29, 2010

More Tallgrass











Ranch Day
















Today we went to Ranch Day at the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve. Katherine has been looking forward to this for weeks and it WAS a lot of fun! The reserve, near Strong City, Kansas, is a hundred + year old ranch in the gorgeous Flint Hills - beautiful. Today there were farm activities for the kids. The girls (well, mostly Katherine) fed the chickens, gathered eggs, brushed a horse, mucked out horse stalls, and milked a goat. Basic farm chores, but a treat for my city girls! We hiked part of a trail through the prairie and had a picnic lunch. Then we visited the old one-room school. Kate was quite fascinated by it. I told her I was going to tell people that this was her new school! The girls fell asleep on the way home, so Steve and I enjoyed the scenery in peace - rolling hills, huge old ranch houses, and endless miles of green prairie. Beautiful.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pictures





I had the girls' pictures taken last week by my friend Trasie (whom I met a loooong time ago at church camp!). I got a CD of the photos in the mail today. I love them! I love the pictures. I love the girls. And I love the clothes....
Let me explain about these dresses. I bought them in Guizhou, Rachel's province in China. Guizhou is incredibly beautiful, but still very isoated. Very few Westerners visit there, but it is a popular tourist destination for Chinese people, largely for the gorgeous landscape - mountains, caves, and waterfalls. We spent one day visiting some of the biggest tourist sites. My mother described this day as "a feast for the eyes". And it was! There are a lot of minority groups in Guizhou (China is 95% Han, so it is rather unusual to see other ethnic groups. In Guizhou though, a large percentage of the population come from non-Han groups.) and some of the sites we saw were in areas with a lot of Bu Yi people. Outside of the "dragon cave" Bu Yi women had set up little stalls selling souveniers. Among the offerings were bright floral dresses and pants sets like nothing I had ever seen. It was raining and we were in a hurry, but Mom and I could not just walk past those clothes. Our guide did not understand our interest, but we insisted on stopping to shop. (Sort of like getting excited about seeing cowboy boots in Kansas, I guess!) Mom bought several shirt/pant sets just for the fascinating bindings and details on them. I bought these little red shirts and skirts. I loved them then and I love them still. I have seen hundreds and hundreds of Chinese dress outfits (mostly silk) but I have never seen anything at all like these. I don't know if they are Bu Yi or just a style popular in the area. In any case, my girls are always excited to wear their red dresses and I love seeing them and the memories they bring.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Puddles







The girls spent the day at Granny and Poppy's house. After a thunderstorm this afternoon I got a call from Katherine. She said, "Hi, can you bring me my rain boots? I want to jump in the puddles!" I delivered the boots and stayed to watch the fun. The girls jumped and splashed, both in their boots and barefooted. Rachel tried lapping a puddle like a dog... Kate got out the hose "because the puddles aren't big enough". Rae tried to drink out of the hose and drenched herself. Then both girls tried drinking at once. Way more than the rain boots were wet by the time they came home!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tea Party
















The girls had a pretend tea party on the patio this evening. They used their toy tea set and lots of water. Rachel took a turn at pouring, so things got wet pretty fast! They had a grand time. Afterward, Katherine suggested that they dry their "twirly" dresses by spinning in the yard. Sometimes the unstructured hours of summer are so much fun!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Water Play







The girls went to Granny and Poppy's to play in the water and cool off on a hot afternoon.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cousins


Graduation Party

We went to my niece Megan's high school graduation party this evening. I first met Megan a few week after she turned 6 and she had just finished kindergarten when we got married. That doesn't seem like it was very long ago, so the fact that Megan graduates from high school tomorrow is a bit if a shock! Megan is a smart, beautiful young woman and is always kind to my girls. Unfortunately, the pictures I took of her tonight didn't turn out. I did, however, get this shot of Katherine and Rachel with their cousin Bethanne - a trio of giggleboxes! Okay, blogger is not letting me post a picture. I'll try later.

Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo











The girls and I spent the day at the zoo with Aunt Robie and our friend Alisa and her daughter Li-Ying (who is just a few weeks older than Rachel). We had so much fun! It was hot and windy, but we didn't care. We rode the train, fed the giraffes, ate in the restaurant, took a boat ride, and saw lots and lots of animals. Rachel still loves the giraffes and she kissed the tiger through the glass. Katherine ran into her buddy Nick and they had a little reunion in the tiger house. Li-Ying adored feeding the sheep and wasn't the least bit intimidated by them. We left the zoo tired, but happy and Rae was asleep before we were out of the parking lot.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cooped Up


We've survived the second week of summer. It has been chilly and rainy most of the week, so we've been stuck inside and no one is very happy about that. Katherine and Rachel have spent a lot of time together, much of it fighting and tattling. Sigh... But in between K.'s bossing and R.'s whining, there has been some good sister time. Kate has read dozens of books to Rae and they've both played with their baby dolls. Those moments have been sweet. Steve's last official day is today, so summer is here for all of us now!

Friday, May 14, 2010

More horse pictures













Horse pictures

Grrr.... I'm TRYING to add pictures, but blogger is not working!

Horses!

Some people in our church invited the girls to come and visit their baby horses, so today Granny and I drove the kids out to their place. It was wonderful! There were LOTS of horses and lots of babies and all of them were calm and tame and happy to be petted. Katherine was thrilled. She has long loved the idea of horses, but has rarely been close to a real live horse. Today she got to see and touch so many different horses and see what they are really like. You could just watch her confidence grow as she learned to approach them. It was fun just to watch her. Rachel was frightened of the horses at first - they were BIG. But after she realized that they wouldn't hurt her she got closer and closer to them. She was very interested in the babies. And then she noticed the cats. Rachel is a cat lover and she was delighted to see kitties! She chased the poor cats and followed them around as they tried to hide. I'm sure the cats were relieved when we left. Both girls came home filthy and excited, happy to have sampled farm life.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Easing into summer

It has been a quiet week here. Steve is still working and Rachel was still at daycare this week, so Katherine and I have been easing our way into summer. I have been reading a lot, taking naps, and spending time doing nothing - the way I always adjust to summer. Katherine has a list of things to do every day - read 2 books, make her bed, do some math, spend time playing by herself. She does it all eagerly, but still has lots of unstructured time to fill. Yesterday she mentioned that she REALLY missed school and her friends and Mrs. Creamer. I know she does.
It has been nice to spend long periods of time with just Katherine. We've read and cooked and made art projects together. Her interests are so much like mine were at that age (well, really pretty much what mine are now, with the exception of the horse obsession) that it's easy to find things to do together.
Katherine's big request of the week was to go to the zoo, just the two of us. So, Tuesday morning we headed to the zoo. It was chilly out, but the animals were active and we had a good time. We met my sister at her new office and went out to lunch. It was Robin's birthday and we were able to celebrate with her. It has been years since I have seen Robin on her birthday. I have always been teaching and she has lived far away. But this year I was out of school and she recently moved near by, so we had the chance to spend time together. It was such a nice day.
Tomorrow Rachel starts her summer vacation, so the quiet period ends!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day


It's Mother's Day, the first Mother's Day that I have been the mother of TWO children. We knew about Rachel last year, but she wasn't totally ours yet. I talked Steve into taking a rare mother/daughter picture this morning.

The girls wanted to wear their Chinese outfits to church. I love those little dresses, too. Besides, it was kind of a neat little tribute to the other mothers in their past. I found myself thinking of their other mothers today and wishing that they could see our girls now, see how happy and beautiful they are. I thought of Katherine's birthmother, who carried her for 9 months and who made sure that her baby was left in a safe place when she couldn't care for her. I thought of the nannies in Katherine's orphanage who cared for her so lovingly for 9 months. I thought of Rachel's birthmother, who carried her for 9 months, kept and loved her for a week or so, and finally left her safely at a farmer's gate when she decided that she could not raise her. I thought of Rachel's foster mother, who loved and cared for Rae as if she were her own for many, many months. I am so grateful to all of these women. I am so glad that they have been a part of my daughters' lives. I know that I am the lucky one, the mother that gets to raise these girls, the one who will know them always. But I find it comforting to think of the other mothers somewhere in the distance. When parenting is overwhelming, I think of them and try to do what I think they would want. I sometimes remind my girls that their other mothers still love them, are still with them always. They are with me, too.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Last Day of School


Katherine's school (and mine), like all other schools in Kansas, is struggling with the huge budget cuts imposed by the state legislature. In order the save money, thay began a "compacted" schedule in January. Everyone stayed in class longer each day so that we could get out earlier at the end of the year. The end was today. Yup, May 6th was the last day of school! Isn't that absurd? We already know that all of next year will be compacted, so Kate doesn't go back to school until after Labor Day. Her class counted this week and she has 133 days off. That's 4 whole months!

Katherine was a little sad to be done with school. She loves the structure and routine and social opportunities of school and she adores Mrs. Creamer. She has had such a fabulous year and has grown so much. I am so glad that we made the decision to send her to my school/district instead of the school down the street. Mrs. Creamer and her class have been a perfect fit.

This afternoon, we had an all-school Play Day. There were all sorts of games and contests set up and each class rotated through them. It was hot and windy and the water games felt good. Katherine and I came home sweaty and exhausted, but we had a great time. Kate is VERY excited that she is now a 1st grader!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rockets




Katherine has a science-obssessed classmate who has been doing fabulous activities with his dad. Then they bring them to school for everyone to try. They are the originators of the Volcano Day festivities. Today, they brought in their newest project - rockets. The kids made very simple rockets out of plain copy paper and scotch tape. Then they went outside, put the rockets on a homemade rocket launcher, counted down, pushed a switch to set off an air compressor, and watched the rockets shoot a hundred feet in the sky. It was terrific! I brought my students out to watch and we cheered the kindergarteners on.


I have loved having Katherine next door to me at school this year. I've been able to drop in daily, just to see what she's doing. She comes by once or twice a day for a quick hug. And I can be a part of the many impromptu "parties" that her teacher invents. Like Rocket Day.

Wild Child


These are Rachel's favorite pajamas. The wording on the shirt is certainly appropriate! Rae is busy, busy, busy as always. She runs or hops instead of walking. She can climb anything and does, not matter how unstable it might be. She has also started dragging around step stools and overturned laundry baskets to climb on to reach high spots. She is a Wild Child and revels in it!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Music Concert


Katherine had her spring music concert tonight at school. She even had a speaking part! It was all very nice - Katherine knew every word of her songs and some of all the other grade's songs, too. She had a big fan club in the audience - Granny and Poppy, Grandma and Grandpa, and Aunt Robie were all there!

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters

Sisters

Sisters
Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way