Saturday, August 28, 2010

Walking in the Woods





The girls and I spent the morning at Chaplin Nature Center.  We hiked through the woods and saw LOTS of spiders.  As the first people down the trail, we cleared away dozens and dozens of webs.  Rachel stopped to inspect every snail and milipede.  She also was afraid we'd see bears.  Katherine was interested in the many deer, coyote, and bobcat footprints on the trail.  We followed a trail all the way to a sandbar on the Arkansas River.  The girls thought it was a great beach! They played and played.  Then we hiked back, grubby and tired.  A walk in the woods is alway good for the soul.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tutu Time (Part 4)




And then Rachel discovered a caterpillar.  Boy, was she interested!  She looked at him from every angle.  She touched him.  She did a dance for him.  She carefully made her baby touch him.  She bumped noses with him.  And that ended up being the best part of the photo shoot.  Tutus and bugs - what a combination!

Tutu Time (Part 3)



We eventually moved to the porch, partly as a distraction and partly for the light.  The doll stroller and a baby had to come, too.

Tutu Time (Part 2)




Eventually Rachel settled down and posed, although we had to be quick.  We got some sweet shots.

Tutu Time (Part 1)



Granny made Rachel a fabulous tutu.  Rae loves it and is, well, too too cute in it.  This morning Granny and I tried a photo shoot of Rachel and the tutu.  At first, she was none too cooperative, but even then we got some funny shots.  The "mad" face is fake but you'd never know it!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bike Brag

Katherine is a bike rider!!!  After months of effort and tears, she can  ride her bike without training wheels.  And is she ever proud!  Kate got her bike for Christmas, but couldn't ride it for weeks because it snowed so much.  She rode with training wheels during the spring.  In early summer, Steve took the training wheels off and the two practiced.  Every practice session ended in anger or tears and progress was slow.  For most of July and the first half of August the biked stayed parked.  It was just too hot to even try.  But this week the weather has been gorgeous and Steve convinced Katherine to give it another try.  This time she was ready.  Every time she got on the bike she got better.  Her confidence exploded and suddenly, she was RIDING!  She still wobbles and has frequent crashes, but she hops back up and tries again.  Sometimes she crashes because she's grinning to hard to see.  Last night she wheeled up the driveway, flashed a big grin, and shouted "Happy, happy happy!"  And is it ever fun to see.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Remembering the end of The Wait

   A year ago today we FINALLY received travel clearance to go to China and meet Rachel.  That was such a huge relief.  When we got Rachel's referral at the end of April, our agency told us that the time between referral and travel was anywhere from 2 1/2  to 5 months, depending on how fast paperwork was processed.  So we prayed for a short wait and cleared our calendars.  We thought "How wonderful it would be to travel in oh, July or so, and be home for a while before school begins.  That would be perfect!"  Only it didn't work out that way.
   We had already waited 3 years for our second child and thought that wait had been hard.  But we were wrong.  The wait after we saw her face and knew her name and her age was unbearable. It's difficult to describe this waiting to people who have not been through it.  It is simply excruciating.  Here we were, sitting in Kansas while the baby we already loved was half way around the world.  Her room was decorated.  Her closet was overflowing with sweet little dresses.  Her books and toys were sitting on the shelves.  We were ready, but we were not allowed to go and get her.  I stared at her pictures thousands of times and ached to think that every day she was growing and learning new things and we weren't there to share them. 
   Steve and Katherine and I were all terribly stressed by the wait.  We snapped at each other.  None of us slept well.  We cried a lot.  Many, many days it felt like this adoption would never happen.  We were so afraid that things would fall apart and that Rachel would never be ours.  It was a strange kind of grief, mixed with deep longing and occasional sparks of hope.  Summer drug by.  Rachel turned 18 months, then 19, then 20.  We flipped our empty calendar pages and waited.  Eventually school started and Steve and I went back to work, seemingly no closer to our girl than we had been in May.  Katherine started kindergarten.  And still we waited.
   On August 24th, we finally heard the news we had been waiting for.  We had travel clearance!  We were going to China!  I felt relief so large it seemed like a physical weight had been lifted.  We were going.  The nightmare summer was over and Rachel really was going to be ours.  The two or so weeks we waited before traveling passed easily.  That wait was calm.  I could finally accept that things would work out in there own time.  This wasn't the plan we'd hoped and dreamed for, but it would all be fine.  And it has been.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Watermelon

Steve's dad grew some Black Diamond watermelon in his garden this year.  He brought us one this weekend.  It weighed 46 pounds!  We took some to a family gathering and gave some to the neighbors and we still have lots and lots left.  Anybody hungry for watermelon?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Swings



Steve and Poppy have been building a play structure in my parent's backyard.  The girls, of course, are thrilled about the idea of their own playground.  The structure is not finished yet, but the swings are up.  So last night, we tried them out!

Singing

   We celebrated my dad's birthday a few days early.  The girls went over to help Granny bake cupcakes and get ready.  And Rachel had a special gift for Poppy...  As I've written before, Rachel has been slow to talk and even with practice and therapy, her language is still delayed.  She's talking more all the time, but we had never heard her sing.  She will do actions to children's songs and occasionally fill in a word, but she had never sung.  Until yesterday.  Rae was standing on a kitchen chair helping mix the cake batter when Granny heard a sweet little voice singing "Happy day to you..."  Katherine joined in and they sang the whole song.  Rachel can sing!  We sang over and over with her and cheered every time.  At dinner, when Granny brought out the cupcakes, Rachel sang Happy Birthday to her Poppy.  What a sweet gift...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Scrapbooking

   I finally finished the scrapbook from our trip to China.  It took almost a year, but it's done! 
   I love scrapbooking.  I like working with pictures and paper, re-living the memories they invoke, writing captions.  Since all my scrapbooks are about and for my girls, they are pretty much love letters with pictures.  I tend to work in phases, finishing a dozen pages in a couple of weeks and then not touching the books for two months.  Since Rachel came home, the work phases have been fewer and farther between.  I have each girl's latest scrapbook current to at least the first half of the summer.  I'll work on the rest this fall.
   Finishing the China scrapbook was one of my goals for the summer.  I knew it would be a huge project and it was.  It took a long time just to sort photos.  We had 4 adults and 4 cameras on our trip, including Granny, who takes pictures of pretty much everything.  Every evening I would go around and collect the memory cards from all the cameras.  On our biggest touring day I downloaded 495 photos!  There are thousands of pictures to choose from and sometimes it was hard to narrow down exactly which ones to use.  The final book has two volumes.  I had so much to show and say that it simply wouldn't fit into one book.  I am pleased with how it all turned out.  I have had so much fun re-living those two weeks!  The only sad thing is that hardly anyone ever sees my scrapbooks.  I hate to be obnoxious about showing them off, so really only close family members every see them.  So, if you ever have a sudden desire to see some pictures from China, let me know.  I'd be happy to show off my scrapbooks!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sand



The girls played in our sandbox this evening.  They had a good time and got VERY sandy.  Rachel also tried tasting sand - not too pleasant.  Steve had to hose them off before baths.  He's threatened to never let them touch the sandbox again, but I don't think he'll enforce it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

One Last Swim

We were supposed to have a swim party this afternoon with FCC (Families with Children from China) friends, but no one else came.  I'm guessing it wasn't a personal rejection, just lots of people who are fed up with being HOT and decided to stay home.  We skipped the playing in the park part of the party since the playground equipment was burning hot, but we did go to the pool.  Katherine keeps getting braver about swimming and Rachel continues to be a crazy woman in the water.  Our pool has a cool alligator tethered in the middle and the girls had a lot of fun climbing on him and falling off again.  The pool closes for the summer tomorrow so this was the last swim of the summer.  Now if the weather would only cool off...

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Dresses

Granny has been sewing.  When my sister and I were little she made most of our clothes (and we were always dressed cute).  She still loves sewing for my girls and they love wearing her creations.  Kate is now too big for little girl sizes at the store, so Granny is making her beautiful dresses that still look like what a 6 year old should wear.  And then Granny found Dora fabric, so Rachel has a new "Dora! Dora! Dora!" dress.  So I have two happy girls and a happy Granny.

Garage Sale

I had a garage sale today.  In 105 degree weather.  Crazy, huh?  I sat in the shade and drank lots of water and occasionally came inside to stick my head under the cold water faucet, but I survived.  And I sold LOTS of stuff.  I had a garage sale last summer and sold all of Katherine's old clothes and any other junk I didn't want anymore.  I cleaned everything out and was proud of myself for emptying my house.  And then a year passed and I found myself overwhelmed with junk again.  My girls go through a a LOT of clothing in a year.  And the "stuff" continues to accumulate.  So I had another sale.  As I sat in my garage melting I pondered the fact that in one year I get rid of more things than most people in the world own.  That made the heat feel not so bad...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bookworms

The summer is getting long and it's too hot to go outside, so I've been seeing a lot of this.  We go to the library at least twice a week. The living room is overflowing with books.  And this bookworm Mama couldn't be more pleased.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cotton Candy




Katherine begged for a tub of cotton candy at Silver Dollar City and then carefully brought it home to share with Rachel.  It was Rae's first experience with cotton candy - too cute!

More Silver Dollar City



Another adventure on the Branson trip was going to a Chinese acrobat show.  It was apparently amazing!  Katherine has talked and talked about it and even dug out her hula hoop to practice like the girl in the show who could spin 16 at once on herself!

Silver Dollar City





Katherine had a great time in Silver Dollar City.  She especially liked the water rides, a roller coaster (she's braver than her Mama), and Grandpa's Mansion, a sort of fun house with wildly slanted floors. 

Katherine's Adventures





I have pictures of Katherine's weekend adventures!  (Still trying to figure out how to save and convert the pics of Rachel.)  On the way to Silver Dollar City, Kate and Granny and Poppy did some sight-seeing.  They stopped at Little House on the Prairie, where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived at one time.  They also saw Big Brutus, a HUGE 16 storey electric shovel that was once used for coal mining.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Special Weekend

   We had quite the exciting weekend! 
   Katherine left Friday morning with Granny and Poppy for a 3 day trip to Silver Dollar City.  She managed to overcome some of her anxieties about being away from home and had a great time!  She got home an hour ago and has talked non-stop.  She loved the water rides and roller coaster and the walk through the cave. 
   Rachel spent Friday night and Saturday at Aunt Robie's house.  She was SO excited to go!  They played at the park, went to the farmer's market, and went to a cool wildlife park with our friends Alisa and Li-Ying.  Even more exciting was the fact that Dora the Explorer was visiting the park! Although Rachel thinks Dora is more fun from a distance, she was thrilled to see her. 
   Steve and I got to sleep in and have a kid-free shopping day.  It was so nice!
   Robie and Granny have promised to send pictures of all the adventures, so I'll post them as soon as I can!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Waiting for the Bus

Katherine and Rachel were playing nicely this afternoon.  Kate wanted to play school, because she is SO ready to go back and still has a month to wait.  Rachel doesn't really "get" school yet, so they played school bus.  They put on their brand new backpacks and went out to the front porch and pretened to climb on and off a bus. It was so sweet.  But poor Rae didn't understand that the bus was all part of Katherine's fantasy world.  She was ready for it to really come.  Now.  She has spent half the afternoon sitting by the front door waiting for the bus.  She has her pink polka-dot dress and her Dora backpack and some books.  Every now and then she looks out and asks "School bus?"  Such innocent hope...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

FCC Water Fun


It has been HOT here and we are all tired of the heat.  However, the girls had a great time cooling off with some friends from our Families with Children from China group.  We went to a splash fountain and let the kids run wild.  (The adults were thinking they should have packed swim suits, too!)  Katherine was so happy to see her good friend Piper.  Piper is two years younger than Kate, but they are a lot alike in many ways (including adjusting to new younger siblings and thinking that sisterhood isn't all that it's cracked up to be) and love to hang out together.

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