Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Returns

Winter came back this past week - lots of cold and gray.  But today the rain blew on and the sun came out and it was spring again.  Yeah!  Katherine had an appointment in Wichita and we had time to kill before dinner, so she begged to go to the park.  I turned randomly to find a park somewhere and found one almost immediately - never knew it was there, but it was cool!  Katherine had a wonderful time.  She's a little scared of heights and was so proud when she finally found the courage to climb to the very top of the "spider web".  Here are a few pictures of my beautiful girl on a beautiful day.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Girls' Weekend

   It's been a busy week!  I have managed to squeeze in an evening of theatre, a day all to myself, and a "Girls' Weekend" during the second half of Spring Break.  It was great!
   Every year my sister takes me to a play/musical/opera for my birthday.  I LOVE this kind of present!  This year we went out for dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant and had sticky rice with coconut cream and fresh mango for dessert (probably my favorite dessert in the world).  The we went to see Spamalot and laughed for two hours straight - pure silliness.  I spent the night at Robin's and slept in until late the next morning.  Sleeping in is such a luxury... With my early bird children, I never get to sleep in.  I'd have to say that sleeping late in the morning is the thing I miss most about my before motherhood life.
   Then I had an entire day to myself.  It was wonderful!  I have not had a whole day to do anything at all without worrying about anyone else since, well, before Katherine came home.  So that's been over 6 years.  I was due for a Me Day.  I explored stores I'd never been in.  I shopped.  I randomly roamed the city.  I sat in a coffee shop and read a book.  I had long hours in the company of my own thoughts.  And I filled my soul back up.  Then I met my mom and Steve and the girls for dinner.
   Once Steve left, our Girls' Weekend began.  For years my sister and mom would go off for a weekend of shopping and relaxing and called it their "Girls' Weekend".  Eventually, Katherine pointed out that she was a girl, too, so why couldn't she come?  So the annual 3 generation Girls Weekend began.  This year, we didn't travel far - just to Robie's.  The girls love staying at Robie's because she has a basement AND an upstairs, a swingset in the backyard, toys they don't see often, and Robie lets them so pretty much what they want.  So staying at Robie's is good.
   The next day, Robie had to work so Granny and the girls and I had to amuse ourselves.  We started the day by feeding the geese at the park.  Yes, Granny actually packed loaves of dried out bread just for this activity.
Then we went to the zoo.

Then we went back to Robie's for a nap.  Rachel didn't think that was much fun, but I did.
    We met Robie for dinner at IHOP and then went to a hotel.  Robin admitted that it felt odd to stay in a motel 3 miles from her house, but the girls think that staying in a hotel with a pool is the ultimate in luxury and excitement.  And they were SO excited!

After supper we went swimming.  We hadn't been in a pool since last August, but I can now report that Rachel is as wild as ever in the water.  She jumped in dozens of times, leaped from one adult to the other, and begged us to "let go" so she could swim (well, wiggle until she started to sink) by herself.  We were all tired after that.
   This morning we went shopping.  Nearly everything we bought was for the girls.  Imagine that!  We had a fashion show of all the purchases, but I managed not to have my camera then. 

We had Chinese food for lunch.  Katherine found her favorite peach-shaped rice flour rolls with red bean paste filling - beautiful and tasty.

Rachel, of course, had noodles.
   We went back to Robie's for a much-needed nap (the hotel is fun, but none of the adults got much sleep).  Then we drove home.  Girls' Weekend was great, but now we're glad to be home.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Break

   Spring Break is here and the girls are spending nearly every waking moment outside.  And the weather is certainly cooperating!  Right now it is 83 degrees and sunny and you kind of need the wind to cool you off.  We may have bypassed spring and gone from winter straight to summer this year...
   I went shopping this morning and added some more outdoor toys to our collection.  I brought home another hula hoop, because one was just not enough!

Katherine is a pretty impressive hula-er.

And Rachel?  Well, she just holds the hula hoop and wiggles everything she's got.  It's quite entertaining.

I also bought a T-ball set.  Katherine learned to play T-ball in kindergarten and was so excited to see she could play at home.  We had to assign 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base and with no other actual players, every hit is a home run!

Ready, swing!

And it's outta here!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dogs and a Piano

We spent a few days at Steve's parents and had a nice, relaxing visit.  The weather was gorgeous - sunny and in the 80's.  Katherine spent as much time as possible in the backyard with Grandpa's dogs.  She is campaigning for a dog in a BIG way!  She was thrilled when Grandpa let the labs out so she could play fetch with Rosie and Victor.
While Kate is a serious dog lover, Rachel wasn't so sure.

She's okay with the general idea of dogs, but she wishes that Grandpa's were smaller, calmer, didn't lick, and let her boss them around.  So she pretty much kept her distance.  Her opinion of dogs was not enhanced this morning, either.  Rae had gone out to play in the sandbox and, of course, had taken off her shoes and socks.  Victor, who is very energetic and curious, came over to investigate and promptly ate her sock!  Rachel was quite indignant - "Victor ate my sock!  Naughty!"
Both girls had fun plunking around on Grandma's piano.  Katherine has done so for years, but this trip she learned to pick out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  She was so proud!
Of course, then we had to listen to the song 8,000 times...  Oh, well!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Celebrating St. Patrick

   Katherine has had questions about St. Patrick's Day.  Quite frankly, they are hard to answer.  Because I don't really know why we celebrate.  We aren't Irish.  (Kate says, "Um, I'm Chinese".) We aren't Catholic, so saints in general are not mentioned.  We don't drink and I'm the only one who likes corned beef and cabbage.  So, other than it's fun to wear green, I don't know why we make today special.    But at school, all of the questions were irrelevant, because there was GOLD!  Every year, the "leprechauns" visit and fling gold nuggets (aquarium gravel spraypainted gold) all over the hall.  Every kid in the school scrambles around filling their pockets with gold.  It is SO much fun!  Even the 5th graders, who know it's all just silliness, make sure they get their share.  I think every kid in town has leprechaun gold secreted away somewhere!
It was 85 degrees today - mighty fine weather for March 17th!  So we celebrated with a picnic at the park.  The girls had so much fun!

(Okay, I LOVE the froggie overalls!  They were Katherine's and I am so happy to see Rachel wearing them now.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Silly Mis-Match Day

We are having SpiritWeek at school.  It's a week of fun and pure silliness before the older kids start the drudgery of taking state assessment tests.  (And no, I do NOT agree with high stakes testing for 3rd graders.  Grrr...)  But Spirit Week is fun.  We had Pajama Day and Red, White, and Blue Day.  Today was Silly Mis-Match Day.  Here is how Katherine dressed for school:
Nice, huh?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Planning

   Katherine has spent a lot of time lately planning her future.  Her long term future!  Every day on the ride to and from school she plans out what she's going to do when she's grown up.  Here are her plans so far:
   She is going to live on a farm on the edge of town so she is in between town and the country.  She will have a small barn.  It will be red.  She will have animals.  The number and type vary from day to day, but horses and dogs are a must.  They already have names, gender, and breeds.  She will live in a two-storey house.  With a garage.  There will be a basement without windows, in case there is a tornado.  After much debate, she has decided that there will be a chimney and a fireplace.  A wood burning fireplace.  Yesterday, she invited to to live next door.  I told that would be nice!
   Kate's class is writing a book about what they want to be when they grow up.  So of course, future employment has been included in the plans.  Katherine wants to be "a horse rider".  Of course.  I pointed out that horse riding is really more of a hobby and that she will probably need a real job.  I think she was disappointed.  We discussed various jobs and she announced that she was going to be a firefighter.  I agreed that it was a good job, although personally, I had serious doubts about Kate being a firefighter.  Mostly because Katherine is not at all brave, she hates to be physically uncomfortable, and she is terrified of fire.  The next day she told me that she'd decided not to be a firefighter "because I don't like fire and because firefighters have to see people that get hurt and I don't want to see that."  Good thinking!  She went on.  "I don't want to be a teacher because the kids are too wild."  Um, yeah, that's true!  She thought for a while and then said, "I think I'll be a lawyer.  Like Robie."  Yesterday she asked be what an "office job" was.  I explained that some people spend all of their work day in an office, mostly at a desk.  I thought of a few office jobs - secretary, someone who works on computers (I don't deal with a lot of office jobs, at least not many that can easily be explained to a 7 year old.).  I told Kate there were people that did all the math for stores and companies.  They were called accountants and kept track of everything that was bought or sold or spent.  Katherine brightened, "Like they do math in a book?"  Yes.  "I like math!  I could do that!"  Hmmm... It would be an "office job", quiet, wouldn't require dealing with a lot of people, would give her lots of order and control.  That just might be a good job for Katherine!  And it would pay well so she could afford the barn and the horses.  Now we just have to wait 20 years to see how it all pans out.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Year and a Half

Tomorrow we will have known Rachel for a year and a half.  Eighteen months!  It seems strange because it feels like we came home from China just a few months ago.  It also seems strange because it feels like she has been with us forever, not just 18 months.  And when I look at her, the changes she has made are simply astounding.

Then:




Then, she was a moon-faced toddler with a buzz haircut and fabulously chubby thighs.  She was extrememly active and moved constantly.  She was wildly social and had no boundaries.  She toddled (fast) when she walked and fell down every few feet.  She still took a bottle, ate only soft foods, and had no idea how to feed herself.  She had one word - "Mama". She was funny and determined and resourceful.  She was incredibly happy and very affectionate.  She had no idea that we were hers.  Forever.

Now:





Now, she is a pig-tailed preschooler (and if I didn't have her hair cut regularly, it would be halfway to her waist; this girl has some seriously thick hair!).  Her chubbiness has melted away and, with little in the way of hips or backside, she struggles to keep her pants up.  She is still very busy and incredibly social, but she understands boundaries and rules.  She just likes people.  She can jump, ride a trike, pump a swing, and really tries to skip.  She can dress herself, including putting on shoes and socks and zipping her jacket. She knows all of her colors and shapes, numbers to 10, and most letters.  She eats anything and everything (although noodles are still her favorite) and can get snacks or a drink of water by herself.  She talks more and more every day, phrases and sentences and the beginnings of stories.  Some of if is really funny.  She is still funny and determined and resourceful.  She is the happiest, most affectionate child I have ever known.  She is amazing.  And she knows with every ounce of her being that she is ours and we are hers.  Forever.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Think It's Spring

The calendar says it won't officially be spring for a couple more weeks, but as far as I'm concerned spring is here!  We've had some gorgeous days and the girls have spent pretty much every free moment outside.  They are perpetually grubby, but really happy!  Katherine is determined to learn to jumprope and works and works to get all the way through a jumprope rhyme without messing up.  (Her favorite rhyme? - Ice cream, ice cream, cherry on top.  Who's your boyfriend?  I forgot!  A, B, C, D...)  Rachel has been turning sommersaults in the grass.  The grass is still dormant, so she ends up covered with little pieces of deas grass.  Tonight, we had dinner on the patio and listened to the robins sing.  It certainly felt like spring!  And the flowers keep coming.  We didn't get around to cleaning out the flower beds last fall, so there are lots and lots of dead, brown plants with shoots of spring bulbs poking through.  This afternoon I rounded the corner of the house to find this.
You just can't look at daffodils without smiling! 

I also have purple crocuses blooming.  I love this lavendar striped kind.
Before long it will be time for tulips and hyacinths.  And then Easter dresses and fresh asparagus and baby chicks.  Have I mentioned that I LOVE spring?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

At the Park

Rachel and I went to the park this afternoon, just the two of us.  [I would like to clarify that I did NOT choose her clothing!  She was wearing the wild striped pants and a plain shirt.  I told her to go get a sweatshirt and she came back with the polka dotted one because the "colors match".  I couldn't really argue with that!]
Rachel rode her bike.  It's the first time she'd ridden it past our driveway.
She's great at pedaling.

Steering?  Not so much.  Every few yards she'd stop, stand up, and drag the trike back on course.  It's a good thing the park is only a block away.


Rachel is pretty much fearless on the equipment, but she seems to have very good control of her body and does know when something is beyond her limits.  She recently conquered the curved ladder and does it all by herself.
Rae's favorite activity at any park is swinging.  As far as she's concerned parks would be fun if there were ONLY swings.  And we just discovered that she can pump them herself!



Rachel loves the park.  She never wants to leave.
And we both agree that today was a lot of fun.


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