Monday, October 31, 2011

Gotcha X 7

Seven years ago, on a sultry Sunday afternoon in Guangzhou, China, I was handed a beautiful baby girl named Yang Guo Dan.
She was nine months old, to the day.  She was slick with sweat and covered in spots (scabies, which she promptly shared with Steve).  She weighed all of 15 pounds.  She was gorgeous.  And she looked up at us and smiled.
And, just like that, we were a family.  There were seven other families in our group receiving babies that day.  I didn't see any of the other first meetings, because our DanDan was the first baby and after she was in our arms we never looked up.  But those other families were a part of the whole experience and somehow, they all became a part of our family that day, too.

The emotions in that room were so intense that I can never begin to describe them.  All I can say is after that moment, none of us would ever be the same again. 
I remember leaving that building, with Katherine Guo Dan in my arms.  It felt so surreal.  We had waited so long and been through so much that it was hard to wrap my brain around the physical real-ness of her.  I kept thinking, "I can't believe that they just gave us this baby, that she is really ours!"  Sometimes I look at her and I still think that, the incredible miracle of it all.

These seven years have flown by.  Some days have been wonderful and some really difficult, but all of it has been amazing.  I can remember those first minutes with Katherine as if it were yesterday.  And when I look at my tall, strong, beautiful second grader, I can still see that sweet baby in her face.  Happy Gotcha Day, Katherine Guo Dan...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Trunk or Treat

We started the Halloween celebrations this evening.
Rachel wanted to be a pink butterfly this year.
The "pink" part was very important.  And she is VERY proud of her wings.
Katherine decided months ago that she wanted to be a colonial girl.  She picked out the fabric for her costume and helped Granny sew it.
I'm pretty sure she'll be the only 2nd grader around in period costume.
But she is perfectly happy with that.
Our church hosted a Trunk or Treat party this evening.  The girls have been SO excited about it - far more so than for the usual Halloween trick-or-treating.  There were lots of cars decorated and people in costume passing out candy.
Granny and Poppy decorated their red Prius to look like a ladybug and Poppy wore a lovely ladybug costume.  (I'm not sure I remember ever seeing my dad in a Halloween costume, so it was pretty exciting!)
There were s'mores and games and a cupcake walk.  The girls liked the old fashioned fishing game and managed to go through more than once.
Then they discovered the face painting.
Rachel was thrilled with hers, and it did add to her whole costume.
The girls ran around and talked to people and ate as much candy as they thought they could get away with.  We stayed until it was almost dark. 
Tomorrow we'll have school parties and trick-or-treating and more candy.  But my little pink butterfly and my colonial girl think that THIS was the best part of the holiday.  And I have to agree.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Zebra Sisters on the Town

The girls (who decided to wear their matching zebra striped clothes) and I spent a delightful day in the city.

We met our friends Amy and Anna and their mom for brunch at IHOP.  Katherine and Amy spent their first few months as orphanage "sisters" and have been good friends since they re-met in Kansas 5 1/2 years ago.
We did a bit of shopping and then headed to the zoo.  Here are the Zebra Sisters in all their glory!
Aunt Robie joined us and offered to carry Rachel on her shoulders.  A nice idea, but Rae didn't ever want to get down again.  Robie will be sore tomorrow!
The zoo was decorated for Halloween, so it was even more fun than usual to explore.  The weather was gorgeous and hardly anyone was at the zoo - perfect!
It was a delightful day!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Katherine and I didn't have school today, so we went to Granny and Poppy's to carve some jack-o-lanterns.
Last year, Rachel wanted nothing to do with pumpkin guts.  Nope, no way.  So we were all a little surprised when she jumped right in and cleaned out her own pumpkin!
She made a face every time she grabbed a handful of slime, but she kept working.
I was impressed!
She didn't stick around for the actual carving, though.  When she found out she wasn't going to be allowed to use the carving knife, she ran off to play.  She was pleased with her completed kitty jack-o-lantern, though.
Carving jack-o-lanterns is one of Katherine's favorite things to do.
She adores pumpkin guts.
She begged to carve her own jack-o-lantern this year, so I let her.
Carving was harder than she had imagined.
Oooh...  He's got slime coming out of his nose!
Kate managed the eyes and nose by herself, but decided to let me carve the mouth.  She was pretty proud of her jack-o-lantern!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Maple Leaves

We have a maple tree in our front yard and one just like it in the back.  They are beautiful trees year-round, but in the fall...well, sometimes they take my breath away.

Right now, the leaves are turning.  When you stand right beside the trunks and look up, you see mostly green.
But if you step back, it is clear that the trees are aflame.
I love how individual leaves do not change all at once.
And how leaves that are tattered and torn, still put on their best colors.
I love how so many different colors exist at once on a single tree.
I love the contrast of scarlet leaves against blue sky.  It reminds me of Japanese watercolors.
And I love, love the way the leaves look as if they were lit with fire from within.
And so ends my visual ode to the maple leaf.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

These Boots...

...are made for fun! 

When Katherine was 4 she started begging for cowgirl boots.  She asked for them almost daily.  It was late spring and I really didn't want to buy boots, especially since it would soon be too hot to wear them.  But I did ask one of my former students if she had any old cowgirl boots and she donated this fabulous pink pair.  Katherine wore them proudly until she couldn't squeeze her feet into them anymore.  So now the pink boots are Rachel's.  And she thinks they go with everything.
I must say, they do add a certain flair to the flouncy skirt and polka dot leggings!  Rachel is trying hard to learn to dribble a basketball.  It's pretty amusing to watch her practice.
Basketball and boots are made for fun.
Don't you think?

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Fall Shoot

Mom wanted to have a fall photo shoot at her friend Dorothy's house.  Doesn't it look like the perfect photo op?
The flowers were gorgeous and the girls were relatively cooperative, so we have some good pictures.
There was even the perfect gate for a Secret Garden (and I could actually see Katherine imagining Mary Lennox and Dickon and Collin!).
Of course, no photo shoot would be complete without Katherine showing off her goofy faces.
Or without Rachel running wildly when she was supposed to be posing.
But on the whole, it was a good "shoot".  And a beautiful place to spend some time.


I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug 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