Tuesday, April 30, 2013

pancakes, bathtub, bikes, and basketball

We have been having fun and making memories at our house.  We have been celebrating victories.  Last Monday night we moved T and Brandon to T's room.  She has been sleeping in her big girl crib for the past several nights and has had some success.  The transition has not been perfect, but I am sure waking up in a strange room is different and hopefully her restless nights will be over soon. 

M has been staying in his crib all night and last night for the first time since before China he slept alone in his room all night long (Friday night, I am writing this Saturday)! He is so very proud of this.  The nightmares are getting better. He only woke up once in the middle of the night and after a bathroom break and a quick cuddle in the rocking chair he was back to sleep. Please keep up the prayers for sweet sleep for our family! 

*Update: M has slept alone for 3 of the last 4 nights!  Yahoo!!!!  So proud of him.  He has been having night terrors every single night lately.  They are like clockwork 45-60 minutes after he falls asleep (first REM cycle).  He screams a horrible scream and I race up the stairs.  I start talking as I walk in the room.  I say, "You are OK, M is OK, Mommy is here, Jesus is here." I take him to the bathroom, and then rock him for a few minutes.  I am quite sure that he never wakes up the entire time.  He has no memory of them in the morning.  I feel it is progress to notice the pattern and have a system for handling it.  Apparently this is common in kiddos his age and once I realized that he wasn't really awake everything clicked that they are terrors and not nightmares that he wakes up from and can talk about.

I attempted to make shaped pancakes a few weeks ago.  I am just not super crafty or artsy, so if my pancakes are not as quality as your third grade daughter's I am cool with that.  My son was impressed which equals success.  We have pancakes together every Saturday morning.  We recently figured out that T loves them too so I think mommy is going to have to start making a double batch soon.

Mommy made me this Mickey Mouse pancake!

Then she made me a car, then a truck, and then a snake. (The snake was an accident as I was distracted while pouring.  It also sort of looks like a foot complete with a leg knee and some shorts at the top... strange)

We are in a boat!

Where are we off to caption T?

"I'm in the dirties"  (he was saying this over and over again while sitting there)

So speedy on the bike.  I can't believe he couldn't pedal a couple months ago.
Final Game in NCAA.  M stayed up until 10:30 watching with Daddy.  They are getting a better view. 

T: I want to pedal too!

M and T: We have got the neighborhood protected.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Grandparents Rock

A few weeks ago Grandpa Tom and Grandma Judy came for a short visit.  The timing actually worked out perfectly as M doesn't sleep so well with grandparents in the house.  We had a great couple of days laughing at the kiddos and eating tasty food.

M: Grandma Judy let me play with some chicks that really made noise.

T: Grandma Judy gave me some hair clips that won't come out so easily.  I think I made it two minutes before it looked like this.  (Note: These actually do work better than the others, mommy just has to be sneaky)

M:  I like to play "Hop on Grandpa"  and Grandpa likes to play "Hop on Grand Pop."  Whatever it called, it is really fun and Grandpa got a good work out too.

"Hop on Grandpa.  Hop on Grandpa."

M: Grandpa Tom likes to kiss me and his beard tickles me!

M: Time for Grandpa Tom's arm workout.

T: Grandma Judy is strong too!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The cupboard emptier!

While I am working in the kitchen I often unlatch the door to the plastic cupboard.  When M came home we actually moved all the plastic to these lower shelves so he could empty them with ease.  Now the containers are just thrown in because we know that our emptier will undo all that we have done.  On the day of these photos she got a little help from big brother. 

 I can't believe she wants me to empty this... my pleasure mom!

M: Hey T, need any help (don't you know pants are overrated)

M: I can get those way in the back for you T.  T: Um, M you are squishing me here!

M: OK, T you think you can get anymore out of the top shelf, go for it!

100% success!

T: Hey this looks like a good place to sit!

T: Mom, this is my camera smile OK, quit making those funny sounds.

T: Cheese!

T: Sometimes I just need to get away from everyone and hang out on a shelf.

T: I feel so refreshed!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sweet Tea!

Yes, I just realized that calling "T"  Sweet T is like the tasty summer drink and like sweetie.  I guess T was a good first letter to choose for her name. My intention for the last several days has been to get several photo blog posts up.  I have been trying to upload 42 pics.  Over 3 days and MANY attempts 4 photos total have uploaded.  I decided to make this post with just four sweet photos and totally sign out and attempt the rest again. 

I can stand and hold a cup!

Great kitchen seating!

Don't worry mom, I am ready to help!
No hands!  Such a sweet part of the crawling stage for my kiddos.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Three months with our daughter!

 It is hard for me to believe that 1/4 of a year ago we were in Ch*na holding our sweet T for the first time.  Wow!  Since the temps today (28 degrees with the wind chill) are much like they were in January, it can cause me to think that time is standing still... put oh how time has marched on!

Three months is a long time.   90 whole days... and nights! It is all about perspective. 90 whole days of playing with, praying with, soothing, and loving on our sweet daughter.  90 days of T's world turning upside down.  90 days of new sounds, new smells, new tastes, new touches, new places, new ways of life, new beds, new FAMILY, new everything. 90 days of M dealing with our departure, being removed from his role as "the only," sharing everything, and learning what it means to be a big brother.  90 days of mommy feeling blessed, overwhelmed, weary, depleted, humbled, grossed out, and joy filled.

The past three months have flown by in a sense.  My baby is getting big.  The past three months have gone so slowly in some ways.  Often, the final hour (OK the final 10 minutes) before Brandon comes home seems to drag on and on and on.  Oh how I want to treasure it all as best as I can.  I want to remember each stage.  I want to remember each trial so I won't be one of those wise moms that tells young moms, "I enjoyed every minute of it."  The realist in me wouldn't say that.  I do have a good memory.  For example, even though Jr. High was a while ago, I would never tell anyone that I enjoyed every minute of it! 

T is doing so well.  She is growing and changing every day.  She is now 14 months old!  She weighs close to 18 pounds.  She was 14 pounds 3 months ago.  She has grown much taller too, but there is no way we can get a great measurement of our wiggly girl so we will have to wait another month for the next Dr. visit.  Her hair is getting much longer.  Her hair continues to have a natural wave so it really tucks under in the back, but when she is in the bath we can see just how long it is!  She is now sporting almost 6 teeth.  The sixth tooth has been half way poked through now for about a week.  She has been having a really hard time with tooth 5 and 6, so we are thankful that we don't see any white ready to come through again (5&6 are on the top).  Her fingernails and toenails continue to grow at rates that seem to be a record for us. 

Why is she growing so much?  Well, because she is a great eater!  She continues to love most foods.  We learned she doesn't like tomatoes, but it seems all other foods are pleasant to her.  She ran out of Aunt Adrienne's milk about 10 days ago so we have been slowly transitioning her to almond/coconut milk with a trace of formula to aid the transition.  It hasn't been super easy, but I think we found a method that is working to some degree.  We were so very blessed with mama milk and wish it could go on and on.  We are not going to try T on cow's milk.  Yes, I know where we live.  No, she has not shown any signs of an allergy.  Yes, many people with her heritage are intolerant later in life.  While we might be the typical paranoid parents of this generation, the hormones in milk and hidden added ingredients have turned our family off totally.  Even Brandon is now on a totally almond milk diet.  This does not mean a dairy free diet for Brandon or T.  T has Greek yogurt every day and Brandon has yogurt, cheese, sour cream, ice cream etc.  We are just steering clear of milk.

Overall T is sleeping very well.  She moves all day long and the nights are no different.  She is so busy.  If the littlest thing wakes her up she can be up for quite some time.  This can be a challenge, but overall she is sleeping very well.  She still does just one nap a day 99% of the time.  She really could still do/might need two naps, but M won't let her fall asleep in the morning so therefore she has one nap a day most days.  She continues to sleep in the travel crib in our room, but will be transitioning to her room and her big crib soon, hopefully!

T continues to make milestone after milestone.  I can't believe that the little girl I see today could not roll over or sit alone 3 months ago.  She took her first steps on April 1st.  Brandon was at a meeting and she walked between M and I.  We all stayed up late so Brandon could she her walk on her first day. Each day she gains more confidence in her walking and I would say she now walks more than she crawls.  I will miss her crawl.  She doesn't let her knees touch the ground, but crawls on her hands and feet.  She goes really fast and it is impossible not to laugh.  We are so proud of our walker!  She has become a much better grasper, clapper, sound maker, copier, and climber in the last month as well. 

She is starting to say some words, or versions of words.  She says something for Daddy (dada but sometimes sounds like daddy), M (baba which is like brother), Jesus (Esus this is because of the willow wood Jesus figure she loves to suck on after her bottles), Yay (Yay), Baby (baybeee it is pretty clear actually).  Nope, mama wasn't forgotten.  M took a long time to say mommy too.  I guess he is making up for it now. My kiddos must just figure I come to crying so why learn my name :) She loves to sign for "more" but has changed the sign to her liking.  Actually when Grandpa Tom was here he was sharing how T's cousin A signs more and T must have thought the modified version was cool because that is what she now does and it changed right after he said it.  Strange, huh?

I would say we are in a very healthy place with attachment overall.  This does not mean we have a secure attachment.  I have read enough books and experienced the process with M.  I know we are far from attachment arrival, but our bond between mom and T, dad and T, and even M and T is pretty strong.  I can tell my warm feelings for her continue to grow.  We are so thankful she is a part of our family and each day it feels a little bit more natural to have a family of four.  T continues to struggle with head banging.  PLEASE pray for her on this.  She has 100's of triggers and it is taxing on all of us. 

T has had a cold that has sort of lingered, most likely from constant teething.  She has also had some rashes.  With the scabies history I got a little nervous and did take her in to the Dr.  He said she is fine so that was a relief.  No scabies! 

I wanted to say that we are out of the cocoon, but I fear that might imply that T is ready for others to hold her.  This is still not the case.  I would say that we will go about 3 more months before non-family holds T.  This process has been going very well and we are going to continue in it.  We have emerged out of our home bound cocoon.  It has been great fun to go on playdates, go to church again, even go to stores and out to eat.  It is hard taking them both places, but each time it gets easier.  Lately, the daily rain has made errands extra challenging.  Oh how we long for Spring to arrive.  Last Monday was warm enough to play outside for a while.  I just couldn't stop smiling soaking up my family time, laughter, and Vitamin D!!! 

All about M...
M has had a cold for the better part of the last 2 months.  Please pray for M's health as well.  It is hard to make good choices when you are not feeling well.  It is hard to sleep when you are not feeling well.  Poor M has really be struggling with sleep.  I know this is the most constant theme in M's little life, but since we came home with T things have gone downhill.  In March 2012 he began sleeping alone in his room through the night.  He did this with success from March 2012 until we came home with T.  Since home I was almost transitioned out of the room when he got sick.  The sickness brought on a night time neediness that I have not seen since his first days home.  I get him to sleep, but sometimes it takes me going to sleep with him for him to fall asleep.  This means that my time along and my time with Brandon have decreased A LOT.  It is hard to function and be a good mom, and wife with his demands.  I am sure those of you reading this might be filled with suggestions and maybe even critical thoughts.  Please understand that our tenderhearted boy will sleep again on his own one day and we are going to parent him in a trust and grace based model as we wait for that time.  He lost a lot of trust and even attachment while we were in Ch*na.  We are working very hard to build that up.  We have been seeing some progress.  Two of the last 3 nights he slept in his crib all night long with me in the bed next to him.  He woke up one once each night to use the bathroom and went right back to sleep.  Last night was a little harder, but I do feel we are making progress.  He has been having a lot of bad dreams lately.  Please pray for sweet dreams and for emotional healing.  The thing is he wants to sleep on his own.  He just can't do it quite yet. 

Overall, M is transitioning to his role pretty well.  He truly loves T and is so proud of her.  She can walk across a room quite well now.  She gets herself up, stands, and moves.  M gets gleefully excited almost every time and says, "T's taking her first steps."  So sweet.  He is loving riding his bike with training wheels.  We are loving that the added exercise burns off some of his extra energy and neediness.  He continues to learn more and more all the time and is constantly trying to figure out what letter words start with.  He is eating very well, and if it isn't spicy or (non ground) beef he will give it a try.  He really likes shrimp! 

How am I?  Surviving with a smile!  Many days leave me weary, but this time around it so different than with M.  With M I was crying a lot.  I doubted my ability to do this mommy thing.  It was just plain hard.  This time around I know it will get easier.  I know attachment will happen.  I know I can handle it, and even though there are hard times, there is a peaceful feeling that is heartwarming in the midst of overwhelming.   I feel very blessed.  God has allowed me to be the mom of two busy, fun, unique kiddos. They love being center stage and I always get a front row seat for the action.  I get to learn every day with them.  I am so thankful for Brandon's constant encouragement and help in all areas.  He is the life of the party and his homecoming is the highlight of our day.  T is so smitten with him she squeals when he comes home.  Sometimes on long days we all chant "come home daddy, come home." 

I am so excited to see what God has planned for us in the next 3 months.  As T has learned to walk I have learned anew a couple of spiritual principles.  T was wearing a hat one evening and it totally covered most of her eyes.  She walked her best ever than night as all the distractions around her were removed and she could just see what she needed right in front of her.  I need to focus on Christ and blind myself to the junk around that beckons!  Each step for T is very directed and purposeful.  I need to take purposeful God directed steps each day.  These are not easy tasks, but I am thankful for T and M, but tiny teachers reminding me daily and hourly to call on Jesus! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Say What???

M continues to say so many funny things every single day.  I should write them all down.  I do get many of them, but not all.  Here are a few recent favorite.  My system of recording them is grabbing a post-it, writing it down, and tossing it in the drawer.  The system might need tweaking as I can't find as many as I thought there were, but at any rate, these are pretty cute!

March and April 2013
M talked on and on about "Ankles"... you know the "Ankles" at Jesus' tomb :)

"It's lovely weather for a "sleigh-hide" together with you."

After reading a book about springtime and Easter M asked daddy,  "How do chickens bloom?"

Pondering he asks, "How does a hanger dry shirts?"

M insists that there is a Wheels on the Bus song with a verse that says, "The Grandpa on the bus says 'Where's my chew'" but I can't seem to find it.  This is so hilarious.  Is it true?  Anyone know?

I sing hymns to M at bedtime each night and here are a couple of his latest versions of song lyrics.

"Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His thrown, are cows are humbling and drown all music but it's own." (I guess if there is a lamb, there should be cows too.)

"Wait in the leper sings, Jesus my Lord.  Up from the grave He arose..."

Friday, April 12, 2013

My favorite things!

I have recently seen a few bloggers do "favorite things" posts so I thought I would join in... this post started at "Ode to my Ergo" but then I started thinking of more things that I LOVE for my kiddos.  Some of these relate specifically to adoption, but some are just general kid favorites.  For the most part my kids rock out hand me downs and dine on the Aldi special.  The items listed below are things I am passionate about.  I am not saying they are for everyone so if I come across a little strong... and I will :) It is just because I like them so much.  I tried to find photos of me (and the kiddos) using the products I love.  A few of them are void of photos, but still worthy of being shared!  I have spent way too much time on this post, but it has been pretty fun to do.  Even if you don't have little kids, these items would make great gift ideas! 
*Note, while this is geared more towards parenting, I think you all know from my Ch*na blogging that we LOVED our rolling duffels that we used in China.  I wrote about them all over the place so I will just say, Eagle Creek No Matter What rolling duffel bags ROCK!

Shelly's Favorite Things


I am sure this one is no surprise to you!  Our kids are in the Ergo all the time!  When T was really hitting herself the Ergo was the only way we could get her to sleep.  When we do adoption trips our Ergo is in our carry on... that is how precious it is to us!  I really like the Ergo because it is designed to take the weight of the child off your back and distributes it to the hips and legs. Through my years as a baby sitter and nanny I have had the opportunity to try a lot of different carriers.  I am totally sold on the Ergo.  You can wear the child on the front, back, and side.  It is great for grocery shopping or even longer hikes.  The sun shade is brilliant too.  Having my babies next to my chest is so incredibly special to both of us as we are making up for lost time.  An added bonus of the Ergo is that the child is close enough that strangers and friends don't try to hold the baby.  I also love having my hands free to do almost anything.  When T is on my back I can cook, clean, dance and play with M... you name it. OK, can you see why this is one of my favorite things?  I won't be as pushy with most of the others!

In ET with M and his big buddy Z

Our first walking date (in the hallways of our church) with Charissa and L.

Same Ergo new baby.  T's favorite place to nap in Ch*na.

Two Ergo's in this one... seriously folks, they are incredible.


The Cetaphil tub is the best lotion I have  found for "Every Stage and Every Age" as they say.  M came to me in the winter with soft skin and it was my mission to keep his skin soft even through the dry winter.  T came to me with VERY dry skin and those first weeks I wondered it it would ever feel like M's. My kiddos have super soft skin.  The added bonus it that it doesn't have poison control info on it so I am going with the hope this means it is OK to be ingested :)  Hopefully this photo isn't took revealing.  All private parts are covered...look at my chubby baby! 
Is this strange? M loves him some Cetahphil!

Cloth Diapers

You all know I love them.  I was so skeptical at first.  Then the first day in cloth I was nervous that they wouldn't work.  Now I can't imagine not using them.  Some people think dealing with them is gross.  I personally think dealing with poo on a diaper is much easier than dealing with poo on the inside of pants and onesies.  Since wearing cloth neither of my kids have had a big blowout.  That alone is impressive.  Cloth diapering saves money and helps us to steward the earth God entrusted to us by not polluting it. I have diapers from two companies and I like them both, but one company has much better customer service than the other.  Hopefully I can post great news soon about the other one.  Our very favorite diaper is still the one that was made for us by my friend Laura.  It is the first one M wants to use for T after they are washed! 
This is the best they have ever looked!  This was the diapers after the pre-wash.  I have added many to the collection, and I am still so very thankful for cloth!

Playtex drop-ins (now called Nursers)

I know plastic central... but seriously, for traveling internationally and LONG plane flights... These are awesome!!!!  The center part comes out and you toss (recycle) it and only the nipple is dirty.  Easy to wipe out on the airplane. I can't imagine trying to wash bottles in hotel rooms with dirty water.  I am passionate about making sure Intl adoptive families know about these great bottles.  If you want to give a gift to an adoptive family these are inexpensive and the Target brand of drop ins works just as well as the name brand.

First time in a car seat on the way home from the airport.

First bottle with her mommy!  What a peanut!  Wow has she grown.

Bumpkins bibs

Seriously, we should have invested in Bumpkins.  They are awesome.  They wash so well.  They last forever.  They withstand everything.  They don't stain.  They stay on.  We have dealt with so many bibs that only partially cover the body.  We have had bibs that can be yanked off way to easily.  We have had bibs that stain at the first battle with red sauce.  We have had bibs that are cloth and have to be washing machine washed all the time.  I can give these bibs a full sink bath after every meal if I want to and they are dry by the next meal.  The short (and long) sleeves help them to stay on no matter what.  Another great gift idea for anyone!!!!

I guess the funny faces have been around a while... and so has the bib!

Messy every day for years!

A long sleeved variety for my messy little dear.


Socks falling off and needing to be put on again 50 times an hour is stressful.  T yanks hers off the second she has a chance.  There are a lot of slippers and shoes out there, but my kiddos are smarter than them.  My kids live in Robeez.  They wear/wore them all the time.  The socks stay on, the feet stay warm, and they are super cute!  Seriously, I have found no substitute for them as far as durability.  I wash and dry them all the time and they are just as good as day one... and they were hand me downs to me. 

Little man in Robeez!
Little girl in Robeez!

Puffed Rice

This Indian Market food is one of my favorites.  We have used it for years, but T LOVES it and eats puffed rice with every meal.  I like that it has no other ingredients so no added salt or sugar or anything.  That is right.  The only thing in them is "puffed rice."  To me the choice is obvious because the other puffs around have LOTS of ingredients and if they get wet and fall on my floor, the sugar in them causes sticky grossness.  Also, I am allergic to the other kinds so every time I touch them I have to wash.  Finding out T likes this was a home run for my sanity.  She also eats a lot of Chex for snacks, but the puffs are the best.
Loving her puffed rice... and her Bumkins Bib. 

Fireworks Popcorn/Lemon La Croix/Liquid Stevia

This is my recipe for amazingness.  That's right... the other things above were kid focused, and this is mommy focused.  Being a mom isn't the easiest job in the world friends.  After the kiddos are asleep.  I pop a big batch on the stove and put some tasty popcorn salt on it (and yes it makes a difference) and add some Sevia to my La Croix so it tastes like Sprite.  I fall on the couch next to hubby for a relaxing episode of the Waltons. I am a popcorn snob and I believe that Fireworks is the BEST around.  You can order it on line around the world or find it at many stores in the midwest.  I freely admit that I have an addiction of sorts.  It is so good.  I have spread the addiction to several friends and they are spreading the word too. La Croix is (to me) the tastiest of the the seltzer water options.  Lemon is my favorite variety because it tastes most like Sprite.  Liquid Stevia is so much easier to work with than the powder.  One squirt and you are in business. 

Honorable Mentions

 These two items are wonderful too, they just don't have any fun photos attached to them.  


When my kiddos are breathing through their nose Aquaphor is the only thing strong enough to help their chapped lips.  It is great stuff.  We use it year around as chapstick and also put it on little cuts and scrapes.  Warning: It will stain... Mikias' bedding will forever look wet... oops.  It was worth it.  

Hyland's teething gel/tablets/cold tablets

Most mammas know... Hyland rocks!  I am experiencing the amaziness of them now more than ever because T can have lactose which is in the tablets.  The cold ones are so impressive! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Egg Hunt!

After church/lunch/and nap we hid some eggs in the front living room and found them.  We simply hit empty eggs.  M has no idea that some kids get baskets, or that sometimes people put candy in the eggs.  He was thrilled to find the empty eggs which are better for his teeth anyway : )

T is chilling on the blanket from her great aunt (also wearing the hat made by her)

M with the "Empty tomb" (white Resurrection egg) on his head. 

The egg hunt begins.

Check out all my great eggs!

Discovering peek a boo with a dress is way more fun that peek a boo with a shirt.

And peek a boo with a chair!

IS is just me or does my baby look pretty grown up in the last 2 photos :( 

OK, I guess I like this egg.

Standing on her own for a LONG time.

T's Bonnet :) She kept trying to put it on her head.  Actually I think that she thinks it is a necklace and she was putting it around her neck.  A bit alarming, and very cute.