Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween! with Blue, Cinderella and a Ladybug

I FINALLY got my laptop back from HP, where I had sent it for repairs. Aaaah. Now I will agressively post and update;).

Halloween was a BLAST!!!! I love fall because there are so many fun traditions: the cheesey pumpkin farms, carving jack-o-lanterns, a costume parade at school, jumping in the leaves and trick-or treating of course!!! It was so fun to "twicko-twee" first with Grandma and Grandpa around our neighborhood, and then with our buddy Ewan. We were out from 3:30 to 6:30 and collected millions of calories of candy packed with high fructose corn syrup (yum, pass me the Mounds! er.. and my running shoes). This is all so new to Tonito!!! Faces on pumpkins? Scary monsters hanging from trees? (that is scary on many different levels). Knocking on strangers doors and asking for candy? It's funny how much we enjoy such a weird holiday- I think the possibility of sugar clouds our judgment:). But seriously, I don't know what is cuter than little kids in costumes. Seeing all the little princesses and Spider Men was very exciting for the kids, and I just couldn't stop smiling watching our little princess and puppy dog almost running from house to house. Towards the end Tonito told us "My pumpkin is big," which we finally understood to mean it was too heavy to carry:). I have such happy family fall memories, and I love watching the kids making their own..

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Early Trick-or-Treating!

Proudly presenting our little Cinderella, ladybug, and Blue! We went trick-or-treating in our little downtown area- from store to store. Tonito had NO IDEA what was going on! First mommy dressed him as a "blue dog" (he doesn't know about Blue's Clues yet;) and then he went up to strangers and said "trick-or-treat" and got candy! What a fun idea:). On Sunday and Monday he asked to go again but I told him only on Halloween! They are going to have a little Halloween parade at their school the 30th so that will be another little introduction before the big day!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pumpkin Farm!

You will probably think we are crazy, but since Vivi was back to herself on Saturday, on Sunday we went to a pumpkin farm! The kids loved the usual pony rides, hay ride, petting the animals, and bouncing in the moonwalks. It's so fun to show Tonito all of these Halloween/fall traditions for the first time! He definitely learned the word "pumpkin" after today:). Maya is a little doll, just sucking her thumb and happy as can be as long as we are holding her.

This is the big bouncy/slide that I decided to go down with the kids. First of all it was almost impossible to climb up the rope ladder while holding Maya, but we made it. Then we got to the top and both Tonito and Vivi told me they didn't want to go down! Oh well! We weren't allowed to climb back down the rope ladder, so I had to first push Tonito down the slide, and then drag Vivi down with me (while holding oblivious Maya). We caused a scene, of course, and quickly moved on to the ponyrides. Something that I love is seeing Tonito's face when he does something for the first time! When adoptive parents adopt an older child, sometimes they have missed out on some "firsts:" (first time walking, talking, etc). But I can assure you there are so many other "firsts" and the excitement of a 4 year old was awesome!!! Sure, it had been Maya's first time seeing a pony up close- but she just kind-of petted it and then went back to snuggling. But Tonito- his smile could not have been bigger and he could not have felt prouder than when he rode the little pony around in the circle!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Vivi's Trip to the ER

On Thursday night, Vivi was complaining that her stomach really hurt. I tried to distract her, because I thought it was just that she didn't want to go to bed. The whole time we were reading books, she kept saying how her tummy hurt. Then I told the kids they could have some yogurt (that is our "midnight snack" sometimes before we go to bed), and she was curled up in the fetal position saying she couldn't walk over to the table because something was broken inside.

She really seemed like she was in pain, so after talking to the pediatrician I decided to take her to the emergency room around 9pm. For the next 3 hours she was screaming and crying in pain as we gave blood and urine samples, and 4 men holding her down could not get the catheter in. It was the worst experience of her little life:(. So here we are, exhausted, it's 12:30, and the dr. says we have to transfer (by ambulance) to a different hospital that could better help us because Vivi's white blood cell count was 29 (which apparently is higher than normal). We went in the ambulance and Vivi handled it well strapped in the gurney with me in the front seat calling back to her. At the new hospital we had more urine tests, and she was still in a lot of pain. The surgeon and several doctors all thought that she had something called intussusception (yes I had to google that to spell it correctly). What they told me is that part of your intestine gets pulled into itself (which they kept calling "telescoping") and then it is blocked and causes severe abdominal pain. Because they thought Vivi had this, they had to do a barium enema. This scary and uncomfortable procedure was even worse at 3am while being velcroed onto a board, your legs taped down. I think one of the worst experiences for a parent is watching your child in pain and not being able to do anything to help them- she was screaming "Mommy, please, make them stop! They're hurting me! Mommy don't let them hurt me! Please mommy! This hurts! Leave me alone!" (and many more desperate attempts during the 20 minute ordeal). Poor, poor baby:(. It was so hard for me to explain that I know it really hurt, but we had to let the doctors try to "fix" her owie.
In the end they ruled out the very dangerous intussusception and appendicitis, thank goodness. They think she had a really bad viral stomach flu, although I think that was just a guess. We stayed an additional day and night and she was definitely feeling better by the time we went home on Saturday. It was an exhausting, frightening experience and we are so relieved that Vivi is ok!!! We will add this to her list of ER visits (stitches in her head, burning her palm on a popcorn popper, and one time we thought she had pneumonia). My little owie girl! I am so glad she is herself again.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hanging with the Animals

Yet another zoo trip:)- when you're members you go quite often! This time the zoo was having a kite flying festival; I'm sure the show would have been more spectacular with a little breeze, but it was still fun to see the professional kite flyers manage them in still air. The children's zoo and the petting zoo were free this weekend so we took advantage of it. Vivi's new obsession is the lemur. We went to the zoo on Saturday, and then on Sunday we stopped by Home Depot to get a couple of bushes. Vivi was saying that she was a lemur and the minivan turned into her home, a "bosque" (forest). Vivi really, really likes animals and actually will not play with any dolls or little people. Her favorite is the giraffe (fa-fa) and now apparently the lemur is a close second. She also loves ponies and kitties. Tonito on the other hand likes lions first, and then monkeys, and dogs.

Maya is learning to love animals quickly and can imitate a lion (she roars and hold up both claws), a lobo- wolf (tilts her head up and purses her lips saying oooo), an elephant (holds up her arm like a trunk, but doesn't say anything), our favorite- the gorilla (bangs her chest and says aaaah), says moo for a cow, and uf-uf for the dog. Actually the dog and cow were her first animal noises, and then the gorilla. So at the zoo she was overgeneralizing and moo-ing at goats and llamas, and anything small she would bark at. It was adorable! She is very vocal, and also very musical (she has been dancing and shimmying her shoulders since she was 6 months old!). I love my kiddos!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cosley Zoo

As long as we haven't moved, we've been taking advantage of playing with all of our friends and cousins! We met our 2 cousins, Sam and Nate, with their mom Annie at the Cosley Zoo (I'm

not sure why it is called a zoo instead of a farm?). The kids love animals and love running around, so they had a very fun day! We didn't realize it was Columbus Day and therefore millions of kids were out of school and also enjoying the animals- which makes it a little harder to keep track of 3 shorties while each pushing a stroller with our little ones:). Afterwards we all ate lunch together, except poor Maya who was exhausted. She is 13 months, and just starting to wean herself of her morning nap- but can't yet handle only one nap. So she either doesn't sleep her morning nap and is really tired by noon or sleeps well in the morning and can't fall asleep in the afternoon. It is so hard to be a baby and have everyone weave their schedule around you!!!:) Speaking of babies, "little" Nate (Mr. Cheeks in the booster chair) is huge!!!! And he is starting to walk!!! "But wait," you say, "he is 4 month younger than Maya, who has no interest in walking!" I know, he is athletically very advanced (and Zen baby Maya would rather sit and cuddle). I think this is going to be quite a challenge for Annie within the next month or so once he learns how to run: Sam is still too young to listen to "stop running" orders, and Nate will be heading in the opposite direction! Crazy but fun:).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Art Projects

We've been trying to do lots of cutting, pasting, coloring, writing, stickers, playdough, etc. to build up Tonito's (and Vivi's) fine motor skills. Apparently the hard work is paying off because Tonito just showed us that he can button his shirt!!! This is especially significant for him because it is something that he can do that Vivi cannot (we do not necessarily encourage this ubiquitous competition!! But of course we are proud of him:). So in the first picture, my mom is helping them do a Halloween craft. Since she was a preschool teacher since I was in preschool she always has different projects for them to do - they LOVE going to Grandma and Grandpa's house! The next 3 pictures are from the little art museum by our house. They have an exhibit of Bonnie Koloc's "Bestiary," which is a collectionf of block prints of farm animals along with songs and poems. So the kids first drew on the styrofoam (Tonito did one of Mingo our dog, and another of a cow, and Vivi did a pony and a kitty). We helped them only by making their lines deeper. Then they rolled ink over the picture, and stamped it onto a paper. They turned out so cute!!! I am neither creative nor artsy;), so I love these little programs that let the kids create and get messy. We deifintely get messy at home, but usually it is just lots of paint on paper!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Starved Rock!

What do you do on a beautiful fall day when you're kicked out of your house (yet another open house)...? Go hiking to admire the gorgeous colors- except that the leaves further south haven't changed colors yet! So we just appreciated the different shades of greens and all of the stunning scenery. We brought the dogs, a picnic, and the kelty backpack for Maya and hiked all day with a few interruptions: fuzzy caterpillars, daddy long legs, a "pirate" boat on the river, and the sandstone that you could carve in. Vivi and Tonito did awesome!!! We hiked a couple of different loops, that added up to more than 4 miles, which doesn't sound like a lot for us (except that I carried Maya the whole time!) but imagine their little tiny legs running up and down all of the stairs like little energizer bunnies! Something I love is how much fun they have and how willing they are to do whatever we throw in front of them. After enjoying some ice cream, you can bet we had 3 kids sound asleep in the carride home.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Grandma's Birthday!

We celebrated my mom's birthday at one of our favorite places: the Arboretum. I'm sure for some people who live in warmer climates they like having the same weather all year (like where we might be moving!), but we LOVE the change because each season brings its own special charm and your whole body can anticipate the next season coming. What says autumn more than cooler weather, pumpkins, the beautiful red, orange, and yellow fall leaves, picking apples... we love, love, love fall. We walked around one of the ponds which was surrounded by scarecrows- every October Girl Scout troops decorate scarecrows and name them something arboretum-inspired (think Hannah Plant-ana and Miley "Cypress"). The kids painted pumpkins (Tonito's new word) and made caramel apples with ALL of the toppings available including but not limited to oreos crumbs, nuts, chocolate chips, m&m's. I'm not sure if this is the apple a day that keeps the doctor away, but it definitely tasted good! We love the Children's Garden with the different playgrounds and slides, and with such gorgeous weather we were able to spend the whole day playing.