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.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Family Day!

On Sunday, we had "Family Day" at preschool! Each of the kids sang a song related to the beach (hence the tropical beachwear!).

Then we went outside to play in the bouncy houses, make some crafts, play some games, ride the train, and run around with their friends!

It's so funny to see the kids' reactions to the carnival atmosphere at their school. When we drove up and they saw the bounce houses, Maya's jaw dropped and she exclaimed "That's my school!" She actually thinks that her teacher's live there, and when we drive by she frequently says "Let's go visit Ann/Sarah (Miss Ann/Miss Sarah= her teachers) at her house!" She begs to have playdates with them, and always asks if they will be at our Monday playgroup. One Sunday, as we were driving by, I told her "I don't think Miss Ann is there today." Maya's response "Oh yeah, she's getting her sister from the airport" (because the 2 times she missed school was picking up and dropping off her sister at the airport;). I love the kid's logic!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Document collecting and allergy testing

Now that we have accepted the referral, we have been busy getting documents ready- our I-171 needs to be ammended to reflect the age of the child (we were approved for a child a couple of months shy of little R), and that requires an addendum from our social worker, fed-exed to USCIS. I am crossing my fingers and praying that the immigration office can approve us quickly so we can figure out when we are travelling!!!:)

Here are some pictures of the kids practicing their chopsticking skills and enjoying a cookie. Who knew that Chips Ahoy didn't have eggs!!? Yay for Vivi (thanks Judy!). Vivi was retested for allergies, and we found out she is not only allergic to eggs and nuts, but also milk and soy. When the doctor first left the message, I went out and bought lactose-free milk. The new milk did not ameliorate her tummy troubles... when I went to the doctor, he explained that being lactose intolerant was completely different than actually being allergic. In people who are lactose intolerant, their lactase enzyme is not functioning properly to digest the milk. In a true milk allergy, the protein in milk is harmful to the person, and so in some cases the bodies emits antibodies in defense of the "poison" causing the symptoms. ANYWAY, so the reason why the lactose-free milk didn't help, was because it was still cows milk with milk protein. Now we have her on rice milk and almond milk, and she is doing great! It is amazing to see the difference. The doctor said that it is very possible that she will outgrow the allergy, but we have to keep her milk (and soy, egg, nut) free for a year before they retest her.... We have so many diet restrictions in our families, from celiac (gluten-free) to diabetic, to vegetarian, to....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Great news!!!

On April 15th, we got a phone call that changed our lives (again!)....

I was driving to pick up the girls, and I checked my phone and saw many missed called. Two were from out of the area, and many more were from Tonio. I was worried that something happened because Tonio was in Switzerland and was going to be trying to get home amid the volcanic ash. Airports were being closed because the ash cloud was preventing a lot of flights from taking off, and I was hoping he would be able to come home for the weekend. I checked my voicemail, and it was Tonio telling me to check my voicemail "Becky.. I hope you get this message.. WACAP called me and said they might have a referral for us."

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????????? We had just gotten I-171 approval in Feb 25, and the wait was supposed to be 8-10 months-- we were hoping for a referral by Christmas!!!!

I kept listening to the voicemails, and heard one from our caseworker from WACAP with the magical words: "We have a possible referral for you... a little boy... 26 months... " She had missed talking to me, so she called Tonio in Switzerland. Tonio's so cute because he just told her that he says yes, and whatever I decide was perfect.

I was crying by the time I got to the kids' school, and called Andrea. She gave me all of the details, and I told her to please email me the medical information and I would have some doctors review it. I picked up the girls and told them that they had a baby brother in Ethiopia. "We already know that mommy!" They didn't quite get it that everything was becoming more real!

I drove home and got on the computer and saw his medical info, and his beautiful picture. I cannot post the picture until we pass court, but I can tell you that he is the most beautiful little boy, with long dark eyelashes, huge black eyes and a pouty little mouth. Once we picked up Tonito from school, I sat them on the couch and asked if they wanted to see a picture of their little brother. I just had this feeling inside that told me that he was our son and that we would accept the referral. Tonito couldn't stop smiling, and was softly saying "That's my baby brother! He's cute!" Vivi was excited too, and echoed that cuteness comment. Maya furrowed her brow. "That no baby." I tried to tell her that even though he looks big in the picture, he's still going to be her baby brother. She looked from me to the picture, and back to me. "He no have hair. Why he no have hair?" I laughed and told her that his hair would grow- Maya's happiness in life comes from sucking her thumb and twirling (anybody's) hair. I think in her little mind a baby brother would look like Maeve, her 3 month old baby cousin: small and with a lot of hair. I think she's due for a paradigm shift:).

I quickly had several of my friends who are doctors check out the bloodwork and medical information, and everyone found that he was a healthy little boy. We are beyond excited, and our minds are busy with thoughts of Ethiopia and little R!

On April 16th we happily accepted the referral of little R and began to tell our family and friends! We cannot wait to met him!

No more training wheels!

I decided that it was time to teach the kids to ride their bikes without training wheels, and so I asked Tonio to teach them. He taught them! On the first day, he was trying to teach them to balance, and did a LOT of running behind the bike (without letting go). On their 2nd day they were doing it by themselves! Here is a video of their 3rd day. I think Tonio should become a professional bike trainer.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Today the kids' classes had a bike-a-thon in the parking lot. I have to admit, Tonio was out of town and I was not totally excited to put on the training wheels, get all 3 bikes in the car, lug them to the school, label them and park them in the right spots, and hang out all day until they were finished so I could bring them home. BUT I did it and I am SO glad that I did! (and embarrassed at my lazy thoughts of the morning). It was way more fun than I was imagining!!!!:) And since I was there for 3 different half hour slots of bike-riding, I happen to catch Vivi's class releasing their butterflies that they had "grown" from caterpillars. Each class was paired with another class, and was allowed 30 minutes to do loops around the bike track that was set up. There were the inevitable crashes that come with the territory, and some of the bigger preschoolers were racing a little too fast and furious around the cones- but really it was just a fun day that ended with special snacks.

Here's Maya's class- notice that Maya was on a push bike. She still hasn't learned to pedal and so I pushed her around and around the circle. The funniest part was after 20 minutes she got off her bike and sighed and told her teacher that she was tired from biking!

Tonito wanted me to take off his training wheels, but that is better by the bayou- wide sidewalks and not a million other peewee riders! He raced around and only fell down once- all with a smile and dimples:)..

Vivi's class was last- she stayed right by her best friend the whole time, and they both chatted and admired the other girls' pink and purple bikes and pompom accessories.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Concert in the Park

Weekends are for family time, and this weekend was no exception. Saturdays we usually work in the yard, Tonito has kung-fu and he and Vivi have Chinese class. In the afternoon, the kids played around on the trampoline and we walked around the town square looking at "cool cars."

Sundays in April and May there is free live music in a nearby park. We packed up a picnic dinner and some blankets, and enjoyed the sounds and sights:

We opened some red wine, had bread, salami, different cheeses, veggies, hummus, fruits... I'm so happy we can spend relaxing evenings like these with the kids!
There were jumpy houses and face painting, and they each found some friends there with their families. They ran around for a couple of hours screeching, dancing, climbing trees, and chasing the soccer ball. The beautiful weather just started to cool off a tiny bit as the sun went down, and gave us the perfect excuse to get them home to cozy pajamas.

Friday, April 9, 2010

MOTHRA is born in our garage

A couple of weeks ago, Tonito found a really big cocoon (now known by preschoolers as a "chrysalis"). I told the kids we could keep it in a closed aquarium, because I secretly was afraid it was a spider sac and imagined hundreds of "Charlotte's Web" baby spiders infesting my garage. We kind-of forgot about it, adding to the aquarium sticks, other bugs, rocks, and other nature finds. All of a sudden Vivi said she was going to check on the chrysalis, and came screaming out of the garage "We have a huge butterfly mommy!!!!"

It was drying its wings, hanging from the wire cover!! We flipped over the cover for the afternoon, to allow it to fly away. By evening, the kids got scared that maybe an owl would eat it, so we covered it back up again and by the next day it was ready to fly away. It flew into our back bushes, and the kids still look for him every evening. In their naturalist minds, this might have been the coolest day ever- akin to discovering a new species of rare butterflies that inhabit our backyard:).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

The day started out like millions of other households: wake up early, look for eggs and baskets, eat a year's allowance of chocolate. The Easter bunny had fun finding hiding spots in our new house! Tonito got some bakugans, Vivi and Maya both got a cheetah that purrs, and marshmellow peeps and reece's peanut butter eggs were shared by all.

After enjoying breakfast, the kids spent some time in the pool (our first time this year!). It was a little chilly- we don't have a heater- but they insisted it was not too cold for them.

In the evening we went to church, and took some Easter pictures:). The amount of photos it takes to get 3 kids smiling grows exponentially when a) they are tired b) they are hungry and c) there are kids running around behind the photographer. Promises of chocolate eggs would probably work better if the sugar bribes were present at the time of the photographs.

We found someone to take a family picture:

Happy Easter!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Egg hunts!

We started the day at a local Easter egg hunt. Despite starting a new hunt every 20 minutes, the kids didn't get many eggs on their own- many thanks to the kind egg donors who generously shared their plastic eggs with my daughters! Tonito must have scared people in his kung-fu costume, because he was able to fill up his basket quickly and easily.
After the Easter egg hunt, we got ready for dinner with friends: the girls helped me make tres leches cake (no eggs!) and fill plastic eggs with cheerios and chocolate bunny crackers.
Vivi and Maya are so cute together- the oldest sister/younger sister roles are emerging with Vivi inventing all sorts of fantasy play and Maya happily following and doing everything Vivi orders, er I mean says. Maya worships her older sister, thinks she is also 5, and wants and likes everything Vivi does. Vivi loves having a playmate that is so willing to participate in rescue lemur games, dress-up in princess clothes, or pretend to be a cheetah.

Dinner with friends is even better when the kids are the same ages- AND get along!:) Gabriel is in Vivi's class, and Rebecca is the exact age as Maya- they play really well, have a lot of fun, and even speak Spanish together.