Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Christmas Season!

Life is so crazy busy for us right now, with four kids and all that is required to get this clinic up and running, but I'm determined to enjoy the Christmas season with the kiddos!

Brandon and Camryn enjoyed "Polar Express" day at Mother's Day Out, cozy in their pajamas with lots of yummy snacks to munch on.
We debated even putting up a tree this year, out of fear that Dex would have it on top of him. I decided we'd risk it since he has such a hard head and we have three other kids who were very disappointed at the idea of not having a tree. So far, he's hardly even noticed the tree. So, I'm very glad we put it up this year. A few pictures in front of the tree ...One of our favorite traditions is going to ride the train at Creekmore Park. With the wintry air, all the Christmas lights, and music playing, it's such a fun time! This year, it was even warm enough that the kids could play on the playground equipment without freezing. Cam thought it was really cool that she got to play in the dark?!The girls on the train.The boys on the train.They were handing out candy canes while you waited to ride. Dexter devoured his and then begged his brother and sisters to share theirs with him!Every year, the regular gals from the gym get together and have dinner together for Christmas. We had a great time this year at Olive Garden. Look at those hot Mommas!We took the kids to visit Santa when he was here in town ... much better than the mall Santa experience because there are no lines and you can take photos. Brandon was bold and stepped right up to be the first to sit in Santa's lap. Dex did better than we expected, but he was definitely not a fan of Santa.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Breakfast Drama!

High drama in our house starts early, especially with Camryn. I asked her what she wanted for breakfast this morning and she replied, "Cereal. With milk." Easy enough. No.
I put the cereal in the bowl and started to pour the milk over it, and the shrieking began!
It took awhile for the Drama Princess to calm down enough for me to understand that she was saying, "Put the milk on bottom! I want the milk on bottom of my cereal!"

So, we scooped the cereal to the side of the bowl, poured the milk in, and let the cereal go back on top of the milk! Lesson learned: Camryn is not content with letting gravity do its job with her milk! Milk must go in before cereal!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Brandon is going to Kindergarten

. . . just a few months later than he thought.

We were in Wal-Mart Monday, picking out some supplies for Brandon's birthday in January. He was beyond excited and kept telling me, "Mommy, I'm going to be 5 in five weeks!" Then, he got very serious and said, "I need to start making your presents." I asked him why he would be making me presents for his birthday, and he said, "You know, presents for when I go on the bus. 'Cuz I go to kindergarten when I'm five, and you'll miss me during the day when I'm at school!"

"Heartbroken" doesn't even begin to describe that little man when I explained that he wouldn't be going to school until after the summer.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Dex knows that it's "work first, then play." That's why he started the day doing laundry. He just got the sink and the toilet mixed up -- something must have been lost in translation.
Nick worked on the Christmas lights. Great Job again this year, Dad!Abi forgot she was supposed to be picking the blocks up -- talk about sitting down on the job!
On to a little play . . .

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Cinquain

We were reading a Junie B. Jones book in which that darling little first-grader with the most horrible grammar (does the author understand at all that there should be an -ly at the end of adverbs?!) wrote a cinquian. The three little Costons were napping, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to help Abi explore her poetic side. Here is her Christmas cinquain:
Twinkly, Decorated
Baking, Giving, Singing
Sweet time with family

Monday, November 22, 2010

Deep Breath

This weekend we were able to just hang out together as a family and take a deep breath. It seems like it's been forever since we've been able to do that. Since we got back from China, it's been non-stop catch up. There are so many details to be working on with the clinic, Thanksgiving and Christmas plans, normal life, and home repairs for whatever Dexter manages to disassemble that day.
So, we were long overdue for a deep breath, family-style.
We spent a while outside hopscotch jumping, bike riding, slide climbing, and rock throwing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Folded In

Just like God's recipe said, "Fold small Chinese boy into American family of 5," we have folded Dex right into our family over the past week. And just like a recipe, when properly folded in, all of the ingredients have blended into one perfectly yummy concoction!It's like he's been part of our family for a long time. He adores his brother and sister, enjoys playing whatever they convince him to play, and is becoming very attached to Momma and Dada! A friend asked me a few days ago if it's weird to look at him and think that he's my son now. I was glad she asked me because it made me really realize just how natural it really does seem.
A couple of days after we met him, I felt pretty fearful and anxious as the reality set in that we now had another child. I remember feeling a bit like that a few days after being home with each of the others -- but I was especially anxious with him, I think, because it's such a different start to parenting, I realized that so much of his personality had already been established, and that there is so much about him that we didn't know. As I was falling asleep that night, I just prayed that God would take away my fear, anxiety and doubts because I knew that He had called us to adopt and that He had picked the perfect child for us. So, knowing that and trusting Him, I just wanted the anxiety to pass so I could enjoy being a mom to this precious little boy. When I woke up the next morning, I felt so refreshed and light-hearted. It felt perfectly natural to call myself "Momma" to him, where before it had felt a bit forced. When I woke up that morning, I was truly his Momma! So, no, it's not weird or unnatural feeling to have Dex as my son.
It's as sweet as that sucker he's eating!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

There's No Place Like Home!

We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family! We had such a wonderful homecoming! It was so good to see familiar faces and hug my kids again!
Brandon saw us coming through the airport, and he came running toward us with his sign, yelling, "Momma! Dexter! Momma! Dexter!" Brandon is such a precious boy, and I enjoy watching our boyS play together. Brandon couldn't stop touching Dex.

The trip home actually went better than I'd expected. There were definitely times that I thought someone on the plane might push us out the door at 33,000 feet. But, overall, Dex did very well. It was tough to find things to entertain him, and we were counting down minute-by-minute at times. It was a very early start at 4:30 a.m. to make it to the airport for our flight. We had a very quick breakfast in the airport. I felt a little melancholy about leaving China with Dex. I want him to learn about his Chinese heritage and culture. I know he'll have so many more opportunities in America with our family, but I learned to appreciate the Chinese culture so much more during our time there, and I want Dex to know about that, too.

It's really hard to wrap your mind around the concept of flying halfway around the world. We saw some amazing things on the flight home. When we first took off in Beijing, I saw huge, sharp-peaked mountains and was in awe of those ... and then we saw the Great Wall running along the ridge of one of the mountains! We saw the mountains of Siberia, the sunrise over the Arctic Ocean, and huge chunks of ice floating in the ocean.
We saw the sun rise again over Canada, north of the Hudson Bay.

Yes, I'm crying as we're about to touchdown in Chicago, knowing our little man was about to become a citizen of the United States, which would be the final step in his adoption into our family.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Guangzhou 2010

The entire city has been gearing up for the 16th Annual Asian Games, to be held in Guangzhou. The Asian Games are huge -- held every four years, much like the Olympics. Tonight was the parade of boats, I suppose, along the River. We happened to be eating on the patio of a restaurant on the river and saw the light show, boat parade, dancers on the mainland shore ... beautiful. I'm also including a few more shots of the beautiful island here, which is especially decked out because of the upcoming Asian games.
I was finally able to get a shot of the ever-popular split pants without being totally rude in taking the picture. It's hard to find pants for boys aged 12 months-4 years that have a backside in them. Split pants are popular for toilet training and easy diaper changing. The funniest part to me is that they make split pant snowsuits. The rest of the kid is bundled up and sweating in the 80-degree weather, but their butts are hanging out!
We also took "red couch" photos this morning. It's a tradition among adoptive families to take pictures of their adopted children on this red couch in the hotel. Our friends Wendy and her daughter Mikaylah are in the photo with us. Wendy and Joel are the friends we met prior to traveling who live in southwest Missouri, very near to where we lived when Abi was little. We hope Dex and Mikaylah can be friends growing up, and we're grateful to have another family to have shared this journey with who live so nearby.