Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Full House

We've been busy this week, entertaining our friends from Michigan. Our 'third daughter' Leah, arrived with her Mom (Carol), Dad (Mark) and brother (Anthony) on Sunday evening. They made the grueling 12-hour drive from Michigan to deliver Leah to us - she's joining us on our vacation this year. We'll spend this week showing the everyone around the Washington, DC area.

We started off this morning with a visit to the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Korean War memorial. We had planned to do more outdoors, but we're having one of our famous 'heat waves'. By 10AM it was 92 degrees with about 60% humidity. Yuk. We were all drenched! I made the command decision to move activities to the comfort of the air conditioned museum of Natural History and the Air & Space Museum.

I dropped everyone off at the museum and headed home with Josie, who needed a diaper change and a nap. James arranged for a tour of the Capitol at 2PM. He'll meet the gang at the Air & Space Museum, walk over to the Capitol and then everyone will ride the train home. What a full day!

Other events planned for this week include a visit to the Marine Corps museum in Quantico and visits to the other outdoor memorials in Washington (FDR, Jefferson, etc.) once the weather breaks... It looks like we'll have to wait until Friday for the outdoor tours - forecasters say we'll have temps in the 90's with high humidity until then.

We are so thrilled to have the Nonis' here with us - it's their first visit to Washington and Virginia. I just wish the weather would have cooperated a little better!

The Nonis Family

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Super Cool

Here's Super Cool Josie in some of Mom's shades. Note the stylin' Dora the Explorer Band-Aid on her forehead. Josie has very dry skin and develops dry spots on her forehead. She made a good scratch that required Neosporin - and a cover to make sure she didn't make it worse.

Josie loves sun glasses. She is sooooo ready to sport her own pair at the pool this week. We just tell her she's a Movie Star!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Kate's First Communion

Our wonderful niece, Kate, made her First Communion yesterday! That's Kate and her Mom, Kim, pictured above. Kate looked just beautiful. First thing we asked Kate was "Did it taste funny?" She answered "Yes", with that look on her face that said 'How did you know?!' I remembered my First Communion when I was shocked at how the communion wafer tasted so flat and stuck to the roof of my mouth! Kate also drank wine from the chalice - which Grandmom had assured her would be grape juice - and it wasn't... it was real wine. So, Kate decided that wine is 'yuk'.

Here's Kate with her maternal and paternal grandparents: (in that order)

Kate made her First Communion with her best friend, Kate L. The girls have been best friends since they were in diapers!

Here are a few more photos from the party:

I have no photos of my brother Chalie with Kate, nor do I have a shot of Maddie with Kate. Maddie was busy being attacked by the younger girls at the party, who among other things, used Maddie as a palate for all the make-up they collectively owned! Chalie was enjoying the company of friends and family after a week of getting the house ready for company (it looked beautiful!) and sweating the details... It was a lovely evening. We are so proud of our Kate and thankful to Kim and Chalie for their hospitality.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How To Unintentionally Embarass Both Your Daughters In One Morning

First, you have your oldest daughter pose, with friend Jeri, outside of the school on the Last Day of 7th Grade. Do this while the carpool line streams by for maximum exposure. Then, have the girls smile politely while the other Moms stop their cars, roll down their windows and hold up their own cameras - and tell the girls what good sports they are! "See," I tell Maddie, "I'm not the only Mom who made their kid do this!"

Thanks, Maddie and Jeri, for being such good sports! You're both 8th graders now!!!

Second, with all good intentions, try giving your youngest daughter a 'trim' of her rapidly growning bangs. Poor Josie was strapped into her high chair so that Mom could try to even out the wispy pieces of hair that were growing too long - and into her eyes. As a reference point, check the photos of Josie posted last week - you can see the bits of longer hair that refuse to be brushed, gelled or styled to the side.

Here's Josie with the resulting hair style. It's not too bad, is it? James called this morning (he's out of town on business) and asked about how her hair looked. I told him it was a new style that I like to call the Chinese Mullet.

My most humble apologies to both my girls. Hopefully, you'll forgive me when you're older!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Josie's First Home

I belong to a Yahoo group created for the parents of children adopted from the Chongyang orphanage. Chongyang is a rural area located in Hubei Province. One of the parents who recently adopted their daughter from Chongyang posted photos of the orphanage and surrounding area. These are the only photos we have of the place where Josie lived from the time she was 4 months old. The photo above is of the SWI (Social Welfare Institute) or orphange building.

These are the grounds of the SWI. Josie spent a lot of time outdoors, so this is where she would have been.

This is the playroom at the SWI - our first photos of Josie were taken here!

The following photos are of the town of Chongyang and surrounding area:

Our thanks to Megan for providing the photos to our group. They are priceless.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Josie Learning to Pose & Other Miraculous Feats!

Yesterday, while performing our daily walkabout of the yard, Josie surprised me. She sat on the steps to the deck, struck a pose and said, "Camera, Mom - Cheese!" I ran for the camera and obliged her. Finally, after a year of pointing the camera at her, she's catching on!! This episode reminded me that I had promised an update on Josie's amazing progress, so here it is:

At 2 years and two months old Josie is achieving her developmental milestones at a quick pace. Her vocabulary is astounding - she uses words like 'wheelbarrow', 'delicious', 'scrub', and 'water'. I think these words are pretty hard to pronounce and she does a great job.

She tells 'knock, knock' jokes then says "Funny, Mom" with a giggle.

On our recent visit to my parents house, when my Dad went in to take a shower, she ran up to my Mom and said, "Grandmom, PopPop's missing!!"

She does 'clean-up' while singing.

She is constantly offering "Josie help? Mom". She is a terrific helper. She helps make her breakfast by holding the egg, pushes down the toaster bar for her morning toast, and puts on her own salt & pepper.

She talks to her GungGung & MaMa on the phone every weekend and says "Miss You" and "Luv You".

She sleeps in a 'big girl' bed. The crib came down last month.

During our bedtime reading, she takes the books from me and says, "Josie read it, Mom" and proceeds to give me her interpretation of the story.

She counts to 10 in English and Spanish (thanks to Dora the Explorer and big sister Maddie!)

She has about a 20 word Spanish vocabulary. She says hello and thank you in Chinese.

She has excellent manners: She says, 'please', 'thank you', ' You're welcome';'God Bless You', 'Excuse me' (when she burps!) and 'sorry' (if she makes a mess or spills something.)

She clearly states her preferences in all things: "Don't like it, Mom"; "Scary, Mom"; "Luv it!"; and "Do it Again"

She knows her shapes: square, star, triangle, circle, diamond, rectangle and oval. She can say all of them and frequently points them out to me in stores, around the house and in her books.

She knows her colors: red, yellow, blue, pink, green, peach, black, brown, white and orange. She will also point these out to me and ask for specific colors when we are coloring together.

She is picky & neat: She will point out a crumb that has fallen when she's eating and wait until it's cleaned up to continue eating (this is why it takes 45 minutes for her to eat lunch!). She doesn't like dirty hands (which makes gardening a bit difficult!) and when her clothes get dirty she'll say "Change it, Mom". She will NOT walk barefoot in the grass!

And, finally, my two favorite Josie traits: (1) She sings. And sings, and sings!!! She knows the words to 'Twinkle, Twinkle little star', 'Itsy Bitsy Spider', 'Rockabye Baby', and the songs on her Mickey Mouse Clubhouse CD.

(2) Before going to sleep she holds hands and says "Luv you, Mom". Heaven!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Wanna Feel Good?!

Last week, there was an interesting article in the Washington Post. It explained that "neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health, had been scanning the brains of volunteers as they were asked to think about a scenario involving either donating a sum of money to charity or keeping it for themselves. The results were showing that when the volunteers placed the interests of others before their own, the generosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex. Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable."

I thought the article was fascinating.

It also made me think about all those solicitations we get in the mail from various service organizations and charities. It seems like everyone needs a donation. Certainly, we would give to all of them if we could.

How many times have you written a check to an organization and hoped it would help? How much does it really help? Well, for a lot us - we'll never know. Well, HAVE I GOT AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU!!!!

I want to share another story with you, so please indulge me for just a bit...

When we started our adoption process for our precious Josie, I searched for any information I could about international adoption. I joined adoption forums on line, and found a supportive and loving group of folks on the MSN 'Adopting from China' forum. They shared their struggles, their emotions and their own stories with all of us. I can't tell you the amount of support and comfort I received from folks I had never 'met'. Members shared their blogs and websites to document their experiences and I just lapped them up... There are a few that I still follow religiously - they are posted on my sidebar on the right.

One in particular, the Journey to Kai (The Adventures of Stink Mouse) is one of my favorites. I'm asking for your help for our 'cyber friends' - Scott & Tina. They are returning to China for a second son, Shen. Their story is amazing and if you click here:

you can read all about both Kai & Shen. Scott & Tina are fundraising for the mandatory 'donation' to Shen's orphanage. Basically, all adoptive parents must pay this 'donation' when adopting from China. It's kind of like a 'payback' for the people who took care of, loved, fed and nurtured our children until we could welcome them into our families. It's a big chunk of change, but worth every cent to know that the orphanages can continue their work.

Please visit this site and look for the "Fundraising" entry on Shen's blog. James & I have donated and we consider it a deposit in the 'Good Karma" bank. Please consider donating - and following Scott & Tina's Journey to Shen. You'll feel great - I promise!
Thanks, Michele