Saturday, December 27, 2008

More Christmas Pictures

Mike and Amanda opening presents at his mom's on Christmas Day.
Mike's mom and her new snow globe.
Amanda, Maggie and Tony's new remote controlled spider. Every place except my mom's had at least three dogs. There were six dogs at my sister's on Christmas Eve and only eight people!
Amanda and Grammy, my mom's mom, sharing a quick cuddle on the evening of Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas!

At the first of four Christmas gatherings, Amanda positioned herself in the center of a circle of cousins opening presents. She contentedly flipped through the pages of my book, while everyone else tore into packages around her.
Tyler and Tony were pretty excited to receive new gloves and hats. Last year they became pretty desperate for gloves by the end of the season.
After everyone else had opened their presents, Mike finally convinced Amanda to come and open her gifts.
Remember Mike's armful last Christmas? This year it was Amanda who has claimed the youngest cousin as her own.
We were thankful for all the friends and family who made it to our Christmas celebrations and our hearts and prayers were with those who didn't. We are looking forward to a fruitful year as three (hopefully four) new great-grandchildren will be added to the family.
After three days of hockey, playing with cousins and dogs, eating good food and playing with new gifts, we're all happy to be back home recovering from all the fun and excitement.
Wishing you and yours all the best in the new year!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How do you get anything done?

Last Thursday, we had our home visit from our social worker. Many of her questions related to managing our family with the addition of a baby. The visit inspired this list.

Things I can do with a toddler:
Sort, load, wash, dry, fold and put away laundry.
Wash dishes, put away dishes, load dishwasher, unload dishwasher.
Gather veggies, wash, chop and put into the pot.
Prepare meals.
Make pancakes.
Weed the garden.
Sweep sidewalks, rake leaves, shovel snow outside.
Sweep Floors.
Wash the floor, cupboards, stove, dishwasher, refridgerator.
Refill bean jars from the bulk bags.
Practice piano.
Teach Algebra, Chemistry, Vocbulary, and monitor Spanish.
Organize toys.
Clean the bathroom.

The key is to break the job into little parts so Amanda can participate- carrying a pot from the drying rack to the cupboard, taking potatoes out of the drawer, carrying the folded towels to the drawer. I either showed her hand-over-hand what she was to do or she just copied me. She has recently discovered how to stand nicely at the sink. She stands on a captain's chair and we put boat cushions behind her to keep her from falling backward. Some chores are done best with her wrapped on my back. I also use only mild cleaners and have trained her to obey.

My favorite part of working with Amada is when she leans over, wraps her arm around me, and says, "Awwww!" To which I always say, "Awww! I love you, too!" and give her a kiss.

There are some jobs that just can't be accomplished until she goes to bed:

Working on our profile.
Editing photos.
Math, Chemistry and vocabulary corrections.
Teaching Madsen Method.
Teach writing class.
Writing letters or paying bills.
Sewing or any other craft.
Ironing clothes.

With a little planning and creativity, caring for a new baby will certainly fall into the first category. I can't really predict how Amanda will react, but as long as she can still be close to me and really participate in what I am doing, she will truly enjoy having a real little baby to love.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Like wise ye older women...

Teach the younger woman to love their husbands...Titus 2

One of my most important jobs as Amanda's mother is to foster a deep love and affection for her Daddy. I do this very intentionally by making a big deal and rushing to the door with hugs and kisses when Daddy gets home, waving goodby at the window as he drives away, bringing her to him for good night hugs and talking to her about how thankful Daddy will be as we fold his clothes or make his dinner.

Sometimes I teach her unintentionally. Yesterday, Mike was sitting on the floor in front of the couch playing Tinker Toys with Amanda while I was making dinner. I sat down on the couch for a minute, ran my fingers through Mike's hair and rubbed his back. After I returned to the kitchen, Amanda quickly came over to Mike, rubbed her fingers through his hair and patted him on the back.

May she only pick up on my good habits.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

God Smiles

God smiles. You know, those little coincidences that happen along your journey that let you know God is with you.
For example:
Three family profiles shown to Amanda's birthmom and ours was on top.
Amanda's birthmom has a brother named Tony, loves animals and didn't feel she needed to look at any of the other profiles.
The day after emailing our social worker asking for news, she called to tell us that we had been chosen, that the baby was already born and that it was a girl!
We were scheduled for fingerprinting the following day.
We would be traveling to Texas and would be able to stay with my cousin who had just bought a house.
After learning that in Vietnamese culture that it was very important to name your baby something that has meaning, we discovered that Amanda meant "worthy to be loved." We had chosen Amanda years ago because it was my grandmother's name.
After receiving pictures of Amanda's birthmom, I marveled at how much she looked like my cousin, Elisa.
While we were disraught over the delays in Amanda being freed for adoption, we ended up being in Texas and paying our placement fees the day after the C.D. with our adoption savings matured.
Not only were we given a P.T. Cruiser for our rental vehicle, but it was lemon yellow which complimented the outifts Mike, Amanda and I were wearing. We felt a little silly climbing out of that car together at the cowboy bar and grill near the agency. (Mike always ends up with P.T. Cruisers for rental vehicles and they are not designed for tall men.)
We ended up staying in Texas at my cousin's during the ten days that he was in Minnesota for his sister's wedding. It was such a blessing to have the house to ourselves because babies keep crazy hours and I was trying to establish breastfeeding.
In our profile, we had written that children were a gift from God and our super, wonderful foster family has made us burp clothes that said, "God's Precious Gift" on them.
Amanda's wonderful foster family faithfully documented all the days we were away from Amanda and our first meeting. I completely forgot about picture-taking in the moment.
At placement while Mike and I were busy with the baby, Amanda's foster mom relayed a story that some one had asked her if she was potty training Amanda, who was only three weeks old. I didn't volunteer at the time that I planned to start elimination communication right away.
The sweet Minnesota friends who drove us to and from the airport provided us with a little sweater for Amanda since is was much colder in Minnesota than in Texas.
A couple of months after Amanda came home, the Texas agency sent us Amanda's hospital pictures. I never thought I'd see those.
Amanda's adoption was finalized on the same day as our neighbors who adopted about a month after us. Again, we had some one to take pictures for us!
But months before all of this, there was this sweet little Texas Longhorn outfit hanging in my mother's garage, a rummage sale leftover, that made me think, "Wouldn't that be something if our baby was from Texas."

Hook 'em Horns!


Did I really just put that baby to bed in her socked pajamas, close the door and not hear a peep from her? That would be the first time in days!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Breaking the Habit

Update: Five days is not long enough to break the habit. I just laid Amanda down for her nap and then realized I had forgotten to put on her socked jammies. She was laying in bed happily sucking her thumb. That was quickly remedied and now she's in there complaining.

When Amanda started sucking her thumb last winter, we thought it was so cute and it was helping her go to sleep. Many former thumb-suckers and parents of thumb-suckers asked us what we were going to do about it. Mike said, "Enjoy it!"

This week, we noticed that she had a red, painful sore developing on her thumb, so while I was in the dentist, I asked for recommendations for breaking the habit. The hygenist suggested this:
I had thought of putting socks or mittens over her hands but she could easily remove them. However, these socks are sewn to her pajamas. It was good for us to attempt this method before she had learned to remove her shirt.
The first night, she cried and Mike asked if we could do this another night because he wasn't feeling very well. So, I removed the sock-sewn shirt and put her back to bed. She still kept crying on and off until 2 am. We're not sure why, but between cutting a molar, coming down with a cold, and having a sore thumb, she was unhappy.
I worked with her the following day and as long as I left the door open a crack and went in to remind her to lay down and be quiet when she fussed, she slept reasonably well. She was still sick and teething, so we had another late night on Tuesday. She would go to sleep and be quiet just long enough for us to doze off and then she would wake up again.
It's been five days now and we don't see many crabby faces like this anymore. She has accepted the socked pajamas. I'm not sure how long it takes to break the habit. I need to ask about that when I take Tony to the dentist on Tuesday. He missed his appointment because he was sick, too. Everybody has been hit with this cold and it's been no fun.
We would sure appreciate prayers for a speeding recovery for our family.

Ice Cube Hockey

These two have been keeping me very busy this week. So, I enjoyed these moments of sweetness with my sick, sleepless, teething toddler and my strong-willed, tirelessly testing teenager.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's a Girl!

My beautiful babywearer*!
*This is not an official babywearing hold. It's the creative type of wrap one uses only for stuffed bunnies.
This is a 26 x 68 inches silk scarf from Pearl Outdoors. Using Front Wrap Cross instructions, children's baby carriers can be made out of any fabric about two yards long and 12 inches wide. Making real baby carriers require a few more safety specifics, but are still very easy!
Do you know what this is?

Why a comb, of course!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cotton Balls Don't Bounce

During Amanda's illness, she has been tugging at her ears so we've been using mullien/garlic ear oil. After placing the oil in each ear, we put in a bit of cotton to keep her sheets clean. One night after the procedure, I gave Amanda a cotton ball. She admired it, chattered and showed it to Daddy. Then I said, "Do you have a cotton ball?"

She ran to the kitchen and threw the cotton ball as hard as she could onto the floor. Every other ball would have bounced and made a great sound. This ball? Nothing!

She is definitely the smartest baby I know! It's great to see how many words she understands even if she only says, "puppy" most of the time.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

First Time Parents

Update: Amanda's feeling much better today! She slept well last night and was very lively. Her silly parents are better rested, too. She also has a new molar. The poor little girl had a few reasons to complain this week.

You should have seen us last night! You'd think we've never had a sick child before. Both of us fretting and pacing,- wondering when we should take our baby to the doctor. Why? Because Amanda had a fever and a cough and she has been waking up the last couple of nights coughing. These are all new things to us. At least, things we haven't experienced in a long time and don't remember clearly.

After several phone calls, we have been reassured. Her fever was only 100 degrees F., her cough is sounding more productive and less barky, she's still eating and drinking, and she's still toddling around and doing her happy feet dance.

We would still covet your prayers for speedy recovery for our little girl and we are so grateful for the exceptionally good health she has experienced for most of her short life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fourth Photo From The Fourth Folder Tag

As requested by Monkey Mama, here's my fourth photo from my fourth folder. It's from last February. Do you think Amanda's too young to skate this year?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Baby's First Outing

Baby books always have this obscure milestone- Baby's First Outing. What exactly does that mean? Do you count the ride home from the hospital? Or the first time Amanda went out with her foster mom? Or when we drove her home from the agency? Or flew her home from Texas? Or perhaps when we first all went out as a family of five? I don't know, but today was a big day.

Today was the first day I dressed up our baby in warm clothes and handed her off to her Daddy for a quick trip to town. It was the first time Amanda left the house without me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tony and Animals

Tony and animals- two of the reasons Amanda's birth mom chose our family. She wanted Amanda to have a brother named Tony and be able to spend time with animals.
How does Tony feel about that? He was very proud to be part of the reason we were chosen.
Now, I think he's feeling a little overwhelmed by all the love!
It looks like Amanda and her posse are moving along to share the love with Grandma.
We had a great weekend visiting family. Maggie is the the black and white pup and Maddie is the gray. They belong to Mike's mom and dad.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

First Snow!!!

Could she be any cuter and more snuggly looking?
We're glad it snowed for Daddy's sake. He's out hunting with the boys. Snow makes everything easier to see and it's much better than rain!
On Thursday, Amanda was helping Mike get packed. She is wearing Tyler's hat, Tony's glove, and blowing Mike's whistle. She was very excited to learn how to blow the whistle. Thankfully, she's only making little noises so far!
Before Amanda came home, I practiced and experiemented with different types of wraps and baby carriers. One day there was a magazine in our room with a picture of a dad with his little girl in a ring sling. Mike made sure that I wasn't expecting him to do any babywearing. "No, of course not, dear."
He may be warming up to the idea!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Adoption Study

I just came across a great article that shares some results of a study of children who grow up in adoptive homes. There are some very positive findings.

In other news, we sent in our paperwork this week to begin the adoption process again. We could be waiting two months or two years. It all depends on which child God has chosen for our family.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pro-Life without Exception

The face of an exception. John McCain would not have fought to pass a law that would have saved her life if her had been elected. But God and her birth family who knew Him saved her life and we received her as a gift. To God be the glory.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Let Love Multiply!

I can't tell you how sick this little baby was and how slim his chances at life and the risk his mother took to try to save his life. All I can say is that God is good and people all over the globe prayed and he's here and he's healed and he's going home all to the praise and glory of God's name.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pig Tails!

When Amanda was newborn, I used Emu oil to keep her hair moisturized. It was lightweight, unscented and not greasy. As it grew longer and wore off in the back, I resorted to hats and pig tails to keep it looking nice. After the hair cut, Eucerin lotion held her hair neatly in place. By the end of July, I found Vaseline to be the most effective in keeping her hair from looking frizzy and getting tangled.

Now look!!

We've got pig tails again!

"Look at how cute you are!"

Now, I use Luster Pink Oil lotion to moisturize and pull her hair into pig tails after naps. I found a pack of 600 little colored single-use rubber bands. I use her finger nail clippers to cut the rubber band and remove it with lotion so I don't pull out her hair. It easiest to do her hair when she's sitting in front of me on the toilet, even though she only actually goes potty when she's sitting on the toilet alone. I face her and she holds onto my legs, and I, her back.

We will see what changes hat season brings to our hair routine!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Boys in Action

Tyler and Tony have been playing soccer this fall. Soccer is not a huge sport in our town, so it's tough to compete. They don't seem to care.
One day Tyler came home and said, "Guess how many goals were scored on me? Zero!"
I said, "Wow! So, you guys finally won?!"
"No, I only played goalie for half the game."

The coach told him to wear something different to stand out as the goalie, so he created this fun shirt. On the back it says, "Deflected."

The other game of choice is Four-Square on our garage pad. There are three neighborhood boys that end up at our house after school playing with Tony and Tyler. They've been playing with a basketball, but we'd really like to find one of those playground balls that aren't so hard. There's a basketball sized dent in the back of our van and nobody knows how it got there.

Like my boys, these pictures are on the move. They belong on the family blog, but since I don't have access to my regular computer, I will publish them here.