Sunday, February 24, 2013

Random Things from Our Weekend

It was a great weekend, and as soon as I finish this I'm going to sit down and watch TV, so I plan to be fast.  The pictures will have nothing to do with the commentary.
Saturday we deep cleaned the kids rooms and organized toys.  We'll see how long that lasts.  We did pack away some toys for now to limit the potential damage in the wake of Hurricane Sunflower and Tornado Sweet Pea.
Then the girls and I spent some time outside while the boys and Dad played StarCraft together.  Sweet Pea is definitely the one in the family with the most potential to buy us a house with her sports career.  The weather was beautiful.
Then we had dinner with friends.  Technically it was our Saturday night Home Fellowship Group/Bible Study/Small Group/Cell Group/Mini-church, etc. depending on what church you go to, but we call it HFG and since all but us canceled it was dinner with friends.  We missed the others and were sorry about their reasons for missing (baby with RSV and broken water heater being some of the reasons) but it was nice to only have 6 kids total instead of 22.
We did buy some hair clips for the girls this weekend.  We want a little less of Sweet Pea's hair to be bangs, but finding clips at times has been a problem.  With 25 new ones we should be able to make it a month or two.
Oh, how I loved being able to play with sunlight backlight again...and with my new lens it is fabulous!  It was the first time I filled my memory card in months.  Light is what I love about photography.
Sunday SnapDragon sang in both main services at church with a group of 6 other kids...hmmm, the rest were girls.  They sang the chorus of My Deliverer by Rich Mullins.  I enjoyed watching him so much and he really enjoyed being part of worship and was sad when it was done.  But I am glad he won't be practicing the same two lines over and over and over and over anymore.
Sweet Pea had her first communion at church (very early for any denomination) but you try having food and drink and not share it with her!  It seemed it would be better for the rest of the congregation to give her a little bit...thankfully our church serves juice, not wine.  I'm pretty sure God understands.
Today we watched the movie Elf and folded clothes.  We should probably cancel the DVD portion of our NetFlix.  I put Elf in our queue to watch at Christmas, but we sat on "Young Sherlock Holmes" for 3 months so we missed seeing it during the season.  I do admit we all enjoyed the movie, though Sweet Pea missed it due to the best nap she has had in 3 weeks.
Then Oak, the girls, and I went to McDonalds for dinner and WalMart.  The boys had dinner at home and played some more computer.  Huckleberry is almost 13 and SnapDragon 9...when did they get so old?  I don't know, but I must admit having two kids seemed like a complete breeze.  Sunflower even got to order chocolate milk since we weren't feeding her brothers.  A win-win for all. 
Warning...TMI...And Sweet Pea had her first BM in the toilet.  We had no intention of potty training at 18 months.  But she has been giving some signs she is ready.  Then today in the bath she started yelling at Oak when usually she loves baths, so he put her on the toilet and success.  We're not really sure where to go from here.  She is a year and a half younger then the others were.  Yes, I know...but we are lazy and they were slow.
On a completely different note, the lighting in the back of the yard through some sticks and brambles and under the cedar is gorgeous at 2 p.m. here.  Oak doesn't like the shot because he isn't sure exactly what her expression means, but since she followed it up with the words, "Mom!  Stop taking pictures and come in our house!" I think I know.  (The house was less than 3 feet tall, so I didn't stay long.  It was sunny but February is still pretty muddy.)
Then I spent an hour editing pictures and writing a blog post.  Overall a pretty nice, and relatively typical, weekend.  


Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Club, a Compass, and a Child..or Two

Last weekend my facebook photo club made of all local photographers played a game of Photo Poker.  The way it works is the first person posts a picture with two elements in it...say a flower and pearls.  The next person has to use pearls and something else in their next photo.  

Which lead to me asking my husband how to locate and unlock our bullets.
And taking pictures of random objects like globes and our fabulous new Chinese stacking blocks (a generous, much loved gift from a friend for Chinese New Year.)
But even though I didn't even use a texture that second time I was actually never the first to post and at the end of the evening we found out those that were the fastest had switched to...gasp...shooting in JPEG and not editting their photos at all!  Granted they still created some impressive work, but we all thought maybe while we were shooting with intent, we didn't really want to lose all creativity and thought.  So one very talented, creative member came up with another way to play.  Photo Poker Relay.

Same concept, but you knew who was to go next and you had 24 hours to post your picture.  Today was my turn.  I was given a compass to incoorporate into my photo.

And the compass and composition in the photo before me was so beautiful (check out my friend's facebook cover page if you want to see).  But when I asked my friends if I could borrow a pretty compass a friend made me LOL by asking "As opposed to an ugly compass?!"

Alas no one had one for me, so I spent the day trying to pair my ugly, doesn't really work, children's compass/binoculars with that which I find beautiful in my life.

But she wasn't very cooperative.
I only got a few shots of her playing with the compass before she started crying about the back pack.
Do you see the compass in the lower left?  She was more interested in playing with her travel tripod.  I figure she couldn't go on a trip without her camera.
This one was almost what I envisioned, but oops!  Where is the compass?  Turns out she was sitting on it.  But by then she was done being on the bed.  I think she thought I wanted her to nap...with all that stuff?

So I called in my professional model.
And this was a close third choice, but you can't really tell he is holding a I really wanted to hand off "baby" to the first time mom photographer following me not "child."

So we moved downstairs away from that whole bed/nap risk.
Which did bring Sweet Pea a lot of glee as she immediately started playing peek-a-boo with the maps and her big brother, SnapDragon.
And while SnapDragon did a great job of keeping the compass exposed as one would want in product shots, it just didn't quite seem like the natural incorporation I wanted.  
And when we moved to here I knew we were close to done...But I thought okay, take a picture of SnapDragon lying on a map with a compass in his hand...maybe that will work.
But of course when I went to snap another to go for a deeper depth of focus (having both SnapDragon's eye and the compass in focus) Sweet Pea got a fresh wind in her sails.
Which led to this gleeful, but not exactly what I was going for, shot.  Sure you can see just a hint of Sweet Pea's smile and a hint of the compass in SnapDragon's hand but no.
And when they both put their heads down and Sweet Pea started fake snoring (the funniest, cutest thing ever!), I knew it was over.  So I went back to the 5th photo I took, played with it for awhile, and posted it.
I guess I could have let the kids play in peace that last hour.
  the long road

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wee People Wednesday

Life keeps getting in the way of blogging about it.  It has been sunny (not warm) but sunny enough to go outside, I've been making an effort to spend more time with friends and occassionally do the cooking, and I'm attending a Bible study while teaching another class the same day.  That is in addition to our usual school runs, piano lessons for SnapDragon, MOPS, church, Home Fellowship Group, photo club, etc.  I really do have the sweet life.  Add in the 4 most amazing kids on the planet and I have nothing to complain about.

But because I love to blog, take and edit pictures, and MOPS yesterday was all about taking time for yourself (ha, as if THAT was my issue) here are some photos of 3 of my littles from yesterday.

"Mom!  Go stomp on the frisbee and it'll stop the bad guys."  "Ummm, Okay."
It's for you!

This one likes to lie under Sweet Pea's swing.  Who knows why, but she thinks it is funny.

The slide only plays second fiddle to the swing. 
Have a most happy of Wednesdays!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

50-50 Day!

May 7th, 2012
A little over 9 months ago a beautiful baby girl was placed into our arms.  She cried very little, but she was so very sad.
May 7th, 2012
But she is a determined little girl, and early on it was clear she was determined to enjoy life.
June 12, 2012
Even when life was confusing and scary, when life was a constant adjustment to new time zones and food and atmosphere, she had many moments of shining bright with happiness, play, and sheer enjoyment of everything new.  Those are the pictures we posted.
July 26, 2012
But slowly we found a routine and her personality started showing through more and more often.  Not usually out in public, but at home we got to see the curious, happy little girl who had charmed her Nanny.
August 20, 2012
Summer was a great time for her and our family.  We all got to spend a lot of time together doing three of the things she seems to love most: eating, exploring, and being outside.  We all loved her and she seemed pleased to be with us together, and slowly we got to see her relax a little more and start to love us.
But September was a little rough with the boys back in school, Daddy at work full time, and home alone with Mommy and Sunflower.  Teething probably also contributed to the sleepless nights and nighttime screaming fits.  So Sunflower started preschool which gave our days back a little more routine and Sweet Pea Mommy and me time.
October 2, 2012
And Sweet Pea's personality started shining for more people.  "Wow!  She has so much personality!  She's so happy!" became a common phrase.  (People actually always said, "such a happy baby" and I would look at them in confusion.  Couldn't they see the sadness in her eyes?  Didn't they know there was more to being a happy baby than not crying in public?  But I could never really disagree, because well, she was/is a happy baby.  I just knew there was more joy in her than she was showing at times.)
November 7, 2012
By November we felt like we knew this precious little toddler in our care.  Others could also see her amazing zest for life and fun.  Her laughter rang out even more often and loudly irresistible to resist laughing back.
December 13, 2012
And some might think transition is complete.  Certainly in some ways the major hurdle is passed.  She has accepted us as her family.  This is now her new normal and she sees it as good.  Oh sure, we see some sadness when she is told no or others want to hold her or she doesn't get her way.  But that is good.  She is not resigned or shut down; her laughter couldn't be as loud and full without her ever feeling the flipside of the emotion.
January 25, 2013
And now when I look through her pictures it is harder to find one where she is sad than one where she is happy.  Those first few months I was looking for that one happy shot so people could see who we saw at home and at peace.  Oh, she is still very serious at her play; like a little scientist experimenting with how toys, her world, everything works.  But when she is interacting with people, especially her family, the timidity and fear are gone.  She is one-hundred percent joy and delight.
February 4, 2013
But today we reach another hurdle, another milestone.  For us it is a time to celebrate and for her it is a day of routine...meal, play, nap.  But someday for her maybe it is a day of sadness.   The day she was ours for as long as the time she lived with her Nanny.  From this point forward the new normal of being of Chinese ancestry who is an American citizen with a white family will only become more and more normal.  It is what it is for better or for worse.  

There will be many points in her life as she grows older where her losses will need to be grieved, where her mind will comprehend a little more of what adoption means.  Points where she tells us the gain of one thing (us) can not take away the pain of what she has lost (culture, language, first family).  There will probably be a point where she wonders about her Nanny and her first family and we won't have the answers.  Today she does not have those worries, but today she is one step further away from the answers she did have.
May 10, 2012
So we celebrate how far she has come and rejoice daily at her presence in our life for it is a huge blessing and joy.  And we do our best to retain what we can of her past: 4000 pictures from China, everything her SWI and Province gave her, including facts of her personal story, and what we do know of her.

I know that in China she learned to love animals.  She points out every dog and cat with glee (I never worry about her eyesight because sometimes those animals are very, very hard for me to see).  Even from the start she would whip her head around at the sound of a dog and smile large. 

She came to us with the ability to make motorcycle/electric scooter noises.  I wasn't sure it meant she'd been on one, but over time I have become positive.  The pictures show she visited the SWI with her Nanny on a scooter (probably riding on the back of her Nanny in a baby carrier) and she absolutely loves wind on her face.  
November 5, 2012
And there is more that I ponder and keep close for her.  Because while it is her story to do with as she wills, right now while she is little, it is my duty to preserve it for her as best as I can and those 9 months and few days* she spent in China are an important part of her.
And I can spend a few hours grieving what she is not yet capable of grieving, because I am her mom.  I will have years of that laugh and giggle and run attack hug.  We will do everything we can to give her the best of us and make a great life for her because she has already given us the best of her by trusting us.

* I also believe the 9 months and few days she spent being formed in her mother's tummy are significant but happy 33.333/33.333/33.333 day just doesn't have the same ring to it.