Friday, October 31, 2008

No More Monkeys Jumping On The Bed!

Except, it wasn't monkeys. It was LadyBug and Baby BlueEyes. And they weren't jumping on the bed. They were jumping on a Spider Man bop bag. (Yes, jumping on it. Not bopping it.) On Wednesday night.

On Thursday, the school nurse called to say that she thought it might be smart for me to have LadyBug's pediatrician take a look at LadyBug's left wrist.

On Thursday night, we visited the very-cool Dr. A. He sent us for x-rays. The x-rays showed a buckle fracture of LadyBug's left radius.

On Friday morning, LadyBug was getting ready to visit the orthopaedist.
Baby BlueEyes was groovin' with some "Crazy Hair Day" action.

Li'l Empress wanted to get some Crazy Hair Day action too.

Don't mess with the hair.
It's gonna take some serious shampoo to get out all that gel.

Being in pain and waiting in the doctor's office is exhausting.

The cart o' tricks.

Getting wrapped.
It was long a really long white toe sock for the hand.

She's got the blues.

The awesome casting tech gives this patient a thumbs up.

"I'm so blue-hoo-hoo-blue-hoo-hoo-blue-hoo-hoo-hooooo.
I'm so blue I don't know what to do."

And that, my friends, is how I spent my Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

The Gang by the numbers, so far:
15+ stitches
7 sets of x-rays
5 visits to the ER
3 casts
2 over-nighter's at the hospital
2 out-patient procedures
and one helicopter ride

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

I hope.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Can't Even Blame It On Hormones

Most of you probably remember my post about stepping back from my responsibilities and volunteer work in preparation for our Li'l Empress. In addition to that, we have shut out most of the world outside the front door for the entire month of October. I've said "no" to most everything extra this month: most play dates, lunches out, and my regular circuit of errands and such. I've given up (for a short season) my time at Curves and stopped visiting the library. Except for occasional doctor appointments, I've generally stayed out of the loop of everything but my kids' school work. I'm loving it.

But as my self-imposed hibernation draws to a close and things are starting to appear on my calendar and my "To Do" list (can you believe I've made it almost 6 weeks now without an extensive "To Do" list?! I'm so proud of myself! That's the longest ever!), I am finding myself strangely scattered and slightly shocked at how out of control my days become.

I was so relieved and excited to read this post, especially last night. It's written by a cyber-friend who adopted a daughter from China, just before The Boss and I were there. She's funny, sarcastic, and very real about who and where she is in life.

(A freebie, thrown in just cuz I love ya all:
If you have time, surf around her site a bit - her story of their journey to Emme is a beautiful testimony of God's hand print on our lives. When we experienced our bumpy journey through the failed referral this past summer, This Gal was amazingly supportive and encouraging. She was walking a similar story and living to tell about it.)

So anyway, I read this post and just laughed. I am so not the only one. Go, read the post. You'll see what I mean. Then come back. Please, come back! You can read the other stuff later.

Okay, so you see, I am not the only one!

Wednesday morning, AFTER the boys left for school at 7:25 a.m. with our approval to stay late for their friends' football game, I remembered that The Boss and I would be gone for a series of specialists appts. for Li'l Empress and we'd likely not be back in time to meet the other two kids' bus. Ooooops! One quick call to my sister, and I got outta that one. Thanks, Sis!

We walked into the ultrasound office for a 9:40 appointment (Early I might add! I was feeling mighty good about the morning at this point.). Only to have the nice receptionist lady tell me that Li'l Empress was scheduled to visit them at 1:30 p.m. Not feeling so good any more. Oooops, AND I forgot the doc's order and prescription form for these appointments. Darn!

Thank. Goodness. that all our appointments are being done within the CHOP network. The kind receptionist accessed our patient file and informed me that my 9:40 was just across the parking lot in the next building. Across the windy and cold parking lot, which by the way is quite scenic. I should know. I drove around it twice trying to find a parking spot close to the door that I ACTUALLY needed to be using. The Boss had the right idea, he just walked across the median and waited for me at the desk. Hummmph!

And that other appointment I made for next week? "Ma'am, we plan to do all of it today in this office at one time. Get two or 3 birds killed with one stone, so to speak." So, I didn't need to be on hold three weeks ago for 40 minutes trying to coordinate the appointment with The Boss's schedule of meetings so we could visit his staff the same day and introduce Li'l Empress? Greeeaaaaat. Great.

The upside is one less appt. for Li'l Empress. The down side? I felt like a dork for most of the morning, relying on kind receptionists and staff members to tell me where to go, what door to use, when to wipe my drool, and please for pete's sake, blink. I guess my dazed and confused look was getting to them. Hummmmph!

I can't even blame all this on hormones.
Unless PMS counts.
For like, the last five weeks.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Works For Me!

This is my first WFMW post, but I had something fun I just had to share.

We all know (or remember) what it's like to neeeeeeeeed a shower before we actually have our hands free and our baby safely secured in her crib for a long nap. We all know how hard it is to find safe and interesting occupation for baby's little busy mind and hands while we sneak in that quick refresher.

This little treasure is my old umbrella stroller from Baby BlueEyes' stroller days. I've kept it around for visits from little nieces and nephews and friends who come by. The first week I was home alone with Li'l Empress, I was really needing to jump start my day. And I just can't do that without a nice shower to wake me up. It was 11 a.m. and I was desperate to salvage something of my day. In clothes. With a clean face and no clumpy bed head.

So I dug out the stroller and grabbed a variety of toys that are noisy and bright. The key here is that I also chose toys that could easily loop through the stroller straps and still be accessible to her royal little hands. This is what I came up with. May I present to you . . . . .

The Stroller of Wonder
(say it in a booming announcer's voice,
with plenty of drama to tickle your funny bone this morning. . .)

Another key, if you are planning to use this for your regular showering schedule, is to swap out the toys occasionally. You know, to keep the wooooooonder (again with the booming announcer's voice. Try it - I promise, it's fun.)! Note the array of toys - not too many so as to overwhelm Li'l Empress, but just enough to keep her wondering (cue voice again). And to keep me showering long enough to wash my hair AND my face. In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't tested it on my "long shower days" - you know, where I shave and condition and all that other primping we ladies need once in a blue moon. I mean, once every couple days. I've reserved this treat for only my speedy shower days - you know, the basics one needs to survive the day. The rest of the time I either gift myself with the treat of a jammy morning or I drag my sorry behind out of bed 15 minutes early and start the spackling and puttying while the kids eat their breakfast. Don't laugh, I know you've all been there. Or are there now. At any rate, here's my first WFMW post.

It works for me! Really.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Making Friends

Our kitty has a bit of a diva reputation. She really only loves The Boss, and tolerates the rest of us. She claims her rightful throne on his lap most nights as soon as the chaos of little gang members has faded to the upstairs. Like clockwork, we see her look around from "her chair" at about 8:30 every night. If she makes eye contact with him, she takes that as her invitation. She stretches, trills in her throat, and leisurely strolls across the room to The Boss's lap where she spends his t.v. time being petted and lavished. The kids have all recognized her limits and her boundaries of wanted attention and fallen into line accordingly. All her humans submit to her queenly ways.

Until September 27th, 2008.

Now, there's a mobile, squawking, noisy little human. Now there's toys strewn everywhere. Now there's little hands to rock "her chair" even if she doesn't want it rocked. Now there's little eyes peering through the cat door, babbling and attempting some kind of interaction. Any kind of interaction. Now there are grabby little hands reaching for a tail that she snobbily keeps JUUUUUST out of reach. Now. There's. ANOTHER! BABY! In. The. House.

I don't know if Maggie has forgiven us yet.

She weathered the birth of two of my children and survived the toddler-hood of all four older gang kids. I am seeing faint but hopeful signs, one month into the baby's arrival, that she just might weather this fifth interloper, too. Even in her advanced years. She just might be making friends with said baby.

Maybe . . . .

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pray for this Family

Many of you remember me asking for prayer for little Susannah. Her mother and I "met" on a special needs forum that we both belong to, and they were slated to travel to China when we did. We had hoped to meet up in Guangzhou for a "face-to-face" but Susannah's health was too critical and their whole trip was expedited in order to get her home for the treatment that could help save her life. I am happy to report that Susannah is home with her family and they are doing well. Certainly not out of the woods and not completely healed yet. But God has worked miracle after miracle for that family and I am thoroughly enjoying their updates. They are so diligent to give all credit and honor to His name and to His Body for the support and coverage they have experienced through this journey.

Well, today Susannah's mother posted a few prayer requests from other families with whom she has connections. This story caught me particularly hard. I don't know if it's because of our connection to the adoption community, or the beauty of little Sydney's precious smile and bright, engaging eyes. All I know is that I feel called to pray for this precious one. And I'd ask that you join me in those prayers.

We have an amazing God, who does amazing things on our behalf. I've had His amazing works happen to me - this summer's journey to our Li'l Empress is proof that you all got to be witness to. You've had God move on your behalf, I know you have. Won't you join me now in praying for His healing hand of mercy and strength to be on this little girl now?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Li'l Empress is strong-willed. In fact, she is very strong-willed. She does not like to be crossed. Or corrected. She despises being thwarted when she's moving toward something that she wants. The Boss and I have agreed over these recent weeks that she is likely going to be THE little Gang member that redefines the Gang's definition of a strong-willed child.

I'm okay with that. As I've said before, the Lord gave me her name many years ago, which means "little fiery one." This fiery temperament is, I believe, what gave her the ability to grow and even thrive in the midst of what were (at best!) difficult circumstances at the start of her little life. I'm okay with the growls and stiffened little torso when I move her away from dangerous scenarios. I'm good with her scowls and screeches when I take away the remote control. I'm even fine with the heated (like melt-plastic-heated!) stares I get when I take food off her tray after she's thrown most of it on the floor in defiance.

So, I've been very, very busy remembering the tricks and tools I used on the other little Gang members when they were 14 mos. old. I'm implementing all my skills of distraction and re-direction that I learned back when. I've even taken out notes from teachings I was blessed to sit under in the early years of my parenting journey. And while I'm doing it, in my heart I'm thanking my personal heroes who were instrumental in my life to teach me those skills necessary to parent a toddler. To parent a very strong-willed toddler.

Mom. Susan. Sheri. Zory. Karna. The list goes on. . .

These are godly women who invested in me, who saw where I was at and came along-side me. Who lent me a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on. Who prayed for me and with me. And who loved my babies almost as much as I love my babies. No matter how snotty or resistant they might have been acting at the moment. These women loved me and did not judge me.

Parenting "a second time around" has given me a greater appreciation for the fact that this season will pass. That at the other side, God will have formed a sweet and strong little warrior for His kingdom. Granted, I have a ton more experience and a great deal more help and support in the form of Li'l Empress's four slaves who arrive home at 3:15 every day to give me a break. But even so, I have noticed lately that I am picking the battles differently. I'm going after the battles that will make a real difference in the war for my daughter's heart. I'm letting some of the skirmishes go. I'm feeling more relaxed that I'm NOT going to screw up this child by my action or inaction. (At least not too badly!)

And I'm grateful. I am exceedingly grateful - for the help of The Gang. For the investment of those heroes God placed in my life along the way. And for the mercy of the Lord that is all over us while Li'l Empress works daily (hourly?!) at her efforts of redefining "strong-willed."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Only Happens To Me

I had the weirdest thing happen the other day.

I was trimming Li'l Empress's tiny toe nails, while Matt Lauer was chatting gorgeously and intelligently in the background. The house was quiet after the chaos of 2 different bus pick-ups and I was humming in Empress's ear to keep her still and distracted.

Clip. Screech. Deep breath. Gently set Li'l Empress on the floor and try to gracefully and calmly get up from the floor with one eye closed and without kicking Empress in the head while I slipped around in my jammy pants.

Yes. I clipped a sweet little baby toenail clipping right into the corner of my eye. No, let me rephrase that. This couldn't be just a tiny little shaving that was soft and minuscule. This was a huge, CHUNK of baby toenail. Sharp and pointy. Right. In. The. Corner. of my right eye.

Have I ever mentioned before how much I hate things in my eye? How I cringe and try not to gag when I watch various loved ones apply or remove contact lenses? Or how when I'm freaked out, I have an alarming tendency to sweat from everywhere and breathe funny? OR how every long and lovely fingernail except my right thumbnail has broken since my return from China now that I'm doing my own dishes and laundry again?

Breathe. Deep cleansing breaths. In. Out. Pray. In. Out. "It's okay, Li'l Empress. Mommy's right here. See, right here where you can see me. It's okay. I'm right here." (I'm gonna be blind in one eye till the sweet Lord comes and takes me home, but I'm here. I'm right here.)

Finally, after about 3 minutes of deep breathing, heavy sweating, profuse tears, and pleading with my Sweet Savior to rescue me, I got the toe nail clipping out of my eye. The rest of the morning my eye was swollen, red and itchy. By lunch time, I no longer looked like a raging case of pink-eye had attacked my eye. By dinner, I had NO PROOF whatsoever to offer my family as to the deep and gut-wrenching trauma I'd experienced that morning.

This kind of thing only happens to me. When I'm alone or surrounded by little ones who can only say "ba ba ba" and grin through drool.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Happy Face of the Day

Just wanted to share with you a quick look at Li'l Empress's first foray into the yard last week to play with the kids. Love that look of joy and wonder!

This past week was a tough one for us. Li'l Empress has been fighting the lingering hangers-on of that cold she caught in China. The Boss worked LATE every night of the week, then headed off for the local denominational men's retreat early Friday evening into Saturday evening. I've been working really hard with the rest of the Gang to get back to the swing of things after several weeks of unusual days and interrupted routines. This past week made me especially grateful that we obeyed the prompting of the Lord to "hibernate" this fall and strip all extras from our family calendar.

We had a lovely conversation over Sunday lunch today (Yummy hamburgers and french fries, thanks to Grandma W's extras that she froze from our welcome home dinner!). I asked the kids how our new real life compared to what they thought of or expected back when we were still waiting for Li'l Empress. We talked about the bumps in the road we've had and the joys we've experienced. By and large we all agreed that this has been a wonderful, growing and exciting experience. We gave each kid a chance to voice what's been hardest about all the changes and what they thought we could be doing better to manage those things. I was so proud of each of them, that they could recognize that the hard parts of the transition are just for a season. Not surprisingly, they all agreed that as hard as some days have been, none of us would trade the time we've had together while welcoming Li'l Empress home! It was a sweet time of hearing from each of them what they love the most about this new life and how they feel about their new little sister. And while Li'l Empress lay snoozing away in her room upstairs, Shaggy said, "Eating dinner just the 6 of us feels just weird now! Like something is missing. It's too quiet!"

My heart is very full today - of the goodness of our Father, of the love of my Gang, and the joy of a journey walked by His leading. The path wasn't always easy, and the journey often felt long and winding. Certainly not the straight shot down the path that I would have mapped out if I was the Trip Planner. But today, I can look back on all we've walked through to get here and say, "It is well with my soul."

God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Just A Test

This is just a test for Shaggy's Science HW - I don't really know why we had to post it here or how long it will be here. Just ignore it and go on your merry way. He was muttering something about url's and moodle and some other such nonsense. And it was too late and too chaotic here to make any sense of it at the moment. But it's one more reason I wish I could home school all my kids! :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Meatballs from Heaven

I'm finally getting around to telling you about the rest of our family weekend to honor my grandmother. Forgive me, but this thinking and working around the house in 15 minute increments takes some getting used to again! As I told a friend, lately my hands have been either full of Li'l Empress, dishes, or laundry.

Saturday after the party, we headed across town to my Aunt G & Uncle C's house for the night. When we arrived, they presented us with this adorable rocker that Aunt G had made for Li'l Empress's room. She LOVES it, and every morning since we've been home, she wakes for hugs and kisses with Mommy, then sits in her chair and rocks herself a few minutes. Soooooo cute :)

Sunday morning we got to visit a church in town that is part of my brother's fellowship of churches. He was the guest speaker that morning, and I hear tell that he did a great job. I spent most of the service in the nursery hand feeding Gerber puffs to Li'l Empress and her cutie pie cousin, Teagan. My folks joined us for the service and headed off to visit the Norwegians from there, so it was good-byes to Grandma and Big Boppa after church. When we got back to my aunt and uncle's, we were pleasantly surprised to see that my Grandma was joining us for the looooooong-anticipated meal of pasta and meatballs. This time, Uncle C actually gave away some of his secrets to his WORLD CLASS AMAZINGEST MEATBALLS EVER. Dr. D hasn't stopped nagging to know when I'm gonna try my hand at the recipe. Part of me doesn't ever want to try and duplicate them. Part of me wants to keep that particular delicacy sacred and special. After all, if I can make Uncle C's meatballs, then any old doofus can make them and where's the LIFETIME of mystery in that?!

Well-stuffed and happily satisfied by the amazing lunch, we spent the afternoon relaxing with my family. Li'l Empress was so wiped out by the activities that she took a three hour nap. Missed most of her great-grandmother's visit, but we couldn't keep her awake any longer and NONE of us wanted to wake a sleeping Empress - it's not pretty, I tell ya. After a while, my Aunt G and I drove Grandma back to her apartment, with a detour to Tripoli's Bakery. NO visit to my mom's hometown (and my birthplace incidentally) is complete until we have Tripoli's cannolis. Traditional cannolis have a creamy, luscious ricotta cheese filling but I also picked up some chocolate and vanilla pudding ones for the kids. They aren't sentimentally attached to their cannolis like I am, so I saved the real thing for the grown-ups more discerning palates. They did not disappoint. Mmmmm, one bite and I was happier than anyone ever should be when eating. Really, I think I've taken the "food is love" mentality of my Italian heritage and gone overboard. I wouldn't even talk to anyone while I was eating it. In slow, teeny, tiny, delicious little bites. While we were pulling out of the parking lot, I snapped this pic - their sign hasn't changed in years - it was just as I remembered it from being a kid visiting "home."

At my grandmother's apartment, I wandered around, looking at all the family pictures and the familiar pieces that were in my grandparents' home and later their town house when I was growing up. I got pretty choked up a couple times, looking at pics of my grandfather and other family members and events. But when I walked into her bedroom, I really lost it. Her bedroom suite of furniture took me back like nothing else that whole weekend. I remember sitting on their bed talking with my Grandpa. I remembered sitting at Grandma's little vanity, brushing my hair and pretending to be a fine lady with all the perfume bottles and mirrors and fancy brushes. She has these two prints of beautiful ballerinas over her bed that she has always had in her bedrooms and just the sight of them made me tear up all over again.

I realized in that moment how BLESSED I am to be part of this family, this group of people who are so full of love and rich with stories. At the risk of sounding really dramatic, while I was standing in that bedroom I felt such a warmth of connection to who I am and who I came from. None of us are perfect, but we are family and I am so fortunate and privileged to be part of them. At the party the day before, someone commented to my grandmother (when all the great grandkids were swarming around and family was EVERYWHERE!) "Look what you and Sam started, Rose!" Well, it is my honor to carry on the story that they all started. I can only pray that I carry on with the strength, courage, and grace that my grandparents and my parents have displayed as they walked ahead of me.

"MMMMMMM, Uncle C's meatballs are AWESOME!!!!"

Monday morning was all about packing and hitting the road. It is always hard for me to say good-bye to this side of the family. We live so far apart and the time we get together is so precious. The Boss and I commented several times on the way home that Aunt G and Uncle C have been such an amazing example to us of enduring love and sweet, generous hospitality over the years that we've been married. We always feel so cherished and well-taken care of when we've been there. I hope that our home is as warm and loving and open to guests as their home always feels to us.

Here's Aunt G and Uncle C, with The Gang

Aunt G is so sweet - she reminds me of my grandpa.
She gets all emotional and teary-eyed whenever she has to say good-bye to her loved ones.

There you have it. My gushing re-cap of a wonderful family weekend. If you hung in there to the very end, without even knowing any of these folks, big kudos to you. I mostly capture these events for my family and for our memories. I hope you enjoyed peeking in on the amazing family that I love. I can't wait to read it back to Li'l Empress some day and help her know her new family through my eyes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Family, Food and Fun

It's been well-chronicled here in the pages of The Gang's All Here! that I am at my happiest when I get to spend time with family and friends. I'm an extrovert. I love my family. I have a deep appreciation for the generations that came before me and for the stories that link us all together. So this past weekend away was like a chocaholic at Hershey. Or a foodie at a restaurant convention. I was in happy-family, Italian-food, cherished-relationship paradise. And I wanted it to never end.

Early Friday morning (the earliness astounded even me!), we traveled with the whole Gang for our first car trip to the Norwegians cozy little cottage. Li'l Empress was a dream to travel with: cheery, smiling, and sleeping her way north the whole way. We were joined there by my brother's family for a night of cousin-bonding and Phillies cheerin'. All that expended energy was fed supremely by yummy lasagna with all the fixin's. My sis may look Irish, but that girl can cook some Italian. My oh my. Shaggy was delirious!

This is my brother reading a bed-time story to the cousins.
I have a feeling there are some fun times ahead for those two little girls!

Practicing scales with Shaggy and Cousin K

Saturday we drove a couple hours north and spent the entire day at my Aunt R and Uncle B's house. Since my grandma turns 90 in the middle of the winter and they live pretty far north in New England, the party/reunion to honor her was planned early to allow as many to travel as possible. I was so excited to spend time with my aunts and uncles, my cousins (missed ya Chris!), my second cousins, great aunts and uncles and other distant cousins. Here's a few pics of the festivities.

The guest of honor

My Aunt G, My Mom, Grandma and My Aunt R
"The Girls"

The Gang with Grandma

It was a special treat that my mom's friend J showed up to honor my grandmother. Mom and J have been friends since they were about 15 years old. I have excellent memories of the years of friendship between our families. Not to mention a wonderful living example of true, enduring friendship between women. Aren't they both gorgeous?!

There's so much more to share, but I'll save all that for another post. Uncle C's meatballs and real, authentic cannolis deserve a post all their own. Really.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Delightful Detour

I was gonna post all about our fabulous weekend away, visiting my mom's side of the family and stuffing our faces on authentic Italian delicacies. But a late-breaking email alerted me to a far more important post (thanks, Nat, for the heads up!).

Really, I've never won anything this big, this BAD (in a good, bad way), and this AMAZING before. When it arrives, I'll be sure to share the product review with you all!

So, thanks to BooMama for the fabulous contest. Thanks to Oreck for sponsoring it and offering the grand prize. And thanks, Lord. You all have NO idea how poorly my current vacuum sucks up junk. Just ask Li'l Empress - she'll gladly tell you as she babbles around the miniscule junk she keeps finding in the carpet to pick up and gnaw at all day long. When she's supposed to be practicing her crawling and tummy time.

Grin. Woooo hoooo. I won an Oreck!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My First Wordless Wednesday

This is my first Wordless Wednesday. It's all about the love, baby!

Big Brother Love that is!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Still The One


18 years ago today, I married my best friend. To some, that may seem like a cliche. But to me, it is the truth and it is my every day reality. He knows all my faults and my weaknesses and chooses to love me every day any way. He knows all my fears and my insecurities and never exploits them or exposes them. He rejoices in my strengths and allows them to be stretched and used, not just in our home and in our parenting, but also for our church and our community. He encourages my dreams and even makes great sacrifices to help them come true.

We've walked some crazy paths together these 18 years. But as long as we are together, I don't really mind the craziness. He is the anchor of our home, the calm in the middle of the storm, and the reason I can keep walking where ever the Lord calls us to walk. Because I know he will always walk there with me. Even if it means pushing me from behind or pulling me along for a season. He's my best friend, my lover, and still my favorite person to travel this adventure we call "life" together!

(special shout out to Brittany for the great shot!)

Happy Anniversary, Babe!
I love you more with each passing year
and I consider it a joy to walk this road with you.
You are STILL The ONE!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Have You Heard About This Contest?!

I'm so excited at the chance to win this super-cool and practical contest! With five kids in the house, where everyone sleeps is no easy decision. I mean, we have the rooms for the beds (thank you, Lord, for my wonderful 5 BR home!), but the beds? OY! And dressers? You all remember what I went through this summer to prepare for Li'l Empress's royal arrival, but what you don't know is that I've already started thinking about what to do when she's out of her crib. This contest just might be the answer to the dilemma. After all, I can't just put this sleeping angel down in any old place, can I now?!

Her First Nap In Daddy's Arms.
The first of many more to come, I'm sure!

Just because there's nothing quite as sweet as the sight of a sleeping baby!

Head over to 5 Minutes for Moms to learn more about the awesome prize being offered for this contest. I'm leaning toward choosing the Summer Breeze set in Vanilla Creme. What would you choose?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A New Normal

I know, I know. It's been a long time of silence here at "The Gang's All Here!" especially for one as prolific and verbose as I'm known to be. But the silence here on the blog in no way reflects the silence of our life. We've had a marvelous 4 days of connecting, snuggling, and adjusting to life with our five all together under one roof. If I may, I'll share a short re-cap of the days since you last heard from me.

Saturday's travel experience was as good as one could possibly anticipate with a one-year old. Li'l Empress handled the early (5 a.m. China time) wake-up call just fine and did great on the first flight to Hong Kong. We rushed through the HK airport like crazy loons to get to Continental's ticket counter for check-in. Only to find that there was no record of a lap ticket purchased for the Li'l Empress. Several hold-your-breath and pray-like-crazy minutes later, the lovely Jimmy Chow found the records and sent us on our way. Sprinting and sweating. Lovely way to start a 15 hour flight!

On Her Way Home!
Please ignore the bags under my eyes.
I forgot to check them at the ticket counter.

The actual flight was long but we weathered it just fine. We only had one really tense melt-down moment, when Daddy forgot to stop at the galley for hot water on his way from the restroom. The "fasten your seat belts" light had gone on by this time so until we were cleared for cabin movement again, Li'l Miss had to wait not so patiently and share her displeasure with those around us. The whole event really only lasted about 10 minutes, but with all the sleeping passengers around us, it felt like 100 minutes to me! There were three adoptive families on this flight, and we had met the other two couples when staying in the White Swan. We shared commiserating looks as we all trekked the aisles on and off for the 15 hours to pass the time. Both families were traveling with their other children, and they really did a great job on the flight despite the cramped quarters for all.

We arrived on US soil with a cheer: when we touched down, Li'l Empress officially became an American with all the rights and privileges we all enjoy and usually take for granted. Because we were cheering, she started clapping and babbling, much to the amusement of the other travellers! Clearing Customs and Immigration was fairly simple, until The Boss dropped his passport and couldn't find it anywhere. Turns out it had flipped over the divider into the next cubicle and we were rescued by the other adoptive family's keen observation!

Getting out of baggage claim

We were greeted outside of baggage claim by the sight of Baby BlueEyes waving frantically and shouting, "I see them! Here they come!" I lost it - just a big bucket of mush for my babies as soon as I saw them all. I couldn't get over how tall and grown-up they all looked. We were also thrilled to see my brother, his wife, and Teagan along with my sister, her hubby and their 3 kiddos. My father-in-law and mother-in-law were teary-eyed with us and the reunion was very precious for all of us. Li'l Empress ate all the attention right up, with no hesitations and no freak-outs at all. She's had a photo album of our Gang since mid-August and it's been obvious to us from the first few days with her that she had been told many times who was her Mama and Baba and GeGe (pronounced Goo Goo, with in the vowel sound of "look") and JeiJei (pronounced Gee Gee with soft "g" sound).

Her first ride in her new car seat.
She fell asleep in less than 30 minutes!

The rest of Saturday passed in a foggy, pea-soup kind of blur for me. I remember sitting down to eat, but I don't think I ate much. I know my brother and his family joined us but I don't remember them leaving. I know I gave Li'l Empress a bath in the kitchen sink, but I don't remember dressing her or putting her to bed. The Boss slept off and on the whole time and we were both in bed by 7:45 p.m. ~ I think. ~

Her first bath at home.
All the sibs helped and she had a ball splashing them all!

Sunday was amazing. I got to shower, shave my legs, brush my teeth and drink water straight from my fridge. All without wondering what was in the water. All without worrying about getting it in my mouth. I actually brushed my teeth twice that morning just cuz I could! After a quiet morning of unpacking and giving gifts and goodies to the kids and my in-laws, family started showing up for the day. My sister-in-law over at My Little Nest (formerly Life and Lessons) brought her Princess with her, my folks came down, my sister and her family, and later my brother and his family. The whole day we were surrounded by those we love, and Li'l Empress was treated to as many walks around the house holding two fingers as she could stand. She charmed all the family immediately with her scrunchy-nose smile and made immediate slaves out of all the cousins present. She and Teagan spent some adorable moments playing on the floor together until she literally just maxed out. Another melt-down precipitated by Mommy forgetting to look at the clock for bottle time and then kneeling on her hand - not with my full weight but enough to put her right over the edge! I swear, I really have to get this bottle thing under control. Not that the poor kid is starving or anything :)

The in-laws left shortly after a late breakfast on Monday and we enjoyed the day of hanging out and relaxing together, just the 7 of us. (Does it sound strange to say "just" when speaking of 7 people?!) I had arranged before our trip to keep the kids home on Monday for family time. We had the bonus of having Tuesday off together also, as the schools were closed for Rosh Hashannah. Both days were full of play time, more unpacking, and plenty of naps for Li'l Empress and The Boss. I think we have turned a nice corner for her: she slept from 8 p.m. till 4 a.m. last night, and immediately fell back to sleep in bed with us (I forgot how much I love the warmth of a snuggly sleeping baby in bed with me!) after a quick diaper change in the dark.

Honestly, I haven't fared as well in the jet lag department. I've never been one to turn off my brain easily, and rarely can sleep during the day. So I'm dragging still. I'm finding it easy to relax during the day (thanks to my church family, I don't have to cook meals this week!), but I've not yet slept a full night through. Last night, I woke at 1 a.m. and stared at the ceiling and the walls until the alarm went off at 6:45 for school. Every time I dozed off, either Li'l Empress would start another coughing spell (yes, she's still coughing and stuffy but improving) or The Boss would start snoring. If it continues, I may sneak into LadyBug's room and sleep there for a night to get back on track.

Today, the kids all returned to school. We took Li'l Empress for her first trip to the grocery store to re-stock a couple basics and get some fresh air. I can't believe how much I miss the kids! I know she does too, but we purposely kept her pretty busy till naptime and now she's resting very deeply and peacefully.

So there you have it. The Gang is getting back on track. Finding our way to our new normal and loving it! We are so grateful for all your prayers and inquiries, and yes, even from you stalkers! It's nice to know we are being cared for and thought of. We're working on transferring pics from The Boss's laptop over to our home computer and when we do, we'll have more pics to share of the fun and excitement of the last few days. Thanks again for the prayers - keep 'em coming. The Boss returns to working in the office on Monday and I HAVE to have a night or two of good sleep under my belt by then or I'll be a basket case!