Monday, November 28, 2011

A Great Kind of Exhausted

It was another busy week around here.  Being in retail, I'd expect nothing less.  We worked hard getting everything set up for our Black Friday sale and my boss and I still wound up staying until 1:30am.  By Thursday morning (or later that morning, I suppose) I was up and baking a homemade pecan pie.  Knowing how long it can take the four of us to get ourselves put together and out the door, we started gathering our fun holiday clothes and packing the diaper bag for a long day out.

Of course, before we left, we had to get a couple shots of the girls before we let them at the food.

Julia thought it was pretty fun to get all dressed up and wore her red bow from the time we put it in her hair up until we had to take it out for bed.

We went to Robert's dad's house and spent some time with his family and ate a great meal.  After that, we went to my mom's and spent some time with my immediate family and then my grandparents stopped by after dinner.  Julia absolutely loved a holiday that revolved around eating all day long!  She was particularly fond of pie.  I envision myself making a lot of mini-pies in the future because the girl downed them in one big swallow and would have likely eaten a full size pie by herself if allowed.

We ended the evening with my family as we always do--with a little craft.  I can't say too much about it, because it does involve something to be gifted later, but the end of the night craft is always one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions.

The next morning, mom and I headed out shopping.  Now, it's becoming a tradition for the two of us to go out shopping together, though we are by no means the hardcore, wait in line to get in, pepper spray others in a crowd type.  In fact, neither of us had seen anything real particular that we were after, it's just always fun to go spend some time together, experience a sort of once-a-year unusual outing, and of course, take advantage of some great prices!  We usually can find places to go and this year was no different.  We were at our first store by 7am and shopped until I had to be to work at 2pm.

The next couple days were filled with the best of intentions that my body just wasn't as excited about as my mind.  For as much begging as I did to get our Christmas tree put up before Turkey Day, it took until Sunday for us to actually haul it down and set it up last night!  It also was not quite the Norman Rockwell experience as I'd pictured with several strings of lights halfway out and we were about 3 minutes into sorting through boxes before we had shattered glass on the floor.  Nevertheless, it was fun to do and another great first for Julia to experience with us!  I find myself pausing during moments like these and wondering if she's ever had a Christmas tree...
if she's ever seen one...
if she's ever had her very own present to open on Christmas...
if she ever experienced a family Christmas, even if it was when she was too young to remember...
if they even celebrated Christmas at the orphanage and how...
and how can I make this Christmas great for her....

I think this year's advent calendar will be as much for me and it will be for her.  I am excited to count down to what will be such a unique Christmas for each of us this year.  Speaking of, I'd better go make an advent calendar!  Good thing I got such a good deal on some on Black Friday! :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy One Month Anniversary!

Sometimes it seems like so long ago, other time it feels like it was yesterday.  Either way, the calendar doesn't lie.  One month ago, we were racing through airports and jumping flights to get Julia home to a whole new family and life that she never knew awaited her.

Out of curiosity, I asked Robert to pull up some pictures side by side from the day we met her to compare to some we took this weekend.

I love the differences I see in her from just these two photos and to watch her grow and change in real life is a miracle we are so amazed to be a part of.  I can't imagine not having that little smile around our house or the full body dances over things like getting in the car.

She has lit up our lives in ways we didn't imagine.  I can't wait to continue celebrating her life and our lives together!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The shadow in my kitchen

So, for the last four weeks or so, I have had this phenomenon in my kitchen.  It's about 3 1/2 feet tall and always right next to me, almost like a shadow.  No matter what part of the kitchen I go to, it follows and is never far away.  I call this phenomenon my 'kitchen monster', my 'little helper', my 'little sneaker', but mostly we just call her Julia.

She may look just like her daddy, but when it comes to kitchen time, she is just like her momma!  She loves, loves, loves to be in the kitchen!  (As you may remember from this post.)  Whenever we are cooking in there, she is on our hip every step, sometimes watching, occasionally helping, but always, always looking for a handout!  This little one could snack all day long on just about any little tidbit you'll give her.  It's fun to see her try anything that happens to be on the cutting board or coming out of a shopping bag.

And that's how we got inspired to do some juicing.  I posted last week about a couple of bags of homegrown carrots that I got from my boss.  I had cleaned and shredded some for baking and as I was squeezing the extra moisture out of them, Julia was drinking the juice that was barely trickling into a cup below.  So we set some aside and headed up to my mom's house a couple days later.

True to form, she was drinking as much as I'd let her and about as fast as I'd let her gulp it!

She would be one orange 6-year old without mom's intervention!

Oh, and to prove that it's not just the eating part that has her interested, here is a picture I took just a couple days after we brought her home.
It's the longest she's ever really sat and watched TV.  Not just any TV though, she's watching the Cooking Channel! 

Also, as much as this is a blog post about what we do in our lives, day in and day out, this post also comes with a question for any readers that may want to chime in.  The sprinkles on the Halloween cupcakes and consuming before, during and after meals and snacks is the most involved I've ever gotten her to be in the process.  So, if anyone has any great 'intro to cooking' ideas for a little one with a very short attention span, go ahead and throw some my way!  There has got to be a fun, educational way to use her enthrallment with cooking to develop some skills.  Maybe even some toy ideas that incorporate cooking since Christmas isn't too far off? 

If not, I'm sure my little shadow will still be happy to follow me step-by-step through the kitchen, watching and tasting at every turn!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It takes 140 balloons to fill our hallway.

And here are the pictures to prove it!

That's right.  For just $15 and a lot of arm strength, Robert and the girls filled our hallway with balloons while I was at work.  What a creative, fun dad he is!

The girls loved it!!  They ran in them, we stuck them to our hair (hello, detangler!), stuck them to the walls and to each other and buried each other in them.

Then this little fuzzy guy decided to join the fun!  I was laughing so hard at our Yorkie with his electric hair-do so hard I about had tears in my eyes!

The girls usually are mildly entertained by the dog, but the dog AND static, well that is a good time!

So, as you can maybe tell from the look on Julia's face, her and the dog are still walking a fine line between love and hate.  She likes to play with him, but it quickly gets her very riled up and in some cases, a bit reckless.  She had more fun doing her own thing with the balloons.

And this is the picture that it hit me how grown up she is looking with her hair growing out and already a little more meat on her skinny bones!

So there you have it.  It takes 140 balloons to fill our hallway...not just with balloons, but with laughter, fun and love.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Long time, no see...

What is the difference between maternity leave and working even part time?  Well last week, it was the difference that I didn't get time to blog!  I wish I would have finished up some of the partial blogs that I started throughout the week, but sleep usually won out by the end of each night.  Here are some of the highlights of the things that kept us so busy!

On Monday, Julia got her first trip to our pediatrician.  We absolutely love our pediatrician, so we were excited to have her meet Julia and get us started in the right directions.  Julia was an absolute champ about it all!  We were able to get some good things accomplished that day since the clinic also houses specialists, a lab and a pharmacy!  By the end of our day, Julia had given up three vials of blood for labs, had a hearing test from the audiologist and we had our laundry list of specialists to schedule with.

There are so many reasons we love our pediatrician, but by the end of Monday night, she had added a few more.  She called us at 9:30 at night because they'd just posted some of Julia's lab results that they'd drawn for that afternoon!  The only thing that turned up so far was a vitamin D deficiency so she told us about her prescription.  Not too long after that, she emailed asking about our preference on the form of the supplement, as well as providing us a written break down of her new immunization schedule.

We also got to celebrate that in just two weeks, Julia had gained two pounds already!  I started out being a bit disappointed that it wasn't more, but I do have to remind myself that two pounds is almost ten percent of her body weight at this point!

We broke up the time between appointments and labs with a trip to my mom's work.  It was fun to bring Julia in to meet some of the people that had supported us without knowing us that well and that had celebrated alongside my mom as our adoption progressed.

On Wednesday, Lily and I had a mommy-daughter date.  Yo Gabba Gabba has been Lily's favorite show for a while and we'd found out just the week before that they would be live at a venue nearby.  Robert and I decided that since Julia didn't have the attention span to watch it and he didn't really have a desire to go, that it would be fun for just the two of us to go and it could be an early Christmas present to Lil.  

Oh my goodness--we had a blast!  A week later and Lily is still talking about it!  She sang just about every word to every song and danced and wiggled for almost two hours.  She was entirely glued to watching the characters and just so happy to be there!  She clapped so hard after each song I thought her hands would start hurting.  I know her cheeks had to have hurt after as much as she smiled.  She loved everything about it--from riding on the parking shuttle bus to getting souvenirs to bring home.  Neither of us could get the smile off our faces the rest of the night!

On Thursday morning, we got to play with some carrots that we got from my boss.  Lily liked playing with them while they were still dirty and Julia preferred them to be washed a edible.  In fact, I wish my hands weren't so messy so I could have gotten a picture of Julia waiting for me to get her carrots ready.  I had grated some 8 cups of carrots to baked with later and was squeezing some of the excess moisture out of them at one point.  I decided to squeeze into a glass to cut back on mess and decided to give her some of the juice after a few squeezes.  That's all it took.  She didn't leave my side until all 8 cups of those carrots were bone dry!  I'd have to stop after just a couple handfuls and give her the 1/4 inch of juice that had accumulated each time!  Needless to say, I quickly grabbed the other bag of carrots my boss left when I went back to work the next day and will be juicing a few pounds of carrots in a couple of days.

And although I didn't get a picture of my little carrot fanatic, I did get a shot of Lily and her 'octopus' carrot since she was the only one with dirty hands at this point--

On Saturday, Robert's favorite boxer was fighting on Pay Per View.  It is the one sport and the one fighter that he checks headlines for every single day.  He only has one or maybe two bouts per year, so we usually make it a big to-do when he is on.  We had originally thought we'd have a really big get-together and make it a big welcome-home-Julia party too, but as plans dwindled down and we ran out of time to plan things, we scaled back and it wound up being my mom going with us to his dad and step-mom's house.  It was actually perfect that way. 

It is so nice to spend time around people that are as head over heels for our kids as these three people are.  Robert's dad could hardly finish his meal because he was so enthralled watching Julia eat.  His step-mom patiently played Julia's pack and un-pack and re-pack things game on the couch just about all night long.  My mom took turns with me making a game out of distracting both girls from the stairs and tickling and lifting them in the air instead.  As awesome as it is to love these two girls with all of our hearts, it is exponentially wonderful to have some family and friends around us embrace both of them just as they are too.

Besides, who could think these two are anything but perfect, just as they are?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Snow day and hello again, workforce!

Last night was practically like Christmas Eve for Lily.  Right as she was heading to bed, the snow had just started to fall and stick on the grass.  Like promises of Santa's visit, we lured her under the covers with deals of playing, snow gear and snowmen after a good night's rest.
Luckily, the weather held up it's end of the bargain and by the time they woke up, had breakfast and got dressed, there were a few inches on the ground to have a good romp in.
Lily burst out the door when we finally let her.  That girl loves her some outside weather!

Julia, on the other hand, wasn't so entirely thrilled with it.  She certainly didn't mind the snow, but definitely could not figure out why we were all so excited to get her out into it!

Lily was determined to enjoy all of her regular fun activities despite the blanket of snow on everything, from the 'playground' to the trampoline...

Julia decided she liked her normal routine best too and spent a lot of the time wanting to be held by mom and dad.

After a few quick jumps on the trampoline... was time to go inside and warm up!  Or at least so I thought.  Seems Julia had so much fun running (or being carried) around that she crashed pretty immediately after we went in.

Overall, it was such a nice day!  I got to start the day at a brunch at my friend's church and spend some time learning about and doing some cute crafts.  (Got some fun ideas for Christmas presents!  Gotta get an early jump since doubling my number of passengers may make it a bit more interesting to run errands this winter.)
After that, it was a fun visit with some of our closest friends and their adorable little girl.  Then it was off shopping with Lily while Julia napped so I could both find some heavier duty snow gear for the girls and so I could finish the dinner that was already started in the crock pot!  A quick stop at work to grab a key and got to catch up with a couple of my favorite co-workers and a little tour of Old Navy to see if we needed anything more than socks with our Friends and Family coupon.

It was a great day filled with some good family time and great visits with friends both old and new.  What a fun way to wrap up my 'maternity leave'.  Yes, tomorrow I return to work.  I am not particularly excited about not spending my days at home with my family, but there are a lot of positives to look at too.  Robert will be off on his paid paternity leave through the middle of January, so the girls with still be at home with a parents, even if it's not me. :)  It will be nice to have some open availability and work more hours than I could if Robert were already back to work so we can get some extra Christmas cash (and medical bills and other not-fun stuff) coming in.  I get to see my co-workers again!  I genuinely do like spending time with my pals at work and it will be fun to work alongside their smiling faces. 

And, not that my co-workers aren't cute, but it just won't quite be the same as seeing these smiling faces all day---