"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance.The thread may stretch or tangle, but it will never break." -Chinese proverb

Thursday, July 18, 2013

10 months

It has been 10 months (yesterday) since our Shanghai cutie joined our family!  At 10 months with us, she is doing really well.  She is also definitely pushing our buttons.  She's really starting to talk a lot more lately.  She did great and gained so many words in the beginning but progress slowed down for a while.  She is picking it back up now though and has recently adopted the phrase, "What's that, Mommy?" as her new favorite.  I think this is good, annoying at times but good, because I feel like she's really trying to get a word for everything.  I know she's saying a lot more than we know because we can't understand everything she says and she will shock us with things that we had no idea that she knew how to say.  A couple of recent ones are, "My turn yet, Ella?" and , "You show me how, Mommy?" when I was tying her shoes.  Yep, tying her shoes!  Slow down girl, we'll get to that later!  She also has gotten so good at running and jumping, things that were really tough for her for a while.  Today, while I worked out at the gym, I kept spotting Liana on the TV that they have so you can watch your kiddos while you work out and she was constantly hopping around on this hopscotch that they had made out of tape.  It was so cute!  She is mostly well behaved, and almost always well behaved around other people, but when she's being a stinker...look out!  Today was one of those days.  If she gets a time-out, she wails like something horrible is happening to her.  The thing is, she's not as devastated as she sounds because she stops the instant she hears us talking to each other so she can eavesdrop and then starts back up with the screaming as soon as we stop.  Not my favorite behavior of hers.  When she got out of time-out tonight, however, she walked around for a while hugging each of us.  It was really sweet.  I think she really learned her lesson...ha.ha.ha.  She is still behind in some things for an almost three year old but she is catching up and in most things, she is right on track for her age.  Really, the main thing that she needs to catch up on is still language.  It must be a really hard transition from Mandarin to English!  They couldn't be much more different!  People who don't know her ask me all the time if she understands anything.  Umm yeah...I would sure hope so after 10 months!  Actually, she has understood most of what we said to her very soon after bringing her home but actually being able to tell us everything that she needs to say is taking time.  I can't imagine how long it would take me to learn Mandarin if I suddenly moved to China!  A lot longer than it's taking her, I suspect. 

Something funny that I noticed is when I show her pictures of her from while she was in the orphanage and ask her who it is she says, "Jie Jing" (her Chinese name) and if I show her pictures of her now, she says, "Ana" (what she calls herself, think: ahn-ah).  I thought that was interesting.  She's a girl with so many names: Liana, Li-wanna (according to Ethan), Lili, Jie Jing (she will always be our Jie Jing), Ana, and I call her Sunshine sometimes because of that big, sunny smile that she is always wearing.  The orphanage gave us some information about what her Chinese name means.  Jie means "nimble and smart" which is very fitting and Jing means "peace".  They said that they chose this name for her and hope that she will be a smart girl who has a peaceful personality.  I love that we have this explanation from them and it definitely fits her...most of the time. :-)  Liana (and I have to clear this up because we get asked all the time, it is pronounced lee-ahn-ah, not lee-ann-ah) means "My God has answered".  How amazingly fitting is that?!  We chose the name because we loved it and think it is a beautiful name but when we learned later what the meaning is, I couldn't believe how perfect it was for this girl that God brought us on such a journey to find.  It must be confusing to her that we call her so many things but all of these names are special to us for different reasons.  Jie Jing...Liana...LiLi...whatever, she is a sweet girl with a lot of spunk and an amazing daughter and sister too.  Happy 10 months, Liana!  We love you so much!!!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

10 years

On July 12th, 2003, this was us
On our anniversary, Erik surprised me with this
These people tagged along

This is us now
Still in love and more blessed than ever <3

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

4th of July and family

My laziness with my blog is growing each month so I almost made this a Wordless Wednesday post with just pics but I couldn't quite do it.  We had a great 4th of July.  My brother, sister in law and niece came to stay with us for five fun days!  It was so much fun watching the kids play with Uncle Tim, Auntie Carri and cousin Taylor!  Taylor and Liana are a year apart so I'm hoping that someday they will be great friends!  It sure made it more fun for our 4th to have family with us!  On the 3rd, we went to a fireworks show that we go to every year.  The kids had a great time and little Miss Liana handled the fireworks just like she handles everything that is new, like our spunky little go for it girl!  She was not afraid of anything and kept saying, "Cool!" during the show.  I swear, this girl is up for anything!  On the 4th, the guys went down and bought some fireworks and we found a (ahem) totally legal place to set them off.  It was a lot of fun since Texas has really awesome fireworks. 
It was so nice to have a family visit and we realized that this was Liana's first time having anyone stay with us.  She, of course, loved it and showed off her mad dancing skills over and over...and over.  She's turning into quite the little ham and is taking after big sis big time!  I can't wait to see how she likes the dance class that I signed her up for next month!  We are also going to do a Mommy and Me swim class in a couple of weeks and this girl is ready!  I think she's actually about ready to ditch me and do it herself but she's too young still.  I just love her spirit and her spunk so much!
Lookin good!
Sassy, as always
After seeing Ella get her pic taken, Liana wanted hers and this is how she posed.  Isn't she a ham?!
Then it was Ethan's turn to do his new, favorite pose
Our little firecracker!
The girls
And sillies
Taylor bustin a move!
Our patriotic three
Ethan being Ethan :-)
Liana's only 6 lbs. bigger but she thought that, as the big cousin, she should help
Proud to be an American
I love when I catch them in these moments when they don't know anyone is watching
She was a little too excited (crazy) so Daddy had to help her hold it so she wouldn't burn herself

Monday, July 1, 2013

Road trip to Disney World!

Last week, we returned from a road trip with the kids to Disney World!  Yep, we braved a 2 1/2 day drive...each way...in the car...with the kids.  We were smart and got a DVD player installed in the car before we left.  Great idea, right?  Not for us.  This is the third attempt at some sort of DVD player for a long drive that hasn't worked out.  The first attempt was from our move with Ella from Oregon to Texas.  We had bought her a handheld DVD player and it stopped working on the first day.  We even replaced it and the replacement stopped working too.  The second attempt was last year on our trip to the beach.  It was one of those car DVD players that you plug into the cigarette lighter and it had a monitor for each kid to watch.  That worked for the whole drive there but then didn't work at all for the whole drive back and never worked again.  Okay, so this time we decided to up our game and actually get one installed since this was going to be a long trip with three kids now.  I mean, we're outnumbered now...this is getting serious!  Yeah well, it started acting up on the first day.  It was hit or miss whether it would work or not and we decided that sometimes it "needed a break."  By day 2, it was working maybe 50% of the time and we were cleaning every speck of dust off of every DVD we tried.  Day 3, I don't think it worked at all and for the entire drive home when we were all in the "leaving Disneyworld/this trip isn't fun anymore" blues we couldn't get that thing to play at all.  O.M.G.  Yep, I said it.  So you can imagine how fun the trip home was.

Anyways, the trip there was fun and Disney World was a dream!  On our first night of our road trip, we stayed in New Orleans and it was really fun!  Erik and I hadn't been to New Orleans since right after Hurricane Katrina when Erik worked there for 2 months on a project to help clean up all of the debris.  It was nice to see New Orleans as the city everyone describes and not just this sad and terrible disaster area.  We ate that night at Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory and Miss Ella lost her first tooth!  It had been getting very loose and was hurting her while she ate so I told her it was loose enough to pull and she just yanked it right out...no hesitation!  The next day, we got up and went to Café Du Monde for their famous beignets for breakfast.  They were sooo good!  Then we walked around Jackson Square a little bit, stuck our feet in the Mississippi River just so we could say that we had and hopped in the car and drove.  We made it through Mississippi and Alabama to Tallahassee that night and then Disney World by lunch the next day.  The kids didn't know we were going to Disney World until we drove up to it and told Ella to read the sign as we drove through.  Ella and Ethan screamed when they figured it out.  Liana, who had been sleeping in between them, woke up and when I told her we were going to Disney World, covered her face with her blanket. :-)  We quickly dropped off our bags and our car at the resort and hopped on a bus to the Magic Kingdom.  We had the best trip!  We rode as many rides as we could (thank you, Disney fastpasses!).  Ella was a little fearful of some of the bigger rides but ended up conquering her fears and enjoying them.  Ethan loved all of the rides and is definitely going to be my daredevil buddy for rides.  Liana was too little still for any of the scary ones but loved all of the ones that she was big enough for.  Ethan was so tired on the first day from not getting a nap that he fell asleep on my shoulder as we waited in line for the Haunted Mansion ride and he slept through the entire ride!  We took the kids to a character lunch, which ended up being Pooh and friends.  Liana loved them from afar but was terrified when they came up to us.  I held her for pictures and she would be almost in tears but when we would tell her to smile, she would stop and say cheese and give some sort of attempt at a smile for pictures and then back to fear once the picture was taken.  It was hilarious!  By the end of the week, however, she was giving hugs to Daisy Duck and blowing kisses at Minnie Mouse.  Sleeping Beauty seemed to be her favorite.  She didn't want to leave her and had to go back for one final hug before she let the next little girl have her time.  Ella adored Ariel the most and Ethan's favorite was meeting Lightning McQueen and Mater at Hollywood Studios.  The one thing that we had to do for Liana and finally did on the last day was the carousel.  It was so cute, she would yell, "Horsies!  Pleeeease!" every time we would pass by it.  She loved it!  I still get tickled when she makes it known what she wants or asks for things when we're out and about.  I know that sounds crazy but it wasn't something that she was used to being able to do when we adopted her.  I love that she knows that she's part of a family and that she's able to do that now.  Not that we give her everything she wants but it's nice to say yes sometimes!

This trip was definitely rough, at times, especially for Liana.  She resorted back to some of her eating issues but in a different way.  When we first adopted her, she would save her last bite like she didn't know when she might get more.  Now, she will keep a bite of food in her mouth when she has just started but refuse to swallow it.  She will shove more and more in her mouth if you don't notice and are trying to get her to finish but she will just make a big show of chewing it but will not swallow.  I mean, the child will chew the same bite and hold it in her mouth for 20 minutes or more.  It's a total control thing.  We were at the dining area of our resort waiting for her to eat the tiniest bit of chicken and she just would not do it.  We will compromise but not let the kids win when we pick a battle with them and this is one we refuse to let her win.  So, I ended up taking Ella and Ethan who had been done for a long time for a walk while she sat there with Daddy to finish the three measly bites that we were insisting she finish.  We even walked by the window and waved and smiled at Erik and Liana to show her how much fun we were having and what do you know, all of a sudden she finishes in a snap.  Little stinker.  She has also taken to throwing fits in public because she's sure that we will give her what she wants if she's loud in front of other people.  Oh, how wrong she is!  She'll learn quickly enough (I hope!) that embarrassment won't make us give in to her.

We all had our rough times on this trip but overall, it was a blast and we had the time of our lives!  I really think Erik and I are getting the hang of this traveling with kids gig!  We've been a lot of places with them in the last year, starting of course, with China and I have to say, we make a great team!

Look at that cute grin with one less tooth!
Jackson Square
Mmm...Café Du Monde
Disney World!!!
 We got there on Father's Day...lucky Daddy!
Meeting Cinderella's fairy godmother
My buddy on Splash Mountain, ready for fun!
Sweet girl
Ready for autographs at our character lunch
Excited...for now!
Ethan was loving every second
Ariel, Rapunzel and...well, Ethan :-)
Princess Merida was cute and spunky.  She put Ella's crown on Ethan and he was over it
We skipped naps that day...can you tell?  Poor, hot kid!  Stitch from Lilo and Stitch tried to wake him up so I shooed him away!
Liana decided that Ethan had a great idea so she passed out behind him
Hollywood Studios and hey, Daisy and Donald!
You might not see it here but Liana loves Minnie!
 Lightning McQueen and Mater! 
Jake...Ethan wasn't thrilled
Snow White!
Ella's best moment...Ariel!
On the Little Mermaid ride
Mary Poppins.  Ella asked who she was and I shushed her real quick and told her to go and take a pic and I'd tell her later!
I have to admit, I was a little star struck when we met Mickey!
 Cinderella...my fave
Princess Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty)...Liana's favorite!
Getting one last hug all to herself :-)
Rapunzel...and yes, it was the "best day ever!"
It rained on us...a lot!
Can't we move in?  Cinderella's got plenty of room!
Last day
Cuties in their mouse ears
Sword in the Stone
Uh oh...we accidentally kidnapped Princess Merida and left Ella at Disney World!