Friday, July 31, 2009

Playing Along

A few weeks back Mama Tongginator stumbled upon our little slice of the blogosphere and left a sweet comment on my "Love of Lauren" post. She found me and happily I in turn found her fabulous blog.(If you wish to take a peek, check out my blog roll!) All this week she has been recounting classic(hilarious!)old stories about her daughter and encouraged the rest of us to play along today. After reading the sweet & sassy stories about her cutie, I decided to add one of our own and for this I'm gonna have to ask ya all to go wayyyyyyyyy wayyyyyy back a few years as this happened when I was still a Mama to just one dumpling and that "just one" was just about 2 1/2 years old. A fun & precocious age....... :)

To understand this fully, you have to know that our Little Miss has always adored words and probably comes by it honestly as (frankly) I enjoy chatting and sharing words with her! So her latest and greatest had been the word, "vintage" and she was applying it with remarkable comprehension. During an outing she had deftly pointed out a vintage model Mustang (be still my heart!) and had made the cognitive leap to associating it with all things antique as well.

Truly I don't even recall how this particular word came to be used in her budding vocabulary but when she had inquired about its meaning, I had stated that vintage things are old, very special and unique. And yep, if I'm being honest here ( and there's no reason not to be) *grin* I was feeling a bit of motherly pride at her grasp of such a big concept and proper application. Perhaps if I'm being even more transparent I might even admit to feeling a wee bit smug.......which usually means a BIG Mama-hood lesson is fast approaching. Otherwise known as a swift kick in the smugness bu**! LOL

So days passed and our sweet cheeks kept delighting me with her word de jour. And like any good story, or as fate would have it, there came the day we found ourselves standing in our local bank tending to some mundane task. We had been waiting our turn and the teller had just beckoned us forward when I heard(from a very far away place) the door open behind us, followed by muffled footsteps. Thinking nothing of this, I continued with our business at hand oblivious to my child's rapt attention near the front of the bank........remember those footsteps?.....(remember my Mama's pride??)

Yes, those footsteps belonged to a very elderly and lovely lady who had the misfortune to select that day to do her banking; for just as every other noise seemed to instantly fade away, our darling girl grabbed my pant leg and hollered out with incredible 2 year old abandon, " OH LOOK, MAMA, SOMETHING VINTAGE JUST ARRIVED AND IS COMING THIS WAY!" And yes, you could have heard a proverbial pin drop, IF you were able to ignore the muffled gasp of the teller and the ringing bells of calamity (in my head).

There I stood, wishing, hoping, yearning for that hateful floor, shined daily to a high gloss btw, to implode and whisk me away, reluctantly turning to face this poor stranger, all the while aware of my child hopping up and down with great joy and glee cuz afterall she had just applied her special word one more time! And I looked at my girl, her face shiny with excitement and peeked sheepishly at the sweet lady, my cheeks ablaze and began to stumble through an apology.......

And guess what? This was one sharp gal, her hearing was perfect ( and she was 95 if she was a day!) and she bent down and said to the earnest little face by my side, that, "that was the nicest thing anyone had said to her all week." Then she smiled big at us both, winked at the teller and gracefully strode to the next teller. And my little girl glanced up at me and said loudly (cuz 2 years don't really have another volume setting in public), "Mama, why are your cheeks so red?"

Why indeed? :)

Wishing you all a glorious weekend filled with smiles and laughter!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dragons & Friends

This past Saturday( and oh yes, I do believe I am almost the last person to blog about our special day.....where do the days go??) our family ventured to downtown Chicago to attend the Dragon Boat Races in Chinatown. Having never actually visited Chinatown we were tickled with how easy it was to navigate down there and immensely impressed with the entire area. How could we have been ignorant of this cultural gem for so many years? The day graced us with sunny skies and warm temps and after packing up what felt like half the house, we found ourselves parked and awaiting our friends at the Ping Tom Memorial Park along the riverfront.

And while we relished watching a group of graceful and lovely traditional Chinese dancers, cheered for the dragon boat racers( though Miss Chatty Box here actually only saw the tail end of one lone race due to before mentioned sampled delicious foods(dumplings with soup tucked inside...yum! yum!), watched a parade of dragon dancers in Chinatown's business district, shopped in the cramped and glorious shops(which reminded us so much of the Night Market side shops in Taiwan), our absolute favorite part of the day was meeting new friends and watching ALL of the amazing children and babies from Taiwan, China & Kazakhstan(not gonna leave my best girl out!) with their forever families. To put it simply, I was in awe. Standing in a circle of blogger buddies, actually being able to meet face to face, was fantastic! There were families from JOH, as well as, from other agencies/programs and if LOVE is a currency, then our bustling group is wealthy beyond measure!!

Just who did we meet?? Board/bloggy buddies AM(who is waiting for baby boy #2....yay!!), Ching(thank you again for organizing our outing!!), Kerry M., Nicole and their beautiful families PLUS Sarah & Kevin, Katie from Around The World to Danny and many others! We also met a darling little guy named Henry who had hair as long as Tyler's & Lynn and family who brought their little guy home just a short time before we traveled to Taiwan through JOH's St. Lucy's Program. It was such a pleasure to meet these incredible families and we hope to see them all again next year if not sooner! :)

I didn't actually take too many photos( hate to sound redundant, but again with the whole socializing thing...) and some I won't share do the privacy wishes of families, but here is a sampling of our day. We will definitely be back to Chinatown again, cuz there are many many more yummy dumplings to sample, shops to explore and folks to meet!

Our sassy monkey swinging in joy at the park!

A good shopper, Lauren always finds a souvenir.....or two! :) That's my girl!

Lookie who we got to meet!!.......yes, that's the beautiful and sweet as sugar Hannah Claire and her Mama and Daddy are equally genuine and fun. And if you look closely you can see our little man was plotting his break-out strategy from our attempted photo shoot, thus teaching me that yes indeed the only thing harder than snapping a great pic. of 2 kiddos, is yes, getting one of 3 kiddos! :) A light bulb Mama moment for me........

After lunch we explored the business district and were so tickled to see this magical parade come our way. The performers were amazing & a short time later we watched a full performance in the outdoor air theater.
Lauren took this picture of Baby Tyler on our way home. He was soooooo sleepy, but always gives his best for his big Sis! Look at that tiny face!

Thanks for stopping by everyone!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Wolf

Our family spent several days last week gleefully enjoying our annual trip to a water park resort! Over the years we have visited several; some located in Iowa and yet others in Wisconsin. This year we returned in full force to one of our favorites, The Great Wolf Lodge located in the Wisconsin Dells. For those of you who have never visited the Dells, it designates itself as the Water park Capital of the World...... and while the area is not steeped in class or culture it IS a fabulous place for families with munchkins to visit and absolutely loads of breathless fun! Picture Vegas for the mini-me set and you get a good idea of the Dells! AND the surrounding area is truly picturesque with its lakes and cliffs.......but our family eschews all of that in favor of rip roaring, face soaking, white knuckled water park splendor. (please cue cheesy National Lampoons Family Vacation music......"Holiday Road") ;)

One of the very best aspects of our trip is that just about our entire clan goes, every year. Both my Dad and BIL were not able to come along, but my Mom, Sis and her 3 kiddos all came & oh how that adds joy to any outing. Plenty of extra hands/arms and always always someone willing to take one or more monkeys to the next big slide or hot pool. The weather was a bit chilly(as this summer seems to be dishing out) and while we did dash outside for a bit, much of our fun was indoors. Thankfully "The Wolf" has plenty to keep everyone busy. We pretty much swam & ate for 3 days straight and I tried to tell myself it was an even trade calorie wise as I lugged those double(or foursome) tubes up 4 flights of stairs.....or more!

Another pleasure was the fact that our Miss Lauren was tall enough to ride even the largest of slides for the first time EVER! She did, in fact, ride each and every slide multiple times, with the exception of the body slide........and she gladly would have signed up for that one too, but Mama said no.(after practically biting her own tongue off going down said slide). AND let it be said that I would have absolutely, without a moments hesitation banned "The Tornado" too, had I ridden it sooner in our travels. When I finally did ride in tandem with Alex, Allison & Lauren I was petrified and feared my slim miss would tumble off during the entire ride. My hands literally shook for 5 minutes after safely landing and my knees jiggled like the jello! And Lauren's reaction? Pure joy.......devilish laughter and a very public announcement about the look of terror on Mama's face! Little stinker.....I had my eyes closed the whole time therefore had no rebuttal! And case you are wondering......THE Tornado begins with a darkened tunnel and 10 ft. drop, swoosh around a few dizzying turns and blast into what looks like GINORMOUS enclosed one point I know we were completely vertical & hurtling at high speed, around & around.......until we plunged downward, "draining" into another winding tunnel of evil and then splashing into the calm waters at the bottom. palms are sweaty just thinking about it folks! And yes, Lauren went on to ride the Tornado several more times.......AND she rode about every other water slide with me, Mama and OH, how I love my playtime with my best est girl! Just not the Tornado.....giggle....

The baby of course LOVED it as he adores his Mimi, A. Beth, cousins AND water of any kind. And when I say "love" I mean, adores & relishes water & swimming. If allowed he would crawl right into deep water and probably float with all that hair! :) And just for a laugh I can tell ya all that several Asian families approached me throughout the stay to share that based on his earlobes and dimples he was destined to be both smart and popular. LOL And even funnier is that we have actually heard that before, both from folks at the airport in Taiwan and from my bloggy buddy, Sarah K. of Taiwankiddo2!! When you travel with baby, you get lots & lots of attention and we didn't mind a bit. But just imagine our giggles when not one but TWO people told us that we have a "beautiful baby girl." Hmmmm....maybe the hair? Course he was wearing boy trunks and really IS all boy! I love it and don't mind a bit, cuz he is beautiful in his own boy way! At any rate Tyler had FUN and when he wasn't swimming or splashing in the wave pool he was sleeping(i.e. resting up) for the next swim!

Finally, for many many years while saving & scraping for the chance to make our dream of a second adoption come true, this little trip was the only trip financially feasible for our family and in large part only possible due to the generosity of my folks. This year, we maybe could have ventured further away or taken a lengthier trip, but you know what???........we just wouldn't trade this family time at a water park for ANYTHING! It suits us to a tee and we were simply delighted to finally have our baby dumpling along for the splashing! He fit right in! :)

My magical mermaid right at home in the water!

Baby Tyler sitting sweetly in the zero depth.

Funny tidbit: when we first picked up Tyler he had this silly habit of growling and then giggling at his own wit; we haven't heard the "growl" in months, so it was hilarious to see him channel the growl to take on this outside fountain......LOVING this expression & hair! ;)

Sitting pretty!! Another polka-dotted moment!

Asleep in Mimi's arms.......or just pretending to sleep, so he could tackle the next round of water?? Look at those cheeks!

Lauren & Allison braving the chilly temps to ride the big one outside!

Just love this one of Alyssa and baby.

All the cousins, minus one...Tyler was either sleeping or eating when this was taken! LOL

P.S. If you are wondering where the pictures are of me......har-har....not a chance my friends! :)

If you are wondering where the pictures are of my Sister and Mom......Beth threatened to post pics. of me on her Facebook wall if I so much as showed a peek of her legs.....LOL....soooo not gonna call that bluff......and my Mom said, "no way please". :) Scott made it into several but still has to put together our new chariot for our baby boy ( finally broke down and replaced the old stroller......can't WAIT to use the new wheels!) so........need to keep him happy too!

Thanks for stopping by everyone!! Appreciate each and every visit and comment!! :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


As promised I am back to conclude Tyler's birthday weekend extravaganza! While we celebrated his birthday on Saturday the 4Th, that Sunday brought another significant milestone for our sweet baby boy and family as we had him Baptised in our church. Certainly it made for a HUGE weekend but it also made the most sense to celebrate both events in the same weekend for our out of town family & gosh were we blessed to be surrounded by such support and love.

For months we had been debating about the timing of the Baptism and then later about all the smaller details. What dishes to serve at the lunch following the service? Should we dress Tyler in a traditional Baptismal infant suit or something.....else? Would it be possible to blend aspects of his Taiwanese heritage into this ceremony? In the end we found an Asian inspired celebratory suit in white that we felt honored both his heritage and the blessing we had done for him during our travels in Taiwan, which was important to us. It just felt right. We also decided & with some degree of nervousness to serve Chinese food prepared by Scott & I for the luncheon afterwards. This was a first for us and it turned out great! Or so we were told. :)

And how about our 2 best blessings? Miss L, upon learning of our desire to outfit Tyler in Mandarin clothing requested a Mandarin inspired dress for herself as a way to honor and celebrate her baby brother! One of those BIG moments I described in For the LOVE of Lauren post and a very proud moment for both Scott and I. And Mr. T? Well, some kiddos have a hard time with this type of event....scratchy, unfamiliar clothing......loads of photographing.....lots of hugs and attention.......water and oil dripped onto forehead......but our social butterfly adored each and every moment and even made it hard for Mama to keep a straight face during several of the more serious aspects of the service. :) The irrepressible Tyler Pei-En!

Please enjoy all the pictures. Again far too many to share them all and probably far too many for one post! Maybe my next post can mostly be text! LOL

Our darling boy. One of the keepsakes we selected for Tyler was a bib with cross to wear with his special suit.

Always always in my two beautiful blessings. This photo makes me weepy. :)

Our happy family together forever.

Most babies cringe or try to avoid the water.....Tyler practically lunged backwards into the basin & had lots to say! Can you see me trying to suppress my grin.....unsuccessfully?? ;) Well, just look at all that would giggle too!

Cousins make the world a brighter place. Tyler, Alex, Allison, Lauren & Alyssa.

Tyler with his Godparents: Papa Mike & Aunt Beth. What a lucky boy!

Sharing a giggle with cousin Alyssa after the Baptismal Service.......all smiles!

And last but not 2 fellas sharing a moment! Even the weather cooperated for this sweet day!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fun To Be One!!

Look who's turning one today! Still shaking my head over just how quickly these past 5 months have flown, but there's no time for emotional Mama to surface today cuz we have been celebrating in style! 5 months ago today this incredible baby boy was placed into our arms and life has not been the same ever since! :) We celebrated Tyler's birthday this past weekend with events starting on Friday and ending on Monday!! It was a jam packed weekend complete with lots of family, fun, amazing & thoughtful gifts, joy and celebration for this one tiny miracle. We are so blessed to have him in our lives and so very proud to love this baby boy! Its a mighty big LOVE too!

Today for his actual birthday, we are taking off for a special family outing so I only have a moment to share some photos from Saturday and make some birthday noise for our baby boy! There are quite a few pics. and believe me it was hard to decide which ones to time for a slide show just now, but I do plan to make one soon! Happy Thursday to you all!!

A Chinese/Taiwanese custom is to place items in front of a baby turning one and wait to see which item(s) they are particularly drawn to. Called a Zhua Zhou this tradition brought lots of speculation from our family and it was just so much fun! The whisk represented a possible career or passion for cooking: the book represented teaching, Education/literature: the Zen bear represented the animal sciences/nurturing: the tambourine represented the various Musical Arts: the marker represented the Fine Arts; the magnifying glass stood in the Earth Sciences: the stethoscope for the Medical Sciences: the calculator for Math/Engineering/Accounting: and the bag of Taiwan money for wealth/business. Wanna see what he liked best of all?? (hint: peek below!) :)

Despite some noise from the peanut gallery and thoughts that he only went for the items in the very middle Tyler was very drawn to the tambourine and magnifying glass.....maybe a passion for the history of music? :) Oh, how Daddy's heart swelled......giggle.....

Of course he also LOVED the marker and there's that magnifying glass again! Look at that smile.....oh, how our littlest dumpling loves the spotlight!

Giddy up horse!! Our Taiwan prince and his royal steed.....a new birthday present to love on!

His second outfit of the day. We wanted him to wear the gorgeous outfit we purchased for him while in Taiwan for his Zhua Zhou. We think it was meant for him.......he looks like a living doll!

Getting a little help from his great big Sis with that first bite of cake......yum yum!

So in love with his balloons......don't worry, they were NOT left in the crib! :)

Smiles of joy from our newest citizen! If you are counting, yes that's outfit #3!! LOL But by golly a Mamas got to do what a Mamas got to do! And it WAS the 4Th after all!! ;)
I promise we will be back with more soon! And if I have not been to your blog in a bit, I WILL get caught up( and chances are I'm missing ya too!).....its just been a bit busy and a bit glorious too!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

For the LOVE of Lauren

The love of this one girl is so humbling to our family prepares to celebrate 2 huge milestones for our precious baby boy (more on THAT in future posts!!) and we hustle to clean, organize, plan, shop and joyfully welcome guests, my mind can't help but wonder to this one little girl, who at just 6 1/2 has gracefully handled so many adjustments this past many changes.

I worry about her sometimes, for no other reason than Mamas worry. I worry that as our family integrates meaningful aspects of Tyler's birth culture into our everyday lives and special occasions that she might feel a bit left out. Certainly we have done the same for her and will continue to do so.......but uncovering the pieces of her birth culture and and heritage could be likened to an elaborate treasure hunt......priceless when we unearth a custom or nuance to embrace, but fewer & farther in- between than Tyler's more accessible culture of origin.

I wonder if one day she will covet, even privately, the information we have about Tyler's Birth Mom and the letter and gifts she sent back with us.......all safely tucked away for him one day. There is little I wouldn't give to have those same amazing mementos tucked away for our Lauren too. Certainly we have beautiful and precious handmade treasures purchased during our time in Kazakhstan awaiting milestone birthdays and events; we have journals, photos, videos, keepsakes and more.....but still I wonder....will it be enough? could it be? Can she possibly know that we brought the VERY best treasure of Kazakhstan home with us......and it was always her!

One day we will return to both Kazakhstan and Taiwan as a family of 4. Returning to Taiwan will, most likely, be a readily accessible destination. Returning to Kazakhstan will prove to be more challenging as its not a common route for heritage tours or mainstream touring companies. We will, in large part, go it alone......if we are lucky we may be able to travel as part of a ministry or relief effort; in my heart I believe that would be right & possibly life altering for us all.I wonder if the distinction will be important to Lauren........somehow I believe it would be.

The past 4 1/2 months have graced us in a way I didn't even fully imagine. We welcomed our second miracle home and Lauren welcomed home the baby brother she had been praying for.....and for many many years. Their relationship in some ways surprises me the most. Certainly there are days that having a baby brother proves aggravating; having been an "only" for just shy of 6 years, Lauren has faced very real transitions. And there are moments......moments when I know she wishes our mornings of play, reading and adventures as just her and Mama would return....moments when the baby is fussy and the noise is frustrating......moments when she's asked to wait a moment longer, despite it being "her turn" that she has patiently awaited.....moments that might try even an adults patience, let alone a child's. And there are moments I can tell it wears on her.

And yet......the LOVE of Lauren means that she is the very first person to rush to his nursery at the slightest fuss following a nap and climb right into that crib! :) ..........the LOVE of Lauren means allowing her baby brother to handle her most delicate and prized things, simply because of the joy it brings him.......the LOVE of Lauren means rushing us to the baby boy section at every store to find many many things for "her baby" that Mama and Daddy need to buy..........the LOVE of Lauren is knowing that she calls her brother, Pei-En-O more than she uses Tyler, because that's the name she heard in each update video and the name we all fell in love may also go a bit deeper than that, and oh gosh, that's a beautiful and radiant love to understand intuitively how it may matter one day to him.........the LOVE of Lauren is a teaching love and study of patience as she reads to her brother, holds his hands over & over again as he practices walking & winds his musical toys with unflagging enthusiasm........the LOVE of Lauren means Tyler will never walk alone(nor will she) and will always have an incredible role model in life both in good times & in hard times. Not a perfect love....but a true love.

Tyler calls Lauren, "La La"........what a happy joyful sound. For the love of this girl (and baby boy!) I am so eternally grateful and thankful......I pray for the strength to always provide "my loves" with a strong self-identity and pride in their respective countries of birth. May they always know they are celebrated, cherished and loved.......not for where they came from or the richness/beauty it has brought our family, but for simply being themselves.

P.S. The pictures were taken recently on a silly & fun day. Lauren LOVES her baby brother AND my old Teddy Bear that she found stored in our basement and has lovingly made her own. Her soft heart simply wouldn't allow him to remain downstairs so he joined the legions of her beloved stuffed animal collection!