Our Little Atticus Boy is 3!

At the end of November, our little Atticus boy turned 3!

It was actually a really hard day for me – because I was in Omaha with FangFangΒ and not with him. I’d known for quite a while that her tibias needed to be rodded, and I knew that if at all possible, she and I and another adult needed to go to Omaha for the surgery. FangFang, at age 4 and with a history of trauma, is completely opposed to my leaving the room after surgery. She doesn’t want to stay with a nurse, and she doesn’t want to stay with child life. This is understandable – but makes it difficult for me to do surgery trips with her as the sole adult (unless I can carry everything we’ll need for our stay in one trip and have no interest in eating for the duration of our time in the hospital). I talked with my mom about her availability, and I talked with a friend whom FangFang loves about her availability, and it just kept coming back to that week of Atticus’s birthday – that’s when it worked for my mom to travel with us to do surgery.

So I talked to some other mamas of kids with medical needs, who assured me that, yes, they had occasionally missed a birthday for one of their other kids, and it had all been okay; I spent a day crying; and then I e-mailed to schedule the surgery.

Fortunately, Atticus is young enough that he has no real ties to the specific day, and he was quite happy to celebrate his birthday early. In fact, it was probably even more fun for him, because we had family in town for Thanksgiving. We did love getting to celebrate with everyone!

Our little guy is obsessed with dinosaurs these days. Just about every present he received was dinosaur-related. There were dinosaur toys…

…there were dinosaur books…

…and there were dinosaur clothes!

Atticus, like our other children, has what our pediatrician calls a “strong personality.” One way in which this manifests itself is his pronouncements that certain clothes are good and others are not, seemingly at random. We have kiddos who have sensory challenges and preferences, and this isn’t that – it’s just a decision he makes. So, unfortunately, while he wants to wear dinosaur clothes on a daily basis, he has also announced that half of these items of clothing are unwearable! Youngest child or not, he has no problem developing firm opinions of his own and making them known.

He isΒ almost completely potty trained (hallelujah, I’m almost done with daytime diapers!!!!), which actually makes this clothing dilemma less of a big deal, because he is my only kiddo who has had most success with the nude method of potty training…so he mostly runs around naked all day long when we’re at home πŸ™‚ We may not be a conventional family, but it works for us πŸ™‚

Anyway, back to our birthday boy and his dinosaurs πŸ™‚ Even with many new birthday dinosaur presents, he is still excited every time he finds a new dino item. He was my grocery shopping buddy soon after his birthday, and he saw this walking, roaring dinosaur at Aldi, and he was so excited when I said he could use his birthday money from my dad to purchase it!

Aside from his dinosaur focus, he also requested an ice cream focus for his birthday πŸ™‚ He choose pizza and ice cream for his birthday dinner, which was greatly enjoyed by everyone!

About 3.5 years ago, when we found out that the baby with whom we were pregnant was a boy, I was a bit intimidated. I wondered whether I’d be a good boy-mom. I wondered if I’d love him the way I loved my girls. And now, with a little 3-year-old boy in my life, I can say unequivocally that this little guy is a treasure. Our Atta-boy has hilarious thoughts – I mentioned to him the other day something about when he was born in the hospital, and his response was, “I was not born in the hospital! I was born on the coffee table!” The girls and I dissolved in laughter, and I assured him that he was in fact, born in the hospital, and I offered photographs as proof (which he, fortunately, accepted!).

He’s a climber and a jumper, but he’s also a snuggler. He loves to laugh and play. I could not love this little guy more <3 I’m so thankful for the 3 years we’ve had with him so far and look forward to many more!

Looking Back: Happy Birthday to FangFang!

I’ve gotten a bit behind on my blogging about family events, but some are too important not to come back and address πŸ™‚ At the end of September, we celebrated FangFang’s 4th birthday! It was her first birthday home with us, and after seeing her sisters celebrate their birthdays, she wasΒ quite excited to have her own celebration!

Of course, for a 4-year-old, the gifts were a big draw πŸ˜‰ One of her favorites was a book we got for her called Three Names of Me. FangFang loves all things China, and she was captivated by this opportunity to have a book that tells a story similar to her own, of a girl adopted from China.

In addition to being drawn in by gifts, the promise of getting to choose her favorite meal and dessert was quite exciting for FangFang! She requested a pink cake with pink frosting, and we were happy to oblige.

She wanted “bear candles,” and Matt bought some gummy bears…and then impaled them on the candles(!) to create “bear candles.” I thought it was a little bit creepy, but FangFang approved πŸ™‚

She is simply delighted to have attention and to receive love from friends and family, and she very much enjoyed everything about her day. Celebrating it made me think back to last year, when she was still in China, and the poor child broke her arm on her birthday, but still, her joy shone through!

And she remains very much that same child today – so full of joy in any and every circumstance – but most especially when given attention and treats πŸ˜‰ It’s amazing to me how much changes and how much stays the same in the space of a year. In the space of a year, this girl had switched primary languages, transitioned from her foster home to her family, and moved from one country to another. Her life looked so different, and yet you can see, in her photos,Β herΒ shining through. To me it is a testament to the quality of the foster home where she lived that her personality and joy were so evident there, and we’re glad she has brought them into our home and family, as well.

It is a blessing to have her home and part of our family, and we were so glad to be able to celebrate her birthday with her!

Madeleine CaiQun’s Birthday Celebration

Last month we celebrated Madeleine CaiQun’s 7th birthday! One thing that was super special about this year was that Matt’s mom and sister Stacey came to visit us the weekend of her birthday, so we had family here to help us celebrate, and that made the whole weekend seem like a fun treat. We don’t get to see them often, so it’s very special when we do.

Stacey had ordered a giant cardboard house for the kids to color, which the kids thought was amazing.

We talked to Mei Mei about how she’d like to celebrate her birthday, whether she wanted a party with friends or to go somewhere special, or what sounded best to her. I wondered what she’d choose – I thought she might say she wanted a party like Miranda did, not because that would necessarily be most enjoyable for her but because that’s what her sister had done. I was glad, though, that she thought about what she’d really like and chose accordingly.Β She said wanted to celebrate with just our family, to have a fun day at home, to get Chinese food for dinner, and have a pinata. We told her we could certainly make that happen!

She got some fun gifts, and we all enjoyed diving into them. The game Blokus will, I think, be a good one for our family, and Madeleine CaiQun is a very spatial thinker, so I think she’ll be good at it.

And she was happy to share her jewelry making kit with Miranda (she’s super generous), and of course both girls still love all things Star Wars!

I was exhausted – Madeleine CaiQun’s birthday fell at the end of the week during which FangFang’s tooth started hurting tremendously, and neither she nor Matt or I was getting much sleep – and by that afternoon I felt like I couldn’t put together a coherent sentence and went upstairs to get just a bit of sleep. Grandma Nancy and Aunt Stacey stepped in to help the girls make the birthday cupcakes, and then we all enjoyed Chinese food and cupcakes for dinner!

I love it when Madeleine CaiQun smiles – when she does, she radiates joy πŸ™‚ She is such an incredibly sweet child and brings so much joy to our lives. That sweetness was evidenced by the fact that she was totally fine with sharing a bit of the spotlight on her birthday with little brother, who was incredibly jealous that she got to blow out a candle!

And, I blame it on my sleep deprivation, but I completely forgot about her pinata until the morning after her birthday! No worries – we had just as much fun with it then as we would have the day before πŸ™‚ She had chosen a gigantic dinosaur pinata – the largest one at the store – to our amusement! We’d filled it with candy…

And then we let the kids take turns whacking it with a stick πŸ™‚ Matt had to help a bit to get it to break open, but everyone was quite entertained by the whole experience!

Madeleine CaiQun is such a beautiful soul. She’s sweet and kind and has a strong sense of justice. She’s self-aware and thoughtful, and she loves to snuggle. I am so thankful to have her in our family <3

Miranda’s Birthday

Our family has a number of birthdays in August and September, and as I was thinking about blogging about some of those, it occurred to me that I actually never wrote my blog post for Miranda’s birthday this year! At the end of April, Miranda turned seven, which seems like such a big age for my oldest child!

We spent the weekend celebrating, starting with gifts from her brother and sisters and relatives from afar and a visit to Orange Leaf, a local frozen yogurt shop that has many topping options and is thus much beloved by our children!

Matt’s and my big gift to Miranda this year was one of our best gifts ever, I think. I came across the idea on Facebook and suggested it to Matt, who was shocked that I’d be on board with something like that, but I actually thought it looked amazing! And in particular for Miranda, who is a sensory-seeker, especially when it comes to proprioceptive input, it seemed like it would be such a great tool. But of course it was Matt who actually built it. The girls’ room now has climbing walls in the little alcove leading to its dormer window!

Miranda can often be found climbing on it and choreographing climbing shows to perform for the rest of us, and when she’s having a hard time, I’ll sometimes suggest that she go climb for a while. She really enjoys it, and we’re so glad!

This year was a big milestone in that it was the first year Miranda had a birthday party with friends. I am not in any way, shape, or form anything that remotely even resembles a Pinterest mom. I know some people love hosting parties for their kids at their house, the cleaning and the decorating and the theme and game planning, and that’s great – it’s just not me. That would stress me out to no end. Instead we paid to have a birthday party at the gym where the girls have done gymnastics, and it was perfect (from this mama’s perspective!). We got an hour of our group having the whole gym to ourselves and then an hour upstairs to have cake and open presents.

It really was a perfect set up for this crew! And even our littles got to enjoy it, as well πŸ™‚

We really had a great time celebrating Miranda and her birthday! And the benefit of writing this post a few months after her birthday is that I can say with some certainty that this 7-year-old year is a big one for her. She’s growing academically, yes, progressing with reading and math and her knowledge of science and history, but even more than that, we have been working hard on character growth. Miranda is passionate and intense, which serves her so well in some areas – there is no end to her creativity, and she’s a natural leader. But she’s also been working hard at learning how to harness that energy, how to self-regulate when her big feelings threaten to take over, and how to manage the grays of life. I’m so proud of her for all the hard work she’s been doing and all the growth we’re seeing. These last few months have been big ones, and I expect these coming months to continue in that pattern. I think God has big plans for this girl, and it is a privilege to be her mama and get to live out this adventure of life with her!

Madeleine CaiQun is 6!

I haven’t gotten a chance to blog about it yet, but last month our sweet Madeleine CaiQun turned six!

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This girl is oh-so-precious to me. She is sweet and thoughtful and fiercely loyal, particularly when it comes to her siblings, both of whom love her to no end. Atticus can often be heard asking, “Mei mei? Mei mei?” when he doesn’t see her, and though she would rather prefer that this not be the case, his first activity each morning, after waking Matt and me, is to run into the girls room, shouting, “Mei mei! Jie jie!” and climb into their beds with them to wake them.

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Miranda picked out this large Star Wars coloring book for her, and it was the perfect gift for our Star-Wars-obsessed girl! The other day I asked her to make a guess about what the names of 2 girls in a painting might have been, and she looked at me and announced, “Mom, my brain is just so full of thinking about storm troopers and clones, I can’t think of names for that!” Funny girl πŸ™‚

Madeleine CaiQun is also a lover of soft and silky things, and these new pajamas from her grandma Nancy were definitely a hit!

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Our sweet girl generally prefers to run around in just her underwear (one reason it’s hard to find blog-appropriate photos of her!), but when she does get dressed of her own accord, you can be sure it will be in something soft πŸ™‚

My mom came for a visit to help us celebrate Madeleine CaiQun’s birthday, which was great! We had a pretty low key day. She chose to have homemade pizza for dinner and a strawberry cake for dessert, and we played and just enjoyed spending time together. Mei mei is such a great kid, and it is a joy to be her mama and to see her grow and develop as a person. I’m looking forward to the adventures with her that the following year is sure to bring!