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 🙂 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 was quite excited to have her own celebration!

Of course, for a 4-year-old, the gifts were a big draw 😉 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 🙂

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 😉 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, her 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!

Our Atticus Boy is 18 Months Old!

Our little guy hit that big 18-month mark at the end of last month! He is an amazing juxtaposition of all things little boy – he is sweet and snuggly while also being an adventurous lover of dirt.

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He is resourceful, regularly pulling a chair from the dining room into the kitchen to expand his reach – sometimes to see what he might be able to reach in the China cabinets, but other times in an attempt to be helpful.

IMG_0035He considers the dishwasher his personal domain, certain that he is essential to both unloading and loading it. Fortunately this works pretty well for unloading…

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…though when it comes time for his mama to load the dishwasher, he often finds himself relegated to the Toddler Tula 🙂

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With his sleep, he proves the statement that every child, even within the same family, is different. He has always been a pretty good napper, and while he generally sleeps well at night, he is my only child who, beyond a few months old, would regularly wake in the night not just because he needed something but in order to spend a couple hours playing. We’re hopeful that he’s growing out of that phase!

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He is a climber and an acrobat and a builder of block towers.

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He’s also an avid reader. He loves to listen in on his sisters’ reading, bring books to us to read, and look at books himself.

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Due, in part, I’m sure, to this reading, he seems on the verge of a language explosion. He doesn’t say “this” all that much anymore, but he does have a few other words. His favorite word is “moon,” and he also offers directions with a few words – “up” and “down” and “out.” Before he takes naps and goes to bed, he approaches each person in the room to wave and say, “night night.” In true boy fashion, he had multiple sound effect words – “boom” and “bump” – before he ever said “mom,” but the other night I did get a definitive “mom” from him, which made my day! He also occasionally says “ball” and “dad.” And he makes signs for more, no, and touchdown. He’s a fairly able communicator, employing pointing and grunting in addition to his words, but we are looking forward to his having more actual words!

One effect of his status as a third child is that at even 18 months old, he recognizes Star Wars paraphernalia and, much to his sisters’ delight, any time he sees it, he starts humming and dancing to the Imperial March!

His hair is still one of his defining features – it was the first body part he learned to identify 🙂

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It can be tamed somewhat, though, and he cleans up pretty well! He was the ring-bearer in my brother’s and sister-in-law’s wedding last month, and he LOVED the pocket watch they gave him!

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Though his presence in our family certainly makes life somewhat more complicated, it also brings so much fun. We’re so thankful for these past 18 months with our little buddy, and we can’t wait to see what the coming years hold!

Happy birthday, Miranda Grace!

We’ve had a busy few weeks around here, and I have a lot of catching up to do here on the blog! First up: happy birthday, Miranda Grace! This little girl made me a mama 6 years ago, and I rather adore her!

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She is intelligent and creative and highly passionate! As the oldest, she is our parenting guinea pig, and I often feel that we fail her in one way or another, but we keep pressing on together, doing all that we can to figure out how to live this life well.

Upon realizing that birthday parties could have themes, Miranda requested a Choco birthday, a la A Mother for Choco. She had assumed that just as her cousin Averie had been able to have a party with all things Frozen, we would easily be able to pull together a variety of Choco-themed party-supplies – not so much! However, Grandma came through with Choco shirts for the girls, about which they were thrilled 🙂

IMG_0296Miranda also requested a pinata for her birthday. Matt played with the idea of making a Choco pinata for her. I wasn’t sure this was a good idea – in part because at Averie’s party, they’d had a new type of pinata in which a number of ribbons hang down, and the children take turns pulling ribbons until someone pulls the one that releases all the candy, and I wasn’t sure Miranda really understood that a homemade Choco pinata would mean beating Choco with a baseball bat until he broke open. Once we explained the idea to her, she seemed enthusiastic about that possibility, too, though. However, when I was at Target purchasing candy with which to fill her pinata, I noticed that they sold ready-made pinatas for only $15 – $20 and called Matt to ask if I should get one of those. That was rather fortuitous, as he was just realizing that he might have over-committed himself in his proposal to create a homemade Choco pinata. Fortunately, Miranda was agreeable to that option and excited to choose a Darth Vader pinata (ribbon style, which, honestly, is mama-preferred!).

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In years past, I’ve simply allowed the birthday child to select a boxed cake mix for their birthday, but this year, in keeping with our new diet, I thought I’d offer to make something from scratch – perhaps a carrot cake or an apple cake? After hearing my suggestions, Miranda announced that she’d like a raspberry cake – not something I’d ever heard of before, but I told her I’d give it a try!

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Fortunately she was pleased with the result!

She got some gifts, mostly from Grandma 🙂

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We gave her a few small presents, but our kids have SO MANY THINGS, and we’re trying to encourage them to value experiences over stuff, so our big gift to both of our girls for their birthdays this year is a family weekend in St. Louis filled with fun activities. They’ve been talking about it and asking exactly when it’s coming up, so I’m hopeful that they’ll really enjoy it!

All in all, we had a very fun day celebrating our wonderful girl 🙂 Even on our hard days, I’m so thankful she’s in my life and that I get to be her mama. We’re 6 years into this journey of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to see what is yet to come!