Monday, May 9, 2016

A Day in the Life of Parents with Three Toddlers

I woke up this morning to a little boy pretending to sniff my face and giggling, hoping I would wake up. After we have time to unwind when the kids are in bed ( I so need that time) we put Theo in bed with us to sleep as he seems to need more connecting and security.  Jacob brought me coffee and headed off to class.  The other kids were playing upstairs while Theo hung out with me so I could read my favorite book (I also need that!). He played with clothes hangers, then I sang him his song.  Then, kids were dressed and food prepared.  We had leftover homemade pizza for breakfast, and I managed to hold back tears while reading a chapter of Kisses From Katie aloud to the kids.  We also listened and "danced" to Good Morning by Mandisa and Little Apple by Chopstick Brothers (Theo's favorite song).  Eden and Ephraim headed off to their desks while the kids and I hung out in the living room.  By the time Jacob got home at 11:45, balloons had been blown up, I had been used as a jungle gym to do flips on, Legos and magna doodle played with, 3 little people toted back and forth to the bathroom, one had peed on the floor, books read, cartoons watched, Xavier seemed to fuss very loudly about everything, and Tessa cried every time one of the other two sat in my lap even if she didn't want to sit there, Every Time.  The big kids could tell I was frazzled, and Ephraim was thoughtful to write me this encouraging note:



We had lunch, and Jacob made it through two pages of On the Banks of Plum Creek.  I ate my lunch quickly, then took 20 minutes to breathe by myself while he finished up with the kids.  We planned for all the kids to go outside in 2 groups, but one kid punched another in the cheek, so they stayed behind with me while Jacob took the others out.  While outside, Tessa stuck a dirt covered rock in her mouth, then puked.  The one who inflicted the blow to the face helped me make chocolate chip cookies, and then worked on matching and number worksheets.  When the kids got home, we put them down for a nap, and Eden was in tears over not having as much time with me because of the three littles.  She wanted to spend nap time with me.  Her and Ephraim usually read upstairs or work on homework while the kids nap.  I selfishly wanted that quiet time to myself, and told her I would chat with Jacob and schedule us some time out in the next few days.  Jacob tucked the boys in, and I put Tessa to sleep, singing her song.  She still falls asleep propped up on my chest till I move her over, so I can make my getaway.  When I made it downstairs and had my afternoon green tea with cookies, I was talking to Jacob about time with Eden.  He agreed for me to take her out, so we got ready and took the bus two stops, walking the rest of the way to get some frozen treats.  I blogged a little while she made me a purple fan with a panda bear drawn on it and the Chinese characters for panda.  We had spotted pets for sale along the way, and I was drawn to a green lizard, thinking especially of the boys.  It's hard to have pets where we live. This seemed a manageable one, though, and not so tragic if/when it dies.  Plus, it's a Chinese tree dragon, what a cool name.  We stopped and got it and the cage for about $10, and I decided to let Ephraim name it.  We also stopped  by the cheese store for cheese, peanut butter, and butter, running into friends along the way.  Then we grabbed cheap noodles for supper.  Eden got to use her Chinese a lot while we waited.  We walked the rest of the way home, about 20 minutes.  Eph was so excited and gave the lizard the original name of Stripe.  Jacob was in the midst of bathing the third toddler, so I started dinner with everyone else.  During the process, one kid licked my sock while it was on my foot.  The kids wanted to see our next home again on Google earth.  Teeth were brushed, then there was much protesting when bedtime was announced.  Up the stairs we went, me behind Mei Mei making sure she didn't fall (she can climb the stairs now!). We read, we talked to Father, we had hugs and kisses (baobao and qin qin).  I headed off with Tessa, who mischievously stuck her finger in her nose and wiped it on me, then refused to go to sleep.  Being a Mom of three toddlers can be so gross!  I finally sat outside her bed till she fell asleep.  Jacob was going to run to a store to get a needed item, but discovered we already has some not previously visible.  In the meantime, Xavier was crying broke heartedly for Daddy.  There is still much transition, folks.  He laid with him till he fell asleep.  Now we are sitting quietly in the living room, and I am thinking of tomorrow's breakfast.  Tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities to be humbled and experience grace.  

Showers of Blessings:
Husband who brings me coffee, holds down the fort so I can have daughter time, and bathes all three toddlers
Exotic pet, truly healing to my heart after growing up in Africa with everything from goats to pygmy deer, chameleons, and a mongoose
Dinner with Carrie and her mom the other night (she brought crafts, vitamins, and 2 pairs of jeans for Ephraim from the states.  He's grown so much that he only had 2 pairs of pants that fit!)
Encouragement from Romans

Sarah's 33rd Birthday/Mother's Day

While I was away at team time, Jacob and the kids cleaned and decorated to surprise me for my birthday with Eden making the cake and Jacob the frosting.  She knows Beauty and the Beast was my favorite animated movie as a child, so she put Belle on top.


Jacob had our most recent family pictures printed and placed all over the home, and Theo was delighted to see his pictures everywhere.


My birthday banner was in my favorite color with a picture of me and Belle.  There's Theo pointing out his picture.


Jacob played Happy Birthday on his ukulele.




Then, a little boy snuck in and blew out my candles.


The next morning I was amused when Theo told me I looked like Belle.  I knew the answer to why would be interesting.  I presumed perhaps the brown hair or pale skin.  Nope...we have similar noses.  Yep, that's it.  He was sure he was giving me high praise.  


The next day Eden and I went out with Erica to lunch for some girl time.  We had mala xiang guo, some of my favorite Chinese food.  Basically you pick what you want, and they stir fry it in spicy seasoning.  Ours included sweet potatoes, chicken, bacon, broccoli, spinach, cilantro, lotus root, and other yummy veggies I can't remember.  We drank peanut milk, had mantou (steamed bread) with sweetened condensed milk, and salty peanuts.


Cherry blossom tree


We then went back to Erica's house to watch Anne of Avonlea for the first time with Eden.
Erica made delicious Thai chicken with sides for dinner and cookie dough bars for dessert.  I felt so refreshed after time with my sweet generous friend and precious daughter.  


I had leftover pancakes planned for the kids so that I wouldn't have to cook breakfast on Mother's Day.  Jacob, knowing I don't care much for pancakes, had an apple with peanut butter and coffee ready for me when I woke up.  I also received this tea set.  Look at Xavier's face!  This is right before he's about to growl!


There was playing outside with friends the kids met with English names Catherine and Peter.  I must confess the first time I heard her name, I thought she said Casserole.  Eden let me know what it really was.  


I want to forever remember Xavier in these little blue boots that he loves so much and prefers over his tennis shoes, the only shoes he has, next to this tree that we have dubbed the Charlie Brown tree.  


That afternoon Karen and David came over to play.  


Eden wanted to take a picture of me.  I was tired and dirty from playing with kids, with my hair plopped up in a bun, making pizza and salad, but she thought I was worthy of taking a picture of.  I love that.  


And this is how I get stuff done in the kitchen these days.  This girl never has enough time of snuggling.   When I ask her if she wants in the Ergo, she gets excited, flaps her arms, and says, "Ya, ya!" 


Showers of Blessing:
Kumquat scented dish soap
Friends willing to save their raw meat for our pet lizard
FaceTime with Kristalyn
Incense, bath salts and hair towel from Karen
Ningbo mug from Erica
Starbucks gift card that I'm using right now

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tessa's first birthday party

Tessa's third birthday was her first birthday party with us, and, most likely, her first birthday party ever!  I wanted it to be special but not to over stimulating.  I truly wanted to do a panda party, but thought I'd better save that for when I'm in the states because my family would enjoy helping with that so much.  Our teammate, Janice, came and photographed the party for us.  Isn't she adorable?!


She took some awesome family photos first.


This was when we were working on being funny...


I love this picture of my boys.  My Boys!  All three of them!  Sweet, handsome, incredible boys.


Janice and Kara used their luggage space to bring back clothes for the kids from my family.  It included this birthday shirt that I had ordered for her, size 12 months for my little tiny Tessa. 


 I have nicknamed her cricket because of her tiny cuteness, her antenna-like pigtails, and because crickets are lucky in China.  Though she is little, she is mighty.  


She is and has been a Momma's girl from the beginning.


After their sweet initial meeting, Tessa wanted nothing to do with Jacob.  All he had to do was come near her, and she would cry.  We suspect it's mostly to do with the fact that she had only female care givers.  Love is patient, kind, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  I know I'm leaving a few out, but these are all the things Jacob did for Tessa, and it paid off.  


Though we only invited teammates and one friend, totaling 6 people, she was definitely having a bit of a hard time.  It was the most people we had in our home up to this point, and she was my buddy almost the entire time.  


She's a bit ornery, and has alternated calling me Momma, Jie Jie (big sister) and Ayi (auntie).  Finally, she is settling on Mom, and says it all the time now.  She says a handful of other words including: I love you, hi, ah ah, pray, and good, the latter two in Chinese. 


Since we weren't doing a panda theme, we used Xavier's leftover farm decorations from last year.  The cake and the frosting on Tessa's cupcake were dairy free since we discovered that it makes her sneeze and have a runny nose all day.


This picture of Xavier is so endearing to me.  He actually looks quite a bit like me here when I was little. He is always excited about parties and cake.  Today I had made a cake, and he thought it was someone's birthday.  His smile dropped, and he was quite disappointed when he found out it was not. He got over it instantly, though, once I told him he could still have cake.  


Happy Birthday was sung, and Cricket was deposited on her throne.


She was not too thrilled to be there, and promptly pulled out her bow.  Sweet Jie Jie tried to help her with her cake.  


She wouldn't have it, though, and so she was my buddy again.  


Eden changed into farmer themed clothes after family pictures to go with the theme.  


Her sassy face is showing here.  


Eden and Ephraim put on a puppet show from the staircase.


She did a good job opening presents for the first time.  


Everyone thoughtfully gave practical and good sensory toys.  Legos from Carrie and Kelsey.


A toy instrument from Janice.


Frozen themed paint-your-own suncatchers from Eden and Ephraim.


Ball toy from Jacob and I.  Not pictured are sippy cup from Michael and Kimmy, and magnetic toys from Erica.


Now it's time to play!


Theo is a curious but helpful clown.


We usually don't let her have books because she eats them, but this was her birthday and her book.


Toy monkey from Kara.


Ephraim is solid muscle, and so active.


When she's not ornery or jealous of someone else in my lap, she is pure joy.  Her giggle is contagious, and her dimples are delightful.


Neither Eden or I think this picture looks like her, but I love her eyes in it.  I asked if it was ok if I included it.  She said sure, then asked if I was going to post it.  Ephraims chimed in, "She likes when you post about her on Facebook.  She thinks she's popular!"  Hilarious giggling.  Yes, she allowed me to write about this too.


The kids play with these magnetic toys every day now.


This was fun while we still knew where all the balls were.


Priceless face.


More cuteness.


Ephraim is growing to be such a great kid.  I'm so proud of him. 


Theo's favorite toys in his orphanage were Legos.


All five.  


Family play.  Tessa's still on my lap.


Xavier loves Ephraim so much!


We finally got the goofy picture right.  


Happy Birthday to our joyful Cricket, who is still somewhat a mystery.  We love seeing every little thing she learns, every evidence of trust and receiving love. She is a great big gift wrapped in a cute, tiny package.  We are honored to be entrusted with her.

Showers of Blessing:
Thoughtful teammates and friends
A friend's freezer full of meals for us from people all over the city
Playing outside all together today
Spring is coming
Short biography on Susanna Wesley
Dancing in the living room with my kids before bedtime
Listening to Rick Warren's The Battle for Your Mind
Chat coming up this week with a couple in the adoption process
Jacob's student reading our favorite book
Janice and Kara bringing us dinner tonight
A new noodle restaurant where I was able to communicate what I wanted
Reading Little House on the Prairie to the kids
Theo initiating hugs and kisses without saying, "yucky!"