Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our weekend visitors

Shortly after we received Cadence's referral in April 2010 an old friend from high school messaged my on Facebook and said that a friend of hers had recently adopted their daughter from China and would I like to have her contact information.  I wanted all of the information that I could get and the fact that their child had an unrepaired cleft lip and palate just like Cadence had me even more intrigued.  I contacted Theresa a few weeks later letting her know who I was, information about Cadence, when we were planning to travel to China, etc.  She shared her wealth of knowledge with me about China, clefts, adoption... all nuggets of wisdom that gave me strength during a very stressful time. 

At some point after we returned home from China Theresa and I became "Facebook friends" and followed each others' blogs.  The similarities between Cadence and her daughter Mali were sometimes startling!  Their clefts were on the same side and especially when they smile they look very similar.  When Cadence sees pictures of Mali online she often thinks it is herself (and the same with Mali).  But their personalities are so much alike it's crazy!  The same strong-willed, stubborn, determination that they exude all of the time.  They have the same enthusiasm and sense of humor.  In Theresa's blog posts about Mali I can see Cadence doing the exact same thing... it's scary sometimes!

So, we decided that we wanted to try and meet up.  We looked into meeting in Washington DC for the cherry blossom festival but that didn't work out.  They live about 8 hours away so it was going to be tricky.  (They actually live in the neighborhood that I grew up in!)  Eventually I decided to invite them to stay the weekend with us.  Mind you, we had only ever spoken on the phone once by this point.  Here was the conversation with my husband:

Me:  So you know that family in Ohio who has the little girl with the same cleft lip as Cadence?  They brought her home just about a year before we met Cadence.  I've shown you Mali's pictures before on Facebook and their blog and talked about how similar their personalities are.  We had talked about meeting them in DC...

Brad:  Yes. (Distractedly) 

Me:  I don't think DC will work out so I thought that we could invite them to stay the weekend here at our house.

Brad: (I had his attention now!)  And how do you know them?

Me:  She is friends with a friend from my high school.  We read each other's blog and are friends on Facebook.  (as if that is explanation enough)

Brad:  You want to invite them to stay?  For the weekend? (completely skeptical)

Me:  Yes.

Brad:  Ok.  I guess.

I was pretty stunned that he agreed this easily!  If you had told me a year ago that I would invite a family that I had never met and only spoken to on the phone to come sleep at our house I would have said that you were C-R-A-Z-Y!  But here we were!  And not only did I feel very excited about it but also completely comfortable (ok, maybe 99% comfortable - there was some nervousness!). 

To make a long story, well, long, Theresa, Shawn, and Mali came to visit us this weekend.  They stayed a couple of nights, we went to a wine festival (how bad can people who love wine festivals be?), and then went to Great Wolf Lodge for a night.  And, I think I can say with confidence, that we all had a blast!  Despite telling Theresa when she texted to say they were almost to our house that I felt like I was meeting a blind date, everyone fell right in step when they arrived.  Cadence and Mali got along great all weekend (a sometimes challenging feat for a 3 and 4 year old).  Sierra and Laurel dotted on Mali like she was their sister.  And it felt like we were hanging out with old friends while we hung out all weekend with Shawn and Theresa.  I'm still a little shocked to feel so connected to a family that we just met in person a week ago.  But, I am feeling very lucky, indeed, to have met them.  I have a feeling that they will be in our life for a long time!

Mali and Cadence starting up the car

Gee, can you guess what will happen next?!

Oh my goodness they had a good time driving (Thelma and Louise as Theresa said!)

Laurel keeping an eye out

These two girls LOVE to laugh!

Except when squished in a Barbie car

Shawn was good natured enough to be the water balloon target

...and laugh!

She figured out quickly how to work the water squirter

Not sure how Mali feels about this

Sierra teaching Mali how to play Xbox

Silly girl!

Side story:  Sierra and Laurel found face painting at the wine festival.  They each wanted $9 to have a "whole face" done.  I told them that there was no way that I was spending $20 for them to get their faces painted.  I gave them $10 and told them to get their cheek done.  We walked over a few minutes later to see Laurel's face covered and Sierra smiling excitedly with her.  Sierra said that she gave up her face painting so that Laurel could get her whole face done.

My heart melted.  Sierra is a sweet, loving child, but honestly, to do this for her sister isn't completely in character.  How else could I reward that (after a huge hug and telling her how proud I was of her) except to let her get her whole face done too?  I would have preferred that they picked something other than "Dia de la Muerta" (Day of the Dead) to have on their faces, but I'll take selflessness where I can get it!

My girls!

Of course Cadence followed suit with a skull on her face (although I asked the woman to make a little "pretty")

Theresa and me (she's doing her Marilyn Monroe impression!)

Our crew!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I had one of those breath taking moments the other day.  We were leaving my parents house and Cadence was into her usual routine of walking a few steps, turning around, yelling "Bye-bye!" and repeating it all over.  Yes, the routine that takes us 5 minutes to get into the car once we walk out of their door.  And I as I watched her I felt in awe.  How in the world did we get so lucky?  All of the stars aligned and prayers were answered and someone sitting behind a desk matched her profile to ours.  How did we get so blessed to have this child brought into our lives?  My heart skipped a beat and I felt so deeply, at that moment, what a lucky, lucky woman I am.  On top of having two amazing children and a wonderful husband, Cadence was brought to our family.  I often feel a deep sense of gratitude for all that I have, but there are these moments that take my breath away and words feel inadequate to describe the depth of that emotion.

                                 "Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dinner conversation

I often comment that Cadence doesn't stop talking.  Yet, we see friends out and she completely clams up.  I'm sure that there are a few who don't believe that she can even vocalize!  Here she is in all of her verbal splendor.... encouraged, of course, by her big sisters!  Yes, dinnertime in our house is a serene, calm event!

Friday, April 13, 2012

I'm building a museum

I cannot stand clutter and overflowing bins and dresser drawers.  I have too many bins to count that hold clothes from size 2T to 12 for the girls.  Obviously I keep them all to pass down to the next child as one outgrows them.  We have kept almost all of our baby items as Sierra and Laurel got older anticipating that we might have another child.  I have to say that I have been relieved to know that once Cadence is done with these things it will be time to get rid of them altogether.  No more sorting through what is in good enough shape to keep vs. too stained or broken or outdated to bother packing away.  We may actually start to clear off some storage shelves and I have felt very ready to do this.  Until I actually have to do it.  Coupled with going through old photos that I want to sort into albums (note to self: don't let a toddler "look" at 5 years worth of pictures if you plan to keep them in order!) and I've been an emotional trainwreck today!

I know it's time. I know that our family is done growing and I'm very ready for all of that.  I just need the kids that we have to not grow so fast.  I've never had a problem with each birthday I've had (remind of that in 2 years!) I just have a problem that it goes by so heartbreakingly fast. 

So, I've decided to build a museum.  There I can keep everything that reminds me of the girls growing up. You will walk down halls with life size photos of the girls as they grow.  Or maybe wax figures of them in my favorite outfits that I can't part with.  I'll put the ghetto-fab bike that Sierra and Laurel both learned to ride without training wheels up on a platform.  Maybe I can start storing our annual gingerbread houses there?  I'll line the walls with their artwork and maybe pipe in their recorded voices that we have on video.  We can play continuous home movies on a theatre size screen.  Of course, once Cadence moves into a big girl room we will have a mock nursery since all 3 girls have used the same crib, changing table, and glider.  As I reread I realize it might sound totally creepy... unless it's your kids, right?  I guess I won't charge admission!

The sleeper that Cadence used in China.  She did not like the feet!

Ghetto-fab bike

Where did the time go?  Sierra was only 2 years old with best buddy, Hannah.

Laurel was just shy of 3... the same age as Cadence now

Five and three years old

Sierra learning to ride.  Before we upgraded to one white tire and one black!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The next Frank Lloyd Wright?

We had Legos for Sierra and Laurel but never a big old bucket of blocks.  Oh, how I wish we had.  I would have love to have seen what they would have built.  Because I'm pretty darn impressed by Cadence!

I think she's proud too!

This was too cute not to include somewhere!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day has become a favorite around here!  Usually I prepare food that the kids like to look like something that they don't like, such as chicken pot pie from last year.  I have such a sweet tooth myself that I can't handle the thought of biting in to a food that should be sweet and it's not, like the meatloaf cakes that I see on "April Fool's Day" ideas.  This year though, since I was working and the girls were going to their grandparents, I couldn't prepare something for them to eat.  I had to find a new angle.  I had to get creative.

I ended up putting crushed nuts and rolled up brownie pieces into a small tin.  I made up some elaborate story that one of our cats was having urinary problems and I was using a special litter to get a urine sample.  All that I had gotten so far was "this poop".  And what was I supposed to do with that?!  So I ate it!  Insert gasping and "Oh, mom! Gross!"  I can't believe that I actually pulled of that speech without cracking a smile... I have the worst poker face! But they bought it!

Next I put Oragel on their toothbrushes.  With some prompting after they brushed their teeth they said that their mouths felt funny like they didn't want to talk!  Lastly, I had Brad make pickle jello for the girls!  I figure he could be the one to break them in to the not-so-nice April Fool's day jokes.  Needless to say, I don't think they saw the humor in it!

**Update:  I got 4 people at work to try the pickle jello too!  Including one intern who looked so sad afterwards and said "I was thinking to myself 'Could this day get any worse?' And then got a little excited about having some jello."  Now that made me feel guilty! 

See how serious I look?!

It really looked like poop!

Sierra trying it out.  Laurel refused even after she knew it was safe!

Sierra gets her first bite of pickle jello

Laurel gets her first bite (as Sierra is spitting hers into the sink!)

I guess this is what Sierra thought about it!

Cadence as not a fan after the second bite.  She probably just thinks her dad is a bad cook since she's not into the concept of pulling a prank yet!

St.Patty's day

I don't get too hyped up about St.Patrick's Day anymore.  My days of drinking green beer in excess are gone and they days of my kids believing that the green water in the toilet was the result of a magical leprechaun are tapering.  Now that Cadence is getting old enough to be involved in these things though, I try to keep up a couple of tricks.  Although, she didn't really seem to care about the green toilet water or the orange juice that "magically" turned green, she was interested in the green eggs! 

Laurel took one glance at the toilet and said "Food coloring".  She did the same with the orange juice and I tried to convince her it was a leprechaun.  Sierra was sweet enough to chime in with "Mom, I appreciate your effort to make us believe!".  That's my girl!  I have a feeling she'll never reveal to me the day that she stops believing in Santa!  I did have a chat with Laurel about her role as a big sister to Cadence and how she can help make Cadence's childhood magical.

Since I was lacking in the St.Patty's day creativity we decided to find some art inspiration.  We looked at Jackson Pollock art and then moved outside to make our own.  It was messy and fun!  Sierra wanted to make footprint art with everyones feet.  Their feet are MUCH bigger than the last time I did!  We ended the day with green breakfast for dinner and shamrock shakes with friends.

Perfecting her splatter


Sierra evaluating Laurel's artwork

Art always turns out better when you do it with your tongue out!

A little sand to finish it off

Our supplies

Sierra preparing her medium

Future Pollocks?

A little St. Patrick's day inspiration

Big feet!

Green everything!