Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Can you believe it? We certainly can’t! Grace absolutely understood what her birthday was all about this year. She has been talking about it for months! She also knew exactly what gift she wanted. She wanted a big camera, just like her daddy. Well, she got one! In a matter of about 45 minutes, she had taken almost 300 pictures. Just like her daddy!

Her birthday was Friday. So Thursday night, we made cupcakes to take to her daycare. We took cupcakes, party hats, noisemakers, and goody bags. Jeanne took lots of pictures for me. It was so cute!

Saturday was her big party! We had 27 people over to celebrate. We rented a bounce house, which was definitely a hit with all of the kids. We also had pumpkin painting. The kids and some of the adults enjoyed this too! It was an absolutely beautiful day here on Saturday. We were so lucky to have so much sunshine and warm weather! Thanks to everyone who was able to come to the party and celebrate Grace’s birthday with us!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wow! Another post only four days after the last one! Today is our Second Gotcha Day Anniversary! We cannot believe it’s been two years. Here is a picture of our first Gotcha Day and then one we took today! My, how she has grown.

Congratulations to Russ, Monica, and Micah on their Gotcha Day Anniversary also!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wow, summer is over and I’ve been back to school for three weeks. I have a lot of summer adventures to catch up on!

We spent a week on Lake Michigan. The Canestraro family was spending time there also, so we met up with them for a weekend. We had Grace and Micah together on almost the exact two year anniversary of the date that we each met them! Of course, we got a picture of that. Then Greg, Grace, and I continued enjoying the coast. We went from South Haven to Saugatuck to Holland to Grand Haven. We had really nice weather. One morning of rain, but we spent that driving to our next destination. We went to Windmill Village in Holland. Grace got some wooden shoes. She calls them her cloppy shoes. She loves to dance in them like the dancers we watched at Windmill Village.

We came back home for just a couple of days and then we headed to Columbus, Ohio for our second annual Astrakhan reunion. The Roberts’s family was unable to join us this year. We really missed them. We had the Tassey-Woods family, Canestraro family, Beadle family, and us. Thanks again to Phyllis and Craig for hosting this year! We had so much fun! There were six children who were adopted from Astrakhan all around the same time! Here is a picture from last year’s reunion and this year’s. My, how they have changed.

We headed back home for laundry and two nights sleep in our own beds, and then Grace and I were off to North Dakota with my mom. We went to visit my cousins who live there. We had a really nice visit! After a week with Grace, my cousin Marcus (age 10) decided he really didn’t want a younger sister after all!

We went Up North for a long weekend. We stopped in Midland on the way up to break up the drive a bit. The annual dulcimer festival was going on and I wanted to check it out. It so happened that my cousin and her husband were there. We spent the afternoon walking around with them. We drove the rest of the way up to Torch Lake the next day. The town of Alden was having an art fair, so we spent most of the time around there. We stayed at Shanty Creek resort. It was a short trip, but it was very nice!

Grace no longer has a binky. She got a rash on her face by her mouth and I didn’t want her to have a binky with it. She only used the binky when she slept and always left it in her bed before she got out. I wasn’t really worried about her use of a binky. But I figured if she wasn’t going to use it because of the rash, I might as well get rid of it forever. It has certainly not been easy on her or on us! Her naps have shortened to an hour to an hour and a half, when they used to be an hour and a half to two hours. She has not been sleeping through the night. It has been a month and a half now and she has only slept through the whole night four times! We figure that this can only last for so long, right???

Probably Grace’s biggest achievement this summer is being able to pump on her swing. She is so proud of herself! Swinging is all that she wants to do now! She could easily just swing for an hour at a time.

Grace started dance lessons a couple of weeks ago. She is taking a combination tap and ballet class. She was so excited – at first! At the first class, parents were to put the tap shoes on the kids and then leave the room. Well, that’s what I did. Grace did pretty well for the tap section, then it was time to switch to ballet shoes. I heard Grace through the door that she wanted Mommy to change her shoes. The teachers tried to talk Grace into letting them put the shoes on, but Grace was adamant that Mommy do it. Grace started crying as soon as they brought her out to me. So, that was the end of that week’s class. The next week, she started crying as soon as we walked into the studio. I told her that I would stay in the class with her. She stopped crying. She did the “dances” that the other girls were doing, but she did them standing by me and only joined the group a couple of times. This week, I told her I would go in with her again, but she had to do all the dances with the other girls. Well, it went better. Grace joined the group a few times and did the other dances at a halfway point between the group and me. There were some tears when I was trying to encourage her to join the group. It’s progress, but I’m just not sure whether we should continue or not. She seems so excited about it during the week. She does the moves and sings the dance songs throughout the week. She tells people that she goes to dance class, like she’s so excited about it. I guess we’ll try a few more classes and play it by ear.

We met with our social worker for our third post placement report. It’s so hard to believe that it’s been almost two years. Everything went great and we easily got it off to CHI in plenty of time.

We went to the Hands Across the Water’s (our home study agency) annual picnic. We met Shannon and Tia there. We had not had a chance to get together all summer. It was so nice to see each other. Tia and Grace had a good time playing with each other and Shannon and I had a good time catching up!

It was hard going back to work after having the summer off. Grace and I had so much fun together! It was hard on Grace too. I had taken her to school a few times with me when I was just getting my classroom ready or just short meetings. She did not understand why all of a sudden, she couldn’t go to work with me. I know she loves it at her daycare. When I picked her up after school, she was always all smiles. But those couple of days of tears in the morning were so hard!

Well, I think that pretty much catches us up!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Well, I finished the school year and have been on summer break for a month, and this is the first time I’ve gotten around to writing a post. We have been so busy and we’ve had so much fun!

Today is the anniversary of a very important day for us. We met Grace two years ago today! Can you believe it? Two years! I remember every detail. I try to tell Grace all about it. I know she doesn’t understand, but I’ll keep telling her about how she made our lives complete. Here is one of the first pictures we took of Grace two years ago.

I’ll go back over the last couple of months the best that I can to catch up!

We had a wonderful Memorial Day. My family all came over for the local parade. Here is my favorite picture of Grace watching the parade. Isn’t she beautiful!!!

Then more of my family and Greg’s family joined us at our house for a barbeque. It was great to have everyone together.

For the Fourth of July we went to my parents for our annual take-the-old-truck in the parade. We have a 1911 Model T. Yes, it really is 99 years old! Grace was so excited. It is all she talked about for the week before and the week after! My cousins were home from North Dakota, so they rode in the parade with us. It was a beautiful, very warm (in the 90’s) day! The next photo is Grace pretending to drive the truck.

We visited some friends who live on a lake and Grace saw her first fireworks show. She wasn’t scared at all. Although she asked several times, “What’s that?” and “What’s happening?” She also frequently exclaimed “Louuuud”.

Grace talks all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people say to me, ‘Boy, she’s a talker!’ She’s quite shy at first, but once she gets warmed up, watch out! She has to know what everything is and why it is so. I bet she asks ‘why?’ a hundred times a day. She has gained a great vocabulary. We went shopping and bought her some new shoes. When Greg came home that evening, I told Grace she should show her Daddy her new shoes. She got all excited! Grabbed Greg’s hand and pulled him over to her new shoes. As she’s opening up the box, she says, ‘Daddy, they are kinda awesome!’ Where did she learn that?

She loves music! Almost everyday, we have to put on the music (usually Beach Boys). She hands out instruments to everyone who may be in the room. And away we go with our own band. She is usually on the drum. We have to dance, march, and move around while the song is playing. She loves to sing. Some of her favorites to sing are ABC’s, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Rain Rain Go Away, Hokey Pokey, Barbara Ann, Ring Around the Rosie, If You’re Happy and You Know It, and Wheels on the Bus.

She is starting to get interested in letters. She’s beginning to understand that there is some kind of connection between letters and words. She’ll point to a letter on a paper and say ‘is that an ‘a’?’ Usually it’s not, but she’s very interested. When she has a pencil and paper, she’ll ask me ‘Want a G?’ Then she’ll write something on the paper. It’s not a G, but she thinks it is. She knows that her name starts with a G, Daddy starts with a D, and Mommy starts with an M.

We have been working hard on colors. I think she’s got most of them. However, when I want her to name a color, she will say the wrong color and then giggle. But I’ll hear her while she’s playing and she’s naming the colors perfectly!

Everyday is something new and special. I just love the Two’s. Don’t get me wrong, we do have some stubborn moments. Sometimes she wants to test us to find out what she can get away with. She can be the biggest staller around, especially at bedtime or anytime when I’m in a hurry. I just know these are all part of being two and learning her own independence and it’s amazing to watch! There are times when I have to remind myself of this!

There isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t say how blessed we are to have our beautiful family of three! Grace is a true blessing!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 11, 2010

Well, Spring Break is coming to an end. It’s been great to be off and to spend time with Grace. Greg took the week off as well, so we were all together!

Last Friday was an absolutely beautiful day! It got up to 80 degrees, almost unheard of for the first part of April in Michigan! We decided it was a great day to spend at the zoo. Grace just loved seeing all of the animals. Believe it or not, I think her favorite was the horses! It seemed that most of the animals were napping and not very active. But the horses were up and running around. We could hardly get her to leave the farm part of the zoo. Here is a picture of Grace by the fountain at the Zoo.

We spent Easter with my parents. I am the substitute organist at my church back home, and I was on for this Easter. I played at the Sunrise service and the regular service. Here are Grace and I at the piano afterward. Then we went back to my parent's house for our annual Easter Egg Hunt. There were 110 eggs hidden altogether. The photo shows Grace with one of them. After a lot of hunting, 104 were found. There are still 6 more out there in my parents’ yard somewhere!

My parents gave Grace a tricycle. Now, that is all she wants to do. Rain or shine, she is asking to go ride her bike. She pedals like a pro and loves to go fast! The photo of Grace on her bike was taken at a very nice park we found in Grand Rapids along the river.

On Monday, we drove to Grand Rapids. We stayed at a hotel with a water park, so Grace (the fish) could “swim”. On Tuesday, we went to the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. There is a butterfly exhibit there now. Grace loved it. There were thousands of butterflies! One landed on my arm and Grace was so excited! Luckily, it stopped raining and we could venture outside into the gardens a little bit. It was still a bit chilly (upper 50s) and misty rain. Grace didn’t mind. She was running around and touching every sculpture and trying every hands-on thing there was. The picture shows her by one of the sculptures there. It was the first time that Greg or I had been there and we definitely want to go back this summer when the weather is better.

Saturday was a pretty nice day. It got up to about 65 degrees. We decided to head to the Farm at Kensington Park. There were tons of baby animals. Grace pet a baby goat and a baby pig. We saw a sheep being sheared. Grace was pretty intrigued by this. We talked about it later and Grace said, “Sheep kicking and kicking. Sheep said baa, baa, baa.” Again, Grace loved the horses. She really wanted to pet one, but they wouldn’t come close enough for us to touch. The last photo is one of Grace at the farm.

Grace continues to grow and thrive. Her vocabulary is amazing. She is now using full sentences with words like probably, attention, and comfortable. With help, she can count to twenty. She misses a few along the way, but overall does really well!
When we are done counting together, she will say “Oh, I missed seven!” I don’t know why she says seven, because that’s one she usually gets! I guess she just knows that she missed something! She is singing more and more songs with the ABC song being one of her favorites. The l-m-n-o-p part is still tricky. It sounds more like lellolello-p. Oh, well, close enough for now! When we are in the car, I usually have the 60s on 6 st
ation on from XM Radio. They play a lot of Beach Boys. Grace loves the song “Barbara Ann”. She will just start singing it when we least expect it. It is so funny hearing a two year old sing a Beach Boys song. Another one of Grace’s favorites to sing is “Bushel and a Peck.” I have been singing this song to her since we met on our first trip, so I shouldn’t be surprised that she knows it. But it’s still funny hearing a two year old sing it!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Another two months since our last post! Boy, time sure flies! Grace continues to amaze us everyday.

We had a Thursday and Friday off in February for my Winter break. We decided to head up to Frankenmuth for a couple of days. We stayed at a hotel that had five indoor pools. Grace loved all of the pools. She is such a fish! We had a hard time getting her to come out.

The HIGHLIGHT of the last two months has been potty training. Grace and I spent last Saturday training a doll how to use the potty and then training Grace. On Sunday, she did pretty well. She only had one accident. On Monday it was off to daycare and I was so worried about what this would do to potty training. (Grace is only one of five at her daycare, but I was still worried). I took her potty chair with us, in hopes that it would make her feel more comfortable. She didn’t have any accidents, but she hardly went all day. Boy, when we walked in the house after work, she went right to the potty!!!! Tuesday was a rough day. She had two accidents at daycare. They went to a play area to celebrate another child’s birthday and I think she was just so excited about it that she forgot all about pottying. Luckily, on Wednesday, she got back on track. No accidents. Thursday continued with no accidents – she even went poo poo on the big toilet instead of her potty chair. In the evening, we went out to dinner and Grace asked twice to go potty. She went each time! The book “Toilet Training in Less than a Day” was recommended to me. It worked for us! I will say that I made a few modifications to the program. Some of it was just a little much for me. But, overall, it seems to have worked! It’s been just over a week now and she’s still doing pretty well. Today, she didn’t have any accidents. We went go out to dinner and she asked to go to the bathroom three times. She actually went pee pee only once. I think she just likes the whole idea of going to different bathrooms.

Her vocabulary continues to grow and grow. We have some real conversations with each other. She can count to five and sing most of the ABC song. She has to do everything herself! And I mean everything! Put on her own clothes and shoes. Pour her own milk. Comb her hair and brush her teeth. Everything takes longer, so we have to allow extra time for everything. But that’s okay, that’s how she learns. Right??? I keep saying that to myself.

Here are some of our favorite photos of Grace over the last two months.

Her first snowman!

Grandpa's girl

Enjoying the pool in Frankenmuth
Reading with Mommy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I just looked at our blog and realized that it’s been two months since we posted. It’s been a busy couple of months. I’ll step back and fill everyone in.

We had a wonderful Fall of firsts! While we were home with Grace last Fall, she was so young that the typical events were not too special to her. But this year, it was totally different!

We went apple picking.

We went to Maybury Farm and did most of the corn maze. They had a small maze made out of hay bales for the smaller kids. Grace loved this!

She was a princess for Halloween. Perfect for her! She didn’t really understand what was going on, but she was taking it all in. As we walked from house to house, we practically had to drag her along because she was so busy looking at everyone’s costume. She wasn’t scared at all. I don’t think she really understood the whole trick or treat thing. She knew that people at each house were putting something in her bag, but that’s about it!

We had a very nice Thanksgiving at my parent’s house. Grace loved being with her cousins.

Greg and I both had two weeks off for the holidays. It has been so nice to just be with Grace. This time went by so fast I just can’t believe it. We were really busy with all of the holiday events. First of all, no we didn’t take Grace to see Santa. I couldn’t think of anything that she would like about sitting on the knee of a man with a lot of facial hair. We spent Thursday (Christmas Eve) through Sunday at my parents. Grace doesn’t understand the whole Santa thing. But she does understand presents! Last year, the focus was on the boxes, paper, and ribbons. This year, she knew that inside those packages was something special for her! Santa came to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Grace had no idea that some presents were from Santa and some were from everyone else! Santa did leave one big gift at home, because it would have been too much to carry back and forth. Grace got a kitchen! This definitely seems to be a big hit. Everyday she is making and serving us coffee, pancakes, grilled cheese, eggs, etc. It is so much fun!

Grace had her first haircut. She did a pretty good job. We went to Carnival Cuts, which had a little car for Grace to sit in while she had her hair cut. At the first sign of tears, the stylist gave her a sucker. This was the first time Grace had ever had a sucker. Apparently, she thought it was pretty good, because she wouldn’t let it go!

Grace is just unbelievable. At her 24 month checkup (which was really at 25 months), she was in the 75th percentile for height and the 50th percentile for weight. Hard to believe that one year ago, she was not even on the charts for either height or weight! Her verbal skills are amazing! She is saying new words and putting more sentences together everyday. She is speaking in 6 to 7 word sentences. She says “I love you, Mommy” and “I love you, Daddy” to us all the time. Could anything be more wonderful???!!!

Pretty much everything is “I do it!” Grace is working on becoming very independent! She has to put on her own socks, shoes, coat, mittens, hat, etc. We’ve tried potty training a little bit. She has gone both pee pee and poo poo in the potty. She will tell us as she is going in her diaper. But she has yet to tell us beforehand, so we can get her to the potty in time. I just bought the book “Toilet Training in Less Than a Day.” We’ll see if this gives me some clues to help Grace along.

I think that should get us about caught up. I’ll try to be better at my blogging!