Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grace is 4!

Well, our baby turned four on October 8.  Can you believe it??!!  We had a party at our house on the actual day to celebrate.  We were so lucky to have an absolutely beautiful day.  It was 80 degrees and sunny!  We rented a bouncy house which was a big hit with the kids and some of the adults!  We painted pumpkins and decorated visors for the kids to wear home.  Grace chose a Fairy Princess theme.  Surprise!  She was concerned when we picked up the cake.  She had wanted a chocolate cake, which is what we ordered.  But when she saw it had white frosting, she thought the whole cake was white.  I assured her that the cake part was chocolate!  She was very happy when the cake was cut and she could see the chocolate inside!

I need to catch up on all that happened during the rest of the summer and the beginning of fall.  The first two weeks of August, Grace took swim lessons.  She is such a fish!  She loves the water and made really good progress on swimming by herself.  She passed the class with flying colors.  The only thing that she didn’t demonstrate was holding her breath under water for 3 seconds.  Of course, she does this all the time when she is with us and even when she is in the bathtub. 

We bought Grace a tag-along bike that hooks to my bike.  She loves it!  It’s a lot easier for me compared to the weight of pulling her in the trailer.  The whole balance thing is a little tricky to get use to.  If she leans to one side, I have to really be on alert to compensate so that we don’t fall over!  No falls yet, knock on wood!  The longest that we’ve gone is five miles.  She did really well and didn’t want to stop even then.

In August we took a long weekend and headed Up North.  We wanted one last getaway before going back to school.  We stayed at Shanty Creek Resort, which was the perfect location.  We went up to Petoskey and Charlevoix for a day.  We also went the other way to Traverse City.  It is just so beautiful up there.  The highlight for Grace was the swimming pool.  She is fearless with the life vest on and wants to be fearless with the life vest off, but she’s not quite ready for that.

Just to keep myself involved in music, I teach piano lessons at our house.  I only have five students, so it doesn’t consume too much of my time.  Anyway, Grace is usually there with me in the room while I’m teaching the lessons.  I always have a pile of things for her to do to keep her occupied while I’m teaching.  Since she is in the room, she is hearing everything that I say to my students.  I really never dreamed that she was really listening, but here are some examples.  Whenever I am having my students review the names of the lines and spaces on the staff, Grace will pipe in and complete them before the students even have a chance.  Grace knows E, G, B, D, F for the treble clef and G, B, D, F, A for the bass clef.  She also knows the sayings that go with them, i.e. Every Good Body Deserves Fudge.  She doesn’t understand how it correlates to the piano or the music, but it sure is a good start.  Here’s a funny story.  We were having breakfast together back before school started.  We were just eating and talking about nothing in particular when Grace asks me, “Mommy, can you show me a dotted half note?”  My mouth dropped and then I just started cracking up.  I couldn’t believe she had any idea about a dotted half note!  Of course, I grabbed a piano book and showed her right away what a dotted half note looked like!

Grace has always been one to ask a lot of questions – about everything!!!!  Lately, she has been asking a lot of questions about God.  She loves to read from her Bible.  We also have a couple of books that she likes to read.  They are “I Am a Promise,” “God Knows All About Me” and “Where Does God Live?”  She picks both of these books frequently.  Anyway, here is just one of the great questions that she asked me.  “Mommy, does God go potty in the boys’ or the girls’ bathroom?”  Oh, my!  Where does she come up with these questions?

We had our very last post-placement report due in September.  Three years ago, it seemed like that date was so far off.  What an amazing three years!

School started for both of us.  I’m back in first grade – Yay!!!  The first two weeks of preschool were pretty rough for Grace (and me).  We had tears and clinging when I was leaving.  Oh, man, that is so hard!  She goes to preschool two days a week.  The other three days she goes to the same daycare that she has always gone to.  It’s now been about six weeks and things are going much better.  She is still not as comfortable at school as she is at daycare, but there are no more tears.  She seems to love “circle time” at school, because we have to have circle time every night at least two or three times.  She is always the teacher, of course.  She also loves the “projects” that she does.  She has to hang them on the refrigerator as soon as we get home.

This week was “D is for Dinosaur” week at school.  I was talking to Grace about it.  I asked her if she learned any other words that started with D at school.  She was taking her coat off at the time, so she said “coat.”  I said, “Coat starts with c, /k/.  D makes the /d/ sound.”  Grace replied, “Okay, da coat!”  She is getting quite the sense of humor!

Grace just had her four year check-up.  She is doing great!  She is at the 50th percentile for height and the 30th percentile for weight.  She’s long and lean.  Her doctor was talking to her about Halloween.  The doctor said, “Grace, when you go trick or treating, what are you going to say when you go to the door to ask for candy?”  Grace said, “First I’ll say please.  Then I’ll say thank you.”  The doctor started cracking up.  Isn’t she just the cutest thing???!!!

Well, I think that catches us up for now.  I’m going to try to be better about posting in a more timely manner.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gotcha Day #4

A little late on the posting as we got a new computer and it took awhile to set everything up, but now we're up and running again.  Thursday, September 29th was Gotcha Day #4!  We just cannot believe it!  What an amazing three years it has been.  Here is a picture of us now.

Here is our picture on the original Gotcha Day.

What a difference, huh?  Congratulations to Russ, Monica, and Micah for their Gotcha Day #4 also!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We just got back from our big summer vacation! We traveled to Glacier National Park this year. We are on a mission to take Grace to all of the national parks that we can and this was our first one.

I should start out by telling you about the preparations for the trip. With the incident at Yellowstone, I was freaking out about bears! So I went on a search for bear spray, bear whistles, and a bell for Grace. Well, we live in the Metro Detroit area and those are not easy items to find. I started at Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is a big store chain around here. I asked the greeter as soon as I walked through the door. He replied, “Wow, that’s the first time I’ve ever been asked that!” Needless to say, they didn’t have any of these items. I drove to Gander Mountain and they didn’t have anything either. Next, I thought I’d try REI. Finally, they had everything that I needed! Did you know that bear spray costs $49.95 a can???? I couldn’t believe it! But at least we were prepared!

For those of you who know me, then you know that “roughing it” is about the furthest thing from describing me! Just the fact that I was shopping for bear spray was very funny! Well, I called to make the hotel reservations and I called a place that handles reservations throughout the whole park. Unfortunately, because of my school schedule, I didn’t get to make the reservations until much later than I should have. For the week, we ended up being in five different “hotels,” which was not a problem because we wanted to be in all different parts of the park. However, one of the “hotels” was a cabin room. What??? This scared me! I ended up surviving it, but it truly was a little scary.

We went on many unbelievably beautiful hikes. Grace was such a trooper. We stuck with all of the shorter hikes with a rating of “easy,” so her little three-year-old legs could handle it. It took us a longer than most people to go on the hikes, but she did them!

We had beautiful weather for the first few days. It was sunny and in the low 90’s. Just perfect for me! On day four, the weather took a change. It was in the 90’s and the sun was shining. We started out on one of our longest hikes – four miles round trip. Greg had the bear spray in its holster. I had a whistle ready and Grace had the bell on her shoe. We had walked about a mile and a half and the clouds started moving in. Around the mountains, the weather can sure change fast. The temperature started dropping and then the thunder, lightning, and raindrops started. We were almost to the waterfalls at the end of the trail, so decided we might as well continue. Well, when we got to the falls, it started downpouring! Luckily, I had a raincoat for Grace in my backpack. However, I had nothing for me. I had on a sleeveless shirt and was absolutely freezing. We stayed under a tree for about fifteen minutes. A beautiful deer walked about five feet from us. The deer just looked at us like we were absolutely crazy. The sky was showing no signs of relief, so we decided we might as well head back. We were already soaked even under the tree. We took turns carrying Grace, so we could move faster. She’s little, but she sure gets heavy fast as you’re trying to run and climb through trails! We were “soaking wet” (as Grace said). We were filthy from running through the mud. All I wanted to do was get to our hotel and clean up!

Grace and I both had a hard time with the mosquitoes. However, Grace had it much worse. Luckily, I had brought cortisone, Benadryl, and Sarna with me. I was able to make a call from my cell phone when we left the park one day, so I called Grace’s pediatrician who told me to use them all. On Wednesday, she woke up with her knee completely swollen. It was double the size of the other one. I thought it was the mosquito bites, but I started worrying that maybe she twisted it on one of our hikes. I asked the hotel if there was a doctor or nurse somewhere in the park. The person said that there was a clinic in Canada and about a two hour drive away. Arrgh! I didn’t want to drive that far for mosquito bites. Finally he said that there was a nurse, but she was really only there for park employees. He asked the hotel manager if it was alright for the nurse to see Grace. About five minutes later, the nurse came into the hotel. She agreed that it was mosquito bites. She did double-check by moving Grace’s leg around and asking Grace some questions. The nurse told us to give her Benadryl and put cortisone on it. Okay, now I could stop worrying about her leg.

After the rain, the temperature never warmed back up to where I would have liked it. The highs were in the low 70’s the rest of the time that we were there. On Thursday we drove the entire width of the park on the Going to the Sun Road. Oh, my, what a beautiful drive! We started at the east side of the park and traveled west. When we got to Logan Pass we could hardly believe our eyes. The snow was about ten feet deep! Grace was making snowballs and wanted to go sledding. She could not understand why I hadn’t packed the sled. Would that have cost us another $25.00 as an additional suitcase on the airplane?

On Thursday, July 21, we celebrated the three year anniversary of the first time that we met Grace. It is so hard to believe that it was three years ago that we made our first trip to Russia. I will never forget the day that we saw her for the first time in the director’s office of Baby Home #2. She was so beautiful! Grace has made our lives and family complete! We celebrated by having dessert after dinner. Grace ordered chocolate ice cream. That’s her favorite!

We never had to use the bear spray and whistles. We were lucky enough to see two bears, but both times we were safe in the car. We saw a moose, mountain goats, and several deer. It was an absolutely amazing vacation! If you’ve never been to Glacier National Park, it's a must see!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

7 Months Since Our Last Post!

Oh, man! This is really bad – seven months since our last blog posting! This is my fifth week out of school and I am just now feeling like I’m getting caught up on all that I didn’t get done during the school year. I taught a new grade this past year. It ended up being a great experience for me, but a lot of work. It’s a lot of work teaching the same grade, but changing grades really was a doosey!

There have been so many awesome things going on with Grace over these last seven months I hardly know when to begin. She is growing like a weed! Long and lean is the best way to describe her. She is an absolutely beautiful little girl! Yes, I have to say ‘little girl’ – what happened to my baby!

You wouldn’t believe it if you could listen to her talk. She has an unbelievable vocabulary and it just continues to grow. She seems to use new words almost everyday that just surprises us. Some words that are common for her to use are absolutely, actually, ridiculous, understand, accidentally, decision, certainly... And she uses them correctly! What a vocabulary for a three year old!

She is a complete drama queen! She will get talking on a subject and she will go on talking non-stop for five minutes – using her hands to gesture and emphasize all that she is saying! It is so funny to watch!

We’ve been busy during these last seven months. In February, I had a four-day weekend break, so we went Up North to Traverse City. We rented a condo at the Grand Traverse Resort. It was freezing cold, but we still had so much fun! If you asked Grace, she would say the highlight was swimming in the pool. The kid is a fish! We saw some great ice sculptures, ate some great meals, visited a lighthouse in the snow, and went to the Children’s Museum. It was a very nice break!

We have often said how blessed we are with how healthy Grace is. She has never had an ear infection. She usually has one cold a year and it’s over within three or four days. Well, we had a week in March when Grace was really sick and it was so horrible! I picked her up on a Friday after school and she seemed fine. We went out to dinner and she went to bed just like always. She woke up in the middle of the night with a cough and a low fever. Of course, it’s Saturday, so I can’t get in to see her doctor! This continued through the weekend. On Monday, I knew I had to get her into her pediatrician. I ran into work as soon as the building opened and did sub plans and Greg went into work a little late. I got Grace in for an appointment. We couldn’t see her doctor, but we saw another doctor at the practice. She thought it was just a virus that would have to run its course and I was to alternate Tylenol and Motrin. Well, on Tuesday, Grace was no better and I called the pediatrician’s office again. They wanted to have a blood test done. Okay, this is only the second time we have gone through that. The first time was when we brought Grace home and I had Greg with me. It was horrible! I felt so bad for Grace. We received the results later that day and believe it or not, Grace was diagnosed with mononucleosis. What???? They put her on a steroid and told me to wait it out. Greg took Wednesday off and Grace was absolutely exhausted all day. My mom came over and stayed with Grace on Thursday and Friday. Basically Grace just slept in her arms all day. By Saturday, Grace was still not any better. I luckily got an appointment that morning with the same doctor I had seen on Monday. After her examination, she wanted Grace to have a chest x-ray. We then found out that Grace had pneumonia. The doctor put her on an antibiotic. Within 24 hours, we had our Grace almost completely back with us! I took Monday off of work just to be safe. But Grace was doing so well. It was a very scary week for all of us. Hopefully, we can be back to our healthy little girl!

For Spring Break, we went to Las Vegas, Nevada. Greg’s brother’s family lives there and Grace has never met her Aunt Tracy and cousins Adrienne and Samantha. It was a family reunion of sorts. Greg’s sister Julie traveled with us and Greg’s other sister, Diane and her family met us there. It was so nice to have all of us together! We spent a day on the strip, of course. It’s something that you just have to do! We did some hiking in Red Rock Canyon, which is absolutely beautiful. We visited Hoover Dam, which is always breathtaking. Grace went bowling for the first time since there was a bowling alley right in our hotel. And there was swimming of course, always the highlight of any trip. Otherwise, we just spent time together as a family. It was a great trip!

We had a very rainy and cold Spring. We were still running the furnace in May! Every chance that Grace got, she wanted to ride her bike. She is doing a great job on her two-wheeler with training wheels. I’m amazed at how far she can ride. She easily rides for about two miles without stopping and clips along at a pretty good pace.

On Memorial Day, we had both of our families over for a barbeque. We got lucky and had a pretty nice day! Grace just loves her new baby cousin, Wes. She calls him Baby Wes. I don’t know what we’re going to do when Wes gets older. Baby Wes is going to be a difficult name to call a teenager!

On June 15, we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary! Wow, 20 years! It is just amazing to think that we’ve been married for 20 years. Time goes by so quickly. Grace loves to make up songs – most of which do not make much sense. But she has been singing a happy anniversary song which is pretty funny. It changes every time she sings it, so I really have no idea what the words are.

We celebrated the 4th of July with my family. We have a 1911 Ford Model T – so that means it is 100 years old this year. My mom and dad had a sign made to put on the back of the truck to announce this milestone. My mom also had t-shirts made for all of us to wear at the parades. The truck drove in two parades this year to celebrate. We were in both the Eaton Rapids and Mason parades. Grace just loves riding in parades. She waves to everybody as she’s holding an American flag. Her favorite part is blowing the horn. My grandpa had a special horn put on the truck that plays “La Cucharacha.” Grace loves to press the button that makes the horn sound.

I have Grace enrolled in preschool for the Fall. In order to register early, I had to sign her up for two summer camps. They are each four days from 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. each day. We just started her first one this week. Drop off has not gone well!!! The first day she screamed and cried and wouldn’t let go of me. The second day she cried as soon as I started walking away. On day three, she started crying at breakfast time. We talked about all of the fun things that she has been doing at school – projects, songs, playground, etc. She told me that she didn’t like the snacks and she wasn’t going to eat them. I told her that she didn’t have to eat the snack and we packed a snack to keep in the car for when I picked her up. On day four, everything went fine because I told her that it was the last day of school for the week. I call everyday to see how she’s doing after I leave, and all seems to be well. She just does not like the fact that I’m not staying there too. We have read the book “Llama Llama Misses Mama” many times. So Grace knows that I’ll be back, but that initial Mommy leaving thing is very hard for her. I know this is not uncommon, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Sleep issues have continued to be our hardest thing to deal with. It is rare that Grace sleeps through the night. She usually wakes up at least once during the night and walks into our room. We get up, take her back to her room, tuck her in, and usually she’s back to sleep within a few minutes. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy for me to fall back to sleep! It’s not so bad during the summer when I’m not working, but during the school year, it’s brutal. She honestly has not slept the same since the pacifier went away, which was a year ago! We keep hoping that this is just a phase and it will end soon. But at 2:00 a.m., it sure seems like this phase is lasting a long time!

We are so blessed in so many ways!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Well, again, here we are having to play catch up on our posts. It’s been a very busy, hectic last few months. The holidays are always busy, but on top of it this year, I’ve been finishing up a class. I took a graduate class this summer. (I’m trying to work on my next pay raise which will be a Masters + 15 credits). The plan was to finish it up during the summer, but time got away from me. The final paper was due on December 19 and I was panicking on how to get it done. Luckily, we had a snow day on December 13! I used a few hours of the day to finish the paper! Woo, hoo! Then Grace and I wrapped and packaged two gifts to mail to relatives in other states. We headed to the post office with my paper and the two packages before noon. Grace was so patient with me! Grace and I spent the rest of the day playing out in the snow!

Now I’ll go back and fill you in on the last few months. Halloween was so much fun! Grace had so many parties and activities going on that we chose two different costumes. The first one she picked was a ladybug and the second costume was an elephant. She certainly chose at two very different ends of the spectrum. But both were so cute! She understood what trick-or-treating was all about this year. Along with several families, we met at some friends’ house in our subdivision for dinner. After dinner, I headed home to pass out candy and Greg took Grace with the rest of the group to trick-or-treat. Grace was the youngest of the crew. They were much more experienced at getting to the next house as fast as possible. Grace did her best to keep up. Greg did too! She came home with her bucket full, so I think she had a very successful evening.

We spent Thanksgiving at my parents. We always get together with my dad’s side of the family, which we just don’t do enough. It was very nice to have us all together. We had a wonderful meal! We all ate too much as usual! I was lucky enough to have Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off, so it was extra nice to have the super long weekend.

We were pelted with snow on Sunday, December 12 (which led to the snow day mentioned above). I spent most of the day working on my paper, but Greg and Grace were outside playing. They made a great snowman together. Grace just loves the snow! She could stay out there all day!

Christmas snuck up on us before we knew it! Grace learned about Santa this year. I picked her up from daycare one day and she informed me that Santa was coming. She went on to explain that he was going to bring her presents. I asked her what she wanted Santa to bring here and she only had one thing on her list. She wanted a bike like the one at Jeanne’s, which is a two wheel Disney Princess bike with training wheels. We were shopping at the mall and she saw Santa. She was very curious. She just wanted to stand there (we were on the second floor looking down) and watch him. I asked her if she wanted to talk to Santa. She told me ‘no.’ There was a huge line, so I was not disappointed at all! Later, we talked more about Santa. She said that she wanted to talk to him. I asked her what she was going to do if she were to see Santa. She said she was going to hug him so hard that she would knock him right over! About a week later, Greg, Grace and I were shopping at a different mall and Grace saw Santa there. I asked her if she wanted to go talk to him. She said ‘yes.’ I was very surprised! We got in line (which luckily was very short). When it was our turn, Santa waved to Grace. Grace froze! I picked her up and we walked over to Santa. He was so nice to her! Grace did tell him that she wanted a bike, but was the extent of her part of the conversation. She would not let go of me the whole time. She would not sit on his lap. She wouldn’t let us take a picture with Santa. She would not even give him five when we were leaving. I really didn’t care if she even saw Santa at all, so I was surprised with what she wanted to do.

With all of this talk about Santa, we kept reminding Grace about the real meaning of Christmas. She has the Little Peoples Nativity Scene. We get it out every Christmas to talk about all the events of the birth of Jesus. Like with everything else, she has lots of questions. We do our best to explain everything to a curious three year old.

We headed to my parents on Christmas Eve. Grace wondered about Santa coming. I told her not to worry, that Santa knew all about it and that he would come to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We all went to the Christmas Eve candlelight service. When we got back to my parent’s house, Grace went right to bed. After a bit of a rough night (she doesn’t usually sleep well at any place other than her own bed), she finally woke up at about 8:30 Christmas morning. I brought her downstairs and brought her to her pile of Santa gifts. Of course, there was a beautiful Disney Princess bike. She spent the whole weekend riding around the circle of the family room, kitchen, dining room, and living room. Santa also brought her a Fisher Price laptop. I don’t even let Grace watch TV, so I wasn’t so sure about the laptop as a gift. But she really likes it and hopefully, it will help her learn her letters even better. Grace, as well as the rest of us, was spoiled as always for Christmas. We had a wonderful day with our family and are so thankful for our health and happiness!

We celebrated Christmas with Greg’s family on New Year’s Day. We hosted, so we had a houseful! We had a great time. Grace’s two cousins are absolutely crazy about her. Needless to say, Grace received endless attention all day long! Again, she was spoiled by her two aunts. They got her a dollhouse. It is so cute and we have had so much fun playing with it!

We have been working on letters and numbers. Santa got Grace a Crayola dry-erase board that comes with templates to trace letters, numbers, shapes, etc. Grace really likes it. She’s getting pretty good at making a letter G. She knows that her name starts with a G, then an R, but the R has been a bit more difficult for her to write.

Bedtime has gotten easier. Boy, that was a rough two and a half months! Once she finally started sleeping through the night again, she started having problems going to sleep. Sometimes it took almost two hours before she was falling asleep. She wasn’t going to sleep until about 10:30 p.m.!!! We decided to try stopping daytime naps. They were starting to shorten. She was napping for about an hour, where before it was more like two hours. Even with an hour nap, she was still not going to bed without the two hour struggle. So we stopped naps altogether and ever since, she has been falling to sleep within five to ten minutes! Yay! She is pretty tired by the end of the day and can sometimes get a bit cranky, but it’s a lot better than the struggle to get her to sleep. She is sleeping through the night about two to three nights a week. On the other nights, she usually wakes up one or two times throughout the night. I usually just go into her room, cover her back up and tell her ‘good night,’ and she will go back to sleep. I say usually because I’m not always so lucky. Once in a while, it takes her awhile to get back to sleep. I stand in the hallway outside her bedroom door and tell her that ‘it is nighttime; time to go to sleep.’ Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t! But at least, it’s a lot better than it was!

I think that pretty much catches us up! Merry belated Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!