Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Second Birthday for Hope

It was impossible to top last year's extravagganza, but Hope had a great 14th birthday last week. I kept reminding her that it was going to be more low-key than last year, but she was equally tickled at the gifts she got at breakfast on the actual day, as well as the much-smaller-than-last-year-but-fun family party we had.
A highlight she looked forward to all week was opening all of the homemade gifts from her cousins (each of whom she proclaimed as her 'best cousin' as she opened their gift). Marlow cross-stitched her name and framed it and Isabel made a beautiful painting of Hope with butterflies. Rhys and Blake both drew amazing pictures of a dragon, and Rhys' even had some Chinese characters on it. Blake's drawing even made it to her binder cover-- a coveted location for sure.
Her favorite gift from us was a Halloween costume that I spent hours searching for. She's obsessed with princesses and brides but it's virtually impossible to find anything modest in a teen size. I ended up finding an adult size that Isabel is currently taking in for her. It's so nice to have a seamstress in the family again! Super precious at her party to see Rhys helping her figure out what to do with the headpiece. (Those two are really becoming close now that they're at the same school and it's really cute.)
Most of the time it feels like Hope has always been here, so it's pretty unbelievable that it's been less than a year and a half. She has come so incredibly far and is doing remarkably well. We still have a ways to go in some areas, but I think a lot of what we are experiencing is normal teen stuff. And thankfully there are a lot of "normal" teen things that we aren't dealing with. She's delightful, diligent, respectful, thoughtful and engaging. I'm pretty sure I was none of those things at 14. Or 37 1/2.
We can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for Hope the next year.
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the significance of 14th birthdays for orphans in China. Had Hope still been there, last Wednesday would have marked her very last eligible day to be adopted. Ever. Would you join me in praying for the many children who will age out this year-- that God would move in the hearts of His people to obey His command to care for the orphan, and minister to those who have already aged out and lost their chance of having a family this side of heaven.
Adopting an older child is the hardest thing we have ever done, and undoubtedly much harder for Hope. But obeying is always worth it. Our children are always worth it. And I think you can tell from these pictures that it's been worth it for Hope too.
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14:18

 At dinner on her birthday. I love this face she makes when she's disgusted (by us, usually).

Thursday, September 06, 2012

First Day of School!

After several days of waking up and asking if it was time to go to kindergarten, the day finally arrived! She was soooo tired but got up cheerfully and got dressed by herself. Hence the backwards dress.
 Hope also got up and got dressed on her own! :)
Our Little Lady of Perpetual Motion is super excited to spend the only year of her academic life at the same school as Marlow, so I had to include this picture.
Despite the look on his face, Blake was also excited to be back at school. That bag strap was annoying him because he'd "been wearing it for a really long time." About an hour since he got on the bus, by this point. He was so fuzzy and cute that morning, and the look on Lily's face tells exactly how she feels about being in school with her beloved Blakey. He sometimes runs up and gives her hugs when her class walks by his table leaving the cafeteria. Awwwww!
 Lily walked right into her class and got busy. She barely acknowledged the fact that we were leaving, which is definitely better than the alternative.
We then took Hope to school, who wanted to be dropped off and walk in on her own. (What??) Independence is definitely the theme for 8th grade-- she is off to a really great start and has even done her homework mostly on her own. See- nobody needs us anymore!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Keep on swimming!


Lily has taken to water a lot like our beagles have. Meaning, not so much. It seems like every May we would start in the same place as the previous May. This year she finally grew a little braver and wanted to 'swim' by herself wearing floaties (actually a Little Mermaid suit with floaties built into the chest which made her look like He-Man). This was a huge improvement from previous summers when she'd want to velcro herself onto Kyle or I. That's super fun for all involved.

Anyway, we finally decided to bite the bullet and pay for swimming lessons, something we didn't think a former lifeguard and a former competitive swimmer should have to do. But clearly our collective swimming know-how wasn't transferring to the youngin, so I signed her up for a one-week class with a woman who's goal it is to make kids safe in the water, no matter what age.

And guess what?

She was doing this (see video of her jumping in and swimming across the pool) on the FIRST DAY! I actually shot this video on the second day, which is amazing after just about 45 minutes of lessons total in her whole life! 

Last night we went to the pool after dinner and she did the same thing with very little hesitation, and no tears (there were copious tears during the lessons) and was begging to jump in just one,  no two, no fifty hundred more times before we left. 

For what's left of this summer we'll continue to practice swimming on her back and then start to get her comfortable flipping over to her stomach, something she is loathe to do. We're also trying to get her little Nemo fins to work-- they both appear pretty 'lucky', which may just be because she's not yet coordinated enough to have her arms doing something different than her legs. She can kick the lights out but her arms are just kinda happy to be there.

We are SO bummed that Hope missed swimming lessons this year due to the school district not notifying us that her ESL camp was cancelled. (I know. We had to show up at the school on Monday morning, along with a bunch of other families, to find out it was cancelled. Class act!) Anyway, Kyle was able to successfully teach Hope to 'swim' earlier this summer thanks to her persistence and determination during a lazy river play day sponsored by Uncle Davey. Bless her heart, the poor thing thought the rest of us were actually breathing under water, so she drank gallons of chlorinated water. That can't be good. Anyway, she finally believed us that you're supposed to hold your breath and caught right on. Hmmm, maybe we're not as dumb as we look! She hasn't been in the pool as much as we'd have liked this summer due to the chlorine seeming to bother her skin, so she hasn't gotten much practice in since then :( She's at her last week of camp this week, so hopefully she's spent some time in the pool there. Her dermatologist is the medical director of the camp, so I'm sure they can adequately address whatever skin problems she might get from the pool water.

School starts in two weeks, so the sad countdown to our empty nest begins!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Monterey Trip in Pictures

We had our best vacation ever in Monterey last week and none of us wanted to come home! We didn't get pictures of everyone we saw and everything we did, but here's what we did capture. We already can't wait till next summer!
Hope's first time at the beach

At the beach with Maryn
Hope loved climbing on the rocks

Kyle and Lily on their favorite front porch

About half of the Chi-talian cousins

And less than half of their parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles

Two of Hope's many beloved aunts

First time in the water

I told her if she kept digging she would get to China. What, didn't your mom tell you that too? I have never seen her work so hard.

Fun with the Flips

Isabel's first peek at the Monterey Bay in a few years 

Dressed up for my 20th reunion. How did I get that old?

With Uncle Pete at Hopkins.

One of the lab squids escaped

A repeat of one of our favorite pictures of Kyle and Lily from a few years ago

At dinner with Teetee

With Judi, Maryn and Auntie Fray at the wharf

Spring 2012 in (fuzzy cell phone) Pictures

Our family photo for church (this is the only picture not taken by me and thus the only good picture in the whole post!)

 A fun day with Nana at the Children's Museum

 At the district orchestra concert with the Keuper girls

At the Fiesta parade, when she finally stopped crying and remembered that she loves riding her bike

I'm not really sure why I think I need to make a themed cake for Danny's birthday, but he got a Giant's hat this year for the big 3-9.

 This is her version of a Puss n' Boots costume. Note the belt/holster holding a 'sword' (kid knife) and boots. She was super annoyed that we didn't have a feather to put on her hat.

It was like no time had passed when Libby came for a visit. They played cars and dress up and presented shows to us NON-STOP, just like the old days.

 On her favorite ride at Sea World, the 'America round.' She also enjoyed the Shamu Express roller coaster for the first time and we rode it 7 times in a row. I wanted to puke and needed a neck brace by the end of it, but she had a blast.
Hope secretly got up early on Mother's Day and made me breakfast (a ham and cheese sandwich and fruit, naturally), duct tape flowers and this sweet note for me. Totally made me cry!

Lily wasn't the only graduate this year-- Rhys graduated from 5th grade and will join Isabel and Hope at middle school next year. I wish this pic wasn't so fuzzy because he looked absolutely adorable.

First time at the pool

Hope and I at the Shen Yun Chinese dance show, where she kept saying, "Aren't you so glad you have daughter come from China so you can come to pretty show like this?"

 Someone has really warmed up to her daddy!

 She's another in two long lines of cooks and workers

  Marlow hit double digits! 

 First time fishing