Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Something From China

I found this handmade three dimensional picture in a tiny little shop that we frequented on Shaiman Island, just outside the White Swan Hotel. It is made of fabric and paper, intricately folded and cut to look like a little tradional Chinese outfit. The fabric is attached to some type of metal, maybe tin. There was no hardware on the back to hang it from, and the way the design came so close to the edge would make it difficult to frame. I was so attracted to it and it was so beautifully made, I decided to buy it anyway and figure out later how to hang it.

Last week I took it with me to the fabric store and found this sheer ribbon that I think looks just right with it. I glued it to the tin backing, added a bow... and now it hangs over Gwen's dresser! So glad I got it... it's a neat link to China.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Look at this... both my sister and this cow are dressed like me today!Alright, I've had enough, get me out of here!

Front Page News

This picture of Gwen and I was featured on the first page of the Children's Hope Chicago monthly email newsletter. I didn't know they were going to do this, so it was a fun surprise! Isn't the little girl in the angel a cutie, too?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pretty Girl, Pretty Dress

A pretty girl in a pretty dress... the right dress can somehow make a girl feel beautiful. The act of putting on a dress temporarily transforms a girl into a princess.

When Gwen tried this dress on for the first time, Madelyn sighed audibly and immediately said she wanted to try it on! I explained that of course this dress would not fit her, so then she said, "Can't I get one just like it?"

Why did she want a dress like this? I know why, because I would have wanted one like it when I was her age. The skirt is full and swishy, there is a sash that ties in a bow in the back, and the collar is round and feminine.

It's the same reason girls sometimes think it would be fun to live in "the olden days", when women always wore dresses. A dress sets you apart from the male sex completely. In a dress, you are most definitely of the female gender. No mistake.

It feels good to wear a dress.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


I had free passes to a new rec center in Aurora, so my mom (who came to help me this week) and I took the kids for a few hours yesterday. It was Gwen's first experience, as far as I know, and she just loved it! She is a certified fish! There were lots of neat water toys to play on, as you'll see below, and she wished she was old enough for all of them! The floating log slices were especially enticing, and I had to hold her back from trying them. She enjoyed jumping off the side of the pool to me, floated on her back (with help, of course), kicked and splashed and just generally enjoyed it all. The rest of us did too!


Just want to give a heads up for those of you who are waiting to bring your daughters home from China. Make sure that you find out what types of things your pediatrician will need to look for and test for once you have her home. I did not take a list of reccommended tests to our pediatrician, and although he did decide at Gwen's first appointment to redo all of her immunizations, he did not test her for any of the common issues that are found in internationally adopted children, and at that time I didn't realize that I needed let him know what was needed. When I found out that some of the other girls from our group had been found to have giardia (an intestinal parasite that competes for nutrients), I requested that Gwen be tested. She hadn't seemed sick at all. The only sign was loose bowl movements. She tested positive for it, and is currently taking medicine to clear it up. In the mean time, I have taken the list of other tests that should be done (provided by our agency) to the doctor's office for review.

I love our pediatrician... he has a wonderful way with children and has been in practice for a long time. He has had other children from China in his practice, but it's not something he deals with every day, and because Gwen appeared to be completely healthy, he didn't order the tests that should be standard for our girls from China. I will continue to take all of my children to him, but will make it a point to be an informed parent so that I know what to ask for.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Playing with Daddy

Daddy and I are going to build a tower together...Wow! Look how high we made it... and now I get to give it just a little push!
Isn't it funny how it all falls down, Dad?!

Friday, January 20, 2006


Gwen loves to be outside! Yesterday was 55 degrees... not your regular January day in Chicago! In these pictures, she is wearing a little hooded sweatshirt that I bought twelve years ago, when I was pregnant with Caleb. I got it before we knew he was a boy, thinking that it could be worn by either sex. All of our other kids have worn it, as well as a children in other families whom I have lent clothes to. I was so pleased to find that it had come back to me and that Gwen could use it. Looking for airplanes... she seems to spot every one in the sky and points them out to me.

Peeking through the window of the playhouse with Madelyn and our friend Kylia... this little house has a long history... it came from the next door neighbors of the house I grew up in, and we've moved it several times now. It is easily older than me... I have many memories of playing in it when I was a little girl. At that time it was up on stilts, and you had to climb a little short ladder to get into it. I love that my children have gotten to enjoy it too!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Can I just go on record as saying that the activity Gwen is engaged in the picture below was Not My Idea? I do not sanction any type of Madden Football on PS2 for toddlers. She was enticed to participate and photographed in the act while I thought she was playing with the toy kitchen things in the basement under her oldest brother's watch. What else can I say? I guess older brothers have different ideas than moms about what "Please watch your sister" means!

Making Music, Part II

Gwen had fun this morning watching Seth practice violin. The two of them both danced when he played fast songs!

Making Music

Scott bought this instrument for Seth from a sidewalk vendor right near the White Swan Hotel, where we stayed on the last leg of our trip to get Gwen. It has the sweetest mellow sound, even when Gwen plays it!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Bug Eyed

My brothers think I am so funny in these glasses and keep trying to take my picture! Can you see their reflection?

Announcing Gwen

Can you believe she's here? Sometimes I can't, inspite of the diapers, Cheerios under the kitchen table, and general disarray of the house. It's amazing to see her bright little face every morning. She is the realization of a whisper in our hearts that God answered!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Evening Chores

Yep, we've got her doing dishes already! Actually, this is my before dinner tactic for keeping Gwen busy while I get the meal ready. She loves to splash and stir water around in the sink... she ends up a little wet, but the fun is worth it!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Big Sister Grows Up

"Mom, if Gwen were falling off a mountain, I would save her." This quoted by the girl who just a couple of weeks ago was tearfully telling me how hard it was to be a big sister. And then also, "If there were a fire in our house, I would grab Gwen out of her bed and run down the stairs with her." Amazing progress... Madelyn has come a long way since Gwen came home and turned her world on it's ear!

Perhaps it has something to do with being six. Madelyn had a birthday this week, and though she has still asked to drink from a bottle like her sister, she is seeming More Grown Up. Could it be the effect of wearing the very lovely dress she picked out when she was on a date with Daddy on her Birthday Eve? You'll notice she wore this dress the bulk of the day, even when frosting her cake and at her choice of a birthday lunch spot, Burger King. She is certainly looking more grown up.

Tonight Madelyn hurt herself in some small way and was fussing about it... not quite crying, but almost. Gwen noticed her distress and was concerned. To Madelyn's delight, Gwen came over and hugged her! I can't be sure, but I think Madelyn may have prolonged her tears so that Gwen would repeat the hug! This sort of action from Gwen has gone a long way towards Madelyn feeling better about being a big sister. She can't wait for the day when Gwen is out of the crib and sharing her double bed... I know she imagines whispering in bed at night and giggling together!

My sister and I are seven years apart. I don't know how much we really played together, with that space of years between us. I know how proud I was to be able to take care of her when she was a baby. We always shared a bedroom, and one thing I remember well was Sarah waking me at night... "Lynne? I had a bad dream. Can I come in your bed?" She would run over and snuggle under the covers with me, and be back to sleep in a minute. I loved being that source of comfort for her.

Madelyn wants that closeness with her sister... and I think it is definitely beginning to grow, as she grows up into her new role!

Birthday breakfast... candle in a pancake!
Wearing the beautiful dress from Daddy
Frosting instructions for Gwen

Lunch at Burger King... and a gift from Maxwell
Wearing a new nightgown~ about to blow out candles!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Dancing Feet

After lunch today Seth put on some fun music and got Gwen dancing! Madelyn joined in, and then I did too. We all did a little Thursday afternoon "Locomotion"!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Cuddle My Baby

Well, I guess it's been apparent that I don't have as much time to write as I did in China, where I had no household responsibilities and only one child! Things are a little different now that we're home and trying to get into a routine of sorts. For the most part, Gwen is the star of the show and everyone in our family wants to hold her or play with her. I love that our other kids are enjoying her so much, because having a new toddler in the house isn't the easiest thing to adjust to! Her presence, though she is adored by all and wanted like crazy, causes everyone to need to be less selfish and more willing to wait for time and attention, including me! That's a good thing for everyone. One of my prayers was that having Gwen would stretch all of us.

As for the cuddling, one of the times that I've enjoyed the most is when I give Gwen a little snack, like dry cereal, in the late afternoon, and we sit down with it together on the rug in front of the kitchen sink. Often she will sit on my lap, but a couple of days ago, she sat on the rug next to me and scooted up real close against my arm and laid her head against it. She remained like that for a minute or two. It was so sweet... at times like that I can't help but wonder what's going on in her head. Is the situation at all familiar to her? Had anyone ever sat on the floor with her and shared a snack? Had she leaned her head on the arm of one of the orphanage care givers? I hope so. I hope she has felt that connection, that closeness before in her little life.

Another cuddle time has been when we sing to her before we put her in her crib for naps or bedtime. Once the story is read and the blinds are closed, she knows what's coming and lays her head on my shoulder (or Scott's, if he's putting her to bed) even before the song starts. She, who is not often still and quiet, rests her head silently there through as many songs as we can muster, usually only two or three because we're tired too! When the songs are over and we lay her down, she doesn't protest for more... she seems pleased with what she has just heard, and it's enough. Again I wonder... was she ever held at bedtime and sung to? Well, she is now, and that's what she'll remember.

So now she knows about cuddling. She knows enough that she can give cuddles out to others, to us and to her little soft friends. We were so excited to see her do this with a teddy bear, just a week or so after we got back home from China with her. It seems like a very healthy sign to me, to see her snuggle a doll to her shoulder and hug it. She's learning how to love.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Small Group Desserts

We took a couple of celebratory desserts to our church small group meeting on Sunday night, one for each of our girls. Madelyn was just two sleeps away from her sixth birthday, and Gwen was attending small group for the very first time!

Our Brown-Eyed Girls

We think we have the most beautiful girls in the world... don't you?!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

After bath jam session

I think I will pound on this and see what happens...
Do you want me to show you?
Here, I'll bring it over.
Isn't it fun?! I love it!

What Mommy Overheard...

...tonight at Gwen's bedtime~ An impassioned discussion between Scott and Caleb about who's turn it was to give Gwen her bottle.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hanging with the Big Kids

Apparently it is possible for a very small person to be carried in a paper shopping bag! Gwen loved this ride while it lasted... eventually the bag did begin to tear. Seth would be the one to think of something like this! Madelyn and Gwen in the little hiding place under my desk in the kitchen. At first Gwen wasn't too pleased about Madelyn holding her, but as you can see she's doing so much better, much to Madelyn's pleasure. Yesterday she even reached up to Madelyn to pick her up. I am so thankful!