Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Nickname for Juliana

I mentioned in a previous post that a little boy had offered to come up with a new blog name for Juliana. He had a whole list of names that start with B. I am hoping his Mom is reading this post so she can help him. Since then I have had a few others offer their suggestions for a blog name.

My blog names were originally intended to keep some privacy in this Internet world. Even though you all know Juliana's real name (after all you voted it), I still think she needs a good blog name. Banana, Bear, and Bophie were actually names we called our little ones but so far none of Juliana's nicknames match the B theme. So here's your chance, add a comment below and let me know your best B nicknames. I will then take the suggestions and put them to a vote.

If you're really creative, you might make a suggestion for a new blog title. I have never felt it was exactly what I was looking for in a title. God-willing there will be more little ones and I am not sure how many more B names I can keep adding before it gets a little out of control.

To add a comment: Scroll to the bottom of the post. You will see "Posted by Nikki at ... " followed by X Comments. Click on the word "Comments", type your comment in the box. Choose a name (if you'd like) or choose anonymous. Then click the "Publish Your Comment" button.

For all you lurkers (you know who you are), feel free to use the above directions to comment on any post. I always enjoy hearing your thoughts!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Yesterday

I had a wonderful evening. I am about 30 pages from the end of the book and I have a whole new perspective on the many blessings I have been given. I was particularly reminded of the necessity of prayer. I keep coming back to the scripture, "Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required" Luke 12:48.

On a completely different note, Juliana had a one month home check up yesterday. She has gained a full pound and got a bill of good health. All her tests came back normal. Knowing she is truly putting on weight, despite her unwillingness to eat from a spoon, makes me feel better.

In these first weeks home she has progressed from the army crawl to moving out on all fours- that girl can crawl fast. She is able to sit up on her own, to move herself to a sitting position, and is starting to try to pull herself up to stand. She also has incredible flexibility. Sometimes I look at her and think ouch! She is eating anything she can feed herself. She has a particular fondness for graham crackers and ravioli. You can only imagine the mess. The doctor says the fine motor skills required for this task show she is on target developmentally. I took all these things for granted with the older girls.

She is a happy child too. There is always a smile for everyone in the family. She likes to go back and forth between Mom and Dad, not sure who she wants to hold her. She also likes to play peek-a-boo.

I thought perhaps the girls would have more trouble adjusting, particularly Bophie. There has been nothing. No trouble at all. Bophie is my expert bottle shaker and has taken on her big sister role with pride. The only jealousy we have seen is Juliana wanting my attention when holding Bophie, and that is as it should be. When those moments hit, I try to have room for two.

Things have gone so well the girls are already asking when we can go back and get another. Even little Bophie has decided she would like a brother. Although, I could tell when Grandma came yesterday and I left she was apprehensive. "Where are you going, Mom?" she asked with a very stressed look on her face. She was relieved when I said I had a doctor's appointment too and would be home in a few hours.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Night Off

I have a small confession to make. I don't really want to blog tonight. I had planned on it, I had a couple of little memories I intended to write tonight. However, I had a day full of appointments. My mom watched the girls who were so excited to see Grandma they didn't get good naps (she made dinner too, how spoiled am I?), and dh is at a meeting. So I am going to take advantage of a quiet night, put the girls to bed early, and read this. The author is coming to a Women's Conference in my area and I am gearing up.

The baby's bottle just finished. With any luck the girls will be asleep (or at least quiet) in 10 minutes. Maybe I can even finish the book off tonight... blogging will resume tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Anyone Else Do This?

This morning I made myself a cup of coffee. Then I got busy with making breakfast for the crew, then a bottle for the baby, then I checked my email, you get the idea...

An hour later I start to wash the breakfast dishes in the sink and I find a beautiful cup of coffee I have only sipped twice. I take a big gulp, of course by now it is practically iced coffee (those who have visited know how cold I keep the house), so I decide to nuke it. No sense letting a pefectly good cup of coffee go to waste. Into the microwave it goes. While it is warming I have the girls get out their school books, I change another round of diapers, and I run to put in the ponytail I never got to this morning since I was in a hurry to get breakfast started.

I come downstairs and start school. I keep hearing the microwave beep every few minutes, but by now we are so engrossed in fractions and number sentences I don't give it a second thought. I'll get to it after Math.

I finally open that microwave. Mostly I just was getting annoyed with the beeping. There sits my perfectly good cup of coffee-- of course it's cold again. Know what I did? The logical thing of course, I shut the door and turned it on for another two minutes. Then I went to put the baby down for a nap.

I came downstairs to hear the *!#? microwave beeping again, I opened it to find that same cup of coffee-- COLD.
I give up.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Appreciation

I'm downstairs folding the 8 millionth load of laundry which happens to be socks and king sized sheets, two of my least favorites to fold. Bear is reading a book upstairs to Bophie who will hopefully cave in and take a nap. While folding, I am trying to keep Banana on target with the math worksheet she has already been working on for an hour, and trying to entertain Juliana until I finish.

Bear yells down "Mom, are you busy?"

I respond, "Yes, sweetheart, do you need something?"

Bear comes down the stairs into the kitchen, Banana looks up from staring into space (note she did not look up from the math page), she says to Bear "Moms are ALWAYS busy."

Bear's response, "Mom isn't busy very much, she's on the computer."

Can you guess which of those girls is my favorite today?

Four Wishes

To set the scene, it was noon on a school day. Books were moved aside to make room for a quick lunch of leftover Mexican casserole from the night before. I am a little frazzled from yet another set of hoops we have to jump through for this adoption. Believe it or not, there is still MORE paperwork. My mind is racing from one thought to the next. What are we going to have for dinner? Is it time to put in another load of laundry? What subjects do we have to complete today? Do I have everything ready for these subjects? You get the idea...

My thoughts are interrupted by an endlessly chatting eight-year-old. "Mom, if you could have 4 wishes, what would they be?" Live-in maid, laundry service, private tutor, and a personal assistant come to mind ... Instead I casually reply "Boy Honey, I 'd have to think about that. " I go back to those never-ending thoughts of what I must get done.

"I know what I'd wish for." I push the thoughts away and listen to her list.

1. "A new baby." I am touched by the sweetness of a girl who not ten minutes ago was fighting with the sister she has over who got which cup. Still, Pope John Paul once said the best gift you can give a child is a sibling. Who am I to argue with the Pope?

2. "To never throw up again." I can understand that one. I wonder if she realizes that her first request most likely dooms me to several months of queasiness and throwing up daily?

3. "To go to heaven." See, there is some Religious Education occurring. She has a great CCD teacher (her dad). Even if it wasn't number one on her list, at least it made the cut.

4. "To have this for dinner each night." What better words can a mom hope to hear? Even the leftovers were good.

Later that evening, I wanted to hear dh's 4 wishes. So we asked him. The response, "Four more wishes of course." Give the man an inch, he'll take a mile.

A Belated Birthday Aunt M

Not that I am making excuses for not getting this out on time... Ok, I am making excuses.

I wanted to get a good picture of the girls with Aunt M while out for her b-day dinner. Unfortunately, Banana wasn't feeling well. It was also my first experience at a restaurant with all four girls. I need a little experience just getting everyone situated and fed before trying to add picture taking to the mix. So here is an old picture of Aunt M.... not that I am calling her old or anything.

Here's hoping your birthday was a good one!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Peeking into my living room

Last night all the kids were tucked in bed, some of them were actually sleeping. I came downstairs to my living room to relax. I sat down on the couch and then it hit me. I was surrounded by toys-- overrun by toys.

I turn to dh and say, "Remember when Banana was just learning to crawl and I insisted there be no toys in our living room? Just look at us now, eight years and four kids later." You can file this away with all the other stupid things I said before we had kids. I figured they had a basement playroom for their toys. If they wanted to play, they could go there.

I had this crazy notion we could still have adult space, that the kids wouldn't invade every aspect of our lives. I certainly didn't foresee the day when I would allow my space to be invaded so I could get 15 minutes of peace and relative quiet. Yet, here we are. My living room has been taken over. I have two little ones who won't play more than 15 feet away from where I am, and two older ones who need to be schooled. The only option is to allow them to have the toys close by so I can get a little school done. Now I am allowing them to invade my space not for my own peace, but rather to give me time to tend to the other children.

The thing is, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I didn't foresee that my kids would invade every space I had. I didn't know how trying that would be sometimes. I also didn't know how deeply I would grow to love those invasions.

P.S. I can't believe I am actually posting a picture of my house looking like this... I don't know why it is so hard, it looks like this any day we are trying to get some serious schooling done. If I really wanted to embarrass myself I would show you my kitchen :) I promise come 4:30, it will be picked up, but all those toys will still be tucked away in my living room.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

We interrupt this program...

I have to admit that we did not turn on the television to watch any of the Inauguration this week. I knew it was an historical day, and perhaps an opportunity to teach my girls about government. I also knew it would do damage to the peace in my home. I am pretty sure that if I tried to watch, more than one uncharitable comment would have been said. So the decision was made to keep with our regular school day.

We did, however, watch the Vigil for Life last night on EWTN. Banana had heard an advertisement for it on Catholic Radio yesterday and had asked to turn it on. What a blessing! We only watched the procession and the penitential rite, but it was amazingly encouraging. The procession was long-- incredibly long. I wish I had thought to have the girls try to count the number of priests in attendance, there were many. There was also a very long line of bishops and at least 4 cardinals. There were also a staggering number of consecrated men and women in attendance. The seats not filled by them seemed to filled with young people.

At one point in the procession, Bear asked "Will it ever end?" To which dh quickly replied, "Please God, I hope not." On this day, that large group gathered at the Basilica gives me hope. It encourages me to work harder to promote the sanctity of life. That is the lesson I would much prefer to teach my children.

So today I will interrupt our normal schooling. While I can't take them all to DC, we will attend Mass at our Cathedral.
(I digress here: We went to this Mass when Bophie was a baby and sat in the second row. We got moved to the middle of the pew as Mass started. I knew I was in trouble. Bophie began fussing and I couldn't get her out without making more of a scene. I did all I could. I later learned it wasn't enough. I was telling a friend how wonderful the bishop's homily was. She said, "You know, I thought you were there. I was pretty sure that was Bophie I heard when I was listening to the radio broadcast." Today we will not sit in the front in case Juliana fusses.)
Weather and temperaments permitting we may go to the rally at our statehouse. We will at some point turn on the television (typically unheard of during a school day) to watch EWTN (cause you know no one else will be covering this) and support the marchers with our prayers. We will use this time to talk about ways we can further the pro-life movement. We will offer small penances. We will pray some more.

Happy Birthday Dad!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kids Say...

My older girls have really enjoyed showing off their new sister. This started as soon as we received Juliana's referral pictures. They each wanted their own set of pictures to take to their CCD classes so they could tell the other children about their newest sister. Now that CCD has started back, the girls rush down after their classes and beg to take Juliana to show their friends. This past Sunday, Juliana was completely surrounded by little girls all wanting a turn to hold her. She was remarkably compliant with being passed around. She is not so willing to go to adults. It was another of those moments where I was kicking myself for not having my camera. It was just too cute to see all these 5-10 year old girls fawning over this little girl who probably got more attention in that 20 minutes than she had ever had.

I also enjoy the cute stories many parents have shared with us. This adoption journey we were joined by many families' prayers and support. The kids of these families seem to have a special place in their hearts for little Juliana. I will share a few of my favorites.

One 8-year-old little girl was wondering if Juliana would be able to speak English. She thought because Juliana is Chinese, she would speak Chinese.

Another little girl (I think she is about 10) thought I must not know my math. She couldn't figure out how I could be waiting more than 3 years for a baby who was only 10 months old.

My own children are not exempt. I remember trying to explain the ins and outs of the adoption with Bear. She was trying to grasp the fact that Juliana would not grow in my belly, but another woman's. I thought she had it until she pipes up, "Yeah, but Dr. P (my OB) will be there to help her too, so she'll be just fine."

A little boy who followed our blog while we travelled has offered to come up with a list of "B" nicknames for Juliana so she didn't have to just be "baby". I might take him up on this as I am not really happy with that title either, and there is always the hope that I just might someday have another "baby", what would I do then?

Another boy following the blog while in China, asked dh on many occasions what scorpions tasted like. We even were on Skype with that family while in China. When dh said he didn't try one, little T was insistent dh do so and let him know how they were. While dh is pretty brave when it comes to food, he wasn't that brave.

It really has meant so much to us to have so many prayers and such support as we welcomed Juliana into our family. I especially treasure these little stories from the kids.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Juliana's Baptism Revisted

I wanted to post some more pictures of Juliana's baptism. We were fortunate to have my little sister there taking all kinds of great pictures and I thought I would share.



Kim also commented about Juliana's baptismal gown and I couldn't resist posting the response as I love our baptismal gown. Yes Juliana wore the same gown as the other girls. Even though she is almost a year old, she only weighs 13 lbs. Bear was 9 lbs when she was born! I have mentioned in a few posts Bophie's talented seamstress godmother (she has made beautiful quilts for my girls). We became dear friends when I was pregnant with Banana. I had this brilliant idea to have a baptismal gown made from the train of my wedding gown. My wedding gown was made of brushed silk and I loved the fabric. It was a brilliant idea that Stella made a reality. She did an absolutely amazing job. It is a beautiful gown that all my girls have worn to their baptisms. How could I ever thank her enough for such a priceless gift?

I also thought I would take this opportunity to offer a piece of advice to those of you who know any converts. There is nothing that brings out the insecurities in this convert more than the etiquette of how to celebrate a sacrament. This Easter will mark my tenth year in the Church, but I still am so clueless about how sacraments are celebrated. So if you know someone in this situation, fill them in on the secrets you cradle Catholics take for granted. Walk them through every little step. What you think is basic, common knowledge is not. Who should be invited--big party or family gathering? What is the protocol for gifts? Proper attire? I spend most of the time feeling as though there is some secret code I just don't know. I worry I am offending someone because of my lacking knowledge. This baptism I learned it was OK to invite good friends. I was under the impression baptisms were small, family gatherings. I learn a little each time, so maybe I'll eventually get it. Until then, be patient-- I am a conversion still in progress.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One Month

I was reminded by another mom who travelled with us that today marks one month since we adopted Juliana. In some ways it seems like yesterday, in other ways it seems as though she has always been part of our family. I took pictures of the other girls on their monthly birthdays for the first year, so it seems fitting to do the same for Juliana.

I am amazed how well she fits our family. I am also so thankful for how well she has adjusted. Tonight as we were going through our evening routine, she put her head on my shoulder. She has also taken to patting my head and wants to feel my hand on her head or face when she is tired. It is so wonderful to have her bonding so well. She becomes a little more cuddly and affectionate each day and I am really enjoying it. She has been clingy since our first days, but it took being at home for her to really feel at ease with us. She has also really taken to her sisters. Having many wonderful sisters myself, I am thankful they are already so close.

My New Book

I I know I am not extrmely organized. I feel that there is a healthy balance to be met. The quest for organization can be paralyzing and lead to just as many problems as being unorganized. I have the tendency to allow "organization" to interfere with tackling a project, but I am working on it. This week we started school even though I know I desperately need to sit down and lesson plan and organize our time. If I waited until I was completely organized and ready-- well, we might never get started.

I tipped the balance though. My recent lack of organization left me in quite a lurch. I scheduled the social worker the same night Dh had a meeting at church. This may seem small to most of you, but it left me running the next night for a datebook so I am certain not to repeat the mistake.

I keep trying to find a way to tell you all about Bob the social worker (not his real name), but I just don't know how to do him justice. He is a really nice, retired man who has made this adoption process interesting. Knowing there are kids out there reading, I just can't go into the details of the really "interesting" conversations we have had. Suffice it to say, this was one dinner I did not want to fly solo. On top of that, I was tired from a rough night with Juliana, and Bophie had spent the day down and out with a stomach bug (I am crossing fingers as so far no one else has caught it). I needed dh as a buffer and he had to go to a meeting-- a meeting to discuss work I had volunteered him to do.

We made it through the evening, but this little book will hopefully insure that I have no more incidents like it. It will be yet another attempt at organizing my life... I have already penciled in our 6 month post-adoption visit so dh will not miss it!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Quick Queen of Quincy and her quacking quackeroo

This is what immediately came to mind when Laura assigned me the letter Q (because someone has to do it!). So the list of my 10 favorite Q's will start there.

10-6 - Quick Queen of Quincy and her quacking quackeroo-- I might be stretching it a bit to count this as 5. You'll have to cut me some slack, it's the letter Q... I'm no Terra, who managed to come up with TEN for X!

This is a line from Dr. Seuss's ABC. One of our favorite books around here. It was probably eight years ago that I started reading this to Banana. It was her favorite book and it only took a week or so for me to have it memorized. We read it a-l-l the time. Oh the free time I had when there was only one child. She learned her letters from this book. I was so new to this parenting thing I didn't even recognize the wheels in her mind turning. After a month or so of multiple daily readings we were in the car running errands when I hear my little one emphatically saying "bee-- bee" over and over. I panic thinking there is a stinging insect in the car. Then I hear "pee too, pee too". I'm sure you know where my mind went then. Turns out she had learned from Dr. Seuss how to recognize her letters and was pointing out the large BP Gas Station sign. That brought not only a sigh of relief, but tears of pride and joy to a young first time mom watching her firstborn tackle a whole new world.

That story is worth the 5 points I just gave it, right?

5. Quilts- Who doesn't like to snuggle under a warm quilt? I am also fortunate to have a very talented friend who has made baby quilts for all my girls. My favorite is the one for her Goddaughter Bophie.

4. Questions- I have a love/hate relationship with these. I love questions from one of my girls who is thinking through some situation--when they ask an insightful question that shows how brilliant they really are. I also love questions that leave me scratching my head wanting to track down an answer. I hate questions the questioner already knows the answer. I also hate to be asked questions when my answer is really not needed, when the questioner is just going to do what they wanted from the beginning. When it isn't really a question, but rather a search for confirmation.

3. Quick Meals- not eat on the go meals, the quick, simple to prepare meals. I am happy to say that our young family still sits around the dinner table each night. We have family meals. My one problem is that I am not a meal planner. Tell me what to cook and I can probably do it (I am by no means a chef, but a capable cook). I just never seem organized enough to know what's for dinner tomorrow. So I love quick, easy to prepare meals that allow me to throw a dinner together without too much fuss. If you have any favorites, feel free to send them my way!

2. Quarters (as in football games)- college football to be exact. You got a glimpse of it in this post. I am a true college football fan (as in fanatic). I root for the Buckeyes, but I love all things college football. On any given Saturday in October, I could turn on the TV and find a game I'd enjoy watching. I stay up till midnight to watch bowl games even if my team isn't playing. I can carry on a better football conversation than my husband-- and I enjoy it!

1. Quiet Moments- As a mom to four girls I often struggle to get a break in the chatter. I love it, but I also treasure that oh-so-brief moment at the end of the day when they are all sleeping (or at least tucked in bed), and I can breathe deeply and say a prayer for tomorrow.

The deal is that now that you have read all my favorite Q's, leave a comment adding your favorite Q and I'll assign you a letter.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A New High

This weekend, on the eve of the Baptism of Our Lord, we celebrated the baptism of Juliana Therese. I thought that Christmas Mass would be the high point of our entire adoption journey-- this weekend I found out I was mistaken. Don't get me wrong, being together for the first time at Mass as a family with Juliana was incredible and certainly a Christmas Mass we will always remember. However, yesterday Juliana's adoption was finally complete as she was welcomed into our eternal family through Baptism.

I have on many occasions held this little child and felt so much love for her. I am grateful for the opportunity to feed her, to clothe her, to hold her and to love her. I know that these are good, but they pale in comparison to the gift she was given at her baptism. Bringing her into the Church is the absolute pinnacle of this adoption.

It was a beautiful ceremony. The priest who celebrated is a good friend and an incredible priest. He used portions of the old rite, and sang many parts. It was a truly remarkable ceremony. Juliana being older than a newborn (all my other girls were less than a month old), was squirmy and difficult to contain at times. She especially didn't like the water, but who can blame the child it was a wintry January day and she was in a short sleeved gown.

I just can't tell you how blessed I felt to hold this little one and welcome her into God's family.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Forgive me?

I know, I know... It has been almost a week since my last post. Call it post-Christmas/post-China blues. It just seems that after such an eventful December, getting back into the grind is rather boring. Maybe it is just an extended case of blogger-block, but every time I sit down to post (there haven't been too many opportunities for this without a little one with a bottle making it even more difficult to type), I write two or three sentences and think why am I boring you all with this? Forgive me, right now it is all the excitement I have (or really want). If you so desire to hear all the boring, gory details of life here with the girls--read on.

We still aren't back to school. I wanted one week to get the decorations down and the house back in order. We also have company coming this weekend so I wanted to do some more thorough cleaning. I feel completely overwhelmed just keeping up now, how will I ever add school to the mix? On the other hand, I can really tell my older girls have been on vacation too long. They need the structure of schoolwork, and the excitement of learning something new. I am hoping that as difficult as next week is for me, perhaps the girls will rise to the occasion and settle back into a routine. I am sure this will be the case for Banana and Bear, Bophie is the X factor, and Juliana the Y factor.

Thankfully we have been spared from the stomach thing going around. I did have a killer headache this week (I haven't had one this bad since college). The mid west weather does this to me. The up and down temperatures and barometer pressure wreak havoc on my sinuses. While I am glad to be closer to family (we finally feel like we are "home"), in the midst of these headaches I could be convinced to move back to California. We also had a week of more lab work for Juliana. It turned out the samples (you really don't want details here) we turned in for Juliana's parasite testing had the wrong preservatives. We had the joy of recollecting them. They also had to take 5 vials of blood, and she had to get two shots. Juliana was a fighter, and a trooper, and we are both glad this phase is over. We hope to hear the results soon.

The girls are all still enamored with their newest sister. I have seen no fits of jealousy, no cries for attention. They are all willing helpers who tend to every whimper of their sister. They actually fight over who is going to help (this is not so helpful), they rush to hold her because they have the idea that if holding the baby they won't be asked to help in some other way (again not so helpful). Despite this, it is beautiful and heartwarming to see this little child getting so much attention. It is a reminder of how blessed we are.

Bored enough? I could go on, but I better take advantage of nap time. I could really use a shower. I forgot how difficult that was with a new baby!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bad Eating Habits

Juliana's check-ups have gone pretty well so far. We won't know the results of the blood tests and such for a week or so, but right now she looks pretty healthy-- except she is considerably underweight. She measured about 25% on the height scale, but she was off the charts low in weight.

The doctor said she needs to start eating some solid foods and not just formula. The trouble is that she wants nothing to do with any food from a spoon. While in China we tried all of the foods we had been told she would get in the orphanage; congee, egg custard, etc. She wouldn't eat any of them. When you put them in her mouth, she would hold her tongue out until she gagged. We decided it was best not to upset her while travelling and changing her whole known world and stuck to the bottle. We were thankful she took so quickly to our American formula and decided she was getting good nutrition there.

Now that we are home and on doctor's orders to get this little one eating, I bought out the baby food aisle of the grocery. The girl has to like something, right? So far, wrong. We started with all the step 1 veggies (I know not to get them hooked on the sweets first). Every attempt has met with a vigorous head shaking no, then when I manage to get a little food in that mouth she sticks out her tongue and gags. I get the same response when trying to feed her a mixture of rice cereal and formula (the exact same thing we are giving her in her bottle in different proportions).

Today I decided to try banana yogurt dessert. What kid doesn't like banana yogurt dessert? Apparently this one. I tried to get a picture of her tongue sticking out, but I am too slow.

After struggling for what seemed like an eternity, I gave up. It then occurred to me my little 2 year old Bophie was nowhere to be found. I remembered she was going to help me feed little Juliana, where could she be?
Apparently that theory about what kid doesn't like banana yogurt dessert wasn't too far off the mark.