I've been waiting...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Year Photo Session

I know I know... Chinese New Year is long over now but I didn't pick up these photos until March and don't want to miss sharing them.  They turned out so nicely. 
Almost once a month, Grace and I head out to Sears to get photos taken.  I'm a sucker I know!!!!  I fell for "a good deal" over two years ago.  If I bought the CD I got a free membership.  Free photo shoot and one free photo every month.  You can check out the post from our first photo experience by clicking here
Well, we've always taken full advantage of our membership and go almost every month.  I pick themes and bring props and we go all out.  I have a great time preparing for our photos, she acts like a monkey and tries to use one of the light stands as a microphone and climbs over everything in sight.  I get a physical work-out trying to get her to sit still and stay in front of the back drop, she gets to eat special snacks and play with my phone while I choose the photos off the computer in the waiting area, it's a win-win as I see it!!!!LOL  We've gotten some great shots and hopefully one day I will get around to scanning them all and post them here!
Here are our latest, too cute to not share!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Girls Day Out at the Mall

So Grace and I are really not "mall type" people.  Well, maybe I was at some point in my past, but since having Grace I could count on my fingers how many times I've been able to get to a big mall.  Grace is just too busy touching everything within her reach, will not tolerate browsing through stores and well, if you've ever been at the check-out behind us, you'll know just how that goes.  So, for the past two and half years, we just didn't go shopping, period.  Not even Walmart, the grocery store, anywhere.  I miss it for sure. 
Fast forward to Saturday, March 14.  Grace had a quick nap after lunch and by 2:30 she was up and eager to get going.  She had already had a good play outside in the morning, Grandpa and Grandma weren't home, too late in the day for a big outing, and we had been home all day.  Maybe we would go to the mall to pick up our latest photos from Sears, I think.  Do a little shopping I think.  Maybe I'll even find a new spring outfit, I think.   
So, we get going quickly since it's now 3:30 and the mall is 40 minutes away.  About half way there I realize I haven't brought a stroller, I only have a couple of snacks and no toys for Grace.  She's getting too big for a stroller so I had never really thought about it.  How was this going to work???  There is no way we were going to survive a trip to the mall this unprepared!! 
Should I go back home?  Rent one of those big buggies I see kids in at the mall?  I kept driving, thinking I would just run into Sears, get the pictures and head home. 
Once in the mall, Grace did her usual, touched every fridge and stove in the appliance dept that is right inside the door we enter, ride the escalator up and back down.  But, once we got to the portrait studio, she stayed relatively within the cash area, strayed once into the photo room but came out when I asked her to.  Could it be that she was ready to go to a mall?  I asked her if she wanted to go out into the mall part, maybe go to the play area.  She did.  Ok, then mommy is going to look in some stores first and then we will go to the play area.
Well, that isn't quite how it worked out.  We did go into a store.  The book store to buy a Paw Patrol book, something I had been promising her for a long time.  We passed by a few places and I longingly looked in as Grace sped ahead of me.  Sigh. 
We got to the play area and Grace took one look at the equipment and she was so excited she could hardly get her shoes off!!!  We've been to the play area before a few times but I guess she didn't remember it, it's been quite a while.  In the past, every time we've been there, Grace has needed me to be with her, following her around from one station to the next.  Today, she walked in there like she owned the place!!  That girl has gained so much confidence in the last year it still amazes me!!!  she played and played and played, checking in with me every few minutes by running over to explain what she was doing, then running off to do it some more.  I was finally able to get her to consider leaving when she came to tell me that she was hungry and I suggested we go to eat at the restaurant (food court!).
So we ended our outing to the mall sharing fries and a salad at the food court.  Grace stayed on her seat eating her fries while I ordered my meal, and minus one incident where she thought she could help herself to the next table's box of timbits, she did amazing, demonstrating more self regulation and calmness than she ever has in such a big space. 
So I didn't come home with a new outfit.  Baby steps I tell myself, baby steps.  One day I hope to get to the point of being able to actually shop for pleasure again.  Instead I came home with something that feels even better, the knowledge that my girl has once again shown me that she is going to be just fine out in the world.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Fun in the Snow with Uncle Bill

Last weekend Grace and I headed out to my brother's place for a little toboganning.  We had been skating at Grandma and Grandpa's but I was anxious to take advantage of the nicer weather so we stayed out for a little longer.  Since I didn't have my snow pants on, Uncle Bill was the great host, hauling Grace up and down the hill.  Secretly I think he a little fun himself!!!LOL

Taking a break
Afterwards Uncle Bill made us hot chocolate.  While we were waiting for it to cool, Grace stood casually beside her 17 year old cousin who she adores.  Ever so casually Grace says " So, what am I going to do right now?  I don't have any nail polish on...." and with her big brown hopeful eyes glances up at F.  Of course Grace came home with pink nails!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Happy Lunar New Year

Grace and I were fortunate enough to enjoy five New Year celebrations this year with family and friends. 
The first one we spent with our neighbours.  Grace loves visiting Dan and Erna, an elderly couple who live next door to us.  Why, I don't really understand, there's really nothing to do there except tear around the kitchen with Erna's walker and hide behind the dining room drapes!!!LOL  Ok, so maybe I understand why she has such a good time!  I picked up Chinese take-out and we headed over there with decorations and red envelopes.
The next celebration was hosted by friends Julia and Danny and their girls.  Grace and I are so lucky to have friends that include us in their cultural celebrations, it will be so important as she develops her own identity as she grows up.  Julia always makes a great effort for the kids with crafts and lion and dragon parades.  Grace is still not very fond of the parade (we had to hide out in the basement while it was going on!) but one day maybe.  I forgot my camera, the weather was terrible and we were late arriving and hours getting home but a great time none the less!
The following weekend, Grace and I hosted a Chinese inspired dinner for our own family.  Here she is setting the table.  Some people got three forks, some got none!  It's ok, we all share in our family!
Putting up the decorations.  We had to put the lion decoration in a non-obvious space.  She was not having that thing anywhere near her!!!  She did warm up to it eventually and actually enjoyed looking at it when we took it down a couple days later.

Posing as goats maybe???  Not sure what is going on here!
Everyone enjoying their meal

Grace practically lives to hand out her red envelopes!! 

So then the fun started.  It was the coldest night of the year so far.  I had bought some Wish Lanterns from the party store and thought it would be nice to set them off in the dark. We did it a couple of years ago with great success.  Just saying...
It took a lot of convincing to get people to bundle up and go outside in those frigid temperatures.  In fact, Grace never did!  She stayed inside with Grandma and watched from the window. 
Here's my dad, my brother, my nephew and brother in law, all guys who have good knowledge of fire, blow torches, safety and are just generally smart men.  What could possibly go wrong you may wonder???

Here's what could possibly go wrong!
As Jerry Lee Lewis would say, "Great Balls of Fire!!!"

Yes, that would be the lantern on fire in the tree.  Not so good!

On the actual day of New Year I made dumplings and noodles for Grace to share with her friends at daycare.  She cared more about handing out chocolate in the red envelopes of course!!!  We also had a little mini celebration with Chinese take out with Grandma and Grandpa. 

The following weekend we attended another New Year celebration with some other families who also have children adopted from China.  It was great to see Grace interacting so confidently with the other girls.  She's so social these days!

The girls doing crafts.  Grace made a lantern with a little help from Mommy

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Turning The Corner

Turning a corner.  It has finally happened. All of a sudden it has happened. Two and half years later, it has finally clicked.  My anxiety filled shy girl who would cling desperately to my leg, dig her nails into my arms and cry if I was out of arm's reach in any situation outside our own house or Grandma and Grandpa's, has turned a corner.  Grace has become a confident, social and independent little girl and I couldn't be more proud of her accomplishment!

It took patience on my part, patience that I didn't always have I'm sad to say.  It's frustrating when you can't go the bathroom without screaming, unload the dishwasher without someone clinging to your leg or talk to the bank teller without being mauled and scratched. 
For two and a half years I waited for Grace to realize that I wasn't going anywhere, that I would always be there if she needed me, that I loved her the most and even if I was talking to someone at a party or in a restaurant or at the grocery store, I loved her the most and that didn't change even when I wasn't paying all my attention to her.  For two and a half years, I've built that trust so that she now knows when she goes down to the basement to play with the other kids, I will always be upstairs if she needs me.  I won't disappear. 

Grace and I went to another Lunar New Year party tonight and she was amazing!!  She walked in and went straight to the toys to play, said hello and Happy New Year to people when I suggested it  and Mommy was able to have a real conversation with friends.
Over the past month or two, I've noticed a huge leap in Grace's social development.  It's like it's all coming together for her.  Dance class on her own, visiting my classroom, talking to people out in public and shaking hands at church (during the Sign of Peace she walks up and down the aisle shaking everyone's hand she can reach before I haul her back to our pew!), she does all of these things without even skipping a beat.
I admit there were moments over the past couple of years where I felt like I would never have a life ever again, that Grace would always need me 24/7.  It is exhausting to always be her everything all the time.  And now here I am, watching her as she ventures out into the world, all friendly and social and confident and taking on everything in her path.  I couldn't be more proud of her!!!
My girl!  Couldn't love her more if I tried!!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

She Did It!!

Success!!!!  Grace went to her first un-parented dance class last night.  For those of you who know us personally you understand what a big success this really is.  
Grace was very familiar with the teacher as we had taken parent and child classes with her already.  We talked about it for a few days (well, weeks actually!!!) beforehand, I told Grace she could show me where she wanted me to sit while I was waiting and I promised to stay on that chair until she came back.  I said she could come check in with me any time she needed to, but she never even looked back!  She walked in, waited for the teacher to start and joined right into the activities.  I'm so proud of my girl!

Next step?  School!!!!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Family Day Fun

Family Day weekend.  Having fun with family, eating, skating and swimming and just hanging out.   That was us!

The mornings started out a little cold....

Saturday morning was beautiful, the sun was shining and considering the temperatures we've had lately, it was relatively mild.  So Grace and I took the toboggan to music class!  There was 4-5 cm of fresh snow which made the tobogganing part even more fun for Grace and for me, it was great to get some fresh air and vitamin D for a change!

We then headed out to Grandma and Grandpa's to share our Valentines.

Doing a little work in the sunshine

Doing a puzzle together is so much more fun than doing one all on your own!

Sunday was spent skating and enjoying a Chinese New Year dinner.  Monday we spent swimming.  I'm still curious as to why we did things that way.  Sunday, coldest day of the year so far, we spent outside.  Monday, sunny, mild, we spent indoors swimming.  Just one of the things that makes you say hmm.LOL!!

Perfect way to warm up inside, hot chocolate in the sunshine.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Happy New Year 2015!

Just came across these photos from New Years Eve, 2014.  Meet Party Girl Grace!  We started the night at a fancy hotel/ski resort where we had a great dinner with a large group of friends, danced the night away (well till 9:00 at least!), then headed out to my parents' house for traditional Dutch Olibollen (still don't know how to spell it!) and games.  Grace stayed up way too late but we all had a great time! 

Just hanging out at the bar

Sharing dessert with Brenda
Apparently this was ice tea she was drinking straight up like that through a straw!  No wonder she was up till 11:00!!!

Grace was working the room all night!!!

"May I have this dance young lady?" 

Grace's babysitter's husband, Steve, whom Grace adores, was a dancing machine all night.  Grace wanted to be part of the fun!

This was about 10:00, she's looking a little tired....

Everyone had to have a chance to wear the headband

Sharing resolutions maybe....?

Love Grandpa' s Ollibollen!