Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tonito's 100 Good Wishes Quilt

One tradition in the Chinese adoption community is to make a "Bai Jia Bei" (100 Good Wishes) Quilt for the child, by collecting quilt squares from loved ones along with a good wish or prayer. You can google it to find out more information and lots of exquisite and colorful examples. My mom and sisters collected squares from all of our friends and family, and made a beautiful scrapbook of all of the notecards filled with happy wishes, quotes and prayers, and encouraging hopes and dreams for Tonito. Then my mom and I pieced together the quilt and she sewed it together. I think it is the most perfect quilt: the four corners are red, white, green, and black and they all come together in blues in the middle. I love the fabrics that people chose- from sports to animals, handmade, embroidered, Chinese-inspired, patriotic, fabrics from Ghana to Mexico that all reflect our family and Tonito. The reverse side is denimn, and it is bordered in white to make a twin-size quilt that Tonito loves. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed squares!!! He uses his blanket every day and is always pointing out new squares he hasn't noticed before (he just found the pirate fabric, we picked out from Tonio's grandpa who has told us that he is a descendent of pirates from the Yucatan Peninsula:).
I thought this would be a good post for New Years Eve because it represents: love and family, our journey to Tonito, memories, our three cultures: China, Mexico, and US, a lot of hard work, and all of this coming together beautifully.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pump-It-Up and Burn off some Energy!

27th: Fiesta! We celebrated with my dad's side of the family on Saturday after Christmas. I have a huge family with a million cousins around my age, and there is always something exciting going on- this time my cousin Julie is getting married!!!! We are so excited for her and Alan!!!

My gorgeous 2 cousins and my sister:

We are descendants of Slovenian royalty, and our castle is still waiting for us in Slovenia. Here, the 5 princes and 1 princess model their new duds. In order to protect the royalty's identity I chose a picture without their faces;). One day I will post some other pictures of other "gifts" they have received from various foreign emissaries. The gifts especially show up at weddings- at our wedding the Mexican President sent sombreros, at Annie's wedding, the German chancellor sent steins (Peter's dad is from Germany), at Tim and Colleen's wedding the Irish president sent carved Irish walking sticks, etc, etc. I am so excited that Alan is from England;), and I can't wait to see what gifts the princes get from the Queen!!!! My family is a riot.

"Little" Sam and Maya (note: contrary to cheek size, Maya is several months older:).

The 5 buddies in their Christmas outifts:

28th: Awesome brunch at Tim and Colleen's house (her Irish soda bread is to die for), and the rest of the day was shopping and packing!

29th: Some call it Mexican Train Dominoes, others call it Cubano, but either way, we love to play it, enjoy company, eat (I made some pork tinga:). The great thing about dominoes is that you can have people speaking Spanish and English, all playing the same game and pretty much understanding one another! This is why both my parents and Tonio's parents (and my bro came) all were able to play together (unlike the obvious pictionary or any other game that requires communication). We have found it is even easier to understand one another when tequila or Bailey's (or slivovic) enters the party.

30th: We went to Pump-It-Up in the morning, along with many other kids who were off school! If you've never heard of this, it is a warehouse-type space filled with moonwalks, or blow-up playground equipment like slides, climbing walls, obstacle courses, etc. The kids can't really get hurt (except from the random bullies- where are their parents??) and the climbing and running and jumping just wear them out in a fun sort-of exercise way. Maya just toddled along, except when I carried her up the slide with me. She is so happy just to be carried in my arms, on my hip ALL DAY. Maya is my cuddly, huggy, mama's girl who really just wants to be rocked and hugged and apapachada (cuddled) all day long in my arms. Fortunately I have a couple of different baby carriers so sometimes I can carry her and cook dinner;).

So after Pump-It-Up we went to see The Tale of Despereaux, which I thought would be appropriate for little kids seeing as it was rated G. It was kind-of a weird story about soup being banished because a queen died when a mouse fell in her soup. There were parts of the movie that were really, really scary for Vivi (spoiler alert: the dragged in the princess, who was tied down, into a coliseum with hundreds of cheering rats, who at the gong, all pounced on her until the "good rat" released a very scary cat who raced to eat the "bad rats." Vivi was crying because 1) she loves princesses and 2) she loves all animals. why did they have to make it so scary???) Tonito was a little scared too, but maybe because Vivi was crying and Tonio was trying to pass her over the handrail to me (since I played on the floor with Maya for most of the movie).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bright Glitzy Lights at Winterfest!!!

Because Tonio was off work for 2 weeks for Christmas, and his parents were in from Mexico, we took advantage of every single day to do different holiday-ish activities and outings. This Winterfest was so flashy- bright lights and snowflakes, dozens of Christmas trees (the pink was Vivi's favorite), a ferris wheel, big kid rides and little kid rides, bouncy winter-themed moon walks, slides, a little train, and you could ride the merry-go-round as many times as you wanted to by showing your little entrance bracelet. Do I even need to say that the kids loved it? What are they going to do in January when it is just me and them and school in our normal routine??? I hope I'm not too boring:). I think Tonito was a little scared of heights on this horse! But he is the one that loves the scary rides, so I'm not sure if it was not being strapped in or if the it was the seasickness factor???
Maya konked out in Grandma's arms despite the brilliant lights, blaring carols, screeching kids, etc, etc...

Just 5 months ago, this summer, Vivi refused to go on a mini ferris wheel because she was terrified..
The favorite ride:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad!! (2)

After our brunch, we headed over to my parent's house. Our family is getting so big- I love it!:) We did miss Tonio's brother and sister and their significant others, I would love one day to have the whole family up from Mexico for Christmas! But this year we were lucky to have Tonio's parents in for the first time to celebrate Christmas with us- and we had a blast!

From my parents, Tonito got a great pirate ship with all of the fun accessories: a shark, whale, octopus, lots of pirates with swords and shields! Then Vivi got a beautiful wooden princess castle (to go with her princesses from Santa!) Can we tell they are in the "dramatic play" stage???:)

I can tell you, writing this blog weeks after the presents were opened, these toys are the favorites, that provide hours and hours and hours of quiet (and loud) play!
Maya-boo got a ride-on horsie:

and all 3 kids got dress-up clothes that Auntie Colleen and Uncle Timo HANDMADE!!!! We now can dress-up as a knight, dragon, and we have 2 cloaks. What an awesome gift that you definitely cannot find in stores:).
Here's me with my new bread machine:

We made a very non-traditional, but delicious dinner:
Filet mignon with creamy mushroom sauce, herbed new potatoes, asparagus:

and then we relaxed in front of the fire while the kids played, and played, and played.

Feliz Navidad!!!!! (1)

We are so blessed! On Christmas Eve, we put out special reindeer food in the snow (glitter and oatmeal), cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for Rudolph, and a letter that the kids helped to write that claimed "we were good all year." hmmmmm;). On Christmas morning, we woke up and got the cameras ready- this is the first year that the kids actually "get it-" and also the first year Tonito has ever celebrated Christmas! Don't worry- he caught on fast (and both he and Vivi went to sleep on Christmas night asking if it could be Christmas every day).

So in the morning we came down and saw the cookie crumb evidence. They were SO EXCITED- their imaginations play a huge part of their lives right now and they take everything in and then their minds run with it. You can see their eyes getting big and the little wheels in the brains turning!:) One of Vivi's favorite presents was a set of Disney princesses, and then in the next picture is the Melissa and Doug pretend food kit that kids "cut" (it velcroes together) that her preschool teacher told me she loves at school:

Tonito got a great Imaginext Dragon, and he loved his Lightning McQueen backpack, and remote control cars:

Most of the presents were shared from the beginning- Vivi wouldn't put Tonito's dragon down, and Tonito was playing with Maya's hammer/pound-a-peg toy...
Maya however LOVED loved loved her baby doll. She just learned how to say baby, and recently we went to a "Posadas" (it's like a living Nativity set) at my mom and dad's church. In the nursery with my mom, she played with a baby doll for 45 minutes without putting it down! So I knew she would love it-

She got a little carrier and a stroller as well. It was soooo cute. She is so nurturing!!! It's funny because Vivi is definitely my "animal" girl, and we own no dolls because she claims she doesn't like them. Maya, however, didn't put her baby down and feeds it from the bottle, pushes her in the stroller, pats her back, and rocks her!!! SO CUTE!
We ate a delicious brunch of potica, blueberry buckle, tons of fruit, sausage, juice, and then headed to my parents house. (see the next post!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve at the Museum of Science and Industry

The Science and Industry Museum does "Christmas Around the World and Festivals of Light": an exhibit of more than 50 Christmas trees, each decorated by different community groups, each representing a different country. My grandma used to belong to the group that did the Slovenia tree:).
They are all set up in the main hall and are each decorated in the custom of the particular country- it is so beautiful and SO colorful! I love it. I love Christmas.
We took Tonio's mom and dad because we want to show them some of the traditions we do during the Christmas season. After the Museum we raced back to make it to mass at my parent's church. Of course it was so crowded, and we managed to get seats up in the choir loft by the organ. The music director gave Vivi and Tonito each the huge bells to ring during certain times- they thought they were SO special! Plus everyone at church would keep looking up to the loft to see the violinist, drummer, etc, and it seemed like they were looking up at our little bell players:). Then the last tradition we always do on Christmas Eve is have a huge dinner of appetizers that we make. When we were little we would call it "goodies," so of course we are teaching the lingo to the kids. After dinner Santa knocked on the window, and we knew it was time to go home and get ready for bed!! The kids were awed and amazed and speechless and took it VERY seriously.

Just for the record, Santa looked EVERYWHERE for a white work glove and couldn't find one in many different stores! Then Mrs. Claus spent a long time sewing the red sleeve and fuzzy white cuff. And all of this while they had to get ready for Santa's big night!