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.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Zoo day!

I would be really surprised if one of my kids did not end up in some kind of animal career... or be an owner of a houseful of pets... or choose to live on an animal preserve in some exotic country. Vivi now has decided she is going to move to Madagascar and build a huge playground with climbing ropes and structures for all of the lemurs (because we read that their habitat of trees is being destroyed and she is sad they won't have anywhere to climb).

So since we can't afford a trip to Madagascar, the zoo is one of our favorite places.

They just can't get enough of the animals and run from site to site squealing. It's almost like they're filming us for a commercial, except instead of secret cameras watching us, it is other families looking into the cages to see what the excitement is about. And then they are surprised that the screeching is just us watching lounging animals. I hope the kids don't grow out of this stage soon!! It is so fun:).
After the zoo, Papi graciously offered to "watch" Maya nap in the car while we headed to a downtown park, where the kids played on the playground and enjoyed the season's first sno-cones. They begged to run in the spray park/fountain, but I wouldn't let them (so mean). It was a great Sunday!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Random, raw onions

This is a totally random post about Miss Maya and how she will try anything. My parents came in (YAY!!) for a visit, driving all the way from Chicago (over 2 days)!! We are so excited that they are here! For the first night's feast we made mole enchiladas.

Here is Maya, eating the raw onions (marinated in lime juice) off the very spicy mole. She was eating them like they were candy!? She is such a funny little girl!!! First raw cactus, then loads of olives stuffed with anchovies, fried crickets in Mexico and now raw onions with a hint of mole. I need to record this indefinitely in internet never-neverland so when she is older and only wants pizza, I have proof of her young global palate.

Chinese New Year (part 3)

Chinese New Year celebration with the local FCC group! I love how the Lunar New Year can go on and on:). We started the month with the dumpling making class and the Chinese Consulate Reception , the had dinner at a Chinese Restaurant with many other families who have adopted from China, then I did a celebration at the kids' preschool, and tonight was the culmination of the "holiday season" with the huge CNY celebration. Tonito's Chinese outfit is SO short on him, it looked more like capris, so we decided his kung-fu outfit would be a great substitute (with the clause in fine print that there would be no actual kung-fu practiced on anyone:).

The big kids got unicorns and dragons painted on, played lots of games, had their names calligraphied, and enjoyed dumplings, rice, and noodle dishes.

The lion dance was a big hit, and Tonito reminded me once again how I promised that he could play Chinese drums when his cast was off (I found an instructor for regular drums, but he won't start Tonito until kindergarten). He watched in envy as the kids banged on the drums for the lion's rhythm, and I reassured him that when he is a little bit older he will be playing for people:).

The kids had a lantern parade--

and they spread out meters and meters of bubble wrap so when the kids marched around, it sounded like the traditional fireworks! I made a mental note for next year, in case I do something in the kids' classes again- what a fun idea!

It was a great party, and so fun to see the kids all running around with each other.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Here's a cute picture of the kids enjoying game night with Papi. In other news:), we finally have our I-171 approved from USCIS, which in layman's terms means we are approved by US immigration to adopt from Ethiopia!! Our paperwork will be sent to our agency, they will certify a couple of more papers, and it will be sent off to Ethiopia to be translated and presented! Our agency uses the date on our I-171 as our official "waiting" date, so although we have been in the process for months gathering paperwork and finishing the homestudy, etc, February 25h, 2010 officially begins our journey! We are requesting a little boy under 3 and we assume it will be about a year until we travel. International Adoption is not as predictable as a normal gestation:), but at least we are "paper pregnant" and the legwork is behind us!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Character Parade

Little Boy Blue, Little Red Riding Hood, and one of the 3 Little Bears

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kangaroo care

Well, the weather changed again and for a couple of days we did need some fleeces. Here are the kids pretending to be kangaroos (holding a giraffe, unicorn, and lizard respectively in their pouches).
Tonito's class has been practicing counting to 100 (I'm not sure why Vivi's hasn't) and so we bring out the number chart at home as well and are working on the Spanish 1-100. They're doing really well, and even Maya has caught on. I need to post a video of her I took trying to point and count. She points to the numbers and counts 1-20, and then repeats 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 40, 41...etc enough times to get through the whole chart:).

Friday, February 19, 2010


What is cuter than little girls in tutus, dressed head to toe in pink??

Maya and Vivi both just started ballet and they LOVE it. I was a little worried about Maya, and wondered if she would be open to the class. Yeah right- not only did she run into the class and try everything the teacher asked- she smiled and flirted in the mirror the whole time, catching my eye and waving every chance she could get!

Something I love about their dance studio is how the teacher uses props during almost every exercise, and gets the girls to dance by having them dress up and feel like the little princesses they are.

Springtime Babes

The weather has been surprisingly warm (well, for a Chicagoan) and we really have played outside all winter long. I'm not really sure what marks the passing of winter, but since we don't really need jackets anymore, I guess it is now spring? What we don't get in snow however, we do get in rain, so picnics in the park are extremely muddy affairs that require plastic bags to sit on in the carride home. As long as they are getting muddy, one day I should just let them play in the mud pools to their hearts content... if only I had access to hose them down afterwards.
In other news, all 3 kids went to the dentist for the first time here (and Maya's first time ever!). Pediatric dentists really go all out with movies on and video games and toys all over- as we were leaving the kids asked if we could come back and play tomorrow! I found out that Vivi is getting molars, and that Tonito has a really loose tooth. The dentist asked us "do you have any loose teeth?" And as I was saying no, Tonito said "Yes I do mommy!" It's funny how he didn't think that was as significant as I did!? Everyone did great, and for a half an hour afterwards Maya was still licking her teeth and saying "chocolate, Mommy!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chinese New Year (part 2)

Last year, Tonito's first Lunar New Year home, another adoptive mom did some fabulous activities with the kid's preschool class: eating popcorn with chopstick helpers, read some great books, and decorated dragons. At our new school, there are not adoptive families that I know of, and I wasn't sure if anyone was planning anything for Lunar New Year. I did a litle more research, and came up with a one day lesson plan for the 4 year olds. First, I made a rice dough that is very similar to play dough (except the dough/art making has been around for thousands of years in China and has some rice flour in it). I got the recipe from the Asian coordinator at an Art Museum. Tonio and I were up until 2 am trying to figure out how to make the dough, and made about 7 batches before we figured it out (we ended up NOT boiling it was they said). We were so slap-happy by batch #5, and Tonio was asking me "Remind me why we are doing this?" Me: "So our children will appreciate Chinese arts and culture and have pride in the traditions..."
Tonio: "So aren't the kids in Tonito's class like 3 and 4 years old?"
Me: "Yes."
Tonio: "And they're going to make a tiger out of the black and orange dough?"
Me: "Yeah- it's the Year of the Tiger!"
Tonio: "Aren't they still in pull-ups?"
Yes, when I tried myself to make a tiger out of the dough I failed miserable and ended up with an orange ball with black stripes. I realize it was out of their age range. I realize I overestimate how easy something is going to be, but when I try to do the task myself I fail to see how a 3 year old would handle it. I know, I know. But it always sounds like such a great idea!! And I always have such high hopes.
After not getting any sleep, the dough was almost worth it (here are Tonito and Vivi;s attempts:)

Next we painted quince blossoms (brown stick, pink flower puffs). This was much more a 3-4 year old activity!

Next we read some books about traditions at CNY, and finally we had our lunch of panda bear cookies from China, eaten with chopsticks (with the chopstick helpers!) Tonito and Vivi were both really proud in the China clothes- I'm not sure how long that will last so I am taking full advantage of it! I wonder when kids start to get embarrassed by things like that? Hopefully not for a while! The kids were all interested in the acitivites and I was amazed how adept they were at the chopsticks (with the helpers of course!)..