Sunday, April 29, 2007

FFFF Challenge #29: Gotcha Clothes

This week's FFFF challenge is a comparison of the girls in their Gotcha Day clothes the day we got them, and now today.

Emma has been home for 2 years, 8 months. She came to us a scared, timid, 18 pound-18 month old. Today, she is a 4 year old rambunctious spitfire.

Getting the clothes out was fun for Emma. She has no memory of "Gotcha Day", but it was a big deal to her since these were her "clothes from China when she was a baby." (That's what she calls them!) Recently, she's starting to talk about the fact that she's from China. Last week, a woman with her young baby came over to talk to us and Emma commented on how pretty the baby was. She then told the woman, "I was a baby in China, but then Mommy, Daddy & Sera came to get me." Then she asked if the woman's baby had come from China too. It was cute to see her start to piece it all together.

Amazingly, the outfit still fits her!! Just barely though!

She was so excited to put it on, and once she did, those memories of her at 18 months started to flood my mind! The last time she wore that outfit was the day we received her in Beijing, China. And the last person to put that outfit on her was the nanny who deeply cared for Emma, as we could tell by the way they both cried on Gotcha Day.

She's grown sooo much in the past 2 years!! Emma was fascinated by the squeaky shoes she had on Gotcha Day, and those also just barely feet. She kept running around the house squeaking away. (Esther kept stamping her shoes to see if they would squeak!)

Our dear Esther has probably changed the most in the 13 months she has been home. When we first met Esther, she was happy and very inquisitive. We could tell the orphanage had done a very good job of preparing her for us. One the bus ride to the hotel, she just stared out the window.. again, very inquisitive and didn't say a word. Once we got to the hotel room, I moved a bit too quickly and went to take her shoes off and that's when she lost it!! She cried for two hours and kept pointing at the door. It was so sad. I felt helpless since there was nothing I could do. We left the room and walked around the hotel and that calmed her down. Then once she saw her friend Delaney again, she was happy. As long as she and Delaney were together, she was happy. But when they weren't together.. she was either sad or mad. That's how it was the next few days, and the next few weeks. She finally started coming out of her shell once she felt secure. And now.. she's just lovely. She's very helpful, extremely smart and funny. She is however, easily offended and sensitive when it comes to her feelings being hurt. (Example: If Ian calls her a bad girl, or she gets in trouble.. she looses it) But she's come a long way and has a wonderful personality. She's really funny and makes us all laugh.

When I got the Gotcha Day outfit out for Esther, it was different because she remembered it. She immediately recognized the clothing and kept saying, "Hey those are my China clothes!" I pulled them out of the ziploc bag and they still smelled like the White Swan Hotel! The pants Esther had on were much too big on Gotcha Day, but they fit a little better now! She was also wearing beaded bracelets and hair scrunchies.. but I could only find one scrunchie.. the other is missing somewhere in the house. (And I feel bad about that!) When I first took Esther's clothes off, I noticed she had a huge pair of underwear on over a diaper! That underwear is still really big and she thought it was funny that she was wearing them!

The girls have changed so much since their Gotcha Days!!
Thanks Donna for another great photo challenge.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Saturday Swimming

Making Meatballs!

First, we have to mix together the bread crumbs, seasonings and eggs
Then we mix, mix, and mix!
And then comes the yucky part.. adding in the ground meat! And then mixing it all together!
And then we shape them into (meat) balls.
And put them on the cookie sheet..
Then we stick them in the oven and wait for them to cook!
Then.. we'll have meatballs!
(And they were yummy too.. being the first time I've ever made meatballs from scratch!)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"I'll Stand By You"

Soo.. we are big Americal Idol fans here in our house and last night's episode was truly the best I've ever seen. For those who didn't see it, it was a night all about giving back. Celebreties like Rascal Flatts, Jack Black, Carrie Underwood, Josh Groban, Ben Stiller, Celine Dion and others were there giving performances in an effort to showcase poverty around the world and what we can do about it. All of the money donated will go to programs here in America and in Africa to help impoverished children recieve education, food and basic needs.

The video above was played during the show last night. Incase you don't know, that's Carrie Underwood during her trip to Africa. I think you'll agree it's a beautiful, powerful video!

I think sometimes we tend to forget about those who are less fortunate than we are and we forget that poverty still exists in America, today. And then there's the huge AIDS crisis in Africa. Did you know that in 2010 there are predicted to be more than 16 million AIDS orphans?? And that every 30 seconds, another child is orphaned by AIDS? It's a horrible epidemic taking over Africa today. I'm glad that American Idol is using their resources to help give back to the community and around the world to save lives.

For more information check out

In the minute and a half it's taken me to gather my thoughts and write this, 3 more children have been orphaned because of AIDS. Share this video with others!! People need to know more, because that's the only way we'll stop the annihilation of an entire continent of people.

Monday, April 23, 2007



No more braces!! Hooray!!

FFFF Challenge # 28: Budding Artists & Learning to Write

This week's challenge is about showcasing our little budding artists' artwork. Along with coloring her picture, Emma and I worked on her writing. She's had a lot more trouble learning her letters than Esther has. But she showed great progress today when I worked with her on writing her A's. Check out this video below:

Emma with all of her A's- she was so excited to be able to write A's!
We did this three times and she did such a great job! I was starting to get concerned about the fact that she isn't able to identify or write any letters of the alphabet. I'm really unsure about whether she has a learning disability or if she is just really lazy and only wants to work when she wants to! She has such a short attention span and is distracted by anything.. so that makes learning at school very difficult for her. I was at her pre-school all last week and anytime she was working with the Leap-pad or listening to cd's.. her mind was elsewhere! She is a very smart child.. but she is just quite lazy!! However, I think if we just work with her one-on-one for awhile, she'll start to catch up and eventually get it.
Here she is with her contribution to the FFFF challenge.

Here's Esther with her drawing. Notice, it's of her and her friend Jing Chen (aka Delaney).

I just love Esther's little stick figure drawings. She came to us knowing how to draw them.. and I think they are the cutest things! Esther is very studious- just this evening she sat at the table and wrote out various letters for close to two hours. She knows how to write several letters, and today she practiced writing her name, as you'll see here:

OH, and to check out more FFFF participants, visit Donna's blog at Double Happiness.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Meet Elly

This is Elly... and she just happens to be the newest addition to our growing family. She'll make pooch #4 for our household.(!!!)She's a 5 1/2 week old white Boxer puppy. Dad & Mom will head to Tallahassee to bring her home the day before Mother's Day, since she'll be Mom's present. (It's only fitting since we got our other Boxer, Ivy on Father's Day.) I must admit, she is cute.. but the thought of adding another dog to the family is baffling to me. Not only do we have (almost) seven children.. but we'll soon have four dogs.. in addition to the three (discusting!) guinea pigs we already have. But... that's what I have younger siblings for, to take care of and clean up after the dogs and guinea pigs! =) Oh well..another mouth to feed and something else that poops! (Good thing she is cute)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Pictures

Easter comes early at our house! But this Easter, we were blessed to have the luxury of a 7:30 am wake-up call. The rule is usually, whoever doesn't get up get's to have their Basket & goodies donated.. so no one wants that!
This was Esther's 2nd Easter with us, although she probably doesn't remember last year's! She and Emma both got kid- digital camera's. These were a hit, and all day long the girls were taking pictures, following in their big sister's footsteps!
Ian, with his much anticipated iPod. (Kayla got one too)
A view of some of the loot on the table..

Kayla, and her beloved "High School Musical".. I still have no idea what the heck it is!
Elena wasn't too happy to have such an early wake-up call! But, she was willing to pose for me.

Dad, Elena and Kayla making our traditional Easter breakfast of eggs. Dad always adds any kind of seasoning her can find for more flavor!
Emma and Esther in their Easter attire. (It was a chilly 68 degrees!)
Ian fell asleep during the church service.. good thing I had my camera with me! This was a shot too good to resist!
Us kids all decked out in our Easter attire.

I made this Bunny Cake for dessert, and it turned out pretty well!

Kayla and Dad.
(Notice the iPod clipped to Kayla.. and Dad's red eye! He had some kind of reaction to the apples we peeled for dinner, so his eye was red and swollen all night! But, it's better now!)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!
He has Risen!!

Claudio, Nancy, Sera, Elena, Kayla, Ian, Esther & Emma

Easter Egg Hunt (Photos by Kayla)

Kayla & Ian put together an Easter Egg Hunt for Esther and me!
Ready to get some eggs? Let's go!
Look! I found one!
Whew.. life is good! I have my eggs, I have candy and I do some "tanning!"
Hmm.. what kind of candy did you get in your Easter Eggs?
We have an awesome big brother! (Although Emma's facial expression doesn't seem to be agreeing!)
Thanks Kayla & Ian for putting on our Easter Egg Hunt!
Love, Esther & Emma

Dance Competition

Since August, Elena and Kayla have been attending an Etiquette Class on Thursday nights taught by my friend's mother. As part of their Etiquette class, they've been taking Ballroom dancing lessons too. I've been taking Ballroom for about 1 1/2 years now along with my friend Samantha, so we've been helping with the class. Samantha's mom has been trained in Etiquette and Dance since she was young!
The class is geared toward middle school age and they've learned all sorts of stuff like how to escort a lady (the boys), set a table properly and also learn dances like the Merengue, Waltz, Salsa & Tango.
Tonight they had a competition to show off some of the dancing skills they have acquired during the class. Samantha and I got to be judges during the competition! (We both participated in a comp. last June, so we have *some* experience with this stuff.)

Elena and her partner Tyler dancing
The top three couples!
Elena & Tyler placed 2nd!!
Kayla's partner didn't show up to the competition, so poor Kevin had to end up dancing twice! But I don't think he minded too much!
Some of the kids who participated in the Etiquette class.
(About 10 of them decided to not participate in the competition)
Kayla and her ribbon. She didn't end up placing in the top since she was nervous dancing with a new partner. But she still did really well and ended up a Winner anyways!
Me (Sera), Kayla, Samantha & Elena after the competition