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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Good memories

Since we don't get to see Ms. Julie with our new schedule, we play a lot of her music (and f*cetime when we can). Kate and Lucy seem to have no memory of Wiggleworms at all which is just incredibly sad since we spent a lot of time there! So we took a walk down memory lane and I played one of the songs they used to love in her class. I actually used to walk Kate around in the class to this song long before she could actually walk on her own. Seems it's still popular with them!
Walk walk walk from Lisa on Vimeo.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Princess Ninja

Yesterday while Len and Lucy were at the Spartan race, Kate and I had a decidedly more sedate date. We started the morning out with a mile or so walk to have a breakfast of Swedish pancakes at Svea.


She really wanted to pay the bill so I let her take the money up to the bar and get the change.
On our walk home we discussed what to do with the rest of our day.
She decided that she really wanted to count her money and then take some of it and go to the dollar store. This totally surprised me as up to now she has been a militant saver, amassing over $10 in her piggy bank. I didn't say this though, preferring her to decide when and how to spend her money so she can learn from her experiences. She chose to take a little over $6 with her and off we went on our walk to the store. She chose 6 items (she picked out something for Lucy without me even hinting at it--makes me think that sometimes I am actually doing something right in raising them to think of others!) and we headed to the register.

She counted out her money and was .06 short (damn taxes) so I spotted her and we headed home.
Posing with her loot at home. The bat balloon was what she picked for Lucy. I think the receipt made her the happiest though--it has a place of honor in her keepsake box.
Unfortunately, the princess earrings broke the first time we tried to put them on (you get what you pay for) so after having some lunch and a short rest time, we walked back to the dollar store to exchange them. On our way home we stopped for some ice cream!
 My Princess Ninja--yes, she bought a princess set that included earrings, necklace, bracelet and wand and a Ninja set that had 2 knives and brass knuckles. A girl's gotta look good while fighting bad guys!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I AM SPARTAN!!!

Len signed Lucy up for the Spartan Kids Race in Marseilles, IL and today was the big day for their Daddy/Daughter date. They headed out at 8am and got there in time to watch one kids' race before Lucy's. At this point, she still looked pretty happy to be there.
Never failing to surprise, she burst into tears right at the start line and was too afraid to run it alone so Len had to run right next to her and then step aside when it came to the obstacles. Maybe it was the race itself, or maybe she figured out what the cautionary note below said. Check out the highlighted sentence in the second line.
Apparently this doesn't apply to the Kids' Race, as Len took Lucy out onto the course to race. Notice how clean she looks here, on the first obstacle. Len says it's pure coincidence that Lucy's eyes are closed ...she was pretty focused on getting through each obstacle.
After going over the wall, the next obstacle was climbing through a hole in a wall, which she handled pretty easily.
And crawling under a series of ropes. Unfortunately, Lucy didn't insist that Len accompany her through this one. That would have been a great photo!
 In these next three shots, Lucy is sprinting up a hill. Once she got going, she didn't look back at all...


 ...until she got to the mud. There were five mud hills like the one she's heading toward here. And there were four mud pits like this one. When Lucy hit the first one, she turned to Len & said, "I don't want to go in there!" Remember, this is the kid who said "WOW! We get to go through the mud!" when she saw the video about the race. Once she figured out she should slide down the mud hills like a regular slide, she was fine. Except when her shoe came off in the mud. And when it came off again. And when Len just held onto it after it came off a third time.
 But she made it through the mud, though she doesn't look happy about it here. The only place Lucy doesn't have mud (yet) is in her hair.
The next obstacle was a set of tires to run through. There are no photos of this one, because Len held Lucy's hand and walked her over the tires like a balance beam. Last up was the big wall. Lucy was initially scared of this one because she saw several older kids wipe out pretty severely before she ran. But the volunteers told Lucy how to hold the rope, lean back and walk up the wall. She got over the wall so quickly that Len wasn't able to get a shot of her coming over...she was already there climbing down the slats.
And then the sprint to the finish. The girl in the black shirt had completed the wall before Lucy, but Lucy sprinted past her to get her medal at the finish line.
As Len & Lucy walked back to the car for her clean clothes, Lucy struck a pose with her finisher's medal.
Then, after a "shower" (actually an open area with about a hundred water hoses with nozzles) and some lunch, Lucy was ready to give a Spartan yell and show off her muscles.
She put those muscles to the test (again) with the rope climbing station, the pull-up bar and the weighted ropes workout. And on the way to the car to head home, all she could talk about was doing it again next year.
After all of that, she only slept in the car for about 15 minutes of the 90 minute drive home and woke up happy and ready to run again...until she collapsed right after dinner. Bedtime was 6:45pm!

Tomorrow I'll cover Kate's and my more sedate date day. Brunch and shopping!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kites

Yesterday after school, the girls wanted to work on art projects. What's lovely about this is that they are primarily self-directed with minimal input needed from me. Lucy decided she wanted to make a kite and, as usually happens in our house, Sister must do the same. By the time they finished up their projects and cleaned up it was time for supper so we never got the chance to try them out.

Today when they got home, they had not forgotten about the kites so out we went.

Here are the results.
Homemade kites from Lisa on Vimeo.

We may not win any kite flying contests but we did win in the happy kids department which is all that matters.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Three years ago

Can you believe it's only been three years since we completed our family by flying to China to bring Lucy home? They were so teeny tiny!
I asked Kate today if she could remember a time before going to China and she said no. Lucy, as well, doesn't have a memory that she can give voice to of her time in China. Although I know that there are certain things (smells, tastes, emotional imprints) that will remain in the fabric of her memories, she has adjusted beautifully and rightfully into the role of daughter/sister.

We ended our weekend of celebrating Family Day by trying a new place in Wicker Park called Bee and Tea. If you average out the ages of our children with Len's and my ages we might be in the right demographic to haunt Wicker Park locales...but we should dye our hair some color not found in nature. We are just not hipster enough...Len would need a much thicker beard and some plaid shirts, not to mention our complete lack of tattoos and suitably placed body piercings.

Kate tried her best and I think she upped our cool quotient by a few points with her hipster new haircut and sunglasses. The rhinestone-studded leopard tee helped as well.

The main draw for the girls was the bubble tea which we can get in our neighborhood but, and this is a big but, these bubbles can pop! Yep, you pick your flavor and you can get popping boba in your drink.  Kate chose exploding cherry in chocolate and Lucy chose the passionfruit/mango combination (but sampled liberally from Kate's drink as you can see below).

They have six types of bao and we tried them all. Kate's favorite was the quinoa and mushroom, Lucy's was a tie between butter chicken and teriyaki chicken. Len loved the chorizo and I couldn't decide between the butter chicken and the chorizo but honestly, all of them were delish.
 And so ends another year since our family was made complete on another continent. It has been quite a ride but I am so grateful that I am here to experience it. It's crazy to think that when I began this blog I had no children, lived in another state and was still recovering from multiple miscarriages. It has been 6 years since that first post and it seemed an eternity as we waited for our adoptions (Yes, adoptions, plural. Remember Nepal??) to be complete. Little did we know that in 3 years from that first post, I would give birth to an amazingly bright, funny little girl and then adopt a little spitfire, athletic clown to join her. Less than a year after our adoption we would be rocked again, with news of my cancer diagnosis and the battle that followed.

Thank you all for supporting us and caring about our journey by reading my words. It's a rare occasion when I am completely verklempt but thinking back on the road that our lives have taken in just 6 years and the friends we've made is...indescribable.

School work

With 3 weeks of Pre-K 2 under our belts, I am already drowning in art/school work that the girls bring home every Friday. The girls are so excited every Friday afternoon to do show and tell with me and I have to say, it is one of the best times of the week for me as well. I love to get a glimpse into what they've been working on and the stories behind some of their drawings.

With the weather taking a rather Fall-ish turn, they made some pretty trees. This is Lucy's:
 And this is Kate's.
Next up was a cutting/pasting exercise in the shape of an apple. Lucy's ping gua.
And Kate's ping gua.
Lucy's artwork is 3 dimensional most of the time. That girl loves her some scissors and glue. These are binoculars.

And this is a kite.
Kate, as is true of her finicky nature, does not love glue so her work is exclusively drawing. Here she is riding some sort of beast and transporting a pineapple.
Our happy family...someone appears to be missing some arms.
A picture of our house, stairs on the left.
Their school work is drastically different and that is what I love about their school. Although they are at very different levels, they can still be in the same class, working with different activities and classmates. The other thing I've noticed is that they both seem much happier this year than last. I was worried that the longer day would wipe them out but it seems to have invigorated them. Kate is advancing much more quickly with her language skills and Lucy is starting to recognize a few more letters.

Lucy is mostly working on her writing and counting skills. A lot of these papers are accompanied by tactile work with the counting beads.
They are learning the Mandarin characters for numbers/words as well.



And here are some examples of Kate's work:

This sheet is combined with work using the number rods. 
More work with counting beads. Here she is writing out the numbers in English and in Chinese characters.

A new addition this year are these little books that she makes. Kate chooses a box with a sound to work on. Then she matches the labels with words to their corresponding picture. Then she gets her own paper, writes the word and then draws the picture. This one used the vowel sound E.
 And this one used the vowel sound O.
She just informed that she only has one more vowel sound to work on (the letter U) and then she can move up a level.

Kate is working a lot more on reading and writing words. To support that, we finally made some time to answer Yia Yia's pen-pal letters from this summer. This one was written on July 4 and said, "Dear Yia Yia, My favorite thing about summer is finding money. Yes, I like to swim."
And on 9/12 she wrote, "Can you guess my Halloween costume? Kate Love" 
It is so exciting to see how fast they learn and to experience their joy as they discover a new skill. 

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