Thursday, April 30, 2015

It's not as easy as she makes it seem

I'm back to studying Chinese language lessons and I've gotten a bit rusty in my time away. I tried to have a very basic conversation with Kate and, as you will see, it turned out to be way over my head.
Chinese lesson from Lisa on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Benefit for Nepal

Many of you know that we were once in line to adopt from Nepal but through a series of unfortunate events, our path did not take us there. But it did gain me many new friends, two of whom live in the Chicago area. Kelly and Candice and I met in early 2009 before any kids had arrived on the scene, making it much easier to meet on a regular basis! As things worked out, I found myself pregnant (and remaining pregnant, much to my surprise) and the following year, Kelly and Candice found themselves in Nepal. Kelly returned home with M, Candice with Antara. We've tried to get together ever since but as our girls have started school, those times have become fewer. Nonetheless, we do make the effort and the girls play together as if no time had passed.

Unfortunately, tragedy has struck Nepal and they are in dire need of pretty much anything and everything. If you or someone you know would like to help, the Friends of Nepal and the Himalayan Restaurant invite you to join them on May 13 for an evening of Nepali food, drinks and live music to raise money for the people of Nepal. If you click here, it will take you to their page. If you are local and can make it, that would be great. If you are not local to Chicagoland, you can still make a donation on that page. 

M, Kelly and Keith soon after adoption.
Candice and Antara waiting to leave Nepal.
M and Kate meet for the first time.
 All the girls helping Kate celebrate her first birthday.

 Lucy meets them for the first time during Christmas 2011.
It didn't take long for these girls to become fast friends.

M and her daddy on a recent trip back to Nepal.

 The girls earlier this year.
We all hope you can help in any way that you can. It is a country that will always be special to us, made even more so by the little girls that we have the good fortune to have in our lives.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy.

Yeah. That pretty much sums up these past two weeks. Oh, I wouldn't say I'm being carelessly lazy but I am surely lacking in enthusiasm and determination. It's probably the weather. I hate spring. What's that? How can I hate spring with all the flowers and warmer temps? Well, that's just it. There was a tiny, tiny hint of warmer weather I-can't-remember-when-ago but then we settled into cold, wet, gray weather and I'm just not suited for it. We even spotted snow flurries on our way to school this week!
So, along with the weather comes a sort of re-hibernation for me. I burrow back into my layers and try to think sunny thoughts. All of that thinking takes work, though, leaving nothing left in my brain for blogging. I don't think I intended to take such a long break but here we are.

Without further whining ado, here's a recap of what we've been up to since I last wrote:

We had a nice-ish day a few weeks back so took advantage at the Botanic Garden, eating our lunch on the terrace outside.
They have free backpacks for kids that you can check out. Ours had binoculars, magnifying glasses and pictures of birds and flowers that you could try to find. Lucy has the bird information out and is identifying the geese.
Sweet allysium mixed in with the cool weather veggies got close inspection.
Looking for more birds but spotted an otter in the pond instead.
Ice skating continues on Saturdays. 

The girls helped me make pizzas for dinner one night. They chopped up an entire can of black olives and nary a finger was cut!

A few handfuls of cheese made it into mouths instead of onto the pizza...
None of us is patient it seems.
Kate and Lucy are practicing their Chinese caligraphy at school. They came home with several notes, all of which I could read (go me!) with one exception:
The top row I understood. It says, "I love you". But the bottom, when I typed it into my translator, came back, "Tony Rolling stone" which, you know, was odd. Kate said maybe she meant to say Uncle Tony. I wrote to her teacher and it turns out that Kate and Qiongwei lao shi gave Bella a Chinese name, "bei la" and those are the characters for it. She does love that cat.

We took a family yoga class last Sunday (as it poured rain outside) which we all enjoyed.

The yoga teacher was surprised to learn that the girls meditate in school every day during circle time. Kate demonstrated her form.
I've been trying to volunteer at their school every week. I really enjoy it and am glad that I can help out. I'm still working on the geology charts for the elementary students. I can usually finish 5-6 drawings in a school day.

On this last chart, I really found myself wishing I was sitting under that palm tree, drink in hand, book on my lap, soaking up the hot, hot, oh-so-hot sun. Can't we just skip this wet, cool, spring and jump straight to summer? I think I must speak like this a little too often because tonight at supper Kate looked at me and said, "You need to live in the moment Mama." I just need my moment to be a little more tropical please.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Learning Octaves

Kate has learned and memorized her first song--Mary's theme--on the flute. Today, she attempted to play it an octave higher. This was her first attempt and I'd say she did pretty good for a first try.
An octave higher from Lisa on Vimeo.

When I asked her what she liked doing best, gymnastics or ice skating, she said she liked both equally but...."I like learning flute the best!" She can now sight read notes B, A and G so Steve introduced C today as well. He wants her to play in a recital sometime this summer which she is totally jazzed about. She has already promised to practice her flute in FL for vacation. What she really wants to do is play with/for Aunt Kelly who used to play in high school. Hope you remember how to play Kelly!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Love Letter, Month 63

Dear Kate,

You are 63 months old today.
We seem to have finally made the transition from winter to spring here in Chicago and I don't know who's happier: you or me. Suffice to say, we're both thrilled that warmer times are ahead even though we still have several weeks of ice skating lessons to go. Yep, we began ice skating this month as a family. Needless to say, you and Lucy are already skating circles around Daddy and me.
This month was mostly about 2 things: spring break and Easter.

Spring break fell the week before Easter so we decided to take a road trip to DC this year. We stayed with Ms. Michelle, who worked with me when I was a kitchen/bath designer. You loved playing with her daughters and their pets.
Although we ran out of time to do a lot of typical DC touristy things, we did manage a quick roll down Capitol Hill.
A highlight for you was seeing YiaYia and Pappou again.
Ms. Michelle had a few projects for you and Lucy. One of your favorites was a plaster of Paris mold. I loved watching you plan out your design on the lid before she poured the mold into the container. Then you methodically moved your glass pieces over in the same concentric design into the plaster.

Although the trip to DC was fraught with lots of car sickness on your part, with some help from Dramamine and audiobooks, the trip home was not as disastrous. Getting to practice your underwater handstands at the hotel made up for a lot of sitting!
We arrived home in time for Easter.
I cannot get over how grown up you two look here. In a rare moment when neither of you were arguing or making strange faces, I snapped this shot of you two actually looking at each other with love and excitement over the Easter egg hunt to come.

This Easter was pretty low-key as most of our friends were traveling and both you and Lucy had the beginnings of what turned out to be a cold/fever-fest that kept you out of school for another week.
Speaking of school, Daddy and I met with your teachers last week for your Spring Progress Report. Here are a few of the highlights from our meeting:

Your favorite thing to do is math. You have mastered the hundred board work and the 45 layout work which requires understanding the concepts of unit, tens, hundreds and thousands. In your target language, both of your teachers remarked that they can have a conversation with you completely in Mandarin. You have mastered many of the basic Chinese characters. As for English, you are reading and writing, working on sight words and sentence formation. In Practical Life, you enjoy table scrubbing and the advanced materials such as pouring water through a funnel into multiple test tubes. In your Sensorial work, you have master seriating sizes, sorting colors, discriminating sounds and different smells. In your Cultural work, you have completed a map of the world and of Australia. 

You also enjoy art work. In other comments, your teachers remarked that you are a diligent and self-motivated child. Your academic work is progressing very nicely and you have made improvements in your leadership skills. You have very good habits and are willing to help the younger ones in the classroom.

I can tell that you really love school. Even though you had started to feel poorly at school on Tuesday morning, you soldiered on to finish your map before collapsing in the library complaining you didn't feel well. The school called me to come get you since you had a fever of 101. You were so upset that you would be missing school for the rest the day and what turned out to be the rest of the week. I fervently hope, with all my being, that you keep this love of school and learning for the rest of your school career. It is so amazing to see your brain soak up new information on a daily basis!

Case in point: your flute lessons continue with Mr. Steve and you remain just as excited about it as you were on the day your lessons started.
When he introduced the concept of octaves, you were quick with the answer about what other things begin with octo (octopus, octagon) and that octo meant eight.

You also combined your two worlds of school and flute lessons in this drawing where you were learning the parts of a bird:
After finishing up labeling and coloring the bird (which was the assignment), you wrote out half and quarter notes, labeled them with the three notes you have learned thus far (B, A, G) and indicated whether they were high or low notes. I suppose that learning to read music is like learning a third language for you.

And now a Kate-ism from this month:
Lucy: Kate's map is on top and I want mine to be on top.
Kate: I already told you, "Life is not always fair."

Oh honey, have I mentioned what a good parrot you are? I hear my words/voice so often out of your mouth as you practice them on Lucy. As you might expect, she has much the same reaction that you do when I say them to you.


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