Monday, February 6, 2017

Chinese New Year 2017

We celebrated Chinese New Year at Faith's birth parents' restaurant.  This was our 2nd CNY rodeo and let me tell you, it was no less of an adventure than the last one!  I ate things.  I don't know what they were, but I ate them.  I ate parts of things that I think I wasn't supposed to eat.  I ate things that I didn't know how to eat and had to have First Mama show me how to get to the meat.  Folks, I am proof that there's hope for the picky eater!
Fish balls, crab legs, crawdads, fried hard-boiled eggs, dumplings and many unidentifiable things!
Faith's birth grandma plopped several crawdads onto my plate.  I've never eaten so many things with so many legs and eyes.  My dad said, "Only out of your deep love for them would you eat those things!"  Truer words were never spoken!

Lila bravely endured First Mama filling her plate with things.  She kept looking at me desperately for help.  I told her that I didn't like much of it either, but that I was doing my best.  This seemed to surprise her and she tried the tiniest little bite of fish ball.  Then, First Baba took pity on her and made her Chicken Lo Mein (aka, AMERICAN Chinese food!) and she was a happy camper!

Faith, on the other hand, was in heaven.  She LOVES true Chinese food.  I joked that her tongue is the most Chinese thing about her.  She ate everything First Mama put in front of her and then pointed to things on my plate, which I was all too happy to share with her!
 Hi, First Mama!  She waved when she saw me taking a picture!
Faith's birth mom stood up at the beginning of dinner and, indicating us said, "This is my very good family," and then indicated the rest of the table, "these are my very good friends."  The Husband and I ask each other all the time, "Did you ever think you would have a Chinese family!?" Our life is so wonderfully weird.

 These are the shelves behind the register at their restaurant.  The three framed pictures are all our family.  One of Lila and Faith, one of the four of us (I was pregnant with Bea), and one of all of us from Thanksgiving.  Their family.  We adopted their daughter and they adopted us!

Back row: My dad, Faith, Lila, Eric, Beatrix, Me
Front row: First Baba (birth father), Birth Grandma, First Mama and Birth Sister
Beatrix says, "Mom, it's 2 hours past my bedtime. This is not the time for pictures!"

And then the kids formed a parade.  It was...loud.

Chinese New Year is their Christmas - their most important holiday.  First Mama is the queen of gathering friends and making them family.  The group that came to the celebration included friends from their ESL class, guys who work in their kitchen (and their brave girlfriends!), the ladies who work in the Chinese food department at the HyVee next door, several families who are regulars at their restaurant, and us - their adopted family.  I learn so much from them about how to draw a wider circle of community.  They love us and welcome us with open arms.  They accept us in all of our different-than-them tastes and looks and habits and customs.  They call us family and invite us into their most important days.  I hope I become more and more like them!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2016 Recap: Part 2

I intended to post this weeks ago...ah well! Here is the continued recap of our 2016!

 We celebrated the 4th with friends. The kids hid behind the fence while the daddies blew things up!

 We got our house painted, started up our summer session of school (we are trying a year-round schedule this year with a shorter summer and longer, more-frequent breaks - we're liking it!), and went to Family Camp with our church over Bea's birthday weekend!
Big one year old!
In progress
 We saw Madagascar the Musical at the Coterie!  The costumes were fantastic!

We went to Minnesota to visit college friends and family.
Our goals were to enjoy the journey and eat ice cream every day!  We made several stops on the way up at parks so that the kids could run around and have a break from the car.

Tandem bikes on Lake Harriet - we traded off riding with Lila and pushing the littles in the stroller.
Science Museum

Como Zoo
Beatrix got her first skinned knee. :(

 Faith started at a new preschool in addition to her special needs preschool.  It's been a wonderful learning experience - I'm learning a lot about how to teach her teachers what she is capable of (she's a bit of a con artist!).  I'm also getting a good glimpse at how she behaves and participates in an environment that isn't catered to her like her other school is.  Her teacher is so sweet and loving and totally game to try all my ideas.  Faith loves it!

A local church has monthly respite nights for families who have children with special needs.  They don't take kids under 18 months though, so we've had monthly date nights with just Bea which has been pretty fun to give her some one-on-one attention!

Where's Beatrix?
There she is!
Lila and I started another year at HCA (where I teach) and she is in my class this year! It's been mostly awesome with a few rough days.  I think she'd say the same thing, but you'd have to ask her!

Reading in Lila's bed before bed
Playing dress up - their favorite thing to do together
We got to go to another Royal's game in September with tickets from Faith's school!

Faith turned 4!  We had a party at a park and got ice cream as a family!

Hamming it up at Baskin Robbins
 Beatrix discovered she loves helmets! She gets mad when her sisters won't let her wear theirs.

We celebrated Faith's birthday with her birth family - including her birth grandma who was in town from China!
Thank you, Lila, for being a weirdo in every picture we took that night.

We tried potty training.

By the end of our 3 week attempt, Faith and I felt the same way about it.
But it didn't go that great so we decided to take a break. Until the Spring.  Maybe I'll potty train both Faith and Bea together?

Lila reads all day, every day.  She follows me around the house reading out loud.  This picture so represents who she is at this stage.

 Lila and I got to take a special Mommy-Daughter trip with our friends to a craft workshop in Oklahoma.  It was a lot of driving, but totally worth the special time with friends and our girls!

Faith is really into painting.  I love her creations.

Bea wants to be wherever her sisters are.  I love the way she's looking at Lila in this picture.  You can tell she thinks Lila is the coolest.

Halloween with Bowen (scarecrow), Lila (Kirsten the American Girl), Faith (Rapunzel), and Beatrix (Peacock).

We had appointment number 10,008 at Children's Mercy and the sisters were in rare form.  They went through all my snacks and stickers in record time and were bouncing off the walls.  I told the nurse, "This is why I usually get a baby-sitter!"

This one was an ENT visit - still trying to figure out Faith's hearing and sleep issues.  We will have another sleep study this spring.

No real reason for this picture other than the cute baby girl with killer eyelashes.

 Faith is learning to write her name! She writes Fs all over her papers now and she loves practicing her name on her doodle board.

 This is a frequent scene at our house - all of them gathered in the same room, but doing their own thing: Lila with her nose in a book, Beatrix strapped in her high chair with a snack (usually because I'm trying to accomplish something without her tagging along leaving dumped toys in her wake!), and Faith engaged in some independent project (racing her cars across the table in this case). Usually my house is not this clean, though.  If there were ripped up scraps of paper, markers and various princesses strewn about the rug, that would be more accurate!

My Nanny passed away just before Thanksgiving.  She had degraded significantly over the last several weeks of her life.  I took this picture a few weeks before she died when I visited her at the memory care facility where she lived for the last few weeks of her life.  It was heartbreaking to see her so broken and feeble.  I am grateful that she did not have to live long in that state and that she is now restored and whole with Jesus! I am also tremendously grateful for the intimate time we got to spend with her during her last year of life.  I'm so glad my kids got to know her and I know will treasure those memories.

Faith's birth family joined us for Thanksgiving at my parents' house.  Apparently 6 year olds are incapable of taking a normal picture!

Are you jealous of our egg rolls and sesame chicken alongside the typical Thanksgiving fare? Well you should be!

Lila desperately wanted "high heels" and I was vehemently against them.  But alas, I broke down and sent the Husband on a late night Target run so we could surprise Lila with them the next morning for her trip to see the Nutcracker ballet.  They are strictly for "fancy" occasions (although she tries to convince me that things [like Target] are fancy on a daily basis), and the Nutcracker was the perfect first use for them!

I asked her to stand in front of the tree so I could take a picture of her and this is how she posed.
 Just, be normal, please!

And then Faith stood in front of the tree to pose because, why not!?


Every year, Faith's therapy school has a photographer come take pictures of the kids to use for their fundraising banquet.  This was my favorite of Faith this year.  The Husband photoshopped the bloody lip and bruise on her forehead.  Without fail, that girl will injure herself right before we are seeing her birth mom or getting our pictures taken.  She has a gift!

Lila turned seven (SEVEN!) and we continued with the tradition of birthday donuts at our favorite donut place (John's Spaceage)...

...and visiting Santa at Bass Pro.  Beatrix followed in the Kautzi children tradition of being terrified of the guy.

After Christmas, we went to Minnesota for Nanny's funeral.  All of my cousins came in town and I got to meet wives and girlfriends I had never met before!  It was a wonderful celebration of Nanny's life and so good to be with family.  The kids did remarkably well, but we were all ready to be home and back to our routines after a crazy month!

I'll end with this picture of Beatrix holding the "nuh-nuh" that her sweet, sweet teachers gave her for Christmas because it makes me happy.

Here's to the New Year!