Thursday, December 31, 2009

Squeaky Shoes

Meili has been wearing these squeaky shoes from China for almost 6 months now. She has one other pair in pink (and several other non-squeaky pairs) but these always seem to go with her outfit best. We have definitely gotten our use out of them but I'm not ready to retire the pair just yet. So many memories in one little pair of shoes-shopping for them in Guangzhou, her first steps in them and the conversations started by their squeak to name a few. Mostly, I'm going to miss seeing them on her little feet because they just don't stay little for long.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Amusement Park Junkies

One of the great things about living in Florida is the resident prices at the amusement parks. We were able to get annual passes to Gardens for the cost of a one day pass. Our goal for 2010 is to use the pass into the ground. It's the 7th as I blog this and we've been twice already. This is going to make for some very cheap birthday celebrations and easy parent-child dates!

Not so sure about the merry-go-round...

Meili watching her siblings on an airborne ride with concern...
There aren't too many rides that Meili can go on but I think I'll use the time waiting for the other kiddos to catch up on some picture taking with her. I really need to figure out my camera and learn how to use it. (I kick my butt every time I look back at my horrible photos in China...) Here's one of my first decent shots. Hopefully many more to come!
Noah and Audrey on the zip line.

How we all feel by about 3pm at the park...

Fun With Daddy

Some of you already know that Matt left AZ for FL ahead of us less than two weeks after we returned home from China with Meili. For the next 3 months, I was a single mom to 5 with a new baby and a house on the market M-F (hence the lack of blogging during that time :) The set up wasn't exactly what the attachment therapist ordered but we really had no choice. Thankfully, we lived through it and Meili and Matt are catching up on the father-daughter bonding time that they missed out on. So fun to see Meili enjoying spending time with her daddy!

Ready or Not...

We have finally got our girl in a front-facing car seat. She only weighs 18 lbs. and 11 oz. but she was just too darn long for the rear-facing infant seat and it was ticking her off. She is much more relaxed now as you can see from her thumb-chillin.'
I just love those cheeks and those lips. I really am going to kiss her face right off one of these days...:)

Meili sucked her thumb 24/7 in China. Now she only sucks it just before she is about to fall asleep. When hand #2 sneaks in for a rub, we know the lights are just about out.

I love seeing this little face in my rear-view mirror!
***Don't worry, we have fixed the twist in her seatbelt.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Recap 2009

The gift opening began bright and early. I was mean and made the kids wait until I was showered and dressed before they could start. :)
Meili got the hang of it after a very brief present-opening demonstration.
Taylor-can't wait to hit the beach nerd-style with his metal detector..

One very excited cell phone owner...
Noah (aka Mr. Dsi)
Xander-very happy with his haul.
I still can't believe the anti-gravity r/c car really works on the wall-so cool!
and Meili Grace. I still think she enjoyed the goldfish best.
Meili Grace snapping her fingers and rockin' out to the music from her gumball machine-
Our best gift this year was not having to wonder where Meili was at or when she would arrive. She was right here with her family, where she belongs.
The kids enjoying the boost in the W.ii inventory.
Matt received the 5th book in The Lightning Thief series.
I hope this isn't an indication of how the series ends...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

and there was another cast member in our nativity this year!
Audrey has been promoted to 'angel.'
...and the part of Mary will now be played by Meili Grace!
She did great!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Lane

Our heads haven't quite stopped spinning from our move yet but it's time to gear up for Christmas. We are missing our Tucson traditions-like our ward nativity with our neighbors and strolling through Winterhaven on Christmas Eve. Luckily, we have some traditions in the making here in FL. This spot is called Christmas Lane. Looks to me like it is someone's farm and they set up huge tents with Christmas displays inside of them. The signs say that most of the 'stuff' comes from retired mall window displays. There are also train rides for the kids, bands playing Christmas music, food, etc., and the traditional Santa photo op.
My girls in their matching jackets-

Noah with Santa and Mrs. C.
as close as Meili was going to get to Santa...:)
Taylor (right after asking Santa for a 'My Size Barbie')
Xander with Mr. and Mrs. Claus
Me and my baby girl

Monday, December 07, 2009

18 Months Old and 4 Months Home!

For those of you here looking for the Christmas letter post, stay tuned. I'm having some problems with some of the pics but check back in a few days. In the meantime, who could complain about a Meili update?

Our girl is 18 months old today! Looks like Pearl Harbor day will be an easy way to remember Meili's half birthday from here on out. Everybody says it but it really is true: We can't believe that it has already been 4 months since she has been home and at the same time, it seems like she has been ours forever. Part of the miracle of adoption, I suppose.

The last 4 months (6 months really) have been an 'adventure' in our home. We are now broadcasting from the central gulf coast of Florida and how we got from there to here without medication is still a mystery to us (but I'll fill in the blanks with some catchup posts coming soon.) I only mention it now because it means that in the last 4 months, our little sweetie has had to adjust to a new home environment-twice. We left Tucson just under a month ago and lost most of the gains that we had made with Meili since bringing her home from China. She was back to screaming in the bathtub and not wanting anything to do with Daddy among other things. We are just now starting to see our happy girl emerge once again. It's been a rough ride for her and we have some work ahead of us but she is a smart, brave and strong little girl and she is going to be just fine.

Yesterday, Meili and I were hanging out in my room and I actually had the presence of mind to get the camera out. Here are some shots with a little bit of Meili 411 in between:

This is pretty typical Meili Grace above. She loves to rip her shoes and socks off, particularly when we are getting ready to head out the door. She is still using a bottle and lets me feed it to her, but most of the time she is using a sippy cup. I was ready to let her bottle feed until 2 just to give her the attachment time, but she was ready for a cup and I was ready to not have a bottle leak all over the car and house. :) She is drinking whole milk, usually with a packet of Carnation instant breakfast thrown in for some extra vitamins and calories. She's a bit of a picky eater-likes something one day, but not the next. In general, noodles are a hit but she considers bread more of a toy than a source of nutrition. She hasn't had an official weigh-in in a while but she is probably just at 18 pounds. Such a little thing!

This is the smile that melts my heart. I still think that Meili is much prettier in person than in any photo that I have seen of her but this one comes close to capturing my Meili Grace. She just finally started to get the idea of what a camera is for and will say 'cheese' when I get it out. Speaking of speech...Meili says over 30 words. For any 18 month old, that would be fabulous. When you consider that she has only been exposed to the English language for a little over four months, it's amazing! She can say mama (but shouts MOM! when she wants my attention), dada, Noah (wowah), baby, baba, up, Jackson (Jacksah), cheese, flower, diaper, stinky, dog, hi, and bye-bye to name a few. She has even said 'I love you' during a few diaper changes!

Here, I caught her during a giggle and you can see that she is sporting some more teeth. She came to us with 6 teeth and now has 10 including a couple of molars. Two more are following closely behind. We have the drool, snot and tears to prove it!

Now that she is walking (and running!) like a pro, Meili Grace is into everything. She is especially enthusiastic about all of the Christmas decorations around the house. She is a true girly-girl and likes anything that sparkles or shines. The tree has a barricade of chairs around it and anything breakable is out of Meili-reach. When she isn't making a mess, Meili likes to play with her 'babies,' play on the swings at the park across the street, and go for walks in her stroller through the neighborhood.

She's still fascinated by her belly button and so are we...we had to adopt a child to have one with an 'innie.' :) You can see in this picture that Meili can manage a size 12 months in pants only if the waist band is rolled down. Size 9 months fits the waist most of the time but is a little short in length. Unless we can find pants with the adjustable waist, she'll have to stick to leggings in the future. She is a skinny little thing!

We still can't believe that Meili is HOME to celebrate Christmas this year! I listened to the song 'Merry Christmas' by Third Day a few days ago. It still makes me cry, but for a different reason. We couldn't love our girl any more if she was born to us and and are so blessed to have her as a part of our family.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Meili's New Ride

After much deliberation, this contraption should be arriving in the next 7-10 days. It has everything that I've been looking for in a stroller-big tires for jogging/walking but a front tire with a swivel option for maneuvering while shopping, a snack/drink tray for Meili (so hard to find on a jog stroller), a drink/key holder for me (vital when half the time I'm walking to the corner store for a Diet Coke), extra storage under and behind for all of our gear, a bug net (never needed one of those until now), less than $150 and it's PINK! Our new neighborhood is designed for walking. Meili and I have been hitting the sidewalk 3+ times a day and our three-kid-old umbrella stroller just isn't cutting it anymore. Can't wait for the big box to arrive at the door-thank you, Santa!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

So, how's the house?

We are getting that question alot from friends and family. The short answer is that we love it. The long answer is that it was a short sale that was left vacant for a long time and there is a LOT of work to do. The good news is that things are cleaning up nicely. Turns out that dirt is actually a wonderful preservative and there's a beautiful house underneath all of this crap. I'm kicking myself for not taking before pictures of everything but think of this before picture of the pool as symbolic of the general state of neglect of the rest of the house. Yummy, isn't it?

I'd like to think of this after picture of the pool as a symbol of hope for the rest of the house. This picture was taken during a rain storm so it's actually much clearer now. I was looking out the window this morning and wondered what I was seeing on the bottom of the pool. It was the drain! Hadn't seen that before today. The kids were a little disappointed that there wasn't a gator in there afterall...

For our west coast family and friends, here's a new vocabulary word for you. The screened enclosure around the pool (to keep the bugs and critters out) is called a 'lanai.' New one for me.
Stay tuned. I'm going to try to post about each room in the house as they come together so you can see them if you are interested. It might give me some motivation to get going again too!