Sunday, September 28, 2008

Where is the time going?

I have been so busy lately. I thought I would have much more free time after my oldest daughter moved to college. I certainly have a lot less driving. I don't know what I do all day, but I feel as if I am racing around all day. A lot of people have asked me what it is like to be raising five kids. I would have to say that I have no free time. Not a minute in a day. Really. There are always so many things to do that I can neer just sit down and read or watch a movie. I always have to be doing at least two things at once or I fall behind. Just doing the shopping, cooking for, cleaning up after, bathing, dressing...for three children under four takes A LOT of time. I do laundry constantly. And I have to say that I love it. I admit I would love to watch a little tv without feeling guilty or paying for it later when my house is a mess or the laundry isn't folded and put away. I could relax a little. I get the concept of it, I just can't do it.
And I can't say no to any new project that I am into. I just volunteered to be in charge of the book orders for Brayden and Brookleyn's preschool classrooms. I love looking at children's books. I did the book orders for my older children's classrooms years ago and really liked it. I am the president of the PTO at the school as well and that can take up a lot of time. We do teacher's luncheons, food drives, jog-a-thons, staff the library...and since the PTO is usually pretty small, I usually wind up doing most of it myself. But I want to be involved at the school as much as I can and I like doing it.
I started working with my husband, who is a lender, at his office as well. I am doing marketing for his company. My intention was to do marketing, but every day that I am there he turns over some new project to me so he doesn't have to do it. I actually really like working. I love feeling as if I have gotten something done at the end of the day. I also started posting a lot of the girl's baby clothes on the internet. That takes up more time than I had thought, but is kind of fun. And it is making piles of clothes dissapear.
Sasha is really changing the last couple of weeks. She wasn't feeling well last weekend and I kept her home for a few days. I think she was just teething, getting her molars in. She is always on the move. Dancing, getting into the pantry to open boxes of food, opening our wine cooler(where we store water bottles) to spread all the water bottles around the room, climbing up the outside of the staircase, tearing apart piles of FOLDED laundry, pointing to the door so she can play inthe little girl. She still isn't talking much. She only really says, "Momma," "Daddy," and "more." She has started trying to repeat us if we are persistent. Sometimes she will, a lot of times she won't. She definitely wants to be able to get me to understand her and is really good at communicating with me without words. I have a feeling she will start learning more words so she can get what she wants more quickly. She is very smart. The other day I said to her,"Sasha, put your pacifier away and let's go to class," while we were in the office of her school. She got down from the chair she was sitting on while coloring, tried to push it under the table (Montessori), took her pacifier out of her mouth, put it in the carrying case for it attached to her lunchbox, picked the lunchbox up and walked to the door. It was pretty amazing. I had just been talking to her, not really expecting her to do anything. The people in the office were shocked. I just pretended she always did amazing things like that and we walked to her class. She used to stop at this corner on our way to her class and hide behind my legs while looking around them for big trucks. I guess it is usually delivery time at a veternarian's office when we go by. Now she stands next to me, looks for the truck and then waves as it goes by. Big difference. She doesn't cry when I drop her off in her classroom, she just waves goodbye to me.
She is still very small for her age, especially for how often she eats. I can't say for how much she eats, because I can never really tell how much she eats and how much is around the chair under her. She eats with a spoon and fork and has been for months. Anyway, she is just growing out of 6-12 month clothes, but 12-18 months are huge on her. I bought her a bunch of new clothes. Brookelyn must have been her size in the summer, because I don't have a lot of pants and long sleeved clothes in 12-18 months. It's hard to figure out how many cold weather clothes we need here, because we have had winters with a couple of kind of cold months, but lately it seems like we have only had kind of cold weeks. You never really know how to dress them. Uh oh, it's 12:30 am and someone just woke up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

One Year Ago...

we saw our little Sasha for the first time. I remember being in the room with the other family as we paced around and waited. We didn't know if we would be waiting a few minutes, half an hour, we jsut made nervous conversation and paced. I remember the man who was waiting for his son to be brought inhaling and saying, "Oh, she's beautiful!," as an older woman brought a baby into the room. It was more than a little surreal and normal at the same time. I walked toward the woman and looked at the baby. I think I was trying to connect the pictures we had been sent over the months to the baby in front of me. I had thought she was a cute baby in the pictures, but she was adorable in real life. She calmly looked at me as I looked at her and then I reached out to take her from her nanny and she allowed me to take her without crying or showing any signs of being upset. She was wearing a shirt, long pants, a thick vest and a hat. I walked over and sat down on a chair so I could sit her on my lap and look at her more closely. We sat down and she just looked at me. She didn't show much expression at all. Kenny came over and talked to us and the nanny and went over some questions I had written down. I had been pretty sure I wouldn't be able to think intelligently once I saw her so I had written questions down and asked a friend of mine translate them into Vietnamese. They were basic questions like:
What was her schedule?
How often did she eat?
Did she eat solid food yet?
Did she share a crib with another baby?
How long had the nanny been taking care of her?
What did they call her?
According to the nanny, she was a good baby. She called her, "Lovely." She told us her schedule, said she woke up once or twice a night and that she had three bottles of formula a day, 3 1/2 ounces at a time. I thought they must be confused about the question, since she was just over five months old and had to be drinking more than ten ounces of formula a day. The nanny said they called her "Bui," which is the last name of the director of the orphanage and also her last name. (Sounds kid of like "buoy")I asked several times because I didn't think that sounded right. I know they reverse the order of the names when they write them down, but I was surprised they called her that. It was also surprising because I had kind of been trying to find a name that started with a "B," so she wouldn't feel her name was out of place with Brayden and Brookelyn. I never found a B name I loved though. We went there with three names, Sasha, Storey and Cheyenne. Ray was leaning toward Storey, but when we saw her she seemed so sweet and calme that Sasha seemed to fit. We thought she would need to be fiestier to have a name like Storey. We probably should have waited for a few days until we got to know her personality better. Within a few days she went from being calm and quiet to smiling and animated. We were also told that she had been with her caretaker for the entire time, that she didn't share a crib with anyone and that she was the only baby the caretaker was taking care of. I have many more questions I wish I knew the answers to for Sasha's sake. She was abandoned, so there is very little we do know.
In the beginning I used to be sad for her birthmother and thought about her a lot. I could only imagine how hard it would be to leave your baby. I kept wishing there was a way I could let her know somehow that her bbay was okay and that I would take good care of her. That was the main thing that kept going through my mind. Every time Sasha did something new or amazingly cute, I wished she could see it. Sasha has a couple of things she does with her hands, little mannerisms, that I am sure come from her birth mother or birth father's family. Things that would amaze them if they saw her do them since they are clearly hereditary. I wish I knew what her birth mother and father look like so I could tell her she looks like one of them. Her "firsts" were great and also bittersweet since I knew someone else was missing out on them. I knew they would be happy when she started going to a good school a few days a week. She was only sixteen months old, but I knew they would see it as a step toward a good education. I have made them promises in my heart that I would take good care of her, bring her back to Vietnam at least once in her childhood, make sure she gets a good education and love her with all of my heart.

Adopting you was one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. I feel honored and grateful that I am the one who gets to raise you. I love so many things about you. I love your adorable face, your pretty hair, your fierceness when you want something, your funny and sudden laugh, the way you make us laugh and smile with the games you make up to get our attention, the way you immediately start dancing the second you hear any music, the way you charge into any new situation without fear as long as I am there with you, and the way you follow Brayden and Brookleyn around and imitate them. I love getting you out of your crib in the morning and having you reach for your blanket and then snuggle against me as we go downstairs. I love how you have always clearly let me know that you want me next to you, how you reach your arms up to me to pick you up at different times throughout the day and how you snuggle against me at bedtime. I love how much you love being with your brothers and sisters and how you bring out this amazingly sweet side of everyone of them when they hold you or play with you. I love every minute with you and am amazed on a daily basis that I have you as my child. I am so proud to be your Mommy that just thinking about it almost makes me start to cry. I love you, little Sasha.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

More family pictures

I took the last one right before they got in the car and drove to the airport with their dad. He kind of understood me being sad, but really got it a week later when he watched Dakota get on a plane to head home and then to college. He called me as soon as she got on the plane.

Family pictures

I took a lot of pictures of all of my kids together before the oldest two left for a vacation with their dad. Dakota came back and we left for college before Colton came home. So we actually haven't all been together since mid August. It was a pretty stressful and emotional last day for me. I cried a lot as soon as they left. I actually only had a minute or two to cry because Sasha fell down and got a bloody nose. I didn't realize how much I enjoyed the company of both of my older kids until lately. I mean, I realized how much I cared about them, but I also spend a lot of nice times with them on a pretty daily basis. I knew this time was coming though and reminded myself often this last year to enjoy our time together.

More soccer camp pictures

Brayden's soccer camp

I put Brayden in a soccer camp for a week just for fun. He had a great time playing with his friends and it was fun spending the mornings at the park.

Sasha gettting into Mommy's things

I stepped away from Sasha for about two minutes to get dressed and here is what she did with her time. I think she was about ten feet away from me busily working. If you look on the bottom step of the stool she is on you can see the top half of the lipstick. Nice.

Things are starting to settle down

Well, my daughter started college up in Northern California. The college is a six and a half hour drive from us. It was a little stressful having the little kids there with us on the trip, but they spent a lot of the time with Ray and his mother while we shopped, carried, organized, shopped some more, reorganized, got a little familiar with the area, figure out banking...It was a lot of running around for three days. We dropped the kids and Ray off as soon as we got into town and then spent the night before she moved in at a hotel after checking out a restaurant by her school. The rooms in her dorm are as small as they legally are allowed because of a lack of open land in the area. She shares a room with one other girl and then shares a bathroom with the girls in the room next door. All of the girls seem nice but Dakota's roommate brought an amazing amount of stuff. Really amazing. And continues to bring more back whenever she goes home to visit. For instance, she showed Dakota her four Halloween costumes she brought with her. Four? Why? And why bring them all into a small room. Dakota didn't bring a lot of clothes or other things since she isn't into clothes or many possesions, except for books. I think she brought two suitcases and a box altogether. Unfortunately, they don't have a meal plan on campus. There is a kitchen area and tv area on each floor. So the kids have to cook there or eat out. Not really a problem, except that they have to store all of their cooking supplies and food in their rooms too which makes it even more crowded. I'm sure it will be a great learning experience for all of them.
Dakota was able to skip freshman English because of the essay she wrote for the application and they allowed her to skip freshman drawing once they saw her portfolio. She has been in school for a week now and seems to enjoy most of her classes. She was a little surprised that they weren't harder since they are college classes. But she went to a really hard high school so she is used to working hard. And I am sure they will get harder as the semester goes on. She seems to be making friends and doing well, which makes me feel good. Leaving her at the college and driving away was really hard. I know it will be a great experience, but I also know there will be a lot of trying times.
It has been crazy hot here in Southern Cal. Crazy. I don't really know the temperature, because I never really pay attention to things like that. But usually it is perfect here or close to it. I am ready for fall clothes and the cooler air. And Halloween.
Sasha is doing great. She has been doing really well at school. She goes right to the teacher now and if I kiss her and leave quickly she is fine. As soon as she sees me in the afternoon she yells, "Momma," and races to me. Once I pick her up she points to the classroom (she is always outside when I drop off and pick up. When we get inside she points to the little case her pacifier is in on her lunchbox. She immediately puts it in her mouth like she is desperate for it. She only uses it at home at bedtime and so it's a little surprising how much she wants it. The teachers say she is doing really well and enjoys doing the work at school and likes to play outside. She loves to play in the dirt. She is going to love when it rains and she can play in the mud. I have never seen anyone who loves to play in the dirt as much as Sasha. She seems a lot more confident and relaxed since she started school. She is not nearly as clingy with me and seems more comfortable with other people and on her own. It's really nice and she seems much happier.
I almost brought Sasha to a nutritionist because she was really painfully thin for a long time. But just a couple days before the appointment I noticed that she had filled out. She is always going to be slender, but she looks healthy now. She even has a little chub on the inside of her thighs. A very little, but some anyway. She said, "hot," the other day after we kept saying it while we were waiting for her oatmeal to cool off. My son got her to say, "I want more," too. It's not three words the way she says it, it is one long one. She has only said it a couple of times. She likes to watch Dora and one day she stood up and said, "map," when it was time. She also holds up her hand to stop Swiper. She says, "Momma" all of the time and "Dadda" too. She says, "Dadda" in the softest, sweetest way. She loves to dance and a lot of her dancing is similar to breakdancing since she likes to copy Brayden. She climbs on everything. I joined a playgroup for kids her age and went for the first time yesterday. All of the other kids sat by their moms on blankets, but Sasha never sat for a second. She was too busy running in the grass or playing on the playground equipment. I wasn't really surprised about her, but it did surprise me that the other kids were so calm and quiet.
We went to Brayden's first soccer practice this morning at 8:00. It was great because it was still cool for a while. Sasha and Brookelyn had a great time running around. Sasha managed to pull her shirt off somehow and from then on I couldn't get her to keep it on. She, of course, wanted me to put it back on her as many times as she took if off. I finally just put it away and let her be half naked. At that point she decided her shorts needed to come off and spent some time trying to figure that out. Brayden did great. He scored four goals. More importantly he understands the game, which is half the battle at his age. It was a lot of fun for all of us.
We are going to a picnic this afternoon with a bunch of other families. It should be a lot of fun. Hopefully, it will have cooled off a little by then. I just made brownies and banana bread to bring with us, which made our house even hotter. Did I mention it is hot here?
Picture is of kids at Grandma's house.