Thursday, May 23, 2013

First Steps!

Grace's unofficial first steps may or may not have occurred on Tuesday, when my mom was babysitting Grace. She said she saw it, but since Blake and I could not repeat it, we were a bit dubious of if it was a case of grandma pride or actual ability.

Today, at my mom's house again, I was there to witness her successfully stand up and take a step or two before falling, and I told Blake. Again, not being witness to it, he now was the dubious one and the video I took of one of those occurrences at my mom's house that I actually got on camera really did look more like "falling with style."

But when Blake got home today, she was able to prove again that she can take a few wobbly steps towards something she wants, and on the second or third time going back and forth between us, I got it on video for any other doubters :-D to see.

So... not the first steps, but the first day that mom and dad saw her steps, is preserved and shown below:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Thousands of Words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than this post will be thousands of words long.

I have been on a quest to capture the beautiful smile of my daughter, which she seems to take away as soon as I bring out a camera, and while I still don't think any of them are quite perfect... I'm getting closer. There are also a few videos, that I will include brief captions for, but for the most part... this is a picture post.

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Pretend City
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Random moments, mostly in restaurants
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Grace figuring out how to turn her walker... till she gets frustrated at the end.

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This is not just a cute picture of Grace napping... it was me thinking about how close I was to both of my children at that moment.

The video and the following pictures are all taken as Blake got home yesterday, she gets so excited!

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p.s. to my dad- I hope this makes up for the lack of pictures in the last post :-D

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More than Just a Picture

Back in August, we got our first picture of our little girl. She was cute, and we (and others) inferred all kinds of things from her picture about her personality. But we didn't really know her, her likes or dislikes, her daily routine, what will make her laugh.

Even after our November trip, we still didn't really know her. We knew more- that she could crawl, she liked snacks, she liked being held, but we couldn't tell you much.

Now, we really feel like parents because we KNOW her. We could make a fairly accurate guess to what she will like or not.

She isn't a big fan of stuffed animals. Has dozens of them that people have given her as a gift, but has never really cared about them.

She loves things that make noise- books, toys, phones, etc. If she can do something and it makes a noise, she is a fan. One of our more recent purchases from her has become a favorite- it is a book where each button plays its own song, and it also has separate keys if you want to compose your own song. She doesn't do much with the separate keys yet, but she loves pressing the buttons to hear the different songs.

I know that my daughter is aware enough to know that she likes the "adult" food better than the kid food. She has never gone for the straight baby food (the mush), and even torn up pieces of chicken nugget or strips are not as good as the full sized piece. She is more likely to eat a big chunk of banana (in little bites) than small chunks.

I can tell you that when she starts to get grumpy and itchy and nothing seems to make her happy, it is because she is tired, and needs to take a nap. But I could also tell you that she legitimately fights sleep, and might be flailing about, kicking and screaming when you try to get her down... she is still tired, it just is going to take some work to get her to sleep. I know that most days, she takes two naps, one in the morning (around 10... thus my ability to write a blog) and one in the afternoon, which varies in time.

We know how to make her smile, we know how to make her laugh. We understand more of her gibberish than a random person might.

Having her home, even on the hard days, is such a blessing because it means that we get to know her. Her unique, God-given personality, combined with our nurturing and teaching, blended together to make what we know as our daughter. We are so thankful that she is so much more than a picture and a face to us now.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


When you talk about milestones that your child accomplishes, it is all about the firsts: first time holding their head up, first roll over, first time they sit up, first crawl, and so on.

Even as you get older, I feel that you remember your "firsts" as the important moments, and then the future events as less meaningful.

With Grace, we missed many of the typical firsts that a parent experiences. I don't have a first time for feeling her kick inside me, we didn't see the first time she held her head up, or rolled over, or sat up. But as the time goes with her, we are experiencing firsts with her, and they are so precious.

Last Saturday, Grace went to her first birthday party (for a former co-worker's daughter).
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She got to do a fishing game...

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and played in the sand with her beach toys she got while "fishing."

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On Sunday, she had her first trip to the zoo:

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She seemed to really enjoy her trip to the zoo. Grace points at things often (half the time we have no idea what she is trying to get us to see), and at the zoo, there were plenty of monkeys and animals to point out to us. One of the words she is pretty consistently saying these days is "daw" when referring to our dogs. However, she has now generalized this to all four legged furry animals. At the zoo, llamas were dogs, capybaras were dogs, warthogs were dogs etc. We have taught her now to say, "tat" for our cats, but she isn't consistent on distinguishing them quite yet at home.

The elephants were astonishing to her, as she just kept looking. Not really talking, not saying much, just being apparently amazed at just how big these animals are.

More than just her first trip, which is meaningful all by itself, it was also special that we finally were at the zoo with our child. We have been zoo members for a long time, and always saw the many children visiting the zoo. For years now, while I loved seeing the cute kids and their reactions to animals, I also felt disappointment in our not having a child to share our trip with us. It was a big thing that I was looking forward to. It was a great feeling seeing her reactions and just being able to share this special place with her as we had dreamed about doing for so long. 

She also had her first time playing with Uncle Graeme:

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They are playing a game of peek-a-boo with the tissue paper from one of the gifts that Blake got last Sunday.

Thursday brought another two firsts as I saw Grace color for the first time with crayons (more than the forced attempts in restaurants).

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I also took Grace to visit North lake (a lake near us) for the first time that day.

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I truly look forward to the many more firsts that we will experience with her, including some that we thought we would be missing because of her being adopted at somewhat less than newborn age, such as seeing her stand independently and walk on her own.

But we also have the firsts that every parent can look forward to: first day of school, first bike, first sleep over, etc.

It is funny how excitement builds in this house, where she does something new, and we get excited, and she sees that we are excited, and she gets excited, and then we love seeing her so excited, so we get more excited,  it just goes on in a loop of laughter and smiles that is so sweet and precious! It also means that each first is a chance for us to connect and join together as a family, which is what I really was waiting for all those years.

I have a first tomorrow too- my first mother's day as a mother. Last year, around this time, we were still waiting for a call. We had no idea if it was going to be a boy or girl, name, age or anything. This year, she is home, and I am her mother in every sense of the word. One of my students asked (back before I became a stay at home mom) about Grace's "real" mom, and I set him straight very quickly that I was her real mom.

Legally, I am her mom, all the paperwork we have done, and possess confirms it. But I also confirm that I am her mom when I have to hold her while she gets her blood taken, I am the one who watches her and changes her diapers during the day. I am the one who holds her hands while she walks, and calms her down when she is upset. (Credit where credit is due- Blake does this stuff too).

The woman in Ghana who gave birth to her gets credit for her beautiful eyes, stunning eyelashes, and cuteness that makes even strangers comment. She gets credit for not leaving Grace on the side of the street, but making sure that she was left in good hands. But she is not her mom. Because of Grace's particular circumstances, we will likely never know any more than we currently do about this woman who gave life to my sweet daughter.

Some day, when Grace is older, she might say to me in anger, "You are not my real mom." But she would be wrong. Parenthood is not determined by blood alone, but also by being the one who is there for your child, good and bad, happy and sad.

So tomorrow I will celebrate Mother's Day not just by honoring my mom, and Blake's mom, but also getting honored, as I got to join this elite group of women who were and are there for their children.

In a surprise twist of fate, as opposed to last year, I also am celebrating being a mother to my son, who we will get to meet in September. I would have never guessed that my first Mother's Day would find me as a mother to two different children, and not twins!

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Notes on this very strange video- it is of my stomach, where I caught on camera two times he moved. The first is around 31 seconds in and the second around 1:30. The rest is boring (but I can't predict his movements...) You should be looking more on the right hand side.  I would recommend dragging to spot :28 and 1:28 or so, and then look for it. :-D

Anyways, cheers to moms and to watching your children's firsts!

The joy in motherhood comes in moments. There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction.
-Elder M. Russel Ballard

Friday, May 3, 2013

Little Things

It has been a week since I last posted, and unlike many of my previous posts, which explain that I haven't posted because of big medical stuff, or trips to the hospital, I am happy to say that this gap is only caused by having too much of my time taken by just living and loving my little girl.

The few nap breaks I have had (when not in the car between stuff) I have been using to try to still be the best wife that I can be. Thankfully though, I know my wonderful mother in law is coming over this afternoon to watch Grace, just so I can get caught up on many of the household chores, so I feel like I can use this nap break to share some of the many wonderful little moments that we have experienced over the last week.

"The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions -- the little soon forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimal of pleasurable and genial feeling. " -Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"Human felicity is produced not as much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by little advantages that occur every day. " - Benjamin Franklin
"It isn't the big pleasures that count the most, it's making a great deal out of the little ones."- Jean Webster

Most of these moments don't have pictures... because I was enjoying the moment.

I love seeing Blake as a dad, both how he plays with her, how he makes her laugh, but also the excitement that she shows every time she sees him come home from work. 
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I love seeing both sets of grandparents with her, and all of the joy she is bringing to the family as a whole.
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I love how she will spontaneously play peek a boo, in whatever way she can, which sometimes means her just grabbing a tiny part of her shirt and saying, "a boo" because she hasn't mastered the "peek" part yet.

I love the game that we play where she tries to crawl away, and Blake or I catch her and hug her, kiss her, and just shower her with affection while she just laughs and laughs (until it is time to play again).

I love how when she is awake when we arrive somewhere, and we go to get her out of her carseat, she starts laughing and smiling just by seeing us at the car window.

I love watching her learn and grow everyday, and seeing all of the new stuff she can do, and wondering what new thing she will do next. Her latest is while waving goodbye to someone, she has added a "ba, ba" and is trying to copy us in saying "bye."

It is so sweet to see her get excited over things like her formula bottle or her bath time, where she really lets you see that she wants it, and is excited to have it.

It is great to see her start to communicate with us more, by learning how to shake her head no (which she does often), and in turn, reducing the number of tantrums.

I am so proud when she shows that she understands what I mean by no, and stops what she was doing because I told her to.

Though it can be hard at times, I love that she truly prefers Blake or I over others when she has the choice. Our bonding time worked, and though she is fine with babysitters, she always wants us when we come back, and if we are there with the babysitter (grandparents) she will frequently still choose us. For example, I was shopping with my mother in law, and Grace was fine being with her and playing with her for a little bit, but after a few rounds of me going to change clothes and coming back, she decided she needed to be with me. So sweet (hard for shopping purposes... but I really felt like a mom).

I was excited to hear that she is almost on the standard growth chart for her age (ALMOST hitting the 3rd percentile for her age... but still almost on the chart). Also, she has grown an inch in the time we've had her!

We find joy in the morning temperature check, when we see that for another day, it isn't a fever.

We found joy in the fact that she went up a size in diapers.

We find joy every time she wants to walk or stand partially because it makes her so excited, but also because we know it means that her feet aren't hurting her (which would be a sign of a crisis).

In non-Grace related little moments:

It is exciting and strange to me every time I feel our little boy move inside of me. So far, it isn't a definite kick or a punch, but more of the feeling of someone has a paintbrush and is painting me from the inside. Every time, I wonder what he is up to in there, and what I am feeling him do.

It was exciting the other day when a stranger commented on our expecting another (besides Grace) because it means I am truly showing, and I am no longer in the stage of people wondering if it is fat or pregnancy.

I find joy in seeing our garden grow. I find joy in every ripe strawberry I pick. This week we had the extra excitement of having our first home grown tomato on our salad :
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Life with a child (and being pregnant) isn't easy, and there are still many doctor's appointments every week, and part of this week has been spent obtaining and delivering multiple stool samples from her to the doctor (not one of the moments of joy). But when I look back at our week together, I don't remember all the negatives, I remember the smiles.

Those quotes above are so true. Our week didn't have huge momentous events, it had lots of little ones. But those little moments are so precious and it has never been more apparent than it is now as a mom, because I can see that every day she changes, and learns and does something new. I need to treasure her crawling, because someday she will be walking. I need to laugh and soak in her not-quite-words-yet language because eventually she will be talking. I need to enjoy the moments that she is so needy it is almost frustrating because she will be independent one day.

Most importantly, I need to rejoice and remember this time together, because in just a few more months, it won't just be the two of us together during the day, I will have to share my time with two kids. I know that time will come with new moments as he learns and grows, and moments of the beauty of siblings, but for now, I will enjoy my little girl, and all the little moments that she brings.
"The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions -- the little soon forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimal of pleasurable and genial feeling." - See more at: