Thursday, June 24, 2010

8-months Home Update

6.24.10: It's hard to believe this week will be our 8-month "Famiy Day" Anniversary. But when you look at this video you see a whole different little girl. God blessed us over and over and over and just when we think it can't get any better--it does.

She is now 36.5" tall and almost 33 pounds. Up from 30" tall and 28 pounds on the day we met her.

A little snipet of her at 8-months home: She is vibrant, patient, kind, loving, has good instincts about people, a great sense of humor, loves to laugh and giggle, compassionate, trusting of us, good sleeper, flexible, loves to read and be read to, knows how to count to 10, is potty-trained, will be in a toddler bed soon, has grown out of many of her 24 month clothes and even 2T's are getting a bit small, she has beautiful thick wavy hair, eats until we tell her to stop (I think this is lingering orphanage issue--working on that), naps once a day for about an hour, knows most family and friends by name, calls me "Mommy" regularly now, and Dan "Daddy" now about 25% of the time, uses her imagination so vividly she thinks it's real--I mean real (more on this later), dances like a pro (her moves now include a bit of break dancing, contemporary floor movements, jumping, squatting, balancing on one foot holding onto something, wiggling her butt), sings so sweetly and with such emotion in her face, she can do a sommer-sault (has for quite a while now) and is very proud of herself, instead of "I you you." it's now, "I too." and she signs it with her head cocked to one side and looking at you so very sweet, knows some words in the songs we sing, has started to show voluntary love to our dogs quite a lot, loves to help with all things mom and dad do, plays independently very well, loves babies and kids of any kind, she is great with crossing the road--ALWAYS checks for cars--and is very aware of any moving cars in the parking lots, she reminds me to shut off lights, bring my glasses with me, and to grab my phone before leaving one room to the next, she does the stairs like an old pro--one foot at a time if you hold her hand.

Some of the things she is saying a lot now: "Sure." "Look at me! Look at me!" "Oh Maaannn!" "Maaannn Oh Maaan", "Oh Gosh!" "Geeeez" "Wow!" So cute the way she says these things.

Bonding: She's doing so well, she will stick very close to us in public around strangers, even go as far as not want to be put down. She loves to be rocked to sleep at night--and makes excellent eye-contact with us--all the time. Her night terrors have all but stopped. She is easily comforted by Dan and I and looks to us first when she's hurt. Even when she does a job on her big toe on the driveway--that must have hurt like crazy--took weeks to heal. She still does not show any signs of grieving during the day (never has really) she's always so content and happy.

I'm sure there's more--these are the things that come to mind immediately. This video is 10 minutes--but includes lots of sweet video of some things we've done this month:
  • Blowing Bubbles with Daddy--this was during Dan's sister's visit.
  • Washing Bikes--Izabella begs to wash her bike everytime Dan washes his. She was granted her request and I captured it on video--so sweet.
  • Pool Tea Party with Ethan. We had sooo much fun with Ethan. They are getting more and more comfortable with each other and are so fun to watch. Date was at our house this time--we played for 2 hours in the kiddie pool.
  • Lake Ride-in: she loved watching the fish jump out of the lake, all the boats and even got to dance to some music.
  • Parade--she got more candy than any child should eat in a lifetime. And some fun beads too. Watching her while we waited for the parade to get to us--which was about an hour--UGH--was so fun.
  • Carnival--her first carnival...some video of her first rides
  • Playground Play--she's so different now at the playground than 8 months ago. She runs and plays all over the place--and worked up a real sweat this last visit on a rainy day.
  • COLD Ice Cream--she does this funny face and shivers when she takes a big bite of anything COLD.
  • Silly faces..and "Slow Down!": She is so animated when she visits with you. I love having conversations with her. Just before I got this clip she was asking the moon to come and talking to it like it was animated. In this video she yells,"Slow-down!" We live on a street that has become a through fare for folks that live in the housing out behind us--to avoid lights on the intended through street--UGH. Hence, we have lots of speeding vehicles. The police are monitoring it more now--thanks to Dan calling the mayor and the county sheriff several times--so hopefully that will help. But prior to that Dan would yell at the cars going by, "Slow-Down!" Or he's hold up his hand and hold up the fingers "two" "five"! You'll hear her telling one of the noisy bikes (which she associates a loud noisy motor with speeding) to "slow down!" "too fast!"
Two funny stories I don't want to forget.

  • Izabella likes to talk on her play Princess Phone. Snow White and Cinderella talk to her. She prefers to talk to Snow White. Last week she handed me her phone and told me Snow White wanted to talk to me. So I played along, talked to her and told her "Of course you can come over and play with Izabella." Then I told Izabella Snow White was coming over to play soon. Then we went to the door--and I told her Snow White was here to play. She just kept saying, "Where is she?" Needless to say, in Izabella's mind, Snow White has not made it over to play yet. Yesterday, I asked Izabella to come to check the mail with me, she said, "Snow White?" She thought Snow White was coming to the door.
  • Papa plays the game "I got your nose" and then puts it back on . Well recently they've taken the game further and Papa will throw her nose like a baseball. She then says, "No." and retrieves it and puts it back on her face. Last night he was sitting at the table playing the game while she was in her lap. He took her nose, her ears, her eyes, her lips‚—each time throwing them away--like magic. As he moved through each of them, her face started to drop and she got so sad a tear welled up! I said, "Dan she doesn't know it's not real, you better retrieve them and put them back right away." So he did and as fast as her face went sad she was happy and giggling again. Wow! imagination at it's finest.
Here she is doing our simple life with us:

Izabella's First Haircut!

6.22.10: Izabella got her first hair-cut yesterday! She was soooo good! When I was preparing her for this event--I told her a lady was going to "clip, clip" her hair and she needed to sit very still. I asked her if she thought she could do this. She said, "yes!" Then she brushed her bangs away from her eyes and said, "I see! I see!" Too funny. I told her "Yes, you will be able to see again."

It was an un-eventful trip--although the hair designer did not want to cut it the way I wanted it (I wanted it short and sassy for the summer--she is so hot and sweaty and does not like the ponytail thing right now and her hair grows like wild fire so it will grow out this winter). So it's not exactly the way I envisioned--but it will do. So, although Izabella is very happy--she told her Papa when he got home, "I see! I see!" I am a bit disappointed. She's beautiful, so it's hard to make her look bad. It just feels ordinary to me--not "short and sassy". We'll go somewhere else next time.

Izabella last night at the Lake Ride-in (we drove the car--Papa on his Harley)!

Paige (the hair designer) and Izabella

Our famiy of 3 at the Lake Ride-in.

Here is a cute video clip--I thought I forgot my camera--so I used my phone--quality isn't as good--but we got it documented. She gets lost under that huge cape!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Please Leave a Comment that's all and "she will give a $1" to "An Orphan's Wish"

6.22.10: Go here and make a comment and this blogger adoptive mom will give $1 to "An Orphan's Wish!" It's that simple--and probably many of you are finding this hard to believe--it can't be possible right? Well, those in the adoption community know this is real--no hitches--no glitches--no fine print.

This adoptive mom of 8 (oops...she corrected me sooo sorry--wow) 9 kids (4 bio and 5 adopted) is celebrating her 1000 blog post with a give away. She is giving away $1 for every comment left on this 1000th post! I just posted this morning and there were already 232 comments. That will almost buy 2 wheelchairs for an orphan in China, or a whole bunch of formula or clothing--so much can be bought for these needy children.

And there is more--she's giving away a necklace to one of the comment-ers and possibly some really cool t-shirts too. So your few seconds of time--commenting--and hopefully checking out "An Orphan's Wish" website could make you a winner as well.

If you have time--I encourage you to take to look at the charity she's giving the money to.

An Orphan'sWish

It's just one of many amazing organizations reaching out to these precious children. Sadly, there are so millions of orphans all over the world (including right here in our country) we alone can not save them all--but we can make a difference one thing at a time--they all--no matter country or origin deserve the love and care many of us take for granted. As you know, our daughter was well cared for because of the donations and time from a similar organization (half the sky foundation). Believe me when I tell you--they make a huge difference in these children's lives. Some of which, sadly, will never know the love of a family to call their own.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I love Sunglasses...

6.20.10: Our first "Papa's Day" week-end together. Today is a rainy dreary day--ironically a little like the weather the day they found our precious Izabella in the living quarters of an electric company half way around the world. I want to honor her birth father on this day--the tears probably flowed like the rain on that rainy day--the day he had to let his little girl go--in what he felt was the only way to get her the life-saving surgery her little heart needed and save her life. How deeply inadequate he must have felt. If he only knew--he did the most courageous thing he could have done for her indeed--it did save her life! I pray he knows--somehow--some way--by God's grace--that she is happy and filling life with tons of JOY. A living legacy to him and her birth mother!

As we moved through this weekend--I found myself choked up and moved to tears more than a few times. Thankfully--I had my sunglasses on for most of those moments--so my feelings were kept private and required no explanation from concerned onlookers.

But first--a heartfelt message to my husband, Izabella's father--As Dan and I were dating, I fell in love with him a little more everyday. There were special points of our dating I remember most. And one of them was how he was with his nieces and nephews. I remember thinking, "Oh, he'll be such a great Dad." I was right, although by the time we brought our daughter home, he was beyond the time he thought he wanted to be. Even still, it's clear, no matter his mood or stress from the day, when he lays eyes on her, his heart melts and he drops into that beautiful father every daughter would love to have. He whisk her into his arms and whispers into her ear how special she is and how very much he loves her. He giggles and laughs with her, reads to her, swims for hours with her, teaches her all kinds of things about the world around her, protects her from harm, and just overall wraps his heart around her in a way only he can do. I know she is the beautiful well adjusted girl she is today--because of all of this and more. If she had words she would tell him all the above! But since she doesn't yet, here is how she showed him today in her own words and these pictures tell.

Sunglass Moments:
  • We attended a parade yesterday, and the parade was lead by a group of veterans carrying our flag. I often weep at the singing of our national anthem, and this day was no different. All the people along the side of the road watching, rose from their seats in honor of these special people that gave their lives for our freedom and to honor a country that gives us so very much, as a people and as individuals. I wonder how many other wet eyes were behind sunglasses.
  • Then we saw what we thought was a "state police" float. As I said, "Izabella look! It's the state police--your grampa was a state policeman." My eyes (as they are now) teared up with a flood of tears with the thought that he would never meet this precious girl, and oh how I prayed he could see her, even though we can not see him. I was happy I had my sunglasses on--how would I explain this moment to anyone without completely losing it. I often wonder what he would think. When asking my mom what she thought she said, "Oh Lisa, he's be so proud of you. And think she was beyond precious." I think he would. My dad was a man of many words, but when it came to emotional times, it was just a look he'd give you, a twinkle in his eye that said it all. He was the best Dad anyone could ask for. He put "family" first everyday, every hour, every second of every day and instilled this in us and we all still practice it today. He was un-conventional in his discipline and love and always with amazing consistency that I admire and often supports me as I try to follow his example with Izabella. I still miss him so very much, still tear up when I think of how much I miss him and so wish I could go to him for advice as I do life. And he still shows me that he's with me by surrounding me with a smell that is only his and which immediately stops me in my tracks in whatever I'm doing--and touches me like he's planting a sweet kiss on my cheek. Thank you for that Dad--you knew I'd always need you. And your promise to always be there--is true even in death. And thanks for the gentle touch this week! I needed that! We will see each other again--I'm sure of it. I was Izabella's age in this picture sitting on MY father's knee! I love the way his hand holds me tight on his knee. We found this picture in his wallet after he passed away. He carried it for a very long time. It is of his whole family...I just cropped into my Dad and I.
  • We headed to the carnival after the parade. Izabella got her first carnival ride--on the merry-go-round. She rode a beautiful "horse-y"! She wasn't sure at first, but the minute the carousel started a smile came over her face that took my breath away and again brought tears to the eyes behind the sunglasses! She smiled that amazing big smile. I was reminded in that moment that this little girl, just a short 7 months ago, was in an orphanage with 400 other children waiting for a family, and now she's gleefully riding a carousel, with her proud new family watching on--with such amazing love and pride!
  • After the carnival we headed home for lunch and then off to the waterpark for some fun. Dan just loves swimming with her, and did so, seriously for a solid 2.5 hours! They bobbed and wiggled through the water together all late afternoon. In the 2.5 hours we were there--tears flooded my eyes behind my sunglasses more than once. They are so sweet together. The way she melts this big guys heart and reduces him to a puddle of ply-able fun!
  • And finally--no sunglasses for this one--they just flowed. Izabella gave Papa his "Happy Papa's Day" card and gift and said over and over "Happy Papa's Day!" He didn't need any other gift, but he got a little one anyway. He loved it--thanks in no small part to my sister and her big tall husband. He helped me enormously. I told him it was a small gift for an amazing father and provider. He just said, 'hmmmm." "hmmmm." :) Perhaps he had a tear too. I was behind him, arms wrapped around his neck and shoulders, Izabella was on his lap hugging on him at the same time. I couldn't see his face. I know he felt my tears dripping on his cheek and neck.
  • This one is no sunglasses either. I have to tell you I'm not much of a Sugarland fan--Dan is--but I am now. Was watching a Sugarland documentary when Kristian Bush (the male partner in Sugarland) recounts attending a Mellancamp concert when he was 13, when he turns to his friend and said, "I want to do this someday!" Well, years later, he was in that same concert hall, only this time he was the one on the stage. He recalls, "My friend sent me a one word text--Mellancamp!" Dream come true. This story prompted me to think about what I dreamed of doing when I was 13. And it hit me, I sat in front of my mother one Sunday afternoon, she in a rocking chair, I in a large chair in front of a picture window that looked out over the most breathtaking view of Camel's Hump (Vermont), where I proclaimed my dream, "Mom, I don't want to give birth to my children, I want to adopt them!" I'm sure she was not prepared for the statement--yet she knew I was serious (I didn't do much kidding around about such things). As wise as she is, she said, "Well Lisa, that's wonderful. But I think you better wait and see what your husband has to say about this!" If I recall right, I believe my response was, "Well, ok, I still want to adopt. I don't understand why I need to have a baby when there are so many children that need a family." This from a little girl that when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she'd reply--everytime, "A mom, I want to be a mom!" And I didn't play with dolls, I had to have real babies, and real laundry and real dishes to wash--which my mother was so sweet to provide. So...yeah...if you dream can it, it can happen!
To all the Dad's out there--thanks for being great Dad's we all appreciate you--May God continue to bless you!

Father's Day Afternoon Update:
After the fun morning, and Papa was finished reading his paper--Izabella wanted Papa to read her a book, of course he did. Then she wanted Papa to give her a bath--so she got a fun bath (mom's are pretty functional--not much playing), we had some lunch, then it was nap time. Of course she didn't want to go down, as usual. So I asked Dan what we were going to do in the afternoon--his choice--it is Papa's Day. Papa's choice--take my girl to the mall playground, too hot, muggy and rainy to play outside. I always tell her what we'll do after she wakes up (usually it's, Papa will be home after you take your nap...and she's exited for that to happen, so it worksI that calmed her down, so we headed up to her room. Suddenly she stopped me and said, "No! Papa Night, Night!" Hmmmm...Izabella has not asked Papa to rock her to sleep, nap or not for a long time--no matter how much we try to get her to do this. So Papa got yet another "gift"...he got the sweet honor of rocking his little girl to sleep. This afternoon, as promised we headed to the mall play ground where Papa watched over her like a hawk (Izabella had a BLAST she was all hot and sweaty too, which was unusual. Papa didn't let her get out of his sight. We stopped at Coldstone for a scoop of ice cream, then home for dinner, and he has read her 3 books so far this evening and it's only 7pm. Right now she's running around the living room with her sand bucket on her head, being silly and playing with Papa.

Ahhh...the end of a beautiful day--and weekend. Memorable in deed.

A little girl gets a Papa, and a Papa gets to celebrate Papa Day for the first time in his 52 years and I get to ride along and observe and soak it all in. Doesn't get any better than that!

I almost forgot-it's Sunday Snapshot day! Click on the icon below and check out some of the fasinating, inspiring families featured each Sunday--not to say the beautiful Sunday Snapshot Host Stephanie and her wonderful family.
Ni Hao Y'all

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Snapshot: Nothing Special...ahhhh

6.13.10: Dan's sister Kathy drove from NE to spend a day with us! We thoroughly enjoyed her and look forward to her next visit. Didn't do anything special--if you call hanging out with family not special--just enjoyed each other's company visiting and listening to music on our deck, grilling pork chops, blowing bubbles and the highlight--Dan gave Kathy a ride on his Harley. She LOVED it--very relaxing and beautiful scenery! Amazing the new take on the world around you when you're on a motorcycle vs. a car. Remind me again why you haven't gotten a ride sooner? Silly us!

Kathy rarely lets me take pictures of her--so this is a very special picture. And it's a beauty! They had a great ride! I was a bit jealous-I've only gotten one ride this season so far! I miss snugglin' up behind my man with the wind blowin through my hair--and listening to Bruce Springstein! He promises me he'll get me out with him soon! Yeah!

Hey, I'm very happy my helmet, my jacket and my sister-in-law got a ride! :)

A little funny--Kathy and Izabella return from their long walk--but have to watch carefully for "land-mines" -- which is another word for 'dog poopies" on the lawn. In this picture they had just spotted one and Izabella is seriously trying to avoid it!

Here Kathy and Izabella are just taking off for their walk. Sadie is wondering, "hmmmm...going for a walk WITHOUT ME? Wonder if she'll remember she forgot something!"

Love this picture of Kathy-they had a great time together!

Izabella, chillin' out on the swing--eating one of her favorite foods--a banana.

And Dan (Papa) blowing bubbles with Izabella.
I have the cutest video of this--will come on a later post.

Nothing special--ahhhh not--it was special all right! We hated to see her go!

Ni Hao Y'all

Friday, June 11, 2010

Adoptive Families Play Date!

6.11.10: A community that we have so much in common with--and one that always feels soooo right immediately is fellowship and gatherings with fellow-adoptive families. I found this quote and thought it was perfect for our day yesterday--"our first asian adoptive families group play date".

"It is the things in common that make relationships enjoyable, bit it is the little differences that make them interesting." --Ruthman, Todd

There are two moms in Des Moines that I knew briefly before going to China--one mom actually adopted a child from the same orphanage as Izabella's orphanage (her name is Elizabeth)--and the other mom went to China to bring home her son just 3 months after we arrived home. Their kindness and support in the weeks leading up to and after returning was so special. We have hooked up informally at a couple Asian Association community events--and we've had a couple playdates with Jenny & Ethan. And we had such a wonderful time--we thought pulling a larger regular play-group/support group together would be so nice! So between the 3 of us--we managed to reach out to other families here in central iowa and decided to start on June 10th--yesterday. No mandatory attendance or RSVP--just come if you can--stay as long as you like--and enjoy each other. It was so casual--no hassle for anyone and brought all of us SUCH comfort and JOY. The children just loved it. Izabella was all about the "boys" of course and all the way there was saying, "Etan, Etan? Find Etan?" She just loves little Ethan (Jenny's son) and tried as best she could to keep up with him-but he's so fast on his little feet! I happened to catch some video of them coming up the ramp out of the play area hand in hand--it's so precious and so them! Ethan is clearly helping Izabella along. Just before I turned on the video--I saw her pleading with him for help getting up the ramp (some might say, batted her eyelashes at him and he fell to her command). It's adorable.

We didn't expect too many at this first gathering--but we had NINE families and 19 children in all! It was so sweet to see everyone! We even had a mom that had just got word the day before they got travel approval to go to China to bring home their second child from china--a boy! So we all got to see pictures and I think for many--envy that she is going to CHINA! We also got to see a newly home family "little madison"--home just 6 weeks we had not met her yet! She is seriously adorable--as were all the children, including the bio children! The fun part of that was watching how they looked over their adoptive siblings like little mother hens. It seriously was precious to watch these kids. As I looked out over the play area through-out the morning--I kept thinking "oh, my goodness! It's a playground full of God's blessings and miracles!"

I put a video together of the photos I took--I was talking to the mom's most of the time--so I didn't get a lot of photos like I should have. But...after I put it together and watched it back I thought, "if you didn't know were weren't in China--you'd think we were!"

I know there are some children still struggling with not seeing faces like their own--some have not gotten to that place yet--and some are past it. But this gathering is a place where they can feel a commaraderie with the other children--all traveled a similar journey--and there is no need for questions or answers to tough questions (even if not spoken) often confronting them in other less common gatherings. Just a deep sigh of relief and comfort in the familiarity of their stories--unspoken among them--and bonding them like invisible glue--and a JOY in their step and play that as mothers of these precious children we appreciate like no other!

We are planning another play group date--and hope to have some organized trips to other Asian Association events in our community--and we decided our next gathering would be a "Mom's only" night/lunch/tea/coffee out.

I can't wait! I have made so many beautiful, amazing friends in the adoption community online. I wish so many, many times we could all get together-or even just get together with one at a time. I couldn't help but think throughout the day--how precious a gathering like this would be for my VERY special online friends. Maybe someday! Here's to hoping and praying for that day!

Monday, June 7, 2010

June Izabella-isms

My first Snapshot Sunday

Ni Hao Y'all

I got this great shot of Izabella showing me the daisies she just picked from our garden! I loved it!

We picked flowers from our garden and put them in a vase. The excitement on Izabella's face when she saw her flowers in a vase! I wish I had a picture of it--of course I didn't have the camera near.

We had a great week-end--it was relaxing and un-predictable. I even got to go out with my girlfriend for the first time since we returned from China. We went to a movie together and then chatted for a while after! So fun.

We also went to the waterpark for the first time as a family of 3. It was an experience. She loved it--and I think as she becomes "safer" and on her own in the pool it will be even more fun. We have a pass--so we'll be doing it as often as time allows.

We also went to our second ride-in, where Izabella was given a really cool shirt from the "Angels for Sam" Ride event sponsors--click here to go to their facebook page and check out the ride--it's this weekend--great event--great cause. And they tried (I say tried cause there were some younger kids in the picture) to get a picture of the kids in their shirts. Didn't work--but Izabella thought it was pretty cool. When we got home--she didn't want to take the shirt off! I told her we'd save it for another day.

We also took our daily evening walk. Izabella LOVES to walk Montana. It's so dang cute. I got some video, but here is a still shot. She also of course had to play with her bubbles--and sitting next to Montana and blowing them was Montana's highlight of the day. She has become very close to Montana lately. She will just for no reason walk over and very gently (we taught her to be gentle with her--she's very old--12 years old now--that's in her 80's for dog years) pet her and give her a sweet hug and kiss. It's very sweet to see. As Montana was the VERY first step to having a family--I got Montana just a few months before meeting Dan. I credit her for showing me how to make room in my busy job-life (UGH!) for others (canine or human). I get a tear in my eye thinking about how much she changed my life for the better. I love, love, love both these girls! So blessed.

I'll end with this hilarious video of Izabella one night after dinner. Just before I started the video camera she said, "ahhh...I full!" as she rubbed her belly! Then she had the funniest expression on her face. I grabbed the camera to take a "still shot" and didn't realize it was on video! This is what I got--it is soooo Izabella! It is an example of how a "sober face" doesn't have a chance for long with her--as the JOY is just beyond the surface bubbling to get out! And it does--99% of her waking hours!

I entitled this video--"Izabella's FULL (of JOY)!"

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Happy Birthday and Fun Catch Up!

We had another playdate with our new friends Jenny and Ethan! It was a wonderful time and look forward to seeing them again this week at the park! They played so well together--it was sweet.
Here Ethan is trying to take his tricycle back.
Too funny! Izabella is like..." not yet!"
Dan says his friends all tell him he can't ride or go to ride-in's because he HAS a KID now! HA! We fooled them! And they have fun for "THE KID" too! How 'bout that! Why do people think your life has to stop when you have children in your life? So sad really. Izabella LOVES bikes. When we pulled into the square she said, "I like bikes! I like bikes!" And when I told her one day she'd have to get her own bike and ride with Papa--she said "Yeah!" I can see it now--precious.

So, we also went to our first bike ride-in.
Of course Dan rode his bike and we followed in the car.
But we had a great time.
AND Izabella got to go in the "Jumping tents" she LOVED it.
Although was very skiddish at first.
Here she is having fun in there jumping. I'm not sure if she jumped as much as the others bouncing--bounced her around. She would try to stand and then lift her legs and drop on her butt!


Izabella had a GREAT Birthday! Happy Birthday Sweet Girl! Of course we always think of your the special people that gave you life and sacraficed a life with you to save your life! The more we get to know you--the closer we feel to them. We know they were very special people indeed.
We are eternally grateful for their sarafice. Our lives are forever changed and immeasurably blessed with YOU.

I was so stressed about what to do to celebrate your big day. I wondered: Does she know what a Birthday is? Has she ever had a cake? Someone sing Happy Birthday to her to celebrate the day God brought her into this world? I didn't know and I was so unsure about what would be best for her. In the end, after talking to Dan about it. We decided to do it the way we did it in our families when we were young—just immediate family. Our niece Katie that lived with us (has since moved into her own apartment) was there too. But it was simple and very sweet.

We had a big cake with some friends the weekend before and she got a couple gifts there, so that was fun. She also got some very sweet gifts and cards in the mail from family for days before and after. So it was really a week long event in many ways. She loves any kind of mail, or anything to open. And always gets that BIG HUGE smile on her face and then covers her mouth as if to hold in her excitement! She always says, "Dank you!" in the most sincere way ever! And she is her always joyful and appreciative self.

It was so much fun for us too...And we learned a few answers to my unknowns--she seems to know the "happy brithday song", and she sings it's to herself like this, "Happy to You, Happy to You" it's pretty darn cute! And she knew how to blow out the candles--this too was a huge surprise--but we do have a picture of her at the orphanage sitting next to a birthday girl before we got over there to bring her home. So both those things--NOT taught by us, we assume she learned at the orphanage. If you recall, she was in an orphanage that had some English speaking missionaries.

So our girl had a sweet party--just us. When papa got home he carried 3 buckets of hot water out to her pool to warm it up for her, so she could play in it while he grilled us a dinner. She LOVE, LOVE, LOVES her kiddie pool. It was so cute, she put her chair next to the slider door that goes out on the deck (where her pool is) and waited there until papa got home. She played until her feet and hands were wrinkled! And Dan and I just sat on the swing and watched and giggled with her. I got tears in my eyes remembering all the nights we sat on the swing--just the two of us--and I thought-hmmmm someday she'll be here with us...I'd think, oh one day..and finally it was here.

Her favorite part was-"ah...all of it." She loves life in general-so easy to please.

This year for Izabella it was:

  • 3 yummy coldstone ice cream cupcakes--they were delicious! We got her a big DQ cake with her name on it for last weekend's party. So this was perfect! When we picked it up at DQ that night, she said, "Mine? Mine? and covered her mouth with excitement!"
  • $1 ball
  • $3 watch (like papa's, that according to her is always 4 O'clock!" She has been pointing to her wrist like papa does and saying this for a few days's pretty funny. She copies everything he does including all his "gee-whiz" and big silly sighs, and funny faces. It's so funny)
  • $1 travel etch-a-sketch
  • $5 pair of Kia Lan sunglasses cause as she always says, "nice out, bright! too bright! Glasses!"
  • $1 jump rope
  • AND we pulled out a couple of the shower gifts we haven't given her yet--she had sooo much stuff we wanted to do it slowly so to not overload her initially--so she got her "tea party set" and "her Party Kia Lan dolly
  • 10 Yuan-- Xi'An City T-shirt from her birth city in China (we bought her a gift from China for each birthday through her 18th birthday)
  • A new family to celebrate with--"Priceless"! This makes me teary-eyed.

I loved this night-not sure I would have liked a BIG OLE expensive party as much--like so many families do--nor do I think she would have. Too much overload for her at this point. She was so relaxed and having fun.

Here are some pics of our evening:

Ok..I thought she'd love the Dora theme and she didn't give a hoot...she was more interested in seeing her name on the cake.
A terrible self-timed pic. But I love how she always touches our faces as if to say, "..they're mine! All mine!" I hope she never stops doing this sweet gesture of love and appreciation.
The weekend before we went to the Cubs Game and she LOVED the peanuts!
Playing in her kiddie pool....I JUST LOVE this shot of her. What a cutie-ba-tootie!

In the orphanage in China the Nannies always dot the kids face with frosting from their cake. I didn't want her to miss out on this tradition, incase she indeed never got a cake like she saw the other kids get. She already had her nose covered...just left a couple spots to dab!
Yum! Coldstone Ice Cream Cupcakes! They are in a "dark chocolate" cupcake holder. YUM, YUM, YUM...she ate every bite!
We also made another traditional stop to see the "horses". There is a horse farm right in the middle of Urbandale city. It's pretty cool! And the horses are gorgeous. We usually just pull up and roll down the window. But this time--Izabella wanted to get out to see the horses. They were grazing on the plentiful grass--yummy! And as amazing as it was--they wanted to see us too. They all made their way over to the fence where we were to say "hi" to our precious girl. And she was not scared of these HUGE animals either. She's definately an animal girl! She kept saying, "Horse-y, Horse-y" and then wanted to feed them some grass. I got some cute video--I'll have to do an update video soon. Soon after we arrived, a lady approached from the house aross the street. She said, "Do you have carrots or something? How'd you get them to come over to you so close?" We said, "No, we don't know. Just walked up and they came right over." I think it was Izabella they wanted to see! She's something else! Papa held her over the fence so she could pet them too! And when they swished their tail she squealed "Tail! Tail!" and moved her little butt back and forth. That is what Dan is pointing to behind her in the picture. He was pointing out how she was movin' her little butt like the horses tail. Too funny.

She's so precious standing here next to the horses, picking some grass to feed them.
I love this'd never know we were in the middle of a big suburb!