Saturday, May 28, 2011

Izabella's first Theater Movie....

As part of her birthday--we took Izabella to her first movie at the big theater! We saw "Rio"--an adorable movie about a Blue Macaw bird that can't fly and is an endangered spieces. She was so good--she sat patiently and quietly through the whole movie--and after we got out she said, "Let's go to another movie!"

Then as we headed back to the car--through the mall--she ran all the way "flapping her arms like wings" -- trying to fly, just like Blue! I think she had a great day!

Izabella's first Mall Ride...

Izabella has walked past these rides a lot of times in the past 1.5 years home and never once asked to ride. But yesterday--her 4th birthday--she asked to ride and we obliged. I thought it was interesting she picked the school bus ride rather than the horse or the boat. The girl LOVES anything to do with school!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's a tower...

Izabella's last day of school was today and the planned park picnic and playdate was rained out--so it was inside at the school. The kids were not short of fun though--fun with empty yoguart cups--seriously fun--for me too. I'd love a basket of these at home--if I had a basement play area for them--a bit of a mess to pick up after the fun. Oh well--nothing good comes easy right? 

As you can see, Izabella took a unique approach this fun activity--instead of building the "castle" like others--she built a TOWER taller than her. Just as I got around to taking the picture it started to fall--so she saved it just in time. 

Looking forward to summer. Izabella will have some fun at the an art studio for a week of over the top art classes, ballet and gymnastic classes, summer camp at the zoo, and some fun group playdates with our families of chinese children group. Should be fun to watch her experience the "summer". 

A flower for Mom...

Monday, May 16, 2011

A few things Izabella says...

It's another post about things she says. I know. I know. Not again. But I have to document these things--and realized why the other day when I she said something really remarkable--and I tried to remember previous things she said when we were first home. Of course I remember the "I you you" (which was her way to say I love you). But I drew a blank on others. So...

The other day when putting her shoes on to go to school. Out of the blue came this little conversation.

I: Mommy I'm from China.

M: Yes you are. Where in China are you from?

I: With God.

Whenever we talk about China--she always insist she lived there with God.

Another day, she was scared of something. I told her it's ok to be scared, it makes us alert to things around us--that might hurt us. So we proceed with caution. But we can't let it stop us. It then occured to me--she might have been afraid in China--although she never expresses any fear.  And I so want her to talk about any fears she has or concerns she has. Or at least feel open to talk abot it--so I asked--

M: Izabella were you scared when you were in China?

I: Said with such insistence, "No Mommy! I had God! I wasn't afraid at all!"

M: OK then--I won't worry about it then. But you would tell me if you were frightened of something and needed to talk about it right?

I: Yes. I will. I understand.

I was interviewing her the other day about her favorites. Just to see where she's at on things.

Her favorite color is still pink.
Her favorite food is still noodles.
Her favorite thing to do is "help mommy".
Her favorite friend is "God".

The other day we visited a Chinese restaurant--we love chinese food (well the american-ized version)--and have our favorite places. Often Izabella will request it. We just love the woman that owns "Mandarin Grill and Sushi Bar" --Jade. She's so good to us and just adores Izabella. And she always gets down to Izabella's level and opens her arms to her and offers a hug. Izabella always does it with much hesitation. We haven't been there recently--and I was curious how Izabella would react. She has been home almost as long as she was lived in the orphanage--and which they say means they're likely settled into who they are by this point. We've seen huge changes in her--especially lately. She's more shy with strangers a good sign for our bonding process (she used to be so friendly with strangers it made us a little nervous--bonding wise--we knew this was to be expected early on), and she just seems like she was doing 'GREAT". Well think again--she was again very nervous about Jades welcome hug. Jade and I talked about it--and she understood the fears she might have. And was very good about it all.

After we got home-I thought I should talk to her about this. She has never been comfortable around Asian women. I remember at one point home--I was chatting with a neighbor family that is from China and she refused to look at them--clung to me--and was very upset while we visited. Once we were on our way again--she was back to herself again. So I tried to talk to her about it a little:

M: Why are you so nervous when Jade wants to give you a hug?

I: I'm afraid Mommy.

M: Afraid of Jade? She is our friend, she wouldn't hurt you, and Mommy and  Daddy are right there with you.

I: I not want take me. And I never see Mommy and Daddy again.

Obviously, I assured her she would never, ever lose us--we were here a family forever and ever. And not to worry about that. I promise. I do. Forever!

Oh goodness. Breaks my heart. Bless her little heart.

To end on a good note:

I: Mommy.

M: Yes Izabella.

I: I have a question.

NOTE: When she says "question" she means I want to "tell you something".

M: Ok. What's your question.

I: Can I love on you Mommy? I want to love on you!


I heard a bird!

Izabella loves birds. Today they went on a nature walk at preschool. When they got back to the classroom they each did a drawing.

As you can see--Izabella drew this simple and beautiful bird. I love her innocent interpretation of the birds feathered wings and little legs.

In art college, I learned how to recognize an educated line. An educated line is the way an artist puts the lines on the paper to create a drawing. The theory is--you can recognize a line drawn by an educated artist--it has a certain air of purpose and intention about it. That said, "Izabella's lines--as un-educated as they are--are so sweetly innocent and careful. And I like them better! So delicate, simple and understated--and I see a bit of confidence in them as well.

I love it, so I had to share the sweetness.

She's come so far in a short period of time. It's shows in all kinds of ways.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Izabella's Mommy! She's beautiful!

Don't you think? I do! Love our girl!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Oh! Aunt She-wee!

Happy Birthday Little Sister!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

So much to do...about everything!

Warning! Very long post--lots to catch up on for our girl's journal.

We have been soooo busy! And delightfully so! This is a long update--but a fun one. Izabella's preschool class learned about pets in the month of April. The teacher offered each student the opportunity to bring in one of their pets to share. Needless to say, she was over-joyed to be able to share her puppies with the class. Remember at the first of the year--when sharing about herself--she brought pictures of her family--including her puppies. Two dogs was too much to handle--so she had to chose one--and it was Montana. Montana was the perfect dog--letting the kids hug and kiss on her--pet her, all 14 hands at once it seemed at times. She even did a couple commands for the class. Pretty fun day indeed.
A BIRTHDAY PARTY for her friend Lily! Izabella had a blast and at the end of the party she said to Lily's mom, "Thank-you. Will you come to my birthday party and bring a present?" Ahem...yeah. Well.....
  Lily was so excited to see Izabella arrive. It was so sweet.
 After lots of games and fun inside--they had a birthday cake and juice picnic outside--it was a gorgeous spring day!

 Then it was time to say good-bye. :) For now.
A trip home to VERMONT to meet my family and friends!
What a trip. It's a 22 hour drive from Iowa--and we always do it in one straight drive--we wondered how Izabella would do. She was a dream. Actually she managed it much better than us. I knew it would be strange for her to not have "bed" time when it was night time. So I packed a bag with her blanket/pillow/favorite stuffed toy (of the month since she has so many favorites now) and her jammies. When it was time for bed, I explained, we'd get ready for bed and she'd sleep in her car seat--while Daddy and Mommy drove. When she woke up we'd have breakfast and be at Aunt Shelly, Topher and Grammy's house. She said, 'Nah. I'll wait and put jammies on at Aunt Shelly's house." After some more explaining--she snuggled in my arms for a little, I sang her favorite lullaby--and she out out like a light until just before we got to my sisters house. So she was rested for the day! Opposed to Dan and I were wiped out. So we decided then and there--we would stop half way on the way home. We did and it was a good thing--we had a horrible storm in Toledo, OH (our halfway point) so driving would have been miserable.

But...we made it fine--and it was soooooo good to see my mom and my sister. The next day we had an Open House for friends and family to come and meet Izabella. It was so fun to share her with everyone. And they were all soooo good to her and to us. I can't thank everyone enough. This picture is one of my all time favorites--if you look in the background you'll see a mountain--that's just a slice of the breathtaking views she has from her property. It's truly beautiful. We had some SNOW through out our visit--that was a bit crazy. A power outage with a downed powerline that trapped us up on the mountain for the night--with two guest stranded with us for the night.
Daddy gets the "Izabella Spa Treatment" for getting us to Vermont safely. As you can see--Daddy needed some serious shut eye--after driving for 22 straight hours. And Izabella was happy to offer some spa treatment as well.
 "Shhhh....Daddy's sleeping!" It's important to note--those things on his face--they are the dogs toys--YUCK. He's such a good sport.

My youngest niece--(little brothers' daughter), Ashley, has a little boy--just 1 year old. It's hard to believe we are mothers at the same time. Life is full of miraculous surprises. She is an amazing mom--and her little Ryan is truly precious! We so loved seeing them!
 Can you tell my niece is in love with this little guy?
 Love this shot of the two of them!
 But..this one is my favorite--look how Izabella is trying to catch him before he falls. She is so sweet.

When I answered the door and it was my high school friend Kim I jumped up and down with JOY! I literally did! I was THRILLED to see her and meet her beautiful daughter Erica! Wow what a great job she's done raising that precious young woman. We had such a great visit, catching up. I don't think we've see each other in 20 years--but it seemed like yesterday--and if I showed you a picture of her when we were in high school--you'd not know a day had passed! She is a breast cancer survivor--and I am so inspired by her and her story. This year our "Trick-or-Treat for the Cure" jug will honor her! I can't wait! 
They brought Izabella an easter basket--and Kim's daughter Erica played with Izabella for quite a while. As you can see Izabella was thrilled! Erica is a sophmore at UVM studying mechanical engineering. I was so impressed with this young woman.

Topher's Family Welcomed Izabella in a Royal way! Anna and her mom Jennifer gave Izabella--a twirly princess skirt--Izabella LOVES skirts that twirl! And a bead kit to make some fun necklaces for accessories! Seriously they know how to take care of a princess.

OK..this is actually a little embarrassing--but--funny and we really think it's pretty cool. Look closely (not at me--I'm exhausted and look just awful) and you'll see we had on the same shirt. You say--"So.This happens." Well, it gets better. We didn't know we were wearing the shirts--yes. But she bought her shirt in Vermont--and I bought mine in Iowa. Hmmm....we always do this--at least once a visit--we'll come down with the same outfit on. Completely un-knowing we're doing it.

And of course Izabella had to get in on the action--afterall, SHE HAD A WHITE shirt on too! That makes her a part of the joke right? :)
 PS--it gets even better--My mom and I also, that same day, wore the same button down over our shirt--yup--different color--same shirt. LOVE IT--that's what I call Sister, mother, daughter bonding!

Handing down the PRINCESS title...I wish I had more photos of Izabella opening her gift from her special cousin Britney. You a little girl, I used to call Britney "little princess". When we returned home from China with our little Chinese Princess, Britney told me she had a very special gift for Izabella--she was passing down the title of princess to her..with a REAL Tiarra and Princess Training Manual and a Princess music CD to train by. It was a precious gift--and deeply meaningful. I don't think Izabella understands the full sweetness of this gift--but she sure does love that book and the tierra--and dances to that princess music daily!

Thank you Britney--You will always be a princess.

Aunt Shelly, Uncle Danny, Daddy, and Mommy all read this book to her over the course of a few days! She LOVES, LOVES, LOVES it!

I told you my sister lives up on a mountain--well that means lots and lots of trees--some of which were in danger of falling in high wind storms and hitting powerlines and one or two had already fallen and come dangerously close to her house. She has tried to find someone willing to come up and put those trees down for her--but no one was willing--for fear of hitting the house or powerline in the process. But, thankfully, my Dan has a lot of experience in putting down trees around homes and high voltage lines--so he and my sister--who also has a lot of experience cutting down trees with my Dad when we grew up--dropped over 35 trees around her house and driveway! Only one tree leaned into a powerline--the power company came out and took care of it without a lot of trouble. They did this "tree project" over a matter of 4 days while we were there--carefully picking their time--when the wind was dead and it was safest. So, my mom and my sister and brother-in-law are all safer now that those trees are down.

Here's some pics of them taking down some trees. Keep in mind--these trees are a minimum of 100 feet tall! I couldn't get any pics of them up and full view to the top.

After the last tree was down--this one rotten one--sat at the top of her flower garden--so Dan left the trunk long--and carved her house address number in it "72". It was a surprise--and Shelly loved it--so did Chris. Unfortunately--Chris couldn't make it home while we were there--but he made it home last weekend and said was ecstatic about the difference this project makes for them.

 My hubby and my sister--two of my favorite people in the whole world--standing by their stump. A job well done.
My Aunt Marion lives on a Dairy farm in central Vermont. She is very ill, so we went to see her. Izabella was introduced to her first real live cows. She loves horses--so I thought she'd love cows--but she was rather skid-dish about them. I have some fun video--I need to do another video clips movie of her soon.
It's a beautiful farm. With chickens and cows and everything.
 Here she is finally warming up to them--and clapping to get their attention.
 Inside we had a nice cup of coffee and a wonderful visit with my Aunt.
My Aunt has sent so many gifts, cards and well wishes along our journey to Izabella. It was a very special moment for her to meet her. And one I got teared up about as I left. She said, "Lisa. She's absolutely beautiful. And I never doubted it would happen for you. I'm so happy for you. You're a good mom." Yup...choking up a bit writing this. I am so appreciative of those around me that love and support me on my journey in life. No matter how un-orthodox it is. They always make me feel like my way is ok! All the people that took the time to visit us made me feel that way--it is a blessing--truly.
Dan never takes candid pics of Izabella and I unless prompted to do so. Typical I'm sure. And usually he takes one picture or two and that's it. So after he took the first few pics--I stopped paying attention--and he kept clicking. I love these images. My breath is taken away a little each time I see images of her and I together. And each time--I can see we are becoming more like "one". It's such a sweet sight to me. Beyond words can explain. 
Here she is planting one of her million kisses on me. I've never seen a child that likes to hug and kiss like her. It's like she's making up for lost kisses and hugs. Recently, she'll say to me, "Mommy. I want to "love-on" you." It's so stinkin' sweet. She says the same thing to Daddy. I just love it! 
One day--when Shelly and Daddy were outside dropping trees--Izabella and I ventured out for a nature walk up away from where they were cutting. It was a magical little walk. She was rather timid at first--so we took it very slow--finding all kinds of things--little pine ones, leaves, beautiful white birch bark that was like paper, rocks and even a beautiful little brook with a waterfall. It was so, so sweet.
Here she's examining a find! It's a beautiful white stone she found in the brook water bed.
 Here she heard a bird up in a tree.
 And here she is fishing with a fallen tree branch she found along the way.
 I love this photo of her looking up.
 And here she's shaking her "leave wand" at me. Love her candid joyful smile. I never tire of seeing it.
 Another treasure--a stick and some leaves.
My sister's loving on the phone--lots--husband is working in Michigan, her daughter now lives in Des Moines (where we live) and her son lives an hour away. So she spends A LOT of time talking or texting them on her phone! I'd say literally about 60% of her days are on the phone. :) Obviously, her loved ones miss her and need her a lot. :)
AND, one of Izabella's favorite things about Aunt Shelly's house is her new puppy Cody. He's about 6 months old--and looks much like a lion. I told her she should have called him "Roar". :) He's a really good puppy and Izabella and he were pals. She let him snuggle in her new soft blanket. Below--Is that not the sweetest picture you've ever seen? It's love. (By the way--that's one of Grammy's sweaters she has on).

Izabella's Family Birthday Celebration. We decided to take the opportunity to celebrate Izabella's birthday early--with family this year. And it was so much fun. She had balloons, cake, presents and lots and lots of family and friends wishes.  At the end of the day I asked her what her favorite part of the day was, she said, "My Tinker Bell Balloon Mommy." And just before she headed to bed that night she hit the balloon and it went into it's singing verse, "Tinker Bell wants to wish you a very happy birthday and hopes all your wishes and dreams come true." To which she replied, "Oh I did! I did!" So sweet.
 Opening gifts....
 A "Horton Hears a Who" DVD. It's one of my sisters childhood favorites.
 Bunny ears and the perfect diva scarf!
 And a very special sweater from Grammy. My mom made this sweater for her. She has so many of them--and loves them all--has outgrown some--sadly--but always insist on wearing them over store bought ones.
 I love seeing pictures of my mom and my daughter--sooo deeply special to this daughter's heart.

 And 'operation"! Another of my sister's favorites--so fun. Izabella loves playing doctor and loves this game! AND BTW--she was better at it than us.
 She removed the intestines and was so excited!
 She also got some super fun beads to make necklaces and things with. This one was so heavy--that's what she's telling me in this picture.
 And a Tinker Bell cake--just what the birthday girl requested. Oh and see that birthday girl badge she's wearing--she requested one of those too--Lily had one at her birthday party. Daddy got it for her and brought it from Des Moines--along with all the Tinker Bell napkins, plates and decorations.
 Blowing out the candles.
 And the traditional Chinese frosting face time.
 Can you tell she's sooo happy.
 My older brother Dan and his fiance' Robin also spoiled her with a watercolor book--she's done all the pages already! She loved it--and a really cool Melissa and Doug--dress up doll that uses scrap material as clothing that you pressed on a doll.

 Here is my goofy brother, his fiance' Robin and Izabella.

My big brother Danny is so silly. He's a comedian, always been goofy and silly, even when we were kids, so it's no surprise that Izabella and Uncle Danny really had a wonderful, silly, goofy time!!! It was such a delight to watch. I wish we lived closer--so she could be silly with her Uncle Dan more often.
 She would just look at him and start laughing. She calls him, "Silly Uncle Dan".
 Love this shot of her with the Tiara upside down. She's got such a great sense of humor.
 And what little girl doesn't like a horse ride--this is by far Izabella's favorite thing to play. And I am so appreciative that each of my siblings and their children--have all played like this with her at one point or another. Even if they can't walk when they get up after the fun is done. Blessed I tell you.
 Pure delight!
Ryan--oh Cousin Ryan! All the way home, she'd say, over and over again, "Where we going Mommy?" and I'd say, "Going to see Aunt Shelly and Grammy" and Izabella would reply--every time the same way,"And cousin Ryan, we can't forget him Mommy. He'd be very sad if we forgot him." Can you tell she absolutely loves him--and him her. Ryan is my sister's son.

 Had to share all three pics of these two--they were all so stinkin' sweet.
 I found this PRINCESS pajamas in Des Moines a few weeks ago and couldn't wait to give them to her. She loved it! And wore them for 4 nights in a row to bed. Every morning we'd take them off and she'd say, 'Can I wear this tomorrow mommy?"
My father passed 12 years ago today. I miss him terribly. This is his little brother Bruce, my Uncle Bruce. He too is very sick--but made the trip out to see us and meet Izabella. It was great to see them.
And my little brother and his wife Dodie also spent the one evening a week he has off with us. A wonderful visit.
Then it was time to say good-bye. To say the least--it was very hard! Let's just say there were a lot of tears and gasping crys while hugging and never wanting to let go. Mom is not doing great at all. I am so glad we were able to spend some time with her. She's such a trooper! I don't know what I'd do without her. She's truly the best mom a girl could ever ask for--always has been--priceless!
 Yup..this is the "gasping crys" and hugging I was talking about. I didn't want to let go!
 And I cried all the way home--off and on--and if you  don't remember from the top of this post--that was two days of driving--crying.
 This is a horrible pic of my mom--but the only one I have of the three of us. I so wanted this pic to be a good one. I love, love, love this sight--regardless if it's the perfect picture or not.
 Daddy and Izabella saying good by to Aunt Shelly. She was so very good to us all week. We are so blessed to have her in our lives.
 Izabella and her special Aunt Shelly! Love this pic.
 And my sister and her two babies. Hunter and Cody!
We arrived home Saturday night before Easter--but the Easter bunny found us on Sunday morning--and the hunt was so fun.
 I have the most adorable video of her this morning--I seriously will do a movie--promis.
 We are pretty religous about not giving her a lot of candy--even brush to a made up tune that goes, 'Go away bad candy, don't take my teeth. I like my teeth."
 So we gave her books and a princess wand she really wanted--in fact--we ready a fairy book on Saturday's trip home--and in the story--the fairy's gave their special visitor a bracelet with one-wish. So Izabella made one wish and it was for a new PRINCESS WAND. As only God would have it--I happened upon one shopping Saturday night when shopping for some items for a job I had to install on Monday. It was meant to be.
 I love this book. And she does too! It's perfect for her.

Then we were invited to celebrate Easter with a brunch and egg hunt with our neighbors Angela and Dan and their twins Nate and Natalie.
The twins are so good to her. They take care of her like a little sister. We just adore this family and are blessed with their friendship.

Nate took time away from the candy to teach Izabella how to play the piano. Precious sight.
 Then we had to get some pics of her in her Easter outfit before her nap.

 And were joined by our neighbor friend Cheyanne.
Then it was MAY DAY! Goodness--so much going on. She had so much fun making May baskets for Nate and Natalie.
And a new bike! This has been a long haul to get this little princess on a bike. But, she's doing great with it. The fear of falling hasn't left--but she's gaining more confidence everyday.
 Love the tongue. It helps with concentration.
That's a quick update of our month. I have more. But this will do it for now. Whew! So many wonderful memories made.