I read a quote recently that said, "Laughter sparkles like a splash of water in sunlight". To watch Grace in the pool and on the beach, you can easily see how this is true. Her laughter just lights up my world.We had a great morning playing in the sand and "catching" some waves. We have been lucky that the weather has been warmer than normal this week. The ocean water was even warm enough to swim, and Grace would have if I let her! She quickly learned that the waves would come right up and get her wet and we could see her hold her breath for a second in anticipation. But then as soon as each wave came on shore, she was thrilled and couldn't stop laughing! The beach was full of action, too! People walking, boats off shore, a bulldozer cleaning up the sand, planes flying by with advertisments, and these guys....
There were a lot of waves at high tide so they were jumping and flipping right in front of us.
Today we visited Butterfly World in Coconut Creek, Florida - the largest butterfly park in the world with over 3,000 butterflies on display. You enter an enormous screened enclosure that looks and feels like you are in a tropical jungle and 150 different species of colorful butterflies surround you, flying among flowers, plants, waterfalls, and ponds. If you stand or sit very still, they may even land on you! The butterflies seemed to like Big Daddy best. Here is one on his hand... and another one on his back!
Another popular part of the park was the Lorikeet Encounter. These birds love people-especially if you are holding a cup of nectar. Big Daddy is a fan of colorful birds so we let him hold Grace and the cup. As you can see, the birds seemed to like him too!
Tonight we baked cookies for Santa. He is making a special trip to our house one day early because we are going to Florida on Christmas Day. At 19 months old, Grace has become quite the little helper. Like she has before, Grace mixed the cookie dough. This time she even held the electric mixer (with help from Mommy)!
She tried to hold the cookie sheets before they went into the oven but they were just too big and heavy.After we put the cookies in the oven, Grace took a bath and got ready for bed. We played for a little while with her stuffed Santa and Christmoose.When the cookies came out of the oven, we set them up with some milk near the tree so Santa could have a snack before heading back to the North Pole!
Grace has had three "boo-boos" that I know of. She skinned her knee, she fell on one of her board books and hurt her chin, and today she cut her finger (I have no idea how). Unlike the other two times when I watched her fall unable to intervene fast enough to prevent injury, this time she just came to me and showed me the tiny cut on her finger. So,....I kissed it,
we washed it
and we put a cool unicorn bandage on it (from Nana, of course!).All better?
It is about fate, destiny, a higher power, a plan that is set for all of us. If you know me, you know that I am not very "religious" in the traditional sense of the word. Maybe going to Catholic school did that to me. But after having Grace in my life, I have become more "spiritual" and, for her, I would like to think that there is "something" or "someone" out there...Today is December 17, 2008.
I started this blog exactly one year ago today on a whim. We had a snow day and I was bored - stuck at home because the roads were too bad to navigate. At the time I didn't know how much or how often I would write. I didn't know when Grace would be coming home. And, I had no idea what challenges and celebrations 2008 would bring.
But how is this for coincidence?.... TODAY - December 17, 2008 - exactly one year to the day that I started recording our history - marks the day that Grace has been with me longer than she was with her foster family during those first months of her life.
I could not have known that back on December 17th last year. What made me pick that particular day to post her baby picture and start this journal? I had thought about starting the blog off and on for a couple of weeks before that, but didn't take the initiative and get it started. Why then, did I choose to start on this day that would eventually mark a special date for Grace and me? A little spooky...but it certainly makes you think there is a plan out there. Somehow it was all meant to be. And it is only one of so many coincidences that surround Grace coming into my life.
For example.... Did you know that weeks before Grace was even born my horoscope (which, by the way I rarely read) said that at a Gemini was going to change my life? Why did I end up reading my horoscope on that particular day?
They also say that there is often a connection between people we love who die and babies that are born. My grandmother died on a Wednesday that was the 23rd of the month and Grace was born on (you guessed it) a Wednesday the 23rd day of May.God's plan? Destiny? Fate? I certainly don't have the answer...but whatever it is, I am sure Grace and I were meant to connect at that exact moment. We needed each other. I know she has enriched my life in so many ways already and I hope that someday when she can speak for herself she will say the same thing about me.
I read a quote recently, that seems to fit the way I feel right now:
"So when they ask how far love goes, when my job is done you'll be the one who knows..."
Last night we went on the Polar Express! If you are familiar with Chris Van Allsburg's Caldecott Award-winning children's book and the movie based on the book, you know that the story is about a nighttime train ride to the North Pole where children get to see Santa and his elves in action.
This is an illustration from the book
Van Allsburg's Polar Express is an old-fashioned steam train that takes children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to meet the red-suited gentleman and to see him off on his annual sleigh ride. This is a personal retelling of the adult storyteller's adventures as a youngster on that train. The book's message is for young and old alike - belief keeps us young at heart - if you believe, you too will hear the ringing of the silver bell that Santa gave him and taste rich hot chocolate in your ride through the wolf-infested forests of reality. Van Allsburg's express train is one in which many of us wish to believe.
In our area, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad offers its version of the Polar Express - a 2 hour round trip train ride where the story is told to pajama-clad children just like in the book. This holiday program has been enjoyed by thousands over many years. At the "North Pole", through train windows, children see holiday characters, the silhouettes of elves hard at work, and Santa. It is so popular that you have to get in a lottery starting August 1st of each year, just to get tickets.
This is the actual train we rode
We went with Kellie, Dawson, and Kellie's mom. Thanks to Kellie, we got the tickets last week from someone she knows who wasn't able to use them. We hear that something like 32,000 people will ride the Polar Express this year with 10,000 others who didn't receive tickets in the lottery.As we arrived at the station we could see lots of other people waiting in their pajamas to board the train. When it stopped the conductor called, "All aboard". We found our seats as we were greeted by three elves for Grace's first train ride. The elves told the Polar Express story and shared hot chocolate and cookies with us until we got close to the North Pole. Grace really like Elf Janet who was wearing a necklace that lit up!Then, all the lights went out and outside the windows we could see tons of elves, reindeer, snowmen, Christmas trees, and colorful lights at the North Pole. There was a candy cane factory and a toy factory right near the train station! Santa even drove by our train in his sleigh!Pretty soon the train started moving again and we sang Christmas carols all the way back home. I think Grace and Dawson heard that a special someone boarded the train at the North Pole. They kept getting up an looking for him.But when Santa finally came into our train car and picked Grace up this is what happened! He gave us a magic bell from his reindeer, but that didn't seem to make her feel better until after he put her down.
Even though Grace was afraid of Santa we had a really nice time. But, I think for the rest of 2008 this will be the only type of Santa we get close to!