Sunday, November 29, 2009

Candy Land

Grace and I made a gingerbread house tonight. What do you think of it?Okay, okay....That isn't the house we made. But we can dream, can't we?

I bought a gingerbread house kit at the store this afternoon. The one we got was pre-cooked but not assembled. I mixed up the icing and built the house while Grace was eating dinner so it could set before she decorated it.

From the minute Grace saw the house and decorations she was all about eating the candy. She even tried to sneak some pieces when she thought I wasn't looking!I finally convinced her that the candy was for decorating the house and we got down to business.And the final product....drum roll, please!Our dentist, Dr. Greg, will not be happy about what happened next.
What? I'm not supposed to eat it?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

'Tis the Season

Thanksgiving is over, we woke up to a light dusting of snow on the ground yesterday morning, and Santa arrived in a nearby town....so it must be the Christmas season! It certainly was cold enough last night when we went to our first holiday event.Grace got to wear her new winter coat and boots when we met Kellie, Dawson, and Kellie's friend Gretchen. They kept her warm and toasty as we waited outside for Santa to arrive!Frosty and Rudolph were there to "warm up" the crowd before Santa drove in on a John Deere tractor!As soon as Santa came, we got on line to join him inside. But Grace wouldn't sit on his lap. All she did was give him a high five. When I asked her what she wanted Santa to bring her for Christmas, she replied, "A prize." Okay....not much help there.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christopher pops in

Have you heard of Christopher Pop-In-Kins?
Christopher is a very special Christmas Elf. All year long he is busy in Santa's toy shop making special gifts for boys and girls, just like his parents taught him. In his spare time, Christopher Pop-In-Kins loves to be outside with his friends making snow angels, sledding down big hills and throwing snow balls. (Ssssh…don’t tell!)

But none of this makes Christopher as happy as the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve when Santa lets him visit children in their homes all over the world. The more homes Christopher gets to be in, the happier he is!

Christopher knows that just before Thanksgiving kids will hear his story and then he gets to "pop in"for a visit! Christopher loves to play hide-and-seek almost as much as he loves little children, so watch out! Every night Christopher Pop-In-Kins finds a new hiding place somewhere in the house. He loves nothing more than to watch children race around looking for him. But, even when you find him you can't touch Christopher or he will lose his magic!

We started this tradition with Grace last night by reading the story and "hiding" Christopher in the house after she went to sleep. When she woke up and came downstairs I couldn't wait until she discovered him sitting on the kitchen light over the breakfast table. But, she was more interested in the SNOW outside (yes, snow) and Grace hasn't noticed him yet....I guess we will read the story again tonight and "hide" him in another place and see what happens tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Zoom-Zoom!

I am not one to get excited about a car....but, I am excited about this one! Check out my new wheels!

A 2010 Mazda CX-7....ZOOM-ZOOM!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The ABC Song

I took out the Flip video camera tonight and Grace had a great time looking back at the 6 video clips I have stored...all the way back to taking her first steps (early summer of 2008)! I was able to convince her to sing the "Alphabet Song" for Nana and Ba. When she is not on camera (of course!) her speech is much clearer. What you see here is the result of being coaxed, a lip injury from daycare on Friday, and just being silly. Not perfect, but still cute!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blue balloon

Our visit to the car dealership this morning didn't result in a new vehicle. But Grace came home with this blue balloon. It has entertained her all day!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I naked, Mommy

One of the first things I noticed about Grace's daycare was that they teach the kids to be very independent and self-sufficient. Lately, they have been helping Grace learn to put on her coat (which she does by putting it on the floor, putting her arms in, and then flipping the coat over her head!). I have to get video of it! The other day she surprised me by pulling her pants down and taking off her diaper. I mentioned this to her teacher who told me that when they use the toilet they show the kids how to remove their clothes and put them back on. But at home, Grace likes to run around shouting, "I naked". I can't help but laugh at that little butt running by! She still has her tan lines from the summer! Stinker!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Don't turn your back

Don't turn your back on a 2 1/2 year old. Because when you turn around you will probably find yogurt spread all over the coffee table, the dog eating chicken nuggets that were meant for the child, and the "missing" bowl of strawberries from the other day have now been found and are a science experiment covered in mold! Yep, that was my experience in the first 15 minutes we were home tonight.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The best thing... - Challenge Day 7

....that ever happened to me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Discovering and Uncovering - Challenge Day 6

What I love and have learned: Being a parent to an adopted child means you have to be ready to discover talents and traits.

Back in the "Nature vs. Nurture" post earlier this week, I commented on how nature has set the bar but it is nurture that will give Grace the opportunities to reach her full potential. An enriched life and environment will offer her every opportunity to explore her talents as she grows. I love the fact that I don't really have any expectations for what her talents might be and because of that she is free to just be herself. This also presents a challenge to me, because, not having any preconceived notions, I need to be aware of her signals and ready to capitalize on the hints I get from her.

One of these things is music. I am not musically inclined. At all. I don't play an instrument, I can't read music, and while I like to listen to music now and then, I am not one of those people with an iPod attached to my ear 24/7. But Grace really likes music. My mother noticed this when we first met her at 4 months old. And at 6 months old she sat on my dad's lap and tapped a pattern with him on the restaurant table. Even then, it was obvious how the sound of music - any music - captured her attention. I have no basis of comparison, so I don't know if she has a talent in this area, but I am going to continue to expose her to a variety of music, performances, and instruments as she grows up.

This week, we went to the public library for a fantastic music and story time. This has been going on all fall, but I just discovered it. The gentleman who led the class played songs on his guitar and read stories. But the best part was at the end when he allowed the children to come up and touch the guitar. Grace was fascinated. I watched her look at him and the guitar in awe and she touched it so gently. He handed her the guitar pick as he did to all the kids ahead of her (about 15 of them) but she preferred to touch the strings with her hand. So cool!The photos are not great (point-and-shoot camera and a pretty dark room) but I wanted to share them because they really demonstrate the wonder and discovery of this evening.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Starfish - Challenge Day 5

What I have learned: Even the smallest gesture makes a difference to someone. And, if you don't do something, you are doing nothing.

As I was typing the Philanthropy post, I was reminded of "The Starfish Story".
The Starfish Story
One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking up something and gently throwing it in the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, "What are you doing?" The boy replied, "Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them back, they'll die." "Son", the man said, "Don't you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can't make a difference." After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He then looked at the man, smiled and said, "I made a difference for that one!"

I first heard this story as a new teacher about 15 years ago. I used to keep a starfish I purchased in a beach novelty store on my desk to remind me about making a difference in the life of just one child. Each year, there was always one student who naturally stood out as my "starfish". He or she was the one I kept an eye on and tried extra hard to connect with. The students never knew about being my starfish, but I hope they felt special the year they were in my class.

Grace is now my starfish.
Everything I do is focused on making a difference in her life. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

P is for Philanthropy - Challenge Day 4

What I have learned: Find something you are passionate about and "give back".

The alphabet has been a big thing in our house for the last several weeks. Grace loves singing the alphabet song and choosing letters to put into her "Fridge Phonics". She knows M is for Mommy, B is for Ba, A is for apple, G is for Grace, etc.....So, for today's post, I decided to highlight P for philanthropy.

I really admire companies and their founders/CEOs who define a cause and give (or give back) to others. One of these is the Wendy's Corporation. Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's created The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, a non-profit public charity dedicated to increasing adoptions of the more than 150,000 waiting children in North America's foster care system. This foundation was created in 1992 by Dave Thomas, an adopted child, who believed that every child deserves a permanent home and a loving family. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption focuses on increasing adoption awareness while supporting model adoption service programs. Their latest program, called "Wendy's Wonderful Kids " has a goal to place 8,000 to 10,000 foster care children by 2010 through grants to local adoption agencies. Wendy's Wonderful Kids is the first nationwide program that partners a major corporation with a national foundation in an effort to place local foster care children in permanent homes.

You have to give a lot of credit to someone who recognizes a need and finds a way to make a difference. Sure, as the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, Dave Thomas had the means to create this foundation. But it is not just about money. There are thousands of causes he could have chosen to support. He chose something that impacted him personally - something he was passionate about - and focused his efforts and resources there. By creating a foundation with a clear mission his goal will continue to affect children for decades after his death.

I'm impressed and inspired. How about you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Laughter - Challenge Day 3

What I LOVE and have learned: There is no better sound than Grace's laughter. How wonderful to just be able to run, laugh, and have the freedom to be yourself!

I laugh and smile so much more now that Grace is in my life. Being a parent is like being a kid all over again. There is a new discovery and something to laugh about every day.
In the spirit of sharing some laughter, here are some of my favorite quotes on the subject:
  • A house without a dog, a cat, or a little child is a house without joy or laughter. - Scottish Proverb
  • Laughter is an instant vacation. - Milton Berle
  • Many families are built on laughter. - Indian Proverb
  • Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. - Victor Borge
  • The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. - e.e. cummings
  • Where there is laughter, happiness likes to be. -Japanese Proverb
Why not play along and share one of your favorites?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nature vs. Nurture - Challenge Day 2

What I have learned: "Loving a child" means giving them the best of who you are. And providing a loving, nurturing environment can positively shape the person they grow up to be.

I always laugh inside when someone we don't know looks at Grace and me together and then says, "She looks just like you." Maybe it is our dark hair and brown eyes. Or maybe it is just that we laugh and play together so easily that it is obvious we were made to be together. But, in reality, we don't share any DNA, so the question is how much are we really "alike" and if we are similar, is that due to the environment in which Grace is growing up?I always wondered about the strength of "nature" and the influence of "nurture" in the development of a child. "Nurture" has historically been referred to as the care given to children by parents, but the definition of "nurture" really should be expanded to include the influences on development from extended family and peer experiences, the media and marketing, exposure to formal education, and socioeconomic status. With all those factors, shouldn't "nurture" have a greater role in the ultimate development of a child?

There have been countless twin and adoption studies done trying to determine whether "nature" or "nurture" has the greatest impact on human development. Some traits are definitely genetic - blood type, hair and eye color, certain diseases, and probably IQ, for example. But current thinking in biology discredits the notion that genes alone can determine the most complex attributes such as The Big 5 personality traits. In other words, genes set the bar but the way in which a person develops is largely affected by the environment in which she lives.

At least that is what I want to believe. I can't hep but wonder how tall Grace will be or if she will be right- or left-handed. But in the end, I know that those things are predetermined and I can't change or influence them. What I can do is help her learn and grow. I choose to provide her with a rich life full of love, patience, stability, and exposure to new experiences.

So, in our world, "nurture" wins out over "nature".

Monday, November 9, 2009

It takes a village - Challenge Day 1

Aimee is posting every day for a month in honor of National Adoption Awareness and she has challenged other bloggers join her this week by posting "one thing we love about or have learned from adoption every day." I'm not sure I am up to the challenge....but here goes.

What I have learned: I am not in this alone.
A long time ago I first heard the quote "It takes a village to raise a child". Being a single mom, sometimes it feels like I am doing this all alone. But the reality is, there are so many people who have fallen in love with Grace and who care so much about me that they are there for us - all the time. Some are there every day, others are there via phone, we connect with people on the internet, some share advice from their own experiences, and others are strangers who say something nice when we are out and about. Being a mom has made me realize in so many ways that I really am never alone in this. And, each of these people who touch our lives every day help Grace grow and develop into the amazing little human being she is becoming. It truly takes a village and our "village" is huge.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Christmas wish list 2009

Some people have asked me what is on Grace's Christmas list this year. I guess one of the great things about having a 2-year old is that she is not always asking for things. Even when we walk through the toy store (which I do purposely to see what captures her attention for more than a minute) she will point to toys and say, "Dat one, dat one" but then when I tell her we need to put it back on the shelf she complies. So, Grace's Christmas list is really what I think she would like to have and will make good use of. And I have been thinking about it for a while now. If you look back at my post on August 4th about the board games, you can read my rationale for the toys I like to choose for her. So, without further adieu, here is "The List":
The Gift of Critical Thinking
  • A 24 piece floor puzzle like the kind from Melissa and Doug . They are available on websites like Amazon.com or www.sensoryedge.com for around $15 (plus shipping) but TJ Maxx usually sells them for less (around $8).

Melissa and Doug floor puzzles

The Gift of Discovery
  • Books - Any books! It is great fun to go to the bookstore or the library and see old favorites or discover new titles. We are always reading and Grace loves to "read" aloud to me, too!
  • LeapFrog Tag Junior books to go with the Tag Junior that Santa is bringing. If you are not familiar with the Tag Junior, it is a little hand-sized device that is programmed to recognize the book you are "reading". You put the little man on words or pictures in the book and it will read and talk to you. It can even be set up to know your child's name so when you turn it on it says, "Hello, Grace". Cool, huh? The books cost $10.99 each but the tag device can only hold five books in its memory, so she doesn't need every book they offer. These seem to be good ones for what Grace is learning now. I saw these books on sale this week at Toys R Us for $7.99 each!

· 1-2-3 Dora the Explorer

· Curious George Color Fun

· Dr. Seuss Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?









The Gift of Creativity
  • Art supplies - we have lots of crayons, but there are so many other creative art supplies out there, especially those made by Crayola. I have always been a big fan of new crayons, colored paper, and sharp pencils (maybe that's why I became a teacher!) so when I go into the art section at the toy store I want everything! And then I leave the store with nothing because I can't decide. So no recommendations here...we love it all!
  • A kid-sized table and chairs set would be perfect for art projects and tea parties with human and stuffed friends like Elmo, Big Bird, and Abby Cadabby. We have a small space for it so this KidKraft one which is about 24" square is about the right size. Toys R Us carries them, too.
The Gift of Pretend
Grace has been pretending to be a mommy to her dolls for the last couple of months so I am so excited for her to get The American Girl "bitty baby" I bought on our New York trip. (It has dark brown hair and medium skin just like Grace!) But like any good mom, Grace is sure to want some things to take care of her baby:
  • A doll hairbrush (www.americangirl.com) They recommend a wire brush for the American Girl doll's hair and this one is reasonably priced at $7.
  • A diaper bag set with wipes, a changing pad, pretend diaper rash cream, etc. American Girl sells one, and I am pretty sure Target. Toys R Us, and WalMart do, too.
  • A doll bed or cradle such as any one of the following:

o Pottery Barn Kids Janie doll bed ($49.00) or

o Our Generation doll bed with drawer and accessories from Target ($51.99) or

American Girl trundle bed and bedding Item # F6207 ($68)

  • I started to create a play purse for Grace with a phone and some money but then I found My First Purse from International Playthings on Amazon.com ($9.99). It got great reviews and seems to have all the things a little girls would need when she takes her baby out shopping, including play lipstick for those last minute "touch-ups".

The Gift of Exploration

The Gift of Active Learning
  • I can’t help but think of the Fisher Price Smart Fit Park (about $40) as a Wii Fit for kids. The system comes with a mat that connects to a TV. Kids get to walk, run, jump and stomp while at the same time learning about letters, numbers, shapes, colors and more via encounters, games and races. The system boasts 6 games, each with 3 levels of play. I am sure this is something Grace will enjoy, especially during those winter months when we can't get outside to play after work because it is cold and dark!
The Gift of Music

Music continues to be a wonderful interest for Grace. It is amazing to see her dance when she hears a song she likes and sometimes I catch her singing songs to herself. She knows the words to a lot of kids' songs, but she also likes what she calls, "mommy's music" - CDs I play in the car when I am tired of listening to Sesame Street one more time....Grace can always use new CDs to add to her collection and to the playlist on her MP3 player. Two that have come highly recommended are:
  • The CD/DVD combo packs from the band "They Might Be Giants" either Here Come the ABCs or Here Come the 123s. Amazon.com has them for $13.99.
  • My friend Melody recommended we add some jazz to our collection. The repetition of sounds is similar to what you find in classical music. She said Miss Ella's Playhouse (all original music from Ella Fitzgerald) is one of their favorites. (Amazon.com $12).
Now, I have to stop searching the internet for the "top" kids toys of 2009. This list is long enough!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009