Catch-Up Picture Posts

I just posted a whole bunch of pictures from November, December, January, and February. I uploaded the photos ages ago, but saved them in my drafts folder because I eventually planned to add some text. That never happened.

Anyway, when I just posted these, I dated them on the actual date they were taken, so I’m not sure if they will show up as new posts. If you read with a feed reader or get the emails, they will probably show up. If you just check the home page every once in a while, you probably won’t see them. So, in case you don’t see them, I’m linking to them here. Clear as mud?

The kids school had a week off for Thanksgiving this year, so we took a trip to St. Louis. We visited some of my dad’s family that I had not seen in YEARS.

This post is from the St. Louis City Museum. This place is really cool, but it is a nightmare for parents. My kids were four, five, and six when we visited. Maybe it would be easier with kids who were a little older. For us though, I’m shocked that we actually left with all three children, and even more shocked that all three children left with their bodies intact. I can’t imagine what this place’s insurance bill must be, because I’m certain at least one person breaks a bone here every day. In one area there are all kinds of tunnels and tubes. My Uncle Mike, who is 6″6′, was navigating them with Colin. Colin went in one small area where there was no way Mike could fit. I’m not sure how long he looked for Colin before he had to come admit to me that he’s lost him. He had to have been a little hesitant to come back to tell me he lost my kid the first time he met him. While we were all freaking out and calling his name, we eventually heard, “Mommy! Look at me!” from somewhere above us and were able to track him down. I was wishing I had a xanax in my purse.

Of course we had to make a trip to the famous Arch. This post has pictures from our visit to the Arch with my cousin Becky.

Becky and her husband have a llama and alpaca farm. This post has the pictures from our visit there.

This post has pics from Zoe’s 6th birthday. It’s password protected because there are pictures of other people’s kids in it. (I haven’t done a PW protected post in a while, so let me know if you forgot it.)

Colin’s Mama Amy entered work release in December and is able to get weekend passes. We visited her in December. We also saw Colin’s brother, sister, cousins, etc. This post has pictures. It is also PW protected.

Colin’s preschool had its annual Cocoa and Carols program. This post has some pretty cute pictures of Colin.

After Christmas, we drove to Florida. My parent’s have a condo there that they are selling, and my mom wanted to make one last trip. (We ended up making our last last trip a week ago, and I will post those pictures later.)

This post is from our visit to Legoland.

This post has pictures from after Legoland – of Noah with the Legos he bought with his Christmas money, and of our tired, tired kiddos later that night.

We had a shrimp boil on the beach New Year’s Eve with our family that lives in Florida, and it was also our cousin Olivia’s 13th birthday. This post has pics.

This post has pictures from our visit to the Victory Ship in Tampa. It was a WWII cargo ship.

This post has pics of the kids with REAL alligators. Their mouths were taped shut, but it was still pretty creepy!

On the drive home from Florida, we stopped in Chattanooga. This post has pics from the aquarium. This post has pics from the Incline. This post has pics from Rock City and Lookout Mountain. This post has pics from Ruby Falls, and this post has pics of the Zoe and Colin being silly in the hotel room.

When we got back, our elementary school had a Chinese New Year celebration. This post has that pic.

Noah celebrated his 7th birthday at Chuck E. Cheese’s. The kid is obsessed with the Ticket Blaster and catching one of the 1,000 point tickets so he can get a really “good” prize. Yes, another birthday with the mouse. The things we do for our children…  This post has pics, but it is PW protected because other people’s kids are in it.

This post has a pic of a shelter project Zoe and Christian did together. Her teacher told us that she talks about Vietnam all the time in class.

WOW – This is the closest I’ve been to being caught up in a long time! Now for March, April, May and June!

Zoe’s kindergarten year

This was Zoe on the first day of kindergarten:


This was Zoe on the last day of kindergarten:


I can’t believe how much she has grown up. She has become a beautiful, smart, sassy, funny, sweet, and strong little girl. They don’t give A-F letter grades in kindergarten. Instead the grades are M (meets expectations), P (progressing), or I (needs improvement). She got Ms in all 50 grading categories. She had 100% in math, and she is already reading at an upper-first grade level. She’s even managed to stay out of trouble this second semester.

She’s incredibly sweet. I get hugs, kisses, cuddles, and notes like this one all the time:


She’s also quite the artist. Here are two of my favorite art projects from this year.

Zoe - kindergarten art - cheetah

Zoe's art -owl - kindergarten

She’s shy at first, but once she warms up, she makes friends right away. Her friend Elle lives in our neighborhood, was in her class, and is in her Daisy Girl Scout troop. She wrote this: (“Elle is my BFF. She’s so fun to play with. We like riding our bikes. And best of all she likes to play with me so much, and she likes Uno, and cooking, and likes to play with Barbies and princesses.”)

Elle is my BFF

I love this girl!

Catching Up: Growing Out Bangs, Losing Teeth, Love Notes, Taekwondo Belts and Tournaments, Birthfamily Visits, and Kindergarten Plans

Well, it’s been two months since I posted. I keep meaning to post, but I just don’t get around to. It’s not that things haven’t been happening. In fact, a lot has happened, so here’s a catch-up post.

1. Zoe started growing her bangs out and it has been difficult. She cannot keep a headband in, and she can’t put a barrette in her own hair. I would do her hair in the morning with a headband or barrette, it would fall out before she even got to school, and then she would go with her hair in her eyes for the rest of the day. FINALLY, I figured out that if I put her bangs in a little ponytail and then hide the hairband with a bow, it works!


2. Zoe lost her first tooth. (Or, more accurately, her mean Mommy pulled the tooth while three people held her down. The adult tooth was already coming in and the baby tooth was barely hanging on, so it really needed to come out. We tried to do it the nice way, but my stubborn little girl was not having it. She got $5 from the Tooth Fairy though, so I think she has forgiven me now.)


3. I found this in Zoe’s backpack. She took one of the wallet-sized photos we got when we were in Chattanooga in January, put it on a post-it note, and wrote, “I Love You.”  She’s a sweetie. 🙂


4. Noah started taekwondo in the fall. He got his yellow belt in December.


5. He competed in his first tournament and got a gold medal and a silver medal.


6. He got his yellow belt white stripe:



7. He competed in some more tournaments, qualified to go to Nationals in Chicago this summer, and got his green belt.


8. He has had straight A’s all year and has had “Exemplary” behavior. We’ve been to a couple of honors breakfasts:


9. We visited Colin’s Mama Amy and then Jason and Hailey came to stay with us for a few days. I’ll have to write a separate PW protected post on that.

10. Colin has been having some rough patches with behavior. I’ll write a PW protected post on that, too.

11. We have (finally) decided on a plan for Colin’s school next year. I spoke to the elementary school principal in our school district about him doing kindergarten twice. I wanted assurance that we would be able to hold him back if we thought we needed to. I wanted to be sure that it would be *our* choice and that they would not end up pushing him on against our wishes. Because he has an IEP, she said sometimes it can be more difficult to hold a child back. She said it was possible we would be able to hold him back, but she could not guarantee it. However, she did tell me that if we sent him to kindergarten somewhere else that she would have no probem enrolling him in kindergarten again in 2014-2015. So, we applied to a charter school close to our house, and Colin got a lottery spot! He will do kindergarten at the charter school for the 2013-2014 school year. Then we can decide whether to send him to kindergarten or first grade in our school district in 2014-2015. I am 99% sure we will send him to kindergarten again, but we will evaluate that when the time comes. This is great because he will have more structure than just preschool, it’s a longer day (which works better for my work schedule), and it’s FREEEEEE! Woohoo! We just paid our last preschool payment!

12. Colin discovered the camera on my phone. He took 167 pictures like this one in about three minutes.


13. Though he’s 19 months younger than Zoe, he’s almost as big as she is now. He’s almost as tall and weighs five pounds more (she’s 37 pounds and he’s 42). He’s a solid little dude. It’s hard to believe that he once had a problem with growing and gaining weight.

14. And, last but not least, Colin continues to be very good at being adorable.


Zoe’s 6th Family Day

Six years ago today, we adopted Zoe from Phu Tho, Vietnam. We usually do something to celebrate the day, but this year that celebration seemed to be more significant to her. It wasn’t necessarily that she has processed adoption more, or given more significance to what that means. It was just that today was her day, and that it was special. She’s been excited about it all week. She told her teacher, her gymnastics instructor, our hairstylist, and the woman we know at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant (where we ate tonight).

These are crappy iPhone pics, but here’s my sassy girl today:



Here’s my sassy girl a few weeks ago (her attitude and personality match those pink boots):


And here we are in Vietnam, six years ago:


A Little Influenza A, A Little Influenza B

Last Sunday Zoe had a fever. It wasn’t awful, but we kept her home from a birthday party that afternoon. She said she had a headache and her tummy hurt a little. After some motrin she was feeling much better, and she was running around, playing with the boys. We had a Tet dinner planned that night with some other local families who have children from Vietnam. We almost went since she seemed to be better, but ultimately decided we didn’t want to risk getting any of the other kids sick.

The rest of Sunday and Monday were pretty much the same. When the motrin wore off, her fever went up and she seemed a little bit sick. When the motrin kicked in, she was fine again. We told her she could sleep in our room Monday night, but she seemed *totally* fine by bedtime. We let her stay so it would be easier for me to give her motrin in the middle of the night, but I told her she needed to settle down and at least *pretend* to be sick. I thought we would send her to school on Tuesday, but again she woke up with a fever. I had to work, but Christian’s mom said Zoe could stay with her, so we kept her home.

I called a few hours later to check on her and, of course, Karen said she seemed fine. I decided to call the doctor, just in case, to see if I should bring her in. The nurse said it would be best to get her tested for the flu, so I called Karen back to tell her. Karen was relieved, because in the 30 minutes or so it had taken me to get in touch with a nurse and schedule the appointment (and the motrin wore off), things had gone downhill quickly.

By the time I met Karen to get Zoe, she was really warm and she was lethargic. I called Christian to say I was taking her to the doctor. Christian, who had seem her the night before when she didn’t seem sick at all and that morning when she seemed pretty OK was like, “Whatever. She doesn’t have the flu.” I still didn’t think it was the flu either, but I knew she was much sicker.

By the time we got to the doctor, she could barely walk and her fever was 104. The nurse did the swab and then poked her head back in the room almost immediately. Zoe had already tested positive for Influenza Strain A, and there were still eight minutes left in the test.

She was miserable. She was crying and sweaty

The next couple of days weren’t terrible. I was pretty tired because I set my alarm for every four hours at night so I could alternate Tylenol and motrin, but she was OK as long as we kept her fever down. She also developed a cough and stuffy nose, but it wasn’t awful.

Here’s my sweaty, sick, little flu-girl:


I was really worried about the boys getting it, but they seemed OK. Noah wasn’t sick at all. Colin had a stuffy nose Thursday and Friday, but no fever, so I sent him to school.

Friday after school, he said, “Mommy, can I snuggle with you?” and climbed in my lap. About a minute later I noticed that he kept messing with his left ear. I asked him if it hurt and he said, “It just itches.”

Afraid that he had an ear infection, I called the doctor. Miraculously, they were able to get us in before they closed for the weekend. His left ear, the one that “itched,” had a small amount of fluid in it. The right one, which he had not complained about all, was about to burst. They also decided to test him for the flu and he was, of course, positive.

The nurse gave me kind of a funny look though, and said, “Didn’t Zoe test positive for B?”

I told her that was correct, and she said, “Weird. He tested positive for A.”

This means that they did not get it from each other. They were each exposed, separately, to two diferent strains of flu. What are the odds of that happening? Surely they can’t be very high. I guess we’re just lucky. Maybe we should play the lottery.

So, now it was Colin’s turn to sleep in our room. Here’s my poor little flu-boy:


Wouldn’t it be awesome now if Zoe gave Colin B, Colin gave Zoe A, and they gave Noah A and B? Yeah, that would be fun.

In other news, Colin does the reverse-Al-Bundy when he sleeps:


More Tractors

Since the kids liked sitting on the tractors at the State Fair so much, my mom took them to a friends’ farm one day last fall so they could actually drive one. They got to pick apples, too.

These are pictures from my mom’s camera. I think Noah took most of the pictures that day. I’ll spare everyone the “artsy” pictures of apples in a tree, apples on the ground, apples in a basket, apples on a sweatshirt, apples on a picnic table, rotten apples, ripe apples, red apples, yellow apples, etc. (He took a LOT of pictures.)

He was newly toothless, so he took this proud self-portrait:


This is my mom driving the tractor. Is it just me, or does Noah look a little scared? (He probably should be.)




A Couple Of Things About This Photo

This is Colin’s butt.


Since the picture showed his whole butt, crack and all, I decided to edit it a little. I was just going to put a plain rectangle there to cover the crack, but then I found out my photo-editing software let me choose cute little things like this pony (donkey?) and I said, “Why not?”

While the pony/donkey is cute, I am really posting this picture to show the angry red patch of skin to the left of it. I mentioned in this post that we had tried medication for Colin but it didn’t work out. It was called the Daytrana patch. At first it was great. He seemed more focused, less hyperactive, and less impulsive. However, about six weeks into it, he suddenly developed a reaction. Every day when we took the patch off it left nasty irritated spots like this. One time it was even purple and bruised. They hurt him and they itched. We hoped maybe it was just a bad batch, so we contacted the company and they gave us a coupon for a new box. The same thing happened with the new patches. It was really disappointing.

We could have tried an oral medication, but he had also lost a couple of pounds. The meds are stimulants, so he wasn’t eating as much. For now, we’ve just decided not to do meds. His preschool teachers said they definitely noticed a difference when we took him off the medication, but they said his behavior was not anything they couldn’t manage.

We’ve decided that we won’t do medication until we absolutely have to, but we are pretty sure he is going to need it eventually. It is just very hard for him to hold still and/or concentrate.

Christian’s Grammie died a couple of weeks ago. The funeral was a Catholic mass, so we were sitting for a long time. Several people mentioned how well our kids did – and they did – but Colin just could not sit still. He just couldn’t. He kept quiet for the most part, but he could not be still. Christian and I kept our hands on him the entire time, rubbing his back, holding his hand, running my fingers through his hair, keeping my arm around him, etc. I told him to scratch Christian’s back for part of it, so he rubbed Daddy’s back and then scratched his arm. Colin just needs that constant stimulation.

When we left the church, we went to the cemetery’s chapel for the final blessing. I saw the look of disappointment on his face when he eyed the rows of chairs and realized he had to sit again. The blessing was short though. When he realized it was over, he said, “Yeah! Mommy, that was a short one!” Of course he got a few laughs, which made him even happier.

He is getting better. Usually when he is tired he gets even more wound up. In the last six months or so though, he seems to have more and more times when he is tired when he says, “Mommy, will you hold me?” Twice he has fallen asleep in my arms. (It is so hard to let go of him and put him in bed when that happens.) He likes to rock before bed, too. Christian and I take turns. One of us puts Noah and Zoe to bed while the other rocks with Colin. The next night we switch. He was so easy to hold and snuggle when he was a baby, but then it became impossible when he was a toddler. It’s nice that we’re swinging back the other direction a bit.

The other thing about this photo: See all of that hair? Colin is one hairy little dude. He’s going to be shaving before he’s ten.

Here’s another photo of his back. Look closely and notice that he has a COWLICK. On his BACK.


Here’s a pic of his legs. He is FOUR, people! FOUR!


Bringing Blogging Back Fail

Remember that whole Bringing Blogging Back thing? Well, I’m a big loser and I completely failed at it.

It’s been TWO MONTHS since I posted. What makes it even worse is that I actually have about ten posts in my Drafts folder that ARE READY TO POST and I haven’t even posted those. We went to Florida after Christmas and I uploaded all kinds of pictures and had the posts ready to go. I was just waiting 1. Because I didn’t want to announce to the Internet that we were out of town, and 2. I had illusions (delusions) that I was going to get caught up on a bunch of other stuff before I posted the Florida posts.

So, I’m just going to post stuff. I may never get caught up on the stuff I missed last summer/fall, or I may post things and have them totally out of order. Sorry if that ends up being confusing, but I am determined to get this blog going again. For real this time.

Zoe’s Vietnam House

Zoe’s kindergarten class studied different kinds of shelters and homes around the world. The teacher sent home a milk carton and asked each student to create their own shelter. Zoe wanted to make one of the houses we saw at the Museum of Ethnology in Vietnam. I think she and Daddy did a pretty good job!