Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy Summer!

I'm always amazed at how quickly I get so behind on the blog. It's not that I don't check others, or even think about what I'll write next, I just never actually execute my plan (story of my life these days). Luckily, with the first week of camp down and very tired kids, it's only 7:15 pm and all four are IN BED. So, with a Corona beside me and the sun setting in front of me, it seems like the perfect time to update.

Although we had a very rainy, cold start to the summer here, I think we're actually set now. We have been in our new house for one year. It's the first house I have ever lived in in my entire life with central air. I was very happy about that, except for the fact that I'm a stubborn New Englander and HATE to have it on! This house didn't actually even come with screens, which is so weird to me (and ridiculously expensive to remedy!!). I am so happy that we have had the windows opened the entire season and haven't had to use the A/C once so far. I guess that is the only benefit of a cold, rainy start!

Anyway, things have been busy here. The kids are all happily in camp (except Sophie, who hangs out with me). Katie finally found her love - horses. She is riding every day from 8:30 to 3 and loves it. Matthew is fully ensconced in sports camp and William is doing a good old fashioned beach club camp with swim lessons, arts and crafts and play time. These guys all need so much sleep, so they have been totally wiped out.

What else has been happening? Since I haven't posted in months, I have some catch up to do on pictures. The next few are from Easter morning. I'm sure William will kill me when I show this one to his friends when he's a teenager, but it's a classic. I'm so grateful that the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy still make their visits!

Here is Katie at her first riding lesson. We had to try it out before she did camp here. She's famous for dying to try something and then hating it (tennis, soccer, softball, etc). I'm not sure how she ended up loving horses, hockey, piano and art. Seems like an odd mix to me, but we're just happy she found what she likes at this point!
Matthew on the other hand is pretty easy to please as long as it's sports related (although he also loves piano). I thought I was going to be SO BORED watching 8-year-olds play baseball, but it was far more exciting than I anticipated. He's a pretty good little player for now, so I'm sure that helps. Again, as long as he's happy, so are we.
CCD does seem to be the hardest "activity" to get them to, but we do it. Here is my little holy (short) one about to receive first communion. He was very excited to wear a tie and coat since he sees Daddy wearing that sometimes and absolutely worships his father.
Here's William at our neighborhood beach on Mother's Day. I'm guessing he was mad he couldn't be in the middle, but I forget. His BFF got the middle spot, so I'm sure he was over it in no time. As much as Matt worships Daddy, William worships Tommy (and it is mutual).
Here's Katie with Tommy's big sister. Although she hates pink and princesses, she will still dress up if it's goofy enough!
At one of Matt's final baseball games there was another mom who was in love with Sophie. She took so many great pictures of her just because and then very nicely sent them all to me. Sophie is fully a two year old, but isn't too terrible, which is great. I'm not quite ready yet (nor is she), but I think by the fall she'll be in a big girl bed with no more diapers or naps. Three huge milestones for me. We've had diapers in the house for 8 years and 8 months, so that one is especially appealing to me right now!
I do try not to go crazy with the animal prints on her, but I couldn't resist this one!
Sophie adores her older brothers and sister, though she's just starting to learn how to push their buttons.
Here are Matt and Katie at their first ever piano recital. The poor things were so incredibly nervous (and the entire family was hit HARD with the stomach bug that week, so I was worried someone would puke on the piano on stage). Luckily, they did amazingly well and it actually got them even more into the lessons. I don't play, but I'm jealous. The piano teacher is great because she's given them all sorts of current songs to learn, so they like to show off by playing Coldplay and others, which I love!
Here is Sophie at a Sunday night dinner on the beach. Have I said how much we love our new neighborhood? We are at the beach nonstop and there are so many families with young kids that it's fun for everyone.
Getting ready for wiffle ball....
Here is our last-day-of-school bus stop celebration. Who doesn't love popsicles on the last day of school?
This was a bittersweet day for Matt and Katie since it was their last day of this elementary school. There is an International Baccalaureate magnet school in the town next to us that will be opening a brand new, state-of -the-art, green building in September. This is the first year that this IB school is open to other towns. We were so excited when we heard this for so many reasons. Our current town has a really great public school district, but we have always worried about how homogeneous it is (can you say blonds in Lily Pulitzer EVERYWHERE?). We love the education and have made some really great friends, but we've been struggling to find ways to add some diversity to our lives. Stamford (where the new school is located) is so ethnically and economically diverse and the IB program is essentially a private school model in a public school setting. It seems like we are going to get the best of both worlds in terms of education and diversity, so we are really excited. We were actually shocked to hear that they both got in (lottery based, but only 6-9 spots available per grade). Luckily, they accepted all out-of-district sibling groups, b/c we had already decided that we couldn't split them up if one got in and the other didn't. Anyway, we can always put them back in the neighborhood elementary school if things don't work out the way we hope, but we're pretty confident that this is going to be an amazing experience for all of us.

Here is William and BFF Tommy, who incidentally is going to marry Sophie (and she seems more than fine with that :)
Here is William with our cousin's dog Nori. A dog will definitely be the next addition to our family, I'm just not sure when. The younger three LOVE dogs. John and I really want a dog, but the bottom line is that I know I will be doing all the work, and since I didn't grow up with a dog, I know there will be a steep learning curve, so I need to wait until Sophie's a little older. All I know, is that it has to be a big dog - lab, golden, etc. I have to be ready to deal with all the shedding!!

Here is Miss Sophie at our Western Connecticut gathering for ET adoptive families. I think we had about 7 families join us at our beach on the very first nice day of the summer. It was so nice to get all the kids together and all of the older siblings too. I think it was especially nice for the older bio siblings to see that there are many other families out there that look like theirs. I'm sad to say we won't be making it to Chicago this year for BU'09, so this will have to suffice for this year. Next year though, definitely!
Matt and Katie had a really cool 3-day camp up in Bridgeport this year. They got to play baseball in the minor league stadium with many of the Bridgeport Bluefish, which was so fun for them. After the 3 days, we got to go to a game, which they loved. This is the first time Katie's been more interested in the game than the cotton candy b/c she knew so many of the players personally!
And finally, our first 4th of July in town. Over the past 8 or 9 years, we've always gone out to Long Island for the 4th. I hate to sound rude, but Shelter Island doesn't know July 4th. Growing up, July 4th was a BIG DEAL - road race in the early am, followed by a big parade (ok, when I was 8 it seemed big - at least I remember they threw lots of candy at me), with multiple BBQ's, boat rides, etc, followed by a big fireworks display in the harbor. I finally got a July 4th compromise and I think we've found our new way to celebrate. Our town doesn't do it quite the same, but it is much closer and a lot of fun. I had never even bought July 4th decorations or t-shirts before. The kids had a ball - 2 nights of fireworks (and the first night we could see 4 displays simultaneously out in the LI sound - in both CT and LI - it was really cool), beach games, BBQs, etc. This is the first place I've lived that I've felt almost at home. I still think I'll be back there someday, but for now, this will tide me over in a good way!

OK, maybe he didn't love the bike parade as much as I projected it on him! It's hard to be 4 and freshly out of training wheels and needing to keep very straight at a very slow pace!

If I can't get back there permanently, at least I know that there are even more people for me to visit "back home" (aside from pretty much all of my family, high school and college friends). I recently found out that a woman I grew up with is a famous ET blogger! It's a long story of how I figured this out (random pics on facebook and some serious blog stalking!!), but I was so happy to find Katy and her beautiful twin girls. I can't wait to get back home and see her again and meet those two adorable girls. I know most of you know her blog already (Straight Magic), but if you don't, you need to check it out - so funny and insightful. Katy, please tell your husband that I promise to stop harassing him now that we've connected!

OK, now that I have babbled incessantly about our very regular (but happy) life, I will go enjoy the quiet. Happy Summer!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thanks to Mama Dog

Well here I am again.  I have to say, I have been struggling over the past few months about whether to keep going with the blog.  It's not that I am a very private person, but I think this whole facebook craze has made me a little nervous about "putting it all out there."  I also don't know if it should still be a Sophie blog, or a family blog, etc.  I was introduced to a new blog (new for me, anyway) by one of my favorite bloggers, Lori.  I think Lori is perhaps one of the most insightful writers I have come across.  No surprise, that one of the blogs that she follows is as well-written and thought-provoking - Bright Beating Hearts by Mama Dog.  So, right when I was ready to pack it all in, I got a comment from Mama Dog.  They are still out there!  People still check! And some even like!  At this point, I'm sure my family has all but given up on us, but if there is even one adoptive family still following, I guess it's all worth it.  Especially if it introduces me to interesting, funny and touching blogs written by other Ethiopian adoptive families.  

So, now that it's been about six months, I have a lot to catch up on.  Of course, the easiest way for me is through pictures.  That being said, I have a few very willing to be captured on film, one who is very fickle about it, and Matthew, who is in the stage of hating it.  

One of our highlights from the new year is having our new friend Charlie come home to our town from Ethiopia (via Gladney).  We are so excited to have more and more Ethiopian babes in Connecticut.  I hope to get a few pictures with he and Sophie soon.  

I guess one reason to update more frequently is because I have way too many pictures to share - I'm sure I'll lose a few readers mid-post!  Anyway, here it goes.

This seems to be a theme of our kid pictures so far - everyone wants to squeeze Sophie, and she just wants to breathe.  Not a bad problem to have that no one can get enough of her!  This was Christmas Eve after Santa brought new pjs right to our door with sleigh bells and all (we love our new neighborhood!)
Santa brought a great doll for Sophie.  It's a little big for her right now (I think she's intimidated by her!), but when we put Sophie's hair in a band, she looks just like her!
This is her favorite buddy Johnny.  While Katie will kiss ABSOLUTELY NO ONE (including us), Sophie is all for free love.
Happy 2!!!  She was most excited about Dora, all the balloons, and especially....
her doggy cake (this is everything I got people!)
Here is my little diva on her Christening Day (well, conditional Christening since we know she had been Christened in Ethiopia).  She was SOOO good and looked adorable.  It's so different having a 2 year-old there as opposed to a newborn.  She definitely stole the show.  
The Monsignor wanted me to email him some pictures, so we got to get a few with him.  He specifically asked me to schedule it on a day he would be performing the Baptisms - he thinks she is just precious.
The kids with 2 of 16 cousins.  I think these guys could be 2 more brothers.  The boys worship them (and I love them AND their boxes of hand-me-downs ;)
Here's my sun goddess.  This one absolutely loves the water and the sand.  She would roll around for hours on the beach in Punta Cana.  
Sandcastles with Daddy.
Post-sand - happy as a clam.
This is one of the few pictures I have of Matt without a pout.  It's not a smile, but I'll take it.  He really wants to be a teenager - and NOW.
Oh! A smile!!  On a donkey, no less!
I do get lazy about her hair sometimes.  I do love her hair - it's pretty easy to do, but I am not a girly-girl and I'm only now getting better about adding hair-time to our morning rituals.Here's my extra smiley one.
Trying to look cool....
And the real William
These two literally cannot get enough of each other.  I swear it's like I have two little old married couples.  M&K are a grade apart (though almost 2 years apart) and they are best friends.  They are amazingly respectful and thoughtful towards each other - and we obviously love to see it.  I think that the same will be true for W&S (though they'll be 2 grades apart).  Both boys are so protective.  Maybe I see it more b/c I always wanted an older brother.  We do have moments where I think K&W could kill each other, but that almost seems more normal to me (though unbelievably irritating, obviously).
My vet-to-be
Just another happy donkey ride.  
Poor Paco the donkey.  He'll never be the same!
This picture is allowed b/c it's an action shot.  M&K are on the same hockey team and they were able to play during an intermission at our local NHL farm team arena, which was really cool.  Matt's a big fish this year, but will get a dose of reality next year when he moves up to squirts.  I think my days of being a hockey mom are numbered, but they both seem to love it at this point, so that's all that matters.
Katie, Katie, lemon lady waiting to skate out.
Her new favorite camera face....
William and his best buddy ever, Tommy, at the freezing Easter egg hunt.
Now, I get it, I'm supposed to scream CHEESE.
April vacation at Great Wolf Lodge.  We drove to the Poconos for a night at the indoor water park.  The kids had an absolute blast and I was as tired as they were!  I think 2 nights would be my max, but it was a great way to pass the cold, wet vacation at home.

I think that's all the excitement from our end.  I am really hoping to be in Chicago in August, hopefully with the entire family this time, but we'll have to see.  Although I've been quiet on this front, I do still check the updates of others.  It is so amazing to me to see how many families have already started the process for (or even returned with) another Ethiopian family member.  It is so incredible to watch these families grow.  I feel like I have lots to say about many recent posts, but just no time to say it (where to send your kids to school, the use of the term "gotcha" (don't like it), etc.)  Maybe I'll post again sooner, or maybe I'll try to comment more often.  Bottom line is I haven't forgotten you out there.  Keep the updates coming!