Saturday, April 25, 2009

A crazy, fun and memorable birthday week here at "Stress is the New Black"

We just survived our annual "April Birthday Bonanza" around these parts. Katie's birthday comes first on April 13th and this year her party was on the 17th, then my Pop's is the 16th and it all winds up with mine on the 24th.

We held a Princess Party for Katie here at the house and it turned out wonderfully. It was only family and 5 of the friends that she spends the most time with since big parties are not her thing. Of course, even though our idea was to keep it small we ended up with a bigger party than we planned for. That is always easy for us to do since we obviously are really good about partying around here. My sister came in from out of town for the soiree and when you throw in the children's parents, our relatives, and the godparents you have about 30 people gathered. Everyone had a wonderful time. Marc designed and carried out a Royal Treasure Hunt that led each child, along with their parents on a quest for their own hidden treasure around and outside our home, using clues to get from place to place. When that was done I had each child take a picture with the birthday Princess (all of the friends came dressed as princesses too and Ethan was our token Prince). We then had each child decorate their own frame to put their picture into. Those came out really pretty. We had dinner and after dinner came a Preschool Princess Pinata (The kind where you pull the strings to break it open) and the kids dove for their loot. Finally, was the cake, or should I say cakes as we had one for my dad's 75th birthday as well, which brings me to his birthday tale....

My Dad, by far, had the best birthday of the three of us. It was made that way by my sister Jane, who works as a Senior Director of strategic Initiatives for the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. This foundation serves youth in America just as every organization Jane has worked for. That is her passion. Thankfully, her passion seems to fit very nicely with my Pop's passion for baseball; Ripken being synonymous with baseball. As many of my readers know, my Pop is probably the number one NY Yankee fan in the world. I know that sounds a little overblown but I feel it to be true. He has followed there every move as long as he can remember and can cite every fact, useless or not, about his team. He has written some of his memories on this blog and this one was another huge memory to be written about in the very near future. I will give you the reader's digest version.

My sister worked for months to score two tickets to the opening game of the New Yankee Stadium, which coincidentally fell on my Pop's birthday this year (hmmm, could it have been fate?) Her boss came up with the tix and GAVE these coveted and hard to find seats to her as a gift. The plan was set for them to meet in NYC on his birthday morning, see the game and then travel back to Florida the next day for Katie's birthday party. Let's just say the plan went off without a hitch and there were surprises in store for my dad that he would never have imagined in his wildest dreams. I will not spill the beans...that will be his job when he blogs about it but suffice it to say that he summed it up all by exclaiming that it was the best birthday he ever had. That is bigger than you will ever know as it takes a lot to phase my dad and phased he was. Jane basically screwed it for the rest of us for future birthdays....(SMIRK) His blog post will appear in the next couple of days.

My birthday was the final of our great "April Birthday Bonanza"...much quieter than the other two but wonderful nonetheless. The highlights included breakfast with three dear girlfriends, lunch alone with my sonny boy, Justin and dinner with my family and my folks. I received a Kindle from Marc, which made me very happy and two Amazon certificates to fill it with reading material from Justin and Judy as well as Jane. The wonderful moments of the day included the true realization of what birthday giving is all about by the DD, who were so happy to shower me with my gift, my cake and their love. Katie Starr even woke up and the first thing she said to me was "Give me a hug my birthday girl!" Could you just die from this sweet girl?!? I know I could...she is an old soul for sure.

So, now we are wrapping up another busy April around here and just when you think the excitement is dying down you realize it's almost...Mother's Day!!
All of the pics are from Katie's party. I will post the pics of my Pop's birthday fun when I post his blog on the subject and of course there were no pics taken of my birthday...the photographer was too busy being the birthday girl!
Our Birthday Princess (Aurora, Sleeping Beauty)

Ethan was none too pleased about wearing a was off two minutes after this pic was taken

My sis and the mischief man

Grandma (Marc's mom with her grand baby and her grand dog) Grandpa did not make it into the pic

Princess Yasmin with Princess Katie Starr

Princess Erin with Princess Katie Starr

Princess Rachel with Princess Katie Starr
BFF Princess Mia with Princess Katie Starr
Princess Jaci Lu with Katie Starr

Being serenaded
Blow those candles out Katie and Papa
I like this!
Tired Princess opening her presents
Hi Mom!
Aunt Jane looking at a present with Katie
Daddy reading a card to Katie
Katie's god mama Kira with her hubby Dennis

As usual Katie's Great Aunt Shirley went the extra mile to think of something special for the children on the occasion of Katie's birthday. She made these beautiful aprons for them to either cook or craft in that were personalized with their names, a little Chinese girl and boy and the Chinese Character for Love. They are beautiful. Please click on the picture to see how lovely they are. Thank you Aunt Shirley and we hope to see you very soon!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Our Pirate Princess

Today, we found out that Katie's left eye, which is the really bad one, is losing ground so the time has come to patch the other eye. We were really hoping that we would not have to do this but it has become necessary. Since finding this out and talking about it to others, I have found that this is more common than I once realized but that does not make it any more pleasant for our sweet girl, or for us, who hate to see her out of sorts.

Basically, the theory is that if you patch the good eye then the bad eye gets a signal from the brain to strengthen and work harder, thus improving the vision. If you fail to do this then the bad eye relies on the good eye to see and over time, the bad eye will have little to no vision.

As you can see, Katie was not too happy about this newest development but within about 15 minutes she started to perk up a bit. For this first day I kept it on about 3 hours and she never looked too comfortable. She kept closing the unpatched eye and craning her neck to one side like she was trying to escape from it. I hope that tomorrow goes a bit better. We have to keep the eye patched for half the time that she is awake so I will send her to school in it tomorrow. I hope it goes well.

Tonight, one of our friends came over before the DD went to sleep and Katie walked over to her and told her that "Mommy put a sponge on my eye today" A sponge? Love the way that little mind works.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You can't get much sillier than these two!

Tonight, after the DD had their bath and we were getting them ready for bed, this melee broke out. The DD wanted to perform for us and a performance (of craziness) is what we got! I know that Katie is not fully clothed but I think that this is so cute and she is still a baby, so no weird comments please.

I hope that you all get as much of a giggle watching it as we did. The pure and unadulterated joy in life is found in childhood and I feel honored to witness it every day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

As Promised...a couple of videos from Katie's birthday

Here is our Starr receiving her gifts at an ungodly hour of the day, just before Ethan's bus arrives. As you can see, she is not the least bit reticent to unwrap a gift. Her gifts from us were a big hit this year. We picked up a replica of Cinderella's castle from Walt Disney World when we were there in February. It is chock full of princesses, prince's and lots of accessories. Both, the castle and the Color Wonder Princess Coloring book and markers from the E man made her very happy. This year seems to be the year of the Princess for our girl. She is all about being girly right now.

Ethan received what I call the "consolation" birthday present (small token gift so he would not feel too left out). He did not seem to mind at all that his was a very small gift compared to hers. He is a very sweet boy as well.

Here we are at Katie's school party singing Happy Birthday. She was so thrilled that we came to her school and brought a cake. After we cut the cake, she asked us if we could bring a piece of cake to her teacher from last year, her dance teacher and the school secretary. This child is so thoughtful and sweet.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday Katie Starr!

I cannot believe our precious daughter is four years old today! It always sounds so cliche when people talk about how fast the time goes with children but cliche as it sounds, it is true. I need time to S T O P and freeze for just a bit longer. This is such an amazing time in Katie's life. She is so aware yet so innocent. She is a sponge that eagerly slurps up any bit of info that you provide to her. She is so loving and we are her world. Most everything she says and does right now is adorable and elicits a giggle from this mama. Her loving honesty is more than I can bear sometimes. It makes my heart burst with joy. The world is so full of promise for this child and yet before she is able to realize that promise I would love to be able to shelter her from the crueler side of life. I know as the time ticks away her awareness of many aspects of her life, including how she came to be a part of our family, will slowly come to the surface. I hope and pray that I can find the "right" words that will help her to find peace in the knowledge of her own story. I also pray that the woman that brought this slice of heaven into the world, knows peace in her decision and that somehow that peace follows her all of her life. I also say the same prayer for her foster parents that loved her and nurtured her before we were united as a family on Mother's Day 2006.

On a lighter note, her birthday was spent at school (we brought in a Passover friendly cake that was delicious. This is no small feat:) and then later with family celebration and more cake. She is also having a party this weekend with a few of her closest friends. She is easily overwhelmed by social situations, so I do not want to stress her this year and that is why we are keeping it small.

I will sum up the day with the last thing that Katie told us before she fell asleep tonight. "Mom and Dad, this was the best birthday my whole life!!"

I am posting a few pics of our big girl and I promise to post some video tomorrow.

Munching on her Matzo during lunch at school

The birthday crown her beloved teachers made for her

Having her cake and eating it too

Opening some presents this evening

A present that Judy's mom sent to her

Second cake of the day..cakes are big in this house!

Blew out all of the candles. I pray all of her wishes and dreams come true.

Our happy birthday girl!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wow, it's been 4 years!!

Today is my 4 year Blogiversary! How do you like that? So much has happened in the past four years. It really blows my mind when I look back on it.

Our family started out like this on April 10, 2005 just days before our dossier was sent to China....

Then, after many months of waiting to adopt, we received the pictures of our soon to be daughter. Our hearts were bursting with joy ....

Then, we proudly attended this wonderful event at the University of Florida....

and all immediately ran off to China after Justin's graduation for the reason that all of this began...our precious daughter, Katie Starr.....

We then decided that we wanted to adopt again and complete our family. In October, 2007, ten months after we first saw this picture.....

We traveled to China to adopt our wonderful son, Ethan....

After settling in as a family of five, our oldest son popped the question to his lady love Judy at Katie's 3rd birthday with all of his and her family around them to witness it......

and now four years later, as we celebrate this blogiversary, we plan to celebrate Katie Starr's 4th birthday on April 13th! I started this blog just 3 days before she was born...amazing.

These were the highlights. The past four years have brought us through the greatest highs and lows of my life thus far and there have been many stories to share. I have grown and changed in ways that I never envisioned for myself and my blog has evolved as well. I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams with my family and friends. My husband and children are everything to me. They give me the greatest gift of all....the love of family.

I thank all of you who have followed our journey, either from the beginning or caught up with us along the way. I enjoy keeping this blog very much. I started when there were only a few like it and now I am joined daily by many other people who just like me, are driven to document this journey of adoption and life with our families. Many have gone private and I respect their choice but it is not my choice. I remember searching for websites like this one when I began this journey and hung on the words of "been there, done that" families. I dreamed of a future with our daughter and wondered what our journey to China would be like. Those blogs and websites helped so much during our wait. Little did I know at the time that there would also be a third child waiting out there for us that would be the final piece to our puzzle. I have always appreciated when people were candid about their lives on their blogs and I have always tried to do the same. Their candor has given me great insight into many of the challenges that I have faced and are still facing.

I have made the most amazing friendships through this medium, some with people I have met in person and some with people whom I hope to meet in the future. You all have inspired me to keep going when I get a bit burnt and always let me know that you found what I have to say worth reading, even when I was not quite sure it really was. The sorority of bloggers is like no other...we share a bond that is hard to really quantify, so I will not even try. Blogging serves three purposes for me; it documents our children's lives for them to see later, it allows me to pay back with support those that read it and thanks for those who have supported me and it serves as a wonderful and creative outlet for me on a continual basis. I cannot imagine not having this amazing medium.

I know that the next four years will hold many mysteries still left to be revealed. We also have events that are already in the works, such as Justin and Judy's wedding in January of 2010 and Justin's graduation from law school in May of the same year. "Stress is the New Black" is more than just about the really big life events that punctuate our lives with milestones. It is about what truly is our lives...the small and seemingly mundane daily occurrences. They are what fuels us and brings it all in focus. I look forward to continuing to share much of it with you.


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What the "TRUCK" is going on around here?!?

Ethan has been talking up a blue streak, which of course we are all quite thrilled about. Lately though, he has taken a liking to trucks and talks about them constantly. Our mischief man cannot pronounce the "Tr" and it sound like a "F". That has made life pretty darn funny and a little inappropriate, if I do say so myself.

Ethan: "Look at that big *UCK!!" "I love a big *UCK!" "Mommy, "I see a fire *uck."

These statements and many more are literally screamed at a very high decibel level as our cutie patootie is quite the "Loud Talker"! If that was not bad enough we have big sis correcting him constantly....

Katie Starr: "Ethan it is a TRUCK not a *UCK!!" "Mom, Ethan keeps calling TRUCKS *UCKS, why can't he say it right?. Of course, our usually "Low Talker" daughter screams these statements out at piercing volume levels.

Now of course, being the great mommy that I am, I have to ask Ethan to say "TRUCK" for all of my friends and relatives to hear for themselves. As one of my friends recently commented on facebook, at this point I should probably put on Depends daily as my life is spent trying not to pee my pants while I hold in the laughter.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

This pretty much sums it up!

This is the face that we get when trouble is coming.....

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I love when April rolls around and once again I get to say......

Happy April Fool's Day Everyone!!!!!

Those of you that are my facebook friends know exactly what I am talking about but for those of you not on facebook, I had a little fun with my facebook friends today and led them to think that we were adopting again. Of course, one of my friends (Ronda) started to get wise to me and then had everyone speculating as to whether we were going down that road again. I even received several phone messages from very dear friends who wanted the inside scoop. My friend, Shannon even threatened me with loss of friendship if she had to find out something like this out on would I do something like that Chach?!? hehehe! Oh and that sister of mine is sure the party pooper.....ha! The only thing that would have made this joke any better is if Justin was still on facebook (he recently retired his page when he applied to take the BAR) I can only hope that Judy saw it and reported it back to him and it left a little question in his mind as to whether it could possibly be true ;0) My family and friends all know that April Fools Day around here is the stuff of legend and that Justin has been on the receiving end of many of my pranks.

Now why the heck would we go ahead and do something like add to the level of fashionable stress that we have going on here for goodness sake?!? I would then have to rename the blog to something like four times the insanity or CRAZY is the new black ...sheesh!

Yes, we are going back to about two years to visit two friends that we have there ;0) The only thing that we are bringing back when we go is a suitcase full of souvenirs.