Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My two-year-old!

In case my photo montage on Saturday wasn’t clear (and why would it be? I’m impressed that any of you picked up on this), Reagan turned two! The busyness of life surrounding the event has interfered with any meaningful reflection on the daughter whose gestation was measured in inches of paperwork instead of inches around my mid-section, and in years instead of weeks. Though I did not experience the pain of childbirth on 10/25/06, I certainly experienced pain in the process. When well-meaning people comment that we decided to take the easy way out the third time around I have to laugh. Granted I had fairly easy pregnancies, and one out of two births was very quick, but adoption is undoubtedly the hard way!
But as with any homegrown child, the joy of mothering Reagan has far overshadowed every challenge we encountered. Every fingerprinting appointment, every trip to FedEx, every check written, every hour spent on the phone, every moment away from Alyssa and Parker, every shot, every push of the “refresh” button hoping for an email update, every moment of waiting and wondering about a child – our child – sitting on the other side of the globe, was worth it. I’d do it all again if I had to. (In fact, I’d love to do it again for another child, but that’s a story for another day!). In the way that I am confident God put exactly the right sperm and egg together to bring us Alyssa and Parker, I know He hand-picked Reagan from all the children in the world, to be our daughter. From the beginning she has fit into our family with an ease I hardly dared to pray for.
Our joy only continues to grow with Reagan’s little body. Though she’s still the tiniest thing, she has a great big personality. She is not afraid to assert herself – which she needs to do often with two older siblings in the house – but she is also comfortable being alone. Her deep-throated giggle comes out with ease when Alyssa or Parker are chasing her, but she also loves to sit and play with only dolls to keep her company. Reagan is not without rebellious moments and unnecessary whines, but is quick to say I’m sorry (which comes out more like “a-see mama”) and give kisses. One of my favorite things about her is how grown-up she is while still looking very much like an infant. She’s anxious to do big-girl things like use a toilet, walk everywhere on her own, feed herself (including dipping everything in ketchup!)… pretty much everything that her brother and sister can do, but she still wears 6-12 month clothes. I love my tiny baby girl, who’s not such a baby anymore. Happy (belated) birthday Reagan!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Parkerism passing...

Parker is a talker. No matter what other chaos is reigning in our home or in our car, if Parker has something to say, he'll keep saying it until someone is willing to listen. He (almost!) always has a kind word for his sisters, and randomly throughout each day will tell me how much he loves me or how pretty I am. He talks to and about God as a friend. But as much as I love what Parker says, I might love the way he says it even more. His enthusasim for everything keeps his volume level permanently set at 10. His big brown eyes accent every request with a sweet silent pleading that is difficult to refuse. And he still hasn't learned to pronounce "r"s. Until today. This morning my boy, describing his trip to a kids "musaum" with his grandparents, said the word "ARK" loud and clear. It's a milestone I knew would come (there isn't anything particularly cute about a grown man mispronouncing things) but have long dreaded. My days of hearing Parker refer to himself as "Pa-ka" I now know are short in number. I'm going to miss it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No ulterior motive

So I'm really not a home-sales party kind of girl. I've been to a lot, I've even hosted a few, but they're just not my thing. Perhaps it's because I love a bargain, or maybe it's because I like to shop on my own terms. I don't enjoy going to the mall with girlfriends, and I almost exclusively browse the clearance racks. The pressure to buy things that you don't necessarily love or can afford brought on by the circle of women sitting in a living room with you generally rubs me the wrong way.

I don't usually promote products here either. Don't get me wrong - I love the giveaways on some of the other blogs I read (that frugal side of me again!) - but I don't have a big enough readership to compel companies to send freebies my way.

Today, however, I'm going to promote both a home party and product here on my blog. Feel free to move on now if you hate sales pitches! A friend of my sister's (and mine too!) is a truly gifted painter. She stays at home with her two sweet kids, but spends her free time covering her walls with art and making stuff for friends and family. When we were in Vietnam picking up Reagan last year, she and my sister snuck into our house to custom paint a niche I had been at a loss to fill. One hesitancy I had in moving to our new home was in leaving her art behind. I've also received 3 of her adorable signs as gifts, though, so a little bit of Natalie still graces our walls. Anyway, all that to say, the girl is talented and her prices are very reasonable! She's having a boutique next week at my sister's house, and I won't be able to attend, so this is my plug for a fun no-pressure event and a product that even my friends in the mid-west and beyond can enjoy. I checked - she ships, and anything ordered custom soon would be ready for Christmas! Check Natalie's stuff out here - be sure to scroll down to see her paintings and the specifics on the boutique if you'd like to attend. I have no doubt that you'll her love her too!

Monday, October 13, 2008

3 Monkeys at the Zoo

or is it 5?
School was out last week (yeah!) and Dan only had to work Monday and Tuesday (yeah yeah!), so we decided to take our little wild animals to visit some of more exotic variety at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The kids were every bit as excited as we hoped they might be, and we especially enjoyed the animals we got to see up close. Parker loved feeding the lorakeets, Reagan and the antelope developed a special bond, and Alyssa kept her usual distance but was intrigued by the African grey parrot - especially once we convinced her that the jokes were coming from the bird, not the trainer. This "zoo" hosts a wide range of animals but is known for it's more natural setting and the way the less aggressive varieties are allowed to roam around together. My favorites - the big cats - naturally must be segregated, but even their enclosures are a far cry from the typical cage and are situated to put them in view of their natural prey. One of the cheetahs was allowed out to visit the public, so this photo was taken from up close and personal. Of course even the best of zoos can't compare with the wild, (Dan continually remarked about how different it is when the fear factor is gone) but the animals were amazing nonetheless. The more we learned about each individual species, the more I marvelled at the wisdom and creativity of their Maker. The zookeepers repeatedly instructed us about the remarkable "adaptations" of each animal to its environment, but we know it's due to the remarkable design of the Designer. What a God! What fun!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A break from form

My ramblings here rarely stray far from my immediate family. I don't talk much about others, I almost never post pictures of anyone else, and it's not because we're hermits. We have close extended family on both sides and have been blessed with many friends, but I am careful about their privacy and figure that their stories are for their blogs. Today I'm going to break that form for two unique events.
The first is a long-overdue reunion with one of my best friends from college. Laurie and I were nearly inseperable during our Junior and Senior years and sometimes were even mistaken for one another. She was a bridesmaid in our wedding, and Danny and I both got to be a part of her marriage to the most humble of naval officers. The only thing we don't like about Trapper is that his job took them to Virginia, and then back to San Diego, which is close, but far enough that we haven't managed to get together with them since shortly after Parker was born. They now have two sweet little guys who we finally met on Thursday night! Our catch up session wasn't nearly long enough, but we're now even more determined to make them more frequent. Here's the gang:

The next event is far less fun and would even be classified as tragic if not for our hope in the Lord. My sister-in-law, Michelle, delivered a stillborn little boy yesterday at just 23 weeks. They had been aware for some time that their little guy was not healthy, but were still devestated to find that he no longer had a heartbeat. Michelle, Flavio and their two little girls are grieving the loss, but rejoicing in God's care for their baby and them. Please pray for our family and that God would use these difficult circumstances for His glory.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The box says it all

Pizza, IMHO, is perhaps the world's perfect food, and Round Table makes the best. Their pie is the ideal combination of crispy and soft, spicy and sweet, creamy and greasy. Accompanied by a large Diet Coke I can think of no other taste I enjoy - or crave - more. Much of my childhood chubbiness could probably be blamed on King Aurthur's pizza joint (or maybe it was my aversion to physical activity) and it's remarkable I didn't gain weight in college considering my regular Tuesday trips for a pepperoni and olive fix. Fortunately for my slowing metabolism, but unfortunately for my taste buds, the nearest Round Table is now 20 minutes away. It's situated in a dive of a shopping center, and though recently remodeled, retains enough of its original elements to keep Danny far far away. That is until he offered to take me wherever I wanted to celebrate our anniversary. No Lawry's or Ruth's Chris for me! I want pizza, and truly "unbelievable" pizza I got!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Papa, Gaga and Pumpkins

We're back! My parents accompanied us to our favorite park this week, along with my adorable pumpkin-colored nephew Lincoln. Have I mentioned how much we love Disneyland? Or how difficult it is to get four children, 5 and under to look at the camera at the same time?

Friday, October 03, 2008

NOT Home Before Dark

Danny and I are really quite boring homebodies. We frequently have the opportunity to go on dates but somehow usually make it home long before the sun goes down. Before we were married we managed to stay out late, but that was because we were busy doing wild and crazy things like sitting and talking in coffee shops and going to movies. Now we prefer to talk on our comfy couch or in the spa, and we enjoy Tivo much more than most flicks.
Last night was an exception to our daylight-hours-only rule. For Danny's recent birthday my parents gave him tickets to see Neil Diamond, for the ironically titled tour "Home Before Dark." The scary part is that he was thrilled, as they knew he would be! Most of his favorite performers are old enough to be his parents, or even grandparents in this case. I managed to dodge the last Barry Manilow concert he attended thanks to a timely case of mono, but this time I was stuck, and believe it or not, we both had a really good time!
A good 50% of the entertainment value for me was in watching my husband. He's very enthusiastic in his appreciation of most things and seeing him dance and laugh and sing along is akin to riding the Winnie the Pooh ride with the kids - even if the show isn't up your alley, it's fun to rejoice with those who are rejoicing.
Another 25% we'll give to our drunken dancing neighbors. If there isn't something already inherently sad about 40- and 50- and 60-somethings dressed to the hilt, gyrating and screaming the words to love songs older than me, add unlimited alcohol and it gets even sadder. To be fair, there were many very friendly, cute, sober older couples around us, but they were balanced by the "gentleman" on my left who had enough beer left over to spill some on my feet twice and the men on our right who couldn't seem to keep their hands off of one another. So maybe we'll knock that 25% down to 10 and give the extra points to the venue. Aside from the traditionally nightmarish parking, which we were able to avoid by walking farther than most of our fellow revelers were willing, or maybe able, the Hollywood Bowl is fun no matter who is on stage. Where else can you sit outside in a natural amphitheater in October wearing short sleeves and sandals, eating your own picnic (Cheesecake Factory cheesecake and Coke Zero!), listening to world-class musicians late into the night?
The final entertainment points we'll give to the man himself. He's got to be well into his 70s but he can still put on a show. Though I only recognized a few of the songs, I never got bored in the 2+ hours (no intermission) he was on stage. The band was equally old, but just as talented and energetic - I just don't understand what motivates them to keep going after all these years. Do they really still need the money? Or the glory? But is there really that much fame to go around for the accordion player? Or the guy who still plays the world's first synthesizer? Perhaps they just really love it. Either way, Danny and I were both entertained... along with all of our friends who comprised the only line I've ever seen specifically formed for the handicapped bathroom stalls.