"Being a family means you are part of something wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life. No matter what." ~Author Unknown

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hard Mommy Day

Today I went to work for the first real day. I've been in to set up my classroom and make preparations, but that's different because it's my choice! Today I had to be there on time, and that meant taking Sof to daycare. It was hard. Harder then the first day because today she knew what was happening. When we pulled into the parking lot she started saying, "Bye bye?". As we walked to the door I was explaining that Mommy was going to work and Sofie was going to school. Her bottom lip came out and she said, "School?". We went to her classroom and she cried. A sad, sad cry. I put on my best strong Mommy face, kissed, hugged, and handed her over. I went to my car and cried for her. I cried the first time I left my other girls too, but this is different. My heart breaks thinking about her perspective on it. Is she thinking this is her new home, wondering if I'm coming back? At work we started by going around the room and sharing best memories from our summer. That got me emotional again. I called at lunch to check and see how Sof's morning went. Her teacher had lots of positives to tell me. She said Sof had really come out of her shell and shown more of her personality today. She engaged with other kids and participated in games. Then it came to nap time. When the teacher started getting the cots out Sof said, "Night, night?". Then she started crying and specifically said, "Mama". That broke my heart, and yes, made me cry again. Here's the deal though, it IS different then my biological girls. Sof just got a family, a Mommy and a Daddy and sisters, and she likes it. She wants to be with us. It's hard to leave her behind. In reality though, it would be much worse if she didn't miss us. The best thing that happened today was that she remembered me, wanted me, and even asked for me 4 hours after I dropped her off. She isn't happy with just any caregiver, whoever is on shift. She wants her Mommy. That means she has a strong attachment to me, to us. It is the biggest hurdle every adopted child and family faces. We are SO over that hurdle. By 2:30 Mommy and baby were reunited and all the ups and downs of the day were left behind. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing with her Tree House.

This little girl is going bye bye to school. Great role play, except the dog's driving...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma Ree!

My sister's in-laws are in town for the month. Marie has become Grandma Ree to my kids also. We celebrated her birthday on Saturday with dinner, cake, and of course a dance party from the girls! Steve took her out to run some errands and the girls were so excited to yell "Surprise" when she came in. I'm sure she had NOOOOO idea we were celebrating!;)
No Natalie, we're not singing yet!

Emily got her a sweet necklace with the girls' names on it.

John had the girls make cards, and in the process he decided to make one too! Old softie:)

The dance party took on more of a catwalk style tonight. Lots of different costumes strutting their stuff!

What's a birthday without cake? Sof loves dessert! She really is my girl:)

End of Summer Performance

Today we had one of our last performances of the season at a local festival. Adrienne and my nieces danced, and Adrienne and Lexi both sang. As always I was super proud of them. I never tire of watching these girls perform!

I was especially proud of Lexi! She has just recently found her voice, and her confidence. It was a really big deal for her to get up in front of an audience like that! Adrienne does it all the time, it's second nature for her. Sof sat and watched and tried to sing along and dance too! I have a feeling she will be following in her sister's and cousin's footsteps!

Friday, August 26, 2011

6 Month Post Placement!

Yesterday our social worker, J, came for our visit. Ironically, it was 5 months exactly since we touched down on American soil with our sweet Sof. It felt like show and tell in Kindergarten. We couldn't be more proud to show off our Sof and how far she's come. J said, "She's a keeper". I'm sure she doesn't say that to ALL her clients! It was cute to see Alexa's excitement over J coming. She got Sofie dressed, fed her, and played with her while we waited. You could just tell she felt as proud as the rest of us! One of the questions on the new Russian questionaire is, "How many articles of clothing and shoes does the child have?" Really? You want me to answer that in front of my husband? J said she would just answer plenty:) Here's a pic of the girls waiting...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Daycare Day

Sof started Tutor Time today:( She went for a short day to ease into it because I have to go back to work next week. She rose to the occasion as I knew she would. Certainly there is a part of me that wishes I was home all the time and could take her to prechool a few days a week instead of real daycare, but that's not the reality of our life. I have to go to work, and she needs to be cared for from 8-12:30. So, she's going to Tutor Time and I'm sure we'll be very happy there. My nieces both went there and they are fabulous! It was a great day to start because one of the little girls was having a birthday, and Sof loves a party! She had cupcakes and came home with a little gift bag. Too cute. The child was adorable and so excited to tell me that it was her b-day. I had a whole conversation with this child(who was a head taller than Sof) and she was clearly so ready to move up to the preschool program. It wasn't until later that I really connected the fact that this child was only 2 months older than Sof. I really forget she has delays most the time. Her small stature, her language, and her demeanor all fit together. I really am not worried at all about her catching up, it's just sad to think of the time she's lost. Overall she had a great day and I know she's going to benefit from the structure, kids, and education. Everytime I leave her she proves to herself she can do it without me. That's the whole goal of parenting...giving your kids the power to do it on their own. But, everytime I come back I prove to her I'll always be there.

First of all, how cute is the name "Preppers"? That's Sof's class which is 2 1/2 -3 1/2 year olds. Second, how cute is it that they made her a sign with all the kids handprints on it to welcome her! Love it!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kaitlyn and the Kneeboard

Kaitlyn and the kneeboard have a love hate relationship. She desperately wants to be on it riding behind the boat, but she just hasn't been able to get there. She thinks about it, talks about it, gets in the water and holds it, and still, can't bring herself to do it. She had one close call when she actually got on it and started out, but unfortunatly wasn't strong enough to hang on. Landed face first in the water resulting in a crying fit of frustration. Have I mentioned the summer's coming to an end? I know, it's redundant, and even a bit obsessive of me. Anyway, it's ending, like it or not, and soon we will be saying things like, "Remember Sofie's first summer?", and "Remember when Sofie was so little on that tube?" and "Remember when Kaitlyn wanted to kneeboard so badly?". Well, after this weekend we will now say, "Remember last summer when Kaitlyn finally got up on the kneeboard?". Yep, she did it. These girls of ours rock. I like strong girls ready to take on the world and conquer it all. Whatever water, with your waves and splashes in the face, thinking you're all cool and everything. Bring it on. You're nothing compared to our girls!

The look of satisfaction.

The great thing about the cottage? There's always a buddy. A sister or a cousin or a friend to either go with you, or before you, or cheer you on.

Summer 2011, the summer Livy lost her 2 front teeth. Just when we though she couldn't get any cuter!

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Goes Up Must Come Down

We are taking advantage of every last day that the heat rises enough for us be in water. The other day that meant getting ourselves packed and in the car and out to the water park. It was new waterpark that I hadn't been to. My sister and her kids had scoped it out, and Kaitlyn had declared it perfect for Sof. My sweet Kaitlyn...love her. She has one volume, loud. She reasons with you like an experienced school counselor. She is the problem solver. Tangent. So, Kaitlyn was so excited to show Sof the little water slide just right for her! We went immediately to it. Sof is skiddish with water. If it's shallow and still it's her friend, if not, she's not going near it. Period. She trusts and loves her cousin though, so she followed her up the steps and watched her sit down and slide, and then did exactly the same thing. Success, until she slowed down and stopped near the end. Then came confusion, followed by her trying to crawl back up the slide, followed by panic. At this point there was no choice but for me to slide down and rescue my baby. End of slide(so I thought).

We moved on to bigger and better slides. We splashed in pools and water fountains,and rested in the sun.

Still, the failed slide attempt lingered. My Sof is a rock star though, so of course she had to try again. She marched herself back up there, all 2 1/2 feet of her ready to conquer. She sat down and I gave her little push to assure she got to the end. Success. My poor sister had to spend the next hour catching her at the bottom of that slide! I stayed at the top to make sure she got on okay, but she soon did not need me. She would climb right in and sit down, and Kaitlyn would go before her and meet her at the end. My favorite part? There were some bigger girls sliding also. They were in a hurry and didn't want to wait for a two year old to go before them. I get it, but I still had my mommy feathers ruffled watching them try to cut in front of my girl. Silly me, I forgot she's a Culley. She actually put her hand up and yelled, "Stop!" She holds her own...LOVE IT! You go girl.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Same Scene, Some Different Characters

Summer weekend=off to the cottage. We were able to sneak away on Thursday night and meet our friends Anne and Rick(AKA Aunt Anne and Uncle Rick). We spent Friday biking with them which was great fun. There is a trail that goes from our cottage into the city. Anne approves of this because she needs the promise of a cold beer at the turn to get her purpose driven bike ride on. 40 miles all said and done.
If you're looking for me I'm the midget.

With that behind us we spent the rest of the weekend with more friends, family, food, fun, and dance parties. My sister and family were in, along with her in laws, my Mom and Dad and Grandma came out everyday, and Brian and the kids were there. Lee and Harv joined us for dinner on Saturday also. Plenty of of people to mix and match, and a nice humm of laughter and conversation hung in the air.

You are my sunshine(or twinkie)?

Speaking of sunshine, there was a lack of it on Saturday. The rain was relentless. What do you do with 10 kids on a day like that? You buy them t-shirt decorating materials so they can take their dance party to the next level. They worked all day, all together, and oh yeah it was the best ever:)

There was no shortage of lovin' on babies...

And we celebrated Nolan's 9th birthday. Where did that time go? We love you Noly!

It wasn't a total washout, we were able to sneak out to the boats for a quick spin.

I will miss this feeling of heading back to the house after a lazy day of water fun to get cleaned up and enjoy food and drinks and dance parties. Sweet summertime memories.