Wednesday, July 9, 2014

March 2014

We went to Minneapolis Institute of Arts in March.  I think it was Rock your Garden or something like that.  They had a stage where you could goof around and take pictures.  Love this pic of the girls with our good friends - Amelia, Nora, Isabel, Elizabeth and Ella.   We had a really good time.  

Ella turned 9.  Wow.  Here she is opening her present from Aunt Pam, Uncle Jim and Grace and Madeline.  Ella LOVES Frozen and has learned all the songs in English and some in Chinese and Spanish.  Multi Talented.  But it drives Elizabeth nuts when Ella starts singing Let it Go in all the different languages.  :-) 

Ella loves Saturday Dance with Ms Amy at a local park.  I think she is aging out though.  Ms Amy only teaches up to a certain age so we may be done there.  Ella is not interested continuing if its not with Ms Amy.  So, I'll keep an eye on the listings in the Fall to see what the options are.  But she will continue with her skating lessons and may even decide to be in the annual show this time.  That would be fun to watch. 

This year I didn't do a party for Ella.  I have been so busy and I just didn't have the energy.  But, the girls and I celebrated as a family.  We went to Barbie's Dream House at the Mall of America.  It really is an explosion of pink.  We had alot of fun and there really is alot to see.  It is very well run. 

Don't the girls look good on these shoe chairs? 

Ella and Barbie. 

Ella chose the American Girl Cafe for her Birthday Dinner.   They let you borrow a doll to sit with you and that is what Ella did.  I did tell the girls I would go on one ride with them and they made sure we did. 

The girls were waiting to go back on the ride from hell.  LOL  They loved it but it was a spinning speed demon.  At one point I had my eyes closed and my hands in prayer asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to end my torment.  I think that added to the girls' fun.  We had a great time and we all were exhausted when we finally left MOA

Happy Birthday Miss Ella.  Love you forever and won't ever stop.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Old Pictures

I was looking at some folders on my computer and found some pictures that I didn't remember.

July 2005.  The granddaughters at that time.   

This must have been the first summer Ella was home.  Dad and his girls summer 2007

Dad with Grace Ann when she was a brand new baby. 

And here they are a few years later

Dad with his grandsons - still handsome. 

Having fun playing with Grandpa

We went on a family camping trip in 1971 - don't we look tough? 

We still have this table - boy I had short hair.  :-p

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Ella is still in love with ice skating and her lessons are progressing nicely.  She just got her certificate for passing level 4.  She started at level 1 in September of 2012 and has moved up and gained some great skills. 

Here she is the night of her first lesson.  She no longer wears a helmet because "I know how to fall right Mom" and hardly ever wears a jacket on ice.   I have loved watching her skate even though her speed on ice scares me.   We are on a couple week break and then will start back at Level 5.  Way to go Ella! 

Elizabeth has been doing Park and Rec level gymnastics since the Fall.  She did the whole team version for many years but she just does not want to compete in meets.  Park and rec is great because it allows her to continue doing something she really loves.  From the first week the coaches at the new place have asked her every once in awhile if she wants to be on the team because she has skills.  Elizabeth kept telling them she doesn't want to compete and is happy at the level she is at and the coaches said ok, let us know if that changes.  Well at the end of the last session the coach talked to us again.  He knows she doesn't want to compete and respects that.  This time he came right out and told her she can be on team and not compete.  They had hinted at that in the past but he confirmed it this time.  They just want her to continue to build her skills in a sport she loves.  I really hope they are being honest because Elizabeth made the leap to team this week.  No worries about time commitment, she still only goes 2 nights a week 2 hours each time.  At her old place I think it was up to 3 times a week at 3 hours a pop.   So we are all ok with this change.  I am glad she chose team because I think learning to be part of a team is important but I would support whatever choice she made.  Have fun Elizabeth.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Growing up

Elizabeth is going to a school dance today.  It will be during the day at school and it is for kids that made it to the A or B Honor Roll this school year.  Elizabeth was A Honor Roll all year!

I was talked into shopping for Easter dresses early so Elizabeth could wear it today.   Then of course we needed new shoes because the one's from Dad's funeral last August no longer fit.   We got that job done last night.   We ended up buying the shoes in the woman's section - that was a first.

Today Elizabeth looked so beautiful and she felt it.  Her confidence has soared and it was great to see.

Here she is in October 2007 in her dress up outfit.  This was in Kindergarden.

Here she is in January 2009 in another dress up outfit:

And at Grandpa's Birthday party in 2010 with her cousins Grace and Madeline:

Now look at her - My girl is growing up for sure.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wish You Happy Forever

Last night the girls and I went to a book signing at Common Good Books.   Jenny Bowen of Half The Sky Foundation was giving a presentation and signing her book.  The book is titled "Wish You Happy Forever, What China's Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains"

We got there a little early and Jenny was setting up and testing her presentation.  While I was at the counter buying the book, Ella went back to see what was going on.  After I was done with my purchase, I went back and heard the tail end of Ella's chat.  She was saying she felt different and sad because she missed her family in China.  We have been talking about that at home too this week so this was one of those moments where I wasn't sure if she would be better from the event or not.  Well no worries.  Jenny and her assistant told Ella what she feels is normal and that alot of kids feel that way.  They went on to tell her about groups that are just for kids that she can go to.   They gave me a card with their contact information and I will find out the details for sure.   I was so happy that they validated what I have been saying to my girls and it helped my girls to hear it from experts. 

It got even better from there.

Elizabeth helped watch some of the little kids of friends but was near the presentation so she could hear it.  Ella was with those kids and then when she heard the presentation start, she came by me.  Jenny was introduced by Dr Dana Johnson of the U of M Adoption Clinic.  I wish I had looked for him after as he or his staff reviewed Elizabeth's paperwork before I accepted her adoption.  I think all of the Jiangxi families from our group did as well.  Four of the girls are from the same orphanage and they all had a bit of cross eyed situation.  They have all out  grown it but way back when we all heard how they got all these pictures of cross eyed girls.   Its a cute part of our story and I wish I had been able to chat with him. 

Jenny was an excellent speaker and her short video was inspiring as well.  Its amazing what one person has been able to do in a short amount of time.  About 16 years ago Half the Sky started and were in two orphanages in China.  They now are all over China and they have taught so many  care givers the importance of showing children that they are loved.  This helps in so many ways and lets the Orphans in China know their lives matter.   Thank you Jenny and Half the Sky. 

After the presentation Jenny opened it up for questions.  Ella raised her hand first.  She asked about the number of girls vs boys in orphanages and what if moms wanted a daughter.  Jenny took her time and answered Ella's questions saying that yes, in the past there were more girls but now there are boys too and that depending on the area of China, families could have two children.   Ella had more questions but I asked her to wait and let others ask.  :-)

At the end we had our book signed and took a picture with Jenny.  She told Ella that she could tell she was a sweet girl and I bet you have more questions.  Ella agreed and said she wanted to be a nanny in an orphanage.   Elizabeth told Jenny she was shy and Jenny said nope, I can see you are not... ;-)  Anyway Jenny also told Ella to write her a letter with her questions and she will make sure to answer it. She thanked Ella for her time and let her know that it may be awhile before she will have time to answer the letter but she will. 

Thank you Jenny Bowen - personally what you did last night will go a long way to helping my children know they matter, that what they feel is ok, and that it is important to show you care.   Thank you also for all you have done to help China's Children!  You are extraordinary and awesome (Ella's words).

Here is a picture from the event.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Girl and her Doctor

Today was Ella's Cleft team check up.  She is doing wonderfully.  First stop was weight and height - she is 66 lbs 13 oz and 4 feet 4 inches tall.   I wish I had asked them what her last measurements were so I could compare but to this mom's eye Ella is getting taller fast.

After W&H we went back to the waiting room. Ella played with an etch a sketch and said that is what she wanted for her reward.  You see I thought she was also going to be getting a new retainer so she could start with the night guard again.  Ella's upper jaw has totally gone back to what it was before the first night mask and we thought today was the day to start.  That process totally sucks for Ella but turns out Mom was wrong about today's agenda.  More on that later.

Soon we were called to see Dr. Wood - I have always thought he was a great surgeon but after today he is the best in the galaxy.  We had an awesome meeting with him.  He looked in Ella's mouth and tried chit chat with her but she went right to the questions - how long did my surgery take?  Why do you wear masks in surgery?  How am I doing?  He was patient and answered all her questions - about 20 minutes - wear masks to protect you during surgery so we don't put bacteria in the air, you are doing great!  Then Dr Wood said you know what, I think you should be a doctor and come work on my team.  Ella thought that would be cool.   We also had Ella's Social Study homework with us.  It was to interview a worker about their job.  Ella had originally wanted to ask Dr Wood but I said he was probably too busy and maybe we should find someone else.  Today I decided we should go for it and asked him if he would have time for questions.  He said sure.  And answered all her questions.   I wrote his replies down because I can write faster than Ella but she will rewrite it tonight to use tomorrow in Social Studies.  Then Dr Wood went on to say let's get you some documents and other papers in case you need it for class.  By spending all that time with Ella he let a little girl know that she matters to him.   Ella told him this was the best day ever and then Dr. Wood said she made his day.  At that point Ella went and gave him a huge hug.  I will be sending a thank you card to Dr Wood and team for all the love they always show Ella.  Ella can't wait to work with Dr. Wood when she is done with grade school, high school, college and med school.  He thinks he will still be there too.  :-)

From there we went back to the waiting room for our appointment with the pediatric dental team led by Dr Cermain.  We had a bit of time to wait and were reading her book club book on the ipad so we found a quiet spot.  We were sent back to the dental area, but actually had to wait in another waiting room.  Then they brought us in to the room and looked at Ella's paperwork.  The assistants asked when Ella was getting her teeth cleaned and that appointment is next week with her regular dentist.  Then Dr Cermain came in and said I hear we are starting braces.  I was like ummm no we are getting a retainer for a night mask.  She gave her staff a look and then said yes, that's right.  From the looks of the dental rooms it was a busy day for them.  Turns out that Ella was going to have spacers put in first before the goop and retainer/butterfly.  That was a new one for Ella.  Elizabeth had that done for her ortho stuff but not Ella.  But I am all for it.  If it makes the goop/butterfly appointment easier on Ella it will be wonderful.   This whole process will take awhile but it is very important that we are faithful with the night mask.  Ella's upper jaw needs to move in line with her lower jaw or she will have to have another surgery.  So we are going to work hard at what they tell us.   Correcting Ella's jaw will make it easier for her to say s sounds and maybe make more airway for her.  So far that isn't a problem for her but it won't hurt to make more room.   Ella was all prepared for the goop stuff so when there was a change she was a little stressed by it.  But in true Ella form she rallied and handled it fine.  The inner core of this child is humbling.   She continued to let them work on her mouth even though she was stressed.  God Bless You sweet child.  In a few weeks we go back and Ella has the goop appointment.  After that one I will get her an Etch a Sketch if that is still what she wants.

After that we ran to speech.  Dr Wood wanted an update from his team and that was an add on appointment today.  So I ended up having to cancel my eye appointment but I will pick another date soon.  Anyway, the speech team tested Ella and she is doing great.  They could tell all the work that Ella has been doing in her various speech programs at Yinghua and then at St Marks.  They also tested the nasal breathing to make sure that was balanced and it was.  They also took time to answer Ella's questions with thoughtful answers.

I cannot say enough about the quality of care at Gillette as well as the level of care given to my sweet child.  Thank you Gillette.

Update 3/21/14 - Ella finished her Social Studies project last night and we took pictures of her with it.  I hope to send it to Dr Wood and again I wish I had thought to take a picture of Ella with her doctor.   Next time - if I remember.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Today's chuckle

On the way to our Saturday events and we were talking in acronyms to avoid using bad words... Like OMG is Oh My Gracious and then Elizabeth said OMTM and that means "oh my talking mushrooms"   While laughing I said I think it was Shitake Mushrooms but I really like OMTM.   :-)   Ella used to say OMO which she explained means Oh My Oreo.   :)