Monday, March 31, 2008

Yes, I must be part Gypsy

I've often been accused of being a Gypsy. In the past 13 years I've lived in 2 apartments, 10 houses and 4 hotels-- the Homestead Suites and 3 hotels in Vietnam. Hey, I think its fair to say you lived somewhere if you're there for 7 weeks so I claim the 3 hotels in Vietnam! Of course, my father who has extensively researched our family tree has never mentioned that we are related to Gypsies. William the Conquerer, yes. Gypsies, no. But my latest news might make me the Gypsy on the family tree.

We're moving again.

Yeah, I know we JUST moved. And believe me the thought of packing up this house makes me tired even thinking about it. But we are moving and this time it won't involve living in suites or moving down the street. We're moving back to my childhood hometown area, the Kansas City, Missouri suburbs.

We are completely alone here. I became very aware of this fact when Emma was in the hospital. My two boys, ages 17 and 20 were solely taking care of their 2 younger sisters, ages 4 and 10. This meant taking Jenna, the 4 year old, to preschool, Julia, the 10 year old to after school activies, getting them ready for bed, making sure homework got done, etc. That's alot to ask from two teenage boys. My parents eventually came when we realized that Emma was going to be in the hospital for awhile, but it was after Emma has been hospitalized for a week and then my parents had to rearrange their schedules and drive 8 hours to get here.

So I went home to visit after the New Year while we were still on Christmas break and on a whim I went looking at houses to check out the housing market. At that time I knew we would move there, it just just a matter of when. And of course I found a house I loved. After I and my entourage (my brother, sister in law, other brother, and mother) left the house I sat in the car next to my SIL and said "Crap, I really liked that house. Now what do I do?" I went home and several family meetings, and another trip later, it was decided that we would move. Ross will be spending his senior year at a very small Catholic high school that he absolutely loved. Julia will be starting middle school and Jenna will be starting kindergarten at the same elementary school that her cousins attend. In fact, we are living in the same neighborhood as my brother and his family and about 3 miles from my parents. We will be moving the last week of May/ first week or June.

So how wonderful is this house? Check it out for yourself:

This is it, although I cut the right side off including the 3rd car garage.

This my beautiful new, very large kitchen.

My wonderful great room!

The hearth room and great room view from the kitchen sink.

And the pièce de résistance, the fire pit on the back patio. BYOM- bring your own marshmellows.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Jenna turns 5!.. in February

As we make our way through the beginning of 2008 we come to Jenna's 5th birthday. Jenna and her birthdays traditionally haven't been a big ta-do.

We didn't have her for her first birthday but we are blessed to have a picture of her with a round birthday cake. We know that this was "staged." Chinese don't celebrate birthday's with cakes and Jenna had only the week before her first birthday had her paperwork submitted to the CCAA for international adoption. It stands to reason that knowing she was going to be adopted her orphanage began to take photos of her to give to her new family. We did receive about 10 photos of her but it is obvious that they are all taken after she turned one.

Her second birthday was low key. Life was in chaos. (So what's new???) Darrell was in hot pursuit of another job and Jenna didn't have any friends other than her siblings so a family birthday was reasonable.

Jenna's 3rd birthday occurred in the middle of tragedy. Darrell was in the hospital at the time of Jenna's birthday. Our life was a crazy roller coaster but there was a little girl old enough to know what a birthday was. One day the week before her birthday Darrell had one of his many surgery's and it was in the afternoon which meant I was at the hospital late. Jenna ended up spending the night at a friend's house. So I got home on a Thursday night about 9:00 and Ross and Julia (15 and 8 at the time) got in the car and we headed to Walmart. We were there until after 10:00 doing our regular shopping but also buying Jenna's gifts. I felt like Worst Mother of the Year keeping my children out so late on a school night but they had so much fun-- something they desperately needed-- and we got to spend some time together. Jenna's birthday was the next week, celebrated with a cake way too big for the five of us (Darrell's niece Sue was with us) but it was a Disney Princess Castle cake and Jenna loved it, anything to make her birthday more special. At that time Darrell was in a medically induced coma and the nurses told me Darrell would lose about 2 months of his life. So Jenna's entire birthday video was devoted to and spoken to Darrell so he would be able to celebrate Jenna's birthday too. None of us have ever watched Jenna's 3rd birthday video. Eight days after her birthday Darrell died.

Jenna's 4th birthday slipped into obscurity. I meant to have a friend party for her but it never got planned. Bad Mommy.

SOOO, for Jenna's 5th birthday I planned to make up for all the past birthdays and I think this was accomplished! Jenna had a Birthday Week with her Grandma and Grandpa from Missouri here to celebrate. Her actual birthday had her grandparents, her two brothers and their girl friends, Julia and her friend Anna, Emma and I, about 4 of Ross' friends and eventually Anna's mom Beth and her brother David.

Jenna chose spaghetti and meatballs for her dinner. If you look closely you can see spaghetti sauce smeared around her mouth. (nice, good mom)

She got a chocolate 4 layer cake with pink frosting which was lovingly made by Julia and Anna since they all got a gift for Jenna's birthday-- a snow day!

On Saturday was the party of all parties, a Princess party at Sweet and Sassy! For those of you who might not know, Sweet and Sassy is a children's hair salon that alos has birthday parties. You can check them out here: Jenna invited all 8 other girls in her class, the little girl next door, Julia and Anna. Everyone came!

Here is a photo of Jenna getting her hair done after she put on her princess dress

And here is a photo of Jenna getting her nails done.

Here is my princess at her crowning ceremony. They walked down the runway and knelt on a pillow and were "crowned." They got to name their kingdom and name the official animal. Her official animal is a unicorn. Because if you are going to be a princess in the Land of Happiness it makes sense to have the unicorn as your official animal.

What I love about this picture is that you can see Ross and his girlfriend Catherine in the background doing what teenagers always seem to be doing, texting.

And fnally, here are all the princesses after their crowning ceremony! Aren't they beautiful? I think it was the Pre-K party of the year. Ah, finally, Mommy came through.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Playing catch up or otherwise known as Christmas in March

Am I behind or what? (Note to self: Don't wait until your camera has about 250 photos before you transfer them to your computer.) I'm going to spend the next few days catching up starting from this past December.

First, let me tell you how proud we were when Jenna was chosen to be Mary in her preschool Christmas program! And what a beautiful Mary she was!

This was at the end of a VERY long program that left all involved very cranky. Notice that Jenna has lost her headress at this point. Baby Jesus is one of her baby dolls although a few people suggested that she use Emma--NOT!

And here are my Christmas angels! Jenna, age 4; Julia, 10; and Emma 5 months.

And finally, here is a picture taken of Emma with my brother Dave on Christmas Day in Louisville, Kentucky.
Let me say that Christmas was 100% better than Thanksgiving. I literally watched Emma nearly die that day at Vanderbilt Children's hospital with her RSV. My Christmas was full of thanksgiving.