Friday, February 27, 2015

Lunar New Year Goings On.

We are at Day 8 of 15 into celebrating the Year of the Ram so I'm feeling especially cocky that I am getting this post done before the Lantern Festival on March 5 (which marks the end of the festival). We had a great time celebrating this year with our annual FCC gathering and my chance to teach Ella's class about the New Year traditions.

Frick and Frack.

The Weston brewing consortium brought Larry a new brew.

This group shot is just great, including Addy's pout face, front and center. What a wonderful group of families we have in FCC. 

The Brat Pack Mamas.
Then things got serious and I had to prepare for Ella's class. Hat's off to her teacher, Mrs. P, for giving me as much time as I wanted. Ella was elated and super proud of all that we were sharing. The class was amazingly wonderful, I mean really great.

Ella's superb dragon on her lantern.

The taste testing was a big hit! Longan and Lychee fruits were eaten with chopsticks. And Ella, who is the pickiest of picky decided to try both because everyone else was. The Longan fruit won out as we charted our scores on the board. And boy did they have fun imagining they were eating eyeballs...

Since I was already two hours in to school duty, I stayed to help in the lunch room, too. The chatter of two kindergarten classes had me ready for a big cup of coffee at my quiet desk for the rest of the afternoon.

Since Larry had a meeting that night, we took Panda out to celebrate our successful school day with our favorite Chinese food.

And a little flashback of greetings from five years ago - fat little Guan Man Li in China!

 And no blog post would be complete without a cat photo. Thomas - looking regal, or ticked, or both.


Family Day Awesomeness.

It may have cold and snowy outside but we were all warm and sunny on the inside.

We filled it with imagination at our hands-on science museum, cheeseburgers, strawberry shakes, record stop shopping and a slumber party in our room.

Guitar exhibit, taking in the Chinese guitar: Pipa.

We thought she would be a bit whiny that she didn't have one of her buddies with her at the museum, but she had two giddy parents and that seemed to work even better.

She reads EVERYTHING now, this warning no exception.

We finished up our weekend with the tradition of watching our China travels DVD where she declared "no way was that baby her!".


Saturday, February 21, 2015

We didn't think we could love you any more...

... and we were so desperately wrong. Five years ago this morning, your pink bundled-up self was handed to us in a pool of tears - yours and ours.

We watched you sleep in utter amazement. You were with us, finally.

And last night, this was you, snoring sweetly in our bed after a big snow/too-cold-for-man-or-beast day off of school. We still watch you sleep in utter amazement. (We do this a lot, truth be told.)

We didn't think we could love you any more than we did that day, when fireworks crackled as we sped through the busy streets of Kunming. But we do, I promise you we do.

Happy Family Day to us. Thank you for making us complete, Guan Man Li.

Love, Mama and Daddy-O

Friday, February 20, 2015

Being in the moment.

It is a hard thing to do.
Often times, Ella is much better at it than the older people in her life (me).  
But if you are traveling and staying in a hotel with a pool, arrive late that night, tired and starving, you throw on your swimsuits first thing. And you swim.
And laugh. And let the water spill over you in a way that it hasn't in months.
Then you wake up the next day, unpack your 'big girl pants' and gather with your family and an army of friends to give Marie the most glorious send-off. Marie had her hand in all of it and it showed. Ella was an absolute pro at the long service. And although I had my time with Marie before she died, I struggled - so much so that my sweet girl pulled out tissues from her own stash to hand to me because I had exhausted all of mine.
As always, there were silver linings. Like this: Ella and my cousins' kids. We live in three corners of the state and don't see each other enough. Period.

Alyssa and Ella

Kaia and her shadow
I think we all departed that day knowing we needed to be more intentional about making time, no matter how busy the schedules. I know my family reads this so this is a gentle reminder for all of us :)

Without any doubt, it is this photo (thanks Larry) that melts me the most. Of all the things I can say about Marie and the hole her death has left, it can never be overshadowed by the fearless love Jesse has shown over the last nine years. He is my hero, always at the ready with this smile.

The following morning, we were back home and at one of our city's most incredible churches for our little friend Joseph's baptism*. We were honored to be included and it felt right to make sure we were home to celebrate the newness of his little life with God.

Before everything got underway, Ella, Panda and I snuck off to light a candle for Jesse, Kaia and Aaron as they adjust to their 'new normal'.

I will admit to probably crying a bit more at this baptism than normal (for me). It just seemed to balance out the previous 36 hours in a way that transcended all understanding.

So we took it in, we were in the moment...and it worked.

*There are no photos of the actual baptism because I was using Mama Michelle's camera and taking photos for her. Go figure, right?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Can this just be lots of sweet photos?

Ella's first birthday party with her school pals. Big screeches for two hours straight.
 A Saturday morning filled with music and science downtown with our brat pack.




On Sunday and Monday we got blasted with a good old-fashioned snow storm.

But we braved the elements to eat and play with our neighbors on Sunday night while watching commercials, oh... I mean football.

This past weekend we spent time with our family in Cincinnati, giving Marie such an amazing send-off. I will post more about that when I can find the words and download all the sweet photos of the cousin love. Until then...