This past Thursday Mimi, Max and I flew to Chicago with our friend Stephanie and her son Miles to attend the Second Annual Ethiopian Blog Union, a gathering of families who have adopted from Ethiopia that maintain blogs, such as I do (even though I haven't been maintaining it very well lately). We had a wonderful time. Stephanie was kind enough to allow us to share a room with her and it worked out great and amazed me at how effortless and relaxing it was for we socially-anxious types which I hope means that we really are destined to be great friends because she is one of the funniest people I know. I bet you can't imagine 2 women and 3 kids in 1 hotel room and everyone getting along, but it's true!! It happened and it was beautiful:
Oooh so you wanna know where we stayed? Why we were guests at the The W - the uber-chic swanky "kid-friendly" hotel (if your kid is over 21, that is). Thankfully nothing was broken and no signs were posted about us when we left.
This was the view of Lake Michigan from our floor. Not the penthouse but not too shabby either, ay?:
In addition to all the other reasons I was excited to visit Chicago for this event was the particularly fantastic treat of seeing my dear friend Stacie and meeting her family. Stacie and I became friends a while back through mutual friends on Facebook and we quickly bonded over our intense passion for adoption, Ethiopia and a little somethin' somethin' called Twilight. Stacie is beautiful (inside and out), smart, thoughtful, quirkly and incredibly funny and I am lucky to know her.
So what did we do? We ate, drank and were merry! We got to know families from all around the country whose blogs we followed. We watched our children play and our children had the wonderful opportunity to see so many blended families bonded by love. What else did we do? Here's a recap:
We went to Gino's East for authentic Chicago deep dish pizza:
We went to the Museum of Science and Industry. Best part of this for the kids? For Mimi it was the rockclimbing wall (Max enjoyed that as well). Max loved all the trains and planes. Me? Arthur Weasley's Invisible Muggle Car!
And then we went for Ethiopian food at Demera Ethiopian Restaurant. It was full of food, families, music and tradition. Mimi even participated in the coffee ceremony! Most of the children wore their traditional clothing from their birth countries and everyone looked beautiful. It was a wonderful and delicious way to end a fantastic trip!
Alas, like all good things our trip came to and end and we returned home. The kids were happy to see Daddy, as was I to see him and I made one with the couch to rest while he made up for lost time. Some say a vacation with kids is work but if that's the case it is the best job anyone could ask for! I leave you with parting shots from the airport. Mimi who showcases her "I hate early mornings" look while Max and Miles display their common knowledge for the three Cs: curiosity, climbing and comedy:
Mimi started first grade this week. While she was very upset that her BFF is no longer in her class she was very excited to return to school and is making new friends (while maintaining her established friendships during recess and lunch). Last year she had a Hello Kitty backpack and we let her choose a new one for first grade along with a matching lunchbox:
Max will proudly tell you that he is now a Senior Preschooler and is not a baby anymore. He wants to do homework all the time! Seriously!! I took him to the store to get supplies to practice writing out letters, number and shapes while we work with Mimi on her homework assignments. He is not playing school but really concentrates on following the lines and writing his letters neatly and carefully:
I don't know if their thirst for knowledge will maintain this level of enthusiasm when they are learning algebra and biology but I they are definitely starting off with a great attitude about education. But it's not all work and no play. This fall Max will continue taking soccer lessons and Mimi will begin dance class.
The day has finally arrived! Mimi's 7th birthday party!!! She had been asking about her birthday party since she came home to us almost a year ago. This was her first party ever and so we wanted it to be special. When it was finally time to plan it we had her involved all the way. We let her choose the party location and the invite list (i.e. everyone from her kindergarten class and camp) and she also got to choose her cake. She has a future in party planning because she made great choices and the party was a huge success. Here are some highlights from her very special day:
The guest of honor just prior to leaving for the party:
There was lots of fun and play to be had by all:
Her grandpa even drove in to enjoy the party (he did not, however, get in on the play action like her Daddy did):
At the party's end Mimi was invited to leave her mark on the place that hosted her very first birthday party, as is the establishment's tradition:
Max broke tradition by dipping his hand in the leftover paint and leaving his own mark. He explained that it said his name on the wall. Well, he had us there:
Today is Mimi's 7th birthday. Exactly one year ago today we received the call that the courts in India approved our petition to have her come home to us. It is amazing how much has happened in the span of 1 year. Last night a spell of insomnia hit me and as I roamed through the house I found myself in her room watching her sleep. She had the most peaceful look on her face on her big bed under her fluffy blanket. I cried tears of joy watching her and reflecting on the times we've had and the times yet to come.
This morning she was woken up by her little brother jumping into her bed to sing Happy Birthday to her. She had the biggest smile. The day had finally arrived! (She had a calendar on her wall to mark off each day until today). They love each other so much it is hard to describe. I cannot imagine one without the other.
We all had breakfast together and she reminded me of my agreement to let her have a cup of coffee on her birthday (which was a splash of coffee with A LOT of milk). Max insisted on having his own cup and on first sip made a face and said "Milk please." Mimi said that he would like the coffee better when he was seven too.
Mimi chose her outfit for the day -- something comfortable to play in -- and accessorized with a tiara and fairy wings. She went to camp with a cake made by your's truly to share with her friends in celebration of the day she was born.
For dinner she had her favorite meal (tempura shrimp) followed by yet another birthday cake (this time a traditional ice cream cake which she chose to eat in a cone) and presents from her family. Her brother Max chose all of his gifts for her himself with no assistance from us. He knows what his sister likes and she was thrilled (and overwhelmed) by his and everyone else's thoughtful gifts. ;)
The party doesn't end here... Saturday afternoon is her big party with many of her friends from kindergarten and summer camp. I am thankful for the love she is shown by everyone and my heart is so full I cannot even describe it but to say that there is nothing better on earth than being lucky enough to be called Mommy by these kids. Life can throw all the curve balls it wants. I already won the game.
Mimi is celebrating her first (7th) birthday later this month. She has been waiting for this day FOREVER! This evening she got in the mail her very first birthday present ever and it was from Aunt Claire. Aunt Claire has incredible sense of what is super-cute on Mimi and she did not disappoint with an adorable dress, shoes and hair thingies. Aunt Claire asked that Mimi not wait until her actual birthday to open them so she can wear this outfit on her birthday. Of course, we had to try it on and take pictures tonight as soon as the wrapping paper hit the floor.
Mimi was invited to a friend's birthday dance party this week. She was so happy to get to play with her friends from school. She has missed them since school ended for the summer. She chose this outfit to wear -- I love her style, and her sweet happy smile (not to mention how much she loves posing for the camera):
Today was Mother/Daughter day. It was a lot of fun. We went for mani/pedi's and then for lunch and ice cream. Of course, as we have the $ chromosome we also went shopping. I bought some books (Sookie Stackhouse series... great read!) and Mimi bought a Sleeping Beauty outfit. Here is how she looked before we left:
She chose the colors and told the lady who did her nails exactly how she wanted them done. She truly is one of a kind:
Of course she could not wait to try on her "princess" outfit as soon as we walked in the door. In my estimation she is pretty as a princess no matter what she wears:
Today for the last day of school the kindergarten teachers held a beach themed party in the playground. Max and I drove over to enjoy the festivities but first we got to visit Mimi's class where the kids designed visors and a story was read. Then the fun-bell was rung. Let me just say that Max has no trouble holding his own with the big kids and joined right in like he was one of the crowd. I think the principal was taking notes on him for future reference. *sigh*
Before we left for school I wanted to take a pic of the kids just as I did on their first day of school. A way to mark time and how much they've changed. This was my best shot:
One of my favorite moments was Mimi taking her little brother by the hand to lead him to her classroom. Yes, I got teary (but still got the shot!):
Mimi has made such great friends. All I kept hearing was a chorus of "Mimi's Mom, can we have a playdate with Mimi?" Here she is with 2 of her best friends, the inseparable trio:
Max had his fill of fun as well. For instance, they had buckets filled with water and inside of them were sponge balls and hackeysacks for the kids to throw at each other. Max apparently thought he had to bob for balls. Well, you'll see:
You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words?
After he dried off he decided to man the bubble station:
One of the many things I love about my daughter? She's JUST like me (and my mom). You may not be able to fully tell in this still photo but she was standing in line waiting to have her hair did and while everyone around her just stood there she just broke out into a dance routine, right there. Love this kid!:
So much has changed since she first walked into this red brick building last August. Like how she went from speaking few English words to getting in trouble for talking too much in class. ;) Seriously, I hope someday she reads this blog and realizes how much in awe I am of her. Mimi marches to the tune of her own drummer and so many are willing to follow her into the land of fun, laughter and good times. I love this last picture because it captures this warmth, beauty, sweetness and sillyness that draw friends to her so easily:
You all knew this day would come. It was inevitable, I was told... I didn't believe it. I thought I could control such a thing from happening. *shudder* Today started out like any other day and as always I drove from the office to pick the kids up from school. I saw Max first and things were going well. Then it happened. Mimi approached me and as she did she opened her mouth. I can barely express to you *gag* -- no, I cannot do it. It was there though. It was yellow and she was *gag* chomping on it.
.. and then I said, "Mimi you can't have that. Wait. No. Don't touch it. Keep your mouth closed and don't move it. Just sit in the car and don't open your mouth and when we get home, Daddy will deal with it." We pile in and she honors my request and quietly sits in the backseat.
I call Brian and explain to him the horror that was upon me. He says, "just have her throw it out the window." I bellow back, "are you crazy? What? Do you hate me?"
And then Max starts saying, "Mimi, Daddy hates Mommy." I try and stop the bleeding -- "No, no... Max, Daddy LOVES Mommy." Max, "nope. I heard you. Daddy hates you." *sigh*
Mimi... still quiet.
We get home and I send her off to her father to "handle this." Brian emerges from the back of the house and says, "it's been taken care of and I'll send you the therapy bill. Mimi thinks you're mad at her." *guilty sigh*
So then I had to TRY and explain to a 6 year old child that it's not her, it's me. I didn't think she'd have to hear such a line for AT LEAST another 10 years.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, learn more about me (and my very many quirks) HERE.