Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Un-Yung Breath, Big Bad Bugs, and Potty Training

Have to share:

Last night, Van and I had steak and chicken cabobs on the grill. Of course, Gracie wouldn't eat them because she is so picky. She was fed something else earlier in the evening. Just before bedtime, Gracie and I settled down to read a few books together, and all of a sudden, Gracie says very loudly, "Mommy, WHAT IS THAT SMELL?". I laughed and told her I had onions on my cabob and that I probably still had onion breath (even though I had brushed my teeth). She says to me, "Mommy, you lay the other way, and I will roll over this way, and that way I won't smell your "un-yung" breath." LOL. Out of the mouths of babes...You just never know what is coming. She went to sleep, and I went about doing my own things last night until my own bedtime. I go in to check on her later in the night, and she wakes up...Mind you, this is like four hours later. The FIRST THING out of her mouth is, "Mommy, do you still have un-yung breath? I don't like that." And she rolls over and goes back to sleep. The child has a very sensitive nose. LOL.

Today, I am downstairs folding clothes, and Gracie is upstairs in her bedroom playing. She comes downstairs and tells me that she wants to brush her teeth. I reply, "Sure, you can. You know how to do it. Go ahead." And she goes back upstairs.
The next thing I hear is THE MOST bloodcurdling scream out of my child that I have ever heard before. This, of course, scared me absolutely to death, and I go bolting up the stairs thinking that this has to be something absolutely horrible....I am picturing in my head the blood and gore on the way up there... not knowing what I will find. Gracie is standing in my bedroom with her toothbrush in hand, shaking like a leaf, crying to the point of hyperventilation, clinging to me, couldn't catch her breath, and I am begging her to tell me what is wrong, what happened, is she hurt, etc etc etc. She tells me that she saw A BUG FLYING AROUND IN THE BATHROOM while she was brushing her teeth!!!! I was so relieved that she wasn't seriously hurt and I comforted her for a long time until she felt better. Ok, so now she is absolutely terrified of bugs. Where did that come from? With spring coming, outdoor grilling and dinners, and the inevitable fly that may get into the house, I am totally IN FOR IT if this keeps happening. And the BEES! We have bees everywhere with all of the spring flowers in bloom.
She finally stops crying and says to me, "I am going to tell Daddy when he gets home!" I am thinking at the time, "That-A-Girl!!! Go get Daddy to kill the big bad bugs! That is what I would do too."

And last but not least...Gracie is potty trained! YEA!!!! She is doing so well!!! At least, I do not have to worry about THAT anymore.

I am posting some favorite recent pictures and also of our potty training celebration trip to the zoo. Yes, I made it there and back home with no problems, and we didn't get pecked by the ostrich either. Gracie LOVED the zoo, feeding the animals, and the pony ride.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

An Accident Free Day!!!

First off, I have to include a picture of the Chinese squat potty. Don't get me wrong...I love the Chinese culture. I have such an incredible appreciation. But this is one of those things that American people just do not get over easily. And this is what we saw all over China. I have to say though that there were western toilets available in many places too. Some were clean; some were not. The picture you see is not necessarily the norm. Yes, I even had to use one of these in China. But I have a GREAT bladder, thanks to my teaching career. So, I think I only had to do this once. It isn't pretty, believe me. And it is no easy task to try to use one either....unless you are used to camping in the wilderness with no facilities. I can't even handle going into public bathrooms in this part of the world. I will if I have to, but I am NOT crazy about them. YUCK. (To my friend, Lauren...Can you EVEN imagine this???) Just had to share this...

Ok, since we are in the middle of potty talk...Here goes...The GOOD news...

Gracie is amazing! Just amazing!!! We had an accident free day today!!! Last night, we all went to the dollar store and loaded up on Gracie's top picks for potty prizes. (THANK YOU, POLLY! My wonderful sister came up with this great idea!) We spent like $25 on lots of good cheap things that she chose herself to entice her to go. She has been going ALL DAY, and I do mean ALL DAY, to her potty to do her business...so much so that she goes when she feels even the SLIGHTEST desire to go. (Think a teaspoon full.) We are talking #1 AND #2! My only problem is that I am running out of prizes! LOL. Guess we head back to yet another dollar store tomorrow. This morning, I announced to her that I HAD TO GO too, and she says to me, "Mama, if you go on the potty, you will get to pick a prize!!!!" She was so excited about that.

So, where's MY potty prize?

Seriously, this is HUGE! HUGE!!! I think we are more excited than Gracie is. The child loves her potty! I cannot believe that I was completely freaked out the other night thinking she was going to get another bladder infection because she was becoming reluctant again to even get near the potty.

And one other thing...Because she went #2 on the potty TODAY, I have to take her to the Reston Zoo tomorrow which means I HAVE TO take her to Reston, VA. This is one of those trips that I completely avoid because of my nervous driving issues...not familiar with the route, not familiar with the exit, not familiar. NOT FAMILIAR. I am a BIT freaked out about that. Uh-oh. Hope we can find the zoo or I am in BIG trouble with Gracie. I LOVE going to the zoo! But I would much rather go with Van too. It is so much easier. He definitely helps out tremendously on this sort of trip. And of course, he would be driving there too because he is better at that. We really like going places and making it there alive. ;) Also, there is a very MEAN ostrich on that hayride we will have to get on. It even pecked one friend of ours on the top of the head last year. Guess we will sit in the very middle of the back of the truck out of reach of the mean ostrich. I asked Gracie if she wanted to go to Pickle Bob's to "build a bear" and eat ice cream. "NO. The zoo." I asked if she wanted to go to Claytime Cafe to paint a ceramic bowl. "NO. The zoo." Ok, we are going to the zoo. Alone. Together. The two of us. Just us. What really kills me is that the ZOO was MY IDEA many days ago for the poopy prize. I was thinking that if it has taken her FOREVER to potty train, it will take her EONS to go poopy on the potty. NOPE. ONE DAY! Van even offered to go and buy a GPS system for the car tonight so that I would use that on the way to the zoo. My problem with that is that I would be so obsessed and nervous about messing with that technological thing that I would have a wreck trying to listen to it and use it. So, I turned him down. No GPS system. I am alone in this. Me and my Trailblazer. With Gracie in the back seat buckled into her carseat AS TIGHTLY as I can get those two little straps. Ok, I am done with that long winded vent. Needed that. Ok, one more thing...This brings my mother to my mind too. When Daddy got much older and he would vear off the road to look at a PLANT or a TREE or something interesting to HIM, she would make the sign of the cross like she was praying we'd make it to our destination in one piece. I will be praying on the way to the zoo and on the way home...No doubt.

Anyway, on the BRIGHT side, she is potty trained now, I think....unless we run out of prizes and Gracie figures out that she can resist going to the potty again, and we have to start over with the prize machine. I wouldn't put it past her. She is SMART!

Polly, I forgot to ask you...How long do I have to give her these immediate gratification prizes? How many days? I think she got like 10-12 prizes TODAY!!! And how do I tell the child that there are no more prizes for going on the potty? I need to get answers to these questions. Call me.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Potty Fairies and The Proof is in the Potty

The potty fairies are BACK! Gracie is doing very well in her attempts to use the potty though I am not quite sure she understands yet how to hold her peepee long enough so that she can get to the potty in time. Lots of accidents are happening, but she also will sit on the potty for long periods of time trying to go. She is trying again which is FANTASTIC. Today she had water in a cup while sitting there on her potty watching television. And then I saw her pour some of the water from her cup in the potty and tried to pass that off as her peepee. She is very clever, but the PROOF IS IN THE POTTY. We know the difference. LOL. So far we have done the following to entice her to use the potty:

We decorated her potty with stickers...several times.

We have used potty charts with stickers.

The potty fairies, Filly and Fancy, come when she tries and when she actually goes on the potty. They bring her small surprises.

We read books while she sits on the potty.
We watch dvd movies about using the potty. Elmo has a great one!

We play games while she sits on the potty. You know the old clapping game where you hit your thighs with your hands and then clap repetitively...We'll do naming favorite colors or naming animals etc.

We have had very "interesting" conversations these days with Gracie...I call it "Potty Talk". She knows how boys go and how girls go, and this is fascinating to her. LOL. We have good friends named Lauren and Justin who have a daughter named Emily who is Gracie's age. The other day before we started trying (AGAIN) to potty train, I was changing Gracie's diaper and I said to her, "Gracie, when are you going to start wearing big girl panties and start going peepee on the potty?" And she said, "Friday". I said, "Good Gracie! That is tomorrow." I said, "Are you going to be like Emily and wear pretty big girl panties too?" And she said, "No, I am going to be like Justin and wear big girl panties, Mama." I about busted a gut, and I called Lauren right away to give her the news to share with Justin! Gracie is too much! She has also said she wished she had boy parts instead of girl parts. Hmmm.....We can't do anything about that now, can we? This is typical potty talk or so I hear from friends...Otherwise, I might be a bit worried.

Oh, and the other day while we were outside playing with some of her neighborhood friends, she immediately drops her drawers in front of all of them...boys and girls...to show off her Minnie Mouse panties...I am talking pants all the way down to her ankles...She is such a piece of work. She is still unsure WHY that wasn't something that we do in front of other people. To her, it was just needed and necessary. Made me a little uncomfortable....YEP. We had to have a little chat after that. But that's our Gracie.

Anyway, I cannot tell you how happy we are that she is finally trying again. This has not been easy for her. That bladder infection she had MANY MANY months ago really messed her up. It must have been so traumatizing for her, and even her doctor said it would take her a long time to get over it. It has! This is a very big deal for her and for us.
Update: Sunday, Apr 13th morning...YIPPEE! We have seen peepee in the potty this morning! Gracie did it! The proof IS in the potty! Finally!!!! She is so excited and proud of herself.
Update: Sunday, Apr.13th evening...Now, We are very excited! We had THREE successful potty experiences today, and we celebrated BIG by taking Gracie to Chuck E. Cheese tonight with friends, Lauren, Justin, and Emily. She had a total blast, of course. She also received a pretty red firetruck with a ladder and a real water shooting hose from the potty fairies. This was her greatest wish if she actually went peepee in the potty. The adults could have lived without the trip to Chuck E's. It was so completely PACKED...I've never seen it that packed. But the girls had lots of fun which is all that matters. Three times today!!! We are so happy for her.
Now, what do we do about her going #2 in the potty??? Not sure. She is VERY reluctant. But we are not doing diapers anymore except at naptime (hardly ever naps though) and bedtime. She seems very afraid to even attempt #2, and I know she held it in today...Tomorrow will be interesting in regard to this issue. She complained of a tummy ache several times today already. Any ideas from all of you experienced moms??? Please leave comments if you have any ideas for us.

Friday, April 11, 2008

October Travel???

We are still waiting on the 171H. It is taking WAY TOO LONG to get to us. Janell, at our adoption agency emailed me yesterday, to ask if we had received it yet, and I told her no. She says that Virginia is by far the slowest state in sending these out to adoptive parents. YEA for US, Virginians!!! I also took the opportunity to ask her if she could "guess-timate" when we would travel now. She says that we will more than likely have our paperwork to China by May now and that we would travel in October.

OCTOBER!!!! ???? OCTOBER!!!! ????

Why does that seem so completely long from now? I know in reality it isn't that long, but our son is sitting there IN CHINA waiting on US! (Well, he is actually waiting on his parents US and the U.S.... United States government. Two US's.)

On the other hand, I have absolutely no right to complain at all though when I think of how other adoptive parents may wait THREE years now for their referral to even come from China. Our wait seems so insignificant compared to theirs. I really feel for all of them. But when you know WHO your child is, WHERE he is living, and all about him, the wait to travel seems harder this time around. I never had much anxiety when we waited to travel for Gracie. I knew that the time would come. And I know that the time will come to travel soon for Garrett, but it is hard... it isn't easy.

Please pray that 171 H makes it's way to our home soon. ;) My hair is thinning, I just covered up a TON of grey hair, and I am not getting any younger here. LOL.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gracie is our hero!

What a HUGE milestone! Today Gracie FINALLY participated all by herself in the ENTIRE Little Gym class. She is in the "Funny Bugs" class now which is a step up from the classes she has taken before (those where Gracie and I both participated together). It has taken many, MANY painful weeks for her to feel comfortable enough to have me outside looking through the window at her and just watching the class. The past two weeks she has been better, but I was still sitting on the sidelines very close by. This is HUGE! The staff at Little Gym says this is the toughest transition for toddlers in their classes. There were many weeks of tears and sadness and Gracie clinging to me. There were many weeks of me hearing, "Mommy, I don't want to go to Bubbles and Balls. I am just going to watch." There were times that the teachers would just come and take her and try to get her to do the activities only to have her scream and cry and run back to me. It was very frustrating. No matter how much encouragement she was given, nothing was working. Today was the day!!! I think it has taken her about 15 weeks in this class to get to this point. And Van was there to see it happen too. We are so proud of her! She did it! She is our HERO! Go Gracie!!!

Our Trip to the Circus- The GREATEST show on Earth

This was a very special day for all of us. We went to the Patriot Center in Fairfax thinking we had pretty good seats. Little did we know, we were in the third row up front. We had the best view of everything. Gracie had a blast! So did we! Our friends, Lauren, Justin, and Emily went with us. The pre-show was so much fun. Gracie got to meet and greet all of the circus stars an hour before the actual show and wasn't even a little bit afraid to have her picture made with them. There is a reason they call this the greatest show on Earth. It really was. The clowns, the tiger show, the dancing horses and zebras, the elephants, the dogs, all of the circus acts were spectacular. It really was amazing. And for the adults, it truly made us feel like kids again. Seeing Gracie's eyes light up with excitement and awe just made our day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Holy Trinity Catholic Church...Members at Last

We are now members of Holy Trinity Catholic Church. The past two Sundays, Van, Gracie, and I have attended the Catholic mass, and it has been very special for us all. We are very excited that Gracie will be baptized in May, and then Van and I will have our marriage union blessed in the church as well. It has been a long time coming, but we are finally feeling settled in a church community. It is a HUGE parish...2000 families... I think. We are very excited about it. We have a lot of spiritual growth ahead of us, I am sure, and we look forward to it. The new church is beautiful. They just opened the doors in February. We met several of the priests. The music at mass is gorgeous. It has been wonderful to see Gracie kneel in prayer beside us with her little hands folded. She says the sweetest prayers at home and wants to always join hands with us in prayer when we do. It is a great new beginning for us as a family. I think God is smiling too. :)

Mark Shultz-Everything To Me

Just listen for a minute...This video and song made me cry tears of such deep sadness and joy. I often wonder what the Chinese mothers who have to give up their children go through. I cannot imagine living without my children. I cannot imagine carrying a child for nine months, feeling them within me, kicking, thriving, living, and then just letting go. I know that it happens everyday, and that there is a much bigger plan, God's plan. I know that for many reasons, mothers have to let their children go on without them. I am so thankful that Gracie and Garrett were given the chance to have a loving family of their own. We love them beyond measure, beyond anything we could have ever dreamed possible. To all those mothers who choose life over abortion, THANK YOU. You are giving another waiting family the greatest of all joys, a child to nurture and love. You give US everything too.

Just listen and watch...and maybe grab a kleenex before you do.


Friday, April 4, 2008

More Prayers Needed for the Maniscalco Family

Just got an update this evening. Of all things, a tornado hit the Maniscalco home. This is just one more stress for this sweet family. My heart just hurts for them. Please pray for the family and for all other families in that area who have had to weather these storms and the storm damage in it's aftermath. The Maniscalcos have had too many storms to weather with Carrie's illness and now the tornado damage. Their strong faith in God will carry them through this too, for sure, but I know they are weary and oh so tired. Please keep them close to your hearts and pray for them as I know you will.

Please Pray for My Cousin, Carrie Maniscalco

Please, prayer warriors, pray everyday for my sweet cousin, Carrie. She is my first cousin, Paula's, daughter. They live in Jackson, Mississippi. She is very ill and is in the hospital. Her story is here at the following Caring Bridge website. I know that many of you can add her to your prayer lists at home, with friends and family, and at church. Please pray for her complete healing. There are links at the top of the page about her story and there is a guestbook and photos. She has been in the hospital for a very long time. Our hearts and prayers are with her and her wonderful family during this very stressful time. They are dealing with many unknowns and need your support.

Thank you so much for your prayers for Carrie.