Thursday, August 23, 2012

Charlotte turns 1!

Charlotte Joy sure lives up to her name, and this last month we watched her grow from a little infant to a walking, dancing, singing laughing, bundle of JOY.  If you can look through her hair, literally, and see her smile, big blue eyes and her ability to play peek-a-boo or try to scare you with a growl, she will easily melt your heart.  It is so fun when babies start really interacting with you and have full on conversations and act like they know exactly what they are saying.  I love how this girl cuddles, just burrowing into me when she is tired, or just needs a hug.  My favorite time is getting her up from her nap and Gracie and I run into her room saying "Yay! Charlotte is awake!" and she gets so excited her arms and legs just go crazy and she starts to laugh waiting for us to come get her:) 
She loves to play, loves to chase and be chased, will hide behind walls waiting for you to come by so she can "roar" at you.  She is a perfect member of our family, and I am so glad that she is mine!
She is a follower of Grace right now,  and as Grace says "Charlotte gets EVERYTHING of mine!" and it is true,  if Grace is playing with her dolls, Charlotte wants them and so on. 
I have not worked with Charlotte as much as I did Grace with words and talking, and it shows with her really saying "Mamma, Mommy or Momomomo" for everything!  She can say "Da Da" and "Ga Ga", but that is rare... it is always "mommy." So, we are emphasizing every word now with her... I'm telling ya, 4 kids is a lot different than 1 when you are building skills, but I am trying to get back to action with her now!


She started to walk quite literally on her birthday, she was taking steps before, then when I was at my parents house she just took off...

She has 3 teeth, and 3 that are breaking though now:(

She can eat pretty much anything now, even dairy which is big! 

She sleeps through the night, and has for a while.  Goes to bed at 7:30ish and sleeps till 7ish.  (We finally have both little ones in the same room and out of our room!  It took many of nights to make that happen, transitioning Charlotte to her room while bringing Grace to sleep with us so she wouldn't wake up, then trying to get Grace back into her bed after sleeping with us for so long was the hardest part.  Inevitably, one kid ends up in our bed by 4 AM everyday... but at that time it is just precious) 

Her hair is longer than most 2 year olds, and everyday I am tempted to just chop it!

She loves to talk on the phone.

When she dances she puts her hands up in the air and spins around...SO CUTE.

Is good at copying sounds and noises that we make as well as expressions.

Loves looking at babies, dogs cats.

Can play outside for hours.

Favorite go-to places when no one is looking?  Trash cans and toilets of course!!!

Bottom line...
I LOVE MY CHARLOTTE, CHAR CHAR, CHARLIE or Little munchkin......

 This is the best cake face we could get...she ate it very well:)
 Playing with her new water table:)
 Hanging out with her God sister Nicene
 Had to capture the blue eyes and long hair

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Grace turns 3!

Sufficient words are hard to come by as  I sit here trying to think about what to write about my wonderful daughter Grace.  How can I even convey to you the amount of love I have for her.  The amount of times she melts me in a day with the things that she says and does.  The sincerity of her hugs and kisses.  I love seeing life through her eyes. 

I will start by how we celebrated her birthday.  I often go on walks though Henry Cowell with my little ones, and next to it is Roaring Camp where we hear the train whistles blowing throughout our excursions.  She has always loved to go see them, and has always wanted to ride one...So that is what we did, We took the whole family on a train ride, where everyone had a smile on their face by the end.

Here she is, eager to climb one!

Posing with Auntie Chrissy who joined us for the excursion!  (Super genuine happiness going on here folks!)

The girls getting ready to take off!

Stephen and myself saying "I'm so glad we did this!"

We followed the train ride with a picnic lunch at the river.  Grace is VERY into picnics, and loves the river... so it seemed so fitting to do on her birthday!

Jamuna and Grace in the river.

Later that night, family and God family came to celebrate with us!  Sometimes I have a warped sense of humor and decided it would be a good idea to put trick candles on her cake.... There was a lot of spit on those cupcakes, and one very confused little girl.  (maybe a little early)

Mommy giving my angel a kiss!

Satisfied!  Licked the frosting off of at least 5 cupcakes!  Love this picture!

Monica and Amy gave Gracie her very own tea set and then a couple days later her own TEA PARTY!!!  Dress up hats and all! 
  Monica reading to Grace and Avery who decided to join us for tea:)
 Gracie modeling some of the fine jewelery that could be worn!

Lets talk about her now.

Every morning she wakes up in the best mood,  makes me not care so much that it can be as early as 6:30:)  Often she wakes up next to me, being that somehow every night she ends up going to sleep with us, or ends up there around 3 am or so. 

Her favorite food is pancakes, followed closely by Life cereal, which she calls "mouse" cereal for some reason:)

She loves being a big sister and is so good with Charlotte.  She helps her walk, reads her stories, plays with her and always gives her hugs whether Char wants them or not.

Right now she is VERY into being a doctor and giving us "checkas" which is a check-up.  There is this show on Disney Junior called Doc McStuffins, and it is about this little girl who is a doctor for all toys, super cute show, and so much better than her old favorite Cailou!  So, Auntie Aimee gave her her own doctors kit for her birthday and about 20 times a day she checks our heart beat which is "normal" checks our eyes and ears which always "looks good" and then our blood pressure which is a "little high right now, you should rest mamma"

Grace loves to cuddle, which melts me.  When you ask her a question she puts her finger to her cheek, tilts her head, looks up like she is in deep contemplation.  A lot of times she answers any questions with "maybe tomorrow"

She loves to have books read to her, and in turn reads to us, and I love to hear the stories that she makes up.  She always asks us what does C-O-O spell.... (When the big girls read they always ask us what this spells, or what that spells... so she does too, but it is always the same letters!)

This year we watched a lot of Toy Story, but that is dying out now with anything on Disney Junior especially Doc McStuffins.  (we give her our phone on car rides with the Disney Junior App and she watches a lot on that)

Loves to dig in dirt and sand, all day everyday.  Loves to be naked. I always dress her in the morning, but throughout the day her clothes fall off...

Loves the trampoline, loves when daddy comes home from work, runs to him, gives him a big hug and kiss then asks him to play blocks with her, without fail.  Hates it when we leave without her.

She always has "a great idea" that makes things easier or for doing something fun, loves love loves to help me cook, and I encourage it, as well as clean... heck ya!

She has the sweetest of temperaments most of the time, but can for sure can be a brat sometimes too.  (no one is perfect you know)

She gets so excited to see her friends, mostly Adessa, Eliana and Olivia.

Bottom line, we all love our Grace.  I am a better person with her near me.  I love being her mom, and am so proud of her.

Happy 4th of July!

This year we went to a parade for the first time, and though it was hard getting out the door in a timely matter (as always) it was worth it!!!  We gave Grace a new wagon for her birthday, so we opened it a few days early for the parade... And though you can't tell in the picture below, they both loved it!

 Here is Charlotte showing her patriotism! 
 Always hard posing for a pic, but here we all are!! 

It was so fun to see Grace get so excited for all the Fire Trucks and horses etc... I wish I could say it was just because they looked cool... but the candy everyone was throwing from the street got her all giddy! 

Later that night we went to our friend Hanks house in Aptos for a BBQ and fireworks on the beach.  IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!  It is hard for us to go somewhere and to have everyone have a good time, but all of our girls of all ages had fun. 

Below is Grace, Anthony and Alex (Hanks boys) and a girl ( I totally forgot her name) watching Hank light some firecrackers on his patio.  Grace cracks me up here.

And our big girls lighting sparklers!

We were only at the beach for a short time for fireworks because of Charlotte needing to go to bed, but we enjoyed our time!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Being a Good Mom

I am struggling with being a good mom.  I know that I give myself such high expectations, yet, it is not easy settling for something less than you want to be.  I had this "Grand Idea" that fostering Ganga and Jamuna would be challenging, "but would fill my heart with so much joy that we are doing the right thing by rescuing these girls", that I would be totally ok. HA! THIS IS HARD WORK.  It takes every bit of patience that I ever had and pulling in reserves that I am still looking for. I talked last time about the noise... I do really struggle with the noise, I start to freak out when there is too much...   5 o'clock is usually my breaking point, getting dinner ready, Bollywood music blaring in the background, usually put on a cartoon for Gracie so I can get dinner ready undisturbed, Charlotte in the highchair throwing Cheerios everywhere, or crying because I cannot hold her... Such a relief when Stephen comes in the door... I HAVE HELP!  He gives me kiss, then proceeds to kiss each one of his girls, gets changed...  then the noise escalates from 5 to 10!  He chases, spins, tickles etc, all part of being the amazing dad that he is, but it brings me closer to my margarita (which is becoming more of just a tequila drink with a squeeze of mix in it.) Usually after dinner, I go retreat to my bedroom for 30 minutes or so, just to get a break and come back to ground zero.
I know the hard part comes from having no kids to 4 kids in a matter of three years.  There was not time to "slowly get used to it" Insert 13 year olds, a 2 year old and a infant in the mix, and I have the most needy ages possible.  Usually 13 year olds are not needy, they want nothing to do with you, but since the girls were pretty much neglected their whole life, they feed off attention, bad or good attention I should clarify. Hey, I get it, I love that we can give it to them, it doesn't mean it is easy being asked the same question 10 times just to make sure we did not change our minds and give them more empty promises.  In sales, you learn to "close the deal" asking a question that locks someone into the next meeting or purchasing something... These girls are masters at "closing"  "Can I get my haircut Amanda? " " Sure Jamuna" I say, "when school is out".  "At 12 on Thursday then"she says( the exact time school is out for the summer) Then proceeds to tell me every day for the last week about it, making sure it is going to happen.  You can't just tell them, we will go to the beach, or rollerskating sometime in the future... When? What time?
My goal is to have a family that knows nothing of being "foster kids", that we are one, united in our love for each other, and our love for God...   My little ones do not know a life without Ganga and Jamuna, it is taking me a little longer.  Grace and Charlotte give me hugs, kisses and cuddles.  Cry for me when they are scared, sing songs backwards and melt our hearts.  Ganga and Jamuna can't do that, I missed that with them.  Do love them? Absolutely, for every birthday and holiday they spend so much time making homemade cards that do melt our hearts.  Stickers, pens, glitter... mostly love.  From those cards, we know that we are doing something right: "thank you so much for letting us into your family" "You are so nice." Really? that one always gets me:) "You are the best dad I ever had" "Thank you for taking me to Chipolte and to ice cream" ...   We need to hear that, it is good for my heart and soul and makes the really hard times easier, and the great times even better They are genuinely sweet girls, I am working on more and more the thought that they are MY girls, and they are God's children just like Grace and Charlotte, and though they do not have my DNA, we are their parents, we are their shelter, we are their safe harbor. 
Our life is blessed, but my goodness it is not easy.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Here we go again

Since it has been over a year... I am just going to start over!

I'm Amanda, and I am mother.  Sometimes I feel that is all I am... though I am also a lover of Jesus, laundry master, personal chef, house cleaner, home school teacher, wife, daughter and friend (in that order)... the list can go on:)  I have four absolutely beautiful daughters, 2 biological, and 2 foster that are here for the long haul.  First came Grace, 7 months after our marriage, no, she was not a preemie, not something I am proud of, but that "accident" turned out to be the biggest blessing that I could possibly imagine.  I married my best friend faster than we thought, which only turned out to be awesome:)  Marriage was already on the table... this just accelerated it.  Grace will be 3 in a month and has absolutely melted our hearts from day 1.  She is the best cuddler, singer, helper and has such a happy disposition... She is also one of most stubborn little ones that I have ever seen... Takes after both Stephen and I on that one.

Here she is enjoying a chocolate cupcake:)

 When Grace was just a little over 1, we got pregnant, when I was 4 months pregnant, we decided to take on twins... from another country... that were 12.. spoke little English... hated American food... had no idea of manners.... were abused... and generally showed no respect for adults (why should they, they were beaten by every adult that they were close too.)     Bring into the picture Ganga and Jamuna... After many, many hours of prayer we decided to take them on as our own.  It was clear to us God wanted us to do it, and He pretty much had to make it seamless, or else we would back down... and He did.  More info is discussed in my prior entries.   They are now almost 14, and exemplifying the teenage attitude.  They love being a part of our family, love being big sisters to the two little ones, and for the first time in their life, feel safe.  Ganga is more of the introvert, Jamuna very much the extrovert.  Both love to challenge us on everything we ask and say  (what teenager doesn't) They have not lost their love for Bollywood movies, and enjoy dancing and dancing and dancing to songs in the movies.  (*did you know that EVERY Bollywood movie is a musical?  Oy vay!)  So, we just put them in a Bollywood dance class, and they totally are all about it.   They struggle with school because they had received no eduaction prior to coming to the US, so basic math skills are seriously lacking.... but they can read now!  A year ago that was not true! It is at a beginning level, but still, they are not asking us what every single word is in every single sentence on every single page.    They are great girls that have gone through sooooooooooo much, more than anyone of us can imagine, they are relatively adjusted (given the circumstance) and have huge hearts, both want to go to college then go help little kids...

Just the three enjoying a day at the beach.

5 months after the arrival of twins, we were blessed with the birth of Ms Charlotte Joy.  Like her older sister, she is a cuddler, and for the most part a happy baby... We really struggled with her tummy from the get go... After months of trial and error, and sleepless nights, we found that while breastfeeding I could not have any dairy, potatoes, beans or fried food.... Then I had a problem producing enough milk for her, which could have been due to stress... or the pharmacy totally messing up my birth control dosage.. don't even get me started...   She is now 10 months, and Oh I can't imagine my life without her, she is the happiest little munchkin on the planet, and loves to join in on the tickling, rough-housing and singing that goes on in this house.  She also loves to sleep with Mommy and Daddy after the 2 am wake-up...

Here she is at 9 months... Did I mention that she has more hair than most 2 year olds?

Over all the girls are all great...

Life can get overwhelming.  All together the noise that comes from the kids + Bollywood music + Caliou + crying + screaming (whether happy are angry) + the older girls both suffer from hearing loss in both their ears, so they talk at a higher decibel than normal..... can make me go into convulsions, or hide in my closet in the fetal position  (that only happened once:) )   I am not used to the noise, the constant questions... I swear the older girls just like to hear themselves talk, they have even said they do not like the sound of silence, so they do everything in their power to never have it silent!  Me, I come from being pretty much an only child (my sisters are 8+ years older than me, and moved out of our house when I was young)  It was just my mom and I for the most part, my dad traveled most of the time... Silence was golden, not that we didn't talk, we did, but it was just 2 of us!
 Stephen and I have VERY little time to ourselves... we had 4 kids in 2 years, and really go to bed at night sometimes just barely saying more than sentences to each-other.  If we did not have the help of my dear God parents Jack and Monica Zweers, we would never see each other.  They give us date nights.... As well as when any family comes to visit, they know that they are welcome to stay, but have to provide a date night....  Stephen and I are rock solid, we make the time count, we know we love each-other and we really work hard to make sure the other feels appreciated.
I love my husband, not only is he the best father my girls could have... he is funny, compassionate, understanding, checks me so I don't go off the deep end.  Most of all, he is a man of God, all decisions for our family comes through prayer... whether it be together, or alone, we pray....    We see God bless us in every aspect of our lives... The twins, could have so many issues, but don't have major ones (right now)  Whenever we are wondering how we are going to eat this pay period...we are able to sell something on Craigslist, or his boss saw that he is doing a great job and gave him a little bonus.  Random gifts of formula from my mom, a really good coupon to get Diapers...Stephen getting laid off and finding a new job the next day, a better job, one he actually likes!!  God is always watching out for us, I am learning not to doubt, as long as we are living for Him, and not for ourselves..

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gracies 2nd Birthday

It was hot!! So what better way to celebrate a birthday than with a water party! We had kiddy pools, slip-n-slides... sprinklers... All to celebrate our wonderful daughter on her second birthday in the 103 degree heat.

Her new Radio Flyer Tricycle
Her cousin Zach helping her eat her cake.
Lexi holding her while everyone sang!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Learning how to deal

Well, I had every intention of updating this blog weekly... Suffice to say it has been a month and a half since my last post. I can honestly tell you that I have never been so busy in my life. Busy as well as just plain tired!!! Between Gracie, the twins and this baby that is growing inside me, my energy level is at zero!!! When I do have a spare second, I just like to sit and relax. Usually, my only spare second is when Gracie takes a nap....
Well, life has certainly changed. Not for the worse, not for the better, just changed. I am sometimes so completely overwhelmed at times that I just break down and cry, and give it to God because I have no idea what I am doing. There are times that I just hold Gracie and look at her and wish I could give all my attention to her again. Yet, she is fine, it took her a while to adjust, but she loves the girls, they play and play and play with her, and she loves all the attention!
Grace is growing so fast, I cannot even believe it. She has so many new words that she uses all the time and sometimes can speak in sentences. I swear this happened overnight. All the sudden one day she was drawing with crayons and she said "look mommy, I made a pretty." What?!? When did she learn to say all that together? Right now she is obsessed with "owies" she will find one on anyone and want to kiss it. Pretty adorable. She also is very big into asking people if they are ok. "You ok mommy" she will ask as she looks me in the eye and pats my arm. She just melts our hearts every moment. I know every mom says it, but how in the heck can I possibly love this other baby as much as I love and cherish my precious Gracie?
Now that the weather is turning we are spending a lot of time outside and she would not want to be anywhere else. Loves chasing our chickens, playing in rocks and on our deck with our little slide. She is so good at saying "please" and "thank-you" and loves to say "sorry". The only issue we are having with her right now is her not wanting to listen to us when she is doing something wrong... She just smiles at us and goes "hi mommy, hi" oh yeah, she knows she is doing something wrong, she just tries to be cute... ah it it starts so young! She gets so sad when you even raise your voice at her, I can tell that discipline is going to be a struggle.

The twins are definitely a hand full. We were not told just how hyper and demanding of attention they would be, granted they are 12, pretty normal for "tweenies".. but not normal for me! They are obsessed with Gracie and her blue eyes and chubby cheeks, honestly they will not stop pinching her cheeks and calling her beautiful. (I guess it could be worse)

I struggle with now being the "nagging mom." I have to be though, they are so slow when getting in the car to go to school, or doing their homework... I have to be on them all the time or they would just sit and watch Indian movies all day on their computer.
If I am being truthful with you, it was not love at first sight. They are very sweet girls, loving with such a strong desire to make us happy, sometimes almost too strong. I have always liked them, but it has taken me a while to realize that this is my life now, and to see them as my new daughters. I expected myself to love them as much as Gracie from the get-go... That was foolish, I had this ideal of being the most loving, compassionate, patient mom to them... But as any mom of teenagers can tell you... HA HA HA! Don't get me wrong, I am not horrible by any stretch of the imagination, but they test me, pull me in 4 different directions at once, and really demand so much from me, it is hard to get used to "liking" being constantly demanded of... My deal, not theirs. You add pregnancy into the situation, and there are times where I just lose it, whether it being crying to Stephen at night when we go to bed, or just have such a short temper that I take things out on them that they are totally undeserving of.... We learn, and I know I will get better. They know they are in a loving home, I show more love than anger, and am never slow to give them hugs or do things for them... I just have this lofty expectation of being perfect.

They are getting better at speaking English, everyone that knew them before tells us how their English has improved, and more importantly their general disposition. They are happy now. Stephen and I have seen a dramatic improvement in the last couple weeks of their attitudes, you can tell that they feel part of this family now... Sometimes it means just caving and buying them french fries and a coke, or donuts every once in a while. (Not often)

We had a great time going to Disneyland, and meeting Stephen's family. They absolutely love my mom and dad and call them Grandma and Grandpa (which is funny, because we are still Stephen and Amanda) They love being part of a larger family, there was really only their mom in Nepal, no one else wanted anything to do with them... :(
Ganga has been in Karate for 3 months now and loving it, Jamuna tried it and decided it was not for her, neither was Hip Hop... We are struggling to find something for Jamuna that you can start at 12 and not be so far behind in the activity. Most 12 year olds in dance have been dancing for 6 years, same with soccer, softball etc. Lacrosse and Volleyball are the areas where I am thinking next, she has issues though with trying hard in anything.... They both just started swimming lessons and want to go everyday, it is a fun activity to do, and I am so happy that soon they will know how to swim!

One of the biggest transitions of being a mom of 12 year olds, is learning how to deal with "that time of the month." It is not that I am uncomfortable talking about it, it is just that are learning about it for the first time, pads, tampons, excess blood, leaking onto their sheets every night and so on! With swimming, they have to learn how to use certain things.... and I am sorry, I am not about to go show them, not ready for that, luckily they have an older sister close.... But wish she could be here more often. There is also YouTube, yup, I resorted to finding YouTube videos on how to use a tampon.... As well as talk them through it, yet we are unsuccessful at this time.

Will write more later...