Monday, September 8, 2014

Mina Lately

We recently had Mina's ENT follow-up appointment after the accident, and I am still in awe at God's mercy. We go back in three months for a second test for her hearing. She may have some very, very mild hearing loss in her left ear, but nothing that concerns the ENT. Here she is in the waiting room with Daniel before her appointment. Precious miracle sitting in her daddy's lap...

Other than potty training (Lord, help me.), Mina is seriously the easiest child on the planet.
She is also the most loving child you'll ever meet.
This girl even waves and blows kisses to the potty saying, "Bye-bye, poo-poo!" as she flushes. (She doesn't bid farewell to many toilet pee-pee's, unfortunately...)
She'll -- out-of-nowhere -- announce, "I need a kiss, Mama! And a hug!"
Every time we drive by Aubrey's school, she waves and shouts as loud as she can, "Hi Auuuuuubie! I miss youuuuu!"
She is just downright sweet.

And as sweet as she is, there's definitely a SPICY side to her.
She can take down hot food like it's nothing.
Here's Mina just cackling at Aubrey one afternoon while chowing-down on some jalapeño chips. I asked her if she was okay and if she needed a drink. She said, "My tongue is on fire, but I okay! I wike it!"

And below is a rare photo. 
Mad Minxie. 
It doesn't happen often (extreme cases of when she's super tired or hungry), so I feel the need to document it. I do remember Aubrey at this age, so this actually may be a face we start seeing more...

But I can't end this post on that picture.
This little video gem is such a perfect representation of Mina ninety-nine percent of the time.
Adorably funny and as cute as can be!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kindergarten 101

It's for real, y'all.

(I purposefully cropped off the school name, for privacy reasons...)

There's a bus that stops right in front of our house to pick-up and drop-off my big girl.
She's gone from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
There's homework.
A daily folder that needs checking every night.
Class rules and consequences.
Cafeteria lunches.
Show and Tell.

Aubrey had a phenomenal first week, despite not getting sent home on the bus the first day.
Then at the end of the second week, things took an unexpected / out-of-nowhere turn.

Tears started flowing.
Nighttime meltdowns.
Morning meltdowns.
Missing Mama.
Caught a nasty cold.
Not wanting to ride the bus.
"My belly hurts..."

For awhile, I wasn't sure we were going to make it.
Daniel even almost uttered the "H" word. (Homeschool)

But now we're on Week Three, and we're persevering.
The tears are not nearly as frequent, even though some days they're right at the surface.

Trying to decipher exactly what caused this emotional shift, Daniel and I had been asking her some questions. We started noting reoccurring comments she was making such as, "What if it gets too hard?" and "What if I don't get everything right?"

Less than a month into the school-year, and we're already seeing the intense need for perfection.
That deep, dark fear of failure hissing in her ear.

She's her mother's child, and I know those insecurities all too well.

We talked to her about how it's okay to make mistakes.
How we're all human and there will be days we fail at things.
There's only ONE person who walked perfectly on this earth.

Sheesh, kindergarten may end up teaching me more than my 5-year-old, now that I think about it.

After reminding her of her life verse:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
Lean not on your own understanding,
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will direct your path.
Proverbs 3:5-6

And Daniel playing this song for her before getting on the bus, things have been getting notably better.
(the song is at the end of the post, too)

I'm seeing more of a peace in her.

Regardless of any morning anxiety that might creep up, Aubrey is always in a great mood when she gets home. Mina and I are always perched (literally) outside waiting for her.

I absolutely love seeing Aubrey's sweet face come bounding off the bus in the afternoon.
We sit in the breakfast room with a snack, and I get a recap of all the playground scoop, cafeteria conversations, and classroom drama...

"I think my friend Hope on the bus is in about third grade or something."
"What makes you think that?"
"She has, like, seven grown-up teeth. That's how you can tell how old someone is in Elementary School..."

"I really need to learn how to tie my shoes! If I do, I get a really cool pencil. It has a flat tip, and that makes me want to sharpen it SO bad." (Sidenote: She can tie her shoes now! Two different ways. I'm just a smidge proud.)

"A boy in my class got put on ORANGE today. If he messed up two more times, he would have to go to the GOLD room. It sounds like it would be awesome, but it's the worst room. You're all by yourself with a really mean teacher. Oh, and there's a TV in there, but it doesn't work. It's just there to make you want to watch it. It's like a torture room or something." (A TV that you can't watch?! Oh the horror! And to think the rumor when I was in elementary school was the electric paddle in the principal's office! haha!)

"The other Aubrey in my class can fix hair. Seriously, Mom. She put Maria's hair in a ponytail today after gym. Can you believe that?! Fixing hair as a kindergartener?! She must be really smart..."

Oh, how I love being on the receiving end of these daily animated chats.

I'll be honest,'s hard on certain afternoons when I hear about how the "mean" girl chased her around the playground and then stomped on her hand "on purpose!".

Or how two boys in the cafeteria shoved their sandwiches in her face and chanted, "EAT IT! EAT IT!"

Or how another girl in the class always steals her crayons.

But I know that's all just part of it.

Oh, Kindergarten...
You're so quirky, hard, emotional, and wonderful.
And I'm totally blaming my newly discovered gray hairs on you.

Oh, and on this little munchkin who just started Preschool two mornings a week.
Heaven help me...

(Song mentioned earlier in the post)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Back to School Shoppe

I have a post in the works to discuss the current status of Kindergarten, but today I'd rather travel back to a time that was filled with tear-free excitement and anticipation.

The day before school started, I stocked a Back to School Shoppe at our house.

I gathered all of Aubrey's school supplies, miscellaneous art supplies, party fans, and a mini shopping cart for the set-up. 

Before the store "opened" -- I read off the school supply list to Aubrey and had her make her own list (she drew pictures of the items).

 (This photo doesn't show the entire list.)

Aubrey grabbed her purse and some play money, and waited for the stock-boy / bagger to open the store. :)

Oh the indescribable joy of buying school supplies!

Aubrey absolutely loved filling the shopping cart with the items and then marking them off her list.

Once she had everything, it was time to ring it all up! The total came to $29, and she decided to pay with her debit card (wink wink). When I asked for a form of identification, she gave me her library card. (I love this girl so much.)

After she paid, she went to the table to label all her items before putting them in her backpack. I had Sharpies and stickers with her initials. 

I think we'll need to do this every year before school starts! It was so fun!

You can click over to the We Heart Parties blog to see how to make the giant ruler!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Let's Focus on the Positives, Shall We?

(Deep breath.)

I'm not going to talk about how my heart was torn in two over the fact that my big girl had her first day of Kindergarten.

And I'm not going to talk about how horrendous Mina's 3-year-old check-up was today.
And how with a single finger prick, it sent her into a hysterical fit.
One that included blood splattering everywhere, chunks of my hair getting ripped out, overflowing tears, clawing, and fear-driven manic rage from my poor, scared girl who's been through way too much in the past several weeks.

I'm also not going to talk about how I waited for Aubrey for over an hour to get home from her first day of Kindergarten only to find that she never actually got on the bus. How there was a mix-up on the transportation information sheet and that her teacher sent her to carpool pick-up where she waited for a Mom who never came because the Mom was waiting at her house for the bus to drop her off.

No, I'm not going to talk about any of that.

Because I've already cried too many tears today.
And sprouted too many gray hairs.

Tonight, I'm thanking God for seeing me through a really rough day.
And for all the wonderful moments He managed to slip in along the way...

Thankful for goodnights.
And for fresh tomorrows.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mina's Flower Party Celebration

I've never been happier to celebrate a birthday than I was for our little Mina.
The accident happened just 10 days before she turned three.
Several people asked me if I was still going to have her party once we were home from the hospital, and I couldn't imagine not celebrating after such a miracle.

Oh yes -- the party is still on!

Mina had been talking about her "Flower Party" for months. 
The original plan was to have it outside. 
As I checked the weather earlier that week, I noticed there were severe storms forecasted along with record high temps. Outside wasn't looking like the best idea. So the next best place for an outdoor themed party was the screened-in porch.  
The place of the accident.

I know it sounds weird -- maybe even taboo -- to have her party in that space, but it was the best thing ever. A place that once threatened to steal our joy, became the host for our celebration of LIFE.

It was a perfect day filled to the brim with love and one adorable blessing...

This sweet child is just too precious for words.
I thank God every single day for her.

For her party, she wanted pink flowers and "dewecious tweats" (aka: delicious treats).
The Province where she was born, is where the blue and white porcelain originated.
My mom has several decorative pieces, and we purchased some while in China. Mina always spots the blue and white china in books and says, "That's from my China!" so I knew I wanted to use it at her party.

This birthday marked the halfway point for us. We met our darling girl when she turned 18 months. Starting the day after her birthday, we have been together longer than we've been apart.
Eighteen months in China. Eighteen months in our arms.

There are no words to describe the happiness in my heart being surrounded by family and celebrating together on this incredibly special day.

Here are some additional pics of the party details, for those who are interested...

All the flowers were pink and ones that had a Chinese symbolic meaning. 
Mostly peonies, cherry / plum blossoms, and orchids. There was one white flower (made out of sugar) at the party in honor of Mina's birthmom. I had it placed on Mina's little table. 

Little flower headbands for the girls -- they were so sweet!

And they looked so adorable on!

One other thing Mina requested at her party was finger and toenail painting. 
You can see the assortment of polishes on the table above with Aubrey. :)

I had a side table set up for people to practice their Chinese characters. 
The writing pad (called The Buddha Board) was given to us at Christmas from Zubie.
It's the coolest thing! You use water to write with a small brush, and then it slowly fades away.
There were words / symbols for flower, garden, birthday, princess, and love.

It was so fun to watch people try it out.

There were several kinds of treats, which we ate before our lunch. 
Mina's request: dessert first!

Ice cream in mini mason jars:

Oreo truffles and blueberries:

The cake -- it was a complete wreck. It looked nothing like what I had ordered, but what are you going to do hours before the party? I tried to improvise by adding some ribbon, orchids, and rose petals, but is what it is.

And to wash it all down: Mina's favorites -- "pink wemonade" and "tea tea".

The crown jewel, which arrived days after the party (sad, unfortunate mail delivery debacle), was this custom made cookie:

I had it made to look like Mina swinging on the branch of a cherry blossom tree. The heart on the tree represented her birthmom. I wish I had recorded Mina's reaction when we presented her with this cookie. It was the most precious thing ever. She adored it. "It wooks wike me! On a swing! See all da pink flowers?! Oh I wuv it!" She would just hold it in her tiny hands and smile at it. Aubrey asked if her birthmom sent her that cookie. It kinda felt like she did.

Happiest Birthday, sweet angel!