Friday, October 30, 2015

Celebrating our 2 Year Old!

 Not knowing if we'd have a newborn for Hadassah's birthday or not, I didn't plan anything big or fancy. It also works with the plan I have (copying what my parents did) to do a big party every-other year and on the off years do something small, with a special activity of their choice as they're older.

So, we had a small party for lunch, with Uncle Elijah & Aunt Megan coming and some fun cupcakes!

It was somewhat of a rough morning for the birthday girl, though. Guess it goes with being 2... She woke up with a slight cold, fell down 2 stairs and got a mark near her eye, and bumped her head on the dog house (after eating a piece of dog food...) and got a bruise. But she was always very happy and excited when it came to doing birthday things!

Selfies with Daddy! We had been talking about turning 2 for a month now, so she was pretty excited that today was her birthday finally!!

 We had puppy dog cupcakes (idea found on Pinterest), which Hadassah helped me decorate, putting the eyes and nose on between eating pieces of chocolate. ;)

We also had little kitty cats. Definitely didn't turn out perfectly (the mouth/whiskers should have been thinner) but a 2 year old doesn't care and was pretty thrilled!

 Lunch was some of her favorite foods: pizza, spinach, and strawberries. And of course she ate the spinach first!

This time she didn't have any trouble blowing out the candles and was quite excited to do so! Amazing how much a year changes things...

Did you  know that ice cream tastes better eaten with your hands?

 She was a pretty happy girl!

 Happy girl with grandparents!

 It's wonderful to have family around to celebrate with!

 Presents! She was blessed with many great books...

 And a doll family! We'll see if I'm able to get around to making a cardboard doll house for Christmas...

 Even on birthdays, you still have to take a nap. It's so nice to have our own space in the guest house just up the small hill from my parents' house!

 Hadassah did this puzzle with Grandma at least three different times that day. She so enjoys the ABC's and knows them all without me even really trying to teach her.

 We saved our present to Hadassah until supper time, to make things not all at once. She was quite ready to climb into the chair to open it. And in fact, today, after a leftover cupcake for dessert, she went right over to the chair and climbed in and said "presents?" We had to explain that some things only happen on the actual birthday!

 Daddy makes everything more fun, so he had to be in on her first tea party with an actual set!

And she faithfully took care of her special travel puppy, making sure he got what he needed. :)

All-in-all, it was a great day of celebration, and I am pretty glad our daughters didn't end up with the same exact birthday, as people always teased would happen. But now I'm definitely to the point where I'm telling Ellie she can come any time...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy 2nd Birthday Hadassah!

It seems like just yesterday we had our first baby... And now she's two years old. Wow. Time flies so quickly, and Hadassah is growing up into such a sweet and fun little girl! 

A sweet friend blessed us with a maternity/birthday photo shoot yesterday, so here are photos to help commemorate this milestone for Hadassah...

With a one balloon picture last year, we had to get one with two this time. :) 

And being in the states, though getting the balloons was still an adventure with Hadassah, I could actually ask and understand and drive to a place to get them filled with helium!

We've been talking about it for a while, so she is pretty excited to turn TWO! 

She was pretty thrilled with a bunch of balloons! Especially after the first balloon we tried to buy popped in the store, and the second untied from the string on top and flew away as soon as we walked out of the store... She had great fun relating those stories over and over though!

I sat in this rocking chair as a little girl, so it was pretty special to use it with my little girl for this photo shoot! 

This captures her sweet little girl-ness well. :) How we love our Hadassah Faith!

She's also our little monkey, with an adventurous side, wanting to climb and swing on anything she can!

 We are so thankful God has made us a family!

We love you, our "Dassah Daisy!"

Can't wait to see how God continues to grow you in this next year!

Special thanks to Lexi of Griffin Photography for these amazing pictures!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A night away

One of our goals before baby #2 came, if she gave us the time, was to get a night away, just the two of us. We had to reschedule a few times due to time conflicts, and at some points I wondered if it was worth the trouble of getting Hadassah set up in the grandparents' house and our stuff packed up for just one night not even traveling far, but it certainly was.

When you've spent the last two years getting up (early!) and taking care of a baby and then toddler, you forget how nice it is to stay in bed until you want to get out. ;) Though, after two years of always waking pretty early, it is pretty impossible to actually sleep in! And it's so wonderful to remember what it is to be just you and your love, together for even longer than just an evening date (though those are great!). It was refreshing, a time to talk, a time to just be and get lost in each other's eyes again without having to wonder what the toddler was up to.

And though I wondered how Hadassah would do without us for a night, I'm glad I didn't let that stop us from going. I explained what we were planning, that we were going on a mommy-daddy date and grandpa and grandma would put her to bed, and she seemed to understand. She had fun, went to bed easily, slept great, woke happy, and only cried when we came home. Even then, it was more of a forced, "how could you leave me?" cry. It helps that she's been able to be with her grandparents for shorter stretches and see them every day for a while, so she's very comfortable with them and loves them so!

We also reflected on how thankful we are for this time. Whereas often it feels like we're missing SO much in terms of time with family while living overseas, because we live overseas we've taken longer stretches of time to be with family... two months before we moved to China, and now these two months to have a baby. God has a way of blessing abundantly. Even though the inability to see them for most months out of the year is still hard, this time in some way makes up for it.

 We walked through "The Alley" downtown Montgomery - a cool spot! And no, I'm not sure I can get any BIGGER with baby! Random strangers are always asking when I'm due and other (sometimes very personal!) questions!

We ate at Dreamland Barbeque - a spot famous in Montgomery for their barbeque and banana pudding. Had to get it sometime while we're in the South!

We had a relaxing stay at a local hotel, I was amazed to have time to just shower when I wanted and be able to relax and read the Bible while Ryan got ready, and breakfast at Panera brought back good memories from courting/engagement visits. Then it was time to go back for Ryan to work and to assure our little girl we hadn't disappeared forever. :) But we're so thankful we got a little "babymoon" before welcoming our next sweet bundle of joy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Baby Corner

My husband knew. That even though we'll be in this place for only the first month of our new little one's life, that my brain needed a baby corner. It's amazing how much happier and relaxed I feel having a spot set up just for her. smile emoticon Little Ellie, we're ready for you whenever God decides it's time!

Camping with over 100 friends...

Our first weekend in Alabama (October 16-18) also "happened" to be my family's semi-annual camping trip. I say "happened" because they planned it around my younger sister's fall break from college, but kindly moved it from the first weekend of her break to the second weekend of it once they realized we could make it. Having grown up going on this camping trip from the time I was 4 years old, and then missing all but one since getting married (due to distance or having a baby) I was thrilled that we were able to make this one! So I wasn't going to let being 37 1/2 weeks pregnant stop me from going, though we did take my mom up on her offer to let us stay in the comfortable cabin she rents. And it ended up being the least tiring "camping" trip I've gone on. I couldn't play Ultimate Frisbee or volleyball due to not wanting to get injured or jumpstart labor, so I had no way to get exhausted or sore. And we all slept really well in the cabin beds, not having to deal with cold. 

And yes, when I say we camped with over 100 friends, I'm not exaggerating. What started with just us and a few other families has grown over the years, as we made more friends, got to know more people through the productions I directed, and friends invited their friends. So there were a total of 150 people that turned out for this weekend, making it a wonderful time of fellowship!

 Hadassah was a huge fan of camping. Being able to spend ALL day outside (except for a nice nap in the cabin), even eating outside? A toddler's dream. :)

 On Friday night they asked me to call some English Country Dances, something I'd done at many past camping trips. It was nice to have a way to still be involved so it didn't feel like I was missing out too much. But even with a microphone, my voice was hoarse at the end... it's been almost 3 years since I taught dance, so I guess my voice too has gotten less used! ;)

 Ryan danced with Hadassah some on the side, which totally thrilled her. And then Hadassah and Tabitha (H's cousin 3 months younger) started dancing with each other. Incredibly cute!

 On Saturday I got some practice being a mom to two girls as I took Hadassah & Tabitha to play. It was fun. :)

 They enjoyed the swings for quite a while, and then we moved on to the teeter totter and merry-go-round. Thankfully by then two of my older nieces were playing with us too, so they did the teetering and going-around-holding so I could just be a spotter. ;)

 We enjoyed some friends driving from Texas to catch up, as well as catching up with friends from Alabama. An added bonus to being in the cabin was that by the time we put Hadassah to bed a little later due to camping fun, my mom was at the cabin and didn't mind us coming back out to the campfire to enjoy some good late night conversations!

 My sister and her family drove down from Ohio to be there, and she continued her glow stick traditions.
 It was wonderful to see my sister Jubilee and she brought some friends from college. And since we couldn't play many running games, we got some board games in!

 Sunday morning we had a gathering to sing and share what God has been doing, and of course do the traditional "Bind Us Together" song with clapping!

All-in-all, it was a wonderful weekend, and such a blessing to be able to be a part of it! They skyped us in to the Sunday morning gathering our first camping trip missed in China, but it was so much more rewarding being there in person. :)

Picture credits: Thanks to my brother-in-law John who captured most of these great images! And to Lexi Griffin for the one of us playing a game.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Family Saturday


After a busy week with friends and activities and trying to keep up with work, it was good to wake up Saturday morning and plan on a family day. While we're super excited about being a family of four soon, we also want to cherish these last moments as a family of three...
And having our own car to drive is amazing. Just not having to call a taxi and wait - for EVERY stop along the way - but having your own car right there to get in whenever you're ready... Yeah. It's pretty nice. :)

 We stopped at a donut shop because we could. :) And because it was Saturday morning. And because a little girl with a blue shirt was so excited to pick out her own donut with blue sprinkles!

 Pretty good?

 She was a fan! And we didn't let her eat the WHOLE thing... but since we had our own delectable donuts too, we were all feeling a bit of a sugar crash later on!

 We went to a park and saw ducks! It was such a beautiful perfect day...

 This park is one I played at as a child. It's so much fun to see my daughter now discovering it! Especially when she has her favorite big playmate around (Daddy) to make it even more fun!

 She loved swinging with Daddy! Seriously, I married an amazing man. He is such the best Daddy. His imagination and joy and zest in which he plays with her... We are all so blessed.

She loved the swings. We kept trying to interest her in more slides, but all she wanted to do mostly was swing. And swing. For at least 20 minutes. With her faithful "travel puppy" it was even more fun!

During her nap, Ryan and I got a date to see "Woodlawn" (excellent movie!) and enjoy an early supper at Steak and Shake. It's such a blessing to be around grandparents!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

At Home in Alabama

On October 11th, we touched down in Atlanta and drove to my parents' home in Alabama. Ryan and I gave each other a high-five. We made it! God did it, bringing us safely across countries and states to the place this baby is to be born.

 We had to leave Boise quite early in the morning, which after a late night at the wedding meant we were all tired! But it was nice that Hadassah had her own seat on the first flight (due to it not being full), and slept in my lap on the second! She's been quite the amazing traveler!

 We dubbed this dog "Travel Puppy" and she's loved having a little buddy to hold and show things on our many airline adventures. Just having a little friend to hold often made waiting in lines or passing the time on the airplane so much easier!

 We went for a long walk through the Atlanta airport instead of taking the train (felt so good to stretch our legs!), and when we finally made it to the exit we didn't expect to see my parents SO soon, so we didn't have the camera out. But once we were loaded in the car on the way home, the excitement on Hadassah's face was still bright. She was so SO happy to be with grandparents again!

 We have our own space in the guest house my dad built himself, which is so nice as we'll be living here for about 2 months. And there is a DOG outside - Hadassah is always so thrilled to see Circa Bell though she doesn't really like the licks she often gets!

AND there's a CAT! One she can touch without Mommy being worried about whether it will scratch (as she always wants to try and touch the stray cats in China). This one even sits in her lap sometimes and purrs, though it did teach her a lesson about not pulling it's ears or tail... But the joy on her face as she interacts with animals and gets to spend so much time playing outside is priceless.

 It's been so wonderful taking Hadassah on walks on the dirt road leading to my parents' place, as I remember all the walks I took myself as a single gal, and then as a girl being courted by my love. :) Now I get to enjoy it with my daughter, and it is such a blessing.

And the SKY!! Even after almost 3 weeks in the states I still get mesmerized by how BLUE the sky is here in America. God's creation is amazing.

 Days have been full of visiting friends, and on Monday I was so blessed to get a lunch date with a dear friend and mentor. I taught her girls ballet and was so welcomed into their family in many ways, and it was a wonderful surprise to find out she was expecting baby #7 at the same time I was pregnant. So we had to get a photo of us at 32 and 38 weeks. :)

And yes, we had to eat at Chickfila. Finally my 1st trimester craving for one of their amazing, classic sandwiches has been satisfied!

 Hadassah continues to fill our days with joy. She's growing and talking so so much. And such a sweetie (most of the time!). Here she was offering to share an M&M with Daddy - a special treat for her, so all the sweeter that she would give one away!

 Hadassah has absolutely loved being with Grandma and Grandpa, and they've babysat often for me to go shopping or out with Ryan or friends. And during that crucial need-to-finish-making-supper time crunch when the toddler is hungry and doesn't want to play alone, having a Grandma to suggest "let's go outside and pet the kitty" makes everything better in her little world. :)

Grandpa is full of fun too and Hadassah enjoys all the old toys I played with growing up. Pretty amazing to see things last 20 years, even outside with wagons and swing sets and trampolines. This place, with the seclusion and space, is pretty much a kid's paradise.

Ryan has stayed busy working remotely for his company in Shanghai, so it's also been fun to get to see him more often during the day, when I can convince Hadassah to come in for a bit instead of playing outside! ;)

We are so blessed that God has allowed us to make this place our home for two months!