Monday, August 31, 2009

17 Month Update

Since I didn't have time over the weekend to post an update, here is Ellie's "official" 17 month update.

We've seen lots of changes in Ellie in the last month. She has hit some sort of growing spurt and has definitely grown, although we haven't been to the doctor for measurements and weight, I'd suspect she's well over 20 pounds now -- maybe up to about 22 pounds and seems to have gotten quite a bit taller. I might measure her. We are not due to go back to the doctor until she is 18 months old.

She has begun to pick up signs a little more quickly, but honestly, we burned out quickly on the signs DVD and had to put it up - much like the Barney DVD that is going to be removed from the car today. UGH. She knows: eat, more, cat, dog, hat, mama, daddy, baby and we are working now on shoes. She regularly says: cat, hot, oooowww (yes, drawn out like that), mymama, hi, heya, waves hi and byebye, blows kisses, walks well, likes to dance and do the hand movements to songs and loves shoes (everyone's!). She likes carrying around purses, playing with rocks, sliding, swinging, Barney (ugh), her books, having her hair rolled (yes, it's funny too since she doesn't care for hair bows or piggies). She knows where her nose is, her eyes, her toes and her head (although she does call it her hat).

She has developed a fondness for bologna (yuk), snacks of ALL kinds (we are seriously going to have to watch this snacking thing with her) including cereals, pretzels, crackers, tortilla chips, dried fruit and miniature chips ahoy cookies. She still likes bananas, but seems to have pulled away from fruit. We are going to try some new ones. She still loves pastas of all kinds. She likes to drink from a straw and loves juice pouches. She is slowly beginning to self-wean from her bottle. I'm not going to force this as I think she will give it up on her own eventually. Same thing with her pacifier. She is down to pretty much using it about half the time at night so I'm going to let her self-wean on that as well.

I suspect she will be a fairly easy potty-trainer as she takes her diaper off regularly. She goes to Dee'Anna to tell her when she's got a poopy diaper. She loves nothing more than to run around with no diaper on.

She loves the cats and the dogs and regularly feeds them (both their food and hers) and pets them. If they are outside and wanting in, she runs to the door and yells, "HI" and starts to babble to let me know they want in. The cats are very tolerant of her. Sunshine loves her and Bear is getting better. He's just such a huge wimp. She loves the neighbors dogs: Maggie, Beau and Chewy. She wants to go over every single day to see them. I suspect she could be wearing out her welcome. *smile* Those dogs love her though.

She is sleeping much better overall. Several nights a week she sleeps through the night. If she does wake up, it is usually close to 5 a.m. and she'll take a bottle and go back to sleep.

I can't imagine our lives without her!

Ellie continues to love, love, love her "Bubba". She lights up like a Christmas tree when she sees him.

Couponing --> Super Doubles = Big Savings

I spent yesterday afternoon (with Kevin's help!) organizing and clipping coupons so I could make a grocery run as both Harris Teeter and Kroger are doing Super Doubles (doubling coupons up to $1.98 face value) through Tuesday. I had said I wasn't going to but I needed cat food and Ellie needed lunches for this week so I went and tried to use the coupons I had to stock up for a few more weeks.

I think I really did pretty well. Considering I was truly grocery shopping (which includes produce and meat, which I don't usually have coupons for) this time instead of just stockpiling (yes, there is a difference), I was pleased. I got $371 worth of groceries for $164, saving $207 with coupons or saving 56%. I had four "check-outs" -- two at Harris Teeter and two at Kroger.

With what we had and what we picked up, I think we can stretch this for three weeks with the addition of milk and diapers during that time. I'm going to keep my totals for this month on how much I really spend for groceries in a month. I suspect I can feed the four of us, the cats and dogs, diaper a baby, buy laundry detergents/softners, cleaners, paper products (tp and paper towels and such), health/beauty products, etc. for right at $300 for the month. That still leaves me $136 for the rest of the month of September and I'm pretty certain we can do that and still have lots left in our stockpile and probably add to it some. I think that's pretty awesome, honestly. I suspect if I were really much more diligent, I could do it for less, but considering when I was shopping exclusively at Wal-mart I was spending easily $150-$200 a week, then I've managed to cut our budget by well over half AND get more food AND be able to share it with others. What a blessing!!

My best deals:

Free coupon for Rice Krispies (from - $3.67 value (will use for Rice Krispy treats)
Two bottles of Hunts ketchup - free (coupon from All You magazine for $1.00 off two; doubled and ketchup was $1 a bottle)
Yashibo noodles - BOGOF at HT for $1.39, coupon for $.50 off one -- cost for two $.39
Hormel Completes lasagne - marked down to $1.67 each at Kroger; coupon $.75, doubled - $.17 each
Velveeta shells and cheese - $1.61 a box -- $1.00/2 coupon doubled - $.61 a box PLUS a peel off on the box for a FREE Hunt's BBQ sauce.
Mighty Max dog food - two cans - FREE with coupon
Chef Michaels dog food - two cans - FREE with coupon
Alpo Dog Food - $.75/can - coupon for $1.00 off three, doubled -- three cans $.25 for all three
Lifesavers Hard candies in a bag - FREE - $1.99 with $1 coupon doubled -- great thing, there is another $1.00 off coupon in the
Danimals crushables - $1.88 w/$1 coupon doubled made them FREE

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Aidai

A year ago, we celebrated Aidai's birthday here in the States while she was still in Tokmok. This year, I'm happy to report that our sweet friend, Aidai, is going to celebrate her first American birthday, but her 5th chronological birthday. This sweet girl will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart because I got to spend so much fun time with her and her mom and grandma (babuka, she called her) when we were all there picking up our daughters and bringing them home. I remember teaching Aidai what sound the cars made. She still remembers that, I know. *smile*

Happy birthday, our sweet friend. I so wish I could be there to celebrate with you. If I had a whoopie pie, I'd eat it in your honor. *big smile*

And, speaking of "coming a long way baby", check out the first photos I have of Aidai in comparison to her really recent pictures (above) that I "blog stole" from her mom's blog. Gosh, she is SO stinking cute!!! Happy birthday, sweetie pie!!

Joelton Vikings Defeat Portland Panthers in Season Opener

Josh's football team had their first season game on Saturday against the Portland Panthers. My goodness there were some big, big boys on that team's line. I suspect some of them were as big as adult men. However, they were just no match for our team and the final score was 28-8. I was excited to get to use my new camera (some have asked, it's a Canon digital Rebel EOS XSi) on game day and I was certainly not disappointed with the pictures I came away with. I did tweak the color some using Photoshop Elements 3.0, but I probably would do that regardless -- I'm just a weirdo like that. I can't wait to see how the boys do this season. It would be great for them to go to the SuperBowl again, but I suppose I'm getting my cart before my horse.

If you are interested in wading through the 393 (yes, 393) photos I took, they are located here. Otherwise, here are some of Josh and Ellie (and even Kevin!!)

Ellie before the game. I bought this little cheerleading outfit years ago when we logged in for China because Josh has played for the Vikings since he was 6 years old. Their colors are purple and gold. I found this little number at Kmart, in purple and yellow, for $7.99 (amazing that I still remember how much it was). I know because I got it, went to the bathroom and someone took it out of my cart and I had to go look and look through the clearance items again for another one. I'm so glad it fit her this year!

Josh before the game. The next picture is of his helmet, the same one he used last year -- notice all the scratches and marks on it -- from his defensive work last year.

SEE -- I told you those kids on the line were huge!! Josh is not a short or small kid. This kid made him look like a dwarf.

Josh grabbed on to this kid, who was carrying the ball, and didn't let go until another Viking came along to help take him down. Way to go, Josh!!

His mouthpiece is already chewed into bits and this is the first game -- and those things aren't cheap. We regularly go through 2-3 a season from where he chews them up.

And, this is Ellie after the game -- exhausted -- with babysitter extraordinare, Casey!

And this is Josh after the game -- looking pretty exhausted too!

Friday, August 28, 2009

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

As I was looking back through E's pageant pictures and seeing her smiling and happy and so very loved and pretty, I couldn't help but think back to a time a little less than a year ago when she was living at Tokmok. I opened my files to look back at some pictures and was stunned at the difference. I wanted to post just so those who are waiting and hurting and so anxious to get their babies home will know that when their babies do come home (and I know they will) that in such a short, short period of time, their lives will be forever changed and they will blossom -- just like Ellie has. I still continue to pray for each of those sweet, sweet babies and their waiting families.

I am so thankful every day that God chose this little one for our family and that even through our doubts and insecurities He was faithful in making us know she was our daughter.

Referral photo:
Four month photos (taken by a family whose sweetie is still waiting for them at Tokmok):

Now, at 16 months -- a year later:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Josh at the Fair

Josh and several of his friends had a great time at the fair last night. After Ellie's pageant, they watched four-wheeler races, rode rides and had a blast. The only downer for the night for Josh was when a kid on a ride threw up on him -- YUK!!!

This was "the" ride where Josh got thrown up on -- kid to the left in the white shirt -- note Josh leaning away form him and his two friends (in the brown and blue) laughing at him!

Cleaning up after "the" ride.

Pageant Pictures

My mom's friend let us use her house to get Ellie ready. She also was the official bow tie-er for Ellie's dress since my bow was horrible!

Waiting patiently before the pageant.

Ellie and her MeeMee -- this is such a good picture!

Ellie meets Snowbird -- the local "bird" who notifies kids when schools are closed. She was VERY excited to see him and even waved at him, until he got too close.

Ellie loves to feed anyone who will open their mouth. Here, she is feeding me her cookie.

Ellie's debut on stage.

Ellie waves at Aunt Jennifer and Mee Mee

After coming off the stage -- she looks like she was saying, "What was the big deal? That was easy!"

Such a happy, happy girl!

Now this is my girl -- playing in the rocks in her pageant finery!! I love it!!

Checking out her "participation" trophy.

And then came the meltdown

More meltdown -- too many people around her, too long a process, too near bedtime.

Ellie and the winning little girl.

Many, many, many thanks to MeeMee for the dress and taking the pictures!!

She's "Our" Fairest of the Fair

Well, after much preparation for the fair last night, we were so sad that our very beautiful Ellie-belle did not place in the baby pageant last night.

We rolled her hair as soon as we got home and let her play while she was "setting". Ellie did great with rolling again and patted her hair again calling it a "hat". Thank goodness she didn't try to pull them out either. We had great results this time (since I got some great tips from friends on Facebook) with cute little tight curls all over her head. She reminded me so much of Anara.

We didn't get dressed on the way there for fear of getting something on her dress. Mom has a friend that lives next to the fairgrounds and we were able to park close and get dressed there. The pageant was outside and it was smouldering hot and very humid. We were told to be there by 6:00 and that the pageant started at 6:30. Well, it did start at 6:30, but Ellie's age group didn't start until much closer to 7:30. Poor baby was outside and her curls were falling out and she wanted to play and was in her "fancy duds" and couldn't. As it eeked closer to bedtime, we got more and more worried that we'd near meltdown.

Fortunately, she did great on the "runway" and she say Aunt Jennifer and MeeMee and waved and smiled. There were 18 girls in her group, and partial as I am, I thought she was the most beautiful little girl there!! However, apparently the judge's did not as she didn't win or get runner up. I suspect it had something to do with the fact that during "callbacks", she was tired, grumpy and there were too many people in her way and she just melted on the stage and cried and cried. Poor baby.

After the pageant, she and daddy went home to get in the bed and I stayed with Josh and Braiden while they played and enjoyed the fair.

MeeMee has pretty much all the rest of the pictures so I should get them this afternoon/evening and I'll post then.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hair Styling May Not Be My Calling

Tomorrow night "The Princess" is going to be in the local fair's baby pageant. Well, in preparation I thought it might be good to do a "test roll" of her hair tonight to see what it looks like. Good thing. Josh was in the fair when he was about 10 months old. He came in second place in his age group -- right after Kaitlin Andrews, our friend's daughter. He said tonight, "Well, I hope she doesn't beat me." HA!! He still has his trophy from that in his room. *sigh* Hopefully, Ellie will come in second too and I won't have to hear Josh's feelings being hurt now or Ellie's being hurt later if she doesn't.

I stopped at the Family Dollar and got some little sponge rollers. All prepared after bath time, I plopped her in the sink and gave her some things to play with and began rolling. It was apparent early on that I didn't really have enough small rollers. However, this was after all a "test roll" so I rolled until I ran out and set her down to "set".

There are some cute pix of her with her rollers in. Funny, sweet girl!! Josh cackled when he saw her. She loved it and kept patting her head and saying, "Hat". Ha! After taking them down, the curls was really nice, but, well.... open spaced and lumpy. I obviously needed to use much smaller pieces of hair and a LOT more rollers -- sort of reminiscent of a perm, I think. She ended up looking like the Flying Nun, with curls poking out from both sides. She didn't care though and went right on off to sleep.

We are going to need to start earlier tomorrow and roll a LOT more rollers in her hair. I suppose I will take them out before we go -- even though I didn't want to for fear the curls will fall out -- because I'm afraid it will be awful and we'll just need to go with her normal look (which is cute too, of course!!).

Stay tuned. (And yes, some of my pix are blurry. I used my work camera and not my good one).