Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breaking Heart

I cried today in the drive-in at Sonic.

While we were waiting for our happy hour drinks after school, I decided to peruse Facebook on my phone. One item on the feed stopped me in my tracks. It started with the words:

There’s a tiny grave near an orphanage on the outskirts of Bishkek. It holds the body of an undersized 2-year-old girl who died in August from complications of a disease that is dangerous, yet often manageable in the United States. The little girl, who had been matched for adoption with a Florida doctor, is a casualty of a moratorium on international adoptions imposed long before Kyrgyzstan became engulfed in turmoil this spring.

And I knew from the poster's comments that it was Altynai.

While we were waiting to bring home Ellie, her adoptive mom and I became friends. It was she who took pictures of Ellie during her initial trip to Kyrgyzstan to meet Altynai. She was only weeks behind us in the process and we even thought we might make trip two back together to pick up our girls.

It was during my trip back to pick up Ellie that I got to spend quite a bit of time with Altynai, taking photos and discussing her health, which at that time seemed to be failure to thrive. She had an excellent nurse, however and seemed happy.

I remember getting the news from Suzanne of her diagnosis of hydrocephalus and feeling like I had been kicked in the gut.

Now, I feel the same, only worse. It makes me feel like I'm going to be sick to my stomach.

These little children are the smallest casualties to a war that has no name, no face. They are literally stuck for no reason. Orphans -- there are millions around the world who are without parents, who have no families, who sometimes die without the love of a family. It's just so ... wrong.

Altynai was a special gift and I know that she knows that she did have a mom and dad who prayed and worked diligently to get her home. Now, she finally is home. Rest in peace, sweet baby girl.

For the link to the full article, click here.

Behind, Behind ... Trike-A-Thon

LAST Friday, Ellie's preschool had their Trike-a-thon for St. Jude's. It was in the gym, so I'll apologize in advance for the photo quality. Was running late and forgot to set the camera for florescent lighting. Even editing hasn't helped much.

MeeMee and Josh came (Josh was very WILLING to leave school early) to watch/support/cheer on Ellie in her tricycle endeavors.

I came in (late, as usual) as they were lining up and Ellie was refusing to wear her helmet. Now, some history on the helmet is in order. Our neighbors, Trish and Lexi, gave her the helmet. She wanted a Dora helmet, so we added some really cool puffy Dora stickers and she has been wearing the heck out of this helmet all week long. THEN... when she realizes she has to wear it, NO GO!! Now, to her credit, it was nap time and she was T.I.R.E.D, but still. Finally, after everyone waited, I pulled her to the side and told her she couldn't ride because she wasn't going to wear a helmet. That seemed to jump start her into action and off we went to the starting line-up.

The ride was 20 minutes long. Ellie never properly pedaled her trike, I don't think, but she did some serious Fred Flintstone foot pedaling. You'll note in her pictures that her shoes are on the wrong feet -- makes it just a touch more sweet, don't you think?

Afterwards, we headed over to McDonalds for lunch and some ice cream before she passed out from exhaustion.

Thanks to our friend, Tom, up in East Tennessee, and lots of folks from the ballpark, Ellie raised $120 for St. Jude's Hospital! Way to go, Ellie. Thank you friends!!

And, of course, a little photo expose of the day:

Getting ready for the day!

A little early morning practicing:

I LOVE this picture:

I seriously think she should be a poster child for the Trike-a-thon, but then I'm biased!

And then the fighting over the helmet begins:

Finally resolved and bringing up the rear is ... Ellie!

Ellie has the BEST brother in the world -- hands down!

They are all working so hard! Aren't they precious??

She looks pretty happy in this one!

And, as quickly as it started, it was over. Time to park your trikes.

What IS this?? I see her doing it all the time!

Then they lined up to go back to class.

Such a fun, sweet time!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Llama Llama Skeleton Pajamas

Ellie loves the "Llama Llama" books. We have Llama Llama Red Pajamas and Llama Llama Misses Mama and we read them several times every week.

Now that Ellie is sporting some new pajamas, I'm thinking I might need to write a new poem about my little Llama Llama Skeleton Pajamas.

Josh and I were out on "date day" on Sunday and, of course, he indulged me by letting me run into the Gymboree store. I really didn't plan to buy anything, but I always like to browse!! We saw these pjs and they glow in the dark and Josh said, "You have to get those so I can take her outside and see if she glows."

She does, in fact, glow in the dark and thinks it's great fun to wear them. Here she is passed out with them on, amongst all her bedtime friends.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Her Personality Develops

Elizabeth warned me about donning Ellie "The Princess". I should have listened.

"The Princess" is rearing her royal personality as of late. I posted on Facebook that "Two year olds are not terrible, but they are terribly exhausting." By 8:30, I'm ready to hit the hay lately. It's from running around behind "The Princess" trying to keep her out of trouble/destruction mode.

Just this week I found ink on the bathroom wall, ink on the couch, ink on the living room wall, LIP BALM on the windows and crayon on furniture. She colored her legs with a green Sharpie and the marks are still there -- no matter how much I scrub.

You might say that I need to "put up the markers, crayons, pens". Well, yes, that would be great except that there are no hiding places that she can't find -- I promise. She is a crafty/cunning little one. And, having an older brother who does homework and a mom who works at the kitchen table and a dad who has a desk that is accessible makes it ALL TOO EASY for her to find all kind of goodies to "write" with. It's her favorite thing. I hear it many times a day, "I write."

I've tried having her scrub the wall -- she thinks it's fun to clean. *sigh*

And then there is the "BUY IT!" mentality she has recently developed. She wanted to color with her Color Wonder coloring book but all her markers were either gone or dried up. I told her we didn't have any markers and she replied, "Go to store and BUY IT, Mama". Right. Today, she found the Toys R Us circular laying on the kitchen table. HOW did she know that it was all toys??? We don't go there. I'm not sure she's EVER been there. She grabbed it right up, TOOK IT WITH HER TO PRESCHOOL!!! and continuously named almost every toy in there, all the way to school, ending it with, "Buy it, mama!!" She wants Dora stickers for her helmet for the Trike-A-Thon. I told her we would get some before that day. She replied, "Mama go to the store and buy it." Very matter of fact. Ugh.

Then there is the "stage" that is flat driving me NUTS. I call it the "HUH?" stage. Everything I say, she turns around with a blank look and says, "Huh?" I'll repeat myself and she'll turn back around to me and say, "Huh?" If I'm crazy enough to repeat myself a third time, she'll probably say "Huh?" again. It's maddening. Suggestions on that one are welcome!!

And then there is the NO! NO! NO! I not want it; I not want to; I not tired rantings that we are hearing a lot of now. She doesn't want to eat what we fix; she does not want to wear the clothes we pick out; she does not want to take a bath; she does not want to go to bed. She has such an independent streak -- miles wide!!

But, of all the strong personality traits I've mentioned, I do have to croon that we are 75% potty trained. Mama still needs more training, but Ellie is doing well. She has worn panties to preschool for two days and has had no accidents. We are still doing a pull-up at nap time because I pick her up right after nap and often have to drive around a lot after that, so I don't want to set her up for an accident. We use a pull up at night as well. For some reason, she seems to have a few more accidents at home, but I think she gets so busy having fun that she doesn't WANT to stop and go potty.

Now, if I could JUST get her to sleep until 8:00 on the weekends ...

Her vocabulary and speech have just blossomed overnight. Sometimes I do have to stop and actively listen to understand her, but it's usually because she's reeling off something complex that I can't follow too well, but overall she is a jibber-jabbering girl (especially at home), saying words that I wonder where she's even heard them. Today she was pointing out (and saying) skateboards in the Toys R Us catalog. Tonight I told her she couldn't go outside because she was naked. She looked at me funny and I said, "That's when you have no clothes on." She said, "Oh." She tried to repeat it but didn't succeed well. Hopefully, I won't hear about that one tomorrow after school!! I'm certain she is going to talk my ears off in years to come.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Feeding the Horses

Today as we were driving home from school we saw the neighborhood horses out and Ellie said, "HORSES!" with a big smile. I asked her if she'd like to walk back over and feed them some apples. She said, "YES!" in her characteristic happy voice.

We cut up some apples and Ellie worked on eating all the white parts out of them as we walked over to see the horses.

Once we saw them, she started running toward them:

Here she is saying, "C'mon mama, run!"

The horses were VERY excited to find out that we had apples!

This ...

... is as close as she wanted to get to them.

When we ran out of apples, she waved bye to them.

On our way back home, she saw the neighbor's flowers and wanted to stop. She ALWAYS (and I mean always) stops to smell the flowers. She does this every afternoon at preschool too.

Such a precious girl!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Hothpital Jood" - Ellie's New Endeavor

Trike-A-Thon is a fun, week-long curriculum and fundraising program for daycare centers or pre-schools that teaches children riding-toy safety lessons through a series of interactive stories. Children receive these lessons from special St. Jude friends, Bikewell Bear® and Pedals the Bunny®, while raising money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. At the end of the Trike-A-Thon week, students bring their trikes or riding-toys to school and practice the safety lessons they have learned.

I'm sure Ellie isn't aware, but I've read that Nick Jr's. Dora the Explorer is the new spokesperson for Trike-A-Thon.

Ellie's preschool is doing a Trike-athon fundraiser for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. Now, Ellie's not too hot on a tricycle yet, but we have really been practicing hard.

Yesterday, she brought home the fundraising paperwork for the event and we have set up an online place for more information and a place if anyone wants to donate. Let me point out -- this is NOT for Ellie or ABOUT Ellie; this is for children and families who go to St. Jude for life threatening illnesses, for treatment of cancers, AIDS, sickle cell and other catastrophic illnesses.

At St. Jude, no patient is ever denied for their inability to pay and are not held responsible for anything the insurance companies do not pay.

Tonight we made her a little change jar and she's SO PROUD of it. She tells people she is collecting money for the "kids at Hothpital Jood". Very sweet. I know she doesn't understand, but I want her to always have a heart for helping others and for giving to others.

I'll get a picture of her and her little collection jar (she carries it everywhere!!) soon and post it. There's a link to more information about St. Jude/the Trike-athon, etc. Click the link below.

But, more than anything, tonight or tomorrow or the next day -- whenever you think about it -- pray for those families and children who are at St. Jude (Hothpital Jood) right now. Pray for healing, peace, rest. I know they will appreciate it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vikings Soar over Eagles: 43-12

After the moving 9/11 tribute early in the day, the Vikings got down to some football. All three age divisions won on Saturday. The 11/12 team (Josh's team) scored big and played hard, even in the face of multiple flags being thrown and touchdowns being called back.

Josh was smoking AGAIN this week (and I'm not just a proud mama!), with multiple tackles, assists and a sack. I honestly felt bad for the quarterback when Josh picked him up and sacked him. That had to hurt. That's why mamas aren't football coaches.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the day -- and all of them aren't of Josh this time.

We have the cutest cheerleaders:

These boys were ALL OVER the field in the weirdest positions:

But, even though all the pictures aren't of Josh this week, I would be remiss if several of them weren't of him!

Taking down the quarterback once:

And twice:

Who, me?

Proud of my boy!!

9/11 Tribute

Some of the folks at our park and at the Pleasant View park got together to do a commerorative tribute for 9/11 and for local heroes who had given their lives in service to their country. It was a beautiful ceremony replete with flags, fireworks, local Color Guard and a presentation to two local families of fallen heroes. It makes me proud to be both an American and a member of our community.

The 400 flags that lined the field were ones that lined the streets of Ashland City when Cpl. Kristopher Daniel Greer, 25, returned home. Cpl Greer was killed in Afganistan August 8 of this year. Greer's mother and aunt were on hand for the ceremony.

Additionally, family of Lance Cpl. Daniel G. Raney, 21, was present as well. Raney was killed in Afganistan on July 9 of this year.

The Color Guard was made up of members of the Ashland City Fire Department, Metro Police Department and US Army.

May we never forget ...