Friday, July 20, 2007

St. Louis Trip (Long Post)

Alivia and I had a fantastic time in St. Louis last weekend. I have to say that it was probably one of the most restful vacations I've ever had. We did a lot--but we did it a little at a time and we had a blast doing it! Kelly, Christy, Cindy and I all got along like we'd known each other for years. Surprisingly, for as young as they are, Alivia, Grace and Katie all got along well, too! They actually played together a bit instead of just playing side by side. Livi would drop things deliberately just to have Katie and Grace pick them up to give them back to her to drop again. It was too cute! They also all three loved playing in the peanut pool at the CHI picnic. I have several great photos from there including this one where Livi is already showing a propensity for partying hard. Grace is on the left playing with the pink and purple items and Katie is bending over in the background.

One of our first activities was a tea party for the girls. I hope we can do this one again every year! They all looked so pretty in their fancy dresses! Livi wore her pink pearls and a pretty crystal necklace, not to mention a little of the frosting from the cookies. The four of us adults dressed up a little, as well... tiaras, feather boas, and lots of jewelry! We didn't go quite as far with it as we should have, though. I think in the future we'll have to try a little harder.

The tea party was quite a feast and included cookies, heart-shaped french toast, bacon, eggs and some delicious coffees and teas. The grand finale was a beautiful (and quite delicious!) cake. The girls all helped blow out the candles. Livi decided she wasn't waiting on anyone else and also took a bite out of the frosting while the others were still blowing... That's my girl!

Each afternoon after the girls took a nap we would visit the pool. All three girls acted like they were part fish. They all loved the slides, loved floating around in the boats, loved "swimming" with Mommy, and just generally loved everything about it! Livi and I had so much fun playing in the water. I wish we had a pool like that here that we could visit every day. I can tell it's going to be a priority when shopping for my next house!

On Sunday morning Kelly and Grace had to return home, but Livi, Katie, Christy, Cindy and I kept the fun going with a visit to Grant's farm. Livi loved the Clydesdales (no surprise there!) We got a couple formal portraits done with one of them, but I left them in St. Louis. I'll have to post it later after Christy and Cindy send them to me. We took a train ride around the farm and then spent a little time feeding the goats.

Ah... the goats... they were aggressive little things and tried to eat my purse, my shirt, Livi's hair, Livi's shirt and shorts, and anything else that came in reach! One even tried to nibble on poor Katie's ear! Livi seems to just be enthralled with any and all animals and giggled when one of them tried nibbling on her fingers. The child has no fear at all!

On Monday we visited the St. Louis zoo. What a treat! It's a beautiful zoo with a number of animals that we don't get to see at our zoo at home. Livi loved the penguins and kept trying to dip her hands into their pools. She also loved the puffins (a relative of the penguins) and ended up bringing a stuffed puffin home with her. In the children's area of the zoo Livi and Katie tried their hands and legs at the spider rope climb. They both did surprisingly well! We also did a couple rides on the carousel and rode the train. The highlight of the day was the sea lion show. All in all a great day!

The other major fun thing for Livi was playing with the dogs. Christy, Cindy and Katie have two dogs--big, beautiful Labs named Butter and Abby. Butter is the younger one and was as eager for Livi's kisses as Livi was for giving them. The two could be found smooching just about any time of the day. Abby is a bit older and has some hip problems. Livi seemed to instinctively know that she had to be more gentle with Abby. Here she is cuddled up with her on the sofa. I have a feeling there's a dog or two in my future...

Here is another shot of the girls in the peanut pool at the CHI picnic on Saturday. They all had so much fun with it! I have to see about making something similar here. Not packing peanuts, though... they turned into crumbs within just a couple hours. Maybe I can find some that don't disintegrate. I've seen similar things done with plastic balls, but the peanuts seemed to be more fun for the girls. Anyone have any suggestions?

I can't begin to thank Christy and Cindy enough for the lovely hospitality they showed us last weekend. I'm SO looking forward to spending time with them again next year for the 16th CHI picnic. I'm also hoping we can all (Kelly and Grace, too!) get together more than just once a year as our girls grow up. I'd like them to grow up knowing each other and becoming fast friends. Who knows... maybe they will all go off to college together or something. Wouldn't that be a really cool thing! Okay--last picture for this post... another peanut pool shot! Hurray!

~ Jeana

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Today is yet another milestone in our adoption story. As of today Alivia has been with me one day longer than she has been without me. I don't know if there's an official name for it, but I call it Bonding Day. Of course, there is no doubt that Alivia and I have bonded and bonded well. She's mama's little girl in every way!

This past weekend we celebrated her birthday with a big party. She had an absolute blast! She also received tons of gifts! The funniest moment, though, was when she went to "open" a present that was in a gift bag. First thing she did was pull out the tissue paper and try to blow her nose with it. Such a cutie! These are a couple pics from the big bash along with one more of the professional ones we had done last week.

Thursday we fly to St. Louis for the CHI picnic. It's going to be a fun weekend complete with a dress up tea party and lots of swimming pool time! Livi's going to love it!

~ Jeana

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

Wow! It's hard to believe that exactly one year ago my mother and I were in Tver and my mom hadn't yet met Alivia. She would meet her on her birthday--which is tomorrow! Alivia is turning 2! Hurray! In honor of her second birthday I took Alivia to get some more photos made--and we finally did a family portrait, too!

Livi will be getting lots of presents, but the most special one, in my mind, is her brand new big-girl bed! No photos yet, but she loves it. The first night she just went right to sleep with no fuss and when she woke up she just played quietly in her bed until I came to get her. Last night she again went to bed with no fuss, but when she awoke this morning she realized she could get out of bed by herself and play. She played quietly in her room for an hour or so while I dozed a little longer. Happy day!

This afternoon was her first time to nap in her new bed and it was a bit of a challenge. She kept wanting to get out of bed and play instead of nap. I finally had to sit there with her and rub her back for about 10 minutes until she fell asleep. Same thing this evening at bedtime. I had to put her back in her bed several times and the last time was preceeded with a light smack on the bum. She did stay in bed that time, though, and was asleep in just a few minutes.

Tomorrow for her birthday we are going to play at home in the morning and then go to Gran's house in the afternoon. We're going to have an ice cream cake and a special dinner and then open a few presents. We're going to be holding a birthday party for her on Saturday (which also happens to be our court date anniversary and Gotcha Day) with a few friends and their kids. I probably went overboard with the party plans (Little Mermaid everything...) but it's my first time, so everyone will just have to forgive me. Yes, my Little Bit is probably becoming a tad bit spoiled, but I think she deserves all the spoiling she can get.

This last photo is from our trip to Toronto in early June. Our whole group got together for a photo in front of The Old Mill during our furst day of locations touring. It's a beautiful inn and restaurant in Toronto that has been used in many films and television shows, including La Femme Nikita, the show we were all fans of. They do a fabulous lunch buffet if you are ever in Toronto.

~ Jeana