Sunday, June 29, 2008

Maya loves baseball!

It's true. I've lost my garden helper to baseball. She just wants to do whatever the boys and Daddy are doing.

She's also a switch hitter.

Saturday we went to the beach with Grandma and roasted hot dogs and s'mores.

Maya played with her new sand toys.

The boys built a fort.

Then we went to Ly and Bill's house for dinner on Saturday night.

Bill scored big time with this transister radio!
Maya got into everything in Ly's kitchen, including these rubber gloves.

Now it's time for pho. These boys are becoming experts at chopsticks.

Maya has a fork in one hand and chopsticks in the other. Poor Daddy was on call in the ER so Bill and Ly made a special pho delivery!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Regular Tuesday with Alana

For regular Tuesday coffee with Alana the Wise Clan went out to the Greear Family Homestead today. Luckily, they have a piano so Maya could practice. She has such lovely long fingers, I can only hope she'll take up piano or violin some day.

She was not afraid of their dog "Scratch" and even petted the chickens! Marina was a big help.

We got to meet the latest member of the Greear-Paag family. Welcome to Homer, Willie! Willie is DJ's younger brother from Saipan.

Chris and Maya play some ten-finger piano.

Riley and Maya go for a spin on the motorcycle.

More milestones: Maya now says "here kitty-kitty" and she calls our dog Trevor: "Vervor".
She loves to feed the fish, the cat and the dog. She even fed the chickens today.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Castles and race cars

It's hard to believe it's been one month since we landed in Seattle! Our social worker made a home visit on Saturday to do our one month follow-up. Just before she arrived, I found Maya's new wooden castle had been converted into a parking garage for the boys' race cars. Notice the helicopter landing pad on the front right tower. I thought it was the perfect symbol for the boys and Maya learning to coexist with one another.

On Sunday Maya helped me plant my herbs into containers on the deck. She is very good at watering as well as riding around in wagons.

Chris likes us to time him while he runs laps. Maya thought it looked like great fun.

Saturday we drove out to the Russian Village of Razdolna to pick up a used pool table at a great price from someone who was moving away. As we drove away with the pool table in the back of the truck, Chris said "We're so lucky! We have a little sister AND a pool table!"
On the way back we stopped at Fritz Creek General Store and Post Office for some dinner. They have a great little deli-type restaurant inside.

Riley ordered barbecued spare ribs.

Chris loved the barbecue sauce!

Maya sucked on a rib for a while, but she still prefers chau or spaghetti.

What a beautiful way to spend the summer solstice!

Leaving Razdolna we spotted a pair of sandhill cranes. As we approached, they went from walking upright to assuming these odd postures. Matt says they were pretending to be injured to lure us away from their nest.
This is the last week of swimming lessons and baseball. I am looking forward to more time to complete projects around the house before our summer guests start arriving in July and August!
Another milestone: After 7 weeks, Maya now lets me rock her to sleep! There's nothing more wonderful than a baby falling asleep in your arms.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On the Road Again

Last night we drove to Anchorage for feeding consult with a speech therapist at Providence. Our appointment was this morning. She had a lot of suggestions for how we can stimulate Maya's oral develoment, improve those chewing muscles and encourage her to try new flavors and textures.
We stayed with Uncle Michael and Aunt Karyn. They got this swing set for their grandkids, but look who's having the most fun!

Maya used her spare time to practice the piano instead.

Then she decided to feed Michael and Karyn's dogs by hand, one nugget at a time.

Aunt Kristin met us for lunch at Ray's Vietnamese Cuisine.

On the way home we stopped in Anchor Point to pick up our dog Trevor who was having a grand time at Lynn and Darwin's place.

This is just one of the three large ponds that are just a stone's throw from their house.

And they have a lot of cool toys. Maya is upset because she can't reach the handle bars.

Lynn and Darwin gave her this Pittsburg Steelers dress.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Families and Gardens

Blogging is like everything else, if you don't do a little bit everyday, it piles up on you. Only blogging is a lot more fun than most of the other things we have to do everyday. I wish I could do it daily, but I am chronically overwhelmed by life in general. I think I would have been a good prehistoric person, gathering roots and berries with my female friends while the babies nursed, the toddlers played underfoot, the older kids pretended to hunt and gather, and the men were off hunting.

Father's Day was uneventful. We went to church, then planted a garden, then went to Nanna's for dinner. I guess after the activities of the last month, Matt and I were glad to just be home with our kids, doing regular things. We were so late putting our garden in this year. The nurseries are picked over as far as veggies go. In my perennial beds I have been trying to plant some bare root plants I bought at Costco before our trip. There are ferns, astilbe, hostas, purple geraniums and irises. But the flower beds don't look any different after I plant them, because they are all underground. It will be weeks, months before anything appears. Some of them may seem like they didn't take, but then next spring they will make their appearance, growing more beautiful each year.

I have been thinking a lot about what Stacey wrote on her blog about how love grows. I would add that it grows like a perrenial garden. The stuff most of us put on our blogs is like the annuals and hanging baskets that we buy for show, instant color and dazzle. But the real growth of families is often much slower and sometimes invisible to the untrained eye.

When Matt and I first got married, Sarah was 11 years old. I remember how hard those early years of learning to be a blended family could be. I gradually learned that blended families are not instant families, you can't just add water and stir. I had some kind of fantasy about us, like a scene out of "It's a Wonderful Life", all standing around the piano singing Christmas carols. Only we didn't own a piano, and none of us could play piano. So when Sarah called Sunday morning to wish Matt a Happy Father's Day, my joy knew no bound.

Now we are starting over, with another precious little girl. She doesn't call us mommy or daddy yet. We are laying the foundations for a new blended family, brick by brick. Some days we make great progress. Some days feel like a step backwards. I am once again pouring over parenting books. But instead of books about step families, "Raising Your Spirited Child", or teen manuals like "Get Out of My Life, But First Can You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall?", I'm gleaning the adoption books, looking for reassurance, hoping they'll validate my feelings.

I hope all you dads out there got to do something you wanted to do yesterday. Whether it was fishing, golfing, playing ball or sitting around doing nothing. I hope you realize how important you are to all of us who depend on you. Even though we often take you for granted, expect you to be Superman, be able to fix all things, know all things, work your butts off to support us, listen to us, and still have energy left over to play with the kids when you get home. Whether you are a seasoned dad, a brand new dad, a step dad or a waiting dad, I salute you!

Happy Father's Day!
Trying out the new gardening tools.

Erica Marley (left) and Judy Marley (right)
These ladies are professional party planners. Look at their party bags! They showed up, set up and cleaned up!
On Saturday, we were showered with gifts from our church family. What a generous outpouring of love and support, welcoming Maya to the fold.

Maya shares her toys with Baby Sierra.

Maya surrounded by a mountain of gifts.

This is the view from our ball park.

Riley on first base.

Chris takes the pitcher's mound.

I am so proud of my boys. They have had to become so much more independent these past couple of months. Chris lost his "poopsy" status. (A poopsy is the youngest member of the family.) Riley has to share his mama with yet another sibling. They have been hanging in there like real troopers. Last night they were grumbling about swimming lessons starting today. Giving me all kinds of grief. I forgot to set my alarm clock last night. So when I woke up at 9:10 in a panic, I quickly dressed Maya wondering how I was going to get the boys up, into swimsuits and to the high school pool by 9:3o. I started toward the stairs to wake them up and there they were, marching up the stairs with their swim suits on, grabbing towels and stuffing them into plastic bags. I am once again filled with joy and gratitude for these amazing children that have been entrusted to me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rainy Day

Yesterday was a rainy day so we hung out around the house. Matt and the boys took a drive out to a Russian Village to check out a pool table for sale. I stayed home with Maya and made pho bo, did some laundry and housework. Riley had a late game at the ball park from 7:30 to 9:00. It was not raining any more but it was cold and misty, 44 degrees. Some people maintain that the ball park is the coldest place in Homer. Parents were huddled up in down jackets or under sleeping bags. I made a run for the Starbucks at Safeway and picked up decaff mocha, chai tea and hot chocolate. I grabbed a can of Pringles for Chris and a bag of M & Ms for Maya. We shared with the poor unfortunate siblings of players around us. As soon as the candy was gone, Maya was out of there. The playground was calling her. There were lots of kids playing on the playground while their big siblings played ball. Several of the girls were smitten with Maya and fought over who would hold her while going down the slide. She loves playing with other kids on the playground.
More pho please!
How come he gets to do the dishes and I don't?

Maya loves to wear Chris's bike helmet around for hours. I think we better get her one her own size.
Here's Maya with her baby glow worm just before nap time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Late Spring on the Homestead Trail

Today Maya, the boys and I hiked the Homestead Trail. I like to hike it at least three times each summer because it looks different everytime, depending on what's in bloom. By late August the grasses and weeds will be over our heads. This year, I think spring is a full month late.
Maya was very happy to get out of the Ergo and hit the trail herself. When she tripped and fell she'd hold up her dirty hands and fuss. But if I asked her if she wanted to get back in the baby carrier she'd laugh and shake her head, then head down the trail again.

Chris and Riley take a break. They are like puppies, constantly wrestling and tackling each other.

Maya stops to examine a chocolate lily. Signs of spring still abound:

The ferns still have fiddleheads.

The spruces still have tips.

The willows still have pussies! It has been cold the last few days. We wake up and cheer to see the sun, rush outside and realize it's only 45 degrees in the early morning! My mom bought Maya these railroad engineer's overalls. I just love them because I can pull them on over whatever Maya is wearing before we go outside.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Grandmas' 66th Birthday Bash

Okay, so it wasn't a big bash. It wasn't even a splash. Grandma's orthopedic surgeon said she couldn't get her wrist wet. She just had surgery on it last week. But a few of her friends did come over and we did grill some turkey burgers. But the best part was, we got to eat angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. Lots and lots of whipped cream.
I love whipped cream. This is the greatest invention ever!