Monday, December 22, 2008

One year already?!?

WOW- it really has flown by. Mackenzie has been with us for one whole year already. It doesn't seem like it has been that long already, but it does feel like she has always been with us. She is such a joy to all of us. She has grown and learned so much this year! She is now a pretty steady walker, and she surprises me by wanting to boldly walk ahead in places that a few short months ago she would have clung to me. We went to a Christmas party the other day, and she got down and ran around with all of the other kids. Just tonight, she was all over the lobby at the Animal Kingdom Lodge....walking right up to people...talking to them. She is talking, although not much that we can understand. Mama, Dada, and Papa are pretty clear...beyond that, you have to follow context, gestures, and intonation but she does get her point across. She is feeding herself with her own silverware, she loves to throw a ball, and she loves toys like blocks and shape sorters that present her with a challenge for her fine motor skills. She has the most magical little belly has such a pretty ring to it. And I still marvel at how her entire face lights up with a smile. Z, we love you so very much, and we feel so blessed to be your family.

Romantic weekend

This year marked our ten year anniversary for Shaun and I. He blew me away and planned this amazing weekend for us. If you have ever met Shaun, you know this isn't his usual style, and so I was so impressed and appreciative. We had a really wonderful time. On Friday, he took me to a spa while he did the running around delivering children to grandparents and aunts. I was pampered and polished...I felt like a queen. Then it was off to surprise number 2...I had no idea where we were staying. Getting there just added to the mystery, because he got a little lost on the way, and I didn't see anything that resembled a resort near the intersection we kept circling. It turned out that we were headed to a beautiful little bed and breakfast nestled right in downtown Orlando. I had no idea it even existed, and it was so perfect because it really captured to feel of the place we were married in. We had a charming room with an antique four poster bed and a fireplace in the room. We freshened up, and he told me we were going to walk to dinner. It was a perfect night for it...the weather has been great here. He lead me to this amazing chophouse for a really fantastic meal. The next day we slept in, did a little shopping, had another wonderful meal with some friends... The entire weekend was really picture perfect, and I feel so lucky to have such an amazingly thoughtful husband. Thank you for the last 10 years, baby....looking forward to many many more.

Christmas programs

My oldest two gave me the treat of watching them perform in the Children's musicals at Church. Ashtyn was an angel with the Joyful Noise choir...she did beautifully, as did the entire choir, and my girl looked so precious. Mason was a shepherd in the Little Treble Makers (that's him- to your left of the boy with the gold hat thingy).

They are 3, 4 and they were quite amusing. The run through before went much better then the actual performance. Mason was belting it out on round one. By the time the actual show began, he was jumping back and forth from one foot to the other and staring off into space most of the time. There were angels lying down on stage...other angels trying to drag them to their feet....wise men taking off their turbans....and good old Joseph, holding it all together, singing his little heart out in front of the mic. The entire thing was too funny. They have a very fitting name, dont they?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Decking the Halls

So, my house is all decorated,time for a bloggy makeover! Here are some of the pictures that didnt make it onto the header. I thought I was being slack by not making it to a studio for professional pictures. Who needs a studio!?

I also got my picture ready for the Christmas cards. Here's hoping I actually get them out in time.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Tree Trimming and the Polar Express

Yesterday morning Kenzie and I found ourselves with a quiet morning all to ourselves. So we set about the task of putting up the Christmas tree. I like to do the 'boring' parts myself, and save the ornaments for Ashtyn and Mason to help with. So my faithful young assistant and I set to work. At first, I couldn't get her to stop crawling under the tree.

Then, she started the drunken sailor walk, toddling around the room.

She must have gotten bored with all of the fluffing of branches and stringing of lights, because she started to look for other things to do. She cooked a little in her kitchen (that's a pan lid in her mouth- silly girl).

Then she fixed her hair.

Had to give teddy a hug....

Eventually, the job did get done...and I got all 20 messes she made in the process picked up as well. When Ashtyn got home from school and Mason got back from working with daddy, they helped me put on all the ornaments. Here are the fruits of our labor:

After the work was done, we enjoyed a "breakfast dinner" of bacon and eggs, waffles, and cinnamon rolls...mmmmm.

Then we all sat down together to watch the Polar Express. You see, I was anticipating our big plans for today, and I wanted to create a proper amount of excitement. We spent the afternoon today at Sea World, and every year at this time they transform the Wild Arctic into the Polar Express Experience. You get to take a simulated train ride straight to the North Pole and see Santa himself (smarty pants Ashtyn informed me that that wasn't the real Santa- he was too busy with work at the real North Pole- all of this was just pretend) I am just glad Kenzie didnt cry when I stood next to him.

Because she wasnt having any part of getting near this big-headed Santa!

Do you have your decorations out yet?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Tokmok Reunion

One of the many perks of living in Central Florida is that eventually, most of my far off blog friends will come to me! Yeah- you know you want to take the kiddos to the "happiest place on Earth". Go ahead...and give me a call when you get here. Over Thanksgiving week, we were lucky enough to spend some time with three other fellow bloggers, and Kyrgyz adoptive families. The fun kicked off on Monday night, with a girl's night out for the mommy's- Rachel, Gen, Jackie, and I...and Jackie's good friend M, who was really nice and fit right into the mix. Do I need to tell you what a luxury it is to have dinner while chatting with 4 wonderful women, be able to eat your food while it is hot, and not have to entertain anyone, cut anyone else's food, for take anyone to the bathroom? It was awesome...I had such a nice time. Then on Tuesday, the real adventure began. We met at Animal Kingdom with a grand total of 9 kids (all under the age of 7...5 one year olds) and 5 adults, and we even hopped over to Magic Kingdom before the day was done. Crazy you say? Perhaps, but I would call it a huge success. True, we didn't actually go to that many individual attractions, and yes, moving from point A to point B wasn't exactly simple. But I think it is safe to say the adults enjoyed each other's company, and that of the children..and the kids were smiling and laughing for the majority of the day. Yes, there were a few tears due to missed naps or separation anxiety, but seriously- 5 one year olds! And with a 3 year old and a 4 year old boy- we successfully avoided full-on, ugly meltdown! (Mason did cry when he hurt his hand...oh well, that is understandable.) We had a great time, and it was surreal to see the "Tokmok girls" together again. I want to say they are all within 5 months of each other, and all from the same baby house. Admittedly, at one year old, they didn't do too much actual playing together, but we are hoping the the coming years to foster a beautiful friendship there. And handsome little man Michael will be the object of their affection (except for his sis, Phoebe, who will be rolling her eyes and saying "GROSS!" when the other girls confess they think he is "so cute!") The original plan included a wrap up trip to Sea World on Sat, but by that time, poor Jackie, Phoebe, and Mackenzie were all sick, so we opted out of that one. Hope everyone is feeling better! I would love to do it again sometime.

***I have delayed posting this, in hopes of finding my temporally misplaced camera so I could add more pictures- other than the one I stole from Rach. These ladies can attest to the fact that I have to have the single worst case of "mom-brain" ever! I am sure it will turn the meantime, let me go ahead and post. Seriously, I used to have brains...I even graduated cum laude...if that means anything at all.***

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Here are the tiny BFFs again- Scarlett and Mackenzie. Rachel and I got together for a play date again the other day, along with another PAP in our area. There were also 4 preschool aged boys between all us- if you have boys, you'll understand why it was impossible to get a group picture of them to post here. They were too busy racing monster trucks, spinning, climbing, and basically running everywhere! Good times. I am so glad that there is the promise of more Kyrgyz kiddos in our area, too! I have pictures from another even bigger Tokmok reunion to share, but you will have to wait...I am still recovering!

Monday, November 17, 2008

First Steps

She has done it! Mackenzie is walking! Actually, she has been taking a few steps here and there for awhile now. She is growing more confidant every day. She is now up to 6-8 in a row, and will stand up in the middle of a room. We are so excited for her. She always has a huge grin when she is practicing- she knows it is something special. While her little Frankenstein steps are adorable, she is so much faster at crawling, she tends to favor it still. It wont be long, though, before she is officially a toddler! Come to think of it, is today the 17th? She is 16 months old today! Let's see if I can get this video to upload...third time's a charm, right?


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Family Time

So, my husband has taken the leap and changed jobs. He is back into the realms of self employment, partnered with a very talented well connected former co-worker from his previous job. So far so good (I admit, I am nervous, I am trying to be supportive here). The point of sharing this here is that there are definite benefits to being self employed, especially in a manner that involves working from home- we are seeing so much more of him! In the last few days alone, we have gone to a medieval fair, went out for pizza and pottery painting, and tonight we discovered a skateboard park in a neighboring town. It has been so nice to spend so much quality family time together. On the downside, we have had several instances of random illness in the process- gotta love taking your girl on a run for the bushes while at the fair! Let's just say poor Ashtyn didnt enjoy the jousting as much as we thought she would. But Mason and Kenzie had a blast. Sorry I dont really have pictures to share right now- I have been bad about forgetting my camera recently!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mackenzie's First Halloween

Here are a few pictures from Mackenzie's first Halloween. I think we made sure she got to experience it all. With the way she has learned to recognize a trick-or-treat bag and throw a little fit until she gets a piece of candy, I think she enjoyed it!

Last weekend we went downtown to get treats at all the little shops. She wore Ashtyn's first ever dance recital costume, since the official costumes were not ready to be debuted quite yet. She was an adorable little snow bunny...and she loved those dum-dums!

Here she is "helping" carve pumpkins

Here she is the day of Halloween...the shirt reads "I love my mummy, and mummy loves me!" This is one of my favorite smiles.

Also on Halloween Day- Uncle Cliff's 80th birthday! He is an amazing man, a retired minister...I have him to thank for leading both of my parents to Christ, and thus, in many ways, for my own salvation. And here is Kenzie with her grandpa- stealing all of his ice cream.

Mackenzie's official costume was a unicorn...except she wouldn't keep on the horn. Here she is after it all was winding down, raiding her brother's treat bag. Caught red handed, and not a bit of remorse.

All of us at Sea World's Spooktacular

Lady Ashtyn

Sir Mason

Knight, Princess, and little unicorn with the garden crew at Sea World.

Friday, October 24, 2008

First trip to Disney World

Mackenzie had her first trip to Disney World yesterday. We went with my good friend from Home in Hawai'i, compliments of a maingate held by a good friend from church (thank you again S and T- it was great!!) The day began at 8:30 am, and we went for a good solid 12 hours. That is the stuff of crazy tourists from the north (love you all!)- not my usual approach as a local. But, despite Kenzie only taking a 20 minute nap all day, they were all having such a good time, and the weather was so perfect for it, we just kept going. Boy, am I tired today! How are you Kerry?

We started off at Animal Kingdom...insider's tip- go early in the AM, when the animals are most active. We went on the safari, and everything was out and about.

I could have almost touched these rhinos!

Ashtyn and Kerry- check out that tiger!

At the dino dig- Kenzie loves to dig.

Helping out her bro.

From Animal Kingdom, we headed on over to the Magic Kingdom. They were all decked out for their Halloween party- it was really cute.

Magic Kingdom

How's that for a pumpkin?

6, going on 16. What a ham.

Philharmagic the shades.

Rockin those shades!

What happens when they get out of line at the Magic Kingdom.

We kept 'em straight!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mad Skills

Just after shooting this clip, Mace said 'Maybe I dont need skateboarding lessons now" :) I have to admit, he is doing pretty good...the boy has mad skills!:)
(Can anyone tell me how to rotate this video?)


Kenzie is Mason's #1 fan...she was cheering him on the whole time.

Sorry to leave Ash out again- she keeps being at school when the camera comes out. We will catch her later this week. It is a long weekend, so hopefully we will have some good times.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This and That

How is that for a smile!? I'm telling you...she smiles with her entire body!

These are Ashtyn and Mason's funkins. You know- those fake pumpkins. Now, I am usually a pumpkin carving kind of girl. But I thought we would give these a try...especially after I found the cute monster attachments (think Mr. Potato Head) for 50% off. The kids had fun, but it wasnt quite the same a digging out the seeds, so I think we will still have to try to find a pumpkin patch. Maybe that will help it feel like fall. 79 is as low as we have gotten so far- it felt great, but I am still trying not to get jealous of all of the leaves and mums and pumpkins by blogger friends have been posting lately.

This is Mason with his swim class...he is to the teacher's left. And is now dunking his entire head underwater...willingly. Ahhh...the things our children will do to please...someone else!

Kenzie was a regular social butterfly at this birthday party the other day- she went to the birthday girl's uncle, her dad and her mom...and she hardly ever sees them at all. She is getting to be so friendly- I think she is getting more and more confident in the fact that mommy and daddy are a constant, so it is getting to be OK to visit a little. I am so glad!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Swim lessons, bus rides, and a walking coach...

It is getting shamefully long between posts for me. I still check in with all of the blogs I follow every day- I just dont usually feel inspired to write anything myself.

Mason is in swim lessons finally. (Yes, it is still plenty warm enough here for swimming- perhaps you are jealous of that...not me...I want fall- pumpkin patches and corn mazes and changing leaves!) The lessons were a birthday gift from grandma (yea- thank you again!). So far, he has only done one, as the second got rained out yesterday. His teacher is a young kid- 16 maybe- surfer type. Mason is impressed ("His hair is like GOLD" he told me). Which is good, b/c hopefully Mason's desire to be cool for the teacher will outweigh his fear of going under. As long as his head is above water, he loves the pool. He'll practice the kicking, his arm strokes, blowing bubbles...anything we ask of him. Just dont ask him to go under. Hopefully that will improve in the next few weeks. He has announced that he wants skateboarding lessons next, and he keeps asking me if I have signed him up yet. Now, where on earth would we find anyone else crazy enough to let their 4 year old ride a skateboard, much less give them lessons to go on ramps and things like Mason is envisioning? Maybe if he can mange to stop thumb sucking we can arrange something!

I finally commited to letting Ashtyn ride the bus home in the afternoons. Big step for me- I have a hard time dealing with my fear of exposing her to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Within the first week of riding there was an incident where someone had stolen a whistle, the bus had to turn around and go back to school, administration had to come on the bus and "yell" at them...all the middle schoolers had to get off and empty their bags. Poor baby, she told me "They were all yelling and saying bad words, and I just wanted to cry!" I wanted to cry too when she told me. But, wise child that she is, she assured me "Dont worry Mommy, I know I should never say those bad words." Sweetie, I am sorry you even had to hear them. I am sticking to the bus plan though- it is so much better for the little ones- that is an hour they spent in their carseats every day. Now instead, Kenzie can finish out her nap, and Mason can ride his bike to the bus stop to pick up his sister. Kenzie likes the walk, too.

Kenzie is still not walking yet (trying not to get paranoid, here). She is making progress though. Ashtyn has become her personal walking coach, and spends almost all her free time escorting her around the house with Kenzie gripping her fingers. Kenzie can walk now with just one hand for support, and has attempted (unsuccessfully- with an amusing level of self confidence) to stand up in the middle of a room. She is so funny- she does it out of the blue, with no warning at all, and she acts like she just knows she will get it this time. So it is this sudden jerk upwards, followed by a disappointing topple down. Poor baby, it is so hard not to laugh!

So, nothing real exciting going on here. They do keep me entertained!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Post placement

I recently put together pictures for our second post placement report ( love it!) We have to send reports twice a year for the first 3 years, complete with a social worker's report and pictures. After that, we get to do the same on our own....for forever I think! Honestly, I cannot remember how many years. I dont mind really- it helps keep adoptions from Kyrgyzstan going by reassuring the officials that these kids are in loving homes and doing well. I do feel bad that I cannot seem to get it together enough to do these reports on time- I keep forgetting about the state certification step and how looooong it takes! Anyway- in no particular order...(minus the cool Tokmok friends page b/c it had names on it I am not a liberty to share here)...