31 July 2008

The "Terrific" Two's

Faith & Grace.

Funny faces.
Grace is a drama queen.

Now she hides behind Faith.

Smooches!

Now Faith stands behind Grace.

Our little songbirds.

It's been a while since I posted an update of the girls and everything that's going on in their two year-old world. It seems like these days, things change so fast. Before we can get too comfortable with one stage, they have already progressed to the next. The first thing that comes to mind is all the talking that they've been doing. Right now, they ask me a gazillion times a day, "Mommy, what's that?" or "Mommy, what are you doing?" They want to know what everything is and who everyone is. In many ways, even though the girls are talking constantly, it seems like our household is a bit quieter. I'm sure that that has a lot to do with being able to communicate with words now instead of noises. We frequently hear them settle disputes between each other by asking one another, "May I hold that please?" Then we hear, "Sure or here you go." Followed by, "Thank you." "You're welcome." It's all very sweet and warms my heart when it works the way it's supposed to!

Lately, they also like to recount stories and repeat the details. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, their 7 year-old cousin Christina fell and broke her arm. Every morning since then, they say, "Christina... fell down... broke arm... big ouwie... went hospital... doctor fix it... prayed to the Lord... all better." They also ask about family members and friends on a daily basis. They love to sing and always do so in the car, when eating or playing. Their favorite song is "We Are Family" from the birthday CD that Uncle Rich made for them. It's very appropriate and super adorable when they sing it.

They love to eat waffles, french toast, cereal, strawberries, peaches, bananas, grapes, turkey, cheese, peanut butter, granola bars, chicken, broccoli, Mexican food, beans, trail mix, nuts, and of course, ice cream (it's actually frozen yogurt but they call it ice cream). Morgan likes to take them on occasion for a special treat.

They are still taking one nap in the afternoon from about 1:00-3:00. They go to bed no later than 8:00 and still wake up at 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning. It's a nice schedule and works for us.

They also love to look at the blog, especially the videos of themselves. They are learning to recite the scripture on their bedroom wall and ask to read it every night before they go to bed. They know all of their colors and now we are working our way through the alphabet. I learned from a friend to take it one letter/one week at a time. We are on the letter D.

It's amazing to see their little minds at work. They are unique with different characteristics and strengths.

Faith is detailed, tidy, intuitive, aware, smart, patient, coordinated, industrious, and loves to read books every chance she gets. She also draws really well.

Grace is easy-going, free-spirited, light-hearted, marvelously oblivious at times, has a flair for the dramatic, loves music, dancing, colors, and letters. She can also be a little shy at first in some situations.

By God's grace, they have been incredibly healthy little girls. They have only had a couple of colds to speak of. They've never even had a diaper rash!

Yes, of course, like any other two year-old, they test their boundaries and try to navigate their place in this big world. In addition to all that, the fact that their vocabulary and speech are developing everyday can sometimes lead to frustration and discontent. I guess that's why it's called the "Terrible Two's." For the most part, we think that the 2's have been great! In fact, on occasion, I've even dared to say that this is the perfect age. Obviously, that was on a good day.
I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

For so much of their infant life, all us parents want to know is what and how they are feeling. Well, now we know and that's a great (and fun!) thing to understand and uncover.

I remember about 8-1o months ago, it was Faith that was my easy-going child. I used to think that God gave me Grace so that I could learn more about grace. She was much too much like me in many respects and believe me, one of me in this family is plenty. It's now switched for whatever reason so I don't presume that any of the above characteristics will necessarily stay the same in the future. It's been so much fun seeing their personalities develop and of course, the added speech and communication are at times, both helpful and hilarious.

When I sit back and have a moment to reflect, I think about how perfect our daughters are. Not perfect children (is there such a thing?) but perfect for us. How God destined the four of us to meet and grow together in love, family, understanding, and courage.
It was all in His Perfect plan. That's simply amazing and beautiful to me.

So then, if this was all in God's plan, I sometimes wonder what else He has in store for us? What other treasures, life lessons, callings, and blessings are lying ahead? What ever they are, I know that they will be far more adventurous and important than what my little mind can conceive. Trust in the Lord and reliability in His word make for a beautiful combination. I am slowly (and I mean slowly) learning to give up control because as I've shared before, everything that I had planned in my life didn't happen the way I thought it was going to. My life has taken me down a path towards so much more than I could have ever hoped for or imagined. For me, that means that life works best when I give up the reigns to the One who should be in control. There's so much more freedom in that. There's less to worry about, get frustrated over, and be disappointed in. Gently, over these last few years, God has shown me that obedience and trust = a down pouring of blessing. Yes, life is good... No, I take that back, it's Terrific!

29 July 2008

Our little guppies

The girls are making great progress swimming and although the last of their 12 lessons ends tomorrow, Morgan and I have decided to continue with them for as long as it takes for us to feel comfortable. We're hoping that that'll be sometime before they turn 3 but who knows. Sure, we could practice what we've learned the rest of the summer but since we don't use our pool much in the winter, we didn't want the girls to forget everything. Besides, so many of our vacations and summer months involve water and swimming. The quicker they learn how to swim, the better. The girls even love to wear their goggles and look around underwater. We can't wait to take them snorkeling! Just last week, they learned to retrieve a toy and swim back to the steps. They can now dive in and swim more than half the length of our 40 foot pool! Crazy, huh? Did I mention that these swim lessons have been one of the best investments we've ever made? Grace is doing especially well with retrieving the toy and swimming back- all without even being winded! These will be great memories to look back on as they get older.


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26 July 2008

We're back

On our way out to dinner.

Here's me, waiting for the sun to come out. It finally did at 4:00!

The hotel's atrium.

The view from our balcony.

Although it was a quick trip, it was just perfect. We stayed overnight at the Marriott Newport Beach Resort and Spa (on our points) and we were very pleased. It was a beautiful property with great service. We even had an unexpected room with an ocean view. What more could you ask for? OK, it might have been nice to be able to lay out by the pool and get a little sun but we were quickly reminded that just because it was the end of July at the beach, it didn't necessarily guarantee a sunny day. It was actually so cold and cloudy for us desert folks that we ended up going back to our room shortly after lunch. In the end, it was a good thing because we took a 2 hour nap!
And I never take naps so it was a nice surprise and treat. I joked by saying that we needed to go on vacation, just so that I could take a nap! From there, we drove a short distance to Laguna to meet Calvin and Christina for dinner. We met at one of my favorite places in Laguna, the Sundried Tomato Cafe. As usual, the meal did not disappoint and we all enjoyed it very much. It was fun catching up with family and seeing the Pageant together. More importantly, it was so nice to spend some quiet time with my man and re-energize.

Grandma came over to watch the girls on her own because at the last minute, Grandpa didn't feel well. Luckily, he's feeling much better today. Grandma and the girls had so much fun together. She even brought over fun craft projects and playdoh for the girls. She did a great job and took such good care of them, all on her own. We are so thankful that she is now in good health and has tons of energy to boot! Thanks so much, Grandma! You're the best!

25 July 2008

Laguna

Morgan and I leave for Laguna Beach this morning for our annual trip to the Pageant of the Masters. We had some extra tickets this year so we invited Morgan's cousin, Calvin and his wife Christina to join us. We're staying overnight in a hotel and spending much of today relaxing before we meet up for dinner and the show. Morgan has been away on business for the last two days so I'm looking forward to catching up and spending some quiet time together. Grandma and Grandpa G are coming over for their first, all day and overnight experience with the girls.
The four of them will have a great time!

24 July 2008

Playing with boys

Faith, Teagan, and Grace.

The birthday boy.

Teagan takes a break and watches the girls splash around.

Then the girls decide to splash him.

The girls and I went to my friend Shannon's house this morning to have a pool/playdate with Teagan. He is turning 2 on Monday and last weekend, he made the big jump to join the girls in their 2 year-old Sunday school class. He is the sweetest boy and we are so happy to welcome him into the "Terrific Two's!" The girls used to call him "Chicken" but today, we noticed that it was definitely more like Teagan. Shannon and Josh are patiently waiting for their referral to bring home their second son, Trey from Vietnam. We all hope to hear something very soon!

Thanks for a super fun morning, guys!

23 July 2008

Thankful

A special package arrived.

Beautiful blankets.

Faith shows off the pink one.

The girls had fun playing in the box, too.

Last week, we received an email from the girls' foster family letting us know that a package was on its way. It arrived late last week and the girls had fun opening the box and seeing what was inside. We are so thankful for our beloved foster family and for the fact that they continue to think about the girls and follow our blog. They will always hold a very special place in our hearts and we hope to be able to see them again someday. The girls received two Princess blankets each. One in pink and the other in yellow. They are somewhat thin so they will be perfect for a "big girl" bedspread one day soon.
So sweet and incredibly generous.

19 July 2008

Dedication Service

The girls play in the courtyard before everyone arrives.

Faith is as pretty as a flower.

Halmoni and the girls.

Grace & Faith.

Holding hands.

Smelling flowers.

Our precious children.

Pastor Jim begins by reading scripture.

The blessing...

... the dedication.

Praying with us.

Dedicated to the Lord!

Maddy & Cobi play in the fountain.

The whole gang.

Faith enjoys eating brunch with Hapajee.

Mitchell, Jen, Kyle, and Aunt Mary.

My sweet friends, Rhonda & Hailey.

Cousin Kyle kicks back with the girls.

Daddy helps Grace open her gifts.

Family and friends gathered in our home this morning to join us for the dedication service of Faith and Grace. As a Christian family, a dedication service is important to us because it signifies "giving the child back" or "presenting the child back" to God. It means that Morgan and I pledge to raise our children in the instruction of the Lord while also recognizing the great responsibility and challenge we have before us. Today's service was also about asking the Lord for His continued help, guidance and blessing on our family. Although most dedication services are usually held at church, we were fortunate to have one of the pastors from our church make a house call. Pastor Jim felt that it was equally important to have an intimate and personal setting, surrounded by our loved ones. The service was beautiful and we all enjoyed a lovely brunch afterwards. It was truly a special day and one that we will always treasure!

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old,
he will not depart from it."
-Proverbs 22:6

18 July 2008

When to say when

Trying on daddy's shirt.

Morgan and I have decided to take a little break from potty training. The girls were doing pretty well but the bottom line was that after countless times of going on the potty, they were not yet taking the initiative to go on their own. For the most part, I was constantly reminding them and asking them if they needed to go. Sure, they would have no problems going when put on the potty but otherwise, the feeling of needing to go on their own had not yet fully developed. This was a tough decision for me because I didn't want to feel as though I was giving up. After talking it over with Morgan yesterday, he helped me put it in perspective and realize that it's best to wait a little while longer. After all, we know that at this age, so much can develop and change from day to day.

Besides, I'm pretty sure my own ego started coming into play. My goodness, it's not as if there are any potty training awards! As a mom, I learned that there is a fine line and a delicate balance between pushing too hard and realizing when to say when. Consequently, there was a lot more joy in our home yesterday. Mostly because as women, we tend to spearhead the emotions of our household. No more walking on pins and needles. My sweet girls had endured enough.

Just as we thought, even in diapers, Faith asked to go potty several times yesterday. We praised her for her successes and know that Grace is not far behind. There were some real positives that happened during our time of training. The girls learned to drink out of a big girl cup, rather than a sippy cup or straw. They now happily take all their drinks from a cup. We spent more time just sitting around the kitchen table talking, drawing, coloring and reading books. And for me, this time was a constant reminder for my need and dependence on the Lord, in all circumstances. I'd say that alone was worth it.

Thank you to my dear friends for all your encouragement and prayers. Soon enough, we'll give it another go!

16 July 2008

Playdate

Playing outside in over 100 degrees?

Having fun with the sprinkler.

The girls try to drink the water.

Twin brothers, Zach & Alex.

It was time for us to get out of the house and have some fun. My friend, Andrea invited us over for a playdate with her daughter Taylor. I met Andrea through Mom2Mom last session and when I found out that she also had twin boys, I quickly invited her to join the Twins Club. I'm so happy that she has recently joined. Faith, Grace and Taylor all go to the same Sunday school class so they were pretty well acquainted. The girls had a blast playing on the covered patio. Andrea turned on the misters so the girls could play outside while remaining cool. What a nice treat that was! Thanks for a fun morning, friends!

15 July 2008

Two steps forward...

One step back. It's called regression and it happened on Sunday. Since we leave for church before 9:00 in the morning and often don't return until about 11:00 or 11:30, I made the decision to put the girls in diapers instead of their big girl panties. In hindsight, maybe I should have left them in their panties? After all, they were doing so well all week and it's not as if they don't have potty seats in Sunday school. In the past, the volunteers have even told us that the girls asked to potty there and had successfully done so. So what did I expect after more than two years of wearing diapers everyday and only a few days of being a big girl? I guess I expected a lot. As soon as we came home and I changed them into their panties, Grace had accident after accident. I think the total number was 5 for the day before I gave in and put her in a pull-up after dinner. To say that I was exhausted, spent, and frustrated is an understatement.

We had just heard a sermon that morning that spoke to me about being more gentle in my tone and words. Where did that all go?! Apparently, quickly out the door. So now, I was not only feeling exhausted and broken, I was feeling guilt ridden, too. It's not often that I cry but I found myself on the kitchen floor in tears. Morgan was out golfing on a much deserved break so he couldn't help me. I guess the emotionally and physically demanding tasks of the week just wore on me. Isn't it often though, in just those desperate moments that we meet God? As my kids sit coloring on the kitchen table, I laid there on the floor with my head hung. I did the only thing that I could- quietly cried out to the Lord and prayed. Somewhere in those few fragmented moments, God covered me in His peace. Instead of harsh words or a loud tone, He spoke to me with a gentle tenderness that I half didn't expect. He forgave me and encouraged me. He showed me His example of what loving gentleness really means.

Believe me, it's not easy for me to share my faults but in the end, giving God the glory is more important than my shortcomings. Besides, there is a powerful force in this world who gets great enjoyment out of our shortcomings. He is the prince of this world and he rejoices when we are broken. He also wants us to stay that way. How thankful I am of a God who is not only a loving and gentle Parent, He is there when I call on Him and need Him most. He is ready to forgive, encourage, and inspire. He gives me Grace. How appropriate. How Perfect. It also reminded me that I must not only surrender my day to Him but sometimes, surrendering needs to happen moment by moment.

Later that day, when I looked into my girls' faces, I saw a glimpse of God. They forgave my past, wiped it clean and joyfully loved me with open arms. I am quite certain that Morgan was supposed to be golfing on Sunday afternoon. I am also quite certain that I was scheduled to have a very intimate and personal meeting on my kitchen floor with the Lord. I have much to learn through this calling of motherhood...

12 July 2008

Dinner at Grandma's

Grandma's special treat- Sugar-free strawberry shortcakes!

Faith loves her Grandpa.

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A piano concert.

We went over to Grandma and Grandpa's in the afternoon. The girls stayed in their panties the whole time and had zero accidents!
It was the first full day that both Faith and Grace went accident free. Woo-hoo!
We had a great time and enjoyed our fun visit.
Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa!

Table for 2

Grace and mommy.

Grace gets up close, then says, "Scary."

We're blessed to see beautiful horses everyday.

The polo field on the corner.

Princess Grace.

Queen Faith rides her tricycle.

Reunited with sissy.

Grace and I spent our "special time" this morning with breakfast at IHOP followed by a stop to see the horses. Much like Faith, she is more calm and subdued when she is alone. Other than yelling, "Faith, where are you?" when we first sat down, she seemed to enjoy her breakfast and special time. Apparently, Faith got treated to a feast with daddy. He spent $21 on breakfast! Huh? Seriously?! I guess she chowed down on 6 silver dollar pancakes, eggs, sausage, and a fruit bowl! Plus, he ordered something for himself. No wonder she didn't eat any lunch!

On another note, potty training is going very well. The girls are now taking the initiative to go to the potty themselves, without being asked if they have to go. Grace had no accidents yesterday and Faith only had 2. Because they've been doing so well, I've even relaxed (just a little) and let them spend some time on the carpet. After her big breakfast this morning, Faith even went poo in the potty! Grace managed to stay dry while we were out and asked to go potty right when we came home. Another reaffirming fact.... When we put them in diapers (usually at nap and bed time), instead of going in their diapers, they call us and say that they need to go potty! I'm excited to see what this next week will bring. We'll have to venture out a little and see how that goes. All in all, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We're off to Grandma and Grandpa's for dinner this afternoon. It'll be good practice to see what happens while we're out.


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