Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nancy's special birthday surprise

Well, I am not as good at writing posts as my wife, but today's post is all about celebrating Nancy's birthday which was yesterday, August 22nd. The boys and I planned a special day for her which involved the following events:

1. Hot chocolate time with the boys and Anya in the morning.

2. A trip downtown to visit one of her favorite coffee places.

3. Some time at a local spa...Modacapelli.

4. Lunch with friends at a restaurant overlooking the Fox River.

5. Cake and presents back at home with our parents.

Our family cannot say enough about how much we appreciate Nancy as a wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law and friend.

Happy Birthday Nancy!

We love you.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Indianapolis trip

Top: Our family at the zoo.
2nd photo: Kandi and Zane
3rd photo: David and Adam
4th photo: Sananda and Olivia (Lynda's girls) amuse Anya Rashi.
5th photo: David and Sananda up to mischief -- standing on a big rock!

Top: Anya Rashi and David are ready for dinner!
2nd photo: Anya Rashi and Sananda in the back yard.
3rd photo: Sananda, Anya Rashi and David by the tool bench.
4th photo: Christin and David.
5th photo: Lynda and Sananda.

Wow. How do I sum up an amazing weekend in a few paragraphs? Our whole family piled into the van and headed south to Indianapolis to meet new friends and visit old and dear ones.

The first half of the weekend was spent meeting some of Anya Rashi's orphanage buddies and their families. Since December when she joined our family, we have been keeping in touch with others who adopted from the Matri Sneha baby home in 2007. It is important to all our families to maintain this connection with our children's first friends and cribmates. We met the families of David, Sananda, and Zane.

Friday night was a family cookout at David's grandparents' home, and the moms and dads spent lots of time ooohing and aaahing at each others' kids. The food was delicious, and David's grandparents were so kind to open their home to us. It was quite a crowd! Between the three families at the cookout, there were 10 children.

We heard a lot about everyone's travels in India and their adjustments once they arrived home. We also got a chance to find out why each family was drawn to adopt from India. Each story was its own little miracle, and it was clear that God had a distinct purpose for each family's journey.
In an unbelievable coincidence, we discovered that Peter and Adam (David's dad) had met before! A few years ago, Adam's band Ashworth played at our church. When he saw Peter, he thought they'd met before, and the two of the them pieced it together. Incredible!

On Saturday morning, we all met up at the zoo. We rambled through some really terrific animal habitats, and had fun watching as the kids got to pet sharks and watch a dolphin show. At lunch time, the parents took turns tag-teaming the kids and squeezing in some time to talk to each other.

For me, that was the best part of the reunion -- meeting and talking with the amazing women I've been chatting with online. Lynda, Christin and Kandi were all so warm, welcoming, and willing to share details about life with their children. It was priceless to finally have faces to picture when I "talk" to them online.

After the little kids had reached their civility threshold (read: MUST NAP NOW!!!), we left the zoo. Some of the families met for dinner that night and church the next day . . . but we had to say goodbye.

For us, it was on to the "old and dear friends" portion of the weekend. We met up with Trina and Tyler, two friends who feel like family. Tyler was my first "adopted" child, in a sense. He and Trina moved in with me during my single days, when he was just 9 months old. We lived together for almost four years, until Peter and I were married, then Trina's museum career took her to Indiana. We are still close -- Tyler is 15 and learning to drive now (yipes!) -- and it was a joy to see them.

We celebrated Aaron's and my birthdays with a pizza and sundae party on Saturday night. We had some special guests -- Trina's parents came for the weekend so they could meet Anya Rashi in person instead of just on this blog! We love spending time with them, and they treat our children like grandkids.

On Sunday morning we went to church together, then ate lunch and played bacci ball back at Trina and Tyler's house. All too quickly, it was time to start our drive back to Wisconsin.

Did I mention that our 7-hour drive home included a new pet? That's right. Just to make things interesting, we drove back with Cleo Azul, our new parakeet, courtesy of Trina and Tyler. Don't worry, we knew about the bird factor ahead of time -- it was only a surprise to Aaron and Nathan. :o)

The bird, ironically, was the best traveller of the six of us. The decrepit adults were a little sore from all the sitting, and Anya Rashi decided she was done at hour four of the drive. (Thank you, thank you, Julie, for loaning us your portable DVD player!!) Anya Rashi will not watch TV at home (too many better things to do!), but was all smiles after a dose of Elmo.

In slow traffic in downtown Chicago, we were treated to an airshow. Aaron and Nathan got to see some fighter jets flying in formation, and we heard one break the sound barrier. They swooped in and around the Sears Tower and other downtown buildings, and flew straight up into the clouds too. It sure made that part of the drive memorable!

So now, home again, we're grateful for all the blessings contained in this one weekend. Thanks to all who made it so wonderful -- Christin for organizing, Lynda and Kandi for doing similar crazy drives, and Trina, Tyler and company for a memorable birthday celebration and a new pet.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vacation week

This week will be full of adventures, since Peter has some vacation days. Yesterday and today, we played at a water park about an hour from our city. Anya Rashi and the boys had so much fun. It was also my sister's day off yesterday, so Alicia came for the afternoon too. The boys spent most of their time on the water slides, and everyone had pruney fingers and toes.

The whole adventure was a Christmas gift from Peter's brother Mark. In their family, each family exchanges names, and we all think of a gift for the entire family whose name we've drawn. When there are seven siblings, it helps cut down the Christmas chaos a little bit!

Anya Rashi is pretty fearless about getting her face and head wet, so she had a ton of fun. There was a 1,000-gallon bucket that dumped out every 5-10 minutes, and she loved watching it! We didn't go under the waterfall it created, but she got so excited every time the warning bell sounded. Each day when we left the park, she pointed back toward the park and said "Wa-wa! Wa-wa!" about 20 times.
We met a family there who adopted both of their children from Russia nearly eight years ago. They were supposed to stay in Russia for two weeks, but due to some governmental difficulties, ended up staying for 40 days! It made us even more grateful for all the behind-the-scenes work done by Dillon International, and Ms. Roy, our orphanage director.
It was fun to be approached by them -- they were very excited for us, and had much to offer about how to talk to older children about being adopted. By becoming part of the adoption community, our world has really expanded in so many unexpected ways.

The other photos were taken during a walk in our neighborhood. They were just too cute not to post!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Meeting a Matri Sneha friend

Tonight Anya Rashi had dinner with another Matri Sneha alumnus. :o) Peter and I met Ahly and her parents, Todd and Michele, at one of the Indian restaurants in our city. Ahly is now three years old, and came home from Kolkata when she was 11 months old. We are so thrilled that there's another Dillon family only 1 1/2 hours' drive away from us.

We first met them last summer after figuring out that there was another family so close by. At that time, we had only a few photos of Anya Rashi and no travel date in sight, so we drank in the reality of Ahlyana. She made the process seem so much more tangible. Todd and Michele brought their India trip scrapbook, and were so encouraging to us during our wait.

Tonight's festivities included lots of wonderful food, and the staff was very kind and interested in the girls. We were given advice about what Indian children should eat: dal with rice and butter, until 5 years of age. Anya Rashi and Ahly had their own ideas, however! On the menu for Ahlyana was cauliflower and rice, while Anya Rashi preferred nan, potato pakoras, and some chickpeas from my chana saag. Both girls loved their mango juice.

We were also celebrating tonight -- Todd and Michele just found out last month who their new son will be! He is six months old, and they've named him Dreyden. Right now, he is in the care of the loving ayahs at Matri Sneha, waiting for his mommy and daddy to bring him home.

The non-restaurant photos are of things that really illustrate Anya Rashi's personality to a tee. The photo taken on the bed is Anya Rashi defying a very silly clothing designer who made a dress with velcro closures all the way down the front. Obviously, this person has never actually met a one-year-old. The dress was off within minutes! Thankfully, she figured it out before we went to the library . . . I can just picture her streaking past the circulation desk, screeching with joy.

The second photo is a case study in what it means to have big brothers. Anya Rashi is very sweetly kissing a spidery/alien-looking Bionicle creation. Right after doing the same thing for her dollies.