Friday, December 30, 2011
Some photos: the crowns... those are from our tradition of doing "poppers" on Christmas Eve. Each one comes with a crown, a small toy and some jokes. Even guests have to participate :)
So after we were all stuffed, we moved on to Christmas gifts. We laughed at how quickly Coen got the hang of opening gifts. The Beagles gave him his first "coming home" gift and he just held it. He had no idea that he needed to unwrap it. Those times are long gone. He can unwrap any gift in about 2 seconds flat!
One guess as to who gave the boys these shirts... ah, it's so true too!
Usually sunglasses give Coen a kind of "Ray Charles" look, but these new shades from GG and the rockin' guitar from Auntie... I'm thinkin' more Lenny Kravitz. I wish I had a video of the way we moves when he is holding this guitar. He owns it!
We have his birth certificate from Ghana, but sometimes you need a certified copy (like if he ever wants to adopt a child from Ghana - he'll need a certified copy dated within 3 years if things are as they are today). We didn't want to risk his needing one and having to somehow contact someone in Ghana in an office that currently doesn't have an electronic filing system and might not have any record of him.
So today, we went before a very nice judge and completed the process. The judge wanted to stress the importance of our family and encouraged us to realize the responsibility we have not only as parents, but to our community and nation. He applauded us for being a committed couple that seemed to value each other and our family. He made Chris promise to say he loves me every day (he already does at least twice) and to thank me for being his wife before going to bed. He then added that I should follow suit. :)
I can only imagine the sad cases that this man faces as a family court judge. I am so incredibly blessed to be married to such an amazing partner and it was nice to be reminded that what we have is special and shouldn't be taken for granted.
Without further ado...
Hmm.. is that all it takes? An apron?
Both boys have been making me smile with all their talking lately. Both are saying please and thank you for EVERYTHING without prompting. Today, Carter even thanked the waitress for brining Coen a new fork: "Tank you for binging my brodder a new fork!" Coen is just blowing out minds with his verbal skills. He not only can say whatever he wants, but he seems to really understand the meanings. He now even asks to be excused from the table when he is done eating and seems to honestly get the concept!
Why we don't have anything worth anything in our home.
Also, why mommy is cranky when daddy gets home.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Then, it was on to our tradition of Mickey Mouse pancakes for breakfast. This year, he wanted to help make them.
**I tired to upload a video, but it's not working right now...
He opened one more small gift from us, a board game and then the party died down until about 3 when Grandma Cupcake & Ralph, Auntie Lindsey and our NEW Uncle Matt, and GG arrived. Carter then got to open more birthday presents!
A new bike helmet from Grandma Cupcake
He read this card out loud "It says Happy Birthday to me!"
After all the birthday presents were opened, it was time to move on to Christmas Eve dinner!
I cannot believe that I have been a mom for 3 years. Just today, I ran to the store and left the boys with Chris and when I got to my car, for a split second, I thought "wrong car, this one has car seats." Seriously. And yet, almost every other moment of the day my thoughts revolve around my little men.
Today, my Big Boy turns 3. He makes me happy everyday as I watch him take after his dad. He is caring, kind and considerate. Watching him grow this past year and take it all in has been remarkable. I don't believe there are many two year olds who "get it" with adoption, but he did. From the time he saw Coen's (kiki) photo he took on the role of big brother. He was ready to love him and take care of him. The transition since bringing him home has been amazing, especially on Carter's part. He readily shared mommy, daddy - even Grandma and Papa. He treats all HIS toys and THEIR toys. He makes me so proud.
I won't lie, I got watery-eyed when he stopped calling himself "Caca" and starting saying "Carter". Then again when he dropped the "kiki" and went to Coen. Everyday he is turning into a true Little Man. While I miss my baby I am loving every day as I get to know this little person a little bit more.
Happy Birthday Sweet Little Man
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Which is always followed by this smile/laugh 'cause he knows he is just so hilarious:
I also came across these photos. I took them the first week he was home. I was trying to capture this photo, but it is actually the last one I took:
Sweet looking little man with daddy. But first, I caught these two have-to-have photos:
My Grandmother showed up at my house Friday afternoon. She is usually well-planned for and helps to bring relief to Chris and I. But this time, this time, her arrival added a tidbit of stress. You see, she was a surprise. Not for me. For my mom. For my sister's wedding.
Let me back up. My sister got married to an amazing man on Saturday! I've known about the wedding and have been helping with wedding favors, ordering flowers, making place cards, etc. for about a month, but almost all of the guests at the wedding - had no idea they were attending a wedding. She and I had lied to grandma and told her she was being flown up for a surprise party for mom's birthday. Mom thought she was attending a "meet his side of the family dinner". Oh the lies!!! They were exhausting! So, having grandma hear just meant I had to think harder and make sure to avoid mom and remember which lie I was telling. I even had to leave grandma at home when I took the boys to see Santa at Audigy Group on Friday since my mom works there too!
The wedding was beautiful. Heartfelt. Fun. Sweet. Perfect! Photos to come.
At the request of an invitee, I planned to hold Carter's birthday party today. The day after. To say the least, it was a bit much for one weekend. It was even more to do the weekend before Christmas. We all know how it is. Stuff comes up the weekend before Christmas. It's why you don't throw the party the weekend before Christmas. Some guests had legitimate excuses for changing their RSVP, others did not. Right up until the last hour, we had people canceling. We had a guest list of 10 kids, but ended up with Carter, Coen and 2 friends.
Because we had so many kids on the list, we decided to have it at the Kids Club in Vancouver. It has an amazing jungle gym play area and I figured it would relieve the stress of keeping my house clean since I would have house guests for Lindsey's wedding. I honestly don't think I would have had an actual party this year at all except that we will be having Coen's 1st birthday party next month and I didn't want Carter to think he get the short-end of the stick so, we decided to throw him a party too.
We decided on an Elmo theme so I put Carter in his Elmo shirt. I figured it wasn't Coen's party so, I wouldn't put his one, but Carter insisted!
Grandma Cupcake decorated the cake!
The kids had a blast playing and we then had pizza and cake. For a large party it's great. For 6 adults and their children, it's a bit too much. We really could have had the party at our house had we known how everything would turn out. It was a glorified play date. Carter's friends Henry, Elliot, and Sanya were there and I'm pretty sure they had a good time. Check out the photos and video.
I took this a week ago or so, but am just now finally loading it. Their Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is quite a bit improved now :)
Friday, December 16, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
My sweet little man. He had such a rough one today and it started at 1 a.m. He wasn't feeling well last night and we were woken up with Carter "making a mess" as he used to call it. He has grown-up so much that this time he looked at me as daddy cleaned him up and said "Mommy, I puked in my bed on the left" (as if I would think he did it in the other bed in his room). He slept in our room the rest of the night after getting everything cleaned up.
**** This next part if a bit graphic****
This morning he was acting fine so, he came along with me to an appointment where they have day care. It was 10 minutes. Tops. I heard him crying and when I got to him his mouth was full of blood. The girl who was watching him was apologizing repeatedly and said something about him falling off a stool and biting his tongue. Long story short, he seriously took a chunk out of the middle of his tongue. I was about to run him to the E.R. but my sister informed me that they can't do anything all to help. Just give him ice. We did that and some water and he seemed OK within about 15 minutes.
The rest of the day was touch and go. One minute he would be completely fine and running around with Coen. The next, he would milk his tongue injury or get feverish on me. I have him sleeping on our bedroom floor tonight so that I can keep an eye on him. He thinks it is the greatest thing ever to sleep on our floor with blankets! At bedtime, he was clueless that he is sick.
I always say that there is no way I could be a nurse like my sister. I don't do well with blood and bodily stuff... Odd, I'm not a nurse, but as a mom, I ended up on-call 24/7 for all of it. Thank goodness God gives moms special "do-what-it-takes-for-your-kids-without-thinking-about-it" powers and he gave me a super hero dad who helps!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
A little background..
It used to be that when Coen would cry and I asked Carter what happened, he would look at me and say "I just hit him" or whatever the case would be. He realized a couple of days ago that he can say "anything... Carter not do anything" instead of coming clean.
So yesterday he tried this with me twice. One of the times he finally gave in and told me that he had "sort-of" bitten Coen. It clearly wasn't a true bit based on Coen's reaction and the absence of marks (not like the bites that Coen gave Carter the first week), but he still needed time-out for the offense. Adding the lying turned time-out into time-out in his room alone. I don't remember the other instance now, but I do remember his lying to daddy when he got home. It went like this:
Chris: Carter, what did you just do?! (Sounding horrified)
Carter: Anything (shrugging his shoulders)
Chris: Carter! You do NOT wipe your nose on your brother's head. His head is NOT a sponge. I saw you do it!
Chris sent him to time out, but mommy jumped in and doubled it to time-out in his room for lying to daddy instead of confessing and apologizing.
It was time for Honah to step in. Carter seemed to understand the letter. He apologized again this morning and asked Honah to tell Santa that he would be good and not lie to mommy and daddy any more. I also heard him telling Auntie all about it today so, I think it has sunk in.. we'll see.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Did I mention that we had water damage in our laundry room recently? Yep, right before we found out that we were sharing our home with 3 opossums. Turns out that the water damage was covered, but the opossum issue was NOT. Dealing with the unwanted house guests was not an option. Luckily, I have an amazingly talented husband so, fixing the flooring ourselves was an option that saved us money and allowed us to use the insurance money to take care of those nasty critters.
I love the new floor that Chris put in today. It almost makes me thankful that the washing machine sprung a leak. We never would have switched out the floor otherwise and I think it looks so much better!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
At dinner he got in trouble for screaming and melting down as I started to cut up his food. He thought I wasn't going to let him feed himself. Punishment at our house is not getting to eat until the crying stops and an apology is made. The crying stopped quickly, but he would NOT apologize. We kept saying, "Coen, say sorry" and he would just turn away. Carter jumped in with "he's a baby. He can't talk." If only this were the case. It took about 15 minutes, but we finally got him to copy me one word at a time "mommy, I am sorry"...
Hours later I asked him to say sorry just 'cause. He immediately said "sorry!"
Yep. Strong willed.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Fast forward a little bit and I'm greeted by our neighbor telling me that his kid saw an opossum go under our house. Great, I'll add it to my list. And I did. Today when the pest control guy came he did not have good news for us. Not one, but 3 opossum under our house and they have been busy making a mess down there. An almost $3000 mess. Again, I'm told that insurance will LIKELY cover it, but will cost us the $1000 deductible.
Man.. We are hemorrhaging bills over here this month.
We celebrated Coen's first Thanksgiving at Auntie Jeanette's house this year with a TON of Mintens! The Westlunds are always so kind in opening their home to anyone/everyone on Thanksgiving and we always have so much fun catching up with family and seeing how big all of the kids have gotten. This year, Coen was the youngest great-grandchild, but that didn't stop him from jumping right in to play when we arrived.
You never know if you are going to get the shy Coen or the anyone-can-hold-me Coen. On this day, we got the latter which I loved! He had so much fun with all of his 2nd cousins and got love from everyone.
All the great-grandchildren took photos with Papa Ron and GG Lois (Nope, this isn't ALL of their great-grandchildren)
We spent the night at Grandma and Papa's and of course, they had a fun surprise for the boys. I don't even know what these are called, but they are FUN!
Tonight is the night. We are finally having our first date night since Coen came home. It's the office Christmas party and we are going all out and spending the night out too! The boys will be with their sitter that Coen has been getting to know until Auntie Lindsey gets off work. Then, because she has to work in the morning, she enlisted soon-to-be-Uncle-Matt to come over bright and early to watch the boys. I can't believe how lucky we are to have so much support!
We had a blast last night! The party was really fun and with my borrowed dress, I was able to splurge and get my hair did (as my sista would say). We slept until all of about 8 am. Darn. When you have kids, your clock just won't let you sleep late. We enjoyed breakfast and adult conversation (definition: a conversation during which time no one announces "I need to poo poo" or interrupts with whining or freaking out that their spoon fell on the floor).
When we got home, Uncle Matt was playing with the boys in the playroom. The dishes were all cleared and in the dishwasher and we got to hear all about the pancakes (in the shape of Christmas trees no less) that the boys enjoyed earlier.
We have GOT to do this more often - not sure if the Rios clan agrees :)
Friday, December 2, 2011
The other day we had quite the surprise. Auntie Lindsey came by and told us that Santa had given her an Elf on the Shelf for the boys. He came with a book and told us that he would watch the boys each day and then at night, while they sleep, he flies back to Santa to give a report. When he returns in the morning, he finds a new place for the day. The boys are not allowed to touch him else he loose his special magic. In order to get things in motion, the boys had to give him a name. Carter immediately chose Honah. It sounds like Jonah (or at least it does now... it started off kind of like ho NAAAAAA).
Silly Honah has already ridden on one of our reindeer decorations and sat up in our kitchen chandelier.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Fast forward and we decide it is time to get it trimmed up a bit. I looked online for a salon/barber shop that specialized in African hair and decided on All Teased Up in North Portland (or No.Po. as we call it). We spoke with the female barber who told us that we needed to comb out his hair before it could be cut so, after about 20 minutes of crying, we were off. As we stepped inside, I knew we had found just the right place. It was a tiny little shop full of African American women doing hair and getting their hair done. The one exception was our barber who was a thin white gal with blue hair.
There was a small sign that said something to the effect of "No waiting inside. Come when it is time for your appointment 'cause this place is too small" and another sign with some rules about children not being allowed and if they had to be there, they needed to be watched and well-behaved. Apparently my children's charm was no match for this place. All the ladies were gushing over them and pulling up chairs for us to sit down. One even brought over a laptop for Carter to play a kid's game while we waited.
When it was Coen's turn, he sat on Daddy's lap with his little cape on. She buzzed the top with a 2 and the sides with a 1 and he did VERY well until the last 2 minutes or so. Now that we've seen him "cleaned up" I think we'll definitely be keeping it short for a while. He just looks so handsome! Sorry to not post an "after". I'll get one on here soon.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Where the heck was he pointing?! I didn't see any restaurants anywhere. Oh...wait....
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Me: Carter baby, why are you holding your hands up?
Carter: The song, mommy.
Chris and I look at each other and turn up the radio. Katy Perry is on singing "California". I start racking my brain. Does it say anything about hands?
Click to hear the song
Yes! VERY quickly at the end of the chorus - she says "now put your hands up." Chris and I barely caught it. Oh, dear. If can catch that in a song..... time to switch to KLOVE.
A few days later we were in a restaurant and this song came on. I didn't even notice it in the background until Carter started singing right along "Take me down, take me down.."
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I cleaned up the bed while Chris cleaned up Carter. I love having an awesome husband! When I had gotten everything into the washer I went back to Carter. His cheeks were red and he felt hot, but he smiled and said he felt fine.
I broke the news to him that tonight he would have to sleep without his pillow (which I just washed today), his blanket, and his Monkey because mommy needed to wash them. I prepared for the fussing or crying, but instead got, "thank you, Mommy."
Really?! How many 2 year olds thank their mommy for cleaning up puke?
I then told him that we needed him to sleep in the other bed in his room (no more sheets) and he was a champ "ok, mommy." We tucked him in and got ready for bed. About 20 minutes later, we repeated the entire thing.
So, now he is on the floor next to my side of the bed, happy as can be in his cool sleeping-bag-like-situation. I hope he can get some rest now. Poor guy.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Just a cute photo that I had to share. The boys and I went for a walk to gather leaves for a project. They both love their rain boots! It takes photos like this for me to remember and realize how small Coen is. He is such a little man already - going on the potty, speaking full sentences - that I forget that he is just my little baby man.
Then, I had a baby. They say that you should talk to your baby right from the start - tell them what you're doing as you put laundry away or make dinner. I think it has something to do with their development. At any rate, within a month of having Carter, I found myself talking away. The talking turned to singing. The poor thing. He was too little to talk back or ask me to stop. He just had to put up with it. Now, here we are almost 3 years later.
Me: singing some song in the car
Carter: (from the back seat) Mommy! Don't sing, just listen.
You'd think I would be offended, but he is too stinkin' cute. It takes a whole lot of adorable to get someone to smile when you tell them to stop singing.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
For the rest of you sickos :)
Coen is really kicking butt on this potty thing. I'm not pushing it, I just ask when he gets up if he needs to potty and if he says "Da" which is his version of "ya", I sit him on the toilet. No little potty for this guy. No potty seat either. He just holds himself up on the toilet with his bottom hanging in there. I've tried to get him to use the potty seat, but it really freaks him out. Immediate tears.
Multiple times now, we've been running errands and he has told me he needed to potty so, we head to the bathroom and ta da! He goes! He holds it until I have him on the potty and he goes. I'm not sure why I am so blown away by this. According to my mom, my sister and I were potty trained by 22 months, but it was so far off the radar this time last year with Carter that I am just BLOWN AWAY by this little man. It is weird to me to see someone to tiny be so verbal and so "big boy" as to go on the potty.
Ok. Just had to get it out there for record-keeping.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Of course, I then had to backtrack - I couldn't have the social worker think that we were unprepared and living in a fantasy world - "I mean, we'll have his photo to look at for so long before we bring him home, that I think by the time we finally have him home, we will feel completely attached to him. We realize that he will need time."
What I didn't know then was that we would also get to spend time with him in Ghana in addition to seeing his photo everyday. And, I can say it now, I DID love him immediately. I know this is not the case for all adoptions and I count us as the most blessed people for how quickly we have bonded as a family. It almost brings me to tears how much my two little men love each other. They act like they have always been brothers (yes, even hitting and tattling when someone takes the other's toy).
As I was putting on Coen's PJs tonight, he was pointing up to his framed map and repeating as I said, "Africa" to him. Carter was playing behind me, waiting his turn for pajamas.
Me: "Carter, do you know where Coen was born?"
Carter: He kept playing and said, "Ghana".
Me: (surprised at his specific answer) "That's right! Do you know where Ghana is?"
Carter: "A long long long far away!"
Wow. It is crazy to me how they retain everything we say even when they don't appear to be listening or can't respond. It is like he has an encyclopedia in his head of things I've told him and he can just pull it out when he needs it. You would think that knowing exactly where Coen came from, he would be confused about where babies come from and be asking when we will go to the airport for another child. Nope. He gets that babies grow inside mommies and that he grew inside me. After asking repeatedly, he does understand that mommy does NOT currently have a baby growing. He was a bit bummed by that.
I do wonder, if he knows where he came from and he knows where Coen came from, how does he put that all together? He never questions the difference of their origins. This is one of the sweetest things. He doesn't question it. Coen is his brother from Ghana. His "baby". His "kiki". They just ARE brothers. He just IS my son.
I can't believe it has only been 2 months.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Ahhhh.. The quiet that is life with 1 awake and 1 asleep! Some won't believe it because this is the only version they have seen of Coen, but he is my crazy/wild/loud child. He LOVES anything that resembles a car. If it doesn't resemble a car, say he bit of pizza at dinner, he'll go ahead and make car noises and "drive" it around his plate.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
1) I never thought that I would ever think it was cute that a boy would want to hold my hand as he sat on the toilet trying to poop. Turns out, it is pretty darn cute when it is your 2 year old who just wants your company while he waits to be "ready."
2) Coen Kwasi, at just 22 months, WENT ON THE POTTY! He has been asking constantly to go on the potty, but when I put him up there, he sits for about 2-5 minutes and then says "I did it!" Apparently, he thinks that is what it is all about, just sitting. Tonight, as Chris got him out of the bathtub, something clicked. He told Chris he needed to "pee pee". Chris put him up there and viola! He is NO where near ready for potty training, but he is starting to get the concept and really wants to do EVERYTHING that Carter does so, I'm sure he'll be insisting on doing more sitting.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Carter: We've hit the "why?" stage. You know what I'm talking about. No matter what I say, he follows with "why?" followed by my answer followed by "why?". It is driving me up the wall.
Coen: When he gets in trouble and I tell him "no" he lets out this horrible whine as if to say "But I wanna!!!!!!!" I think it's ridiculous that he does something wrong and then punishes me more by whining when I tell him no. It's a no win.
Coen #2 (yep, he has 2 right now): No matter what Carter has, he HAS to have it right now. Toy. Banana. You name it. When I tell him no - refer to the above habit.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Last minute, we were joined by the Woodruff's and our little buddy "Baby Henry". They boys were so cute together. Carter held on to Henry in the wagon and Henry even crawled to the door of a few of the houses.
The Famous Child: After saying "Trick or treat" and getting his candy, the lady says to me as she points to Carter "he looks so familiar! Is he on a blog?". I told her that we have a family blog, but no, that wasn't it... Then I suggested A Cottage Industry, my mom's blog and the light bulb turned on. "Yes! That's him! Honey, I know this child from a blog!"
Welcome!: The very first home we went to, the lady opens the door and warmly says "Hello Sweetheart!" and Coen took that as an invitation to head in and watch TV. Chris had to go all the way in and get him from sitting on the ground in front of it. He got better with each house, but we still had to pull him back from going in to some houses a few times.
My brother's coming: Carter was moving faster than Coen so he ran ahead to the door. After getting his candy, he informed the man, "My brother is coming" as the guys was closing the door. What a sweetheart to look after his brother!
Prince Coen: Chris and Coen called it quits before Carter and I. When we got home, Chris called me over "Look at Prince Coen!" He was laying down with his head on Chris' lap as Chris put the sucker to his tongue for him to like. What a rough life!
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
His verbal skills blow me away!
Overall, he is doing great. On our last visit he was 31.5 inches and weighed 22 lbs. Yesterday, just 6 weeks later - 33 inches and 24.3 lbs. That's an inch and a half in 6 weeks! I had heard that international adoptees experienced such growth, but I didn't think we would see it with Coen as he seemed to be so healthy and "well fed" (as far as the amount of food goes), but Dr. V. pointed that out and added that the boost in emotional support also has an impact on their growth. He also said that he has never seen a growth spurt so drastic in a child Coen's age. I think his words were "that is impressive." He jumped from the 20% for height up to the 40%. We thought he was small, but it turns out, he really is small (relatively speaking). The lowest percentile that Carter EVER was for height was 75% and he usually was like 90%. At some point he should level out and then follow the curve for height and weight.
He also received 3 vaccinations and we'll be going back almost monthly to get him caught up on everything else. We also had blood drawn to be tested for a few things that are concerns for children coming from Ghana. We'll have the results in the next few days and can address anything that needs to be addressed.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
This is about as quiet as it got at our house while Isabelle and Bronson were here with our boys. They LOVED playing hide-n-seek with Daddy. Notice their adorable PJs that Auntie Lindsey got them!
The professional photographer that I am - I have NO idea how I captured this, but this is pretty much how it felt around here. One sitting still, everyone one else running or running after a child.
A couple of nights we had 8 adults for dinner so that meant 2 in highchairs (one borrowed from a friend) and 2 in time out - I mean, 2 sitting at a table using the time-out chair.
Bronson (16 months ), Isabelle (33 months ), Coen (21 months), Carter (34 months )
Yep, this pretty much captures it. Miss Isabelle always the lady and my crazy little man. These two were hilarious together! They held hands CONSTANTLY, even walking from the dining room to the playroom, and Isabelle was full of sweet little hugs and kisses for her favorite cousin.
Can you get enough of this little man? Me neither! Now if only he would sit still long enough to let me hug on him, I'd be one happy Auntie!
More to come...