Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow days and Christmas cookies

Hannah is ready to go play in the snow.  She can barely move, but she is ready!

Alan is shoveling.  It got to a point where the snow blower just couldn't handle all of the snow we had.  We got a foot of snow in 24 hours-plus 35-45 mph winds.  Our poor driveway was one big snow drift.

If you look closely, to the right of Sam on the ground by his foot, is a little bit of green.  Those are my bushes-the tops of my bushes.  If you look at the bottom left of my picture, you can see the wall of snow.

Baking sugar cookies.  This is day 3 of being snow bound, and I decided the roads were clear enough for us to get out.  We went to Target and got all the fixin's for sugar cookies and then had lunch at Carlos O'Kellys.  We came home, mixed up the mix, cut out the cookies and the kids got to decorate.  Such concentration.

Jacob was very patient and spent quite a bit of time on his cookies.

Sam liked to frost as many as he could.

All done, except for the eating.

And this is the face after eating the yummy cookies.

Jacob making a snow angel.

Our kids and the kid next door.

Hannah in the snow.  She kept falling down.  And then she would laugh.  Until she lost her gloves and the snow wasn't fun anymore.

Better picture of how deep the snow is.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Trimming the tree and visitin Santa

So on Friday night we decided to decorate.  This year we are heading to Texas in only 2 weeks, so we didn't decorate as much.  Our tree, stockings, and 2 nativity scenes.  Everyone got into the decorating.  Each child had ornaments they wanted to hang.  Hannah wanted to hang them all-on one branch!  I didn't mind, but it did drive Alan just a little bit crazy.  He has spent the last few days rearranging the ornaments.

Don't you love that smile!!  She was having a blast!

These are the 3 ornaments we got in Disney World this year.

Jacob and his train, Big Boy.  I think we could probably have a tree with only trains on it.  Jacob would love it, but only if he could have a dinosaur train as well.
The kids helping daddy.
Our Little People Nativity Scene.  I bought the expanded version last year and it was fun to see it together.  Which lasted about as long as it took to take this picture.

I started a new tradition with the boys.  Each year I put out my Precious Moments Navity Scene and it is my favorite thing to do.  Up until now I haven't let anyone help because I didn't want them to break it and, well, I wanted to do it.  This year both boys asked if they could help and I decided that yes, they could help.  I, of course, uttered the warning, be very careful because this is breakable.  They helped unwrap each piece and then we began to set it up.  I have an order I like to do and I decided that this year we would tell the Christmas story while put it up.  And it was fun.  And it was such a nice reminder of what this season is really about.  So now we will do this each year-I haven't decided if we should do it first, or last, but we will do it.  I love my nativity scenes.  And Hannah always looks for the baby Jesus. 

And then there is Santa.  She had seen all of the pictures I have had from the past 9 years and she likes to point out each year there was a crying child.  But she likes theory.  We went to the mall and she liked him from afar.  This is what I got once we sat her down.  How cute is she?!  I know it is a little bit like torture, but these are some of my favorite pictures.  And maybe next year I will get a smile.  Who knows? 

Friday, December 4, 2009


Well it is now December.  We had a surprising Thanksgiving.  We had this big plan to spend the long weekend together, just the 5 of us.  We would have steak on Thanksgiving, do some shopping, put up the Christmas decorations, and Sunday would be at church.  The choir was singing a fabulous song that morning, I was going to help set up the stage for our program that afternoon, followed by choir rehearsal.  Well, best laid plans.

On Tuesday, I talked to my sister and she was going to mom and dad's for Thanksgiving.  She had been having a tough time and I just was hating that I was so far away and couldn't really be there for her.  So my wonderful husband said "let's go to Texas" and so we left for Tx the very next day.  The weather was beautiful.  The kids got to play outside, my sister,niece and I spent the day shopping on Friday, Sam and Alan went with my dad and nephew to the TCU game on Saturday, while Jacob went with my mom to the Science museum.  We had a fabulous weekend.  And it was good for me to be with my sister.

The drive home was long, but so worth it.  And now there are only 2 more weeks before we go back for Christmas.  And this is going to be extra special, because my whole family will be there.  My brother and sister in law are coming in. We have probably only spent a couple of Christmas's together because it is really unpleasant for them to travel out of NY during the holidays and then they still have to split time between families.  But we get them this year and for that I am thankful.  All 4 of us kids will be together and that always makes things interesting.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

Sam wanted to be a ballplayer for Halloween.  Actually, he is Albert Pujols.  That boy loves his baseball!!Jacob had wanted to be something from Bakugan, but when we got to the store, there were no costumes in his size.  He was very disappointed and had to settle for whatever was in his size-which wasn't much.  However, once we got home and he tried on this Star Wars costume, he began to really like it.  And I think it looks great on him!!!!  Hannah was a princess, mostly because we had gotten it in Disney World this year and since we had already spent the money on it, why get something else?  Plus, she loves the princesses.  We had to stick a sweat shirt and jeans on underneath, so she would stay warm.  The weather was perfect!!  The kids didn't have to wear coats.  Alan took them out and Hannah walked most of the way.  Sam was very good about helping her at each house.  Jacob got what he wanted this year and went around with our next door neighbors.  It was so good of Laurie to take him and he had a blast!!!  We had a lot of kids this year-probably because of the weather.  I had 5 1/2 bags of candy(the other 1/2 bag had been eaten before today), then I handed out Hannah's and Sam's candy, then I began searching through the pantry for anything in a single serving. This included fruit snacks, small bags of pretzels, and yogurt covered pretzels.  Alan took Sam out again and he got some more, so he wasn't left with nothing.  And Jacob had a bunch, so we can share.  Everyone had a great time!!
This is Hannah's owie from today.  She was chasing Sam around the house, tripped and fell into the corner of the sofa.  She had a gaping hole in her forehead, so once we got it to stop bleeding, I headed for the Urgent Care.  Our Childrens Urgent Care moved, so I went to the UNMC urgent care and I was nervous. At Children's, they take care of kids.  I knew them and knew how they did things. However, this place was great.  We walked right in, had someone come right to us to get a numbing agent on her head, then they took us back, wrapped her up and stitched her up.  She screamed the whole time and it was very stressful for me. but the doctor and nurse handled it perfectly.  She only needed one stitch-which shocked me and we were back home within about 45 minutes.  Amazing.  She took her nap laying on my chest, and then was right back to running around and chasing the boys.  I just knew we were going to be back there before the day was done.  So in spite of the rocky time, we had a fabulous Halloween.  Everyone had a blast and now we are all headed for bed.  Trick or treat.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


We are a book loving family.  Here is Jacob reading "The Big Book of Boy Stuff".  Jacob is much like me in his approach to books.  We both have stacks of books everywhere.  I think that probably drives Alan crazy, but I can't help it.  I try to help it.  I will get them all put away, or taken back to the library, and then before I know it, there is another stack.  I love to read.  Mostly fiction, mainly murder mysteries dealing with serial killers, FBI profilers, or lady detectives.  Last year in Jacob's 2nd grade class, his teacher allowed him to make his little nest of books.  He loves to read so much that there are times he needs to be reminded to put his books down and do the rest of his work.  He has tried the Harry Potter books, but they are just a bit too scary.  Maybe in a few years.  His favorite books are dinosaur books, Captain Underpants,  Calvin and Hobbes, and Magic Treehouse.

Hannah also has a bit of her mama and brother in her.  Notice the nest of books around her.  She isn't content to just sit and look at one, she needs them all around her.  Her favorite books are Elmo, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 

 And then here is my Sam.  He is so much like his father.  He takes a book off the shelf, looks at it, and then puts it back.  He loves to read books about the Presidents, history, baseball, and right now he is reading Junie B. Jones. He amazes me with how much he knows about the Presidents.   I am proud of my guys.  It would be easy to just to read fiction-there is alot of good books out there, and then some not so great books, but both of my boys love to learn.  They have always looked and read books about trains and dinosaurs and cars.  And they have both taken their knowledge and impressed their teachers with it.  
I come from a long line of readers(okay, I really don't know how long the line-but everyone in my Rowell family is a reader). It is such a wonderful gift to pass down to my children and to see that blossom.  Some of my most favorite memories are reading with my family.  Okay, some of the memories are pretty recent.  It seems as if the Harry Potter books come out when I am in Texas, so my sisters, my mom, my niece and my nephew(along with myself), race to get to the books and then we race through the book.  We are pretty quick readers, so we would generally be done about the same time(mom and my sisters and I) and then we couldn't wait to talk about it.  Another of our favorite authors is Janet Evanovich.   Usually there is one copy and we can't wait to have it read.  She is laugh out loud funny, usually, so we all get a kick out of her.
Why this post?  I loved these pictures.  I loved to walk in and see Hannah surrounded by her books.  I love to see Jacob learning "boy stuff".  I love to see Sam absorbing information about the presidents.  I love that this is something that we can share together.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Hannah

Today Hannah is 3.  This is the second birthday that we have shared and next year when we celebrate her birthday, she will have spent more time with us than she did in the orphanage.  And that will be a wonderful celebration.

First I would like to recognize the people in her orphanage.  It wasn't an ideal situation, but it was better than so many.  She was loved, taken care of.  She laughed there, she was fed a nutrional formula and fresh fruit,and she grew.  She didn't have everything she has now, but for the first 22 months of her life, she had people who cared for her.  The head of the orphanage really cared for the kids-so much so that after we came home, he adopted one of the children that his group cared for.  I couldn't ask for more.

As we have thought about celebrating Hannah's birthday, I can't help but think of her birth mother.  What is she thinking?  Is she wondering how Hannah is?  Does she wonder where she is?  Has she found a way to know that Hannah has her own parents and brothers who love her?  Does she miss her?  She carried her for 9 months and she gave her life.  She left her in a place where she would be found and taken care of.  I don't know why she did this and I don't know what she was thinking.  I do know that I am grateful that she chose life for Hannah.  She could have had an abortion, or she could have abandoned her where she would never be found, but she didn't.  She chose life.

Hannah is 3 and all that encompasses.  Every day her personality comes out a little more.  She loves to get on Jacob's shoulders and have him carry her around.  She likes to sit by Sam and watch TV.  She loves to play football and chase in the backyard with her daddy and brothers.  She is really good at riding her tricycle.  And she loves to play with her babies, wrapping them in blankets and rocking them in her rocking chair.  Her favorite tv character is Elmo, but she also loves the princesses.  I look forward to the day when she will sit with me and watch the princess movies.  The boys never wanted to. :)

I look back over this year and I see how much she has grown and changed.  Gone is the toddler and in her place is this little girl who really enjoys life.  She loves to laugh and to sing.  She races to the door to say hello to her daddy.  She cuddles with mommy.  Her favorite book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I must read it every night.  She loves to eat and will eat just about anything.  She has started preschool and is doing wonderfully.  She walks right in, sits down with a puzzle, and sends me on my way.  She is secure in knowing that I will come back and get her.  We are attached.  We are family.

She is mine, but she is not all mine.  I share her with a birth mother who loved her enough to give her life, whatever her circumstances were.  I share her with a group of people who cared for her until we were ready to be together.  And I share her with my family and friends, who have accepted her as if she were born to me and loved her, and made her a part of our family.

Today she is 3.  She has been with us for 14 months-and yet it feels as if she has always been here-that she has always been mine.  I thank God for my baby today.  And I thank Him for taking care of her when she was in China.  I thank Him that He loved her before she was in her mothers womb and that He had plans for her.  And I thank Him because those plans included us.  But mostly I thank Him for her-my Hannah-my Qu Lexuan, my little princess and I pray that we can show her how much God loves her.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Sam

Seven years ago, today, this wonderful child came into our lives. He was 7 weeks early and not ready to be here, as you can tell by all of the tubes and wires. And yet, as you can see from the above, this may be how he started, but is definitely not where he is today.

I have so many vivid memories of the day Sam was born and the days following. I had prayed that he wouldn't come on Sept. 11. It was the one year anniversary and I still felt a bad vibe for the day. I was pregnant and all those hormones were sucking up brain cells. The night before I had talked to one of my friends, who was carrying twins and scheduled to be induced the next day. She was full term (37 weeks) and was set to go. I called to wish her good luck and to tell her I wish I was with her. Lo and behold, I got my wish, although I really wanted to wait just a little bit longer-but my body couldn't take it. So I got to deliver Sam on the same day the twins came. I had been on bedrest for 5 weeks and my parents had been staying with me, so they got to be there for the birth.(Not in the room because it was a c-section, and who really wants to see that?!!) They took me into the OR, I hopped up on the table(okay, I didn't hop-I was hugely pregnant, so really I kind of flopped up on the table) got my epidural and waited for the surgery. There were a bunch of people in the room-a NICU team for Sam, a team for me, and who knows, maybe just people off the street interested in an OR. I couldn't tell you-I was doped up. I can tell you, however, that I loved my anesthesiologist. He was nice and calm and just wonderful. Now that could just have been the drugs, but I don't think so. Anyway, they opened me up, popped out Sam, briefly held him up for me to see and then whisked him away. Alan may have gone with him, but again, he could have been dancing on the table and I am not sure I would have noticed. I was sent to recovery and a few hours later, the nurse wheeled me down to the NICU, only to turn around and take me right back. I was to find out later that they were working on Sam....they had almost lost him. His lungs just weren't ready. So here he was in the NICU, 6 punds 4 oz, bigger than most of the babies in there, who hovered between 2 and 3 pounds, and he couldn't breathe on his own. So 5 weeks of the NICU, then home. Once home he had months of tummy troubles-ended up on a very expensive formula, followed by months of ear infections and tubes, and months of alternating sleeping with mom or dad on the couch, because up until he was 9 months old, he couldn't sleep thru the night. Walking at 10 months, stitches at just over a year from running into a wall, and he hasn't stopped yet. He came into the world fighting and he spent his first year the same way.
But now, I have this little boy who is funny, and smart and handsome and charming and witty. He loves baseball-even watching Sports Center when he gets up in the morning and checking the scores in the sports section of the newspaper. He loves his brother and dotes on his sister. He is a big helper and not a big complainer(usually). He still likes to cuddle with mom and play catch with dad. He enjoys school and loves church. He loves music and is quite the ham. (I don't know where he gets that from!) He is a blessing and I am so thankful that God gave him to me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First workout

I have been gearing up for this day since I joined the gym 2 weeks ago. I promised myself that once I dropped the children off at school that I would go to the gym 3 days a week. And the gym has a class at 9:15 on Mondays and Wednesdays, so Fridays I can do what I want.

This morning I get on my workout clothes and get the kids ready for school. We drop the boys off first and then I take Hannah to her school. She is such a big girl. We put her backpack in her locker and then we go into the classroom. She picks out a puzzle and then she heads over to find her carpet square. Each child has a symbol that is used for everything in class, so her carpet square has her symbol on it. She sits down with her puzzle and I tell her bye and then I go. All is well.

So I head over to the gym, with a bit of trepidation. I looked at the name of the class last night and it was something like body boot camp. But I man up and head in. When I get there, there are only a couple of people in the class, so I ask where the back is-knowing that I am not very good at picking up moves the first time around, I want to be able to watch the others. This cute, skinny chick comes in and says that we aren't going to do what we normally do, we are going to do something different and you will hate it. Not 2 minutes in the class and I am scared spitless. She says by the end of our 45 minutes you will have done 140 pushups. WOW!!! I am not good at doing push ups-actually don't even think that I do them right, and this is how we are starting out?

The class goes as follows-We will be doing 10 rounds of exercises, each round adding a new one, so some exercises will be done more than the others. We start off with push ups, add 3 different arm and weight exercises, jumping jacks, jump squats, pliet sqats, this plank hold that you have to keep your behind down and I was totally doing wrong and when she showed me how to do it right, I couldn't do. No upper body-or middle body, and not much lower body strength. Then some other exercises that I have blocked from my mind.

So this is how my class went. Back of the class. 1sr round- push ups. Set of 12. Did okay. Adding exercises. 1st ten minutes think I have lost my mind and don't mind being out of shape. 10 minutes later desperately hoping the class is almost over. Still have 25 minutes to go. Ten minutes later want to quit, but to chicken to walk out. 5 minutes later sure that I am going to throw up and then I am going to die. 10 minutes later thinking the clock says class almost over and then devastated that I still have 10 more minutes. Still want to quit....and throw up. Finally class is over and teacher says this will not be done next week. PTL. Then I can look forward to going next week. Instead there will be a group activity, where we have to be in groups of 4. Shoot. I am no good and no one will want me in there group. Maybe I will have to work out on my own. Or maybe I just suck it up and give it another try.

I made it through. I am sore. I did not do 140 push ups. I probably did more like 80, but that is 80 more than I have done.......possibly ever, so that is a good thing. And I didn't kill the teacher and I never threw up-so score one for the work out queen !!!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

1st day of school

School started this week. On Monday. It is now Wednesday. Hannah starts tomorrow. And I will post pictures after her 1st day so they can all be together, but I wanted to post some thoughts.

Jacob started 3rd grade and Sam started 1st. I love the start of a new school year. It feels like a new January 1st and Spring. What is it going to bring? And every year when school starts, I think about going back to school. Now, I am a terrible student, so I don't know why I think about going back, but there it is.

However, with my children, each new school year, while exciting, is also just a bit heartbreaking. I know this is what God intends. We grow a bit each year and become more independent. But as a mom, how do I know what is really best for them? They(okay, really Jacob) wants to walk home on their own this year. We live about a block from the school, so it isn't too far. And the route they would take, the streets they would cross have crossing guards and they walk past houses of people that I know. So what is the problem? Will Jacob make sure and get Sam? Will they come straight home? Jacob tends to get distracted easily-much like his mother. If there is someone to talk to, he will stop and talk. And he lolly gags-kind of like his grandpa. And many things. Jacob is ready, but I am not sure that I am. Plus, I am home and it really isn't any big deal to go up there and meet them. And Sam is only in 1st grade. Fears....I should just let it go.

Then we have school work. Jacob is going to be doing book reports this year. One a month. Projects really stressed me out when I was in school. They stress me out 10 times more for my kids. I want Jacob to be on top of his school work and to succeed in school. He does really well, especially reading and language, but math comes a little bit harder for him. How do I help him succeed and not feel the stress I did? He loves art and he enjoys music. And PE and recess are always a favorite. I am excited about his teacher. I met her on the first day, and even though I didn't spend more than a minute with her, I had a really good feeling. At the end of the day I couldn't find Jacob and his teacher said he had walked off with his nose in a book. She then said something else about reading-she already had him a little bit figured out.

And then there is Sam. My big 1st grader. A year of spelling tests and math and reading. He isn't quite as big a reader as Jacob. He does it, but Jacob will surround himself with (again, like his mom), while Sam would rather be outside playing catch. But Sam is a hard worker and will stick with anything he needs to get done. He is mr. right on top of it. If he has something that needs to be done, he wants to get it done. Which will help me, because I am a procrastinator-much like my oldest child. Sam is so easy going that he just takes things as they come. Again, I am excited about his teacher as well. We have been so blessed with wonderful teachers.

So a new school year. New crayons and backpacks and tennis shoes. New friends and new experiences. New opportunities to grow. Growing up and letting go. Who knew it would be so hard-on me?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kansas City

We decided we would have one last family outing before summer was over. Alan had to be in Kansas City for business, so he had us come along. We first ate at the T-Rex restaraunt, which has dinosaurs in it. We ate at one in Orlando, and since Jacob loves dino's. we decided to do it again. Jacob and Hannah each got a dinosaur, while Sam held out for a KC Royals cap. This is the 2 of them giving their dino's a bath.

Sam in the mouth of a dino.

Jacob in the mouth.

We ate right by this fish tank, which Hannah loved. She kept saying FISH. It was pretty cute. We all enjoyed watching the fish, except there was one fish who was at the bottom of the tank and never moved. We were afraid it was dead, but then when dinner was over, he swam away. Very weird.

The hotel where we stayed surprised us with a Coco Keys waterpark. We(the boys and I) had wanted to stay at the Great Wolf Lodge, but ALan was there on business and this was the hotel the company would pay for. So we resigned ourselves to this and we thought we would just go to the Schlitterbaun-which I wasn't crazy about because it was hot and I would have to keep putting sunscreen on everyone and it would be expensive and Hannah would get tired and, well you get the drift. So imagine how ever the moon we were to drive up and see the Coco Keys sign. ANd for the price of one day at the Schlitterbaun, we went everyday we were there at the hotel. We had a blast.

Here is a small view of the place. There were 3 big waterslides that Alan liked, 3 medium ones that the boys and I liked, and 2 small ones that Hannah liked.

Hannah coming off her slide. She did that over and over. She had so much fun.

One day we went to Union Station and did the Chronicles of Narnia exhibit and also did the Science Museum.

No pics were allowed to be taken inside, so we just have these 2. The exhibit was cool. It was props from the movies and set pieces and costumes.

And always, there are trains.

I don't think my boys will ever lose their love of trains.

Jacob digging for dinosaur bones. He was in 7th heaven.

We also went to a Royals game. There is an area that is for kids and it is so much fun. There are batting cages, a pitching cage-where you can see how fast and accurate you throw while throwing at a screen with a real ballplayer swinging, a carousel, a 5 hole mini-golf course and a little ball field. It was fun...and then there was the game.

Sam batting. He didn't hit any of the balls-they were coming in pretty fast, but he looked great swinging the bat. He even taps the plate like the pro's do. He sure does love this game.

Hannah on the carousel.

Jacob pitching.

Hannah's first ballgame. We had nachos, hot dogs, cotton candy, crackerjacks, and peanuts. And the Royals won. A good time was had by all.