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September 30, 2008

A Trip to the Doctor's office & Dollhouse fun

After having several nose bleeds over the last few days and a night of absolutely NO SLEEP, Josie and I took a trip to her doctor's office this afternoon. She attended daycare in the morning and I picked her during nap time. It was interesting seeing a darkened room filled with toddlers all sleeping on cot's with their cozy sleeping bags. The doctor is in agreement that she has allergies and her nasal cavity is pretty irritated. He did a fun little procedure which cauterized her nasal cavity and we are now starting her on Clariton. We'll have to watch how she behaves on this medication because we saw how she reacted to Benadryol over the weekend and it wasn't nice. I have no desire to see demon child emerge anytime soon. We also had a lengthy conversation about the Chinese baby formula recall and getting some blood drawn for high levels of lead. I'm really not worried about it, but I'd rather just have peace of mind.

In happier news, I wanted to share some fun pictures of my former dollhouse which Emma has thoroughly been enjoying lately. My grandparents and my mother crafted this house (complete with stained glass windows) when I was in the 5th grade. Emma has it set-up currently on our formal dining room table with a combination of her own accessories and my former dollhouse accessories. I love seeing my own 5th grader getting the same kind of enjoyment out of the house that I did.

Josie doesn't quite understand why she can't play with Emma's special house and all the fun accessories. We've compromised and she has her own special house that her fisher price little people have taken up residence.

Here's to enjoying little girls and all their fun toys!

September 28, 2008

Mosquito Bites and Dress-up Fun

Josie has been in rare form this weekend. She came home from daycare on Friday eaten up by mosquito bites. By Saturday, her right eye had swelled shut. She is so allergic to mosquito bites and apparently she wasn't coated when they went for their walk in the woods at her daycare. She had 4 bites on her right eyebrow, 2 bites on her forehead and at least 4 bites on her neck. Not fun. She looked like such a bruiser, that Chris stayed back with her and missed Emma's soccer game Saturday morning. We've been coating her with Benadryl cream and Benadryl liquid medicine. She looked well enough for mass this morning, but was so crazy wild, that we ended up leaving after communion. It was musical pews with Chris and I taking turns taking her out of the church service. It's been an exhausting toddler weekend of temper tantrums and "no" and "why" shouting matches.

Despite her less-than-kind behavior, I did manage to distract Josie long enough for a few pictures wearing dress-up clothes. We have a HUGE box of dress-up clothes that I had saved from Emma's days of playing dress-up. Included in this box are several hand-made ballerina skirts that my mother crafted. Unfortunately, Josie wanted nothing to do with the tutu skirts. She had her own ideas of what she needed to wear (plastic flowered-clog shoes and a sequined outfit minus one sleeve).

Even big sister got in on the dress-up fun...

September 24, 2008

NO! Josie do it!!

Miss Josie is definitely showing normal developmental behavior for a two year old. Now that she’s so verbal, we hear “No! Josie do it!” all day long. She’s trying so hard to assert her independence which can test my patience after a long day at work, but I understand why she’s doing it. I have to keep reminding myself that using the word “no” is really a sign of independence and not necessarily naughty behavior. It could also be that she’s constantly testing limits and boundaries, because she’s feeling more relaxed.

The other night as I was hurrying to prepare dinner and she was under my feet and getting dangerously close to the stove, Chris told her that she needed to stand in the dining room to watch Mommy fix dinner. She wasn't allowed in the kitchen at that moment. She actually turned to us and said "why". Chris repeated that we both wanted her safe and away from the stove and she then responded, "but why". I honestly didn't expect her to understand "why" this early. Let alone say "why" aloud. Her brain power just amazes me.

Since she started daycare (which she is actually enjoying now...thank goodness), we’re hearing a lot more “mine” and we are having to practice “sharing” at home. Notice the book that Josie is looking at in the picture.

I’m including a short video clip of Josie playing with her fisher price little people. I wanted to capture some of her verbal skills and her playing some-what independently. Chris and I are constantly amazed at her grasp of the English language in only sixth months. Her receptive language has always been fantastic, but neither of us expected her verbal skills to be so on target.

PS. I don't want to jinx myself, but Josie has actually been sleeping through the night for over a week. Woo hoo!

September 21, 2008

A change is in store...

We're shaking things up in the Kenward household.

Every year for the last seventeen years, Chris and I have held an adult Halloween costume party. It's a tradition that started when we were newly married living in our first apartment. With each new house that we moved into, came bigger and more elaborate Halloween displays. We have life-sized creatures that live year-round in our basement and tubs and tubs of Halloween decorations that would rival most folks Christmas decorations. It's absolutely crazy and I used to blame my husband on this odd fetish, but I'm equally obsessed with decorating for this event now too.

This was the front of our house at Halloween last year.

I was Mary Poppins for Halloween last year.

Chris was Hagrid last year.

This year, the adult Halloween party is no more.
We're throwing a family-friendly Halloween party. Yes. You read that correctly. No more scrambling to find a babysitter. We're holding our first annual bring your ENTIRE family to the Kenward house kind-of-party. We've even hired a professional face painter for the kiddos and we are plotting several different types of kid-friendly games. Now, we just need the weather to cooperate so that we can take full advantage of all our outdoor activities.

The event will take place the Saturday before Halloween (October 25th) and will run between 6pm - 8pm. We'll be sending out official invites to our usual guests, but I wanted to give you all a heads-up on the major change in our party venue.

For all my blogging friends, I wish I had a stash of money to send airfare to you and your families. I'd love to finally meet some of you in person and I think this would be a great opportunity to get together. If any of you are available and are interested, I'd love to include your family. I promise to post video of the decorations so that you can get a virtual experience of our holiday tradition.

Here's a sneak peek at Emma and Josie's Halloween costumes!
Happy "early" Halloween!!

September 14, 2008

6 Month Josie Anniversary

As of September 16th, we've been a family of four for 6 WHOLE months! In honor of our special day, I had Josie put on the original outfit that she wore on the day she was brought to our hotel room in Nanchang so that I could take some comparison pictures.

Please note that my husband is the author behind this post. It's brilliant and so heart-felt.

It’s funny how time fixes things, changes perspectives, shapes our beliefs, and eases pain. What seems like days was the last six months of our lives with you Josie. It hardly makes sense that Emma can love you, that Mommy can love you, and that I can love you so madly in such a short bit of time, but we do. We had been blessed for 10 wonderful years with your big sister Emma. You know all about Emma by now. Her contagious laugh, her beautiful smile and piercing green eyes, her goofy wit, her towns and villages strewn across every flat surface in our house, her fierce loyalty of you, and her lasting warm hugs. Yep, she loves you. She is happy to have you here; happy to have someone to boss around a bit, to complain about a bit, to get irritated by a bit, to try and keep out of her bedroom a bit, to love only like a big sister can. Yep, she’s happy, adjusting, but happy.

In so many ways, you are not the girl we met six months ago in our hotel room. Your language acquisition has been nothing short of amazing. Emma has truly been a gift in helping you along this path. Watching Emma teach you letters and numbers on our chalk board while you sit in your highchair has been a great delight. You are so eager to please and practice and laugh with her. I simply melt watching you both behave in ways that sisters do. You’ve warmed to all of us, feel safe with all of us, love all of us. That scared little peanut in China, especially around Daddy, is no more.

You navigate our house with poise and precision. You tactfully dismantle the child safety lock on the food cupboard and delve into your favorite snacks like a seasoned burglar. Fearless, you chase Kitty around the house, attempting to pull her tail while throwing fake mice at her, Mommy close behind hoping Kitty doesn’t get you first. You are always on Emma’s heels just waiting for instructions for the next adventure. You are here and behave in ways like you have always been here. And maybe in some ways you have. For two years we waited to find you, to see you, to meet you, and to love you. Check, check, check, and CHECK!

Early on, I wondered about your heart and being able to fix you and all the stress everyone would endure to make that a reality. And then I worried about the stigma of an extra thumb and what that could mean. Would it get in the way of dressing you, of you eating, of playing with other kids, of anything? Nope. Six months later and I don’t even see your extra thumb. I barely even notice the scar on your chest. All I see is you radiating from morning wakeup till “nigh nigh” on your “pillbow”. You are simply and unequivocally our little girl and sister who in so many ways has been here for a long, long time.

Welcome home Josie…

September 12, 2008

Mid Autumn /Moon Festival Celebrations

This year the Moon Festival is celebrated on September 14, 2008. In Chinese culture, the full moon is a symbol of peace and prosperity.

I recently asked Anli (our guide while in China) how she would be spending this holiday and she shared with me that her in-laws were coming to her house where they will have a family banquet. One of their main dishes will feature crab. Later, she said they will spend time in their back yard with fruits, snacks and moon cakes. They will spend their evening chatting and enjoying the bright full moon.

Emma and I celebrated this festival for the first time last fall while preparing for the arrival of Josie. We made paper lanterns and created our own version of Moon cakes. This year, the whole family got together to celebrate our nephew's birthday and we also took time to enjoy this special holiday. Be sure to click on the pictures to make them larger.

After the kids finished decorating their lanterns, they had a mini lantern parade

Moon cakes come in many flavors, most of which are not very pleasant tasting. We've made our own variation using strawberry jam.

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup flour

Mix butter, sugar & 1 yolk. Add flour. Form a ball; wrap in foil & put in fridge for about 30 min. Make small balls & place on cookie sheet. Use thumb to make a small indentation & fill with jam. Brush with remaining egg yold. Bake at 375 for about 30 min.

Crazy Momma has an even better idea for Moon cakes, their family enjoys Moon pies. Yummy!! Be sure to click on Crazy Momma to see some really sweet pictures of their Moon Festival celebration.

This picture was actually taken from our driveway the past December. Our current weather is so wet, I'm recycling a beautiful picture taken many months ago.

Happy Moon Festival, everyone!

Daycare antics & new video

Josie did something funny during nap time yesterday at daycare (keep in mind that all the toddlers sleep in the same room on their own cots). The staff do the best they can at spreading out the cots so that the toddlers aren't near each other. Josie had fallen asleep at 12:55 and when the ladies went to check on Josie 20 minutes later, she wasn't on her cot. She was across the room sitting on Sam's cot having a conversation. She had woken him up to have a little chat.

I think the daycare ladies are quite surprised at how much she's NOT sleeping during nap time. Yep. She barely sleeps for us, so I don't see it happening much at daycare. You would think all that lack of sleep would cause her to be exhausted and stay sleeping at night for us, but it's not. Chris and I are continuing to play musical beds at night. Something new she started this week during the night, is calling out for "Mommy". She'll yell out "Mommy help me" instead of just crying. I guess it's progress when you think of how her original night terrors used to look. Chris still gets the special title of "baby whisperer". He can sit next to her bed and stroke her head and get her back to sleep in minutes whereas it takes me hours of kissing and talking and holding.

Despite her lack of interest in sleeping or eating at daycare, she's really doing much better. She's thrilled with craft time, outdoor activities, and any physical movement activities (dancing, walking, exercising). It's definitely a HUGE improvement since the beginning of the week and that's all we can ask for.

Check out this very short and cute video of Chris sneaking into daycare to pick up Josie. She didn't know he was there. Can you tell she's excited to see Daddy?

Have a great weekend, everyone. We're looking forward to celebrating our nephew's birthday on Saturday and then holding our own version of the Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival on Sunday at our house.

September 11, 2008

School Picture & Daycare updates

Emma's 5th grade school picture came home in her knapsack yesterday. I've used it in today's blog banner. I can't believe how grown up she looks in the picture. Where did my little girl go? This morning she rode her bike to school with our neighbors. It was bitter sweet seeing her ride off down the street without me.

Josie is still continuing to adjust to daycare. She's definitely not crying like she did when she first started attending, but her eating and sleeping is pretty sparse during the day. She has an excellent staff watching over her and I enjoy reading the notes about her daily activities when she comes home at night. We're still adjusting to our morning routine and finding that perfect night of sleep.

I can't believe it's almost Friday. Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone.

September 9, 2008

A new week begins...

I'm happy to report that Chris's blue bomber was fixable. It had a nice bill attached to it, but it's up and running and the Mommy van is no longer transporting the entire Kenward clan around town. As much as I would LOVE another newer car, we are definitely working with a different budget now that we have a toddler in full-time daycare. We were both in sticker shock after getting Josie's first daycare bill yesterday. Ouch.

The garage door has also been repaired and we can actually park inside again.

Josie isn't pleased with her return to daycare after being home with Mommy and Daddy for a whole week, but it's actually going better than I expected. The hardest transition has been getting her up, fed, dressed, and out of the house by 7:30am. She's pretty much a wreck and I'm secretly relieved that Chris is the one doing the drop-off at daycare again.

I haven't bragged in awhile about Josie's cognitive development, but her language acquisition has grown by leaps and bounds within the last month. She's even putting together 2 & 3 word English sentences now. When we were at the doctor's last week, he was really impressed with how much she's saying. She's even starting to understand color recognition. It probably doesn't hurt that she has a 10 year old sister who loves to play school and Josie is a captive student (whether she likes it or not).

Josie has also started showing a HUGE interest in our pets. She especially enjoys feeding the guinea pig and it's not uncommon to find Josie's pretend plastic food inside of Harriet's cage. As long as she doesn't let Penny (the cat) into her cage, I guess I don't mind picking out a few plastic cookies every now and then.

I'm enjoying this cool fall weather right now and can't wait to get the girls outside for some type of fall photo shoot. Be on the look out for another new blog header in the near future.

September 6, 2008

Friday/Saturday Highs and Lows

All within the same weekend, we had several high and low points.

Starting with the high points...

1. Chris had a simple, yet wonderful 40th birthday with ALL his girls.

2. Emma (although she didn't score a goal) seemed happy to be back on the soccer field with her friends (she's #2 )

3. Josie's health continues to improve and she actually slept through the ENTIRE night on Friday and part of Saturday night(praise the LORD). Just look at the mischief in those eyes. She's one active little toddler now that her energy is back again. Let's hope she enjoys her return to daycare on Monday.

The low points...
1. Chris's 97 Taurus died on the way home from work on Friday (we've been milking this poor little car along because it's nice not having car payments). We're going to have to get creative with carpooling until the mechanic can give us a verdict. Too bad Chris and I work on the complete opposite sides of town and none of his coworkers live near us.

2. Our garage door's tension rod/spring snapped and our van was still in the garage which required the assistance of a neighbor to get the door open and the van out. Luckily no one got hurt, it's just annoying and one more thing to add to the budget right now.

Here's to hoping for a healthy, happy, stress-free week (a girl can dream, can't she?)

September 5, 2008


I'm happy to report that Josie's doctor appointment went very well. We are to continue her breathing treatments, but the fluid has gone down in her right lung and she is clear to attend daycare on Monday! Woo hoo! Thank you for all your prayers and email messages. It's been a stressful week of juggling parental duty and work obligations.

In other good news, Emma has been selected to be in a higher level for fifth grade math (she certainly didn't get that trait from her Mommy) and Chris is celebrating his 40th birthday on Saturday! We're hoping Emma scores a soccer goal (in her bright neon yellow uniform) in celebration of Daddy's big day.

I'm still hoping that we can stop playing musical beds at night (Chris and I are continuing to take turns with cosleeping duties). Just look at this ever so sweet picture of my sleeping beauty taken this afternoon. Why oh why, can't she do this all night long?

Have a great weekend, everyone.

September 3, 2008

Pneumonia crud...

Nothing like squashing our back-to-school excitement than having Josie sick with pneumonia. Her right lung is pretty full of fluid and we started azithromycin and albuterol breathing treatments yesterday. For the most part, if Josie is allowed to give her baby dolls some of her breathing treatment, she'll tolerate the noisy machine. We'll go back to the doctor's office on Friday for another chest x-ray to look at her lung and her heart size. With her newly repaired heart, we can't take any chances on fluid build up and congestive heart failure. No daycare this week. You know Josie isn't feeling well, when she asks to go lay down. Chris and I are taking turns staying home with Josie. The timing stinks with school start-up. It's moments like this, that I really struggle with managing work and motherhood...big sigh.

I'm happy to report that Emma had a fabulous first day of fifth grade. She also endured the 92 degree heat of soccer practice (it was a record heat day in MI). Her uniform is a bright neon yellow this year (grab your sunglasses...yikes). Her first game is this Saturday (Chris's 40th birthday). Go EMMA!

We had hoped to attend a local organization (Chinese Culture Group of Greater Grand Rapids) to celebrate the Moon Festival with Josie on Friday. I'm really disappointed to cancel, but we just need to build up Josie's immune system again. We'll have to do our own Moon Festival as a family.

September 1, 2008

And... we're off....kinda

Today was the official start of school. The day started at 6am with coffee and morning showers, followed by kid wake up duty. Breakfasts were consumed, lunches were packed and outfits were carefully picked out in the hopes of impressing fifth grade classmates. Welcome to the back-to-school race. Is it too soon to say that I'm already missing the lazy days of summer?

PS. Josie is actually staying home with Mom today. She went to the doctor's on Friday with Chris and has been on medication for the last 4 days, but she's still running a high fever and has a nasty chest cold. Looks like another trip to the doctor's office today. Yippee.

PSS. Here's the update from the trip to the doctor's office, Josie has pneumonia and will be on breathing treatments every 4-6 hours. Her right lung is full of junk (which explains her continued high fever and nasty cough). The timing stinks. Chris is back to work this week and I'm still in crazy start-up mode at the University. Ah...the joys of DAYCARE GERMS!!