Thursday, May 28, 2009

¡Cinco de Niños!

Well, it is official. The twins are now big boys! On Saturday, May 23, we celebrated their "first 5th" birthday. It wasn't quite the to-do we had initially planned - which would have been held with my family in WV. We had to cancel our Plan A due to my uncle's impending back surgery - prayers are definitely needed and welcome on that front - but our Plan B turned out to be pretty awesome all the same. The twins didn't really know the difference; all they knew was that there was the cake and balloons that they had requested. But before we get to that, let's talk about "their last day as four-year-olds" celebration.

Last Day As Four-Year-Olds
I clearly had a much more difficult time with them turning 5 than they did. Last week was quite emotional for me. It seemed that each day was a reminder of just how short our time together has been and how quickly it has been passing. The boys - all of them - are growing so fast, and it is hard to believe we have only been a family for 10. 5 months. On the other hand, which helped me gain perspective, Troy was very excited about their turning 5 and impending "big boyness" and all that comes with growing up and the things we have to look forward to this year.

As part of our celebration, the Aikas (pronounced "eye-ee-kah"; also known as blankets) and stuffed animal friends were allowed to go with us wherever we went. This is Daniel's Popoino (pronounced "po-po-wee-no").

Luis and Hippopotomo.

We even had lunch with our friends.

Quite possibly the coolest the part of the day; however, was when we went to Target to pick up party supplies, the #42 Target car (yes it was race week here in the Queen City) was parked outside the store. The #42 - for all of you non-race fans - is driven by none other than Juan Pablo Montoya, who is one of Troy and I's favorites because he is from Bogota, Colombia. As the boys were walking around looking at the car, and saying stuff like "Whoa!" and "Cool!", I found out that J.P. himself would be at the store later to sign autographs. So we hopped in the van, rushed home, waited for Sam to get home, got back in the van, rushed back to the store, and got in line!

Daniel is telling you, "I have touched this car. I am about to meet Juan Pablo. He is from Colombia like me." Well he would say that if he could speak in less garbled sentences. He was probably saying something like, "Look Mama, this race car cool!"

Juan Pablo Montoya. Sadly, they wanted to keep the line moving, so there were no photo ops with him, just autographs. But I did let him know that the boys were from Pereira and he tried to speak Spanish to them. The boys were so excited they just giggled, and Luis did one of his very Luis goofy things that he does.

The Twins Turn 5!
The twins were so excited (and probably already exhausted) by the time the big day arrived. When Luis woke up at 6:50 AM to go to the bathroom, I went up to ask him to go back to bed when he was finished and not wake Daniel. Well, I made the mistake of wishing him a "happy birthday" and it was on from there. He was way too excited to sleep and he woke his brothers up.

The first order of business was something the twins and I had been working up to for over a month...It was time to say good-bye for good to the Aikas. Yes, they have been dear friends, like dear aunties that watch over the twins at all times, but the boys also suck on them when they sleep and the dentist said they have got to go before the twins are old enough for permanent teeth. I am hoping the thumb sucking will resolve itself since it seemed to go hand in hand with carrying the blankets.

So, we gave them one last hug, folded them gently, said good-bye and we love you so much, and put them in ziploc bags for safe keeping. I was definitely more upset than they were. You can ask my mom about my Poocoos.

Then we were off to Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury...

All of the boys are very into picnics. We packed sandwiches, apples, juice, chips and cookies - all of the twins favorites - into the picnic basket. Luis unfortunately has a bug phobia. I know those of you who are avid readers of our blog are shaking your head and thinking "What isn't that boy afraid of?" When we figure it out we will let you know. There were moments when he would start screaming and crying uncontrolably because a fly or a gnat came near him. Even at his turtle eating pace, and bug screaming delays, we eventually made it through before dusk or the rain came.

Sweet Daniel...doesn't he look older?

Luis being those faces he makes.

Aren't they cute? They had cut-outs like this all over the park.

In addition to a little train that the boys adored, they had a petting zoo with goats, sheep, a donkey named Sam, etc... The boys had a good time trying to get the animals to come to them, even though none of them did (except maybe the goats who were tempted by the straw the boys were holding).

I got this sweet, little pig to come to me. She was adorable, and very vocal with her "oinks" and squeels. For any of you Facebook friends out there who play Farm Town, she literally walked up to me and fell over asleep. It was too, too cute!!!

The park also had a wildlife refuge. Here the boys are looking for the bear.

Daniel is literally doing a chicken dance here. Not THE chicken dance, but a chicken dance nonetheless.

Sam makes a solo appearance. I put this pic in because he looks so stinking cute in it, and to prove that he really was there too!

We finally got the twins on a carousel. They would only ride on the bench, but still it is a step up from the Parque del Café fiasco where Daniel refused to ride and Luis screamed the entire time. Samuel chose a horse as far from the rest of us as possible.

Pizza was the twins' pick for dinner, so we did make your own courtesy of Trader Joe's. We love this because it reminds us of Archie's in Colombia.

The dinner party. Yes Hippopotomo and Popoino joined us for dinner too! They wouldn't have missed it for the world.

The theme was dinosaurs, so we had dino-cupcakes. We also had dino-balloons and the table was covered in little dinosaurs that the boys could play with during dinner.

...or that Papa could play with during dinner. Samuel is getting to be a very good photographer. He has quite the eye.

Daniel kept telling me that he wanted a car for his birthday. I kept telling him that he has tons of cars. But what he meant was that he wanted one that was just his - that he doesn't have to share. I have never seen him happier than when he opened this gift. His face was beaming. Thanks Nana and Pop Pop Peregory!

Luis loved his too!

They had a wonderful birthday. If the weather ever clears long enough for us to go out, we will take pictures of them learning how to ride their new bikes (that's what we got them). The only hiccup in the day was when we finally went to bed and both boys asked where the Aikas were. Troy and I both felt horrible as we reminded them that they were five now and big boys and blah, blah, blah...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Who Are These Boys?

One year ago today we received the life-changing phone call from our adoption case-worker that we would be getting three incredibly handsome, active sons. At the time, the photo (which we received a few days later) was mislabeled and we thought Daniel was Luis and Luis was Daniel and we kept calling Samuel by his first name. It is funny to think back to all of the things we inferred from the photo or interpreted from the paperwork and compare it to what we know about them now. I could write a book on their personalities, what they are really like, their favorite things, etc... It has been an amazing ten months of us getting to know each other better and figuring out how to function as a family of five. We definitely still have a long road ahead of us, but we are enjoying the ride.

Daniel, Luis Angel and Carlos Samuel in May 2008.

Daniel, Luis and Samuel in May 2009.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My First Mother's Day

After all these years, I finally got to celebrate Mother's Day. Last year, our referral literally came 3 days after Mother's Day, so I have been looking forward to this for a long, long time. To celebrate my big day, we went to church first and then to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in nearby Belmont for a picnic lunch. The food was delicious and the five of us had a blast walking around, enjoying the flora, and playing in the fountains. We rounded the day out by doing some yard work and going to dinner at my favorite eatery - Moe's. It was fantastic, and I couldn't have asked for a better day from start to finish.

While I was in the shower, Troy had the boys create some Mother's Day art for me on the porch and sidewalk. Samuel got the task of writing the well wishes since he is the only one who knows how to write. Troy also cooked me bacon for breakfast and made me a cup of tea. A perfect start to a perfect day!

At the top of this photo is Luis' happy face contribution.

And this is Daniel's creation. His smiley faces are really starting to look like faces.

The Garden was packed. We waited for about 30 minutes to get in, but thanks to Luis and a Ranch dressing incident that sent Troy running for napkins, Papa was able to secure a table for us to enjoy our catered picnic in style!

After lunch, the boys presented me with the cards that each of them worked so diligently on. They were all so beautiful and a perfect representation of each of their personalities and artistic abilities. Daniel's was simple, but sweet.

Luis's was a colorful, abstract masterpiece.

And Samuel's was a magic marker creation full of writing and doodles declaring his affection and that he will help me all day!

Troy created a pop-up card for me. It was so awesome! And it had a gift certificate for a new pair of Rainbow flip-flops inside! Yay! I will be walking on a cloud in no time!

Sam took this picture. His ability to frame a shot is definitely improving - at least we are in the picture!

The DSBG has many, many fountains and that was the highlight for the boys. They loved looking at them and playing in the water. You would have thought we were at a water park - except that an actual water park would have been terrifying and the twins would have spent the whole day crying.

A view of the reflection canal.

Some pretty "pear-ple" flowers.

We can't seem to take a normal photo anymore. They always have to be making a funny face.

We really thought that one of them would fall in. Luckily no one did.

However, there was a tunnel fountain that you can walk under. Sam, of course, found the one place where it rained on his head the most and stood there until he was soaked. Daniel ran through the tunnel laughing the whole time. Luis, on the other hand, had to be drug through the first time and carried through the second time, whimpering and protesting throughout.

In the Orchid Conservatory, which is full of tropical plants, Troy managed to capture a sweet moment between Luis and Samuel. At this point, Daniel was in the bathroom screaming his head off while I tried to remove thorns from his hand after he touched some plant that he shouldn't have touched. Next time, he wears gloves!

The wall of orchids. The conservatory was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was very well designed. My favorite part was when we got to South American plants like the banana trees, I made sure to say very loudly to the boys, "Oh we have already seen banana trees in Colombia, remember boys?"

Troy got some very good shots of some of the other plants despite the fact that our camera is dying a very unfortunate death. If you look on the left of the front flower, you can see ants - they are just there to torment me.

This was my favorite picture that Troy took. It just has a very interesting composition.

All in all, it was the best day. All of my boys had fun making it special, and Troy worked really hard to make sure that it was everything I had ever imagined it would be. I can't wait to see what next year will bring. I am also super excited to have an extra day in the year (besides my birthday) that is all about me - though I am honored to share this one with my mom, my sister and the countless other mothers that I know.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Sam Rocks the Big "7"

On Sunday, April 26, Samuel turned 7, and we finally got to celebrate our first birthday with the boys. It was a great celebration with a lot of anticipation and the repeated question: "How many days until my birthday?" We ended up partying three days in a row, so I think by the time it was all said and done, Samuel felt like everyday might just be his birthday from here on out.

We began on Friday by taking cupcakes and juice to his classmates for snack time. Nana and Pop Pop Peregory were on hand to surprise Samuel, and he was so excited. He got to wear a visor that said "Happy Birthday" on it and then everyone sang to him. Luis and Daniel got to eat cupcakes and drink juice, so their view of what kindergarten is actually like becomes more and more warped with every visit we make to the school. His birthday party was on Saturday afternoon and we had plenty of family and friends on hand to help celebrate, and we are thankful for the family that travelled to be here and the friends who took time on the weekend to be with us. It meant a lot to have Sam's "first seventh" birthday be such a special event! On Sunday, the day belonged to Sam - we let Sam pick where he wanted to eat lunch and what he wanted us to make him for dinner while he played with all of his new toys.

The pictures and videos always do a better job at telling the story, so here we go!

Happy Birthday to Samuel! We think he looks older! He definitely keeps reminding us that he is now a big boy. Maria made this amazing cake to go along with our "Rock 'n Roll" theme. It absolutely tasted as good as it looked. Thank you Maria!!!!

An overhead view of the cake. Amazing. She shaped the entire thing by hand.

We held the party at a park near our house so that the kids would be able to run and play and have fun on the playground. Of course the twins did not leave the shelter. Instead they played in the dirt. I am not surprised. Samuel, on the other hand, did not want to leave the sand box under any circumstance except for the piñata and to open presents.

Before we let the kids take a whack at the piñata, we handed out loot bags so they would have a place to put their candy. It was a bit more chaotic than I anticipated. I am used to speaking in front of groups of colleagues, not trying to organize hot, anxious kids. It was pretty comical.

The piñata! I didn't get a good shot of our boys, but they were wearing their guitar t-shirts and Maria commented that she liked how I made them into decorations too!

The birthday boy got to go first. Here his Nana is spinning him around and getting ready to turn him loose.

Their friend Ashton plays little league and is pretty adept with the bat. In fact, he hit the piñata so hard that he bent it in half on his second go 'round! It didn't hinder the other kids' fun one bit.

The spoils of war! Each kid took two turns - one with the blindfold and one without. When the piñata STILL wasn't busted open, we let Samuel take it and throw the guitar on the ground like a real rock star. Below are some video clips of our boys taking their shots at the papier maché menace.

I was really amazed at how the other kids just let Samuel open his presents. They gathered around him to watch, but didn't try to help or take over. They just let him do it. He got a lot of great stuff that he is really excited about and thankful for.

On Sunday, he picked Wild Wing Café for lunch so he could get pizza with a baked potato. Note his new big boy watch, courtesy of his primos.

We got a brownie Sunday to continue the celebration...

...and we didn't leave any of it behind!

For his birthday dinner, Samuel chose the very perplexing combination of German-style sausages, bacon, popcorn and juice. It was surprisingly good, but very greasy.

We got Samuel his first bike for his birthday. He initially asked for a real guitar with strings (he has a plastic one that he plays with), but we thought with the summer upon us, he should have a bike. Every kid needs a bike! He LOVES it and asks to go ride it every day. Below is a video of his first bike ride on his birthday.

While he rode, the twins got to ride in their jogger so we could all stay together.

The other thing that Samuel really wanted was a tie, so his Nana and Pop Pop Peregory gave him a shirt and tie. He proudly wore it to school on Tuesday. Very fancy!

It really was an excellent weekend! I have much more to post on what we have been doing over the past month, but I will save that for next time.