Friday, September 26, 2008

EARLY BIRTHDAY

We celebrated an early birthday for Nate with Don's family tonight. I wish I had captured his excitement when he saw his Backyardigan cake! It's like he knew it was for him and his eyes totally lit up and he got this huge smile on his face and yelled something that we couldn't understand. He didn't quite understand how to blow out his candle but he did grab the flame and said "Hurt!" Fortunately we caught him fast enough that it didn't leave a mark on his fingers. Yikes!

He was so excited to get a wooden block train and a Thomas the Train bed set for his new "big boy bed" (that we have yet to get). It was fun to visit with all the family and he met Uncle Stuart for the first time since he was on the road working. He even gave him a hug without prompting, as we were leaving!


GETTING READY TO EAT SOME AFRICAN CURRY!


MMMM....CAN'T WAIT TO DIG IN.


BIRTHDAY BOY


CUTTING THE CAKE


THEY EVEN LET ME HAVE A PIECE. HAHA!



NUTTIN BUT STRINGS

LOVE THESE GUYS!! They write all their own music.

GOIN' TO KANSAS CITY..KANSAS CITY HERE I COME


FAMOUS STREET IN K.C. WHERE JAZZ WAS KING.

Don and I took a short and sweet trip to see his family in Kansas City. We couldn't fly out over Thanksgiving because we would've had to pay an extra ticket for Nate. When kids turn 2, you pay an adult fare for them. Plus tickets are super expensive over the holidays, so Don's family helped us with most of the airline cost and we flew out this week before Nate turns 2 next Wed.

Nate did AWESOME on the plane rides! He slept during the entire first flight and was awake for the second, but thankfully it was only an hour left to fly. Both flights were completely packed and the guy next to me on the 1st flight immediately nodded off so it was a pretty quiet trip. As we were pulling into Dallas airport, he and Don struck up a conversation and come to find out, the guy was a professional bass player and the brother of Jim Click, who owns several car dealerships in Tucson! The connecting flight was stuck on the runway for I don't know how long...it seemed like forever and Nate was getting squirmy despite our attempts to keep him occupied. However, he didn't pitch any tantrums or get upset so the people around us just had to put up with the occasional loud squeals of delight that erupted from him. I hope the flight back home goes just as smoothly.

This is the first time for Nate to see his cousins, aunt and uncle and they were SOOO excited to see him! I can't say the same for Nate though. He was tired after the long plane ride and overstimulated so he immediately burst into tears when they all rushed up to him and clung to us for awhile. The family was very understanding though and gave him his space, letting him slowly warm up to them. Of course, a food bribe always helps! It took 2 days for him to feel rested and comfortable around them and after that, he was happy, laughing, running around and talking up a storm. He bonded almost immediately with our 16 yr old niece, Kily, which totally made her week!

We had a Sullivan family photo session yesterday and that was an interesting experience. It was Nate's first professional photo and he was not happy about it! We walked into the studio and the photographer said "Hi Nate!" and he immediately SCREAMED and threw himself on the floor in an frustration tantrum. Sometimes I wonder what goes through his mind....he's pretty sharp and picks up on things very well. After a little coaxing, he stopped crying and started playing with the toys she had. Then it was picture time. He started crying again, refusing to look at the camera and any attempt the photographer made to get his attention was not working...he just wouldn't have it. Finally though, he stopped crying and we got a few quick photos with us, the cousins and grandparents and then a few REALLY quick ones of just Nate. We had to bribe him with gummy bears at that point but it worked. However, at the end, he had enough and promptly screamed and literally tackled the photographer. So we had him say "I'm sorry" to her, give her a hug and we called it quits after that. I'm excited to see the photos because she did manage to get a few good ones.

Don's sister and niece babysat for us the other day and Don and I toured downtown Kansas City. We saw 18th and Vine, the historic street where jazz thrived and had lunch at an Irish pub, The Raglan House. The chef was from Ireland and everything was made from scratch..right down to the hand cut french fries and homemade bread. It was delicious!! Most of the furnishings and building materials were also imported from Ireland and the restaurant was beautiful. Today I had K.C. bbq. BBQ restaurants in K.C. are like Mexican restaurants in Arizona...there's nearly one on every corner. I have to say, that was the some of the best bbq brisket I've ever had.

Our trip is getting close to an end. Don flies back tomorrow and I'm staying with Nate until Monday to give the family more time with him. He's having fun running around in grandma & grandpa's yard with all the grass and huge trees with leaves (something we don't have at our house). Some of the leaves have started turning red and will be gorgeous in a few weeks. He's also sleeping in a "big boy bed" (trundle bed) for the very first time and doing amazingly well. He usually wakes up 1-2 times during the night crying but goes right back to sleep when we lay him down. I thought he would open his door in the morning when we woke up but I can hear him in there playing with his toys until one of us comes to get him. I LOVE my boy!! This morning though, I decided to get him earlier when I heard him playing and suddenly say, "I poo poo!" Words to make a parent come running. ha!

We are SOO blessed to have such a well behaved 2 yr old. He did not magically come that way (ha!). We've worked hard on having consistency in routine, behavior and discipline and balancing that with a lot of love. It really makes me feel good when total strangers come up and say they are amazed that he does not run around all over the place, sits still in his chair, is a very neat eater and rarely picky and is usually content in public. People kept telling me, "Just wait till he's 2" (and now "just wait till he's 3). We've been criticized or questioned because our parenting is firm but loving but we just let Nate's behavior speak for itself. He wouldn't behave as well as he does without certain guidance. He has a very strong will and stubborn streak that would totally be out of hand and miserable (for him and us) if we let him get away with too much. It takes a lot of work and you can never let down your guard because these kids are SMART and they will run with it! But it is so worth it when we can take him on long trips, meet new people and sleep in strange places and he adjusts pretty easily. People tell us that most 2 yr olds do not act as well as he does. Sometimes it surprises me when they say that because Nate is our first and we have nothing to compare him to, so we just parent the best we can and the best we know how.

Looking forward to a Sullivan family tradition tonight, "African beef curry" with all the family and an early birthday party for Nate. This was a much needed break after all the craziness back home. In fact, I haven't thought about home one bit until now. Just really enjoying our time here. Here's some photos for you below.


OUR MAKESHIFT "BOOSTER" SEAT!


KISSES FOR GRANDMA


YUM! MINSKY'S PIZZA!


NATE'S FAVORITE NIECE!


THE BLUE ROOM - ONCE A POPULAR BLUES SPOT IN IT'S TIME


AWESOME IRISH FOOD..ALL MADE FROM SCRATCH. I LOVE THE PRESENTATION TOO!


THE RAGLAN HOUSE IRISH PUB


COOL MURALS WITH A BACKDROP OF DOWNTOWN K.C.


IN THE GRANDPARENT'S BACKYARD WITH ZOE


BEAUTIFUL ZOE


HAVING FUN EXPLORING


MMMM....SMELLING THE FLOWERS


LOOK MOM! LEAVES!!


HE WAS SITTING ON THIS BENCH JABBERING TO HIMSELF.


LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT TREE!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

POP ROCKS

We weren't sure how Nate would react to these babies but he thought they were hilarious!

SATURDAY THINKIN'

Not sure what to write today. No new photos....we have so much going on but can't think of how to put it into words...so I'll just be general.

Nate is in Room Time right now and very frustrated about something. It sounds like he got a toy stuck or can't get something to work the way he wants it so he's letting it all out. I think we'll be transitioning him to a big boy bed soon. I got him some pull-ups and he calls them his "big boy pants" and loves to pull them up on his own. Now if we could just get him to "go" in his toilet....well, that's another story. haha.

...........ok so I just went in to get him and he's standing in the middle of his room wailing for no apparent reason that I can see. No toys are stuck...he's not hurt....I guess he was just tired of being in Room Time. Then I noticed that he found some yellow chalk (I thought for SURE I had found every piece he had dumped out) and he proceeded to color all over his wooden toy box and our suitcase. I guess I'm going to have to tear apart his room because those little fingers are still finding stuff.

Our friends, Scott and Sarah, who traveled to China with us, got Nate an early birthday gift...Washable Crayons! I didn't even know they made them but wish I had them when he attempted his first artistic endeavor. ha.

Monday, September 15, 2008

MOUNTAIN RESPITE










Had a great day up on the mountain with my guys today. The weather was beautiful! 60 degrees (compared to our 97 at home), and windy so it felt colder. I loved it! We took Nate up here this time last year and he was still crawling then. Now he was able to run, climb rocks, discover bugs, flowers and other fun things. We had homemade chili and split pea & ham soup at the Iron Door restaurant...one of our fav places to grab some lunch. Summerhaven was quiet and fairly empty which was fine with us. It was a peaceful, relaxing way to spend a day off!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

LIFE AS WE KNOW IT




Not too much going on at the moment so...what's up in your neck of the woods? Sundays are physically and mentally exhausting days for us. Sometimes ministry can be stressful and that seems to be the way it goes for the last couple of months. Any time your church is doing something great for God, that's the last thing Satan wants to happen. And so the spiritual battle wages on. I'm sitting here watching Don play computer games while he's flipping the tv channel from some PBS show about Pavarotti to Extreme Home Makeover to football. Nate is supposed to be sleeping but mad because he was put to bed without his panda after throwing a big angry tantrum and hitting dad (and he's got a strong right arm!). He can be one stubborn kid but one thing we like about him is his determination. We just have to teach him how to deal with frustration and hitting is a BIG "no-no". At least he got a great report from the nursery this morning! We'd rather he show his frustration with us and behave in public. 

A week ago, Don took Nate to the mall playground. It was our first experience with negative behavior from other kids. A group of 4-5 yr old girls were playing on the slide. Nate stood at the bottom of the slide steps watching them and they decided to tease him yelling, "Look at the scaredy-cat boy! Chicken! Chicken!" Don was miffed but didn't say anything because he knew name calling would be common and Nate didn't know what they were saying. But he stepped in when Nate climbed to the top of the slide and one of those little girls hit him. He saw Nate's head snap back and his body shoved forward and that was it! Now if you know my husband, his mere presence and big voice alone are enough to make someone..especially a child...stop and think about what they were doing. But apparently the girls didn't "get it", because a little while later, Nate climbed up into a play stagecoach and the group of girls decided they wanted to play in it. They started saying, "Let's get him out of there! Yeah, kick him! Kick him!" After the first episode Don knew they would do it too, so he stepped in again and said in his best "authoritative voice with the killer look to go with it", "If you touch my son again, that will be the LAST thing you do. Don't even think about it!" He said the girls looked at him with jaws dropped and decided to go off and play somewhere else. And where were the moms during all this? Talking on their cell phones or chit-chatting with each other, totally oblivious to what their kids were doing. Don said that later, he wished he would've talked to their moms but he was wrapped up in "the moment". I forgot how mean girls can be sometimes but that incident jarred some unpleasant childhood memories.

My brother and fam called today from Cincinnati to tell us how their home was ravaged from Ike. Apparently 500,000 people are without power for at least a couple of days. Fortunately, aside from some minor damage from broken branches and a downed power line, they're ok. It's amazing the devastation from this storm. I just can't believe the people who stubbornly decided to ride it out. If I were a rescue worker, I'd be furious and frustrated too.

I just re-read all this and realized it all sounds kind of negative. Actually, it's been a decent day and I appreciate all the encouragement and motivation we've been receiving. Don gave a great message this morning and I really felt like God had opened his heart (and mine) to His words. Nate finally fell asleep after Don went back in his room and laid him down (he was standing up in his crib mad and crying). I think we just need to escape for a day. Just our fam...off to some area away from the crowds where we can renew and relax.

Hmmmm........tomorrow's our day off...I'm thinking "Day Trip"? *wink*

Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 YEARS AGO....



....I was getting ready for another usual day of work in downtown Phoenix. Just as I was about to leave the house, the phone rang. It was one of my co-workers telling me not to come in to work. She said the U.S. was under attack. At first the words didn't even register. They seemed incredible..uncomprehensible. She said all the offices downtown were shut down due to potential bomb threats. Her words weren't making any sense and finally she asked, "Haven't you seen the news yet????" I turned on the tv and the image of a huge billowing cloud of smoke above a crumpled building, people running, news reporters in shock.....it was unreal. I just sat there for a long time in front of the tv not believing what I was seeing. Don was out of town on business and with all the airports shut down, I called him and we were solemn with the events of the morning. I remember going out later in the morning and the entire city of Phoenix was eerily quiet. And a day later, American flags were flying everywhere saying "We continue to stand united". 
Today we remember the innocent people who lost their lives in a malicious attack, the brave people who did all they could to save those lives and some who lost theirs in the process and the families and friends who lost someone they loved. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

DENISE'S CUISINE OF INDIA



Doesn't quite have the same ring does it?? I got industrious today and decided to make my favorite Indian meal, Palak Paneer....from scratch! It's basically curried spinach with paneer (Indian cheese). The same friends who gave us the Pooh kiddie sofa, gave us an enormous Indian food cookbook, years ago. I swear they must have got it from Costco because it's Costco-sized. We've made a few things but since Indian food has 50 bizillion different spices (in one recipe), I'm afraid it's been stuck in the back of our cookbook shelf for quite awhile. We're trying to eat healthier so I went looking for a good vegetarian dish and found this one. Fortunately, it only has a few basic spices so it was a quick fix.

I even made my own paneer cheese which was actually very easy. The end result was VERY tasty...not too pretty to look at but VERY tasty. ha! I had a little too much liquid so it was thinner than it should've been and I added the cheese too soon so it crumbled up instead of holding it's cube shape. Nate loved it though and even asked for seconds. Actually he asked for thirds but I said "No" since he'd already eaten jello and a banana on top of that. This kid can pack it away!

NICE "FU MANCHU" GOATEE...ALL HE CARES ABOUT IS THAT HIS TUMMY IS FULL OF TASTY FOOD!

KICKIN' BACK



Our friends gave Nate this little sofa bed that he absolutely loves. He immediately sat down in it to watch his Thomas the Train show and we thought all was well until we unfolded it into the bed. Now usually, he loves to see how things work but when we put him on the bed, the poor child SCREAMED and cried and tried to get off it. You would've thought we were punishing him...Don and I just looked at each other like, "What in the world is going through his mind right now?" Well, eventually, I crawled into the bed and coaxed him into it with me (yeah that was a sight!) and showed him how fun and relaxing it was.

And now.....we can't get him OUT of it! haha! He will unfold it himself, crawl into it and pull up the blanket to watch his show.


HARVARD THOUGHT HE HAD UPGRADED!

I've also started having him take naps in this bed to transition him to a big boy's bed. So far he's done extremely well...speaking of which, I hear him waking up so time to go!

Friday, September 5, 2008

MY BIRTH"DATE"


MCCLINTOCK'S RESTAURANT

Today I (unbelievably) am celebrating my 40th birthday! I know I'm committing a taboo by telling my age but I don't care. It really doesn't bother me since I don't even look my age. ha. Don took me out for an awesome birthday dinner at McClintock's. It's a secluded restaurant in an even more secluded community in Tucson. You drive through a short tunnel through the mountain and emerge into a beautiful desert oasis. It was a very peaceful, relaxing, lodge-type feel with huge stone fireplaces on the porch and overlooked Tucson. You could dress up or dress down and still fit right in. It's been a very long time since we've been to a really nice dinner like this. I felt like we were dating again!


BEAUTIFUL DESERT LANDSCAPE


RELAXING ON THEIR HUGE VERANDA


BLOWING OUT MY BIRTHDAY CANDLE

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

LABOR DAY WEEKEND FUN

After a stressful last few weeks, we were in need of a quick escape...and what better way to do that than to spend it with close friends? Actually, this was planned for awhile. Don's birthday was Monday and a friend decided to treat him to an AZ Diamondbacks game. So on Sunday afternoon, we headed up to Phoenix to visit one of our good friend couples, Sam and Chanda. Chanda made this incredibly tasty Italian pasta (which we all, including Nate, happily scarfed down) and treated us to a chocolate Oreo cake! It had been awhile since we had seen them so it was nice to catch up and let Nate play with their 3 yr old daughter. Chanda couldn't wait to give Nate his birthday present so he got it early, but I have to say I'm glad. They gave us the most AWESOME book, "The Pet Dragon" by Christopher Neimann. I HIGHLY recommend it to those of you bloggers who have or are adopting from China. They gave us the 1st edition and the book shows you chinese characters and why they are drawn the way they are. Then they incorporate the characters into a fun story. This is the best book ever and an awesome keepsake for Nate. Thanks Sam and Chanda!!

PLAYING IN THE "KITCHEN"


YUMMY OREO CAKE!


SUPER AWESOME BOOK!


On Monday, we visited with more good friends, Jason and Mary and their 3 kids. Jason took Don to the Dbacks game (WE WON!!) while Mary and I took the kids to Peter Piper Pizza. Their boys, Jake and Moses, were the best "big brothers" to Nate and I actually had a bit of a break while they led him around the playground and basically entertained him all day. It was cute to watch. Nate was exhausted but he had a great time. It was a short but sweet bit of fun and relaxation that was very much needed and we are thankful to have good friends who are supportive, lift us up and who we can be crazy with!

THE BOYS


TRYING HIS HAND AT GOLF


NATE'S "BIG BROTHER"


FUN AT PETER PIPER