Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mostly Pics

Hey All, just a quick update will be a long one though b/c there are lots of great pics to put up!

Most of the pics below are from the little birthday party we had for Angie. You know, it was 3 days beforehand and we had talked about just doing an at-home small family celebration for Angie's birthday. But the two older ones were hoping for a 'party' (they actually were hoping for a party at Chuck E. Cheese!) and extended family members didn't want to miss out either. So we decided to have a fairly small gathering of friends over to celebrate Miss Redhead turning 3! So even though there are MANY MANY MANY people that we love and that we know love our kids, we had to keep the invitation list down to a dull roar...even though our kids are as social as can be, it is recommended that we keep large social gatherings to a minimum within the first 6 months to a year. So if you weren't at the birthday party please don't take it personally - it was a choice we made (to keep the gathering small) based on what we felt was best for the kiddos and their transition.

That said...enjoy the Picture Parade below!

John & Laura loved helping decorate for the party while Angie was taking a nap

This is what Angie had to say about her party..."ROCK ON!"

Stick the Sticky Nose on Elmo...oodles of fun!

True to form, Angie handled the attention with grins and giggles

Thankfully Angie had a couple "helpers" waiting in the wings to help her blow those candles out!

John & his buddy Jake playing with the Play-Doh dog!

Girlfriends! (Laura's newest friend Rachel!)

Angie in her beloved Colombian poncho

Poncho Close-Up!

This is a regular 'look' for Angie

She's a better cook than Mami is! (that's not hard...)

On a lazy Saturday morning doing 'school' with Papi (practicing the alphabet, letters, shapes, colors and English!)

The Dancing Sisters

Angie playing with PJ - keeping warm in her 'gorro' (hat)
We think she almost looks chubby in this picture! (though she continues to hang out in the 25 pound range!)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Invisible Mom

My mom forwarded me this inspirational story about Mom' I'm including it on my blog to encourage all you moms (and dads - applicable to you too!) out there who may be able to relate to this story. I'm just learning all the ins and outs of being a mom, but I could relate to this story some too...and it was a great reminder of the immense privilege God has given us to raise His children...and while we may not always see the glory of our unseen work, it IS a glorious position!

Invisible Mother......

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this ? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:
'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book.

And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

A t times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder.
As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women (and men!).

Friday, January 11, 2008

Can you tell?

Can you tell that we are a family of five in full swing these days? Yep, I haven't posted in over 2 weeks! I'm a little disappointed in myself about that! I really want to be more regular about posting...not only do those loyal readers (whom I've probably lost by now) appreciate it, but I see this blog as a story I can draw from as I remind myself and our children about our first days, weeks and months together!

Below are a few pics I uploaded and saved back around January 10th (just after Angie's birthday) with the intentions of adding captions and posting the blog the next day. Um...that didn't happen. But here are the pics with captions below for your enjoyment!

One week after the kids started school John's (Juancho) 4th grade class had a school concert called the Jungle Beat. Mind you, John is still very basic in his English knowledge and comprehension...and over 8 songs were sung (with motions!) at this concert. He was brave and got up there and bopped along with the rest of the crew...even belted out a few lyrics that he had learned. It's hard to see in this pic, but John is the boy on the far right, front row with light blue pants and a blue sweatshirt. He also has a tiger mask on. He was beaming with pride after their exciting for him!

Our little reader - I often find her in a corner or on the couch 'reading'. We definitely encourage that behavior! :)

Angie at the end of her birthday dinner (spaghetti) asking "Regalos?", which means "Presents?"
Angie's birthday was on Wed. January 9th - she turned 3! She was quite thrilled with the celebration of she is showing off her birthday cupcake! (pics from her birthday party will follow in another post).

John and Laura picked out these fairy princess items (from the Target $1 spot - love it!) to give Angie for her birthday...she was VERY excited about them and was a fairy for the rest of the night! (we thought the fairy dress-up went quite well with her fuzzy pink pajamas too!)

Angie opening her 'dress up shoes' from John. Can you see the excitement in her eyes? It's so fun to be celebrated!

Angie helped make her own cupcakes on her she is licking the spoon after the cupcakes were put in the oven to cook.

And here she is licking the frosting off the top of the completed cupcakes...I think the frosting may have been the only part of the cupcake she ate! :)

Fun with Frosting - Part 1

Fun with Frosting - Part 2!

Angie wasn't quite sure what to do with herself when Daddy brought out her cupcake and 3 flaming candles...with everyone singing to her. She was smiled and laughed and laughed. We had to remind her that the next step was to blow out the candles!

Which she did beautifully with a little help from...everyone!

One final shot of the creative birthday girl - playing happily with odd socks while mommy worked on the computer.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The First Day of School in Minnesota!
Well, truly this pic is the SECOND day of school for Laura, but the first for Juancho! His fever was short lived, and by Thursday morning he was back to regular temperature and feeling GREAT...and super excited to go to school! He has decided to go by John at school and other settings (like church, with friends, etc.). We are still calling him Juancho at home, but will likely transition to John in time. When we re-adopt him in the States, we will change his first name to John. A couple fun things about John's first day of school...
He came home super excited and when I asked him to tell me about it, he said "Mommy, I think I'm the most popular boy in my class! Also, I'm friends with everyone in the WHOLE school!" He IS quite the social butterfly - language barriers are not an issue! In addition, I know his entire class was prepared and excited for his arrival! We were met at the door by 10 year old Abdul who welcomed John very well, and 9 year old Kaitlin who promised to use the few words of Spanish she knew to help us out. We were greeted by rounds of "Hola" from the 4th graders as we special for John! :)

Angie + PJ = Best Buds
Mommy has been doing some work-from-home for TreeHouse the past couple weeks to help with a major project there. Usually Daddy is avaible to help look after Angie while Mommy is busy on the computer or telephone. However, one day Daddy had a work appointment at the same time that Mommy had a phone interview. The other 2 kids were at school, so I got Angie set up on the couch upstairs watching Sesame Street and went down to do my phone interview. I didn't hear a peep from her, and when I came back upstairs, this is what I found! Angie happily 'reading' "Are You My Mother?" and PJ having comfortably found a spot on the couch (a forbidden piece of furniture for him!) sleeping in his usually position - on his back! Too cute!

Angie the Helper
Angie LOVES being Mommy & Daddy's helper at home during the day. Whenever one of us is cooking, Angie will point to where the kids apron is hanging and say "Angie, si?" asking if she can put on the apron, which really means she wants to help. She gets the easy job, like pouring the kool-aid packets into the pitcher, but she is SO proud of her accomplishments!
We are talking with Angie (and the other kids) more and more in English these days. Angie seems to understand virtually everything we say to her in English, those she still prefers to use mostly Spanish when talking. Though when she counts she is counting in English, and she can point out most of the parts of her face when asked in English. Last night as I pulled the chicken nuggets out of the oven for supper, Angie came running in the room shouting "Chicken!". They are getting there!

A couple other fun things: This past weekend was filled with fun times! A friend came over on Friday night and we did some night sledding at a couple great hills. For those of you in our area, you have to check out the sledding hill at Staring Lake Park in Eden Prairie - it is LONG and seemingly straight down! Also, on the far end of the Grace Church parking lot, there is a great fun hill too...we spent time at both on Friday night and had a blast, even though the wind was a bit chilly (our poor chapped lips!). We came back to bake some chocolate chip cookies, which was fun for most of us (except for Juancho...his overtiredness - and as a result, crabby-ness which led to reacting to several situations poorly - got him put to bed...not that it was early - it was after 10 PM!)

Saturday was great. Meal times sometimes still continue to be challenging...but they ARE getting better! Saturday lunch was a bit of a challenge...and when it was apparent (after an hour and 15 minutes at the table) that the kids were not going to complete their meal and they were having problems listening and following direction, Mommy sprung into action. Angie went down for her afternoon nap, and Juancho and Laura got some extra jobs to do! Laura's job was to do a thorough wipe down of all the appliances in the kitchen and Juancho got dusting. Much to my surprise, they seemed to actually ENJOY cleaning! In fact, when Laura was done with her kitchen appliances she practically begged to wipe down the sink and toilet in our guest bathroom! I didn't have a problem with that! They also each spent a half hour in self-guided reading. Juancho was given a Harry Potter book in Spanish to use from his ESL teacher. He started reading it...he does well in reading and is great at sounding out words when needed. He only read one page front and back in 20 minutes, but that was great. Laura isn't quite reading on her own yet (even in Spanish) but she worked at sounding out a few words in some Dr. Seuss classics like One Fish Two Fish.

Saturday night we went to the Lee's house for dinner and fun. The Lee's (Boyd, Tracie, Jake & Rachel) are friends of ours from our Young Married's Bible Study group that we joined right after we got married. Their two kids are about the same age as Juancho & Laura. We had a great time with them, and the kids enjoyed meeting a couple more kids...Rachel & Laura are actually both in second grade (different classes) at Red Oak Elementary and Jake is in 3rd grade. The kids loved playing with Rachel & Jake's 2 bunny rabbits (so cute!) and Jake's new Nintendo Wii. (the parents liked playing it too!

Sunday was a ton of fun! We went to church and Angie did great in the 2-3 classroom, just crying briefly when Mommy left the room. Juancho & Laura don't feel quite ready to jump into the Sunday School classrooms, so they came to church with us. They can wear headphones in church and hear the service translated into Spanish in real-time. That's great! They did well in the service. Afterwards there was a potluck lunch for the Latino ministry. They welcomed us back to Minnesota and our kids got to meet a bunch of families and kids that are from Central and South America. We are the only 'Colombian' family right now. It was very fun and such a special time. After lunch, we met the Lee's at the park for some more sledding and playing was 40+ degrees on Sunday...perfect day to spend outside!

After coming home, we were able to prepare for the day. Laura finished her homework and really seems to be catching on to some math concepts and also writing better.

Today is a new day - off to school for Juancho (John) and Laura, and some cleaning and errands and other work for Mommy, Angie & Daddy!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The First Day of School!!! (Or Was It?!?)

Well, Mommy blew it today...she forgot to take an "Off To School" picture of the two older children for their first day at school. In the hustle and bustle to get out the door I completely forgot! I don't feel totally bummed though, because it was only ONE child that ended up starting school today! (We hope to do the "Off To School" picture with BOTH of them tomorrow).

That's right, Juancho woke up this morning complaining of a headache and feeling dizzy and that he didn't sleep well. I took his temperature, and sure enough! It was 101.5 degrees! I gave him some Children's ibuprofen and told him he wouldn't be able to go to school today because he is sick. He was clearly sad about that...he said "Mommy, I was so excited to go to school!" and about 5 minutes later said "I think I'm feeling better...can I go to school now?" I'm glad that he WANTS to go to school, but we kept him home today. This (below) was Juancho's First Day of School (That Wasn't) picture...

Poor little guy. PRAYER REQUEST: Pray for Juancho to be healthy and strong and able to go to school tomorrow. As he went to bed tonight he was still sporting a temperature (though smaller) of 100 degrees.

Here is Angie's "Up Peas Mommy" pose. She's learned the words in English for "Up" and "Please" (though she says it without the L) amongst many others. She will often come up to myself or Robert and put her arms up and say "Up Peas Mommy" or "Up Peas Papi". We usually like it best when she says it when her mouth ISN'T full of Animal Cracker cookies! :)

Robert was doing some real estate work tonight showing homes and I was hoping to get caught up on some projects after dinner. I told the kids that after dinner they could play in their rooms. After popping a load of laundry in the machine, I walked up the stairs and heard the best sound, all three kids laughing hysterically and obviously playing very well together. I continued up to their rooms, following the sound of laughter. There they were (see above), tucked into the 'fort' they had built in Juancho's closet (obviously he was feeling a bit better!) with blankets, pillows, a few toys and a flashlight! How much fun!
Tonight was the first time that all three of them were able to creatively play together without express direction from Mom and Dad. The girls tend to play well together, with their dolls and other toys and can spend a lot of time on their own creating their own play stories. But Juancho has previously had trouble figuring out how to use his free time if he isn't given specific ideas (ie - Play with your Legos, Play outside in the snow, Read a Comic Book, etc...) so I was glad to see that not only were they all playing together, but to learn that Juancho came up with the idea in the first place!
Today was also the first time that we were successful in keeping to our schedule. We woke up at the right time, got out the door at the right time, ate meals at the right times, Angie took a nap at the right times, baths started and ended at the right time, and best of all - kids were in bed each on time!
But Mommy did blow it one other way today. I dropped Robert's laptop! Well, actually, it more slid out of my hand and fell about 6 inches onto the floor - but regardless, it hit the floor harder than it should have. It seems some doohickey must have popped off of it, because now the power cord will not stay plugged in or give the laptop any power at all! And the battery was already pretty shot to begin with. We're not entirely sure what the piece was that we lost, though we can see where we are supposed to plug in the power cord to the computer that a piece is missing. I've tried to find it, but it hasn't turned up. PRAYER REQUEST: Pray that we find the missing piece soon so that he can have access to his laptop - where his MBA work is, along with several other important documents!
More a few things left to do before I hit the hay for the night!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The First Post of the New Year!!!

The kids pose with Mr. Gorilla at Como Zoo on New Year's Eve 2007
We spent New Year's Eve with our family at Como Zoo for the Countdown to Noon! Radio Disney sponsored games, crafts and fun at the zoo, as well as a ball drop into the Polar Bear enclosure as we counted down to noon! Very fun (though a bit chilly!). The kids love animals...and though they don't watch a lot of TV, they already know how to ask for Animal Planet channel in English! Michelle - you'd be glad to know that Crocodile Hunter has long been one of their FAVORITE programs! We had a great time at the zoo...Juancho's favorite animal by far was the male lion - he went running towards the lion enclosure shouting 'Aslan!' Laura's favorite animal was probably the cute little black howler monkey and Angie was rather enamored by the 3 month old baby giraffe (that was already taller and weighed more than Robert or I!). Fun stuff...we look forward to going back in the spring/summer!
We walked through the 8th floor display at the downtown Macy's store, which was "The Nutcracker" this year. It was quite a cool display, and even though Juancho was a bit dismayed at first to learn that we were going to see a ballet display, he was quickly intrigued by the fighting mice and the Nutcracker that came to life! By the Sugar Plum Fairy land, Miss Angie was quite overtired and a bit hungry and not the least bit interested in taking a photo as you can see here! It was a fun excursion...or at least Mommy thought so!

These two previous pictures are from the Koi Ponds at the Como Conservatory, which is connected to the zoo we went to on New Year's Eve. We walked through and enjoyed all the plants from the tropics to the Midwest and more...though the kids were definitely most interested in the large koi fish that would surface near them, mouths open...they've obviously become used to being fed by passers-by! It was fun walking through the area that featured plants from South America - Juancho and Laura pointed out several that they remembered from Colombia.

PJ knows several tricks and often will perform them to get a treat. The kids enjoy pretending they are PJ's competition and will perform the tricks alongside PJ for a treat! In these two photos they tricks they are performing alongside PJ are 'Darme Cinco' (Give Me Five) and 'Bang Bang' (Play Dead)...PJ is bilingual and helping the kids learn as well! Don't worry, the 'treats' were animal crackers...NOT doggie treats!

Daddy & the Girls...What Cuties! (all three of them!)

Laura dressed up Angie one day before we cleared out all the Christmas wrapping elements...and we felt this look completely captures our feeling this season...that Angie, Laura & Juancho are the BEST gifts we could have received!

The kids love playing with their Play-Doh set and colors, and the above pictures show them working on their creations. The final picture shows what happens to a wine rack now that kids are living in the house! :) We love it!

Saturday Night after the Nutcracker display at Macy's, we came home to make homemade pizzas! The kids favorite kind of pizza is pineapple and ham and they loved making their very own pizza! We think we'll be making this a regular tradition!
There's the most recent 'Update In Pictures' from the Dressel Familia. Juancho & Laura start school on January 2nd and are both excited and nervous...and Mommy feels the same way!
You'll see us again soon here!
Love, The Dressel's!