Monday, November 27, 2006


We woke up Sunday morning to a white world! We don't get big snowfalls often here in Western Washington, so when we do, it's a big deal. Church was cancelled, ( I know, you Utah and Idaho folks are rolling your eyes!) and we enjoyed the snow day!

This was the first snow for our Guiping girl and she was appropriately bundled! This kids were so excited to see her on a sled, but she was pretty ho-hum about it. Her favorite thing was eating snow.

It snowed hard all day Sunday and we got about 6 inches. When we went to bed that night, we checked the school websites and they said school would start 2 hours late. The kids weren't happy with that and Adam got up a few times during the night to see if the snow had started up again.

We got big cheers this morning when we learned that school had indeed been cancelled! Now they're keeping their fingers crossed that tomorrow will be cancelled as well. It might be. It just started snowing again about an hour ago!

Winter is definitely a Berner's favorite season! Olaf finally feels like he's appropriately dressed for the weather! Both dogs have had a blast. Charlie, our dedicated fetcher, has to work harder to find his ball when it sinks into the snow, but he's up to the challenge!

I put up some of our candles in the windows. I'm not a big Christmas decorator, but I think the candles look homey. I'm not sure what we'll do about a tree this year. Maya would pull it over in mere minutes.

We had Cari and Tony and their kids over for Thanksgiving. As usual, the food was great--Lyle's famous turkey, all the fixings, and 5 kinds of pie! I think I overindulged because I wasn't feeling great that night!

Both babies are walking now and were so fun to watch! The funniest thing happened right after I took this picture. Blake walked over to Maya, grabbed her around the tummy, and put his mouth on her bare back. I was sure he was about to bite her, but I couldn't get there in time. Then, I heard an amazingly loud raspberry blow and Blake laughed and laughed.

Right before Thanksgiving Adam had a big science project due. He had to construct a submarine that would sink and resubmerge, write a report, and prepare an oral presentation. I was thankful that Lyle took on the role of helper for this one! Adam's design used the case of a large animal syringe, a big nail for a balast, surgical tubing, a ballon, and a bike pump. During the testing of his first model, he excitedly put his sub in the sink, began to pump, the sub started to rise, and we all heard, POP! He didn't take it well.

So, another ballon was installed and a smaller pump employed. His test runs went well, but in case of another pop on testing day, Lyle told him just to "pump for all you're worth and hope for the best!" Thankfully, his sub, "The Buoyant Annoyant" performed well and earned him an "A"! He even got an extra credit point for his original name!

The week before Thanksgiving, we had several beautiful sunsets. Adam captured this one on film. We hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Six Months

On Thanksgiving, it will have been six months since we saw this sweet baby's face for the first time. It was absolutely love at first sight. We read and reread every tiny bit of information we had, practiced pronouncing her name, researched Guiping, bought baby supplies, and very impatiently waited until we could bring her home.

We loved all 3 pictures of Jin Qiu Ju, but none of them showed her smiling. She looked so alert and responsive though that we just knew a smile was lurking inside.

And of course, it was! She is such a happy baby. She has also grown up so much in the past few months. She's gone from the 5th percentile in weight up to about the 40th, she's learned to pick up food and feed herself (it's amazing to remember that she really couldn't do that when we met her!), she can now walk, she's gone from 6 teeth to 14, she's learned to hug, kiss, and be comforted, she can tell you what a doggie says and what a lizard does (cute little lizard tongue action), she's learned to love books, knows what "no" means but thinks it's funny, and can say about 25 English words (when she's in the mood).

She loves her blankie and her bottle, loves to be carried around, thinks the Wiggles are great, and likes to wear tupperware on her head. Mostly, she's just really happy.....

...except when she's not, and then she's really really not! We've never seen a baby who can so instantly produce tears. There is absolutely no work-up time between pouting and gushing. Fluids just spontaneously shoot out of every facial orifice. It's really something to see. Thankfully, she's not too hard to comfort!

"Happy Qiu" we met almost immediately when we got to China, "Sad Qiu" we got our first glimpse of on about day 3 with her, but it really hasn't been too long since we've met and embraced "Silly Qiu". It's been so fun to see her personality emerge! Surprisingly, considering her happy little self, she still rarely laughs. Maybe that's just her nature, or maybe that's a side of her personality we'll see later, or.... maybe we're just not that funny!

The other day at the library, Maya was walking around with her Chinese squeaky shoes when we heard what sounded like an echo squeak. We realized there was another little baby with the exact same shoes! Her mom told us they had just returned from China only 6 days before!

I totally felt like I did when I had my biological kids and they were a few months old and I'd see a mom with a newborn and think how cute the new baby was. But, then I'd notice the mom sitting gingerly and remember the multiple late-night cry fests and the extreme tiredness and I'd be so thankful I was a few months past that!

It's the same with international adoption. This little cutie and her mom looked jet-lagged and tired. Her daughter was still getting used to her crib and high chair, American foods, her new routine, etc. Yes, I'm so glad to be at the point we are now!

Have you ever seen a cuter profile?

This little girl has been such a blessing in our lives. She's brought so much fun and laughter into our home. She's taught the older kids how to take care of a baby. She's helped us to love and embrace another culture. She's taught us to be more open and accepting. She's shown us resilience and strength. She's brought us to a deeper knowledge of Heavenly Father's love for all of his children. On this first Thanksgiving with Maya Qiuju, we are thankful beyond words that she's a part of our family.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Abby's First Date

For several years now, Madeline and Lyle have planned daddy/daughter dates. They don't happen often, maybe a couple of times a year, but when Abby got wind of it, she knew she wanted a special dad night too.

They got it put on the calendar, and on Friday they had their first date. Abby was SO excited! She had me get her looking cute and then wanted Lyle to come knock on her bedroom door. She waited and waited for him to come upstairs. Finally, she said on the intercom, "Have I been stood up?!" Lyle arrived and promised me he wouldn't keep her out too late.

They went out to dinner at Red Robin, where Lyle said that got lots of smiles and "oh how cute," types of comments. Afterward, they went to a movie and then came home. Abby was sad that her date was finished and wanted Lyle to do a "sleepover". Lyle politely declined. Let's hope that by age 16 she can end her dates at the door!

Friday, November 3, 2006

Sneetch Family Night

Last Monday, Qiu Ju had lesson for Family Home Evening. Although she is a pretty remarkable 14 month old, lesson-giving is a bit beyond her. So, Abby, who had snack duty, said that she and Maya had discussed the matter and were going to work together on a special lesson/snack. Abby said Maya wanted to watch the Dr. Seuss movie, "The Sneetches" and talk about how everyone is special and that to go along with the show, we needed to have a "marshmallow roast". Well, the whole thing sounded interesting, except that we live in the rainy northwest and there was no way we'd get a fire going in our soggy woodpile. From the photo, you can see our truly pathetic alternative.

Of course, where there's fire, there's also a 12 year-old male who simply must set things ablaze.

Ditto for the 10 year-old girl.

A bit burnt, but still tasty.

Lyle was very patient, twirling his marshmallow slowly over his tea candle. He then carefully implanted a Hershey's Kiss and savored his delightful little morsel.

Someone should have been watching Abby more closely. She rarely roasted, she just ate....and ate.....and ate and came downstairs later that night wanting a bowl beside her bed just in case.

Thanks Qiu and Abby for a memorable family night!