Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hip Hop Happy

I think I have mentioned before how hard, almost impossible, it has been to find a dance class for Luka. I took him to a couple of places that simply said, "No, your a boy!" and then somehow I stumbled onto this school over the Internet. I am so happy I did. We love Power Peralta. Those guys are some SERIOUS dancers.

A couple of weeks ago Luka started hip hop classes on Saturdays. He is five so sometimes he is super into it and other times he is a total space cadet in class...but all in all he likes it and I think it is important for him to express himself through music and learn how to do it with some type of order and discipline.

On this day the two classes of Hip Hop Kids performed for the parents. It was such a treat. Here are they are getting their pep talk before they danced for us.
I love his expression in this photo...
Okay, Sam...he really, I mean really, wanted to go with me to see his brother bust a move. Like he says, "LUKA SHOW...LUKA SHOW...LUKA SHOW." So I took him and man is that kid hard headed. The teachers had asked us to please wait outside while they practiced and got ready. Sam simply didn't want to hear it. You want to know what this expression is saying, "Mom, what is your problem. I don't care if we have to leave. I am going to stay right here and sit in the middle of the doorway while I watch my brother dance. So just deal with it." He didn't say those words exactly. It was more like, "No Salir, Luka Show, No Mama, Sam Aqui," but that is what he meant.
He was very cute just staring at his brother perform. Lately Sam is attached to Luka. He wants to be with his "hermano." He is constantly reminding me by saying, "Luka hermano. Mi hermano."
Here Luka is going up to the front practicing his individual moves. 

"Yo, this is my cool dance teacher Bridgette." 
"Yeah, yo this is my cool hip hop look." 
Slim Sam Shady in the house...Luka received this hat as an award for his performance and of course Sam stole it and Luka is so nice...he always shares with this brother.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Some thoughts on our upcoming ADOPTION ANNIVERSARY

In just a couple of days (on Friday) we will celebrate our 5th Adoption Anniversary...wow, how time flies! I am really excited about this milestone. It is one of my favorite days of the year, besides our birthdays.

Five years ago today we were about to take our baby home. We were scared out of our wits but so excited that our fear was overpowered by the thrill of becoming first time parents. If I flash back to that time in our lives I immediately get very emotional. I think of everything that happened in Mozambique to get us to that wonderful day on the 30th of November in 2007. 

All the people we met...all of the support we received from our "Maputo" family (imagine we moved there just one year before and didn't know one person in the entire country). Just a year later here we were starting our family in the most incredible way. Luka had instant "cousins, aunts & uncles" that welcomed him with open arms.

Who would have thought that our journey as a family would have started in Africa and Maputo of all places? That thought never crossed my mind growing up in Miami. But life is funny and sometimes it takes you completely by surprise.

So on Saturday we will have a party to celebrate this important day for our family as we do every year. Some of the things we do on this special day is:
- Read two children's books on adoption
- Sing Happy Adoption Day & the four of us blow out the candles
- Ask Luka what "fun" activity he wants to do that day (we will go ride a roller coaster on Friday and eat pizza...his special request)
- Do something in Luka's class. This year we will take cupcakes and read one of the books. It is a good opportunity for the other kids to learn a little about what adoption means...they always have a lot of questions anyway...so this is the perfect "teachable" moment.

Our Adoption or Gotcha or Family Day is about us as a family...not just about Luka. We all have our individual birthdays and those days are all about the individual...but on this day we celebrate the day we became a family, the day Luka came home, the day we became parents...it is even important to Sam to be part of the festivities. No, he wasn't adopted but without that day Sam wouldn't be a little brother or have a big brother.

Over the last five years, living in three different countries, I have heard some crazy comments, questions, etc. But something that people always seem to ask me (once they feel comfortable to ask, and sometimes complete strangers) is if I love Sam and Luka the same? 

This question doesn't bother me...many of the other things I have heard during these 5 years bother me a whole lot more...there are many insensitive & silly people out there. But this question I like because I can use it to share my wonderful adoption experience.

So the answer...do I love them differently. YES, of course...any parent that has more than one child loves them differently. I don't love one more than the other, but they are different people with different characters and my relationship is different with each of them. The amount of love is the same...endless. If it wasn't for the fact that Luka was a different color I would forget he didn't grow in my belly. When Luka is in pain or he is hurting I get the same ache in my heart as when Sam is suffering in the same way. When I took Sam to school for the first time I felt the same pride, fear and anxiety that I felt the first day I took Luka to school. In that way it is exactly the same! Luka is my son, just as much as Sam is my son...no more no less.

Like I have said before on the blog...Luka grew in my heart and Sam grew in my belly. I can't imagine my life without either one of them.

So Happy Anniversary to all four of us..in just a couple of days!

Here is a little preview of some signs I have made for the party. I am going with a yellow and green theme this year! I am a little in love with YELLOW these days...such a happy color.

Stay tuned for more posts and photos after the party...I have a lot of work to do.







Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Message from Santa Claus for Luka & Sam

For the last three years Santa has been emailing Luka these videos in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We love them. I love seeing Luka's face and his response to the video. And Luka, well he feels like the coolest kid in the world.

The videos also help mommy with Luka's behavior. Am I am mean? You can personalize the videos to tell the child what they need to work on and lately Luka has been a little disobedient and doesn't really listen to what I tell him...so Santa reminded him he needs to listen to his mommy.

Santa told him that for right now he is on his "good" list but he had to work on that. Is that great or what?

Here is the link to the video:

Everyone should do this for their kids...Santa is awesome!

Today I will work on one for Sam. He liked watching Santa with a book on Luka.

This has become a tradition during Christmas in our house.

UPDATE: Here is the link for Sam's video. You should have seen him looking at the screen. He was so happy to see that Santa knew his name and had photos of him in his book. So much fun to watch it with them!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Sweet Africa

Last weekend the boys and I participated in the Kermess Festival at Luka's school. Kermess, not sure what is means, but it is an International Food Festival that is a fundraiser for the school. I wish the International aspect would have bees stressed throughout the week with activities celebrating the cultures of various countries and not just the food, but the event was amazing and soooo much food to sample...that part was dangerous.

I worked the Africa booth, where we sold Peanut Curry & Rice, Banana Bread and Spicy Chicken. For those of you wondering...no I didn't cook at all. We wanted to sell the food, right!?!?!? Hawa Hunt, seen below, singing was the cook and all around African Superstar that day. She is from Sierra Leone, a mom of three from school, and famous singer in her own right in her country. I was like her sidekick (not on stage, just with the booth...ha ha). People would come and ask, "Oh, you are from Africa?" Well, you know the story...no, not from Africa, but Luka is from Mozambique...that is my Africa connection

Some of you might also be wondering...Africa? that isn't a country. You are right, but it was too hard to have just a Mozambique booth or a Sierra Leone booth...so we teamed up...and we also wanted to represent some of Luka's friends from school that are from Uganda and Liberia (also adopted). So in this case an Africa booth was "all good." Although I usually don't like when they lump Africa together. But for the sake of me having to cook Mozambican food I thought it was a good exception.

We also participated in the parade. Luka wasn't too happy and just wanted to run around. But he did manage to complete the parade with Sam and I.
The parade ended on the stage and we were almost last...so there was hardly space for us. The Briden Bunch joined us in representing African nations (the boys that are actually from African, like Luka, are hiding in the crowd along with Luka and you can't see them). Kind of funny to see all of the white siblings upfront "representing." Sam was really proud to hold the sign all by himself.

There is our friend Hawa Hunt singing. She sang about 4 songs and the crowd loved it. My kids loved one song in particular and I have have to play it EVERY time we are in the car now. The song is called "Sweet Africa." It has a catchy beat and names many African nations in the song. It is on permanent "repeat" in my car. They like it so much it has even trumped Topa & Muni from Latin Disney Junior.

So that was our International Day this year...let's see how much longer the boys will be able to fit into the clothes I had made in Mozambique!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Our 2012 Thanksgiving

This year Daddy wasn't around to celebrate this American holiday and one of mommy's favorite meals of the year. He escaped to Holland for a training....so he had a good excuse. But we were left in good hands with the Briden Family and the Arcila/Managan families. We had a great time, had delicious food and believe it or not I even cooked some of it. 

Here are the sweet potatoes I made and I also made my "homemade" cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie cheesecake. I was very proud of myself. By the way almost everyone had seconds of my sweet potatoes..sweeeeet!

I loved Crystal's table cloth. It was so "Thanksgivingy." 

Here is the bird Tatiana and Crystal cooked up. It was DELICIOUS! 
Look at my "Martha Stewartish" creation. 
Cutting the turkey must be a man's job...ha ha ha. 
It is Thanksgiving, but it is not fall in Chile. The kids jumped into the pool after dinner. Fun! Sam also got to ride a scooter for the first time. He was so proud!











































Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pre-Thanksgiving Blues

Today has been a rough day for me. Woke up with a headache and as the day progressed it didn't get any better...feeling bloated...did I mention I had a headache. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving (what used to be my FAVORITE holiday when I lived in the USA) and JJ is out of town (for the second year in a row). 

But then as the day progressed I went to pick up Sammy and that smile when I pick him up everyday from pre-school is one of my favorite 15 seconds of every day. Really, when I see him running towards me from the playground when I arrive and that cuddle all the way to the car is simply delicious. We got home and Sam went straight to his nap (another thing to be super thankful for...that my 2.5 year old loves his naps). So I was able to lay in bed and nurse my major headache a little more.

At around 2:45 pm I heard Luka arrive home from school on the bus and he was bursting with pride...he had lost his second tooth at school. He showed me where the teacher had taped it to his agenda. Luka told me how important it was for the tooth not to get lost so he could get...as he put it "get more money." That made me laugh. Here is the note he wrote today...all on his own. If you sound it out phonetically you can see what he is trying to write:


I asked him why he wrote this. He said, "I don't want her to get lost. She might not remember how to get here. And this way she knows where I go to school." Isn't he the best?

Let's see what happens when Luka wakes up to see that the tooth fairy left him a book...am I a bad mother? I just think he was getting a little too greedy with the money thing and the book is about a little girl that loses her tooth in Mali (Africa) and the traditions there when it comes to the Tooth Fairy. We will see what he says....

Okay, back to my bad day...so at this point I was feeling a little better and Luka really made me laugh. But I still had my headache and I had to take the kids to the dentist. Really? Did I have to go. I just felt like laying in bed...but a Mom's gotta to what a mom's gotta do.

So off with the boys I went and they both got a clean bill of health for their teeth. I was kind of worried for Sam due to the large amounts of Halloween candy he consumed a couple of weeks ago..but we were good. Since it was all good news and there happened to be a Johnny Rockets in the strip mall it was mandatory we make a shake stop. We ordered one chocolate shake and the three of us shared. My boys LOVE a good milk shake. Sammy really didn't want to share his half with me, but Luka as always, was willing to go halfzies with Mommy. Sam, we need to work on that.

We got home and I was still feeling a little homesick, a little lonely and sad that I haven't been able to really talk to JJ (big time difference). But then I got to thinking, "Really Melissa...what is wrong with you? You are so lucky!"

After dinner and bath time the boys and I sat down in bed and talked about what Thanksgiving was all about and what we were thankful for. Luka said, "I am thankful for mommy, daddy and my brother Sam...and my friends at school." I realized that I have so much to be thankful for and I had to snap out of it and really enjoy this holiday with my boys and my wonderful friends that invited me over tomorrow. 

Sam, well I think he was thankful that this little exchange didn't last more than 5 minutes and we were able to watch our nightly Netflix before bed (usually 30 minutes of some Disney show). When I asked him again to see what he was thankful for he said,  "Jessie." Hello, that is the name of the show we were watching. We will try again next year.

So by "bedtime" I was feeling much better...headache was almost gone...I realized that I have tons to be thankful for ...I have the best husband and two boys one could ask for...and although I am not close to my family this Thanksgiving in about one month I will be visiting for 1.5 months...life must be pretty good to be able to travel for that long....and let's not forget that I am super thankful to have a real American Thanksgiving to go to tomorrow with our new "family" in Santiago.  

Just to get me in the mood for the holiday tomorrow, before my bedtime today (since I was feeling like I was back in the land of the living) I cooked up a big batch of my traditional cranberry sauce (Thanks Crystal for the canned cranberries...we don't have real cranberries in Santiago, but this is good enough). I have been making that sauce for about 12 years now and it always reminds me of my family's Thanksgiving. Tomorrow I will make pumpkin cheesecake and a sweet potato casserole. Thanksgiving HERE WE COME! Hopefully I will have photos to post.

Started off a crappy day, but as I sit here typing this message I am thankful it turned out to be a great day full of moments that reminded me of what truly is important in life.

Friday, November 16, 2012

First Visit from the Tooth Fairy

We had a BIG day at home yesterday. Luka lost his first tooth. They have been loose for a long time now and he has anxiously been waiting for this "right of passage." He has been so excited...every day he shows me that it is loose and asks me to wiggle it. 

Well, yesterday when we least expected it the tooth just flew out of his mouth. He was coming out of the bath and while drying his face it just popped out. He was JOYOUS!!!!

His exact words were, "This is so special. I am SUPER excited." My heart just melted. He is one of the few kids in his class to loose a tooth and when we spoke to his older cousin later that night Luka was very proud when he learned he lost his 1st tooth before Maxwell. Big deal for our little Lukkie!

Of course we wrote a letter to the tooth fairy and guess what he asked for...MONEY. Well this morning we found 1,000 CLP under his pillow in an envelope with a note that reminded him to brush and floss. $2 USD isn't that bad! Maybe the Tooth Fairy was a little stingy, but he is only 5.

The other teeth are about to come out...I foresee more Tooth Fairy visits in the near future!

Congratulations Luka!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Luka's Rafiki Drawing

A couple of weeks ago Luka dressed up as Rafiki (from the stage production of The Lion King) for Halloween. You can see the photos here and here. But today I was cleaning off my desk and found this drawing that Luka made before I did his make-up and put the final touches on his costume...as I am typing this I remembered he was anxious and wanted to dress up way to early in the day (the party was at 4pm) that I asked him to make a drawing to help me..sort of a guide...and focus his energy on that. I had forgotten about it...and today I found it...what a treat! I love the drawing and love Lukkie!

So cute I thought I would share...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sam's 1st Official School Photo

A while back I posted about Luka's Kindergarten school portrait and how much I love these tacky nostalgic pictures. You can read about it here.

Well just a couple of days ago I received Sam's first official school photo. This is the first time he attends a school that takes school photos. So what do you think? Okay, so he is definitely not as photogenic as his brother...but we all have our talents right! Sam is much better when it comes to daring acrobatics around the house...ha ha ha. My little one just doesn't love the camera as much as Luka, but when I catch him "naturally" the photos are amazing. 

But I love the awkwardness of these timeless pictures. In 30 years when his kids are taking their school photos they will probably look the same...except by then they will probably zap them to digital albums at home and printing will be a thing of the past (sort of like now I guess). Sam's school did send some prints home (a HUGE one that I don't know where to put and the standard wallet sizes that went straight to the grandparents).

Here is his Level 1 class photo. I am in love with his school and teachers. Good looking group, no? The aprons are absolutely adorable!




The class photo looks fuzzy, no...it is a scan of a print. Sorry about that :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sam's First Swimming Class

JJ and Sam have enrolled in a "Daddy & Me" swimming class. The idea behind the baby swimming class is to get the little ones in the water, while spending time with the working dads. Sammy was amazing and not scared at all. Here are some moments from this day.

Sam and JJ had to wear swimming caps. Daddy looked kind of funny and wasn't too fond of the required "gear" but I thought this was the perfect Kodak moment.
Hands down, this was Sam's favorite activity. 
I couldn't get enough of that face. 
"Mommy, I think I am tired now."
To see all of the photos from that day click here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Sam's 1st Trick-or-Treat Adventure

This year was a special Halloween. It was our first Halloween in Chile and the first time Sam goes Trick-or-Treating. Here is a photo tour of our Halloween activities.

Here are Luka & Sam before we headed to the party. There was no way I was going to get a photo of Rafiki and Mickey together. The Mickey ears were off as soon as he walked away. He really didn't like those ears, even though he did pick the costume.
Sam was very happy getting his treats in the stroller, but he didn't want to put them in the bag. He was trying to see how many candies he could hold at one time. He also wanted to give away the candy and not put in his Halloween Bag. I think he thought the point was to give it away...que lindo!
He also picked the cheap candy...he didn't pay much attention to the Snickers, Twizzlers, M&Ms...Hello sammy those are the good ones! 
Luka said this was his Hallween pose...hmmmmm?!?!?!?
Sam finally got out of his stoller and here you can see Luka helping out his little brother. I guess those bags are getting heavy. Thanks Luka for helping Sammy!
After a while Sam got the hang of it on his own.
"What some candy? This stuff is really good."
We love Halloween...lets see what we come up with for next year!