Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gracelynn Turned Four!

We are way overdue in posting this, but wanted to close out our adoption blog with Grace's first birthday celebrated here in the US.

On December 7, 2008, our little girl turned four!!! She probably now thinks that birthdays last a few weeks, since we celebrated with my family at Thanksgiving, Mike's family before Thanksgiving, at Chuck-E-Cheese's with a few friends the day before her birthday, and with us ON her birthday. :-) She had a great time blowing out candles and eating cake. She also loved opening all of her presents!

Here she is at Chuck E Cheese's:

Playing on the phone (a favorite thing to do) with Chuck E Cheese.

Popping in the window to say hi, while crawling through the tunnel. Ryan, a neighbor, is peeking from behind.

Mommy and Grace with the birthday cake!

Gracelynn, all dressed in her new cooking outfit.

Gracelynn at home (ponytails off), blowing out a birthday candle before opening gifts from Mommy and Daddy.

Now that Grace has been home with us for over 7 months and is adjusting quite well, we are officially ending our posts on this blog. She is now speaking as well as Tommy on most occasions and usually in complete sentences, understands most of what is spoken to her, enjoys school, loves to sing and talk on her phones, plays with Barbies and blocks and markers and dolls, misses Mommy and Daddy when a sitter steps in, loves to show off her school crafts and projects to everyone, can tell you that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, can tell you she's from China, loves to play with the neighborhood children and her friends at school, hugs her teachers and family members, is getting along well with her siblings (and sometimes too well with her partner-in-crime Tommy), and has much fewer and shorter tantrums than just two months ago. She eats almost anything and still sneaks food daily (... we just found a dozen GoGurt wrappers under the sofa cushions last week!). Hopefully the sneakiness will end soon, since it's obvious that she is getting plenty of food. At her four-year-old check-up, she did great! Not only did the tears quickly end after FOUR shots, but she was healthy and doing well. She's in the 75th percentile for both height AND weight!!! After raising children on the small side, this was a surprise. We had her examined by the county Child Find, and they were amazed at her achievements thus far. So, assuming all goes as planned, she'll be on target for kindergarten in the Fall of 2010.

We have been so blessed by having Gracelynn in our family, and we thank God for the opportunity to raise her as our own daughter.

To follow her progress and to catch up on the family happenings, continue checking in on our family blog: www.spaghettiontheceiling.blogspot.com

Thank you so much for all of the well-wishes throughout our adoption and for following our journey to four children!

Love, Christy and Mike

Thursday, October 30, 2008


On Sunday, we had child dedications at our church. It went very well. Our family had been videotaped last week and that video was shown in the service (as well as those of three other families). Then we walked onto the stage for the dedication. Pastor Janney prayed over each family, despite Gracelynn's constant movement on stage. Another adoptive family celebrated with their two new daughters, both from Ethiopia. I wish I had a photo to share, but alas... I forgot! Afterwards, we celebrated with Mike's parents at Red Lobster. Grace proved that she was meant to be my daughter by scarfing down all of her shrimp... and a few of mine! She is the only child we have that will eat shrimp. ;-) We came home and watched the Redskins win... so all in all, we had a wonderful time! It's hard to believe we've been home 5.5 months now! WOW! On one hand, it seems like Gracelynn has been with us for years. On the other, it seems like we were just in China.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Four months ago, Gracelynn lived in a country on the other side of the world and didn't even know what a Mommy and a Daddy really were. Now she is speaking a lot of English, has her own bedroom, loves having her hair up in ponytails with big bows and is going to preschool! She loves her school... though she calls it "church day", since she is literally in the same room as when she attends Sunday School for church. Poor thing... we really confuse her. Despite a few cries the first day, she had it all figured out by day two. I'm sure the confusion of Tommy and Mommy both being "at school", yet not seeing them, worried her. Plus she was put in pull-ups and didn't figure out how to ask to go potty on Tuesday. By Thursday, she was a pro. According to her teachers, she played well with the other kids, participated in the group, asked to go potty several times and had no tears! YAY, Gracelynn!

Here is a photo of Mommy and Grace today after Grace's bath and before the babysitter arrived.

Friday, August 15, 2008

So Why Do They Make a Peace Sign?

As you may have seen in many of the photos of Gracelynn, she usually accompanies her "cheese" smile with her "peace sign" fingers. I think EVERY photo we have of Gracelynn "Chun" from the SWI has her with the V sign (and usually no smiles.) We've been told it means "yes" in China. I've also heard it means "Victory". There had to be a good reason WHY they always hold up their fingers, right? My sorority sister Amy W. was curious too, so she and her husband looked it up on Wikipedia (why didn't I think of that?) They were at our picnic two weeks ago and saw our slideshow of China... in which there were many V-sign photos of Gracelynn.

Here's what Wikipedia says... apparently it must originate from Japan.

Japan and the V sign in Photographs

During the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, figure skater Janet Lynn stumbled into Japanese pop culture when she fell during a free-skate period—but continued to smile even as she sat on the ice. Though she placed only third in the actual competition, her cheerful diligence and indefatigability resonated with many Japanese viewers, making her an overnight celebrity in Japan. Afterwards, Lynn (a peace activist) was repeatedly seen flashing the V sign in the Japanese media. Though the V sign was known of in Japan prior to Lynn's use of it there (from the post-WWII Allied occupation of Japan), she is credited by some Japanese for having popularized its use in amateur photographs.[23] According to the other theory (actually present in the Japanese version of this entry), the V sign was popularized by the actor and singer Jun Inoue, who showed it in the Conica photo camera commercial in 1972.

Through the 1970s and 1980s in Japan, the V sign was often accompanied by a vocalization: "piisu!" This gairaigo exclamation, which stood for "peace", has since fallen into disuse, though the V sign itself remains steadfastly popular. It is especially popular in photography, as it is a favorite pose of both teens and adults - in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.[citation needed]

Another possible explanation for the popularity (and perhaps emergence) of the sign in Japan is that people (usually children) are asked to answer the question Ichi tasu ichi wa?ni ("two"). Being a Japanese equivalent of saying Cheese, the ee sound makes the photographed ones appear as smiling on the photos. Thus, besides saying "two", they are also giving the answer using two fingers. (meaning "One plus one equals?") whose answer is

The V sign is also commonly used in anime and Japanese live-action shows.[citation needed]/vɯi/ or /bɯi/), an approximation of the English pronunciation "vee" which differentiates it from "bii", the Japanese name of the letter B (as many Japanese speakers hear the voiced labiodental fricative as being the same as the voiced bilabial plosive, see Engrish). A more common phrase is "kachi" which means victory (V for Victory) or luck. Several anime characters incorporate the V sign into their poses, including Ash Ketchum of Pokémon fame, both Sailor Moon and Sailor V, as well as video game characters such as Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Chun-Li, and Ling Xiaoyu from the Tekken series.[citation needed] When characters show this sign, it is often accompanied by an exclamation of "Vui!" (pronounced

Due to Japanese cultural influences in the region[citation needed], the V sign in photographs has become popular with young people throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia.[citation needed]

In the Philippines, the popularity of the use of the "V" sign in photographs is mostly done as a mockery of its popularity and usage by their Asian neighbors (in particular, of characters in soap operas having their pictures taken). The "V" sign usually stands for "peace" in the Filipino context and is thus a cause for bewilderment and amusement when seen on Asian commercials, soap operas, and other media. When a person uses the "V" sign in the same manner as it is used in photographs by other Asian countries, it is mostly an attempt to be cute or funny in the photograph. When putting the "V" sign on top a person's head, it usually is done to comically "demonize" that person rather than just give that person Bunny ears.[citation needed]

So... I'm not sure that REALLY answers the question, seeing as though there are multiple reasons. I guess it's as customary as saying "Cheese" is here.

Visiting Mamaw

Well, Gracelynn moved into her twin size bed on Monday. Today we hung up her quilt. I searched for a way to hang it on the wall. But, I wanted it CHEAP (or free) and not overly countryish. So, as I was bumming around the Ben Franklin store, I found large clothespins for $1 each. I bought five. I screwed them into anchors in the wall and simply clipped up the folded quilt.

Her room is by far the smallest in the house. It's like 8'x8' with a corner chopped off to fit the door, two doors for the closet and two 36" windows in the corner. So, wall space is limited!!! Now that we've squeezed in the bed, I am so happy with her room. It's so cozy. I told Mike I want to chop all the other kids' rooms into 8 foot rooms, too. Well, the boys' room in particular. It's so big (15'x16') that there is just too much space (it's bigger than our room!) They keep filling it with junk. Let's split the room in two (making our house a 5 bedroom) and separate the two brothers before they kill each other. It would make things so cozy and with no room for tons of junk. :-) Mike's not for it. Bummer. He just doesn't think like me... I think in terms of... how can I make my life easier with four kids. Splitting the room: One... less bickering and shouting ("Mom, Tommy's touching my stuff") and two... less space for big toys! Ben would be allowed to use the lock on his door again (to prevent 3 and 4 year olds from invading his space). What do you think?

Last weekend, we visited Mamaw (Mike's maternal grandmother). She's about 1.5 hours from here, so we don't see her as often as we'd like. We brought the whole gang to see her non-childproofed apartment. :-) Although Mommy and Daddy and Gran and Granddad did a lot of "don't touch that", we all enjoyed our visit with Mamaw. Unfortunately this was the best photo I had of Mamaw... I was at the wrong angle. When we entered the apartment, Gracelynn flew in the door and ran to Mamaw and gave her a BIG hug. Wow! She had only met her once before at the reunion... and even then only saw her for brief moments of time. I think Mamaw was tickled pink (as were the rest of us!) Grace asked me today when we get to go see Mamaw next. Mamaw is now 92 years old! How sweet that Gracelynn loved to be with her... does that have something to do with her exposure to seniors at her Social Welfare Institute in China? (Her SWI was for children and seniors both.)

In addition to seeing her only great-grandmother, Grace enjoyed exploring the apartment. The walker was way-cool... she thought it was a step-ladder at first. So was the flashlight... hopefully she didn't run down the batteries. But the best part of the whole place was Mamaw's remote control chair! We had to hide the remote because Grace would start moving Mamaw up and down!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A BIG Thank you!

The quilt is done!!! I want to thank EVERYONE who helped out. The ladies from Roanoke volunteered their time, and in some cases their fabric, to pull this whole quilt together. We had so many wonderful people donate a square to the quilt. It's so amazing to look at the quilt and see the stories behind each square. It's absolutely beautiful. I apologize for the photo above being sideways. No matter what I did, Blogspot wouldn't put it in the correct direction! The ladies trimmed the squares with a pink/white polka dot print and a dark pink swirl. The back is completely covered with pink/white daisies (if you blow up the second-to-last photo below, you can see the corner that was bent over to show the daisies). It matches her room beautifully. And... is just perfect for a little girl!

Here are a few more close-ups if you want to look for your contribution. Gracelynn has seen the quilt, but we haven't set it out yet. I'm trying to find a way to hang it on her wall. Let's just say I'm not quite sure that she wouldn't try to color with markers on it or something like that. So, until she's a little older, I plan to keep it up. This will make a fantastic family heirloom for her. I can't wait to help explain to her where every piece/every wish came from. Thanks so much to all who contributed to this beautiful quilt! I know now that there is NO WAY I could've done this on my own... even if I actually had free time. Can you see your square? (If it isn't in there, it probably didn't make the cut-off date and will be included someday in a future baby doll quilt.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More Firsts....

This last weekend, we went up to visit Nana and PapPap Brogley. Grace got to see their home, yard, riding mower, and Harley... and new bunkbeds, new furniture and new bathroom (Didn't look like the same house to me!) :-) On Saturday, my parents hosted a picnic at their home in celebration of Gracelynn arriving. My uncle, aunt, cousins, and lots of friends from PA and from college (go D'Phis!) came to meet Gracelynn. The kids got to play with other Pennsylvania kids. Mommy and Daddy got to sit back and relax and enjoy the gorgeous weather. PapPap took the kids on tractor-wagon rides. Then later in the evening, Aunt Tracy and Uncle Tim pulled out the big guns... okay, water guns! I stepped inside for that one, though I did have clean-up duty pulling wet clothing off of 4 kids.

On Sunday, the kids went for a walk in the "forest" (or woods to most of us) and then to a local park with PapPap, Aunt Tracy and Uncle Tim. (Daddy had gone home; Mommy went shopping.) On Monday, after some school shoe shopping and spending some Target gift card money, we went to the Pittsburgh Children's Museum with Nana and PapPap. What a cool place! I really wish I had one of these within a quick trip from our house. I'd join the annual membership and hang out there for the summer. Just the joy of watching the kids paint without the paint being in MY HOME was worth it. The kids made watercolor paintings, silk-screened paintings, recycled-stuff-sculptures, and play-doh sculptures. Then we visited Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and saw the puppets. The kids played in the birdseed bins, tinkered with a real Mini Cooper, slid down an incredibly tight corkscrew slide (ask Mommy... it was TIGHT!), played with a roomsize instrument that was guided by your foot movements, played with a pebble rain-drum, made designs on a huge Lite-Brite, and played in the water room. They wore yellow raincoats and Crocs, but when you stick your arms in a pool and then scoop them out... guess where the water goes! Down inside the sleeves, dribbling down the shirt and pants and onto your feet. So... no one stayed dry. Not even the adults who had to help cleanup. Fortunately there was a whole wall full of automatic driers (how cool!) After the museum, we headed to Buca di Beppo to eat way too much food. We were planning on doing the Duquesne Incline, but Mommy had to go and get sick from the heat. So, we went home to pack up instead. On Tuesday, Mommy made the brave drive home with all four kids and a fully packed minivan! Yay me! :-) Lemme tell you... those restroom breaks were the faster, most organized trips I've ever managed with four kids.

Here are some photos of Gracelynn firsts:

Sitting on PapPap's Harley!

Painting at the museum.

Driving the riding mower. (Yes, she really did at one point, while PapPap held on, of course.)
Playing at Moon Park with Reagan, Tommy and Ben. (Brings back memories for Mommy... sigh.)