Not flesh of my flesh
nor bone of my bone
but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute
you didn't grow under my heart
but in it!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gabriella's First Concert

Gabriella LOVES music and we listen to music every second that we are in the car. In fact, if music is not on, she will request it by saying ("Sea-Sick" aka "Music."). We are not allowed to drive anywhere without music playing, and not just any music, HER music! For this reason, I have purchased various children's CD's so that we can at least mix it up a bit. Aside from the given choices that she LOVES (Elmo / Sesame Street, Dora, Yo Gabba Gabba, and Cedarmont Kids Toddler and Preschool Tunes) I have ventured out to find children's music artists who Gabriella and I both enjoy. Two of those artists are the Laurie Berkner Band and the Toe Jam Puppet Band. The Toe Jam Puppet Band is a local group that I discovered last summer. They have many local performances but we have never been able to attend one until today. Gabriella and I know much of their music, so it made it even more fun. Gabriella even put in a song request prior to the show beginning. She asked one of the band members for "Hot Dog" twice but both in a very, very quiet voice. They did play it for her, though!

Gabriella loved the interaction of the show. The band offers 2 performances every Monday at 10:30 AM and 12:30 PM at the Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford, MA. We had to go to the later performance because I had a meeting this morning. I was told, however, that the earlier show attracted the younger children and that the later show attracted the older children. The older children play a bit more rough than Gabriella enjoys and than I am comfortable with. At times, the band would turn off the lights (it was still "light" in there, certainly not dark) and they did silly displays on an overhead projector. For a dinosaur song, they put a dinosaur display on the projector and the kids got up screaming and running. For these children, it was all in fun. For Gabriella, though, she thought they were truly scared and got scared herself. When the lights were back on, though, she was back to interacting, dancing, and chasing the man with the bubble machine around. It is a neat band and if you ever have an opportunity to share their music with your kids or bring your kids to see them live, I would highly recommend it. For us, though, we will aim to get to the earlier shows from now on to avoid the bigger kids.
By the time the show was over, it was after 1:30 PM and Gabriella had not napped, so she was really starting to get extremely fussy and crabby and even moreso than on typical days in which she goes without a nap. We did, though, spend about an hour exploring the zoo. The zoo is very small, but I felt it was perfect for us. For me, the pluses were that it is relatively close to us, there was not tons of walking, and there were no large crowds of people. For Gabriella, the plus was that there was great variety of animals and displays in the small area and we could visit them all before her attention span faded!

They had a very small train that ran the course of the zoo and Gabriella loved it. She loves trains and she got to see all of the animals at the same time.:
Gabriella was exceptionally fussy by the time I put her in the car to go home. She fell asleep during the ride (at about 3:00 PM). I transferred her to the bed at home and she didn't wake up until 6:00 PM. However, she woke up burning up with a 102.1 fever. This certainly explains the more-than typical fussiness. It was a fun day, despite Gabriella getting sick, but now our focus moves to getting her back on the mend.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Girly Girl...?

The similarities between Gabriella and I never cease to amaze me. In every way, with the exception of her tan skin, she is like a mini me! She has a similar personality, demeanor, preferences, expressions, features, etc. We are similar even down to quirky details such as the fact that when I was a child I used to pick at the center of my top lip; Gabriella has started doing this recently but, of course, never knew that I used to do it! To me, she is proof that things don't happen by chance; there is clearly a plan designed by God. Discovering this "evidence" fascinates me. I am forever pondering, and being grateful for, God's plan that enabled the union between Gabriella and I. I certainly expect Gabriella to be her own person, but, I am constantly amazed that I had yet to discover any major differences...that is, until today!

It was a beautiful day today with spring-like weather. We took advantage of the day by spending it outside. Gabriella; our oldest dog, Riley; and I took a long nature walk in a local state park. We explored the woods, played near a stream, met lots of people and their dogs, and collected acorns ("pa-con"). After 2.5 hours of exploring, we got in the car to drive home and we passed a lake. I saw a rowboat launching so I stopped to show Gabriella. Of course, Gabriella wanted to walk down by the water and play for a bit. There was a man fishing, so Gabriella pretended she was fishing too by dangling a long branch in the water. Then, she noticed a small cleared area that directly abutted the water. I was purposely avoiding this area because it was all mud. I HATE mud and DESPISE getting dirty. I am very conscious, though, to not allow my hatred toward dirt (and all things messy) to hinder Gabriella's desire to explore. So, probably against my better judgement, I let her walk onto the mud. Then, Gabriella picked up two big handfuls of mud and, again, I didn't stop her. After all, I knew I could easily wash her hands and give her a bath. She then squatted down to dig in the mud. All I could think about was all of the dirt that was getting embedded underneath her fingernails! I reminded myself to relax and let her enjoy it. I did ask her, though, not to sit because the ground was muddy and I didn't want her pants to get wet (notice I said "wet" and not "dirty!"). She quickly forgot what I had asked her and one shin was planted in the mud. I reminded myself that it was okay and that she was having fun! Next thing I know, she was sitting in it and then, literally, rubbing handfuls of mud onto her BRAND NEW Stride Rite sneakers (my fault for taking her for a nature walk in nice, new sneakers)! At that point, I actually relaxed because she was already covered in mud and there was nothing else I had to "worry" about her dirtying! She then stood up with two handfuls of mud, looked at me, and lifted her hands up to the side of her face. I knew exactly what she was about to do and couldn't control myself from yelling, "NO!" She was quicker than me, though, and rubbed one handful of mud on the side of her FACE and the other handful of mud in her HAIR! Again, it was too late to be uptight so I burst into laughter and the man who was fishing was cracking up too. I then heard crunching coming from her mouth from the bit of dirt that managed its way INSIDE of her mouth. YUCK! At that point, I had had more dirt than I could handle, so we headed back to the car. She proceeded to SLITHER UP THE HILL, like a snake, on her belly, toward the car! NO LIE! I let her enjoy, though...heck, I figured it would help in cleaning up some of the mud! Before getting in the car, I stripped her down to her onesie and sanitized her hands. As soon as we got home, her clothes went directly into the washing machine and she went directly into the bathtub!

The point of this long story is that today I recognized one BIG difference between Gabriella and me - Gabriella apparently likes dirt and I, on the other hand, hate it and have always hated it, even as a child. If my memory serves me correctly, as a child I hated getting dirty and would burst into tears if I got dirt or spilled food on my clothing. Gabriella is very "girly", but apparently even girly girls like mud! Today, Gabriella helped me to lighten up and enjoy the moment. We had a great day, she brought me out of my "comfort zone," and we shared an afternoon that I will likely never forget!

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me but, even though they're not the best quality photos, my cell phone camera captured the messy event.

It all started with an innocent smile:
...then she was standing in the mud and only getting her hands dirty:
Notice her focused look as she admired the mud!:
...then she went to kneeling:
...and then sitting in the mud!:
...then proceeded to cover her sneakers in the mud!:
Proudly showing mommy the mud on her hands!:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Gabriella's First Jewelry Party!

Grammy had a Lia Sophia jewelry party at her house this evening. Being a girl after my own heart, Gabriella loved admiring the jewelry!
She never stops making her mommy proud!

Gabriella's 2.5 Year Physical

Gabriella had her 2.5 year physical today (one month late due to our trip to Disney and mommy's terrible memory) and the doctor said she is growing and developing wonderfully. She weighs just shy of 28 pounds (27 pounds, 13 ounces) which falls in the 25th percentile for her age. She is also in the 25th percentile for height, so she is very well proportioned. She has remained in the 25th percentile in both categories since she's been home. She is in the 50th percentile for BMI and 40th percentile for head circumference. The doctor gave Gabriella a new storybook, as he does during every physical. She did wonderfully during the exam and was fairly relaxed while the doctor was examining her. An uneventful visit to the doctor with only positive news makes for a very happy mommy!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Hmmm? Oh Yeah," "Stuck in Sticky Tape," and "I Like It"

Gabriella has a few new phrases that she has been using frequently.

"Hmmm? Oh Yeah"
Grammy bought Gabriella Emotion cards which are cards that depict an emotion and you act that emotion out. Gabriella and I were acting out emotions such as happy, sad, surprised, etc. When we got to the "thinking" card, I said, "Hmmm?" and Gabriella immediately put her finger on her cheek, said, "Hmmm?," pointed her finger in the air, and then said, "Oh yeah!" I cracked up laughing because it was perfect and she did it completely on her own. I have no idea where she saw this, but I couldn't believe it. If you could see her do it in person, you would get the full picture of how cute it is. So, needless to say, we have her act this one out for everyone we see!

"Stuck in Sticky Tape"
Gabriella recently watched a Dora episode in which one of the characters was stuck in sticky tape. So, this is Gabriella's newest fascination. She pretends she is stuck and says, "I stuck. Sticky tape!" and repeats it over and over! It cracks me up.

"I Like It"
Gabriella has also recently been saying, "I like it" or "I love it," especially when we are out shopping and even more especially when we are shoe shopping. She is only two years old but already has a shoe obsession! She is the only two year old who I know who will willingly try on shoes! We can't go past shoes without trying on a pair. Today she learned a couple different uses for "I like" other than for material things. Gabriella has a lot of boys in her class and this morning she was the only girl. The boys were telling Grammy (who owns the school), "I like Gabby" and Gabby chimed in, "I like too!" Today, while in school, Ms. Tayla told the children that if one of their friends does something to them that they don't like then they should tell their friend, "I don't like that." Apparently Gabriella tried this new phrase out a lot today and even tried using it with Ms. Tayla during naptime! At dinner tonight, Gabriella tried out her new phrase again. She doesn't like to sit in a highchair anymore, so I got her a booster
seat and she told me, "I don't like it!" Well, I "love" how her vocabulary is growing and Gabriella is able to express herself more freely!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spicy Bum Bum

Gabriella typically uses three descriptors for food, hot, cold, or spicy (and "mmm, yum yum"). Today she informed me that "(her) bum bum (is) spicy!" With Gabriella around, who needs entertainment?!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

"In A Minute"

Gabriella's language is increasing exponentially and as more words come out, I become more aware of the words that she is taking in! Her latest answer to many commands is, "Minute" meaning "In a minute!" For example, if I say, "Gabriella, please get your sneakers," her response is, "Minute." It strikes me funny each time she says it. I figured out that she picked this phrase up from me. I have become very observant of my language to figure out if it was, in fact, me who she picked it up from. Sure enough, when she asks me for something or to do something while I am preoccupied, I acknowledge her request by answering, "Ok, in a minute." Now, I have to teach her what a minute really is and that sometimes she doesn't have the option to delay her tasks for a minute!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ceramics

Gabriella and I went on a date this evening! We had a very nice dinner and then went to a ceramics shop to paint pottery.

Gabriella is a typical, energetic two year old and is in constant motion but, for the most part, she does very well in restaurants (she does get lots of practice, though, since we eat out a lot!). Gabriella is a very good eater. I ordered her the fish and I got prime rib (which was the best prime rib I think I have ever had!). Gabriella ate about half a piece of her fish, but she also at a good portion of my prime rib! I get nervous about choking with foods like steak, so I cut it up really small and she gobbled it up. She LOVED it! She ate rice, some salad, and some cheese as well, but on the way out she grabbed a piece of bread out of the bread basket and munched on it on the way out and on our ride to the ceramics shop! She didn't miss any meals today and, as a matter of fact, had a hearty breakfast out with my parents this morning! She just loves her food (just like mommy!)! She cracks me up and makes me so proud!

After dinner I took her to paint pottery. Gabriella enjoyed looking at all of the pottery choices. We chose a plate because I figured that would be a nice keepsake. She loves to paint and enjoyed painting...until she lost interest and was ready to move on to a new activity! I tried to get her to paint the plate some more with a sponge and then she got bored with that! I painted her hands so she could put her handprints on it. She liked that because it was nice and messy but then wanted to quickly wash her hands once we were done! Even though she was done with the plate, she still wanted to paint, so we chose a small magnet shaped like a moon. She painted that for a bit and then was bored again! We had a fun time and will have a cute keepsake, but I think this is an activity for when she is a bit older and when her attention span is a bit longer.

Muchi!

I am constantly telling Gabriella that I love her. I also often ask her, "Do you know how much mama loves you?" If she doesn't answer, I tell her that I love her to the moon and back. Lately, though, she has been answering my question. Her reply to, "How much does mama love you?" is now, "Muchi!" (pronounced "moo-chee"). "Mucho" means "A Lot" in Spanish, but we have never used that word (at least that I can remember) so I really have no idea where she got "Muchi!" She is very creative, though, and I certainly love her "MUCHI, MUCHI!"

On a Plane to Get a Baby

As we were leaving a restaurant this evening and getting into the car, we heard an airplane and Gabriella pointed it out by saying, "Oooh! Airplane!" I acknowledged it and then she asked, "I sit there?" I asked her if she wanted to sit in the airplane and ride on the airplane and she said, "Yes." I asked her where she wanted the airplane to take us and she replied, "Baby." I assumed I knew what she meant and, in order to clarify, I asked her, "You want to go on an airplane to get a baby?" and she answered, "Yes." It gave me goosebumps. I may have put words in her mouth, but I really think my assumption of what she was trying to communicate was correct. I have no idea what is in her mind or what she remembers about coming home to the United States on an airplane. From this short conversation, though, I think she knows that she came home as a baby on an airplane. She also LOVES babies and, from previous conversations with her, I know she would love a new baby sister or brother (I vote for sister!). Even though she knows that babies come from bellies, I think she also realizes that they come from airplanes too and wants to get a baby on an airplane! I would love to go on an airplane for a baby sister for Gabriella, but we will have to see what God has in store for us!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gabriella's First Yoga Class

Gabriella's daycare is offering a Yoga class for the children and Gabriella attended her first Yoga class . While I was getting her ready this morning I was telling her that she was going to Yoga and she kept repeating, "Yogurt!." I explained to her that it wasn't yogurt like she eats, but Yoga class! These are some photos I took while I was peaking in:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Disny on Ice

Today we got to see "Disney on Ice: Celebrations" again, this time at the Garden in Boston. We saw it for the first time five months ago, in September, in Providence. A local friend through adoption, Kathy, and her son John, were unfortunately sick today and we were the lucky recipients of their tickets. This was a much different experience for Gabriella than the first time we saw it, though, mainly because of our recent trip to Disney World. She recognized all of the characters this time and throughout the show she would say things like, "Where (did) Pluto go?" This was also a bit of a different experience for me. When I saw the black princess the first time, I remember thinking, "Now that I have a daughter, I have to get up-to-date on the princesses!" I also did not understand why there was a scene in the show set in New Orleans. Since September, Disney's "Princess and the Frog" was released and Gabriella and I saw it in the movie theatre (Gabriella's first movie in a movie theatre). I now recognized Princess Tiana (Disney's first black princess...Yay! It's about time, Disney!), Prince, Naveen, and understood the significance of the New Orleans setting.

Getting ready to go to the show:
We arrived early for the show. While we were heading to our seats, I noticed Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse through a set of glass doors. I pointed them out to Gabriella and we headed toward the doors so we could peak in. The doors were open and Gabriella started to walk in and I looked to the staff for approval. The staff was so enamored with Gabriella's cuteness that they let us enter! They were having a breakfast for special needs children and Minnie and Mickey were there for photos. Gabriella headed straight for Minnie Mouse and gave her a hug! This was such a nice bonus and totally happened by luck!
I wanted to take a photo of Gabriella with both Minnie and Mickey, but Gabriella was only interested in posing with Minnie!:
Striking another pose with Minnie and Mickey...:
...and another!:
I think Gabriella is the cutest child on this planet (she is, of course, her mother's daughter!). It always tickles me when people reaffirm this! It is not unusual for us to get stopped in public and for people to comment on how cute she is. Today, the compliments were endless. We even had a lady stop us to ask me if she could take a picture of Gabriella. At least she asked. There was a strange man in Disney World who I caught taking pictures of Gabriella which creeped me out.
I though this picture was so cute because it looks like Minnie Mouse was kissing Gabriella!:
Gabriella striking another pose in front of the ice before the show:
These are similar photos taken during our first Disney Ice show five months earlier. It is amazing how much Gabriella has changed in so little time:
Waiting for the show to begin:
Gabriella LOVES "cupon" (pronounced cup-on) aka popcorn so, of course, we had to have some while we were waiting for the show to begin!:
Since our trip to Disney World, specifically since our lunch with the princesses during our trip to Disney World, Gabriella DOES NOT like the princesses! On our ride in to see this show, Gabriella said, "No princesses." Of course, there were princesses, but Gabriella did okay since they were not too close.:
This is not a very good photo, but it shows how much Gabriella was enjoying the show.:
We had very good seats. They were a bit further back than our seats at our first show, but more centered. The only problem was that three adults were sitting in front of us, one of who had to have been over six feet tall, which slightly obstructed our view. During intermission we moved to an empty aisle seat behind some children. Gabriella is a "mover" so this was perfect for Gabriella because she was able to stand in the aisle and move and dance along.:
I typically do not buy souvenirs at these shows because they are way overpriced. For example, a t-shirt that you can currently buy at the Disney store for around $3 sells for about $20 at the show. Gabriella is typically satisfied with whatever themed items I bring with us from home. I do, however, buy the CD soundtrack if they offer one. Gabriella LOVES music and we always listen to children's music in the car, so I am always looking for new music for her. Plus, the CD's typically sell for around $15 which, I believe, is a reasonable price. When we saw this show the first time they did not have any CD's for sale. They did this time, though, so I bought it. The music was not the soundtrack from this show; it has songs from the past 25 years of Disney on Ice, so it included some older songs. We listed to the CD during our ride home. The CD had the song, "It's a Small World." I asked Gabriella if she remembered the song. She asked, "I sit there?" I asked her if she meant she wanted to sit on the ride again and she answered, "Yes." I told her we could ride "It's a Small World" again next time we go to Disney World. I was pleasantly surprised that she remembered the ride and that she correlated the song with the ride.

On our way home, we stopped for lunch. We shared a brownie sundae for dessert which was a highlight of the day for mommy! Another fun day with my little mouse!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Little Troublemaker!

Gabriella surely keeps me on my toes! I have a small trash barrel in my bedroom. I was emptying it this evening into the kitchen trash and noticed that liquid started pouring out. I turned the barrel over to figure out what the liquid was and noticed there was a pool of URINE on the bottom of the barrel! It would be a physical impossibility for the dogs or cats to urinate in the barrel and it certainly wasn't me, so that leaves only one possible culprit! Gabriella is only left unsupervised for at most 5 minutes at a time, so she is a quick little bugger! It is not uncommon, though, for her to take all of her clothes off including her diaper making it easy for her to do such things!

No Interest in "Big Girl" Underwear

I am making every attempt to potty train Gabriella. Gabriella has (unsuccessfully) worn underwear in the past, but, of course, I keep trying. I took out her new Dora underwear and showed them to her. She yelled, "Aah" and jumped back as if she were afraid! We put them on and she kept admiring herself in them. I kept reminding her that if she had to go potty she had to tell me so that we could go on the potty and so she wouldn't wet her new "big girl" underwear. After questioning her many times, she said she had to go. I put her on the potty, but there was no output. Moments after she was off the potty, her new Dora underwear were wet. The diaper is back on and it is no big deal to her! I am thinking that when she is in the first grade I will have to volunteer with her class so that I can change her diaper!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Potty Training...Not Going So Well!

Gabriella and I spent the day today with Auntie Kathy at Auntie Kathy's house. In her usual fashion, Gabriella decided to strip, first her pants, and then her DIAPER...in the middle of Kathy's living room! I am used to her doing this at home, and she has unsuccessfully attempted it in public, but has never been successful at going commando in a place other than our home! We gave her a pair of Ava's underwear to wear and she wore them proudly. I figured it was a good opportunity for some potty training. I kept reminding her that if she had to go we would have to go to the bathroom. We even had several "false alarms" in which she sat on the potty with no result. While playing, Gabriella sat in Ava's (nicely handmade) wooden block cart (which she commonly does) and we did not think anything of it. Next thing we know, she is announcing, "I poop!" I lifted her up and there was a huge puddle of urine covering the bottom of the block cart. Auntie Kathie and I ran into action! Nope, my silly bug is not ready for potty training!

Gabriella had us cracking us up in the day earlier, as well. There was a program on the television that has a yoga warm-up routine. Gabriella was diligently following along and seriously intent on copying the moves. She looked so cute! My little lovebug never ceases to amaze me!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Visit to the Dentist

The health of Gabriella's teeth has concerned me from the first time I met her. Gabriella was allowed to, and had gotten in the habit of, sleeping with a bottle. At this point, I was legally only a "visitor." When your child is being raised by someone else, you have the same concerns as any parent would but you have zero control of what is actually being done. You can make suggestions for how your child should be cared for and those suggestions can either be followed, or not, and you have absolutely no ability to change it. During one of our visit trips, my mother and I had noticed that one of her top front teeth appeared decayed. Gabriella came home on Friday, September 5, 2008 (we actually landed early Saturday morning) and I had her at the dentist three days later, on Tuesday. We went to an oral surgeon for a consult on Wednesday, and the tooth was removed on Thursday! What a welcome home to the United States! Children don't typically start seeing a dentist regularly until they are a little older, but because of our concerns, we see the dentist every six months. During our visit prior to today's, the dentist had found a cavity and did a silver filling with no drilling since this was the least invasive and most permanent solution for a baby tooth. Knock on wood, I, personally, have never had a cavity or any other teeth issues, so I am especially paranoid about keeping Gabriella's teeth healthy. I am happy to share, though, that today's visit found NO new cavities! Hip hip hooray! Our daily tooth brushing struggles are paying off and are well worth the effort! The dentist also noted that her bottom molars were through, but that her top ones were not through yet. Gabriella is scheduled for her first teeth cleaning in August. Hopefully we can keep her cavity-free in the meantime!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Paperwork Continues

Today I kept thinking about how I could have greatly benefited from a full-time secretary through Gabriella's adoption process! I would never have guessed how frustrating all of the paperwork is and how much work it takes to get it all done - the pre-adoption paperwork, now the post-adoption paperwork, and then the ongoing "maintenance" of it. By maintenance, I mean keeping track of it and keeping it safe. At the same time, I wonder how much of this paperwork stress is real and how much of it is self-induced! I am completely paranoid about making sure all of the adoption paperwork (pre and post) has all t's crossed and i's dotted. The stress is induced by the sad truth that this is all I have legally to prove that Gabriella is my daughter, whereas biological parents have DNA. Realistically, this should never come in to question, but it still concerns me. This probably stems from my fear of Gabriella being ripped away from me while she was in my custody during my visit trips in Guatemala. Some attorneys in Guatemala would not allow adoptive parents to leave the hotels with their baby during their visits. There were stories (how true they were, I have no idea) of even foster parents being out with their foster child, the taxi they were riding in with the baby being stopped, the foster family being asked to provide paperwork on-the-spot showing proper custody, and when they could not show it, the babies being ripped away and taken into custody. The thought of this caused knots in my stomach, not only for when I visited, but for the remainder of the time Gabriella was in Guatemala and with her foster family. A part of the fear also stems from our current state of affairs with Hispanics in the Unites States. As we all know, the situation is not extremely amicable and, sadly, I am afraid that as Gabriella gets older the situation may get worse. Her "paperwork" may become completely necessary to prove citizenship, or the like. These fears surface for me in present day, mainly when I am traveling though an airport with Gabriella. Realistically, I do not believe I have to carry identification for Gabriella to travel domestically. Also, what are the chances somebody would randomly question my maternity? And what right would anybody have in doing so anyway? But, my fear, founded or unfounded, is still real and this causes me to be insanely diligent with all of her paperwork. God bless families that complete multiple international adoptions, especially back-to-back ones. Keeping track of the paperwork must be a nightmare.

In the middle of December I received Gabriella's Massachusetts adoption certificate which basically legally recognizes Gabriella's adoption in Massachusetts and the United States. It also contained her legal name change from Astrid Mariela Draper to Gabriella Astrid Draper. With the holidays (and a bit of laziness), I had not began updating all of her name changes (i.e. Social Security, Certificate of Citizenship, Passport, and Insurance), and it has been a heavy weight on my head. So, last night I went searching for all of the forms online that I needed and officially started the process. This morning, I took Gabriella's Massachusetts adoption certificate to the Social Security office and, after a long wait (specifically, two long waits because the first wait was too long and I had to leave for another appointment), her name was officially changed with Social Security and we will have her new card within two weeks.

The next three name changes (Certificate of Citizenship, Passport, and Insurance) will be more "difficult" because there is no physical office that I can carry Gabriella's Massachusetts adoption certificate to. I also knew that I had to somehow get what I thought was Gabriella's Massachusetts birth certificate. This is where I was mistaken and, luckily, I had called my county's Probate Court and then the Vital Records office in Boston for clarification on procedure. What I did not know is that Gabriella will never have a US birth certificate (which makes sense since she was not born here, but I thought that this was the result of a Massachusetts readoption). She could only potentially get a Massachusetts birth "record" which is NOT an official document like a birth certificate. I was told, "the birth record looks pretty, but is not a legal document." What I was holding in my hand, the Massachusetts adoption certificate, was THE document. AND, making matters more nerve-wracking for me is that we can NEVER get another true, official copy of it from the courts since adoptions are sealed. I can get unofficial copies, but if the copy I have is ever lost, stolen, in a fire, etc. we are essentially "out of luck." UGHHH. Worse yet, is that in order to get a birth record, I would have to FOREVER SURRENDER and FORFEIT this only official document that we will ever have. Nobody ever told me this until I learned of it, by chance, today. The town clerk in my town office did not even know this and if I had simply handed the adoption certificate over, without warning, for a birth record, we would never be able to get it back. I know we are only talking paperwork, but this is some of the most important paperwork that legally ties Gabriella and I together. I was told that the town clerk would be able to give me "true and attested" copies of the original. Once I receive them, the actual copy is going to be locked away in a bank safe deposit box with her other two documents that we will only ever get one of, her Guatemalan adoption paperwork with her Guatemalan birth certificate and her Certificate of Citizenship, the only document that proves her citizenship. Where, you may ask, is her adoption certificate at this present moment? In my town clerk's office while I am waiting for the "true and attested" copies. It is NOT in my possession which is making me insane!

During all of these "festivities" today, Gabriella was at my mother's day care. Since I have been out of work, Gabriella has been staying home with me because I am trying to take advantage of this time with her knowing that this time will not last forever, that I will be going back to work and she will be going back to daycare, and that we will probably never have this opportunity again. Gabriella loves playing with her friends at school and had a fun time today. BUT, she doesn't listen to her teachers and even talks back a bit! For example, if the teacher calls her to do something, she won't do as she is asked and she may even answer back with a firm, "No!" I sense that I have my work cut out for me! After I picked her up, we went into the infant room at the day care to play with some of the babies. Gabriella LOVES babies. She gently rubs their heads and backs, brings them toys, and observes their behaviors. Today, for the first time, we let her "hold" two of the babies and she was as proud as could be! Seeing Gabriella interact with the babies really made me realize how much she has already grown and made me realize that she definitely isn't a baby anymore. Time is flying and I wish I could get it to slow down!

"Cinco, Dos"

"Cinco, dos." This is Gabriella's newest "phrase!" She says is at random times and I don't believe she is "counting" anything. She roughly understands counting in Spanish up to seis / six. I will say, "uno," she'll say, "dos," etc. up to seis. So I believe she knows that cinco, dos isn't proper order. Sometimes she'll even add an extra "cinco" or two (or more) to make it "cinco, cinco, dos, etc." Maybe 52 is her "lucky" number? Very curious!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Choosing a Wedding Venue

Today was a snowy day in Massachusetts, but we spent much of the afternoon looking at, and eating brunch at, the venue that Tita Candace and Tito Steve have chosen for their wedding. The wedding will be held on April 30, 2011 in Assonet, MA. I will be the Maid of Honor and Gabriella will be a Flower Girl. The venue is beautiful and will be a wonderful location for this wonderful event.

Tita Candace and Tito Steve were teaching Gabriella wedding etiquette! Payback will be fun when they have children!:
Gabriella LOVES playing with other children and is not shy to approach a group of new children to play. She saw a group of children playing on the dance floor and had to join them. She was particularly drawn to this little boy and had fun playing with him. She even tried tickling him a couple of times, but he wasn't having it!:
Gabriella playing with the groom...:
...and kissing the bride!:

Gabriella and I are looking forward to this awesome event!

Pretend Play

Gabriella has started using her imagination a lot while playing. Her current favorite toy is the kitchen that Tita Candace and Tito Steve bought her for Christmas. She mixes up many different pretend concoctions for her and me to eat! Yesterday she began playing with a pretend frog. She cradles him in her hand and we pass him back and forth. Tonight she ate him along with a pretend fish! I wonder if he is gone for good in her digestive system or if he will be out to play again later!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Stampers and Baking

Today was a cold, snowy day, so we tried to entertain ourselves at home today. Gabriella is enjoying arts and crafts more and more now, so yesterday I bought her some new stampers. I though they were really cool since they were the largest stampers I've seen and thought that they would be perfect for her little hands to handle more easily. At lunchtime, I got Gabriella set-up with the stampers so she could play with them while I prepared lunch. I was at the counters getting lunch ready. I turned my head to check on her and this is what I saw!:
THIS is what happens when you give your two year old stampers and turn your back for literally 30 seconds!:
Close-up evidence of the offense!:
After we got her somewhat cleaned up, we proceeded to bake carrot pecan muffins. Gabriella LOVES helping.:
But, what's the point in baking it? It taste great as-is!:

Gabriella is constantly keeping me on my toes, but is a load of fun and a regular source of entertainment!