Little Kids Learning to Talk

Watching small children learn how to talk is both amusing and incredibly frustrating.  Just when ypu think they are starting to learn they inevitably seem to forget everything.

Now imagine this kid is four years old and still can’t talk and it becomes mostly frustrating.  But then you habe a day like today and you can’t help but smile.

Th is four but he spent most of his first four years in China so his English is non existent.  It has been very slow helping him learn too.  He has actually done quite well with responding to is for awhile but pretty much all he will say is in mimicking us.

While that is a start, today he actually started to string together a few words and respond as you would expect him to.  It was simple stuff like “okay momma” but when you are used to getting nothing, that is huge.

He has actually been jabbering a lot lately so I am hoping he is on the verge if major breakthroughs.  For now I will enjoy what we are getting.


Simple Joy

I was flipping through pictures on my phone today and just had to share this image with you.

This is of my little princess enjoying one of those bouncy slides at an awesome little festival we went to.  To me the look on her face is just priceless, and even more awesome because it was something so simple.

She was just going down a slide for less than two seconds and it brought her so much joy.  She actually kept talking about it for another ten minutes.  

As kids we find so much joy in simple things and then somewhere along the way we are taught that it has to be bigger and more extravagant to make us happy.  I am sure there is some scientific reason why dopamine is not as easily created or something but I also think it is a choice.

There is no reason we can’t find happiness in the simplest things in life.  In fact many of the happiest grandparents I know find their joy again in the simple joys of life.  Maybe we just go full circle and start to remember that it is the simple things that can bring us the most joy.

I was in a Magic Show With my Son

I don’t know why I am such a bump on a lot sometimes.  It is not uncommon for my wife to ask if I want to so something and I just sort of shrug my shoulders.

Fortunately, she is not easily deterred and today we went to a little free magic show at the library.  I don’t remember the guy’s name but apparently he has been on tv numerous times and was the magic world champion twice.

The show was only about an hour long and he kept it all pretty simple, but it was so much fun.  He was funny and engaging and he let me and my son be part of the show.

We both went up together and got to be part of a trick.  I normally habe no idea what magicians are doing, but today for the trick I was a part of I actually saw what was happening for almost the while trick.

Easton on the other hand had no idea and loved every minute of it.  He was laughing and bouncing around and having a great time.  It is always so great to see your kids that happy.

It makes me wonder how many of these opportunities I have missed because I was being a bump on a lot.  I’m sure it will happen again at some point, but for now I will enjoy how awesome it was to see so much joy in my son’s face.

My Son is Starting to Warm Up to Me

Adoption is such an incredible journey.  You experience some of the most amazing highs and some incredibly frustrating lows.

Bonding with my son is really important, but the reality of our lives made that really hard.  We just celebrated six months since Ty joined our family and of that six months I was not with him for about three months of that.  

As you would imagine that did not help our bonding much.  It has been awesome to see how close he is with his mom, but it also makes me a little jealous too.  

I haven’t really had a lot of time with just him and I, but today we got some time just the two of us and it was really great.

He climbed up on my lap and brought me books to read, including one that was actually just a handwriting book.  It was fun to just sit together and be alone.

I know that there is a long way to go here in our relationship, but it is so awesome to have these moments and see that we are making progress.

Yosemite Valley May be the Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Been

Have you ever had one of those days where you are just left almost speechless for an entire day.  When you go somewhere that is just so beautiful that there almost are no words to describe what you are seeing.

As you likely can tell by the title I am referring to the Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park.  I will do my best to describe the beauty of this area, but if you want an even better description from someone who immersed himself in it you should check out SaftyThird’s blog.  Even more than his love of this area, his writing is also just phenomenal.

To be honest, as we drove through the gate I was not overly impressed, but the gate is like 20 miles from the valley so it was not fair to judge.  We stopped at a little grove of sequoias on our way into the valley and it was amazing to see how huge those trees get.  It is really something you must see.  We are planning to visit the actual national park in the near future.

I should mention that we were entering the park from the North through the Big Oak Flat Entrance.  You actually climb up quite high through the mountains outside of the Valley, and then descend down into it.  As you wind your way down into the valley you get one quick glimpse of the valley and it immediately left me speechless.

You can actually see Cathedral and the famous Half Dome, but only for about one second.  Having seen some pictures before, namely on the aforementioned blog, I knew what I was looking for, but no picture could ever really do it justice.  I am actually kind of glad I don’t have a phone right now because then I didn’t focus on taking pictures and posting them, I just was able to just be in awe of its grandeur.

As we came through the Western end of the valley we were completely surrounded by trees so you can’t actually see a ton, but it is still beautiful.  Then a couple of miles up the valley you start to get some big openings on the trees, and it took everything I had to not just slam on my brakes and cause a major traffic jam so I could look instead of drive.

Fortunately, there was a pull out right there so we swung to the side of the road and got out to enjoy a stunning waterfall coming off the top of the south side of the valley.  There was no sign there so I am not sure what it was called, but it was across the valley from El Capitan which I didn’t even notice out in front of us at first, but once I saw it I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.

We continued up the valley enjoying these incredible cliffs on both sides of the valley and got our first great view of the Yosemite Falls dropping off the top of the North side of the valley.  We were actually about to turn over towards the visitors center, but courtesy of some construction we had to drive up to the end of the valley, and I am so glad we did.

When you get to the end of the valley the trees part like the Red Sea and Half Dome pops out in all of its glory before you.  There was once again another pull out and we quickly stopped and my Queenie snapped a few pictures.  All I could do was just stand there and stare at what may be the most stunning natural wonder I have ever seen.

I really have no words to accurately describe how it struck me.  Amazing, awe-inspiring, majestic, grand, beautiful, stunning; none of them do it justice.

I found myself longing to just stand there and look for a few hours, but that did not sound as appealing to my four kids.  So after one last peak we started moving back down the valley to get a more up close look of Lower Yosemite Falls and El Capitan from the North side of the valley.

I feel like I am just getting repetitive so I will leave you with one last wonderful event that happened on our way out of the valley.  My oldest daughter who is nine yelled from the backseat to give her a phone so she could take a picture because it was just so beautiful.  She was absolutely right, but it was not the view that I was happy about at that point.

We have spent a lot of time with our kids outdoors, all over the world in fact, and I am never sure if they are gaining a love and appreciation for the beauty of the world like I have.  But, when she yelled that out all by herself I knew that we have done the right thing and that they are gaining an appreciation for the truly beautiful things of the world.

I have been to some incredible places in the world but I honestly don’t know if I have ever been somewhere as incredible as the Yosemite Valley.  If you have never been there, then get there as quick as you can.

Finally Returning Home to Family

That’s right, after almost three months of waiting I am finally back home with my family.  It was a long and frustrating process, but I was blessed with people who did everything they could along the way to make it happen.

It was super hard lying to my wife and kids for the last week since I bought my ticket so that I could surprise them when I came home.  The wife did get a little suspicious when I didn’t answer my phone for 20 hours, but it was still a good surprise, as you can tell by the video.

They had already left for the drive-in movie by the time I got back so I had to go over there and surprise them instead of being at home which is why the video is not better.

It was fun spending the rest of the night with my kids just wanting to snuggle me and sit on me.  It has been a really lonely few months, but I am so glad it is finally over.  As luck would have it, the kids have all of next week off school so now we get a lot of family time before I go to work in a few weeks.

Life often doesn’t go the way that we planned, but it always seems to work out for the best in the end.

Having Sons is the Best

I will go ahead and get this out there right at the beginning.  I love my daughters to death too, but this is a day of gratitude for my sons.

Two things brought on this line of thinking today.  The first was that today was my oldest son’s birthday back in the states.  Like all of my kids I will never forget the day he was born, but it was extra special since he was my first boy that would be carrying on the family name.  

That time was also special because I left four days later to join the Air Force.  It was just one of those things where a trial makes you think back fondly on a certain time of your life because it has all worked out now.

The second reason I thought so much about loving my boys is because this evening I went to dinner at a friend’s house who has three little boys.  They were all excited to show me around and show me their toys.  They crawled all over me and wanted to wrestle, and it was awesome.

I haven’t gotten to rough house with my boys in almost two months and I miss it terribly.  Especially as I get closer to actually being together again I get more excited.  

Like so many things I would say I underappreciated my boys while we were together, but I hope that I will remember how badly I missed them this time and will make a better effort to do as much as I can with them now so they know how grateful I am for them.