Friday, December 18, 2009

Not REALLY pigs in blankets...

Yesterday we woke up and made pigs-in-blankets for breakfast. At our house, that means little smokies (sausages) wrapped in crescent roll dough. And baked... obviously...

Anyway, Peter was quite interested in helping, and as always, had a million questions.

"Why is it called pigs in blankets?"

"What are little smokies?"

"Why are you cutting the dough?"

I tried to explain the concept of a pig-in-a-blanket, with the "blanket" being the dough and the "pig" being the sausage. I thought I had done a good job explaining, when Peter asked the question to end all questions:

"Do you cut off the heads?"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fashion, toddler-style

Peter likes his clothing. He particularly likes his shirts and pajamas that have fun prints on them, like his shirt with a baseball and glove, his pair of socks with baseballs, soccer balls, and basketballs on them, or his pajamas with moose and trees. He doesn't usually ask for particular clothes, though sometimes he will request the previously mentioned pair of socks.

This morning was a weird one. First, I got paged about 5:30am to deal with an issue at work. By the time I got off the phone an hour later, Peter had been awake for a while, and Amy had gotten him dressed and asked him to go back to his room to play with his trains and cars (that's an important detail) until Kate and Sydney woke up. He came out periodically to ask Amy questions as she sat in the living room reading and praying, and each time he would go back into his room to play a little more. The last time he came out, I was back in the bedroom, and I heard him come out and say something to Amy. I couldn't hear what he said, but Amy's response was laughter, after which she told Peter to "go tell Dad what you just told me." So in comes Peter, probably not sure what my response would be or why Mommy laughed, and he comes over and says "I should have a vehicle shirt on." I said "oh, why, because you are playing with vehicles?" "Yeah," he said, and walked back to his room. "Good idea," I said, as he left.

I tried not to laugh until he was out of earshot.

Part of me wonders what 2 1/2 year-old even knows the word "vehicle"? The rest of me just thought it was so cute I had to record it somewhere...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Baby Boy Bredenberg

It's a boy! And he looks healthy! Nothing else to say but praise God!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Classics

No, I'm not reading them.

I started thinking yesterday how to describe my children's personalities. 1-year-old Kate came naturally - "The Sound and the Fury". After that, I wondered what equivalent might describe the other two.

After a bit of thinking, I realized that Peter, at 2, is solidly in "Crime and Punishment".

Sydney? Well, if you know her personality, it won't come as any surprise that my pick for that one is "Death of a Salesman"...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kate!

Yep, today is Kate's first birthday. I can't believe she's one! I also can't believe we don't have more pictures of her up here, but we'll remedy that soon-ish.

The birthday party is going to be a picnic dinner at the community pool. Nothing fancy, no friends, etc. Just us, wishing her a happy birthday and continuing to be so glad she's a part of our family.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Backyard Improvement

We've been silent for a while now on this blog, but all the while I've been dying to share photos of a project that has been underway in our backyard. If I had put more thought into it beforehand, I would have taken more photos, made sure they were from the same angle, etc, so you could flip through them and see the progress, but oh well.

The only real "before" shot I have of this spot in the backyard is a picture we took almost two years ago before we moved in, showing the redbud tree that was there:

That picture does not reflect all the pruning we had done, but it doesn't really matter, because a month ago it looked like this:

Yep, bye-bye tree. We hated to pull it down, but with two other large-ish trees in the backyard and no other place for what was coming, it had to go.

Next step? Those are 6x6 timbers surrounding a 10' x 20' area covered with 6" of play mulch, or chips, or whatever it's called. Why do we need a huge area for mulch...?


Keep in mind this is time-lapse photography. It took about 40 man-hours over Memorial Day weekend and the following week and a half to assemble what you see above from the individual pieces of lumber and accessories that came pre-cut and labeled. Many, many thanks to Grandpa Peck and Uncle Matthew for helping with all the sweat and hard work!

Just yesterday, Amy and I got out and finished the last step, which was creating a sand-box underneath part of the structure and lugging in about 450 lbs. of sand for it. Here are some close-ups:

Some of what you see in the sandbox are dinosaurs Amy bought to be buried and found by our budding archaeologists, which never would have occurred to me, but is the ultimate crowning touch!

The kids are gonzo over this thing, which Sydney has insisted be called "Redbud" (see the first photo above...) Peter would spend all day every day sitting in the swing and being pushed, and he can't wait until he is big enough to climb up to the second floor without Mom or Dad being outside to supervise. Kate pretty much just sits and plays in the chips, but I think that's her way of saying "wicked cool, Dad!"

I'm not quitting my day-job, but this was a rewarding project, and it gets more rewarding every day they spend playing outside and enjoying it!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Google Wave

Ok, I'm a geek, but this looks really cool, and I'm not even done watching the whole demo!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Amy!

Yes, it is true! It is my dear wife's birthday. She has survived another year of me, and has done an incredible job with two and then three children. She is the highlight of every day, and I want to take this opportunity to say

"Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A few fun photos

For those that love to see photos of the kids (oh, that's me!) here are a few taken the weekend after we got home, including a few when the kids were in outfits we bought in China. I think the pictures speak for themselves.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Catching up

So we've been back home for over a week now, and still have not posted much information about the end of our trip and our time at home so far. This post should make up for that in spades!

The first four photos below are of the last day in Chongqing, including some group photos we took in the lobby of our hotel and a fountain next to our hotel where a light show with music captivated Sydney every evening. One is of the buffet area where breakfast was served every morning, and one is our agency rep, Anita, with the three girls in the group.

We loved our time in Chongqing, but has been the case on both trips for us, we spend so long in the provincial capital that by the time we leave, we are dying to start the trip home. The hotel and surrounding area were great, with big shopping and dining areas in underground tunnels, parks, etc. If I had to go back to Chongqing, I wouldn't mind a bit. Not that I would choose to do it with an infant again...

Once we left Chongqing, we went to Guangzhou, of which we have not yet posted photos. We stayed at the famous (among adopting families) White Swan hotel. Last time we were there, you couldn't get on an elevator or walk through the lobby without running into other adopting families. While there were still a lot of families adopting, the numbers were down due to the slowdown in the process. The hotel is an oasis of scenery and beautiful artwork, more than our photos can convey. You'll see the pool (there were actually two) below, both from our floor and when Sydney was enjoying a swim. The water was still a bit cold to take Kate in, but we'll make up for that this summer.

While we were in Guangzhou, we did the same routine as last time, with a physical exam, the famous Red Couch photos of the babies and the group, and plenty of shopping around the hotel, even if most of the stores around the hotel sell pretty souvenir-ish stuff. The highlight (adoption-wise) was the trip to the U.S. Consulate, but of course no cameras were allowed so we have no pictures to show you of the waiting room or the many families there to receive visas and take the oath they had us swear regarding the truthfulness of all information submitted.

The group also took tours of a Buddhist temple and a couple other sites. We had dinner at the same Thai restaurant where we had dinner four years ago with Sydney, and Sydney loved playing on the playground that was between the hotel and most places we walked.

After a few days there, we bade farewell to Kathy, our guide, and the rest of our group as we headed back on various flights at various times to our homes. Below is a photo taken primarily for Peter's benefit of the 747 we flew home on. Shiny...

Once home, we did pretty well with jet-lag and getting over the sleep interruptions that go with it. We all slept very well the first night, but continued to be sleepy/tired/wired at odd times, and we kept waking up at 4 and 5am for a number of days. My mom blessed us tremendously by staying with us for the first few days to help us get over the transition period of having four people on China time and Peter being still on Dallas time. She left after a few days, but may come back to help Amy when I go back to work on Monday. It is such a blessing to have grandparents nearby!!!

We had a number of firsts, like the first bath with all three kids in the tub, first family worship time with three kids, etc. By this point, it feels like we have gotten back into the rhythm of life, but that rhythm is a little faster paced and more demanding than it was a month ago.

Kate has been to several doctor's appointments, though there will be more in the coming weeks for shots, etc. It looks like she will need to be fitted for a cranial band (a helmet-like device) to help her head grow into it's natural shape. The best guess is that her head got a bit misshapen before she was born, and it will need some TLC to grow back into a normal shape to prevent sinus and jaw issues that can come from that kind of thing.

Otherwise, she is doing very well showing the developmental signs we need to see. She fought having anything put in her mouth (including a bottle) at first, though now she is starting to show interest in teething on toys. She is fighting the bottle less, though she still gets fussy when she's made to sit up or do something she doesn't want to do. She needs plenty more lessons in how to cuddle, but we're getting to be pro's at that! She does still love her sister and brother, and they are probably the best therapy to help her adjust and figure out what's what.

Well, I think that's about it. I'm sure Amy will think of a few things I did not post, but this time I'll tell her she has to post them herself!

Thank you all for your prayers and support while we were gone. If you would like to meet Kate in person, please give us a call and find a time to stop by!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Safe at home

We're safe at home, and have just finished a pancake breakfast made by yours truly after a better than expected first night at home. We all slept better than I would have expected given jet-lag, but we'll see how the rest of the adjustment goes. More later...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Homeward Bound

We meant to post more from Guangzhou, but the days have gone quickly and we're just eager to get home at this point. We leave in about half an hour for the airport, and about 24 hours from now we'll be landing. Just after 4pm, Dallas time, actually. We'll post more once we're settled back in at home, because we have so much more to say about our trip, but it will have to wait.

As a side note, if anyone is wanting to meet us at the airport, please call one of our parents for flight details. We will also call the parents from San Francisco to let them know if there have been any complications or if we are still on the same flight to DFW, so checking with them between noon and 4pm on Thursday would be a good thing to do.

Until then!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

PS - United Airlines, it's the 21st century...

Can I just say, only making electrical outlets of any kind available to business and first class passengers on 10-14 hour flights is... just wrong. Wake up, United! It's not that hard, American Airlines does it! What am I supposed to do for 14 hours to Beijing on your shiny new 777 if you can't be bothered to put in a power port at least every few seats? My daughter isn't old enough to watch most of the movies playing endlessly on that little video screen...

(Insert loud raspberry here...)

Safe in Guangzhou

We got up early this morning to get on the road to the airport for flight #4 of 7 on this journey. At the end of the day, we were housed safely at the White Swan hotel in Guangzhou for the night. Along the way, we experienced the joy of trying to get an infant to take a nap on an airplane (yummy goodness... or not...) and leaving a warm and humid city for a hot and humid city. However, this hotel has air conditioning, and we are one step closer to home. In addition, the Chinese airline seats are not as small as I remember them. Maybe I'm shrinking. They also insist on feeding you, even on a 1-1/2 hour flight. Remember those days in the States? Me neither...

The next time we get on an airplane, it will be to fly to Tokyo, catch a connection to San Francisco, and then on back home to DFW. And yes, that will involve much more of the aforementioned joy with infants and airplanes. I'm about to call United to see if they can get us bulkhead seats and possibly a baby bassinet like we had with Sydney coming home four years ago. The bassinet didn't make much difference then, because Sydney screamed and wailed any time she was put down, but Kate is doing much better with bed time and nap time, so hopefully we'll actually get some relief out of it, if I can manage to reserve those seats.

I'm still a bit under the weather, but nothing like the trip four years ago. Something about China and my colitis don't mix well. Amy said if we ever come back again, she'll insist that I start on a steroid treatment ahead of time to prevent this kind of flare. Ah, the joys of imperfect bodies in a fallen world.

Anyway, that's about all for now. Tomorrow we'll take Kate for her physical and fill out all the remaining paperwork for the U.S. Consulate. We'll have our appointment at the Consulate on Wednesday and will get her visa at that point. Mixed in there will be trips to see some of the sights of Guangzhou, and I hope to post photos of the hotel and the surrounding area, as it is quite a treat.

Thanks for hanging in there with us!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kate's Passport

I should have mentioned in my previous post that the reason we are still here in Chongqing is that we were waiting for Kate's Chinese passport, without which we can't (well, we can, but she can't...) leave Chongqing. It takes five days from the time everything is registered to get that, and we got it today. It is under her Chinese name, given by the orphanage, and she will be traveling back to the U.S. under that name, once the U.S. Consulate issues her a visa to enter the U.S. She will travel as a Chinese citizen, but will be granted U.S. citizenship as soon as we land on U.S. soil, which will be in San Francisco on Thursday, April 23rd.

Just FYI...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Almost done in Chongqing

We've been here in Chongqing now for 6 days, and we'll leave tomorrow morning for Guangzhou, where we will complete the process with the U.S. Consulate so we can come home. In the meantime, we spent the last two days taking tours to spots in Chongqing as well as just chilling out with Kate and Sydney. On Thursday, we went to the old part of Chongqing, where there is a street (more of a large sidewalk, really) lined with shops. We bought a few things to give Kate in years to come, and enjoyed the scenery. There are photos below.

First, the entrance to the market street:

Amy and Sydney enjoying the atmosphere:

Mmmmm, peppers.....

We saw this in Nanchang four years ago as well. This is a candy made with hot, melted syrup of some kind that is painted onto a smooth cutting board in various shapes and designs. A stick is embedded in it, and when it cools, the whole thing can be picked up and eaten like a lollipop, albeit a very elaborate one:

Because Chongqing is built on a river and is very hilly, the mode of transportation used in most other parts of China (the bicycle) is not as popular here. Here, people mostly move on foot, and if you have a need to transport something bulky or heavy, you hire one of these stick-men to load it in their baskets and move it for you. We saw four of these guys carrying a load of reinforcing steel for concrete through a square near our hotel, so they can and will move just about anything:

Here are Sydney and one of the other girls in our group. They became fast friends right away.

Back at the hotel, we sat in the lounge area for a while just to get out of our room. Kate does not like to sit up much, but she can be convinced for short periods of time.

On Friday, we got back on the bus and went to the square below. At one end was the Three Gorges Dam Museum (see how the front of the building is designed to look like a dam with water in front?).

At the other end of the square is the Hall of the People. The building was built in the 50's, but was designed to replicate ancient Chinese architecture. The people of Chongqing are quite proud that it has won awards and is regarded as an architectural masterpiece. It is the "symbol" of Chongqing, and appears on quite a few souvenirs, etc.

My three favorite girls in the whole world....

There were a number of school groups here when we got here, and Sydney was busting at the seams to go join in the games they were playing in their little circles. She had no idea what they were doing, but she sure had fun!

Here is our group posing with a group of school children who wanted to have us in their picture (and vice versa). They were quite excited to practice their English on us and show us all their antics.

Here's another little nugget being carried in a traditional Chinese baby carrier. I like the Snuggli better...

Here's a model of the Three Gorges Dam as it will look when completed in 2012. I hadn't realized it was not done yet, but the museum we saw is an ongoing attempt to preserve the history and heritage of thousands of years that will be submerged under a massive lake once the project is done.

And here is a very tired Kate, taking her afternoon nap after we got back from the tour.

Meanwhile, Sydney and her buddy, "Miss Marti" watched Mary Poppins upstairs in a lounge area.

And finally, and attempt to let Kate walk around the room.

Well, that's about all we've done since our last post. Today (Saturday) is a free day that we will spend packing and getting ready to leave for Guangzhou. I will be taking it easy, because I have not been feeling well for the last day or two. My colitis is flaring, and that always makes things harder for everyone, so it is a blessing to have a down day to get ready for tomorrow. Amy is doing some home-schooling with Sydney while Kate takes a morning nap. I may convince Amy to post later today, as I know many of you will be wanting a "Mommy's view" of things.

Until then, we appreciate your prayers for health and safe travel.