“For I know the plans I have for you…to give you hope and a future.”

With Great Joy We Introduce Our Newest Son Aaron Donald Walsh Ho

With Great Joy We Introduce Our Newest Son Aaron Donald Walsh Ho
Born January 17, 2007 Guangdong Province, The People's Republic of China Forever Ours April 12, 2010
"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"He's SO smart!"

Today, Grandma spent a wonderful morning with Donovan. I took Aaron to an appointment, and then ran a few errands. Last week I purchased 5 pairs of snowpants at a children's second-hand clothing store, and was thrilled to find that 2 of them fit perfectly (one for Aaron, one for Donovan). Today I wanted to run in and return the 3 that did not fit. When we got to the register I had to tell the clerk my name, and then I picked Aaron up just as the clerk asked what our address was. Aaron shouted out our address (house number, street name, city) clearly and correctly to her. The clerk was so surprised and said, "Wow! He is so smart! How old is he?" By now Aaron had moved on to counting the pens in her pen holder on the counter and telling her how many there were (14). I told her he was 3 1/2, and she said, "Well we sure see a lot of kids in here, but I'd have to say he's the smartest 3 1/2 year old I've seen." I then shared, "Actually, he has only been speaking English for 5 months; he was born in China and just came to the U.S. in April." She was floored; she asked twice if I was serious, and when I said yes, her mouth dropped open.
It is truly amazing to have witnessed Aaron's language development the past 5 months. Certainly having a brother the same age has helped Aaron learn English quickly, and it is clear that Aaron is a very smart boy (as is Donovan). We are so lucky!

It's Official - I'm home with the boys until next fall!

I am thrilled to share that my wonderful superintendent approved my request to extend my leave of absence for the purpose of childrearing, so that I will return in August for the 2011-2012 school year (instead of January 2011). I am so very grateful to have this time with both boys, but especially with Aaron!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Mid Autumn Moon Festival

Happy Mid Autumn Moon Festival! The first image above is the Mid Autumn Festival greeting card we sent to Rupert's parents and his brother's family. The second image is a close up of the writing (and moon) on that greeting card. The third is a book just released on Sept. 14 (Thanking the Moon by Grace Lin) which we read to Donovan's preschool class yesterday. The bottom image is the cover of a book (Lin Yi's Lantern) we gave Donovan's teacher as a gift, and we also have one for the boys.

Yesterday, was our first parent helping day at Donovan's preschool (it is a co-op). In addition to helping out, and providing snack, we shared a bit about Mid Autumn Moon Festival. The children are all 3 and 4 years old and I was amazed at how much they comprehended. We talked a bit about the holiday, read Thanking the Moon by Grace Lin (sweet, simple book to introduce children to the holiday, with beautiful illustrations), and gave each child a paper lantern (ordered from Chinasprout). Our snack was circular rice crackers, cheddar cheese cut into circles, and circular cookies ("moon cookies" we called them, really simple homemade sugar cookies). We talked about mooncakes, the fullness of the moon, lanterns, and making a wish while looking at the full moon. Donovan's WONDERFUL teacher sent home an email with parents with information about our visit and the holiday. In addition they created a large display of photos of our visit, information about the holiday, and a large paper Rupert had written Happy Mid Autumn Festival in Chinese on. All of the parents thanked us so much for the lanterns and for sharing this with the children and they shared some of the details their children had told them about the holiday.

Tonight, before dinner the boys and I walked to Donovan's teacher's house to give her a copy of a beautiful book, Lin Yi's Lantern, a large paper lantern for her to hang tonight at her house, and a mooncake. She emailed us this evening thanking us and telling us she read the book to her 5 year old daughter tonight and they both loved it. It has a wonderful message and is a very touching story. She plans to bring it to school on Friday to share with the students.

Just after dinner, we went on the screened in porch and Rupert lit the lanterns. Each of us made a silent wish (well not so silent for our two boys). Donovan wished for a dog (well, some wishes won't be coming true anytime soon...) and Aaron announced his wish was "to see the moon." Well, Aaron's wish came true. Around 7:30we drove in the car to get a perfect view of the FULL moon. We were all able to see it clearly and make our special wishes. When we arrived at the spot we had planned to park the car to get out and gaze up at the moon, we discovered it was now covered by thick clouds. We waited about 15 minutes, but the clouds remained. We are so fortunate to have left the house when we did so we were able to see the moon.

Tonight I think of Aaron's biological parents, and wonder if they were able to view the moon to celebrate this holiday. What silent wishes/prayers might they have made gazing at the moon...Oh how I wish they were somehow able to know that Aaron now has a Forever Family - a mother, a father, a brother, and a grandmother who cherish him and love him unconditionally; that he persevered against the odds in an orphanage in China and traveled to a new life in America; that he is happy and so smart and loving, and a most wonderful son. He is such a blessing in our lives.

We are so blessed to have two wonderful sons, Donovan and Aaron.

Happy Mid Autumn Moon Festival!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One of those Moments...

Today, I was making lunch, and Aaron was working on finding the correct magnetic letters to spell his name on the whiteboard. All of a sudden Aaron leaned around the side of the easel, smiling, and said to me, "Aaron is SO HAPPY." I asked, "Why are you so happy Aaron?" and he replied, "'Cause I love you Mommy, and I love Daddy, and I love Donovan." He had this BEAMING smile on his face (and by then my eyes were filled with tears!) and I raced over to scoop him right up and give him a big hug and kiss.
Every night when Donovan gets out of the bathtub, he races to our bed, where Aaron and Daddy are reading books, and jumps up to give Aaron a big hug and kiss. It's moments like that just melt my heart!
Here are two photos of Aaron with his name correctly spelled on the easel. He was very proud of himself.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Grandparent's Day to the BEST Grandma ever!

Today we are celebrating a wonderfully special Grandparent's Day with Aaron and Donovan's Grandma (my mom).
My mom had been away on the coast of Maine for a week with friends, and the boys were thrilled to see her today! They have both missed her during her week's vacation, and have been eagerly awaiting her return.
This photo was taken today after my mom gave the boys crab shells from the coast of Maine. They were thrilled! After lunch she gave them each two sets of fall/winter pajamas (which we need right now with our cooler weather at night!) and a new book. And, then coins to feed to their piggy banks. The boys are napping now and we are looking forward to a wonderful afternoon and dinner with Grandma!

Even though I know it's Grandparents' Day, and not Mother's Day, I want to say that my mother is truly my very best friend and I truly know how fortunate I am to have her in my life. I admire my mother so much, in so many ways, and she is exactly the kind of role model I want in my children's lives. She is such a selfless person, who has shown this time and time again (caring at home for two terminally ill husbands, and taking in her mom (my Mimiere) to live with us from 1986-2010, including caring for her for several years after a massive stroke). My mom has always done a lot of charity work. From a young age I was taught the importance of helping those less fortunate. We hosted Fresh Air children from NYC every summer, brought donations to homeless shelters, provided meals to the Ronald McDonald House, etc.
As a grandmother, my mom absolutely adores both of her grandsons. She sees them several times a week and loves playing with them. When one has an appointment, she always offers to help by spending the day with the other boy. Both boys already have fond memories of going to the penny candy store near her house, swimming in the pool with her, going shopping with her, and going to the playground. Aaron, though he has only known his grandmother for 4 1/2 months now, loves her so much. At least once a day he asks if she is at her house or if she is coming to see us that day.

I remember sharing our news with her that our adoption plans (for a healthy baby girl) had changed, and that instead we had found the most gorgeous 3 year old little boy, and felt so strongly that he was to be our son. Of course she was expecting a granddaughter, as that was what we had applied to China for back in 2008 - but within a moment of hearing our news, seeing the excitement and joy on our faces, she was 100% supportive of our decision, and truly happy for us, and for our new son.
My mom has suffered so many losses in her life, and at my age (36) suddenly became a single mother, when my father died after a 3 month bout with cancer. It would be easy for someone in her situation to feel sorry for themself, and choose to be negative/pessimistic, but instead, she has always chosen to focus on the positive and enjoy every moment. The saying on our blog "Life is not measured in the number of breaths you take, but in the moments that take your breath away." is one that is near and dear to my heart.

Happy Grandparents day to the most wonderful grandparent I know - my mom! Donovan and Aaron are so lucky to have you in their lives, loving them, and we appreciate you so much!

Oh How Our Garden Grows...

We have been enjoying the veggies and fruits from our gardens. We have been overwhelmed with our crop of cucumbers, as our neighbors can attest to, as they've been receiving them from us quite often. The boys and I have been eating 2 cucumbers a day! Our crop of snap peas and snow peas were much more manageable, and are long gone now. We are in the midst now of our cherry tomato crop (picking twice a day!) and our rasberry bushes are producing an incredible crop this year (these were new additions last year), and the boys and I simply devour them daily!
Finally, today our first two yellow bell peppers were ready to be picked. The boys have been checking on these peppers multiple times each day and were thrilled that finally they were ready today. The boys' lunch each day begins with cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers along with some dip (dill dip for Donovan, sweet and sour sauce for Aaron). They especially LOVE yellow and orange bell peppers. I love these photos of the boys holding the peppers.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 2 of Preschool

Apparently Donovan thinks that taking photos of him before we leave for preschool in the morning is part of what happens every morning I think. This morning, with his backpack on, he happily left the house and as we approached the car, he said, "Hey Mommy, how about I stand in front of some places in our yard and you take photos?" I'm posting a few of them.
He had another wonderful day. He reported playing in the sandbox, on the playground, with some sort of blocks, and about seeing a crayfish at the river. It was another scorching hot day, and so as soon as we got home, Donovan, Aaron, and I all went in the pool, followed by lunch, and a nice two hour nap for the boys. Rupert was sent home halfday for the holiday weekend, which was a nice surprise. We all enjoyed time in the pool after the boys' nap.
Looking forward to a very relaxing 3 day weekend!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Day of Preschool for Donovan

Today was Donovan's first day of preschool. We have all been eagerly awaiting this first day of school. Donovan attended a summer camp at his preschool in late May/early June and became familiar with the school, and some of the students and teachers. Then last week we attended a playdate with children from his class.
Donovan was very well rested this morning, ate a great breakfast (as usual), and was ready in plenty of time for a few photos before I drove him to school. The hugs and kisses between he and Aaron lasted quite a while. (Last night Aaron had said, while trying to fall asleep, "Tomorrow during the day, Christine will stay with Donovan, and Mommy will stay with me." (Christine is Donovan's teacher.) And yet, even with that understanding, the goodbye between the two brothers who have been inseparable for the past 4 months, was quite a long one.)
Donovan selected some spots in the front yard to have his photo taken in front of (which I've posted above). When we arrived at his preschool, he seemed a bit quiet, but replied when his teacher greeted him, picked up his name and put it in the basket for attendance, selected a cubby, and hung up his backpack as I unpacked things for his cubby. We then headed back outside, where Donovan headed to the sandbox. He then went right up to his teacher, Christine, and said, "Last week there was no excavator here, but there was one here at summer camp. Do you know where the excavator is?" At first, the teacher said no, there must not be one, but another parent remembered having seen it before. The teacher went to the outdoor supply shed and sure enough...a small excavator was located. Donovan was thrilled, and I was so pleased that he was able to speak up and advocate for himself (well, for an excavator, which is VERY important to him these days.) I then walked over and said, "Okay Donovan I'm going to leave now. I'll be back before lunchtime. Have a great day." He replied, "Bye mom, see you later." And that was it...What a big boy! (Rupert and our wonderful childcare provider, Lisa, can certainly appreciate this goodbye, as they both dealt with close to a year of tears at morning dropoff when Donovan was 2!) I left smiling, watching him totally engaged in the sandbox with two other boys.
I came home to find Aaron playing with his new school bus (Grandma gave Donovan a book about school and Aaron a large school bus). Aaron was loading Fisher Price people onto the bus, and telling me that he could fit "4 more passengers" into it. We spent quite some time playing with the bus, and then ran some errands. Aaron was my big helper at the bank, children's clothing resale shop (dropping off winter clothing from when Donovan was a baby) and a ladies' resale shop. Then home and into the pool until it was time for me to pick up Donovan.

On the ride home, Donovan told me all about his day. He said, "Mommy, guess how many kids are in my class?" I guessed 5, but he said, "no, more. There are 17 kids, and 2 teachers and there were 3 mommies. (The preschool is a parent co-op, so each day one parent of a chid in the class helps out. For the first day of school they had more parents. We've arranged our volunteering to fall around Mid Autumn Festival, and Chinese New Year so that two of our volunteering days can focus on Chinese culture/holidays.)
Donovan also told me some of the things he did today: played with trains, blocks, light table, sandbox, playground, and ran through the sprinkler. (In fact the teacher mentioned just before I arrived she had to hose Donovan off because he, and three other boys, went straight from the sprinkler to the sandbox...one can only imagine!)
Right now, he's trying to fall asleep, and keeps remembering things he wants to tell me.
What an exciting first day!