Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in Pictures

Nothing really special about January... we had just been logged in for Kate though!
In February, AnnaClaire went on her first ambulance ride... and her first train ride!
In March, AnnaClaire helped work at the Show Hope booth at an SCC concert, enjoyed her 2nd Easter, and became fully potty trained!
In April, AC got bangs cut and our sweet and first adoption friends, Maddy and Elizabeth came to NC to visit us!
School got out in May and summer "officially" began!
In June, we went to the Jersey shore to visit some friends from our travel group! However, the big excitement in June was receiving Kate's referral!
I went to Romania in July...
AnnaClaire was baptized in August and we found out Kate was at Philip Hayden... which meant lots of new info/pictures of our precious girl!
Our LOA and TA both came in the month of September
We went to China in October and met Kate on October 25, 2 days before AnnaClaire turned 3!
We came home from China in November and began life with TWO precious little ones!
In December, we celebrated Kate's first Christmas home!

2008 was such a good year for us! (Obviously, since our precious Kate came home!) It was so fun looking back and finding these pictures... it's hard to believe how much AnnaClaire has grown throughout this year! I can't wait to see what 2009 has in store for us!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Drew is Home!

Drew came home from China today! AnnaClaire even got to stay up past her bedtime and go to the airport (in her jammies!) with me and Dad to pick him up! She loved holding up the "Welcome Home" sign that we made for him! She was so excited to see her big brother again and smothered him with hugs and kisses when we saw him. He's been gone since August, doing a semester abroad so it is so good to have him home :) Welcome home, Drew!

By the way, I finally got Christmas pictures loaded, and also did our "2 Months Together" post. They are both under this post! (still need to work on a home update for the website... I'm getting there!)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

2 Months Together!

Sweet Kate,
It's hard to believe that you have been a part of our family for two months now! How is that so? Why is it that the time we spent waiting for you dragged on so slowly, yet now that we have you, the time is flying? I have loved every minute of these two months that you have been in our family and wouldn't trade this time for the world! I'm going to be honest and say that not every moment has been easy. It is hard when you won't play with AnnaClaire, when you reject your daddy, and when you whine. Those are moments when we have to remind ourselves that you have only been home 2 months... and that's really not such a long time. Things take time and we know that they will only get easier. We love you SO much, precious Kate! I cannot imagine our family without the sweet joy and light that you add! You have come so far in these two months and I know you will only continue to do so. I love you sweet baby!

Happy two months together!


For Unto Us...

We had such a great Christmas! It started bright and early at 9:30 am (only kidding about that being bright and eary! How thankful I am that they don't quite understand enough to wake up at 4!) I've said it the past 2 years, and I'll say it again... Christmas is just so fun to watch through the eyes of a little one. This year was especially sweet and joyful watching through the eyes of my TWO precious sisters! It was a little weird without having Drew home, I'll have to say. Our traditional Christmas picture on the stairs is missing an important part of our family...
We were all up until 3am assembling the train table that "Santa" brought the little girls for Christmas. After five hours of assembling, gluing the tracks, putting together the different stuff, etc., I think I can say that I wish there truly was a Santa to do it all for us! Oh well, we will always have memories of putting it together, and the joy that both little girls had upon seeing what "Santa" had left them was PRICELESS.
The minute we walked down the stairs, Kate, with her mouth wide open, dropped her bunny and favorite book and ran over to check it out. AnnaClaire darted right over, with a huge smile. They both love trains and were very satisfied with a train table of their own. We watched them play trains for a while before moving on to checking out our stockings!
AnnaClaire could not have been happier, as she received the "chips and dippin' sauce" that she had asked Santa for. That was the one and only thing she wanted, and she was so pleased to get it! She also got a box of rubber stamps and ink, animal crackers, a Cudoroy bear, a necklace, princess shoes, a ladybug wind up thing, a princess flashlight, and hello kitty stickers.
Kate was also happy with what was in her stocking! She got hello kitty stickers, animal crackers, a Cudoroy bear, a princess flashlight, a ladybug wind up toy, a doll bottle and sippy cup, little pink bunny slippers, a drum, Chinese "puffs" (which are her favorite thing ever and we were excited to find at an Asian market nearby!) and a book. She was also very excited with all of the little things that were in her stocking. Will and I got giftcards, candy, hot chocolate mix, and other things like that. (Oh and I got an awesome Mug for hot chocolate!)
AnnaClaire had the honors to open the first present- the Chinese foot kit from PB Kids. It was from her sweet Aunt Deanne and Uncle Bill and her cousins! (Thanks again, guys!) and she loves it! This is something we have been really wanting to get her, so we were so excited when Aunt Deanne and Uncle Bill sent this! It's SO cute and a perfect thing for our sweet China girl!
As AnnaClaire was opening the first present, Drew called from Vietnam! They had spent Christmas on the beach and he was getting ready for bed. We all got to talk to him, and even Kate said hi, bye, and blew kisses into the phone! She looked very confused as to how a voice was coming out of it. She was very intrigued though and didn't want to let go of the phone! (by the way, he comes home on Tuesday... TODAY! I'm posting this on 12/30, because I couldn't get pictures to upload, but I'm just putting it under 12/25.)
We also love just realaxing on Christmas morning. Our family watches as each person opens their presents, so we get a lot of relaxing time :) AnnaClaire loved sitting up on the couch with her Daddy and brother while watching people open gifts. In fact, she thought that was even better than being the one to open them!
AnnaClaire loved walking around with her princess shoes. She always finds my high heels and will walk around with them, so we decided she needed her own pair, that fit her a little better. She loves them!
AnnaClaire and Kate had so much fun helping open presents, especially Daddy's Texas sweatshirt that they got for him! Daddy has lots of Texas gear, but didn't have a sweatshirt yet, so that was to perfect thing.
AnnaClaire had such a good Christmas! In addition to her train table and Chinese food set, she received little cleaning stuff (a vaccum, a mop, a broom, and a dustpan), a doctor's kit, a bingo game, some art stuff, a play-doh kit, books, and a Mrs. Potato Head (that's what I gave her). She loved everything she opened! She loves being a doctor and has been giving shots, putting on bandaids, checking our temperature, etc. all the time!
Kate also enjoyed all of the presents she opened! That is one thing about my two sweet sisters, they are so appreciative of everything they are given! She got doll stroller, a little diaper bag set for her doll, a cradle for her doll, a band in a box, a ball thing, some little puzzles, spice shakers for her kitchen, finger puppets (which is what I gave her), and books. Will got stuff for backpacking, and I got Ugg slippers, Texas sweatpants, giftcards, money, and lotion stuff.
After most of the gifts were opened, we sat down for breakfast and enjoyed pancakes around the dining room table! Christmas breakfast is always one of my favorite memories. I just love that time when we all sit around the dining room table and eating together. This year was very special with new little addition to our table. We have so much to be thankful for this year, especially the gift of our precious Kate!
Kate enjoyed her Christmas pancakes just as much as everyone else! She has started to get an appetite and she loved her pancakes! Oh and by the way- that's her "cheese" face, which she says when I take pictures of her!
Kate's favorite Christmas gift is her little doll stroller. It is the perfect size for her and she loves pushing it around everywhere. Actually, she is always pushing it! Could she be any cuter pushing her baby? We can tell that she was so cared for and loved in China by the way she interacts with her baby. It really is sooo sweet!
Our neighbor's relatives came home from China with their sweet Lila just before we went to China for Kate. We had met them before they had received their referral, and knew they were coming for Christmas, so we were excited to finally get to meet them! Lila is just a doll and Kate and Lila were so cute together! They had so much fun pushing their strollers together. Kate was also so sweet with Lila. Lila just started walking and whenever she fell, Kate would run over to help her up. She also wiped her nose and would hug on her. So sweet! AnnaClaire, meanwhile, had so much fun playing with the "big girls", our twin, first grade neighbors and their cousin, who is in kindergarten. They were so sweet with AnnaClaire and AC enjoyed checking out their Christmas stash!
We had such nice weather on Christmas- in the sixties, which made it very nice to be outside for awhile. Kate seemed to enjoy herself! I love that sweet angel face... isn't she beautiful?
Once we got back from the R's house, the girls went right back to playing with their Christmas presents! Kate loves her little ball thing and had so much fun pounding the balls with the little hammer and watching them drop down the levels! She is SUCH a good player!
And AnnaClaire enjoyed her new little Bingo game! It's so cute. You push a button to hear the sounds and if you have the picture of the sound that plays, you cover it. Once you've covered the whole board, you get to press the blue button, which tells you that you win. AnnaClaire really enjoys playing it!

Yet, all too soon, it was dinner time and we sat down to enjoy Christmas ham, mac and cheese, and green bean casserole. And shortly after that, the little girls took bathes and headed to bed... and as we winded down Christmas day, and said goodbye to yet another "most wonderful time of the year," I remembered that even though we only celebrate this day once a year, the joy that comes from Christmas happens all year long. We are celebrating the birth of the Savior, one who lives in us, works in us, and reveals himself to us day in and day out. So yes, this day comes once a year. And yes, the Christmas decorations will start to disappear. However, the joy that comes from His birth will continue all year long, and for the rest of the years to come!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Me and my two sweet sisters :)
Precious girls ready for Christmas!
Grandma and 4 of her 5 grandkids! (Drew was definitely missed this Christmas!)
Me and Will with Kate and AnnaClaire
Beautiful AnnaClaire who loved everything about Christmas! (other than big Church!)
Sweet Kate who we enjoyed her first Christmas home!
The birthday cake for Jesus was a big hit
Putting out cookies for Santa!
Little girls checking out Santa's cookie stash
Kate thought they were for her...

We had a very fun Christmas Eve and Christmas! It was so fun spending Christmas with TWO sweet, precious, adorable little ones... and watching Christmas through their eyes, which were lit with JOY! Christmas Eve went by very fast. Mom and Grandma went for some last minute stuff in the morning and I baked a cake for Jesus' birthday "party." Soon enough, we were pulling the cake out of the oven and waking AC and Kate so we could head to the 5:00 family Church service at our Church! This was the second time Kate has been to Church. (she has been staying home with Dad on Sundays, as we aren't ready to put her in the nursery and anyway, Dad has trouble sitting in the pews with his back- by the way, he's getting surgery on the 8th, finally! So pray for him! This has given them some good bonding time, too, as Kate isn't smitten with her daddy.) Anyway, she was much more content and quiet the first time she went to Church. With her and AnnaClaire, our pew was filled with chatter and movement. At one point, AnnaClaire piped up, "I'm ALL DONE with big Church! I want to go play in the nursery!" Both girls decided that they wanted Sissy and so they both sat on my lap chatting and grabbing at things. Atleast it was the family service. I don't think both girls will be sitting in big Church any time soon, that is for sure. They did love the candlelighing to "Silent Night." I wish I couldv'e captured how Kate's eyes LIT up when the candle was lit. It was such a beautiful sight! After Church, we went home for some pictures and dinner. We had potato soup in bread bowls and it was DELICIOUS. One of our Christmas Even traditions is baking a birthday cake for Jesus, lighting candles, and singing the birthday song. So we continued that tradition, to the delight of both girls. AnanClaire loved blowing out the candles and Kate (also known as "Cakers" or "Katie Cakes") proved her nickname true as she chowed down on her cake. The little girls put out cookies for Santa, which really confused Kate. She thought they were for her and started eating one! She definitely has a sweet tooth, if you couldn't tell! She then went to bed and AnnaClaire watched F*rosty the Sn*owman before heading to bed. She was SO excited for Santa to come! She was talking all about how he was coming down the chimney to bring her chips and dippin' sauce!

So there's a recap of our Christmas Eve. It was so fun excitement and joy of two sweet little ones to celebrate with. Christmas day was just as good.... but I'll save that for another day :)

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:9-12

Christmas at the Library

The Bi*lly Gra*ham Li*brary did a big Christmas event from December 1 until yesterday! We had been planning to go and thought yesterday was the perfect day! We had so much fun! It took awhile to actually get parked and in, because there were SO many people who also thought it would be a fun idea! (It was completely free, by the way!) We did finally get parked, the stroller unpacked, both girls in, and walked through thousands of lights into the main part. It was BEAUTIFUL. There was a live nativity, which both girls LOVED looking at. They were both completely enthralled, especially by the camel (Phoebe) and the donkey (E'ore). Bi*lly Gra*ham's childhood house (moved brick by brick from the original location!) was also open for viewing and it was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Christmas carolers were outside of the house caroling, too. AnnaClaire loved the Christmas carolers and all of the carolers loved watching her dance to the Christmas music they were singing! Inside of the barn, there is a bookstore (which was giving out free ornaments) and a little cafe/bakery set up like a dairy farm. They had delicious pound cake, hot chocolate, and apple cider. There was also a gingerbread replica of the whole Library, which Booie loved seeing! It gave me a whole new appreciation for gingerbread houses! We ended the night with a horsedrawn carriage ride around the Library. It was gorgeous looking at all the lights and AnnaClaire and Kate enjoyed singing Christmas songs along the way! We had a beautiful night and hopefully they will continue this in years to come and it can be a "Christmas Eve Eve" celebration!

Merry CHRISTmas!!