Friday, October 30, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

That might even be an understatement...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Someone is FOUR today!

Today, my precious, beautiful, sweet, joyful, spunky princess turned FOUR. I just can't believe it. It seems like just yesterday we were in China celebrating her third birthday, watching her share her Chinese, "Anna birthday" sponge cake with her new little sister... Time flies.

I think that if you asked her, AC would say today was up there on her list of the best days ever. We had to make it extra special... after all, you only turn 4 once! Over the weekend, Drew had taken Booie to the pet store to pick out two goldfish, which she named Nemo and Teddie. She has a few fish books and had been begging for fish. She has been SO excited. Anyway, last night I pulled out "Finding Nemo," as she had never seen it before. I have home sick from school, and was again today, so when we had both woken up, we put it on... she LOVED it. Then she went off with Mom, Kate, and Grandma, who is visiting, to pick up something from the mall and head to On The B*order for lunch... her favorite! They came home and she and Kate helped me make AnnaClaire's cake ~ chocolate with Ti*ffany blue icing and chocolate sprinkles! Then it was for a story and nap time...

Once Booie woke up, she posed for a few "4 year old pictures" for me and then read a birthday book with Mom... then it was off to Chuck*ee*Cheese to meet Dad and Drew for birthday pizza, games, and rides. AnnaClaire has been talking about going to Chuck*ee*Cheese for her birthday ever since we went when our aunts were visiting. It was just as fun the second time, and she even got to meet Chuck*ee this time! We also won lots of tickets and both girls got to pick out light up princess wands as prizes!

We went back to the house and sung happy birthday to our sweet birthday princess. Daddy even picked out a Do*ra balloon and brought it home for her! Her face was just glowing and her smile was one of the biggest I've ever seen. Her face as we sung to her, her eyes gazing into her candles, was priceless. Never have I seen someone so excited about birthdays as our sweet princess... She loved every bit of her cake and then declared that it was time to open all of the presents she had!

She opened each one with such care, each time looking into the gift with such awe before moving on to the next one. Her friends and family spoiled her! She got a Ve*ra Brad*ley duffel bag and an easel dry erase board/chalk board from Grandma, a princess game from me, a purse and doll from her other grandma, books and movies from her aunts and uncles, an Ar*iel doll from her best friend, Mia, a $10 bill from her great aunt, the Wh*ere the Wi*ld Thi*ngs A*re book (she fell in love with it one week at "Dad 'n me" story time!) from Mom and Dad, and a Pla*smaC*ar from Mom and Dad, something we had seen during our trip to TN that she had just fallen in love with... her reaction to that was PRICELESS.

She rode her car around, put some goodies in her purse, read Wh*ere the Wi*ld Thi*ngs A*re with Daddy, and brought up some of her loot to put on her ottoman, where she puts special things before bed. Then we all gave her some special birthday kisses and turned off her lights as she fell asleep... the end of her 4th birthday, but just the begginning of another fun year to watch her learn and grow in all the ways that FOUR year olds do.

Happy birthday, my precious girl! I love you to the SUN and back! I am so glad that we got to celebrate with you and make your day special in all kinds of ways! I hope your 4th birthday was everything you hoped for! I love you so, so, so much and I am so glad that I get to be your SISSY!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kate's 1st Forever Family Day! (With VIDEO!)

One year ago today, our littlest girl became a part of our family. The moments of that day will never escape my memory... it was far from perfect, yet somehow, it was perfect in every way. It was a Saturday morning, our first morning in Beijing. Our travel group was going to tour the Great Wall that morning, while we were off to receive our baby girl, who at the time we thought was the completion of our family. (Ohh how things change in one year!) Our guide, Maggie, came to get us from the hotel at 9am. Drew (he was studying abroad in Beijing at the time) had met us the night before and slept at our hotel, so we were all together and loaded into a van that Maggie had rented for us. We drove down to Philip Hayden, about a 45 minute drive. The emotions were high... I couldn't even sit still. After a few wrong turns, we finally arrived there! We dropped off some donations for all the kids and then Leah took us on a mini-tour of PHF, while we waited for a certain lady to come who was to oversee the gotcha moment. After playing with some of the orphans whom we had grown to love over the past few months, we headed back to a big conference room at the front of the village. Leah told us a bit about Kate, and how she was VERY afraid of strangers. Before we knew it, a nanny was walking in, holding our precious, tiny, 19 month old girl... She was so perfect... The nanny brought her over to Mom, and as Kate shook her head no and started screaming, Mom held her for the first time. Kate screamed and screamed. The sweetest part of the moment came when Mom kneeled down and AnnaClaire came over and gave Kate and M&M. She stopped crying immediately, just chewing her M&M and looking at her big sister.

It wasn't long before she started back on the screaming... After Mom held for awhile, we all got a chance... she was the calmest for me :) Yep... we had a Sissy's girl for those first few weeks in China! Mom took her again, as Kate wailed. Leah told us to maybe let her have a little while with just Mom, so then the rest of us whent to go check out the two houses that Kate had lived in. All the kids were sleeping, so we just got to see the houses and her room. I about cried as I saw that her little crib was one away from Gracie's (the daughter of one of our chatty sisters) crib... is God awesome or what?! After getting a glimpse of where she had lived for the past 15 months, we headed back, to find Kate still screaming. We hugged Leah and thanked her for all she had done in Kate's little life, and then we were off. The minute Mom sat down in the van with Kate, she stopped crying and fell right to sleep. She never really cried the rest of the time in China... yet she had the saddest, most somber face as she grieved all she lost in just a few moments. It pains me to look at pictures from that first day... She looks so scared, so afraid... I look at her today, one year later, and my heart is full. She may not have grown much physically (she has still yet to reach the 20 pound mark)... except for her feet, which have gone from a size 2 to a 6...

But she has grown in so many other ways. She is no longer scared, somber, and afraid. She is now just beaming with joy. She has the biggest smile (and the sweetest little dimple...) She is running around, so full of personality! A personality I never would've expected when we met her a year ago today. She has the most precious little laugh and is constantly talking with her sweet little 2.5 year old words. It took her months to build trust and to overcome her grief, but I would say she has. She is still shy with strangers, but with those she knows... oh. my. goodness. I praise God for what he has done in her little life in just one year... I praise God for the miracle of adoption... And I praise Him for placing her perfectly into our family.

In honor of Kate's 1st Forever Family Day, I put together a video all about her... starting with the day she was born. It's kind of long, although considering it's 31 months of her life summed up into 13 minutes of a video, it really is kind of short. I hope you will watch it. It's firsthand the MIRACLE of adoption... The MIRACLE of Kate! (Turn your volume up... there's music and some video clips)

Happy Forever Family Day, Kate! I love you so much! Can't wait to celebrate with a Great Wall of Chocolate at PF Cha*ngs and a little present later... I love you sweet girl and am so thankful that God so perfectly brought our lives together one year ago today... Love FOREVER, Sissy

Saturday, October 24, 2009


We had such a fun time in Gat*linburg! There was a total of 7 moms, 10 China sweeties, 3 big brothers, and me able to make it. Lucy and her mom flew in to our city and drove the 4 hour drive with us, which made for a very fun ride! AnnaClaire and Lucy had a blast together in the back... when they weren't sleeping, they were telling stories and playing "fairy" and "house!" We had rented a big mountain house that we all stayed in and we got there around dinner time on Thursday (10/8) and all but 2 families were there. The girls all hit it off really quickly, like they see eachother every week and not just once or twice a year! They had a blast doing play-doh, although getting all of the play-doh out of the burgandy carpet wasn't very fun! Dawn had made ziti for dinner and we all enjoyed that before digging in to the numerous sweets everyone brought! As we waited for Caroline and her mom and brother and Shaoey and Grace and their mom and brothers, everyone played... most of the girls ended up falling asleep, as they didn't get in until pretty late.
We were up fairly early the next morning for a full day at Dolly*wood! Everyone had SO much fun! The girls were adorable in their matching T-shirts. They loved all the rides and just walking around, holing hands with eachother. It was such a fun day and we all loved Dolly*wood! At the end of the day, we all went to a cute ice cream parlor and enjoyed ice cream and chatting. Then we went on a few more rides before heading out. We picked up some BBQ and ate at the house... it was delicious! It was a very long and very fun day, and all the girlies slept GREAT!
On Saturday, we took the trolley into downtown Gat*linburg to eat at a pancake house there. No one wanted to brave the 1.5 hour wait with 10 little girls between the ages of 2-4, so we opted for Shon*eys, which was good enough! We walked around a bit, watching taffy be made, buying some candy, and just enjoying the day with sweet friends! After a fun morning, we headed back to the trolley and all the girlies played Sim*on says, a new favorite game of our girlies, until the trolley came. Once back at the cars, we headed out to a big Christmas shop with Lucy and her mommy, Claire and her mommy, and Emily and her mommy. We had such a fun time! The girls even got to see Sa*nta! AC asked for a jump rope :) Kate was scared, again... We also found AC's birthday present at a little toy shop there. We went to a little cafe nearby and got some lunch and enjoyed eating outside while the girls fed the birds and watched a little train go by. It was such a fun afternoon. We headed back to the house, and all the girlies did some crafts. Before long, we had to say bye to Miss Nichole and Emily, who had an early flight out on Sunday at an airport 2.5 hours away, so they had to stay at a hotel in Knox*ville. Everyone was so sad to say bye to sweet Emily! Meanwhile, Charlene was cooking some delicious gumbo for dinner! It was soooo good! We even saw a racoon right out on the porch as we were eating! All the girls thought that was pretty cool! After dinner, we filled ourselves with more desert, the girls played somemore, and then it was bed time for all the littles, as everyone else talked somemore. We were visited again by "Ricky the Racoon" and found out the next day, that we had some bears on our driveway! Too bad we missed that...
Sunday morning, we all packed up and the girlies played together one last time. They had so much fun playing Si*mon says and "doggie" before we left! All the girls were oh-so-sweet together. It was so sad to say goodbye! Atleast we still had another 4 hours with Lucy and her mom! The girlies told stories and played the entire way home. We even stopped at Mc*Donalds for lunch. We got Lucy and Miss Laura to the airport with plenty of time and gave some more hugs...
We had SUCH a fun weeked and cannot wait to do it again! We love you all...