Saturday, July 31, 2010

Answers: Part 3

It's about time to answer more questions... so here you go!
(This was the view out my window the other day. It's hard to see, but it's actually a double rainbow. I LOVE rainbows. And this was by far the most beautiful one I've ever seen.)

On with the questions. This post is going to be long, because I'm answering all of the ones that are left! So bear with me :)

My question is, do you plan to adopt when your older? And if so, would you adopt from China, or some of the other countries you've visited?
*I DEFINITELY want to adopt when I'm older. No doubt in my mind about that! If China is still processing adoptions in 13 years, I will for sure adopt from there. However, I'm not limiting myself to just China! Wherever and whenever God calls me :) But I know I will adopt. How can I not when I know the need around the world?!

What are your life goals, and if you could change anything about yourself what would it be??
*Life goals... hmm... these aren't huge, life or death goals... but I do want to visit every state in the US and every province in China. On a deeper level, one of my life goals was to help lead someone to Christ. I was able to do that on a missions trip to Romania in July 2008 and it was AMAZING. One of the times I've felt God's presence the most in my life.
*If I could change one thing about myself... I would not rely so much on others. I know that sounds weird, but I'm one of those people who always wants someone with me. I HATE being alone, I really don't like doing things by myself, and I am not very comfortable in new situations if there's not someone I know with me.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
*A wife and a mother to many children! I would also LOVE to do missions eventually!

I know you were homeschooled for a few years, which do you like better that or going to school?
*I LOVED being homeschooled when I was homeschooled. I swam year round and so really just had no time home while I was still in school. On top of that, I had a lot of homework for being so young. I was homeschooled from 5-8 grade and I think those years are SO important. My mom and I became very close (and still are) during my homeschooling years, I think having a strong mother/daughter relationship is HUGE. However, I am so glad that I went back to school for high school! I go to a small, Christian school (that I also went to for a few of my elementary school years). I have amazing friends from my school and also, I have really great relationships with my teachers. I just LOVE that about going to a small school! They are so much more than people who stand at the front of the room and teach. They truly care about us and make an effort to connect with us. It is not unusual to go out to lunch with a teacher and a group of friends, have a bonfire at one of my teacher's farms, etc. I am also a pretty social person and enjoy everything about the social aspect of being at school! It is also a nice time to sort of get out of the house :) So really I cannot say which I liked better. I loved the years I was home and will always look back on them with great memories, but I am definitely glad that I am at school for my highschool years!!!

Oh, and do you think you'll homeschool your children someday or not?
*I definitely think I will homeschool my children some day. Maybe not all the way through, but at least while they are younger and maybe in middle school. I just think that people are so quick to whisk their children off to school. I want to spend time WITH my kids, and I think homeschooling is an awesome opportunity for that. I will also say that going to school for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week is a bit over rated. :)

Do you think your family is done adopting or is that little dossier in China going to get matched with another someone special?
*How can we ask for our dossier back? As one of the families we were in Nanjing with said, "that would be like having an abortion!" Mom says her hands are full. But... I'm still praying that God will make a way for precious Ling Ling (the little girl I fell in love with last summer...) We're praying and seeing where God leads us.

I would have to ask, why blog?? Why do you do it? Did you start because of adoption? What made you start, in one question, why do you blog?
*I started my first blog on the day we were DTC for AnnaClaire in July 2006. I was 13 years old at the time. That blog was over at I posted almost daily for a year and a half until the entire blog ran out of memory from so many pictures being on there! In Nov. of 2007, I started this one, and have blogged here since! Anyway, I started it completely because of adoption. I really just wanted a place to be able to write everything down about our journey. I have continued to blog, because I just love doing it. I love to write, I love looking back at what I have written, I love having a place to put down pictures and memories so they will never be forgotten, and I love being able to keep friends and family updated!

 I'd like to know what your favorite memory is from your elementary years...specifically, what memory growing up with your brothers + parents is most dear to you?
*I have LOTS of favorite memories... tying our scooters together with a long rope and scootering around the neighborhood with my 2 best friends, doing all sorts of arts and crafts with them, etc. I have a LOT of really fun memories with those two, who still remain VERY good friends of mine. I also have a bunch of fun family memories. A lot of them involve traveling, as my Dad worked out of town (and even out of the country!) when I was younger. We went to Canada with him once (he worked there for 2 years) and it was SUCH a fun trip. I have such fun memories of walking around Toronto, staying in huge suites (since he traveled so much, we flew free, stayed in hotels for free, and were upgraded to really nice suites for free!) and putting the couches together to make a "cave bed" for Drew. I always slept on the roll away, which was referred to as my "princess cot." We took a trip to San Francisco when I was younger and that was another fun trip that I'll never forget. It is SO beautiful there and I have such fun memories of just sightseeing around with my family, finding the biggest hills, naming them, and driving up and down them, etc. A favorite memory from home happened on Christmas Eve one year. Drew, Will, and I used to always sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve. This particular year, we all slept in Drew's room. I will never forget waking up around 5 that morning and Drew telling us he had heard Rudolph's bells and seen his nose over night. We were all so excited we could hardly stand it. We started singing Christmas carols (very loudly) before 6, trying to wake Mom and Dad up. We just had the best time, as we all sang together, laughing, and trying to get Mom and Dad to wake up.

Do you have (or have you ever) had a boyfriend? You hardly mention friends and I can't imagine you wouldn't have any... you're such a beautiful young woman.
*I do not have a boyfriend, but have in the past. To be perfectly honest, I find dating at this point in my life a little pointless. Not always, but I do find that a lot of people date for all of the wrong reasons and I just don't see the point. Too many guys (I'm not saying all... I am saying many of the ones I know. I'm also not saying that girls aren't like this... because a lot ARE) are so wrapped up in themselves that they just don't even look beyond what they want and what's " best" for them. I don't think that high school dating is wrong, because I do know people who it has worked out for. My own parents, in fact, were high school sweethearts. However, for the most part, it has always bugged me when girls and guys find a need of always having someone, which I think is a lot of what dating in high school is. They move on so fast, and seriously, what is it teaching them for a future *long lasting* relationship when they just move from person to person like that? Anyway, that's just my personal feelings on the subject. High school boys just seem, for lack of better words, a bit immature. Not all of them, but the vast majority of the ones I know! That's not to say that I don't have friends! I have a bunch of really good girl and guy friends. We just prefer hanging out in groups, rather than "coupling off" if you know what I mean :)  

When you hang out with friends, do they enjoy entertaining your siblings? The pictures from ChickFilA were too cute!
*My friends LOVE the littles! It isn't like every time I am with friends, we are entertaining the littles, but they do enjoy playing with them and they all just love them!

Do you have any family traditions (however crazy or boring they may be) that you definitely plan on passing down to your own kids? What about traditions that you don't want to pass down?
*I needed help with this one, so I asked Dad. He said to put that we go to China every other year :) Anyway, for real... One of my favorite traditions growing up was Dad taking Drew, Will, and I to get doughnuts every Saturday. We always had SO much fun picking out which doughnuts to get and spending lots of time eating them! Another tradition we have is going to the mountains each fall in the peak leaf season. It is BEAUTIFUL in the fall, and we have such fun memories of hiking Gran*dfather Mountain, eating Ki*lwins (best ice cream EVER!) in downtown Bl*owing Rock, etc. We also have Christmas traditions of cutting down a Christmas tree in the mountains every year on the day after Thanksgiving. It's fun to roadtrip up to Bo*one, go to the tree farm, cut down a tree, walk around the Ma*st General Store, and eat dinner at the Dan'l Boo*ne Inn! :) When I was younger, Drew, Will, and I would always sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve and I have SUCH fun memories of that. We also take a yearly "steps" picture of all of us on the stairs! We'll have to use quite a few rows of steps this year! :) Anyway, those are a couple of my favorite traditions that I would love to pass down to my own kids. We don't have many traditions that I wouldn't pass on. Maybe making pancakes with hotdogs in them! We haven't done that in a long time though!

It's obvious God has a plan for you. What is it? What do you plan to do?
*That, I have no idea. Just have to keep praying and let Him show me just what he plans for me! I wouldn't be surprised if I am one day living in China with my family, ministering to the special needs orphans over there... they are just a HUGE part of my heart.

Also, what is your parents' parenting style with you and what are your thoughts on how to foster good daughter-mom and parent/child relationships, from a teenager's perspective? =)
  *My parents have always been the type that are not over-protective. I really, really like that about my parents. Rather than protecting us from everything, they have allowed us to make mistakes and have taught us through those mistakes. They have given us their opinion on things and have set different limits and boundaries, but they have never been overly strict. They have built a trust with us and let us do things because of the strong trust that we have! They have always encouraged time as a family, which is think is a huge reason of why our family is so tight-knit and enjoys doing things together. As for fostering good parent/child relationships, I think the most important thing is spending time together. My parents and I have found things that we can really bond about and talk about for very long times. These conversations can sometimes be pretty deep, sometimes I am just venting about things, and other times, it is just a conversation about football with my dad. Anyway, I think that spending time (occasionally doing activities one on one) and really bonding over different topics of conversation is VERY important for a parent/child relationship.  

is it difficult to have your own space in a family so big? Being a teenager how do you get time to be with your friends, study and spend time with your siblings?? =)
*Actually, it's really not difficult to have my own space, despite having a big family. My room is off a little hallway sort of out of the way of the other rooms. It is a decent size, and I never feel like I don't have enough space or time to myself. Typically, if my door is closed, the littles don't come in. Either I am studying, or I just need some time to myself. I have plenty of time to be with friends, and actually do spend quite a bit of time my friends. Thankfully, I can drive and so I just tell the littles that I am going out and I will see them later/tomorrow. Of course I love spending time with them, too. I have yet to take all 4 somewhere by myself, but before we went to China, I would occasionally bring AC and Kate to do different things with me. Obviously I can play with them all at home, too... giving the girls manicures and pedicures, baking with them, facepainting, playing games, etc.
What are you looking for in a future husband?
*First and foremost, a man who loves the Lord. And I'm not talking a man who goes to Church every Sunday. I want to marry a man who absolutely adores his Savior. I honestly believe if he has that one quality, that the little things that I would like in a husband will be there... passion for the least of these, a desire to have many children, hardworking (but always putting his family above his job, and his Jesus above anything else), a godly example for our kids, etc.

I was wondering what your parents do for a living?
*My mom is a stay a home, homeschooling mom. My dad works in the banking industry, but I'm actually not quite sure what exactly it is he does. :)
could you come over and help me find all the waiting child list that you follow?
*No Hands But Ours has links to all of the agencies that have waiting child lists/access to the shared list. They also have a list of children who are waiting with descriptions of different children from different agencies. I just go there and click on different agencies to see their waiting child lists. Some require passwords, others don't. Most of the agencies that do require passwords don't make you fill out much info to get them. Also, WACAP has a link to the entire shared list. Did you know there are OVER 1900 kids on the shared list RIGHT NOW?!??! Heartbreaking. Lots of boys of any age... even really young ones with pretty minor needs. And lots of older girls, too.

Friday, July 30, 2010

URGENT: Beautiful 7 year old has until Sunday to find a family UPDATE

There is a 7 year old girl in China who needs a family RIGHT NOW. Her adoption was just disrupted in China, but there are NO extra medical issues other than the listed microtia. There's more info on these 3 sites. PLEASE help this sweet girl find her family. She has until Sunday to do so and there is a $1,000 grant.

UPDATE: She has found her family!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Banana Leaf~ Then and Now

December, 2006 (13 months) 
 November, 2008 (just turned 3!)
July, 2010 (4.5)

With our first agency (AWAA), our guides, Rosa and Maggie always took families to a restaurant in Guangzhou called the Banana Leaf. It is my favorite place there to eat. It's across from the Garden Hotel, next to the Friendship Store. Even though we were with a different agency and had a different guide, we DID end up at the Banana Leaf again, with a family from our travel group. We all had a great time and it was once again our best meal in Guangzhou and we had so much fun watching the little kids go up and dance!

Anyway, I just had to share these pictures. AnnaClaire has always been a huge fan of the Banana Leaf. Even at 13 months, she just danced and danced her way through dinner. And some things just never change :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

4 years ago today...

We saw our beautiful AnnaClaire Chenhui for the first time. I'll back track a bit and say that the week before, our agency had posted that 4 surprise referrals had come in, and they would be considering families who had turned in SN applications before July 18. Ours was turned in on July 16. However, there were so many other people on the interested families list... we were not expecting to hear ANYTHING, we had JUST applied to the waiting child program, and we had not even heard about our LID yet! So on July 24, when we had a missed call from our coordinator, we figured she was calling back to answer some general questions about the SN process. How wrong we were. Of course, by the time we got the message, our agency was closed. The next day, our agency called again. Imagine my shock and surprise when I heard Mom say, "Of course! We would love further information!" Mom jotted down some of the basic info, as I ran downstairs to have my thoughts confirmed... Mom was getting our referral call! We called Dad, and we anxiously awaited the email that would have pictures of our darling little girl.
We all fell in love immediately. I mean, what's not to love? We found out that her name was Chen Xun Hui and that she was born on October 27, 2005 and was waiting in Chenzhou, Hunan. We looked at her and just knew that no matter what, this was OUR girl.
And that is why July 25, 2006 will always be a day that I will never forget. It marks a day that my life changed forever... the day this precious, amazing little girl made her way into my heart. And ever since that day, the love that at one point stretched across oceans has only increased. You can't spend a second with our little princess and not love her. She's so full of spunk, energy, joy, and love. She loves everything about her family and if she could choose anything to do, it would be to spend time with her WHOLE family. She loves Jesus, and at the young age of 4, has already asked Him into her heart. She loves to swim. She loves to color. She loves to meet people. And oh, how I love this sweet girl. I will never stop thanking God for bringing her into our lives 4 years ago. Our lives would simply not be the same without her.
July 25, 2009 (3.5)
July 25, 2008 (2.5)
July 25, 2007 (20 months)

Tomorrow is Lily Day (China time, anyway!)

In December of 2006, we traveled with one of the sweetest families ever to China! We have so many fun memories with them and still talk daily and have reunions quite often with them and some of the other families in our group. This picture is of Claire (25 months) and AnnaClaire (13 months) in China...
And here they are, almost 3 years later, in Gatlinburg last Oct. They were just about to turn 4 and 5!
Now the M's are back in China, to bring home their sweet Lily Caroline! She and Charlie were actually in the same orphanage, and we got to meet and love on sweet Lily while we were there last month!!! Isn't she beautiful??? :)

And on Monday, she will meet her FOREVER FAMILY! I am so excited for them, and for this precious, precious girl!

Anyway, here's their website so you can follow along, too!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Nothing like the miracle of adoption...

 Sara Beth and AnnaClaire waiting to welcome home Mia Grace!
 Some of the kids patiently waiting...
 Sweet sisters, Emma Grace and Sarah Mei, waiting!
 Here they come!!
 No words to describe the feeling of this moment...
 The boys finally meeting their baby sister!
 They just couldn't stop looking at her :) So sweet.
 AC showing Miss Amy and Mia Grace the sign she and Gracie made!
 Precious, precious girl!
 Finally home!
 Beautiful Jeanette and her sweet Sara Beth!
 Finally a family of FIVE!
 The welcoming crew!
 Finally getting to hold his mei mei!
Ring around the rosie while the mommies were talking!

In 2006, the "waiting mommies" group began. There were 4 mommies who were just months apart with paperwork. We all lived fairly close and met because we all used the same website host! The moms met at Chickfila quite often for enouragement during the paperchasing and waiting! One lunch, Jeanette brought along one of her friends, who was very interested in China adoptions. Ever since then, it has been these 5 moms... loving, encouraging, waiting, and welcoming each other home. AnnaClaire was the first home, just months after our little group began. Dana began a concurrent adoption as their wait lengthened, and brought beautiful Maia home from Vietnam at the beginning of '08. We followed shortly after with Kate in Oct. of that year. Last September, we welcomed precious Sara Beth home! In January, Sarah Mei and Aliana came home. Of course, we came home with Charlie and Gracie earlier this month, and FINALLY we got to welcome home precious Mia Grace today! Which means that our little group is complete... for the time being! (who's next?!)

Anyway, it was an amazing afternoon. There is NOTHING like being at the airport and getting to witness this miracle. Just as amazing as it is to walk down the escalator and see familiar faces holding up signs, it is just as wonderful to be on the giving end... and get to witness a family who is united by the miracle of watch the newest American citizen come home... to see that there is one less orphan in the world... I don't think there was a dry eye among any of us. It was such a beautiful moment!

And sweet Mia Grace, boy is she precious! It was so fun to see her in person after following their website throughout their trip! Just can't wait to watch this darling little girl grow!


Face painting!

In case you were wondering what was on all of the kids' faces in the last picture...

The other day, I got out some face paint we had and painted the kiddos' faces!
Annaboo picked a butterfly for one cheek and a ladybug for the other...
Kate, our super girly-girl chose a princess, of course :)
Gracie said a bunch of stuff in Chinese to Charlie, he answered, and she said, "panda!" so Mr. Charlie sported a panda bear...
And Gracie told me TIGER for the first cheek, and PANDA for the other one!

So there you go. They weren't happy about bathing that night and washing off their beautiful face paintings!

It's the little things that bring them so much JOY!

And yes, I will be back to answering the rest of the questions, don't worry! I just wanted to stay up to date on posting pictures :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 22, 2006

4 years ago today.

The day our dossier was logged in at the CCAA.

Our dossier for AnnaClaire.

You know what's crazy?

We'd still be waiting. Still.

And so today, on this would've been 4th year anniversary of a momumental day I look at my FOUR sweeties from China and just praise God that we are not still waiting.

Four years ago, our first dossier was logged in. Yesterday, we celebrated month with Gracie. Our fourth addition to our family since that time.

4 years. 4 kids.

All while people still wait...

and wait...

and wait.

I'm not here to make a post going off about special needs adoption and how I don't understand why there are still families traveling to China to adopt "healthy" babies.

No, that is not my intent.

Because honestly, every orphan needs a family.  

Instead, I want to focus on praising God.

Praising Him for showing us a different route.

Praising Him for blessing us with FOUR wonderfully amazing children in the past four years.

For showing us that "special needs" is merely a classification

But nothing more.

Maybe an extra dr. appt here and there.

But that is all.

And beneath that classification,

there is so much more.

And the truth is...

We could've waited years and years for ONE child.

But in that amount of time, we have been immensely blessed...

FOUR times over.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Answers: Part 2

Well, since yesterday's anwers took a bit more thought :) I thought I'd answer some of the basic ones today... So here you go!

Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy in addition to your photography? Do you participate in any sports or clubs at school besides swim team?
*Yes, I love taking pictures! I also love being with friends, writing, playing ultimate frisbee and other things outside, baking, and babysitting! The school sports I do are swimming and track (I do the throwing events... ha!) As for clubs, I'm in Beta Club and National Honors Society.

Anywhere other than China you would like to visit?
*I've been to Romania on a missions trip and had an amazing time there. Would love to go back sometime. I also still really want to go to Haiti (I was supposed to go on February, but we weren't able to because of the earthquake, and the trip was rescheduled to dates that we were in China) and would love to go to Africa. Really, anywhere. I LOVE traveling. I went all over Europe with my dad during my 7th grade year, and there are places there that I would love to go back to! I also have a goal of going to every state in the US!

Where do you get the little girls' clothes? They are always dressed so cute! Love the striped PJs in the "pancake" photo too. Do you help pick out the matching outfits?
*Of COURSE I help my mom pick out the clothes! She runs everything by me before ordering! :) We order most of their stuff from Boden, which has the cutest clothes ever. We also buy a lot from HannaAndersson (that's where the striped jammies are from). Most of their smocked dresses are from little shops here.

how's it going with the giant new van?!
*We're loving our van! It's hard to park, but it's so nice that we can drive as a family to Church in ONE car! It will be really nice, too, when we roadtrip!
Since we live close by what is your favorite place to shop.
*I adore everything from J Crew and Anthropologie. Sale racks, of course :) I also really like a store called Franchescas, which is a little boutique and has such acute clothes!

Do you have any desire to learn Chinese? What about any plans to keep Gracie fluent?
*I would LOVE to learn Chinese some day. If my school offered it, I would definitely take it! Unfortunately, I have to stick with Spanish for now. We would love for Gracie to stay fluent, but at this point, we are really just trying to work on English with her. It is coming VERY slowly.
If you could travel to any country in the world, where would you go?
*China, of course!
I know your siblings have special needs and you've never mentioned what it is. Is there a reason? I know you're not the only person to not disclose a sibling/child's special need.
*I don't talk about their "special needs" because that's not what defines them. I want people to know them for the AMAZING little people they are. Honestly, we rarely even think about their "special needs!"

Is there any reason that you've only adopted from China?
*Because that's where God has called us, and that is where he showed us 4 sweeties that he had planned for OUR family! :)

You obviously have an immense love for and bond with your younger siblings. Do your brothers have the same?
*My brothers might not have a blog all about the littles, but yes, they adore them! They are such good big brothers, too! They don't get to see them as much as I do, but that doesn't change anything!

List your, song, book, movie, thing to do on the weekend, vacation spot, subject in school, Bible verse, thing to wear, time of the year, and websites/blogs!
*Food- pancakes
Song- mostly anything by the Avett Brothers
Book- anything by Nicholas Sparks! The Choice is probably my favorite. (Yeah.. I'm not much of a reader!)
Movie- My all time favorite is probably The Parent Trap. I just love that movie!!
Thing to do on the weekend- hang out with friends!
Vacation spot- Fripp Island. It's a small island outside of Beaufort, SC!
Subject in school- English. My favorite class I have ever taken was AP Language, which I took this past year. I love to write and it is a LOT of writing. I also had an awesome teacher, which helped a lot! :)
Bible verse- there are a lot of Bible verses that I love, but my favorite is probably Phillipians 3:8-9. "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."
Thing to wear- nike shorts and t-shirts!
Time of year- summer, because there is no school and I love just sleeping in and being lazy! Aside from that, probably spring. I love the feeling of it getting warmer, being able to wear shorts again, the flowers blooming, the BEAUTIFUL weather, and school coming to a close!
Websites and blogs- I spend entirely too much time on Facebook. As for blogs, I follow a lot. I love following the ones of families who we met in China and have traveled with during our three trips. I also love following the families that we know personally. Ni Hao Y'all and No Greater Joy Mom are two of my other favorites. Not only because they take amazing pictures and are about two amazing families, but I also feel like they speak a lot of my heart in ways that I could never express.

And thirdly, what are a few of your favorite/least favorite things about China?
*My favorite things about China are the people, the food, the history, and the culture. The people there are, for the most part, just so sweet. So generous, honest, and helpful! The food, I just love. There's something about the way they prepare everything that just makes it good. Of course, that is if you stay clear of chicken with bones and other things that you wouldn't typically see in the US! I love the history there, because it goes back so far, and admist all of the modern parts of the cities, there are little reminders of how ancient the cities actually are. I also just love the culture... the big shopping areas, food being cooked on the streets, horns honking, the hustle and bustle of people... The things I don't like about China are "gross" aspets of it. Gross as in people spitting anywhere and everywhere. Kids just squatting right where you are about to walk and going to the bathroom. The sewage smell as you are walking down the street. I also hate the amount of pollution and how the sky is rarely blue.

How about, what do you want to name your own babies?? :)
*Esther, Ava, Daniel, Henry, Hannah, Jack, Noah, and Lilly.
How often do you look at the WC lists?
*Way too much. :) Any and every list that I can access, I look at. And it is heartbreaking to me to see how many kids wait and to also know how many families are waiting, too. I wish people would open themselves up more to the BLESSINGS that these older kids, boys, and kids with more major needs are. But anyway, yes I look at WC lists too much. It's hard to pinpoint an exact amount of time, but it's a lot :)

What jobs have you had growing up?
*When I was younger, my two best friends and I had a lot of petsitting jobs. We would put out flyers every summer all around our neighborhood and actually made a lot of money doing that! I was a lifeguard last summer. I loved that job! It was at my neighborhood pool, which I've grown up going to. I knew all of the other guards and we had so much fun! This year, I couldn't work there because I would've had to ask for too much time off. I have recently started working at a nearby jewelry store. So far, it is fun! The people I work with are so sweet, but I have to say, working in retail can be sort of annoying! I think it's a good experience though. I will have this job throughout the school year and next summer, too, and it will be nice to have a steady paycheck during school!!!! I also babysit a lot, which is by far my favorite job. I LOVE the kids, I LOVE the families, it is easy, the pay is so much better, and there are no taxes!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Answers: Part 1

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about all of your questions! I have been working a lot lately, my friend is in town from Pittsburgh, and I was at the lake this weekend, celebrating a friend's birthday, so that is why I haven't posted yet. :) I'm thinking I'll do the posts by categories, as there are a lot of questions to answer for just one post..

I figured I'd answer these first, since this is the number one question I have been asked lately, both in "real life" and on the blog! As I'm sure you can guess, this post is all about college.

What are your future educational goals?
I just have to finish up this year of high school and then I definitely want to go to college. I am also praying about possibly defering a year to do some missions in China before heading to college. We'll just see where he leads me throughout this year!

Where do you plan to go to college? Do you have a major picked out yet?
*Right now, I'm looking at Baylor, Auburn, Clemson, and UNC. I'm really not sure what I want to major in. I guess I'm looking at social work or something along those lines!

Just wondering if you think you'll go to Baylor?!?
*If Baylor were closer than a 20 hour drive away, I think so. I absolutely love it. My mom always tells me to pick a school for the school and not for the distance, but I really would love to go somewhere that is a drivable distance from home. I also haven't been on too many college visits (I have seen all of my top schools' campuses, but when I was younger for swim meets and not for an actual tour) and I feel like I need to go tour all of those places, too. Things just got a bit hectic this year to do it all with the adoptions!

I would like to know if you plan to go away to school, and if so how will that affect things at home. My daughter is going to college in the fall and I am very worried about how it will affect Lilly. They are sooo close.
*I am worried about this, too. This is the reason that I am trying to look at schools that are not quite as far as say, Baylor. Not that I want to be home every weekend, but I do want to see the littles (and my parents!) more than at the big holidays. I am obviously very close with my little siblings and want to remain being a huge part of their lives. They will miss me! I think my mom will miss me and my help, too. :) Or I'd like to think so! I just don't know how I can be away from everyone for such long periods of time... but I know it will work out. It will just all be really different! I will OF COURSE plan to talk/skype with them a lot :)

How do you think it'll be when you go off to college... assuming to go far? How hard will it be for not only you, but also your siblings?
It will be hard for me, and I do think it will be hard for them. I will miss them all so much. As much as I will miss them, I am also really excited for a new season in my life!

If you are going to go away to school (Baylor), who is going to keep us up-to-date on your precious family?
Hopefully my mom. If all the chanting for her works! :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ask me anything!

On my last post, someone had commented asking if I could feature myself on the blog. I had actually been thinking about doing something along those lines. So, in this post, leave a comment and ask me any question(s)... Anything you want to know about me! I'll try to answer each question and I'll make a post with all of the answers, that way you guys can know a little bit more about me!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

About time for another update

Dad took the kids for a hike over the weekend...

Something set Charlie off. Who knows what! According to Dad, he did this the whole time.

The big girls had a blast, though!

These two are my posers! They LOVE to have their picture taken. They were helping me make pancakes in this one!

And we discovered that our little man LOVES pancakes! (don't mind the bib. He likes to wear them and we have no boy ones.)

We are still doing well. I think this has been our easiest adjustment yet. Seriously. I never EVER would've thought this would be so easy considering not only did we adopt "older" kids (although seriously... do people consider 4 old??? Even 10... still so young!) but we also adopted 2 at once. But there must be some serious prayers going up on our behalf, because we are doing great! I keep questioning myself how long we've been home... because it just seems like we've been back with Gracie and Charlie for so much longer than just 10 days!

It is so nice to be home. To have our own space. To sleep in our own rooms. To eat our own food. To have a yard to play in. After spending 24 days in China, these are all things that just feel so GOOD!

Charlie has calmed WAY down now that we are at home. We seriously thought that being home was going to be a nightmare with him. We thought he'd be into EVERYTHING in sight. Honestly, he has been pretty perfect. He doesn't really get into anything he's not supposed to. He isn't bouncing off the walls. He plays pretty nicely and loves a good snuggle, too. He is SUCH a sweet boy. He also folds his hands at every mealtime until everyone sits down and we pray. It is precious. He has even learned the little song we sing (God our Father) and sings along. He has the BEST manners, too. He is always thanking Mommy everytime she gives him something. It is soooo cute the way he says, "xie xie Mama!" Like I said yesterday, he can be stubborn... and when he is, he doesn't give up easily. Even this has gotten MUCH better in the past few days. I'm telling you... this is one sweet boy. He, for the most part, is very flexible and goes with the flow. He understands a lot and will do what you ask. It will not be long at all before he is speaking English. He amazes me how much he already knows! He LOVES to go bye bye and gets all excited whenever it is clear that we are going out. He is a really sweet brother! It is especially fun to hear him and Gracie communicating. I love that they have eachother even when they can't understand much of anything around them!

Gracie is doing great, too! She is not very good about finding things to do, which is especially hard when the other 3 are napping, since she does love to play with them. Mom did buy a few games and she LOVES to play games. She and Mom played trouble for almost 3 hours the other day while AC, Kate, and Charlie were napping. She LOVED that. She also enjoys watching movies. Today, she helped me make double chocolate chip cookies! She loves to draw and color. We are still making daily trips to the pool, which is a huge hit for her... and everyone. I might've already posted this, but she has mastered the diving board and she and AC spend a lot of time jumping off, swimming to the ladder, and doing it again. She is quite the swimmer, but is struggling with breathing while she swims! We took her to Chinese Church the on Sunday, as a nearby Church has a pretty big Chinese ministry. She loved following along in her Mandarin/English Bible. I'm sure it was all pretty confusing, as it's not like she has heard anything about Jesus before. We will definitely keep taking her there! She is such a sweet girl. So lovable, fairly shy, very flexible, and extremely helpful. It is not nearly as hard for Mom to go out with the 4 of them, because she has the stroller for Charlie and Kate, and Gracie always stays close by, and hold AC's hand! Like I said, langugage has been our only stuggle with her. In China, she would repeat a little bit of what we were saying, but she hasn't repeated much of anything at home. She really hasn't picked up on much since we've had her, either. Language will either be slow, or she will surprise us, we'll just have to see. I cannot wait to understand what she is saying... and for her to start opening up to us what is going on in that sweet little mind!

AnnaClaire and Kate are doing well, too. It is much easier being home, let me tell you. They both, AC especially, had really difficult moments in China. I think AC was just having a lot of trouble with the whole giving up her "big girl" role to Gracie. She is doing so much better now and is back to her sweet self. Yes, she still has moments. But what 4 year old doesn't? She ADORES Gracie and loves playing with her. They are 2 of a kind! Kate is one who likes her space. Of course, being one of 7, there are constantly people accidently bumping or touching her. That's not to say that she doesn't love her newest siblings... she adores them! She just needs to have some time to herself, as that is just part of her nature. They have both really done well, because adding a 4 year old brother and a 10 year old sister is not easy when you are the ages that they are!

Charlie and Gracie both had dr. appts on Monday, and everything looked good! Charlie was 31 pounds and 38 inches and Gracie was 52 pounds and 50 inches. Gracie isn't even on the charts for height or weight. Charlie is in the 5% for weight and the 25% for height! So they are both pretty little! They were both really good throughout the whole appt. I translated to Gracie before that she and Charlie had doctor's appts and they wouldn't need any shots, but would have to get blood drawn. She kept repeating some of the words over and over and making a sort of wincing sound and holding her arm. She then went and said it to Charlie and Charlie says, "ow ow ow!" Anyway, they were both VERY good, according to Mom. They held their arms out and didn't make a peep. Hmm. I could take a lesson from my siblings! (I'm one of those people who is about in tears at the thought of getting my blood drawn... and needs juice right after because I feel faint! I know.. I'm a wimp.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Charlie Man

I am convinced he is the cutest little boy I've ever seen. I mean, who knew little boys were so cute?!

He gives the BEST kisses and puckers his lips way up. It is precious.

He has us all wrapped around his chubby little finger already.

When he's cute, he is REALLY cute. When he's mad, he is not so cute.

He understands so much already and I know it will not be long before he is speaking English.

He is an incredibly sweet little boy.

He can be stubborn. Really stubborn.

He was obviously loved in his orphanage. He just knows how to show love so well. It melts my heart. He was also obviously very spoiled in his orphanage. Hmm.

He is SO happy and is typically always smiling. And his smile just melts. my. heart. We waited so long to see it (in the year we waited for him, we never had a single picture with him smiling) but it was well worth the wait to see it in PERSON!

Everyone thinks he is adorable. And I'm going to have to agree.

I can't believe it's nearing a month since he became ours. Like with Gracie, it honestly feels like we've had him forever.

I'm blessed. Blessed to have this little boy as MY brother. Blessed that God would allow us to find him and to bring him home to be a part of OUR family. I just love him so much... and everytime I hear him say, "ELLO Jie Jie," with a big smile on his face, that love just grows even more.