Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!

SO much has been happening this past month.  Since Thanksgiving we've celebrated Grace's 13th birthday and celebrated a 50th birthday! We've celebrated AC's 6th gotcha anniversary and a son's 25th birthday. We've driven on a 3200 mile road trip, which included a stop in TX to see Will graduate from Baylor, celebrated our 28th anniversary, and of course we've celebrated the birth of our Savior along with all the extra activities that are a part of the season.   And right after the new year, we'll celebrate Charlie's 7th birthday and the marriage of a nephew in Virginia, where 3 of our children will be in the wedding party.   Phew.  It's been a busy, busy time, but a really good one with lots of time spent with our older children. 
I'm not sure if I'll go back through all the photos we've taken and post any of them~ that task seems most daunting.  But I did want to drop in to say, hi and post a picture of our 5 youngest treasures taken on Christmas Eve.
I hope your Christmas was Christ-centered and BLESSED!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


Feeling so very thankful.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat~

Halloween is a low key affair around here.
(and I know Emily is rolling her eyes as she reads this) 

In mid September, I decorate the house for fall. Apples, pumpkins, hay bales, leaves, scarecrows, turkeys and the like. And of course those wonderful fall scented candles.  No Halloween decorations (it's my least favorite "holiday") but lots of things to celebrate fall. I've got quite a collection going on.  In fact, we even eat off of special dishes during the fall months.  It IS my favorite season, after all!

The children do love to trick or treat.  And "costumes" for us means going into the dress up bin and choosing  something to wear for the evening.  That's really lame, I know. (Emily is nodding her head in agreement) But it is what it is, and the children don't know any differently and they are HAPPY. And I am HAPPY.  So it works well for us!

 After carving our pumpkin (a daddy/ child event) we sat down to a dinner of pumpkin soup, bread and pears.

And then it was time to trick or treat! 

Our 4 trick or treaters!

Ellie was our 3rd little trick or treater to wear this Snow White dress.  And let me tell you, she was in to her trick or treating!
Kate chose to be a Baylor cheerleader in honor of brother Will, who will be coming into town this weekend! 

This is Charlie's 3rd time to trick or treat, and the 3rd time he's chosen to be a cowboy! Notice the improvised holster.  I told you we are low key!
AnnaClaire chose to be a king.  Not a queen. Not a princess.  A king.  Sigh....
And our soon to be teenager sat on our porch and handed out candy this year!
 The kids came home with lots of loot, and made promises to share with Grace.  All in all, it was a fun and successful night!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


A certain someone had a birthday yesterday!

The day started with doughnuts!  Because we hadn't had enough 2 days ago.

After receiving birthday wishes from grandmas and older siblings over the phone, it was time to head out to the circus!  

1st cotton candy experience!

Charlie and AnnaClaire wanted to visit all of the clowns
Holding the giant albino snake~ this was quite an accomplishment for Grace, who is terrified of snakes 

Everyone in our family LOVES the elephants
Ellie smiled the entire time.  She sat still in her seat and watched everything.
And here they all are!

I asked everyone what their favorite acts were, and here are their answers:

AnnaClaire: the motorcycles, the elephants, and the snake

Grace:  the motorcycles, the elephants, and the dogs

Kate:  the elephants and the ladies in the air

Charlie:  the elephants and the ladies in the air
 We asked him if he liked the motorcycles (they were doing stunts in a big  ball cage literally right in front of us) and we thought they were mighty cool for a little guy to see, but he said,  "No, they were too loud."

Ellie: "efants"
We make a donation to Shriner's each year (that's where we had Charlie's foot surgery done) and in return we receive a pass for our family to attend the circus.  And it just so happened that circus day this year fell on AnnaClaire's birthday.  What a perfect way to celebrate!

For dinner, AnnaClaire chose Q-doba, where kids eat free on Saturdays in Oct.  And you can bet that Daddy was most pleased with her choice!  

And then it was home for cake and presents.  Our birthday girl is not a big fan of cake, so she chose to have Oreo Delight instead, which she and mommy had made ahead.  A certain big brother is known to choose this for his birthday treat, too.  

And just in case you're wanting to make some Oreo Delight for YOUR family, here's the recipe~

Oreo Delight
16-oz. pkg. Oreos

1 stick butter

8-oz. pkg. cream cheese

16-oz. Cool Whip

1 lg. pkg. instant chocolate pudding

2 1 /2 c. milk

Crush Oreos and set aside 1/2 cup of crumbs.  Melt butter. Mix with remaining crumbs.  Press into a 9x13" pan.  Mix cream cheese and 1/2 of Cool Whip.  Spread on Oreo crust.  Mix instant pudding and milk.  Stir until it begins to thicken.  Spread over Cool Whip/ cream cheese layer.  Then spread the rest of the Cool Whip on top.  Sprinkle saved crumbs over top.  Refrigerate. 

And then it was on to presents! 

Happy 7th birthday, sweet girl!

I can't ever celebrate AnnaClaire's birthday without stopping to reflect on the significance of her birth date.  For it was in late Oct. 2005 when God first spoke to my heart telling me that we had 2 baby girls waiting for us in China. 

Oh, how I wish I would have written the exact date down when He first spoke, but I didn't have any idea at the time of it's significance.  But this I DO know.  It was late in Oct. 2005.  

At that time, our youngest, Emily, was 12.  And I kept wondering if I was hearing right.  Because it just didn't make sense that God would place adoption on my heart seemingly out of the blue. When our children were the ages they were. When I didn't know anyone who had adopted  internationally. And, when I'm sorry to say, "orphans" were not even on my radar. But God spoke clearly, though throughout our whole paperwork process I questioned and wondered if I really had heard correctly.  

And then.

We received AC's referral.

And when I saw the date of her birth, October 27, 2005, I KNEW.  

I HAD heard correctly. God had spoken at the VERY time that AnnaClaire was coming into the world.

And wasn't God so good to give such clear confirmation?  A tangible reminder for me, each and every day, that HIS timing IS perfect!

AnnaClaire Chenhui your personality is larger than life! You are as extroverted as they come! You add sunshine and joy to this family each and every day.  You always want to help, and you are our chief organizer and director. You are never in the moment, but are always thinking ahead to the next thing. You LOVE Jesus and you love others. You have the biggest heart!  

And I just can't imagine life without YOU! 


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Celebrating Kate~

Today we celebrated four years with our sweet Kate~ our tiny little treasure. 

Kate is gentle, quiet, and soft spoken. She is a perfectionist.  She is thoughtful, observant and pensive. And rather introverted. And in this family, living with 4 siblings that have some VERY strong and extroverted personalities, sometimes she just needs to be by herself.

She is our girly girl.  She skips and twirls through life with a smile on her face.  She is all about baby dolls, princesses, ponies, dressing up and ballet.  AND She LOVES to read, and this mama loves that!

We are a family of tradition.  And in keeping with our forever family day traditions, we celebrated Kate's special day with Chinese food for dinner.

And then we shook things up a bit and had doughnuts for dessert!  And boy, did the kids love that!

Afterwards, we came home and watched Kate's gotcha video and then Kate opened her little gift from China. And her reaction, to her gift....

"Ohhh, it's JUST what I was hoping for!"

Katherine MeiLing,  your mommy and daddy LOVE you!  We have been so BLESSED to be your parents these past four years! YOU are a treasure! And a gift!

"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Rest of our Weekend~

After our pancake breakfast on Saturday morning, we loaded up the van and headed to the mountains.  The Blue Ridge Mountains are SO magnificent in the fall.  The splendor of God's creation is most evident to me during this season. Oh, how I LOVE the fall.  The colors of the trees, set against the Carolina blue sky....well, I just don't have the words to describe it.

It took us longer than our anticipated 2 hours to get to where we were going, as the winding road going up the mountain was bumper to bumper with all the others who had the same idea as us!  So, we just rolled down the windows and enjoyed the mountain air as we gazed at the colors that surrounded us.  When we were coming up to 2:00, we decided to eat our picnic in the car instead of waiting 'til we reached our destination. We were still in the mountain air, surrounded by the beautiful colors, right??? And keeping the tummies full and little ones happy is a priority. :)

About 3:00 we arrived at our destination and started with a small nature hike through the woods.
This photo was not posed.  Kate and Charlie are such sweet buddies!

Kate finds some fall leaves
Littlest brother with biggest sister
Our "twins"
Posing by their favorite tree


Then we headed up the mountain to the mile high swinging bridge~ the highlight of a visit to Grandfather Mountain!

The breezes at the top of the mountain were BRISK and it was COLD!  Quite a change in temperature from lower down where we took our little nature walk.

Grace and Daddy at the very top
All of us after blowing walking across the bridge

Oldest sisters

And the baby sister
 All too soon, our glorious day came to an end, and it was time to head down the mountain.  We had planned to stop for dinner in the quaint town of Blowing Rock, but due to the crowds we continued on and ended up stopping at a Cracker Barrel closer to home.  The hearty "home" cooking hit the spot, and the younger children were able to warm up with some hot chocolate there as well.  

And needless to say, we all slept well that night!

Sunday morning dawned another beautiful day, so we snapped some pictures before leaving for church. 

Littlest sisters
These 2 sisters share an extra special bond
And one last photo of everyone after our Mexican food lunch
 And then, before we knew it, we were saying goodbye, as Emily headed back to school with her wallet a little fuller {smile} and hopefully, her heart a little fuller as well!  Thanks for coming home, Emily!  It was SO good to see you!  And we miss you already and love you to the moon and back!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sissy's Home!

So, Emily called earlier last week to tell us that she was planning a spur of the moment visit home for the weekend! We were not expecting her home until Thanksgiving, so this was a most pleasant surprise!

She told us that she had only 3 requests for her weekend home:

Pancakes for Saturday breakfast

Yes, we're eating off paper.  I'm waiting for my new dishwasher to be installed tomorrow morning!

A day at Grandfather Mountain

And Sunday lunch at On the Border

And we were more than happy to oblige!  


And now a funny story~

Friday night, Emily realized that she had forgotten a long sleeved shirt to wear under her sweater for our Saturday in the mountains.  She went into my closet to see if I had anything that would work.  And I hear her in my closet, calling, "Mom! Your turtle necks are all ribbed! That's SO dated." Yes, honey, they are ribbed and yes, they are dated.  Keeping you and your siblings clothed in not cheap.  And someone's got to sacrifice. Better me than you, right?  There was also something "wrong" with all of my other long sleeved shirts.  "The buttons on this shirt are funny." And on and on.... 

And then I hear~

{squeal}  MOM!!!!!!  You have BEAN BOOTS!  

Well, yes, honey I do!

Mom!  How long have you had your Bean Boots?

Well, honey, they're probably about 15 or so years old. 

I was going to ask for Bean Boots for Christmas!  And yours look JUST like in the catalog. And they're REAL, not knock offs!  They are SO popular on campus. (In Alabama???? Really???? And who knew this mama was so stylin'????) I've been wanting some for a while now.

Well, honey, why don't you try mine on and see if they will work for you.  I'm more than happy to give them to you, if you'd like.

Mom!  They fit PERFECTLY! And they look like brand new!

Yes, they do.  (Probably because I don't wear them much here in the south! :) Feel free to take them.


Yes, I WANT you to have them.

Won't they be so cute with some wool socks?

Emily, guess what?  I HAVE some thick wool socks.  And they're like new.  AND they're from LL Bean, too!  Take a look and see what you think.

Mom, really?  I can have your boots and socks?

Really, Emily.  I WANT you to have them!

So, she struck out on shirts and couldn't wear her sweater the next day, BUT she scored BIG with her new {vintage} Bean Boots!

So happy I was able to brighten my girl's day!

Stay tuned for photos from the rest of our weekend.