Tuesday, July 31, 2012

And he's off~

Sigh..... Our week with Will went MUCH too quickly.  The little ones just adore him, most especially Charlie!  We had just left Will off at the airport, and before I even had the van into drive, little Charlie was already saying how much he was missing his big brother.  

Goodbye Will~ You are such fun! See you in November!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Favorite Friday~

Is it me, or do y'all love this stuff, too????  This scent is honeysuckle, and I just *heart* it. 

And another favorite (since they go hand in hand)~ I just LOVE these dishcloths.  The fact that they are hand knitted by children, just makes them all the better!  The color pictured is Garden Blend.  The yarn color must be popular because sometimes it's available, and sometimes not.  They can be found HERE.  And the soaps made by this family.....well that is a post for another Favorite Friday!

I have SO much to catch up on~ June highlights, July highlights, the wedding.... it's, well, it's overwhelming. We've got 2 of our older children home right now, and I've been trying to soak up the time with them, since they are in for such a brief time.  We were able to pick Will up on our way in from Michigan.  His plane in from Kenya (via London) landed right as we were getting back into town.  We couldn't have planned it better if we tried!  Will is heading to Denver on Tues.  He's looking to attend grad. school there after he graduates in Dec.   He's got some meetings with professors scheduled along with also visiting a certain someone who is there as well.  

Emily and I head to Auburn on Wednesday. This. coming. Wednesday.  I cannot believe she's going back already.  We'll be spending the night with my SIL in Atlanta and then moving her in to her dorm bright and early Thursday morning.  I'm considering myself having the easier end of the deal with the dorm moving (3rd floor) in the 100 degree Alabama heat, than does Bill, who will be staying home with the 5.  I've been teasing Bill that I'm looking forward to my little getaway.   Anyway, all that to say that once I've said my goodbyes to Will and Emily, I'll be back to a more regular blogging schedule.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Home Sweet Home~

We are home!  And what a WONDERFUL time we had.
And just to hold you over 'til I dig out from under all the laundry~
a little sneak peek...

My nephew and his beautiful bride~
Mr. and Dr. Kenneth R.

 Do any of you Michigan blog followers recognize where we were?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Heading to~

A Wedding!

 See you next week!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Look Who's Home~

It's Sissy!!!!!!!!!  

We had 5 VERY excited little ones, waiting for their sissy to get in last night! And one very happy mama to finally have her biggest girl HOME!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Blessing of a Friend~

I have been blessed with an IRL adoptive mama friend. One that I have more in common with than just adoption. And our houses are not even 10 minutes apart.

I love the story of how we met~  It was back in June of 2008.  Emily, AC and I were at the library for story time.  I sent Emily into the story time room with AC, so I could spend some time choosing books for AC.  Because I am very picky about the books that I read to my children. And it takes time to select good ones.  After story time was over,  Emily and AC came out and met me, and Emily said, "Mom, there was a lady in story time with a mei mei." (which is the term we use to refer to little adopted Asian girls)  "And the mom looks about your age. (meaning she's not a 20 or 30 something) And she looks like your type. I think you should go meet her." So being rather desperate for a friend, I did.  

And let me digress.... When my older 3 were growing up, I had lots of friends.  School friends, and neighbor friends, and well, just lots of friends.  And as we mamas were just beginning to send our kids off to college, we began our adoption journey. We all still had kids home, but they were mostly high school age, and times were just a changin'.  Our time was freed up a bit.  We could meet for lunches out.  Stroll the mall together. Get away for an occasional girls weekend.  Begin some decorating projects....It was a new season.  And then.  We brought home AnnaClaire.  And my friends were enthralled with her.  There were plenty of "aunties" to dote on her. She was a novelty. Oh, yes, I still had my friends. Everyone liked to pay a visit to AnnaClaire.  But things slowly began to change.  I wasn't so free with my time.  Lunches didn't work well with nap times.  My shopping trips were for baby clothes~ not fashions for myself.  Those occasional girl weekends ended as I chose to stay home for bonding purposes.  And soon after we brought AC home we began the process for Kate's adoption.  I was fully immersed in all things adoption, and then things began to change. It's one thing to have ONE child join your family. It's not hard to bring just one along with the girls.   But more than one?  Five???  I'm sure many of you can relate with this. Right? I'm not alone in this. I don't think.

So, we more "seasoned" moms who adopt find ourselves in a funny place.  Not really fitting in with our age peers, yet not really fitting in with the moms that have kids of our adopted children's ages. Age wise I fit in with the empty nesters (or those just about there) but "age of kids in the home wise" I fit in with the 30- somethings, and I'm certainly not there. (generalizing of course, just so you "young" readers of my blog know)  It's kind of a funny place to be.  And it can be rather lonely, actually.  And this is where I found myself in 2008.  Really needing a friend. Someone to take the kids and do things with.  So, when Emily came out and told me about "the lady" well, I went against my rather introverted nature and rushed right up to her and introduced myself.  And right there, in our little community library, we found out that her little Mia, and my AnnaClaire (both 2 at the time) were CHENZHOU sisters!  Yes, our babies had been together for a short time while in China!  Can you imagine that?  These two little Chenzhou girls were now living less than 10 minutes away from each other!  So, we made plans to go to story time the following week, and then go out for lunch afterwards.  And, you can guess where we went afterwards for lunch, I am sure!  And so began our friendship.

One thing I love about Tracey is that she's a PLANNER!  And I am SO not.  Oh, I love to go places and do things, but not to plan those things.  So, we do very well together.  She makes the plans, and I drive the big van.  And we've had some really fun trips~ over the years we've been to zoos, and pools; children's museums, to the mountains and to the beach.  We've stayed in cabins and condos.  (But not tents!)  We been to the lake, to apple orchards, and pumpkin patches. We've been to the dairy farm and to the strawberry farm. We've been to parks, playgrounds, and the botanical gardens.  We've had campfires and eaten ice cream. Lots of ice cream.  She loves my children and I love hers. We've survived some storms that were weather related, but have had no storms in our friendship. She's the kind of friend I can call when Bill is going to be out of town and say, "Can we take the kids to dinner one of the nights so I can get out of the house a little?"  And she knows exactly what I mean, and she always says yes. She's walked through 4 more adoptions with me, and I've walked through one more adoption with her. And who knows, maybe there will be another~ we do have her named already! (And I'm talking about another for Tracey~ not me. We have her girl named. This is not an announcement of any kind.)  We've celebrated victories with our children, and we are able to share the struggles as well. We're in a different season now.  Tracey's girls have just finished their kindergarten year in public school.  And we homeschool.  So we haven't done as much together this past year.  But we're hoping to make up for that this summer!

We started our summer off with a trip to the dairy farm!  Lots of cows and some really tasty ice cream!  (and yes, it's not the best photo of Ellie, but it was the best photo of the majority of the group) Mia is in the orange floral shirt; Emily in the purple.

One of our favorite summer destinations is to the swimming beach at the lake. And out for ice cream afterwards, of course! Emily is holding hands with Kate, and Mia is holding her sister's hand.

 And just because she wears a bathing suit so well.....

Yes, our friendship is a blessing.  I tell my children all the time that friends can come and go, but FAMILY is forever.  But you know, that's not always true. Sometimes a friendship is for a season.  But sometimes a friendship is forever.

A friend loves at all times.  Proverbs 17:17         

Friday, July 13, 2012

Favorite Friday~

I think on Fridays I'm going to try and post about some of my favorite things, and today, being Cow Appreciation Day and all, it seems to me to be the perfect day to mention my love of 
Headed out to dinner
Yes, it's no secret that we do love us some Chick*Fil*A in this house. And thankfully, it hasn't taken long for our newest family member to fall in love with it, too!  When we first brought AnnaClaire home, I was VERY particular about what I fed her.  So, for at least the first year, I would only order her the chicken noodle soup.  I know, I know, it's probably got a ton of salt in it, BUT still, it does seem to be a healthier choice than the fried nuggets, and there are trace amounts of carrots and celery in it.  Well, mama has loosened up a bit over the years, as you can see with Ellie.  Yes, that is my girl, drinking the last drops out of her ice cream cup.

Gotta get that last drop!

All Done! 

I have to say, I feel a bit sorry for you "northern" girls, who have a  distance to drive in order to indulge your taste buds.  We are in the heart of Chick*Fil*A country here (we're not in Atlanta, but I bet our city is a close 2nd in numbers of CFA's) and within minutes we can be at 4 CFA's, not counting the mall locations.

And what do I love best about this place????  Well, of course I love the food, but what I REALLY love is their hostesses.  They are among the kindest, friendliest and most HELPFUL ladies I know. And I usually require a lot of help.  Just sayin'.  Because we frequent CFA's alot~ and  I mean A LOT~ we are on a first name basis with the hostesses at our 4 nearby CFA's.  They see my crew coming in and we are greeted with smiles and hugs.  They have cheered us along as we've brought each of our 5 home, and once we have a new child home, they are greeted with extra attention on that first visit in.  

Usually, as I am ordering, the hostess is already pushing tables together, setting up placemats for the kids, laying out napkins and straws, and well, you get the picture.  And at our FAVORITE CFA, the children and I just sit down, and our order is taken at the table and the food is brought out to us.  Can you imagine that?  At a fast food restaurant?  (Though I do try to convince myself that CFA is NOT fast food. And I almost have myself convinced.)  They take such good care of us, keeping our drinks "refreshed" and all the while letting us know that it's THEIR PLEASURE. And how "refreshing" is that, in this day in age?  Hostesses have been known to add sprinkles to the birthday child's ice cream, and often times at the end of our meal, we are escorted to our van~ children's hands being held and hugs given as they help load everyone in.  (you know, as I'm typing this I'm thinking that maybe there is a reason they are escorting us to the van~ hmmmm.... I hadn't thought of that.)  And when Charlie had his big casts and wheelchair after his foot surgery, I've had several the men managers walk us out and fold and load up the wheelchair for me.  I mean what's not to LOVE about that????

 Gotta love the fact that that our family of seven ate for free tonight!
So, for my first Favorite Friday, Chick*Fil*A gets my vote as my favorite place to eat.  With kids. :)  


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Oh my goodness~

How could I have forgotten to post this in my May highlights?????  Well, I know how....when I was looking back through my calendar to post about them,  THIS highlight was not written on my calendar. Because it is written on my heart.  And so I missed it. 

Ellie turned 2 on May 4th!

And we had such a fun day celebrating  Ellie!  Our day was spent as a family at Historic Brattonsville, which is a living history museum with costumed interpreters that depict early life in our region.  We have a family membership and we make very good use of it.  Let's just say that the interpreters know our children WELL! Very well. Yes, we've helped them husk corn, pick cotton, make some moonshine, and we've even attended a slave wedding. We've played games that were popular with children "back then" and even toured a house that had a school room inside! We've seen some battles waged, and helped with the laundry.  We've dyed wool and spun cotton. And we've made some Christmas and 4th of July memories there as well.  But on Ellie's birthday it was Sheep Shearing Day, and it was such fun!

This little guy posed for a picture, but didn't get sheared

Watching the shearing intently

Charlie helping with the carding

Kate is intent on her work

 Watching the weaving

AnnaClaire was fascinated with the drop spindle

Gracie gets a turn to shear!!!!

Ringing the dinner bell

Snack time!

Afterwards, Drew and Emily met up with the rest of us for some Mexican dinner.  Ellie fits right in with our family, as she LOVES Mexican Food! Yes, chips and salsa, tortillas, and rice and beans are among her favorite foods! 

  And then it was back home for the donning of the birthday crown, cake and presents.  My favorite memory of the day was when we sang happy birthday to Ellie.  She watched so intently as we lit the candles and put her cake in front of her.  And then we started singing.  And when she looked up and realized we were singing to HER, she got the BIGGEST smile on her sweet face.  Her face just glowed and she smiled and laughed through the whole song.  Yes, sweet girl, we were celebrating YOU!

Just look at her face!

And here is a link to a YouTube video of the birthday song:

The birthday girl with 6 of her siblings

Present time!

And a few things about our girl~
  • She may be MY baby, but she does NOT want any part of being a baby.  Sigh....
  • She wants to do what everyone else is doing
  • She is every bit of 2. And then some.
  • The "chill" baby, who liked just to sit and observe, that last year's mission team to Chenzhou told me about, is NOT my girl.  Most days I am WISHING for a "chill" baby.  But that is NOT our Ellie. 
  • Our Ellie is vocal
  • Not afraid to express her displeasure
  • Is in the middle of every one's business 
  • Is mama's helper
  • Is a girl who knows the routine and follows it. And it better not be changed.
  • She's opinionated
  • She's got the most kissable cheeks. Ever
  • She's either crying because she hasn't gotten her way, or is smiling from ear to ear because she has
  • She LOVES to be out and about
  • She loves the pool and is not afraid of the water at all
  • But the smallest bug can reduce her to tears 
  • Wants no part of her own toys
  • Wants whatever anyone else is holding or playing with at that moment. As long as it's not hers.
  • Has the CUTEST chubby legs and feet. Ever.
  • Doesn't sleep nearly enough to satisfy her mama
  •  Is not behind in her gross motor skills.  At all.
  • Or her fine motor skills
  • Has lots of words
  • Gives the sweetest, puckered up kisses
  • LOVES her mama
  • And likes everyone else
  • Is starting to transition into our church nursery.  Thank you, Lord.
  • Is the BEST eater.
  • Her weight has now surpassed her 5 year old sister's
  • She makes us laugh
  •  "She is just SO cute." Said multiple times daily by AC.
  •  Likes to hear "Goodnight Moon" being read. But not much else.
  • Has no interest in puzzles
  • Or age appropriate manipulative toys
  • Or baby dolls
  • Or any toys, really
  • She does love to swing and slide
  • And to be outside
  • In the wagon. 
  • In the stroller. 
  • Loves to sing
  • She LOVES shoes.  Especially her sister's pink crocs. 
  • She gives the best hugs
  • And says "back" every. time. we. pull. out. of. the. driveway.
  • Yes, baby girl.  We'll be back. HOME.
  • She gives mama the BEST snuggles
  • She brightens our days
  • She wears her mama out
  • And she is a BLESSING
  • And a miracle.  I think of "her story" every. single. day.

Thank you, God, for the gift of Ellie!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gosh, Y'all....

Thank you so much for your comments.  It's SO nice to see you all back again! Each comment brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart.  Really.  Thank you for letting me know you are still out there and checking in on us.

* And a quick question from this novice~ how do I make my photos a little bigger???? I'll need very specific responses. :)

I'm wanting to do some catching up~  "This time around" we are really working at giving our children a very simple childhood.  And we're doing things quite differently.  We're out and about much less, and have also cut backn quite a bit on our children's activities.  Not that we're sitting in our house doing nothing all day; we're just trying very hard to be intentional with what we choose to spend our time and resources on.  Still though, we've had a few fun things going on these past few months that I want to document in this, our journal.

So going back to May, here are a couple of highlights~

We've chosen to have Kate participate in dance both last year and this. Kate is our little princess.  She is all things girly and feminine.  She's our little pixie who skips and twirls through her days.  Dance is PERFECT for her and she loves it. We are BLESSED to have her participate with a wonderful Christian dance studio that is nearby.  One where costumes are modest and where the music brings glory to God. This year, Kate's class danced to Jesus Loves Me, and it was SO precious. Our little Kate did a wonderful job and did her whole dance through without missing a step. She was the oldest girl in her class of 3-5 year olds, but the tiniest, and I think people were surprised at how well she did, not realizing her age, but only looking at her size. Unfortunately, I am sorely lacking in photos.  Emily was actually home for Kate's dress rehearsal (she left for camp the following morning; the day of the recital) and she took a ton of photos, both at home and during the rehearsal.  And then, off went Emily to camp at 4:30 the next morning and we had forgotten to download her photos.  So, the photos are on Emily's camera and with her at camp.  Bill got one photo after the recital, and though it really doesn't do justice, it's all I've got at the moment.


Another highlight of our month was Grace's piano recital.  We are so proud of Grace!  I don't think she loves playing the piano, but she faithfully practices every day without being reminded.  I LOVE Grace's piano teacher.  She is mom to 3 school age children and wife to our youth pastor at church.  Mrs. D. is SO patient, kind and fun.  AND she comes to our home.  And oh, how I LOVE that!  Not having to load everyone up and then kill time while Grace is at her lesson is HUGE in my book.  Anyway, Mrs. D. gives a candy treat each week, if the student has practiced for 30 minutes 5 times a week.  Well, Grace's mama, being the type of mama she is, added the stipulation, that Grace must do her practicing WITHOUT having to be reminded, in order to get her treat.  Yes, I am just that way, but honestly it has been GREAT because I don't have to nag.  The first week we implemented "mama's rule" Grace had trouble with her remembering and missed out on her treat.  So, we came up with a time of day where she would automatically know to go and do her practice time without having to be reminded.  We determined that directly after she finishes breakfast would be a good time~ easily remembered, and it wouldn't be an interruption to other things that would be going on during our day.  After the first week of not receiving candy, Grace has never again had to forgo her treat.  Her diligence has payed off, and she played her recital piece through perfectly.  Mrs. D. had asked Grace to go first, and we talked about how nice it wold be to go first and be finished and able to enjoy listening to the others play without worrying about her playing.  So, Grace went first and did beautifully.  I asked her afterward if she was nervous, and she very matter of factly stated that she wasn't nervous because she knew her piece well and just wanted to play it. So there you go!  

We've decided that we'll have all of the children take piano lessons, and so next year AnnaClaire will be ready to start. This is something we feel is worth our time invested and our $.

I don't have any photos of the other four from that evening, but they were a very attentive and polite audience.  I'm so proud of how they sat through all the piano playing quietly and clapped enthusiastically after each piece.   Afterwards refreshments were served, which they knew about ahead of time, so that was probably very motivating for our crew. ~ smile 

That's all the catching up for this post, but there will be more coming soon!       

Monday, July 9, 2012

Resurrecting the blog!

Welcome to MY blog! And my first blog post!  Do you like the facelift???  The new look is a bit more reflective of MY personality, and it brings a smile to my face each time I look at it.  Since we are no longer in the adoption process of bringing more children home, the blog's focus will take a slight change of direction.  Of course adoption will still be a big part of it (how could it not?) but now I hope to focus more on our home life and the things most important to me~
Faith, Family and Home

I'll be sharing how the Lord is working in our lives, adoption related topics,  family news and doings, what we're doing in our homeschool, some family favorite recipes, and the like.  Nothing fancy. Because we certainly are not fancy.  Just our simple lives.

I spoke with Emily earlier today by phone, telling her about the new blog design and that I was, indeed, going to resurrect her blog, and I thanked her for the gift she has given our family over these 6-ish years.  The gift of recording our lives as  precious children were joining our family. You know, I appreciated what she did at the time.  I really did.  But since she's stopped blogging, I now REALLY realize how much I appreciated her blogging. I've missed it.  I've missed this chronicle of our life as a family. How I wish she were still the one blogging.  But time moves on.  Seasons in our lives change.  It is as it should be.  She is moving on. Emily's love for her siblings has not changed.  Her passion for the orphan has not changed. But her proximity to home and our family has changed.  She's not in the midst of the daily flow of our lives much anymore.  And it's hard to blog about it, when you're not living it!  So, the baton has been passed, and now I'm the one who'll be doing the posting.

It's a new season for me as well.  For the first time since I can remember, we are not in the process of adopting.  Our children are home, and I finally feel like I can focus on who the Lord has given me.  I'm not in the midst of paperwork or waiting on "A's."  And oh, how I miss it.  You adoptive mamas know.  It just becomes a part of you.  And I must say, it feels a bit empty not to be in the thick of it any more. Not on RQ. Not looking at "lists." Not waiting. But it's ok.  And it's good.  And it's a new season.

Part of this new season has to do with the ages of my older children, as well.  The are now far from home.  Leading their lives.  As they should.  As we've raised them to do. Drew is now working for the next 8 months in Kansas City, training to be a Federal Bank Examiner.  He'll then move to Omaha, where his permanent home office will be.  Will will be graduating in Dec. from Baylor.  He plans to attend grad school (Lord willing) in Denver.  This summer he's been in most of the Western states, collecting soil samples for a geology field camp.  He was back to Waco for just a few days, and now he's off in Kenya to assist a doctoral student with research work.  So he is far away, too.  Emily, has been on staff at  Camp Ozark this summer. And loving it, I might add!  My baby girl~ also far away.  So a big factor in resurrecting the blog is to keep in touch with my big kids~ allowing them to see all that's happening on the home front.

So, if you've read this far, thank you.  I hope you'll come back and visit!  And maybe even leave a comment, so I'll know if anyone out there is still reading.  I'm going to try to post to the blog regularly.  Perhaps not as regularly as Emily, but a couple of times a week, I hope. 

And I did it!  My very first blog post~ complete with photo!