For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, November 26, 2012

Trunk or Treat Fall Festival

James Bond...or is that Nolan?

A Christmas Present...Garrett

Rambo or Levi?

A cute pumpkin...Toby

Zombie Slayer...aka, Nate

Our Beautiful Butterfly..Mia

Our Annual "First Day of School"

Every year, as a family tradition, we start our homeschooling year with a bus ride. The kids get ready, take their backpacks and dad (the bus driver and principal) drives them to get breakfast. At their return we get first day of school pictures, and our homeschool officially begins for the year. This year they took a trip to get donuts, and the crew seemed happier to start school this year than ever before (must have been the sugar rush).
Mia was still "celebrating her birthday" and thought she needed her princess crown!

The School Bus

Here they come...Just how many are in that bus?!

Dad must have snuck a donut or two...the sugar is making him a bit hyper!

Mia turms 8!

Back in August, Little Miss turned 8 years old. We celebrated with a swim party that she had requested. We had private use of a pool at one of our local hotels. It was a very enjoyable day filled with lots of splashing, excitement and laughter. I would say that our very excited little girl had a great birthday!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Our Beach Vacation

About Mid-August,we had the opportunity to take a family vacation to Ft.Morgan Beach (Alabama). It turned into a fabulous vacation, and we had the extreme pleasure of sharing it with family, some by biology, and some by God's design. One of the many blessings of being an adoption family is the people that God draws you close to and gives you the honor of sharing this journey. Many years ago, we met a wonderful family that has been such a major support to us, and over the years we have shared many of the trials and joys of life. In fact, we considered them just part of our extended family!  We convinced them to share vacation time with us, and we were so priveleged to have this time together. Brad's sister and her three girls joined us to make the time even more special. In total, we had 19 kids, and 6 adults (shh! We didn't tell the kids that they out-numbered the adults!)
It was a crazy, chaotic, "busy"time, and yet, it was very peaceful and rest for some weary souls. It is hard to describe the compatibility that all of our children share. We spent a week in a very big house, with all those kids. There was little to no arguing, and we had fun watching the kiddos pair/group up to play and have fun together. The older kids pitched in to help with cooking, cleanup and doing the mounds of laundry throughout the week. The grownups were even able to sneak away for an evening out because of the kindness of the "college"grad. and the teenagers. We shared some fabulous meals and lots of blessed fellowship. 
Father God,You blessed our weary hearts,minds and souls! We are so grateful for this time of fellowship, time of refreshment, and time of reflection. We were filled with wonder  at all your hands have made. We rested in the beauty of your creation and the magnificence of your beaches and mighty oceans. We stand in awe of your GLORY!
        The View Outside From the Beach House

                                                                  This is what the kids spent most of the week doing!
Nolan played his guitar for us from time to time!

The Mom's occassionally were able to spend some time on the beach, but...
 We spent a great deal of time in one specific room...trying to keep this crew fed...
 We were able to see the Blue Angels taking their test flights. It was fun and oh so very exciting for certain little boys in our group!
 This was the back of our very large beach house that was perfect for our very large crowd!
 Our clan with three of their cousins...
And then there is the whole crew...YEP, 20 Kids (Well 19 and a recent college graduate)
And Here is Our Crazy Crew...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Forever And a Day

It has been forever and a day since I have posted anything! I have to confess... I love to blog. It seems to be good therapy and soothes my soul. As an added benefit, I can keep a recorded history of our family happenings. This is where the difficulty comes in...the family and those family happenings often prevent me from having the necessary time to blog. It is a vicious cycle of wanting to blog, needing to blog but never finding the time. So,  at this moment in time, I have managed to eek out a little time to play catchup with the happenings in our family. I have missed blogging and hope that I still have a few faithful followers out there.
Lets see...where did we leave off? ! I believe that my last brief post was on our anniversary. Our August continued to be filled with some wonderful family times. We were blessed with the ability to rent a beach house in Ft Morgan Alabama(very near Gulf Shores). It was hands down a wonderful vacation filled with lots of family fun and peacefulness. I will post a seperate post with lots of pictures. Following the vacation, we celebrated our little girls 8th birthday with a swim party. Then we had our annual start of school celebration and homeschool got underway. September brought the start of dance classes for our girlie-girls, and school was in full swing.October brought many doctor appointments and a difficult family change (more details in another post). We celebrated our "animal loving" boy's 11th birthday with a backyard extravaganza complete with a bonfire, smores, and a archery contest. We sent out October with a Fall Festival "Trunk or Treat"at our church. November came in like a lion with more schooling, more doctor appointments, and surgery on my elbow which put a kink in everyday happenings around here. We are looking forward to spending a quiet Thanksgiving with just our immediate family.
It continues to surprise me at how quickly a month can go by and even years as we watch our children grow. Life continues to bless us with all the goodness of a large family full of "busy-ness". Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined that God would grant all my hearts desires to be a wife and a momma to many!
Looking forward to updating you all in further post...stay tuned!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Our 18th Anniversary

Kim started to write about our 18th, then got distracted.  I'll finish for her.  She's married to the most incredible man alive!!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Levi Turns 8 !!

A Baseball cake complete with Texas Rangers party supplies...gotta love that smile!

Blowing out all eight candles!
Sometimes the celebrations of our "off" birthdays turn out to be just as much fun as those that we plan. Levi's birthday was just such a one. His official birthday is May 13th which was on a Sunday this year, and because of that fact, his birthday became a two day event. It began on Saturday at lunchtime. Levi chose one of his favorite places to eat...Logan's steakhouse. We enjoyed fun family time and then spent time shopping for the rest of the day. On Sunday, which also happened to be Mother's Day, Brad grilled steaks, steak fries, and grilled squash for dinner (It was Yummy!!). Then, we celebrated Levi's birthday with a cake,ice cream and a Texas Rangers baseball game on TV. They were actually showing a Ranger game on ESPN that night...almost as if it were made to order!
Our Levi is an avid baseball fan...he loves to watch games, but he loves to play a game even more! He is a fan of the Texas Rangers (our entire family is ...since we are native Texans and have been fans for many,many one would guess that since we have a son named Nolan,right?!). This precious treasure is a "natural" athlete and finds so much joy in playing games, win or lose. He has a glove and ball with him most of the time, and spends countless hours tossing the ball, playing catch and back yard games (when he can get his older brothers to join him). Levi is full of life and adventure. He loves to be outside and active. He is all-smiles most of the time, and greets each new tasks with gusto. He has a precious heart and loves to help his momma. He has a gentle spirit, and he loves to "care for" and protect everyone. It is a joy to this momma"s heart to watch him play the role of big brother. He loves his baby brother fiercely and gently guides him to doing the right things...He is going to be an amazing daddy some day!
Happy Birthday to our precious treasure,Levi!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mandy's Turn

We put into practice several years ago the idea of alternating "Big" birthday parties. It saves mom's sanity (somewhat) and saves on the pocket book. This was an "off'" year for Mandy, so she asked if she might have some friends over for a sleepover. She kept it small, and the girls all seemed to have a good time together. We took them out for a pizza dinner,and we came home to decorate their own cupcakes. The girls all enjoy crafts and made these cute hats, Then, they all disappeared into Mandy's room for an evening full of giggling, and storytelling. She seemed to enjoy this semi-quiet birthday as much if not more than a big event party; however, she is already making plans for her "special" 13th birthday next year.We shall see about that next year (too many other things between now and then).
Mandy turned twelve this year. We are watching her grow ever so quickly before her eyes. Since Mandy joined our family at the age of 7, it has been even harder to watch her grow as we missed so much of her beginnings. She asks often why we didn't adopt her as a baby. Oh, how I wish we could I wish that was part of God's plan for her, but it wasn't. We have made it our goal to let her enjoy childhood for as long as possible. That means "girlie-girl" parties, sleepovers, playing in the mud, and giggling with girlfriends. All to her hearts content! It isn't easy ...this concept for her, because her physical and social development often overshadow her psychological development and maturity. Her friendships with these girls has really blossomed over this past year. It is so nice for her to be able to interact with girls her own age, and these girlfriends are sweet, loving and encouraging to Mandy. It is such a blessing to see God at work in her life. Over the past few months, Mandy has really begun to question the plan that God has and is laying out for her. She is develping a real interest in serving and thinks she may have an interest in missionary work... "maybe in China (as a teacher)" or "maybe somewhere else". She is opening her heart to us a little more with each passing year. I cannot even decribe the joy that fills my heart as she begins to share her thoughts, feelings, fears and trust. We have been working, working, working, and praying, praying, praying that she could and would trust us enough to open her heart and to know that we are forever. We are often still on a roller coaster ride in our relationship, but with each passing year we see more and more glimpses of the beautiful child God has made.  
Happy Birthday to our precious, beautiful treasure...our Mandy-girl!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Toby's 3rd Birthday...First Ever Party

Since I am playing catch up on past activities, I thought I would go in chronological order. The month of April and May are filled with Birthdays and "Gotcha" days at our house. Toby's birthday(April20th) was exactly 5 days after Garrett's. Two weeks following that Mandy celebrated her 12th birthday, and two weeks after that Levi celebrated his 8th birthday. Whew, we have been partying!
Toby's Birthday:
How do I even begin to describe the blessing of this precious child?! He is definitely a gift sent from God to our family. He is precocious, tender, loving and filled with joy. He doesn't love lightly or haphazardly. He is so excited to be a part of a family and loves, loves, loves! It brings happy tears to this momma's eyes everytime I see him interact with his brothers and sisters. There is never a time that he doesn't have hugs for all of them. He makes me laugh because he has developed a bedtime ritual of hugging each brother and sister, and he refuses to lay still until he has given each a separate hug (of course, I do realize that he is developing a "stall" tactic, but for now is precious). He reacts in very similar ways when he is apart from the kiddos for a period of time. He has to account for the whereabouts of each child and give hugs all around. Toby has an equal amount of love to share with his parents as well. He still finds daddy for the most comfort, but he and I are developing a strong bond. He hugs  tightly and desires help and comfort from me when daddy is unavailable. It isn't much different than what I experienced with all our boys at certain ages. It makes this momma's heart full to overflowing that they love their daddy so and that they have a daddy with which to share many boyhood experiences.
Since Toby has never had a birthday party (or really any recognition of his birth), we planned a big party. Toby has come to love Mickey Mouse and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We decided to transform our home into MM Clubhouse for a morning. We had fun making games, designing mazes, and decorating.  His older brother designed a yard maze that the preschoolers could all run through, and he insisted on making "giant" MM ears to put on the roof of our house (it had to look like the clubhouse). Each sibling was excited to be "hands on" helping with his party. When we saw the huge grin that stayed transformed on our precious boy's face, it was worth every minute and every dime spent! He laughed, giggled, ran, played, and blew out his birthday candles with gusto!
We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this beautiful baby boy that God gave to our family! Happy Birthday to our Toby!
What's a party without food?... and it isn't MM clubhouse without ...?

Momma made the cake

Can you see the big ears on the roof?

The maze

"Oh! Toodles!" (a hunt to find Toby's present)

Look at that smile!

Ring Toss

Parachute Fun!

His favorite...hide under the 'Chute'

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oh My! Has it really been a month since I last posted

I cannot believe it has been that long. I have tried several times to sit down and catch up, but it is just plain crazy around here! I have missed posting about several important occassions...3 more birthdays, the end of school, and just some fun activities. The girls are finished with dance class for the year on Saturday when they have their big recitals. We will be "dancing" nearly all day because each of the girls will be in separate recitals. Oh, and... I cannot forget the numerous baseball games that are now underway until the end of June. I will try to find some time in the next fews days to do some catch up posts and a post and some pictures of our beautiful girls' dance recital.
Hopefully, since we are finished with school for the summer, I can keep posting regularly. Would you please leave a comment if you are sticking with me and still reading my blog? Please! I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Another Teen

We are now parents of not one but two teenagers in our family. I am trepidaciously looking forward to the teenage years. Both my teens are growing into amazing young men who want to serve the Lord and who love helping others. They show respect and obedience to us and to everyone they meet. Dare I say it...They seem "easy" at this point (Of course, G has only been a teen for a day, but he did survive those hideous preteen years and for that matter we did too.).
Garrett at 2yrs old

Garrett at 13 years old
This weekend Garrett ...aka.G-man (since he won't let me call him G-baby anymore)... celebrated his exciting milestone by playing paintball with a bunch of the guys. The gloomy, rainy day broke away to some sunshine, and the guys were able to play some rousing games which were made all the better by the added mud! Then it was home to eat tacos,burritos and birthday cake. I had a houseful of preteen and teenage boys...and yes, I am so glad that I learned a long time ago how to cook for large crowds. They consumed some large amounts of food!
Today, the official day of Garrett's birth. We celebrated with church this morning, sharing lunch with church friends and then he selected his choice of restaurant for dinner tonight. We topped it off with a visit to the frozen yogurt place which was his dessert of choice. It was a perfect way to celebrate with G-man his special day.
Happy Birthday to our Garrett! You came into this world in an amazingly rushed way (born 2 1/2 mths early). You were a fighter and grew strong against all odds. Funny, you remain a fighter... a fighter for what you see is fair and just, a fighter for the weak and needy, a fighter for Jesus. I am in awe of the young man that God is molding you to be... a man sure of his steps, a man with great ambition, and a man with a wonderful, caring, tender heart. Your dad and I love you and look forward to watching you continue to grow in your life journey. We know that God is going to use you for amazing things!
Happy 13th Birthday!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Remembering 6 years ago...

Our First Full Day with Mia, April 2006

Brother Love...these two share an amazing bond , April 2006

Easter Sunday (our first day back home), April 2006

Daddy and His Princess, 2012

Smiley Girl, 2012
Wow, Has it really been 6 years?! I remember so vividly the massive amounts of paperwork and the extremely painful WAIT for our precious baby girl. Words cannot express how hard of a wait that it is really, but I equate it to something like this...                                                                                                   Imagine that you have been pregnant for not 9mths, but in most cases for a year or longer, then you give birth (in the adoption world we get a referrral that includes a picture of your precious child). Now, cannot have your child that you birthed , not have to wait (this time having seen your child's face). You have to wait at least another 3 months (in some cases longer) before you can bring your precious treasure home. The minute you see that beautiful child's picture, the Wait, no matter how short or long, becomes excrutiatingly painful!! Your heart yearns for this child!
... and then the day arrives! The day that your child will join your family, the day that you can touch, hold and love that treasure is upon you. Your emotions are like a roller coaster of feeelings. You are filled with joy, excitement and love... actually you can't describe what it is really like. I can only say that it is the closest I have ever come to knowing intensely, deeply, and without question the love that Jesus has for us! My precious Mia was placed in my arms, and the world around us ceased to exist. We were thrilled to have our precious little girl in our family. I was overwhelmed with emotion, and she and I spent the next few hours crying, she because of grief and fear at our "strangeness", and I because of love and thankfulness... A Baby Girl!
And now we are HERE...
... fast forward, 6 YEARS... Mia's Chinese name is "Le" (Le le as she was called). "Le" means joy and happiness. We can tell you that she was appropriately named. She has filled this house with JOY. Not that our boys didn't and don't bring us joy,but Mia brought an amazing new JOY. She brought giggles, girly things and amazing smiles. She brought lots of sillness and a lot of princess attitude.She was and is one of the happiest children I have ever known. She loves life and loves her family!
Wow! God blessed us with a precious treasure, and we could only have imagined the journey that He would have in store for us over these past 6 years!
Mia started it all...
Happy Forever Family Day, our Precious Mia!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Visit With Friends

We knew we weren't officially taking a Spring Break, but we finished school early, and Brad was able to take a few days off. So, we took a quick road trip to visit with some dear friends.The kids spent all their waking hours running, playing and eating. The grownups put in many hours of sharing and talking. Oh, and did I mention the wonderful food... we ate and ate and ate some more.  It was a great trip, and  we greatly enjoyed the hospitality of our friends. We always leave their home with a little bit of sadness, but we always feel encouraged, revived and refreshed. God has so blessed us with dear friends to share the challenges of adoption and this journey of life.
Food, Food and More Food

Such cuties

How many kids can you fit on a trampoline?!

The Spy Brigade... cuteness at its utmost!

Uh! Oh! A dog... Toby is still a little frightened by large animals.

Girl friends

What did you find Mia?