Mom’s Blog

January 3, 2007

Oh No…..

      Brad has Pneumonia, and a few of the kids have fevers. There is sickness abounding in our house. It is what I suspected was happening. Mom is busy being a nurse and just praying that I won’t get sick. Mia and Nate seem to be staying healthy. We will spend the next few days resting and nursing the sick back to health. Mom has to take a little time to get the school assignments together for the start of school next week. I hope that we can start on time…

January 1, 2007

Returning Home

       We spent most of New Years Day traveling home. It was different for mom this year as I didn’t prepare the traditional New Year meal. Each New Year we have a family meal that includes pork roast, black eyed peas, and stewed okra. Believe it or not, it is one of my kids’ favorite meals. I kind of missed cooking the dinner. We got home, unloaded the van, found some food to snack on and collapsed in front of the TV. We weren’t feeling up to doing much else. Brad had begun to get a hacking cough and his sinus infection didn’t seem to be getting any better. I hope this isn’t a sign of sickness.

December 30, 2007

Can you say…Wii?

    Our nieces got a Wii for Christmas. The whole family played, played, and played some more. I think I could go for a good long while and never miss it.  I have to admit that I did have a good time playing several of the sports games. My favorite was the bowling game with the tennis game coming in a close second. We had a great time competing against my SIL and her hubby.  The thing about it was that it was all that anyone wanted to do. We would try to divert attention and shut the game off for a while; however, two seconds later someone else was turning it back on. My boys went into computer game overload.

        Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time at Uncle Rick and Aunt Tracey’s house. We got there in time to celebrate all of Christmas Eve Day and stayed until New Year’s Day. We opened presents on Christmas eve…exchanging gifts from family members. There are 11 grandkids, grandma & grandpa, Brad’s 2 sisters & spouses, and Brad & I in the family (Did you count us….19people?). It is noisy, chaotic and tons of fun!!! All of the kids just dug into their presents in spite of us trying to organize (thinking we might enjoy seeing others open their presents, ha ha). I think that it all was very overwhelming for Mandy. This was her first time to meet all of her aunts, uncles, and cousins. In addition, it was her very first Christmas ever. She kept saying, ”nothing like this in China”. I loved watching the expression on her face as presents were piled up in front of her. She took to opening the presents with gusto, and she even relented to share the dollhouse with Mia (it was a combined gift for both girls). It was a joy to share the story of Jesus with Mandy this year. She seemed to get confused a bit, but she loves the story and wanted us to retell it often. We could tell that she kept trying to grasp every aspect of Jesus’ story. Mia was so much fun this Christmas,too. Although this wasn’t her first Christmas with us, she seemed to understand more and really enjoyed all aspects of Christmas this year.  Christmas morning, Santa had left gifts for the kids. All of the kids appeared to be pleased with their gifts. I think the boys would have preferred their own Wii (unfortunately mom and dad were too late “telling” Santa). They managed to get some of the gifts from their list. By lunchtime on Christmas day, the kids were playing games on the Wii. All the ladies in the family gathered in the kitchen to finish the Christmas dinner. We even managed to get some of the men to help and got the meal served at a reasonable time. The remainder of the day was spent playing the games and stuffing our faces with all the goodies. The little kids especially enjoyed the rousing game of Bingo that Aunt Tracey had going. She had even outfitted surprise boxes from which the winners could select prizes. 

        Brad’s sister and hubby (from California), grandma, and Brad’s Aunt stayed through Sunday. We spent the week resting, eating, and enjoying being a part of our very big and noisy family. One of the days we drove to meet my mom (she lives a couple of hours from Tracey) and my brother Rob. She had a carload of gifts for all of us. The kids had a blast sharing lunch with their Nana and Uncle and opening presents from Nana. It was lots of fun and a very unique twist to Christmas. We had met my mom at an outlet mall. It was VERY cold that day, so we opted out of shopping (none of us had any money any way). We found an Applebee’s nearby for lunch and then opened the presents in our “big bus” (our van). We had wrapping paper flying and boxes everywhere. We managed to find a big bag to dispose of trash and loaded up the van. The younger kiddos favorite gifts from Nana were their scooters. They played with them all week when it wasn’t their turn on the Wii (which wasn’t often because the big kids hogged it all the time).

        Our family was able to stay a few extra days. We got to enjoy spending time with the “cousins”. We went out to eat a few times, played games, and talked lots. We were able to play Wii games until we saw in the New Year. Aunt Tracey had lots of fun snacks, and we were blessed to share the turn of a new year with our family. God is so Good!

December 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, Nolan!!

Where has the 11 years gone! When he was a baby, people would tell me, “Don’t blink. He will be grown before you know it.” I tried not to “blink”, but somehow it just didn’t work.  All of my babies are growing so much faster than I care for them to. Nolan is growing into a very handsome young man. He is maturing socially, emotionally, and spiritually. I love to watch the young man he is becoming and to see God at work in his life. Nolan is a terrific Big Brother. He is very understanding and compassionate toward his siblings. He is very passionate about life and sometimes quick to anger. He has been working on re-channeling this anger and using his passion for good. He spends lots of time with his younger siblings and watches out for them. He is always ready to help them and teach them new things. He is very active at church and enjoys socializing with all of his friends. He encourages others and never hesitates to tell others about Jesus. We have been given the privilege of parenting this terrific young man. We pray that God will continue to work in his heart and that He will help guide us in parenting as Nolan gets older.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Nolan!!!

December 8, 2007

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

       The Christmas season is well under way at our house. We got the trees up, and after making a huge mess of the house we got both the Texas tree and the Cookie tree decorated. Brad is in charge of set up, and the kids and I decorate.  We are enjoying the enthusiasm that Mandy is bringing to this season at our house. She is very enthusiastic, if a bit confused, about all the decorating and fun that is taking place. She asked us why we put a tree in our house. She had fun (along with the other kiddos) putting on the decorations. Why do kids always put their ornaments in the exact same spot? I remember that my dad always encouraged us to space the ornaments out around the tree. I remember him having to “encourage” us over and over again for several years. All of our kids have done this same thing, and Mandy was no exception. She wanted to put all of the ornaments on one branch of the tree. I just had to laugh. Tree decorating at our house is always a fun event, and we love making a party out of it. We play Christmas music (and sing along of course), and have popcorn and hot chocolate. I love the happiness and joy that it brings to my children’s faces when the tree is “officially” lit for the season. Even better is when my children can share with others that Jesus came as light of the world, and that Christmas is about love …Jesus’ love for all of us.

      We have remained busy with many Christmas related activities in addition to our homeschool. Our church puts on a dinner theater every year at the beginning of December. Brad volunteered as the set crew, and all of the kids and I have done little things to help. We were no where near as busy as daddy, but we enjoyed helping out a bit to pass the time. The Dinner theater is scheduled for this weekend, and Brad and the kids went to “popcorn” night where the crew presents the play to our church (mom opted for a little down time and some rest). Opening night was last night, and the play continues tonight and Sunday as well. We pray that it was a success and that the message of the play will touch many hearts.

        We were able to spend last Sunday with my sister and her family. Since we are going to Brad’s family for Christmas, we wanted the kids to celebrate with their cousins.  We met for lunch and then took the kids to a park. A cold front was blowing in, and the weather turned on us. We all were much to cold to stay outdoors, so we went to Mcdonald’s playland. The kids played, the grownups visited, we had a snack, and we exchanged gifts. Mandy has embraced the idea of gift giving and “receiving”. She loved picking out the presents for her cousins especially her 7 year cousin (and partner in crimeJ). It is so much fun to watch the way the girls have formed a fast friendship and the joy they get from spending time with each other. As for Aunt Kim, she is quite taken with all of her nieces and nephews. Children are such blessings and bring such joy.  Although it was nothing fancy, we all enjoyed our time together.

December 6, 2007

Singing, Dancing, and Fans….

        One of the joys of home school is that we can school at any time. It always astonishes me how God provides just the right thing to emphasize a lesson or to coordinate with something we are studying. This year in our curriculum (I think I might have mentioned in a previous post) we are studying about world history and geography. Our study of China is ongoing over the past several weeks. It is fun to be studying a place that we have been, and a place of special importance to us all. All 5 of the kids have been joining in on the fun, and Nolan is especially enjoying his ability to share his experience of traveling with us last year to bring Mia home. Our friend “Scott” (from Shanghai) had told us about a program taking place at the local university. Every year the university does a study on a different country and its culture. This year it just happened to be China! They had many great events and classes (unfortunately we were unable to make a good portion of them due to scheduling conflicts). Wednesday evening we were able to attend, and we are so glad we did.

The Henan Song and Dance Troupe performed. The troupe was established in 1957 and originated in Henan Province, People’s Republic of China. They performed traditional dance and singing, and added many non-traditional and western musical numbers as well.

        I felt as if I was at a tennis match… I couldn’t decide which I liked watching more…the kids reactions or the performers. All of the kids loved it, and the amazing thing is that our studies for Wed. and Thurs. were on the Arts in China. All of the kids got to experience what they had learned first hand.  As much as the boys enjoyed it, the girls liked it even more! Mandy’s face just shined, and she could barely sit still. She loved the dancers the best, and if she had been given the opportunity, I think she would have been right up on stage with them. We are so glad that she is progressing in English so rapidly; however it is sad to think that she is losing her knowledge of the Chinese language. She had a hard time following much of the music and song. We had to chuckle because she kept asking her dad and I what the Chinese singers were saying.

I hope that in time some of her native language will return to her after she has become more proficient in English. I promised her that she could study Chinese… (we may have to rely on Rosetta Stone studies)and then she can continue her studies in college.

        Mia loved the dancers and was very enthralled with the costumes. Her favorite dance was the “Fan Dance”. They danced with these beautiful silk fans. She kept asking,” I want one momma…I want one”.

She had to ask her daddy, and of course, he had to grant his princess her wish. She loved to carry it around and still tries to dance with it. One thing I noticed is the way each of the girls responded to the music.

They both seemed to gain a sense of comfort from hearing the music. Mia doesn’t have much of a recollection of her life in China (She has now been a part of our family longer than she lived in China); however, I could sense a calmness about her. Mia sat and listened intently throughout the whole 2 ½ hour performance.  Mandy’s whole being lit up like a Christmas tree. She loved everything she saw and heard. It just reaffirmed our feelings about keeping our girl in touch with their heritage. We are very thankful that there will be opportunities to do this as the girls continue to grow.

        We had a terrific evening …

November 26, 2007

     All the kiddos continue to grow and make me so proud. I continue to stand in awe of the young men and women that God is creating.

I wanted to share some of the changes that we have noticed in Mandy.

    1) She is learning English at such a rapid rate. She loves to learn as many vocabulary words as she can and loves to read. She picked her favorite TV show the first time she watched American TV…Hannah Montana. A little bit of her studies in English has to be credited to Hannah… aka . Miley J.

    2) She is beginning to fit in with her brothers and sister. She has arguments and fights with the best of them. The older boys sometimes find it challenging to deal with another “pesky” little sister. The kids are beginning to play together and the fights are less frequent.

    3) Her taste are definitely changing. She loves tacos, Noodles and sauce (known by the rest of us as Spaghetti and meat sauce), eggs, most fruits, some of the veggies, milk, yogurt, and pizza. Yes I said pizza (at least meat lovers). She is beginning to like some kinds of cheese.

      Miss Mia has decided to finally get serious about Potty training. She finally became interested and has worked hard all week to “stay dry”. She is so excited because she can start wearing “big girl” panties. Mommy is celebrating and slightly sad at the same time. We have finally reached the end of buying and changing diapers.

November 25, 2007

 Happy Thanksgiving

       Just a few of the many things I am thankful for:

1)    God’s love for me

2)   My wonderful Husband of 13 years

3)   Nolan, Garrett, Mandy, Nate, and Mia

4)   Good health

5)   Terrific friends

6)   My family

7)   A house to live in and food on my table

 We spent a terrific week with my family. We made a trip to Georgia to see my Aunt and my grandpa (who turns 93 this January). This was the first time that they had met Mandy, and I am still not sure who was more excited. My papa was downstairs in the basement when we arrived. Mandy and all the kids went straight from the front door to the basement without pause. They were looking for their papa. I’m pretty sure he got 5 great big hugs. Brad and I stopped a moment to hug my mom and say hi. She and my eldest brother had traveled from Texas to share Thanksgiving with all the family.  My youngest brother, his wife and little boy came to share dinner and visit the first night we were in Georgia. We were able to play with my sweet nephew, Jacob, the next day for a while before they had to leave for their Thanksgiving celebration with my SIL family. The rest of the week was full of lots of cooking, even more eating and tons of family fun.

On the morning of Thanksgiving Day, we got a special treat. My aunt has 3 great big picture windows in her kitchen (like having 3 big screen TV’s). They look out into her backyard which is so beautiful and looks as if you have stepped into a beautiful park. Her backyard backs up to a creek and there are tons of trees and lots of nature. My aunt and grandpa keep lots of bird feed, corn and feed for the many little critters around (Keep in mind that they do live in a housing addition in the suburbs of Georgia). The kids have enjoyed feeding the birds and squirrels since they could toddle outside. We love to watch the squirrels, birds of all kinds, and chipmunks. The boys have even found a couple of salamanders in the creek.  Nolan looked out early on the morning of Thanksgiving and saw a DEER. It was a beautiful little doe feeding at the feeders in my aunt’s yard. Apparently two does had been coming from time to time to feed. The last 2 visits only one of the does had come.

     Most of the morning was devoted to cooking tons of food. We had the traditional turkey and dressing, and many other favorite dishes. We ate and ate and ate some more. .We did do other things that weekend besides eating (although it didn’t seem like it). We had lots of fun family time and lots of visiting with family. We made a trip to visit a fun place. It was a historical site that showed pioneer history. The kids had fun exploring the cabins and areas surrounding them. We saw blacksmith’s shops, pioneer toys, a gristmill, and an old church. A gentlemen that lived in the area (and was a volunteer) shared the history of toys and pioneer life with the kids. In warmer weather, they have several artisans who share their skills with the visitors. We enjoyed our time there but decided we would come back for a better look sometime when it is warm. The kids had fun just playing outdoors, and we all love our visits to see our Papa and Nana Mary.


October 23, 2007

      The past few weeks have been extremely busy for our family. We continue to make progress with school. I have chosen to slow our pace to help us adjust our schedules. We are beginning to settle into a routine and are seeing some successes. The boys are enjoying their curriculum and are learning about several other world cultures. I am learning almost as much as the kids. Nate and Mandy are learning all of the alphabet letters, lots of sight words, and new math skills. Mandy is learning more and more English everyday. She has been doing well, but we have had a few rough spots. We all seem to be settling in and adjusting to each other, but this has required patience and a lot of hard work on all of our parts. Our little girl continues to amaze me in the way that she meets life’s challenges. She can be a bit over zealous at times and like most seven year olds likes to be “bossy’. She is learning that there are many differences between the United States and China.  She has been learning that our family operates differently from what she knew at the orphanage and with  her foster family. This has been one of the hardest things for her to accept. She doesn’t really wish that it were the same (or so we gather from what she can tell us), but she sometimes has difficulty letting go of things that she did before coming to America. I can’t imagine what it is like to leave everything you have ever known behind and to start anew. Mandy has handled it better than we could ever have imagined, and probably much better than I could have if I were in her shoes. As a matter of fact, we sometimes forget that she has only been with our family for a little over 2 months. It seems as if she just has always belonged to us and she fits right into her place in the family. Because of this, we sometimes feel that she should be doing things like the other kids and like our family always has done.  We are trying to learn to be more patient and to be understanding when things get too stressful. Mandy has never had a big “meltdown”, but when she is stressed she gets whiny, fidgety, sometimes hateful, and unpleasant to be around (of course, don’t we all). Sometimes we get so frustrated, and probably don’t handle the incidents as well as we should. God uses these times to teach me to love her as he loves us. I often reflect on how God must feel when we get whiny, hateful, belligerent, and unpleasant to be around. He loves us in spite of ourselves!

        We took time out to have a fun family weekend. We went camping with most of my family on the second weekend of October. We had a good time and were able to relax a little. It was fun sharing the weekend with family. Mandy loves to be with my nieces. She and the girls played all weekend. All the kids stayed busy with fishing, riding bikes and exploring. They had fun visiting with their aunts, uncles, cousins, and most of all their Nana.  We had the added treat of a visit from grandma and Aunt “Nora” (as Mia calls her). Brad’s mom and Aunt drove 2 hours from their home to visit with us, and the kids enjoyed some playtime with their grandma.  My terrific husband took over the set up of our camp, and most of the camp duties for the entire weekend. He cooked most of the meals and cleaned all the dishes. I got to just relax and visit with my mom and sisters. I must admit that I like to camp but find it to be a lot of hard work, and I don’t enjoy it enough to overcome the amount of work it takes. I can’t claim that I had to work hard this weekend at all, and it felt like a mini vacation for me.

        My mom came back with us to care for the boys and Mia while we took Mandy for a doctor’s appointment. We had a 4 hour drive and Mandy slept most of the way. She was a little nervous about all that was going on. She wouldn’t admit it; however, we saw her become fidgety, clingy, and easily frustrated by simple task. We could tell she wasn’t concentrating and had a hard time with even the simplest English (she has picked up on several words already). I think she had a hard time understanding that it was only a consultation that day. We learned a lot of information and scheduled one of a series of surgeries she will have to undergo. After some hand signs and pictures, we were able to show Mandy the steps to her surgery. She still doesn’t understand it all and has no concept of the time line, but she was able to relax a little more knowing what was going on. Hopefully, the surgery won’t be to stressful for her. She didn’t have much fun on the return trip and was whiny most of the way home. I think she decided that long car trips aren’t nearly as much fun without her brothers and sisters along.  We showed her a clock and told her when we would approximately be there. It helped when she was able to look for the time on her own.  I am so thankful for my mom’s help these past few days. She watched the kids, did a ton of laundry, and fixed dinner for us. I felt slightly guilty at first, but I sure needed her help as I was on overload.  Even as old as I am, it is still nice to have your mom’s help once in a while. 

        This past weekend, we celebrated Nate’s sixth birthday. We took him to dinner on his actual birthday. He got to pick the place. Believe it or not, he picked Red Lobster. He loves crab legs, and eats them as fast as they are shelled. He ate his fair share and then some. His birthday party was on Sunday. He requested a Finding Nemo party. We turned our living room into an ocean teaming with fish, sea horses, whales, and SHARKS! The kids had a great time making fish, searching for sea shells, breaking a piñata, and eating chocolate cake and ice cream. Nate loved having his friends there! We spent the rest of the day cleaning up and enjoying family time.

        Next week brings more school, more doctor’s appointments, and lots of activities to keep us busy. Our little town is showing the signs of Autumn. The leaves are changing colors and the weather is turning cooler and crisper. Fall time activities have been underway, and the kids are looking forward to “dress –up” fun on Halloween. We are planning to visit a Fall Festival/Carnival, and we are taking the kids to Boo at the Zoo. We are going to carve a pumpkin, eat some pumpkin seeds, bake some pumpkin goodies, make some fall crafts, and enjoy the fun times of this beautiful season. We look forward to sharing this fun time with Mandy for the first time. She is excited, but she doesn’t quite understand it all.  I am truly blessed to be a mother of five. My children bring so much joy to me everyday, and I wouldn’t trade even one “hectic” moment for anything in the world.

Until next time……

October 19, 2007

     Happy Birthday, Nathaniel (aka. Hurricane Nate)!! I can hardly believe that my “baby” boy is six years old already. He is growing taller by the day or so it seems. He started Kindergarten this year, and he seems so “grown-up”. Nate is such a joy to be around. He is usually very quiet except when he is hungry (then we have meltdowns) and when he wants to be alone but is being pestered by his siblings (let’s just say he lets them know he wants to be alone). Generally, he loves to play, and he doesn’t mind playing with his sisters. He (of all the boys) has grown the closest to both girls. He will play almost anything they desire from dress-up to tea parties to Animal Safari. He does, however, like to have his alone time. He has never had any trouble playing by himself and can stay entertained for hours playing with his stuffed animals.  Nate is still an animal lover. His very favorite is dogs, dogs, dogs, and around our house we call him the “dog whisperer”. I suspect that Nate will be a veterinarian when he grows up. His love for animals only seems to be growing and expanding. He now has an interest in all of the wild animals, and he loves for us to make frequent trips to the zoo.  

        His other nickname (Hurricane Nate) originated when he was 3…. He was into everything and could make a mess faster than a hurricane.  Praise the Lord he has grown out of that stage for the most part. He is so very sweet and loving. He still loves to cuddle and hug (of course Mom doesn’t mind this at all). He surprises me all the time with his enthusiasm for learning, and he continues to excel in his academic skills. He has a wonderful imagination and can tell some terrifically, elaborate stories. We have so much fun with our sweet little boy. I am so proud of the young man he is becoming. 

September 24, 2007

     What a month this has been! We have been working hard at school and just enjoying the time we get to spend together. This month has been full of doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments and all the busy details of life.  We have been trying to stay on task and stay on target for the school year. The older boys have a very intense curriculum this year. It requires lots of time, and there are a lot of areas where mom is needed for instruction. The little ones are trying to learn to read (Mandy is trying to learn to read in English). Mandy is definitely a mathematician. She loves working with numbers, and mom strives to keep up with her desire to learn. I am trying to juggle all the schedules, so that each of the kids can have a little one on one instruction time with mom.  I am still not comfortable with the scheduling, but it gets better each week. 

        Sometimes I get the feeling that Mandy is very “displeased” with her mother’s housekeeping and teaching skills.  She tends to be a very orderly and organized child. I have always prided myself on my organizational skills until I started home schooling. I love teaching, and teaching my own children is icing on the cake; however, it requires a lot of my time and energy. This is then reflected in my housekeeping skills. I manage to keep food on the table, dishes done, laundry clean (but often not folded). Mandy finds this very disturbing and much too chaotic for her obsessive-compulsive personality. I suspect that some of her personality traits come from cultural differences and a misunderstanding of the way things are done in the two different countries. Last week this “frustration” was at an all time high. It seems as if both Mandy and I went into overload. She wanted to do school the way she was used to I guess and refused to do the assignments I had planned for her. She is extremely happy if you give her workbooks to copy or tons of worksheets (especially Math) to work. This is all she wants to do…just sit and do copy work and worksheets. I am trained as a developmental early childhood teacher. I want her to do lots of learning play and hands on activities. In addition to this she has to learn English and how to read in English. It requires some back tracking for her, but it is all necessary to move forward. I don’t suspect that it will take her long, but in the meantime she has to be cooperative. So, we had many struggles and test of wills last week. I am trying to mix some of the ways that she is used to with all the other activities. She is very fast at her school work, and this mom is having difficulty keeping her occupied. Things will improve as she learns English and as she learns to play. As far as the housekeeping is concerned, she will just have to learn that mom will never be a “perfect” housekeeper. The house is usually in tip top order over the summer, and then it falls apart.



September 11, 2007

     It’s All Good!

     Those words seem to be coming up a lot. They just about summarize life in our household right now. I know that those words are a reference to a positive state of mind as well. My goal for myself is to continue to look at life as just that….It’s all good! It seems as if we have been busier than ever, but we are seeing God’s hand on our lives and following His lead. There have been so many things that have happened over the past few weeks that I don’t know where to begin. I will try not to bore anyone with too many details but will share several of the highlights.

        On Labor Day weekend, we had the pleasure of hosting a gathering for our 2006 Adoption Travel buddies. We were blessed with a “surprise” visit from another adoptive family (that we have grown close to over the past two years). It was a nice chance to visit with them and to share in the camaraderie of all. We have sincerely formed a “family “(one of the many blessings that God had in store for us when we followed His Call to adopt).  Along with the “adoption” clan, we had the pleasure of a visit from my family. My sister, Mary and her husband Michael along with the kids drove up to share the weekend with us. My mom and oldest brother joined in the fun too!  We used this opportunity to “celebrate” Mia’s birthday. She turned 3 in August and was really very excited about all the fun!  We had 23 kids and lots of adults (I started losing count of just how many people that were really there) in attendance. I get such joy out of watching all of the wonderful blessings that God has brought into all of our lives over the past 2 years. We had such a great time all weekend, and we just love having guests. I love cooking and hosting parties, so I enjoy having large crowds and visitors. I think I maybe get a little of that from my mom. I remember growing up that our house was always full of people and lots of kids. I heard many stories of my great grandmother and her “hosting” skills with a house open all the time to visitors and the hungry. I think a little of that has rubbed off on me and …. Oh What Fun!!

        Our fun time turned a bit sad. We were notified of the death of a friend on Monday morning. As my brothers, sisters, and I were growing up,  my family was always surrounded by loving people that held special places in our lives .  My mom’s best friend, her husband and daughters are just that to us. We called them Aunt and Uncle, and we were all part of a big family. Uncle Curly went home to be with the Lord on Sunday night. He was 76, and his death was a shock. We ask prayers for his widow (Aunt Leta), his daughters and their families. We will all miss his loving ways and kindness, but we take comfort in knowing that we will see him again in heaven someday. We traveled to Texas for the funeral and got to spend a little more time with family there. We “unofficially” began school that week. We spent any free time that we had working on school assignments. We were able to enjoy time with my nieces and nephew. The kids all enjoyed playing, swimming and getting in to trouble together. Sometimes, I miss living closer to my family. I miss seeing my nieces and nephews grow, and I miss shared times with my siblings especially my sisters. I know that we are following God’s plan though, and we love living in our small town. We have been blessed with our “extended” adoptive family, and we want to serve God in any way he sees fit.

        School “officially” began yesterday. Mom was feeling a bit disorganized in spite of all my careful planning and the delays in starting. It is our 5th year of homeschooling, and I am still feeling a bit discouraged with my time management skills. I am still working out the details and kinks in our schedule. It will take several trials and errors before I learn how to divide my time four ways. It was crazy, crazy, crazy in school yesterday!  I had 4 kids needing my help all at once…. Can anyone help mom? ...Help!!!

We reworked a little of the schedule and things seemed to flow smoother today. So, I anticipate that as we progress and reorganize things will get much better.  I still love teaching and to teach my own children is such a blessing. I get to see them grow, learn, and mature in their walk with the Lord. That is so very rewarding to me!  The kids seem to take it all in stride, and once again they like the curriculum and the challenges it gives them. This year we will be studying about some ancient history and different people groups, countries, and cultures. The exciting thins is that we will spend 6 weeks studying about China in depth. How cool is it that we get to study about a place that we can say, “we have been there!! “.

Update on Mandy:

      I stand amazed at God’s work in this little girl. She is adjusting so well. Boy, oh, boy  were prayers ever answered. She doesn’t just walk through this world. She takes it by STORM!! She is more than willing to try out all things new. She has wanted to do everything she can and then some. She is so easy going about things that it is hard to believe that she hasn’t been doing these things all of her life. She loves shopping and makes her way around a mall as if she had always shopped in this way. Recently, at a mall the kids saw a carousel and wanted to ride. We allowed them a ride, and Brad went with them in case Mandy needed help. She climbed up on the horse and sat as if she had ridden a horse before. She beamed as the carousel began to turn and the horse began to move. Each go around brought a brilliant smile and a wave for momma. There was never any hesitation or fear.

         She has been very restless and excited about starting school. She cannot learn fast enough. She wants to know every English word and to be reading like momma does to her.  Momma got a little “attitude’ today when I wouldn’t let her do just any school work. She doesn’t like to have to slow down (and take a few steps back) to learn to read and speak English better. I am having a hard time keeping up, and she breezes through the work I give her. She is progressing so rapidly in her English and we have a fun time teaching her…or maybe she is teaching us. I must admit that I am not as good a student as she. Each evening she patiently goes through labeling everything in Mandarin and then in English. She will say and ask ….” In Guilin this is called______, In English, What’s its name?” We are having a wonderful time getting to know our princess Mandy. She is such a blessing to our family, and our love for her grows stronger every day.

More later….

August 16, 2007

     We are home!!  It is so good to be home and loving our kids. We arrived home after a very long day in the air…somewhere around 25 hours and 3 flights. The first flight was uneventful as well as the second (except that it was one long flight and I never sleep much on the plane). When we landed in Detroit, the immigration and customs area was swamped with people. Keep in mind that we have 1 hour and 45 minutes to make our connecting flight. We had to go through three different lines to get Mandy cleared as a US citizen (I was beginning to question if they knew what they were doing). There also seemed to be a little difficulty with my passport… Do you know how many women there are in this country with my name (and apparently some are wanted by the law?)? They finally cleared me with the common name stamp. Then it was on to pick up our bags and stand in another HUGE line to clear customs. That line actually moved pretty quickly considering the huge number of people going through the line. Then there was airport security, ugh!!! They had 2 lines working trying to clear a lot of people. Detroit also has one of those machines that checks for explosives. We had to go through that line and walk through this chamber like machine that blows air up and down your body (did I say that I am claustrophobic). Mandy went through it all like she had been a world traveler all her life.  I am grateful that they have these security measures, but it is not easy when you are travel weary and have to make a connecting flight. We made it through and literally had to sprint through the airport to make our flight. We boarded the plane just as they were shutting the door. Lesson learned here….allow more than 2 hours between each of your connecting flights.  In spite of the exciting last leg of our flight, we made it and arrived at the airport to be greeted by wonderful friends. Thank you to everyone who welcomed us home. Jill G and family a special thanks for the cold drinks with lots of ice (Dr Pepper never tasted so good!)> Thanks for the gift for Mandy. She loves the dress, and I think she loved the box/gift wrap too (see the photo section). Mandy and Mia are having fun with the toys that Ms Wendy and Mr Alan brought for them. A big thank you goes out to our friends that drove from our part of town (about an hour away) to welcome us home.  There is just something special about having friends greet you as you come home. We did miss seeing our boys there, and it was much too quiet without them ( or maybe the airport personnel said a quiet thank you) . Mandy was so anxious to meet her brothers. Every plane change brought the question “brothers, yes?” We had to pantomime a discussion about just when she would meet them. We stopped long enough to eat dinner and then made the hour trip to home.

        We were so exhausted, but we were still on China Time. We were awake for awhile longer and spent the time showing Mandy her new home, her new room, and all of her things. It was so fun to watch her explore. She had to ask again about her brothers. After a fairly restful night’s sleep, she and Mia were up early asking about “brothers?” again. We gave up on getting them back to bed and decided to go for breakfast at IHOP instead. Not many people are up for breakfast at 4AM. We managed to put in a few more hours of sleep on Saturday morning before the long awaited arrival of the “brothers”. It is a toss up as to who was more excited Mandy, Mia, or the boys. All of the kids were fast friends before the hour was over. Mandy had fun getting to know grandma and grandpa. She wants to meet all of her family…nana, her aunts and uncles and all the cousins. We look at pictures everyday, and she is trying to learn names and family placement. It can be a bit confusing!

        We are settling in and slowly getting over jet lag. The girls and Brad seem to be recovering a bit faster than mom. Mandy is doing so well, and she continues to amaze us at how quickly she is picking up on things. She has already added several more words to her vocabulary since we have arrived home. She is going to be a very quick student and quite a challenge for mom to teach. I have been working on unpacking the suitcases, laundry, and ordering our curriculum for the school year. School started today for our local school district. It looks as if we will drag behind a bit with our start date being September 4th. A portion of the curriculum arrived today. It is so exciting to go through the packages… a bit like Christmas!

        The next week or so I will be busy doing the preparation for the school year and reorganizing (and of course recovering from the trip). We are looking forward to celebrating Mia’s birthday and having a reunion with our “extended family” (aka. our 2006 travel buddies). Stay tuned for the exciting life (or maybe not so exciting…. But never a dull moment) of our terrific family of 7…..



July 25, 2007

     We are busy little beavers around our house. Final preparations are being made and we are packing like crazy. Tomorrow, we will take the boys and meet up with their aunt. They will be staying with her (with some help from Grandma and Grandpa) while we are in China. Mia will be going with us to meet her new sister. She seems so excited. She talks about Mandy everyday and is so willing to share her room and toys (at least she is until Mandy gets home). Thursday, after we get home, we will complete the last minute packing.  Friday morning we fly out bright and early. Our first stop will be Minneapolis (with a 5 hour layover there). Then we fly from Minneapolis to Tokyo, Tokyo to Guangzhou, China. We will be staying in Guangzhou that first night and flying on into Nanning (the government seat of Guangxi province). This is where they will bring Mandy to us.  After we have finalized the adoption for China, we will take a side trip to Guilin which is Mandy’s birth city. It is reported to be an extremely beautiful place, and we look forward to sharing the sights with our lovely daughters. We will be sure to post lots of pictures! We will return to Nanning at the end of the week to pick up Mandy’s passport, and then it is  on to Guangzhou for the final week of our trip. In Guangzhou, Mandy will have her required medical exam, and we have our consulate appointment and swearing in ceremony. When we land in the USA, Mandy will be a US citizen!

Thank you all for your prayers and support. We ask for your continued prayers for many things:

1)    For ease and safety of travel

2)   For Mia, that she will not have a hard time while we travel and while she is missing her “budders

3)   For Mandy and all the changes that will transpire in her life over the next week.

4)   For our strong, courageous boys that we must leave in the states and for their caretakers

5)   And that we can glorify God throughout this journey to get our daughter

Next post will be from China…. Check the Travel Journal section of this website to find our post and photos of this journey….


July 19, 2007

      We received word today that our CA appointment is August 7th. We will leave the states on Friday July 27th and return home on Friday August10th. We are thrilled to know that we are that much closer to bringing our Mandy home. We would love to have you follow our journey …check out the travel section of this website


July 18, 2007

     What a difference a day can make! We received word today that our travel approval (TA) is here. Sing Praise! Sing Praise!

We are awaiting CA (consulate appointment) and then will have all the travel details. We had an added surprise today. We received an email from the coordinator of Foster Care of the Guilin Social Welfare Institiute.  She had pictures of Mandy. These were the first updated pictures we have gotten of our girl. She is just beautiful! We are thrilled to receive these and are thankful for the programs that allow her to stay in Foster Care. We know that she is being taken care of well.

Please join us in prayer as we pray for Mandy and the transitions that she will have to make, pray for our travel arrangements and safety as we travel.

Stay tuned….

July 17, 2007

        Another week down and we still have no TA. We aren’t sure what is holding it up, but we are relying on God’s timing.  We know that He knows all the details and knows the right timing for us. That said, it doesn’t get any easier!  Each day we awaken to check our email and pray that “the call” will come from our agency to tell us we can finally go to get our daughter.  I have tried not to keep a countdown until now. I went back and calculated from the beginning of this adoption journey and here are the numbers: We started with this adoption at the end of November 2006. We saw Mandy’s picture at the first of January. We knew that we had been selected as her family on Feb. 1, 2007. That means that we have been in the adoption process for 8 months. We saw Mandy’s picture the first time a little over 7 months ago. We were DTC on March 26, 2007. It was 75 days from that DTC date until we received the Letter Seeking Confirmation/Acceptance (known as the LOA). Our LOA arrived on June 8, 2007.

That makes it 39 days from LOA until now. I type all of this just to explain that it is a journey of waiting and trusting in the Lord.  Adoption is not for the faint of heart, and I cannot imagine what it would be like if I didn’t have the Lord in my life.  I turn to him each day to sustain me and give me the strength I need to face each task that He puts before me.

             In the meantime as we wait we fill our days with as many activities and diversions as possible. My birthday is in July and my sisters both have birthdays in July as well. So last Friday we made a trip to meet with family. We traveled half way and they traveled half way. We enjoyed lunch together and took the kids to a nearby park to enjoy family time together. It was kind of a crazy thing to travel 3 hours each direction, but it was great fun! We loved the time that we got to spend with family! I loved watching my kids and my nieces and nephews playing together. All the kids are growing so quickly. Sometimes I wish they could stay little forever. Upon returning home that evening, we went to a friend’s house for a birthday party there. The kids got to swim, and we had fun chatting with old friends.

        Saturday we celebrated my birthday again but low key this time. We grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. Then we had cake and ice cream (something I requested but probably could and should have done without).  It was very yummy!  The kids played in the kiddie pool and sprinkler. It was a very relaxed and fun day.

        We have made great progress on cleaning and organizing the house. There are still several things to keep us busy but nothing urgent that has to be accomplished before we can travel. Since we live in an “antique” house, there will always be many projects, repairs, and general upkeep. At this point, that is something to be thankful for because it keeps our hands and mind busy as we wait.

        Today the kids and I went with friends to the zoo. We so enjoyed being outside and the zoo is one of our favorite places to visit. We started with a picnic lunch and a little time on the playground. From the playground we made our way into the zoo. We were all set for a fun filled day.  We fed the giraffes (such a neat experience) and saw the three new babies that were born this past year. This week the zoo was celebrating the 1st birthday of a baby elephant. Each day this week they have events that center around the elephants. Today they had a fruit smash. It was so cool to watch. Each elephant got a cantaloupe, some other melon (I didn’t recognize what kind), and a watermelon. They swallowed the cantaloupes whole, and the other melon quickly followed. Then the watermelons came next. I think that the elephants liked watermelon the best. The baby was even given one, but preferred to sample from the ones the big elephants smashed or squeezed whole with their trunks. Fun! Fun! Fun! We saw many other animals, rode the train, and played in the water.  It was a perfect way to fill our day.

        Well, please continue to pray for us as we endure this wait. Please pray for Mandy, her health, her foster family, and for the changes about to occur in her life. Most of all pray that God is glorified in all the steps we take throughout our adoption journey.

Stay tuned….

July 7, 2007

       Will this be the week we get our TA?

Well as you have probably guessed by the title, we are still waiting for our travel approval so that we may go get Mandy.  We were so excited and thought that we would be traveling soon, but our plans were not God’s plans. Our adoption agency contacted the CCAA (China Center for Adoption Affairs) and, they indicated that our TA still awaits the director’s signature. They were unable to give us a specific date but, they felt sure it would be sometime this month. We know that God sees the big picture, and we are trusting that when the time is right (and God’s timing is always perfect) we will receive that coveted piece of paper.

Last week brought us some good news as well. We belong to the internet group established for parents who adopt or have adopted from the Social Welfare Institute where Mandy originally lived (she is in foster care at this time). As we were browsing through the post, we came across one that said “translated letter”. Apparently another mom had received a letter from her child after sending a care package to the orphanage. When she had this letter translated it told of the girl’s excitement at finding out she had a forever family. She exclaimed, “You mean I get a family like Dan Na!” This mother was inquiring about Dan Na’s family on the forum. Apparently Dan Na is very good friends with this little girl. We are thrilled to know that the girls can now stay in contact when they both join their families, and now we know that our daughter is excited and sharing that she has a forever family with her friends and class mates. It just makes our hearts leap for joy to know that she is excited to have a family!  That is such good news, but it makes it that much harder to wait. We want our daughter home with us soon!

In addition to learning of Mandy’s excitement, another mom (from the same group) sent us some photos. Her daughter had pointed out Dan Na in the photos. They weren’t updated photos but they are treasured all the same. We do not have very many photos of our Mandy and even a few will help us in putting together a life book for her. It is amazing to get even just little glimpses into your child’s life.

God is good, and His timing is perfect. Please join us in prayer as we continue to wait. We are praying that Mandy’s heart is being prepared for us and for all the changes that will soon occur in her life. We are praying for our family that we will continue to be at peace and rely on God. We know that He is in control and taking care of every detail (even the littlest one).

Please join us as we pray for our friends/travel group (2 of the 3 families) who are in China at this time. One family has received their baby daughter, and one family will soon receive their 3 yr old son. We are praying for these children to know that they are loved and welcomed into these precious families. We pray for  their transitions and adjustments . We pray for the siblings who had to stay behind, and for their care takers.

Nolan takes off for church camp this week. We pray for his safety and that he has a good time. The other kiddos and I are planning a few fun things and a few not so fun. We have to continue packing and preparing for travel. Since we do not have a specific date, I am trying to do a few things each day and then enjoy fun times with my hubby and kids. Summer isn’t slowing down any more than the school year. Imagine that!

July 4, 2007

      Happy 4th of July! Let me see if I can put into words what it means to me to be a citizen of the United States of America.  My heart swells with pride every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, America the beautiful, and even This Land is your Land. I love to watch those huge American flags that fly over many parking lots now.  I love to stand tall and recite the Pledge of Allegiance! I love all these things because God has blessed me by allowing me to be born in the land of the free.  I have traveled to Mexico (as a teen) and to China just last year (and hopefully again soon). I must say that I love to visit these places. People all over this beautiful world are all the same. We laugh, hurt, cry, and get angry all in the same way. The difference lies in the freedom that we have in our country. This freedom was given to us at the hands of many strong, dedicated and valiant men and women of our armed forces. They sacrificed and many gave up their lives so that we can have freedom to live and freedom to make choices.  This freedom gives us the opportunity to worship our God and ultimately to experience the greatest freedom of all that was given to us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  People in other countries want to know of this freedom and joy, but many times must hide their beliefs or alter them to fit their government’s acceptance. Many more die at the hands of men because of a fear of this freedom, that Jesus so readily gave (dying to give us life).  Wow! My heart just swells and my eyes fill with tears as I realize I am FREE!!!

         We had a good time today as we celebrated. We went shopping. Brad and the kiddos bought mommy some new outfits as an early birthday present. After shopping, they treated mommy to an early dinner at The Olive Garden (one of my favorite restaurants). We had an early birthday celebration as we don’t have specific travel dates and are unsure about when we will leave for China. Then, we stopped to buy some fireworks for the kids (including the biggest one) to shoot off.  The boys set up a fireworks display in our aback alley, and Mia and mommy came out to watch. We were having such a good time that I lost track of my surroundings. The next thing I know, I look up and many of the neighborhood kids are in the alley watching too.  We had at least 10 or more children in our backyard and alley. One of the neighbors sent over some money and asked Brad to go buy more fireworks for all the kids to enjoy. Brad and the boys went and got some more. They stayed outside until I had to drag them away in time to get to the city fireworks show.  It still makes me tear up to think about it. I am so sappy sometimes… but all the kids and neighbors enjoying a celebration together … it just makes me happy that this is my country… that I am an American citizen.

The city fireworks show was late in getting started and the kids were tired. We enjoyed seeing the show, but we were ready to go home. We had a bedtime snack of homemade ice cream (the kids were almost too tired to eat it). Then it was off to bed … The only thing that could have made it better would have been to have shared it with family and friends!

June 24, 2007

          This month has gone by very quickly. We have been working on the house, and it is actually taking shape. Don’t get me wrong there is still a ton of stuff to do, but we can actually see light at the end of the tunnel. We have successfully moved the school room and Brad’s office (we actually traded spaces) and we are organizing and cleaning up the areas now. We will be ready to start school on time in August. We have been dividing our time amongst many things. The house has been a top priority and then baseball. We finish our last game tomorrow night…Hip, hip, hooray !!!!  Mom (for one) is glad we are done. It has been a very challenging season with 3 boys playing and with Brad being a manager and a member of the Little League board.  This whole season has been plagued with rain (we are practically floating here), and that has made the season seem longer than it was in reality.  We have been preparing and gathering and beginning to pack for travel to get Mandy. The kids are getting excited about her coming home. I hadn’t realized how excited and how much they were looking forward to her homecoming until I overheard conversations between them. Nate is truly surprising me. He asks me from time to time if it is time for her to come home. One night a few weeks ago, we were leaving at the end of the ball games and traveling to Springfield to meet friends at the airport. They were returning from China with their daughter. Their daughter just happens to be from the same Orphanage as Mandy. Nate asked if they were bringing Mandy back for us. It just melted my heart! The next day at lunch he was talking about her, and I asked him if he thought he was ready for her to come live with us.  He said,” Oh yes mommy, I have always wanted a big sister!.  It was very hard to maintain my composure. This was the little boy (when Mia came home) who told us he wanted no girls in his house…boys were the “bestest”!  God has been doing wondrous things in all of our lives. We are very close to being finished with the girl’s room. All mom has to do is clean and straighten. I guess it is a good thing as we are expecting Mandy home soon, soon, soon. We have been hearing rumors that TA’s are coming in next week. Some friends of ours, who got LOA at the same time as we did, received their TA last Thursday. Could this be our week?

It will be a mad dash to get CA appointment (with the US consulate) made, flight arrangements set, packing done, freezer meals made, and suitcases packed. It will be crazy, but I am so ready to go get our daughter.  Could it be that we will have another mad dash/miracle travel story this go round?  With God all things are possible….

Please pray that:

1)    That we get TA this week, preferably tomorrow (Monday)

2)   Mandy and all of us here remain healthy.

3)   That Mandy continues to be receptive to adoption (Did I tell you that our friends took her a gift and checked on a care package we had sent? They were able to talk with a director of the orphanage. He said that she had gotten the package, and that she knew she was getting a family. She just didn’t know when .)

4)   That Mandy will have an adventurous spirit and that she will make transitions with her new family

5)   That God will fill her heart with peace and love and joy

6)   That we will have all the funds necessary to make the appropriate travel arrangements

7)   That God will grant us safe travel

8)   That the boys will be well cared for and have a great time with Nana

9)   That Nana isn’t worn out by three very rowdy boys

10)                      For Mandy’s Foster parents and sister

Where oh where is that TA? ....

June 10, 2007

     Well the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity and excitement at our house. Let’s see…where to begin…

We spent Friday June 1st and Saturday June 2nd preparing for and hosting a benefit Pancake Breakfast for our travel funds for our Trip to pick up Mandy. The kids got into helping and set up tables, worked on decorations and had a great time. Saturday morning they all awakened cheerfully (much to our surprise) to help with the Pancake breakfast. We had youth volunteers, friends and family all helping. Garrett was such a helper. He worked very hard that day. All the kids were a great help, but I saw Garrett shine as a helper and leader. He organized all the younger kids, and they all worked well together cleaning off tables, cleaning dishes, keeping the dishwasher going, filling empty trays, and generally keeping things running. Nolan and Nate enjoyed helping with the decorations, and they helped the youth advertise. They contributed some to helping with any and all chores. My children continue to amaze me with their loving and caring hearts. For the past several months, I have watched them prepare for Mandy’s arrival. They have taken great joy in helping us gather funds for bringing her home. Each Sunday after they receive their allowance, I watch as they divide their monies. They give a portion to the church, put a portion in their savings and always save a portion to add to the Mandy fund. Our church has set up a small table with Mandy’s picture and a donation jar. Every Sunday, I stand watching as they unselfishly add to that jar from their money. All I can say is wow… I am a very blessed momma!  The breakfast was a lot of work, but it was successful. We are so grateful to a family at our church for donating biscuits, sausage, and gravy. We had a great selection of food and with their donations our costs were minimal. All the proceeds will go to travel expenses.

        More than just giving  money, the children pray for Mandy everyday. We are all very aware that she is not home yet, and we all pray for her daily. I have to share a wonderful story. Last week as we were returning from the boys baseball games, Mia really touched my heart. Brad and the boys were driving separately, and Mia and I were returning home in our van. As we are driving, I hear from the back seat….”Momma, PRAY!! Momma, PRAY!!  Momma, PRAY NOW!!!  “yes, Mia “, “MOMMA, PRAY NOW MANDY!!!  She was very urgently asking me to pray for Mandy. So we prayed for the remainder of our trip home. She seemed happy with this and went about her business. Then again at bedtime….”PRAY MOMMA, PRAY MANDY, PRAY MANDY NOW!!!” We prayed for Mandy together. Needless to say, this momma prayed before her own bedtime. I still don’t know what God put on Mia’s heart or why she had the urgency to pray, but I prayed all the same that Mandy remains well, that God is preparing her heart, and that we will go to get her soon.It has assured me that God is working on the sister bond between our sweet girls.

        As of last week, we have a new addition to our growing family. The boys were all outside playing, and Brad had gone outside to check on them. He came into the house specifically to tell me not to go outside…”whatever you do, DO NOT come outside.” Of course with that statement, I had to go outside. I look out in our backyard near the alley and what do I see… 3 little boys (4 if you count my hubby), 1 little girl, and the most adorable puppy you can imagine.  Why, oh why, did it have to be a golden Lab? Brad and I both love Labs, and we have always wanted a Golden.  He has the sweetest temperament. We wouldn’t let the boys name him for a week. We contacted the vets office, ask around the neighborhood, and ask at the ballpark. No one claimed him. Some neighbors claimed that they had found (what they thought to be) the momma dog. She had been killed by a car on the busy street near our house. He was wandering the neighborhood. So… We have a new puppy. He has been very good. We still have a few issues with “potty” training, but he is picking up on it. He barks very little except when he is hungry and then you know it! He plays well with Cleo, and with the kids. Cleo is so happy to have a playmate, and it is such fun to look out in the backyard and see all the kiddos and the dogs having a great time playing together. Nate is in canine bliss…. (everyone know how much he LOVES dogs).  I will have to try to get pictures of a boy and his dog(s). It is like a Norman Rockwell painting when he has his “buddies” with him.

        I am now the proud driver of a “BUS”.  We didn’t set out to buy a new (or used as the case is here) car. It was our plan to drive the wheels off of “ol’ Bessie” (our name for the minivan). One day we were killing some time and decided to check out large size vans. We were just checking out statistics, prices, and dreaming of a future time. We pulled up into a Chevy dealership and saw a large size van sitting on the used lot. It was already priced to move (and it was a good deal). We drove off that day without the van, but it kept coming back in our conversations.  We decided to drive it to see if it was something I would like to drive. Surprisingly, it drove well. The kids loved it, and there is lots of room. We left without purchasing it, but it was weighing on our mind. We discussed options and the fact that the minivan was older with lots of mileage. We discussed that our family would be crowded in the mini van. We discussed the cost… you know the routine. When a deal was made that was impossible to pass up, we felt we were better off getting the van now. We pray that it was a wise choice.  It is a blessing to have all that room. I just have to get used to driving a “huge” van.

        Finally, we ended this week with terrific news! Our Letter of Acceptance (LOA) came in Friday morning. This doesn’t mean we are traveling just yet, but we are very close. This letter is to reconfirm that we want and accept this child. It requires that we check the yes box (never any question about it) and sign the paper. In addition, we have to include a cover letter that explains our desire to adopt and our promise to care for the child. Once signed, we will drive the letter in to our agency tomorrow, and it will be on its way back to China tomorrow afternoon. From this point we should only have a 2-3 wk wait for our Travel Approval (TA) and be traveling to China within 2 weeks after that. It looks as if we will be in China on my birthday. Another interesting thing is that we will be traveling to China at the same time as friends of ours. They were in our travel group to go get Mia and now we get to travel together again. We will spend a portion of the trip in Mandy’s province; however, we will be together a portion of the trip anyway. Our other travel buddies get the privilege of traveling before us. They are awaiting TA any day. We know they are anxious to go get their baby girl. Following their trip will help us pass the time before we get to travel. It still amazes me that we are almost ready to travel for our second daughter. I am so blessed that God has placed the wonders of adoption on my heart. I am very grateful that He chose to adopt me as one of His children in Christ.



May 28, 2007

      Here we are at the end of May, and I am still trying to figure out where the past 5 months have disappeared.  Is it possible that time is speeding up or is it just that I am getting older?  I have heard many times that as your children grow time moves at lightning speed. I am finding that to be a true statement. Whatever the case, we are having the time of our lives.  Our children keep us young at heart, and we love spending time with them. I am feeling more relaxed now that the school year is complete. I have several goals to accomplish before our trip to China. One is to successfully complete fund raising ventures for travel and adoption related expenses for Mandy’s adoption.  I have been making items, selling items and planning a benefit Pancake Breakfast. We are trying to earn as much as we can to cover the cost of travel. It is our wish to pay in cash and avoid taking out loans to cover the trip…of course, we will do whatever is necessary to bring our daughter home. I have been selling bracelets and necklaces the past few weeks at our church. As of last weekend, we had only cleared enough to pay for the cost of the jewelry. So, we decided to attempt selling in front of our Walmart store. I just have to say that it was a very humbling experience, and not one that I wish to repeat anytime soon. We were approached by several people who thought they had the right to our life story and were free with their opinions but not with a helping or giving attitude.  I cannot lump everyone into that group. We were blessed by several wonderful people who donated to our endeavors. Those people were loving, kind and wished us great success. It just felt as if the bad outweighed the good. So, I am trying to look upon the venture in a positive way. God uses every situation to teach us something. I learned that people will be people. Some are giving by nature and many are not. I did learn to be respectful of everyone and look at all people through the eyes of Jesus.  We did earn some of the funding although not as much as we had hoped. We are blessed by any amounts that we are given and thankful for those who want to help. We know that God will provide!

          This week we are making final preparations for a benefit Pancake Breakfast. The proceeds will go to the Mandy fund that our church is helping us with. We will be serving breakfast early Saturday morning. Please join us in praying that it will be successful. We have several volunteers who have graciously volunteered their time to help. The youth group at our church will lend a helping hand as well.  It should be a fun time if nothing else. I have to spend the week making final details, organizing the workers, making a few decorations and preparing any food that can be prepared in advance. I won’t find myself being idle this week.

           Next week and the remaining weeks of the summer will be dedicated to finishing the simple changes being made to the girls room, organizing and having a huge garage sale to clean out our messy, cluttered house. De-cluttering this house is a very major goal.  The kiddos and I are planning some fun activities and field trips for the summer. The kids are anxiously waiting for the rain to finally quit for awhile so that they can spend their days with lots of water fun. We hope to take a trip or maybe two to the Zoo. We will probably plan a few picnics and outings with friends as well.

We are trying to get our baseball games in and played. Rain outs have been hindering our play time. It may be July before we can get all the games made up. It is no bother really except that we need to be done before our trip to China and before the heat of the summer really gets started.  So we are just enjoying life!

May 18, 2007

     Our days are filled with school and baseball this month. We are finishing up the last of our school year and preparing for summer. The boys have worked so very hard this year, and we are all ready for a break. There are a few things that have to carry over into the summer.  Nolan has 2 reports that he “never got around to” and that he has to complete before the summer is over. We are going to do a study on the ocean and ocean life this summer as extra work.  It is a just for fun unit of study.

        We have been filling our days and weekends with as many activities as we can and just enjoying lots of family time together. On May 5th we had the pleasure of visiting with fellow adoptive families. We were invited to the house of friends to share in a cookout. Several adoptive families were in attendance and there were kids, kids, kids everywhere. Our kiddos had a terrific time and enjoyed playing with old friends and meeting new ones. It is such a blessing to have a group of friends that share similar circumstances and that understand the ups and downs, and the incredible joy of the adoption process. All the families at the cook out were somewhere in the process of adopting again. For some of the families this is their third adoption and with multiple children of varying ages in their families. Adoption just touches your heart in a most unbelievable way. The next weekend (May 10-13th) we took a road trip. We had been wanting to get up to Chicago to visit old friends. Baby Ryan was born back in November, and we hadn’t gotten a chance to see him. We were needing to get our Chinese Visas before traveling, as well. So what better excuse was needed.  We spent several days with our friends and had such a great time. We were able to visit China town and were treated to a wonderful visit with Gung-Gung and Paw-Paw. They so graciously invited us into their home and had snacks from our favorite bakery (in Chinatown) for a treat. Then we walked and shopped and just enjoyed being amongst friends. We then were invited to share dinner at their home. We had some terrific food….fried rice (my favorite), chicken chow mein (which was very good too) and beef lo mein (another tasty dish). The kids were very excited about the baseball game we were going to that evening so they didn’t eat very much. I sure enjoyed my share of the meal though. That night we took the kids to see the Chicago White Soxs. Nolan had the best time of us all; however it was fun to cheer on one of our favorite teams. Oh, I forgot to mention that Brad, Mia and I went downtown to apply for our Visas. It was a bit chillier than I expected so we had to buy Mia some pants (I had the forethought to bring her a sweater), and I needed a jacket. So a very small shopping spree was thrown in that day. With our Visas complete, we are more than ready to go get our girl! On Saturday, we enjoyed a fun filled soccer game and then got to visit one of our very favorite zoos. We had a great time looking at all the different animals. At this zoo we always get to see many baby animals that have been born each year. We tried to see the baby polar bear …but no luck, he was inside having his dinner. We did see several baby gorillas…they are just adorable to watch. My favorite animal was the Tiger. After our trip to the zoo, our friends took us out to dinner at a Mexican Restaurant, and we had some delicious food. We had to laugh at the kids because they were all so tired they were falling asleep in their food. They had been playing hard and on the go most of the weekend. Nate had fun reacquainting with Sarah. They are so cute together. It is usually a year or more before we get together again , and they just pick up where they left off. They just have a special friendship.  Spending time with our friends is the highlight of the trip. We always have a fun filled trip when we go to Chicago, and our time with our friends is all to short.

We arrived home in time to start preparing for several future events, several baseball games and everyday chores and family fun. The month promises to pass by just as quickly as the months before it. We are grateful for the activities and “busy”ness to make our waiting time go by. I don’t want to wish for time to move more quickly as my children are growing much too quickly on their own. I am trying to just cherish each day as it comes. I can’t say that I wouldn’t like to have my sweet Mandy home right now, but I am concentrating on the fun that my other children are at present. I pray that God will reveal His timing soon and that we can bring our daughter home to join her family. I continue to pray for the peace that He has granted me so far and that if we must wait several months more (praying hard that this won’t be the case) that He will continue to give me the peace and strength to just keep taking each day as it comes. 

May 2, 2007

     Happy Birthday Mandy! Our daughter turns 7 years old today. The only problem is that she is in China. We are saying prayers that she gets to celebrate a little on her special day. We will definitely celebrate in a big way when she has joined our family. What a celebration she will have for her 8th birthday!  We miss her especially on all the special occasions that take place as we wait for her. We are trying our best to not count down the days as we wait. Sometimes counting makes the wait that much harder; however, when special days go by and she is not home those days we have already waited become all too real.  We are only slightly 1/3 of the way into our wait, and I am anxious to have her home. I am praying for all those families that continue to wait after 100 days or more. It is so very difficult to just trust. We must remind ourselves daily (and sometimes even hourly) that we can trust in our Lord and that His timing is perfect. We must trust that he is caring for our children and loving them more than we ever can.  We must trust that He is protecting them and preparing them for the transitions that will take place in their lives.  Isn’t it Awesome? …. That we have a God who is bigger than all things, all people, and all governments!!!  He is in control and we can (and will) rely on His timing and plan!

         Dear Heavenly Father,

      I bow before you today totally in awe of your power and glory. I am so grateful that you are in my life and that I know the love you have for me. I lift our sweet Mandy up to you this day. We celebrate the day of her birth and are so very grateful that her birth mother loved her enough to choose life for this precious little one of yours.  We offer up a prayer for Mandy’s birth mother. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that she experiences each anniversary of her daughters birth. We will never know the circumstances in this woman’s life that led to the decisions she had to make, but we are grateful and know that she had to love this child in order to give her a chance at life. Please Father God, be with her, give her peace and help her know that her child is loved and that she is loved by you. May she know you and your son Jesus Christ. We pray for our Mandy that you bless her this day and every day for the rest of her life. Please protect her, give her good health, and prepare her heart for joining our family. We pray that you will make known to her the strength that only you can give and with that strength help her to face the changes that will take place in her life soon. Thank You  Father for this child, our beautiful daughter,  and thank you for the gift of your son Jesus that through him,  we can all be adopted children of yours.



April 25, 2007

       Well time seems to be flying as fast as usual. We are trying our best to stay busy and keep our minds off the waiting that must now take place before we can go get Mandy. We are excited to know that our paper work is all in China. We are waiting at this point for our LID (log in date). It is taking a little while for us to know anything, but we feel certain we have been logged in (at least we are hoping so). It takes a little while for the information to get back to our agency. After receiving our Pre-approval, we felt more comfortable sending a goody package to Mandy. We filled it with lots of “frilly” girl things, a photo album with pictures of us, gifts for her foster family and disposable cameras. We are unsure if she will receive the package, but we have talked with others who sent packages successfully. So we are praying that it arrives and that she enjoys her gifts, learns a little about her new family and that we can get some pictures of her life in China.  Mandy’s adoption is so different from Mia’s in so many ways. We were blessed to get many pictures of Mia as an infant and so far have none of Mandy. I pray that somewhere, somehow we will come across pictures of Mandy as she grew.

            We are anxiously waiting for the time when we can go to get Mandy (Wei Da Na) and the day that she will join her forever family.  We miss her already!  It is very hard to describe this wait unless you have been there before. I can only describe it in the following way. Imagine that you have carried your child for 9 months of pregnancy (our paper-chasing), and then you give birth (our referral pictures). After the baby is born (referral pictures), the doctor says, ”Ha, ha, just kidding! You don’t get to hold your baby or see him/her for several more months (our wait for travel approval). Now remember many adoptive parents have already had to wait more than 12 months to complete paperwork and an additional 1-2 years to receive any information about their child. That scenario can only give you a small glimpse of the feelings adoptive parents must go through as we wait to receive approval to come get our children. When choosing a child from the waiting children’s list, you get a glimpse of your child earlier than most; however, your wait on the other side (after seeing that child) becomes almost torturous.  This child of your heart is no less your child, and you feel as if a part of you is missing. We know that it is all in God’s control, and we are trying our best to leave it up to Him.

        We are enjoying our time together as we wait and try to fill our time with many things. We learned through Mia’s adoption that the wait goes faster if you keep yourselves as busy as possible. We have baseball that will keep our schedule full for the next six weeks. The boys all play their first games on Monday. We continue to do some work on the house (but limited funds make that a slow process). We are planning a trip to Chicago to visit with friends and to pick up our Chinese Visas. We are making a few changes to Mia’s room so that it can become the “girls’ room. All of these things will take us into the summer. We pray that by July we at least know something about when we will travel.  Our greatest wish and prayer is that we will be making the trip to China before the summer is over. We have no way of knowing when, and we hope that we can remain at peace knowing that God’s timing is perfect.  In the meantime, we will stay busy enjoying all of our kids, doing fun activities and celebrating with friends as they make the trip to go for their children.

Stay tuned….


April 15, 2007

         I have to reminisce a little today.  Eight years ago today a small but very beautiful baby made his appearance in this world, and there has been no stopping him since. Garrett Matthew decided early on that he wanted to take the world by storm. You see, he was not supposed to arrive until June 10th. He had different plans and wanted to be born! I started having complications about 4 days before his birth and was hospitalized. The doctors and nursing staff were insistent that he would remain where he was for at least 3 more weeks; however, Garrett was having none of that. He was born on a Thursday evening and came ready to play basketball.  Our greatest concern was that his lungs would operate and that he could breathe on his own.  He let us know first thing that he had lung capacity.  Garrett would remain in the NICU unit for 10 more (long and tedious) days. He seemed to need assistance learning to eat and a small amount of time developing to please the doctors. I remember praying over him and knowing that he was going to be all right. He has been very brave and strong ever since.

        As a baby, Garrett was always a snuggler, and I loved to just sit and hold him for hours. Then, He grew into a toddler and has proven true to his strong  desire to make things happen ever since.  He is a very curious young man and wants to know about everything and how everything works. I stand amazed at all the things he knows and befuddled sometimes at all the questions he can ask (I tell him that I think he will make a great lawyer someday. He can ask questions and argue almost any point.).  He is full of life and accomplishes almost anything he sets his mind to do. Better yet, He has a heart as big as the state of Texas.  The things that make him happy are to give to others and to share what he has with them (of course, this isn’t always evident with his siblings). It is there none the less. He cares for all people and socializes with people of all ages better than most adults. He has a servant’s heart and serves others without complaint. He is becoming quite the ladies man, as well. Apparently the year he was born there were many more girls born than there were boys.  He is surrounded by little girls and doesn’t complain much about all the attention. He is growing into quite the ladies man. I take such joy in  watching  my children grow. I love to watch the Lord work in their lives and treasure every moment that he gives me to spend with them. 

                        Father God,

          I thank you for the beautiful gift of this child. Every step he takes and every time he breathes it is from you.

        We are so very thankful that you were right there beside him from the moment of his birth.

        The strength you gave to him and the healing touch kept him healthy and growing.

        We praise you for your love and protection.

        My Mother’s prayer is that you will continue to protect him and guide his life to serve you.

        He has chosen to follow you and your son Jesus and that brings such joy to my heart.

        I pray that he will serve you in a mighty way and that his loving heart will continue to grow.

        Thank you Father for my son and most of all for your son Jesus Christ who loves us beyond any love we have ever known.

Happy Birthday my beautiful baby boy (I know …you are 8… but you will always be my baby boy)! I love you to the moon and stars and back again!!!



April 9, 2007

     We Have our PA!!! China acknowledges our desire to adopt Wei Dan Na (Amanda Margaret). One Step closer to our beautiful daughter.

April 8, 2007

      What a glorious day!  We awakened this morning to a beautiful blue sky and brilliant sunshine. The temperature started out a bit cool but turned warmer as the day progressed. The day was glorious; however, it was NOT glorious because of the weather. It was a glorious day because we got to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  It was a day that we (as Christians) set aside to remember the loving sacrifice that our Lord gave his life so that we could live with him forever. It never ceases to amaze me the unconditional love that I have been given… that I am loved in spite of how truly unworthy I am.

         We celebrated this Easter in Texas. It was a fun filled day that began by attending Easter services at our old church in Arlington, Texas. We actually were awake, dressed, and to church in time to visit and attend classes and then the church service. It was a very special time to visit with old friends. Looking back to last year, it was quite a different story. Last year we had just returned from China and were still struggling with the time changes. We intended to go to church but….. we had awakened at 3 am ( still on China time) and then fallen asleep again at 6 am only to oversleep and totally miss church service time. I so vividly remember that I was extremely exhausted. I was keeping 2 schedules….China time with Mia and Nolan and Missouri time with Garrett and Nate. Needless to say I was in a sleep deprived state for the first 6 weeks home. We did manage a small egg hunt for the kids but were too tired to find any excitement in it. This year the kids got the added fun of hunting eggs with their cousins, and the Easter bunny found them at our hotel! We enjoyed Easter dinner with mom’s family and had a blast playing. The boys and Mia enjoyed seeing their friends and especially their cousins.

        We were blessed to be able to turn our Easter weekend visit into a whole week in Texas. Brad had business meetings so we got to stay on and visit. It was 6 days filled to the brim with fun! We began the weekend with Mia attending a tea party with Nana, Aunt Ce and Baby Eva, Aunt Mary, Megan (Meg-Meg), Natalie(Nattie) and Mommy. Nana treated her daughters and granddaughters to lunch at a tea room. We browsed through the antique booths and ate a fabulous lunch. We had such a terrific “girlie” time. The boys got to enjoy the day with their dad playing baseball. I think it was a toss-up as to who had the better time.  Of course there were the Easter festivities. We spent a day shopping at Grapevine Mills mall (the better term would be “window shopping”). Garrett used his allowance money and a gift card from Aunt Mary, Uncle Michael, and the cousins to buy some things at Build a Bear. After shopping the kids braved the cold wind to try out Aunt Mary and Uncle Michael’s new pool. It was heated and they had a blast playing, but it sure was bone chilling cold when they got out of the pool. Tuesday we had fun with Nana. We got to play at a local park after we picked up the cousins from pre-school. Tuesday night we went back to M&M’s and had a cookout and swam in the warm pool. It was a little bit warmer so mom enjoyed all the benefits of a pool/spa. We had a small cake for Garrett to celebrate his b-day with everyone. It was a fun filled night. The next day we spent with Nana, and then went to dinner at a close friend’s house (thanks Ms Kim for the terrific spaghetti). All the kids had the greatest time hanging out together. We headed home the next afternoon. We hardly have a free moment anytime we visit our family. We do truly enjoy our time spent with everyone, but we most especially enjoy our family.

As you can see there is hardly a dull moment.

April 4, 2007

          Well I have started this blog many times and have been having difficulty. How do you put into words all these feelings and emotions?!

Today is a very special day! It is a day that will always hold a special place in our hearts.  At 3:27 pm on the 4th of April 2006 in the Civil Affairs Office in Guangzhou, China a very scared little girl was placed in my arms. I remember this day as vividly as if it were yesterday. This little girl, Qing Cheng Le, took a very curious glance at me and burst into a tearful, screaming mess. She was beautiful, and I was holding this little girl that I had prayed for so long. It was the beginning of a very special love affair. Everything and everyone ceased to exist for a few minutes as I held on tight to my beautiful baby girl. She was finally a real person and not just a dream or even a picture. I instantly fell in love with this little girl! My only regret is that I focused so much on Mia that I forgot to let Brad in on this love affair with our child. As time has passed this year, Mia has fallen in love with her daddy. He is her protector and knight in shining armor, and she is most definitely his princess. I will remember this day as a day that God gave me one of the desires of my heart!

          We are very thankful for this very special gift. Mia has brightened our lives and her love shines bright to all who know her. I have treasured all our moments this past year. It has been filled with both good times and many challenging ones. Mia is a ray of sunshine and is happy most of the time. She has adjusted to life in a houseful of boys and fits perfectly as the baby sister. Her older brothers are head-over-heels in love with her (watch out boyfriends… You will have to make it through the scrutiny of 3 BIG, very protective brothers and a loving daddy). The adjustments that she has made have been wonders to see. She has gone from being a scared, grieving, and confused little girl to a happy, content, and very loving child.  During the first few days Mia was with us, she showed us glimpses of her beautiful, light hearted, happy personality. She has blossomed and brings so much joy to all those around her. She hasn’t held back on her strong-willed personality either. We have been celebrating the joys of having a two year old once again. I think the best way to describe our Mia is that she is passionate. She is definitely her momma’s girl!  Sometimes she can have a very confusing personality (maybe that is because she is 2) but, to know her is to love her! We look forward to everyday that we have to spend with her watching her grow into the princess God intended for her to be.

           As we start the next year with Mia, we are looking forward to bringing home her older sister. She is looking forward to having someone to play dolls, dress-up and “titchen” kitchen /play house with her. Her brothers don’t mind this task occasionally, but they prefer to add boy things to the mix… like attack of the killer frogs or cowboy and Indian raids. So a sister will be a welcome addition. She will happily blow kisses to Mandy’s picture and when ask will tell you that we have to go get Mandy in “HinaChina. I can hardly believe that at this time next year I will be momma to five kiddos and enjoying every minute of it. It certainly makes our lives and our house interesting and not the least bit calm. My children are such blessings, and I treasure all the crazy moments I get to share with them.

        It is my prayer that we will continue to live our lives serving God and proclaiming His love to others. I pray that God will give me the guidance and wisdom to teach my children how to live their lives for Him.

May we always live our lives as examples to others so that they may know the love of God and our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am praising God for this day!!!


April 2, 2007

      We had a great end to our week. Our I-171H (the immigration paper that says we are approved to bring an orphan into the country) arrived in record time. We were thinking that it would take several more weeks. Most people were averaging about a 7-8 week wait. We had to return to the USCIS office due to Brad having torn up fingerprints that they were unable to be read. So, Brad had to go in and make a sworn statement. The agent was very nice and it took all of five minutes to complete… something wrong with driving 3 ½ hours one way and only needing 5 minutes to complete the appointment.  The lady told Brad that had this occurred in 2005 (when we were applying for Mia’s adoption) that it would have required an additional 6 months to process. As we gather the paperwork for Mandy’s adoption, God reveals more of his hand in the adoption process. We had several delays in the I-171 H process for Mia’s paperwork. All of these delays served to lengthen the time we had before the expiration of that I-171H.  The expiration date was such that we could complete paperwork and get it sent to China in 2007 for Mandy (using the “old” I-171H). The delays were just long enough for this to happen without hindering the exact time that God had planned for us to hold Mia in our arms.

We were expecting the updated I-171H to take a while longer because of the delay that required us to return to USCIS.  We were very pleasantly surprised when our new I-171H arrived in our mailbox Friday morning.

        Our Friday only got better when a friend we had been praying for called to tell us that they had finally made the decision to adopt. We are so excited for them! We continue to pray that their adoption journey will go as smoothly as possible and that they will be as blessed as we have been. God is truly amazing, and we continue to stand in awe of His mighty hand in placing children with the families that He has planned for them. We find it hard at times to describe the incredible journey and many blessings bestowed upon us. God is in control and He has great plans for all of our lives.

         Mia’s passport arrived in Saturday’s mail. It was accompanied by her citizenship papers which we had to entrust to the passport agent. It was definitely cause for a sigh of relief when we saw the papers inside the mail envelope! In addition, it served as a reminder that our citizenship and freedom is a blessing. It is something that we should never take for granted. It is a privilege which was earned by men and women who sacrificed their lives for us. We should be forever grateful and respect the privilege that has been given to us. Most of all we should remember the true freedom that Jesus gave by sacrificing His life on the cross for us. We had fun turning the pages of Mia’s passport. It is really a beautiful thing… both emotionally and the actual (physical) passport. The pages inside the book are covered with pictures of historical and patriotic pictures depicting our American History. Wow…one more step accomplished, and now Princess Mia can accompany us on our next trip to China (as an American Citizen) to pick up her big sister, Princess Mandy. Stay tuned ….

        We have been following the journeys of several of the adoptive families from our agency. There are several families in China at this time and today was the day that the babies joined their families. It has been such an emotional week for everyone. We are following along reliving our time in China at this same time last year. We look forward to celebrating Mia’s forever family day on Wednesday 4/4/07. It is so very hard to believe that she joined our family one year ago. I will write more on Wednesday……


March 21, 2007

       What a difference a day can make! WE ARE DTC!!!!  Our paperwork left for China today. Please pray for a quick Log-in Date (LID). We are optimistically looking at this summer as our time of travel to bring Mandy home.

           We thank you all for your prayers and support up to this point. We ask that you continue to pray for:

1)    God’s provisions for our family….finances for the adoption, strength and stamina in this wait.

2)   For Mandy… that she will remain healthy and well, that she will learn of her new family and be excited to know that she will have a forever home in the US, that her foster family will support her adoption and help prepare her for the transitions, that God will continue to open her heart and help ease her fears and concerns, and that her transitions will go smoothly when she is with our family forever.

3)   For Her Foster Family…that we will be able to communicate our appreciation to them for caring and loving our daughter, that we can stay in touch with them and that they can see her progress, that they won’t have to grieve and hurt to much as Mandy separates from their family.

4)   For the Governments…. That all the necessary paperwork and processing of the adoption will continue to move quickly so that we can bring her home quickly.

March 20, 2007

      Well here we are with the end of March quickly approaching. Our progress on the adoption front is going well. We have spent a great deal of time gathering papers, sending or taking documents for appropriate certifications, getting a passport for Mia, and getting the necessary documents and fingerprints for the USCIS. We are praying diligently that our “Dossier” (document package) will be on its way to China at the end of this week or the beginning of next week. The sooner it gets there, and we are “logged-in” the sooner our wait begins. Once we receive the LID (log in date) we can begin our “official” wait for travel authorization to go get Mandy. We are waiting as well for a PA (pre-approval) that indicates to us that China accepts and approves of us as her family. This is a technicality. Once we receive this approval, we can begin communicating in small ways with Mandy. It is our plan to send her a care package and a photo album of her new family. We hope to send enough pictures and notes that she will know a little about us, and we pray that this will make her transitions easier. So we have begun the “waiting” game right now.

        We continue to work our way through this school year. We have been having so much fun that we can hardly believe we are entering the final weeks (the home stretch) of school. Spring keeps trying to make its appearance; however, winter occasionally puts in its two cents. We are finally past the ice/snow storms (we hope); however, we still have cold spells. In addition to the bouncing temperatures, we are now experiencing lots of rainy days. We take advantage of the dry and sunny days by playing outdoors and taking walks to the park. The boys are all preparing for their upcoming baseball season. They spend lots of time practicing and playing catch. Mia even tried to get in on the action but…. Oops! She got a baseball injury. We had to pay a visit to the ER, and she had to have 4 stitches to close a cut in her forehead. She only had the stitches for 5 days and has healed rapidly. It looks as if the scar will be minimal (if she has one at all). The boys have promised to be more careful when Mia is outside with them, and mom is more cautious about letting her outside when the boys are playing.

         Brad (as coach) and Nolan have baseball “try-outs” this weekend. Practice begins in April for all the boys. Mia and I look forward to the warmer weather so we can have comfortable accommodations for the many games we will watch over the next few months. We have come to enjoy the outdoors and cheering our boys to victory. Mia took to baseball like a fish takes to water. She loved to cheer, clap and pep up the crowd. It may be hard this year to keep her from wanting to be on the field with the players.

        Mia is making amazing progress in all adjustment areas. She has become a daddy’s girl. It is so wonderful to see her grow and attach to us. She is talking up a storm, and her speech therapy is going well. She has really made great strides in forming her words and speaking clearly. She loves her appointments every Wed. with Ms Maura. I think she especially likes to go because daddy takes her, and this is their date together every week. They usually follow the appointment with breakfast (“k-kakes”, pancakes) at McDonalds. We can hardly believe that our “princess” has been home almost a year. Our wait a year ago seemed as if it would be forever. God truly worked miracles throughout our adoption process, and we had our precious baby in 9 months (start to finish). We know that it isn’t/wasn’t the norm for this process, and we know that God blessed us beyond measure throughout Mia’s adoption. This year has had its highs and lows but what a wonderful year it has been! Where does the time go when you are having fun?



February 23, 2007

        I can’t believe that it is the end of February. Once again this year is flying faster than I care for it to.  Our children bring such joy into our home, and along with that joy there comes a lot of challenges, chaos, and a very busy household.  We have been busy as beavers. The older boys continue to make great strides in their school work. We are enjoying this school year immensely. Nate has decided he wants to study and has been joining our school year on a part time basis. He is beginning to learn his letters and letter sounds. He is counting to 20 and recognizes his numbers. I do believe he may have the blessing of his dad’s photographic memory. Sometimes Nate is so quiet that I do not realize he is listening and learning. Then, he will surprise me with things he can tell me and things he can do.  Nolan is an avid reader and has discovered the joys of research. He loves to learn and is very self motivated. Garrett is more of my logical thinker. He loves math and to ask a million questions. He can process so much in just a few seconds. He is more cautious than the others because he wants to make sure everything is perfect. Mia is the typical two year old and is enjoying life. She is happy most of the time, and she loves all the attention her brothers bestow on her. She has begun to be interested in school and will sit with us to listen to stories and she especially loves to be a part of the crafts and writing time. So schooling a houseful of children seems to get a bit easier as long as I keep the younger ones occupied with lots of activities, as well. All the kids are very active, and the boys have certainly enjoyed playing basketball. We are ending the basketball season tomorrow. Next up, Baseball for three!

           Well, February has brought exciting news to our family. For the past several months, we had been feeling the call to adopt again. It is very hard to explain to those outside the adoptive world; however, if you know me you know the love I have for children. So, after many hours, days, weeks, and months of prayer, we felt that God really wanted us to answer this call to adopt again.  In my line of thinking we needed to follow the birth order of our children, and that would mean adopting a child younger than Mia.  We knew that we would adopt a waiting child, and we knew that we were returning to China to do so (that part we felt that God had made very clear).  I (for some unknown reason) kept feeling that our new daughter was near. We kept looking at waiting children’s list from many different agencies. On one occasion, I felt especially drawn to a little girl (a few months younger than Mia) who was cleft affected.  After much prayer, Brad and I submitted our application to this agency for this little one.  God had other plans. She was placed with another family, and we praised God that she would have a family of her own. Perhaps, this was God working to confirm the fact that we must adopt again, because we felt even more strongly that we shouldn’t quit but find the child God had for us. My”feeling” that our daughter was near kept getting stronger (I don’t know…call it a mother’s intuition). So, we started the basic paper work with the agency we used for Mia’s adoption.

        Back in December, this agency received a waiting child list with 10 children on the list.  Many “paper ready” families were honored to be chosen as families for these beautiful children, but not all these children were placed. When the agency released its list to families that were starting the process, Brad and I felt drawn to this list. We requested access to the website and anxiously looked at the information found there. Upon immediately opening the site, the first child was a beautiful six year old. Brad instantly knew that she was our daughter. I was a bit more reluctant (remember the birth order, and of course who doesn’t love the cuddly babies).  I insisted that we continue down the list, and we came upon a 2 yr old (she had just turned 2 ….so she was several months younger than Mia). I can’t say that I instantly knew she was ours, but we submitted our application. A couple of days later, she was placed with another family who was “paper ready”. I was a bit discouraged, and had to convince myself that my “intuition “was wrong. We would become paper ready and then wait for another list to come later in the year.

        Apparently Brad wasn’t convinced of this fact. He had been holding back on the instant bond he had felt for the six year old. He felt that maybe it wasn’t right because I wasn’t feeling it. God used the next 2 weeks to work His plan out in my heart. I was “anxious” (…which I know not to be because God can handle it all for us). My “line of thinking” is insignificant when God sees the big picture. He knows the plan he has for us. My heart and mind were burdened with the fact that my husband felt this calling so strongly (keep in mind that I am the one who had to convince him our family wasn’t complete after our second and third children….). Add to that fact that I am scared to death of how to fit an older child into our family. Not only is it adding one more child, but it is adding one more child to teach. There are so many things that go with adding an older child. I worried about being able to communicate with her, and how would she attach ( with Mia we held her, gave her bottles, fed her). I worried about her fears, her grieving for the life she had always known, and her transition to a new country with new sights, sounds, and taste. One Sunday (during church) my burden was lifted… it was almost as if it had disintegrated right before my eyes. I felt God was leading me to just TRUST Him on this one.

        So Brad (with much happiness) submitted our application to the agency. A few days later, we contacted the agency to find out if they had a time frame for the placement of this little girl. We were told that we would know something no later than Tuesday Feb.6th. We were aware that we had many obstacles that might weigh against being selected as her family. Things like another family had expressed interest, adopting out of birth order (which our agency tries to adhere to), and Mia’s been home for less than a year. So, we were trusting in the Lord and in the agency to make the best decision for this child. Brad (and even I at this point) was certain that she was ours. Many things happened throughout the week to make it known (ie. an insurance mix-up that turned out to benefit us should she become our daughter). We were just settling into the wait when we received a surprise call from our agency.  It seems as if God made all the obstacles melt away. On February 1, 2007, our agency said that they would like to recommend us to CCAA as the family of Wei Dan Na (** see Mandy’s story for more details ). We are so honored to be selected as her family. We look forward to watching God work as He helps us through the mounds of paperwork and financial hurdles that we shall face in the next few months.

        As you can see we have had plenty to keep us busy over the past few weeks. We are frantically trying to get all of our side of the paperwork done and finished by the first of March. It is our fervent prayer that we will be able to then send the paperwork to China (be DTC) as quickly as we can in March.  When you finally see the face of the child that God has placed on your heart, you long to bring her home as quickly as you possibly can. It is amazing to watch how God prepares our hearts, our home and our family for the newest addition. We already feel like there is someone missing when we go places and when we sit down to dinner. We are already counting five in our head counts of all our precious children.  We will spend the next few months preparing to bring Mandy home. We are creatively coming up with ways to change Mia’s small room into a room for 2 beautiful princesses. They will be sharing many things in the future, and we hope that most of all the girls will share the joy, love and bonding that only sisters share. We pray to that they will share the bond of their common heritage, and a love for Jesus Christ that surpasses no other.

       Please join us in prayer for our precious Amanda “Mandy” Margaret. Some things that we would ask you to pray about:

1)    that all the paperwork will go smoothly, and that the governments of China and the US will work quickly and efficiently

2)   that Mandy will  remain healthy and well

3)   that God will prepare her heart for the huge transitions that she must make

4)   for her foster family that they will  lovingly prepare her for the changes

5)   for her foster family and “foster” sibling that they will not hurt too much and will find peace in knowing that she is going to be loved

6)   that we can in some way remain in contact with her foster family(through pictures, letters, via internet)

7)   for God’s provisions for our family….that we remain well, that we can accomplish everything necessary to bring her home, for monies necessary for travel, and for our strength and stamina.


We thank you dear friends for your prayers and for following us on the wonderful journey of adoption that God has placed us on.

January 14, 2007

       Happy New Year everyone! We are enjoying good health and the joys of parenthood. We are working (albeit slowly) on some remodeling and organizational additions to our home. Brad began building on the shelving unit for our home school office. We still need to sand and pant it, but I am excited about the organization and space that it offers. We have lots more building, painting and organizing to accomplish. So, they will remain on the “to do” list. Maybe just maybe, we will accomplish them one job at a time. It may be 2015 before completion, but we will do so someday. The boys began school last week. They started back with a very positive attitude and have been working very hard on all their school work. We have been following our study of American History and immersing ourselves in some of the greatest children’s literature. Mom is enjoying it as much as the kids! 

          This year we have all three boys playing sports. They are playing basketball this winter. We are juggling our schedules and our time. Practice is 2 days a week. Nolan and Nate have practice at the same time and Garrett (Brad’s coaching his team) has it another day. Then we have games most Saturday mornings. I don’t even want to think about what baseball season will bring. It certainly keeps us busy. Mia is such a trooper. She goes to every game and cheers her brothers on. She is even learning to take her afternoon nap through all the noise. I think that she wants to join them on the courts. She loved dancing and cheering along with the cheer leaders; however, she seems to like playing ball more.

          Nate has decided that he wants to learn to read. So he and momma are working a little everyday on his reading skills. He loves being read to, and I think that he will pick up on reading very quickly. I just can’t believe that my “baby” boy is ready for school.  He is growing into my little man.

          We reflect back on this past year and find that it brought many blessings our way. We look forward to all that is in store for the year 2007. We hope you enjoy the following year in review for our family:

January ’06- The beginning of this month brought news of a little girl on a waiting child’s list at our agency (Dillon International). We were honored to be selected as her family. Thus began our wait for Travel Approval to go to China to get our little girl. This month was filled with basketball practices and games.

February ’06- We continue our wait and finish up many classes required for our adoption. Basketball continues, and we work on school preparing for 2 weeks off while we are in China. We were overjoyed at the news of the birth of our new nephew.

March’06- We are still waiting for Travel Approval. We were told by the agency that the Chinese government indicated that we would have at least six more weeks to wait. We finished basketball the first weekend of this month. We completed all adoption related readings and classes. We began gathering stuff for our trip to China. We were honored to have friends give us a baby shower, and we purchased some little girl clothing. We had a few paperwork and important things to complete before travel. So, we took a 4 day trip to Chicago. We went to see our friends, and while there we applied for our Chinese visas which were necessary for travel (little did we know how quickly we would need these). March 27th would bring us the long awaited good news. We could leave to go get our daughter.

April ’06- We would spend the first two weeks in China. Our precious daughter joined our family on April 4th. The remainder of this month would be spent getting over jet lag and adjusting to the addition to our family. The last weekend this month we traveled to Texas to celebrate our nephew’s birthday.

May ’06- We worked super hard to catch up on missed school time and complete all the school work needed for the year. Of course, we had baseball practice and games to fill our time, as well. Memorial Day weekend was spent enjoying time with our travel group families.

June ’06- We celebrated summer, finished school, and enjoyed baseball games.

July’06- We celebrated July 4th at home as a family. Then we made a trip to Georgia to let Mia meet my Aunt and her great- grandpa. We celebrated the many summer birthdays in our family.

Aug ’06- We celebrated our 12th Anniversary and many birthdays this month, as well. We had fun celebrating Mia’s birthday for the first time. Garrett was baptized by grandpa in a creek near our house. Our school studies began at the end of this month. We took several trips to the hospital thinking Mia would have her surgery. Each time we would have to reschedule due to many colds and sinus infections.

Sep.’06- We traveled to Kansas to visit with one of our travel group families. We had the greatest time! We continued with school, and Mia finally had her cleft palate repair surgery. We ended the month with birthday celebrations in Texas. We shared the joy of several friends and family at the birth of their babies.

Oct.’06- We continued with School and celebrated Nate’s 5th birthday. This month was ushered out with the birth of our niece. We were able to travel to Texas to help out where needed.

Nov.’06- We spent several weekends in Texas enjoying happy times with family. Mom was able to attend a scrapbook retreat and had a great time. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in Texas. We so enjoyed getting to visit with all our family

Dec.’06- A snowstorm shut down our town for several days. It was so very beautiful even if we did go a little stir crazy. We decorated for Christmas and spent time with friends from church. It was so wonderful to celebrate the birth of our Lord and savior. We traveled to Oklahoma to celebrate with Brad’s family and had a terrific time.

It is so hard to believe that another year has come and gone. We have been so very blessed.

As I type this, we are confined indoors because of a debilitating ice storm that has covered many states. We have a “little” cabin fever, but are so grateful that we have had only a few hours without power. Friends and family are all safe, but they have been without power for a couple of days. It is quiet the adventure to keep 3 little boys entertained without electricity. So the adventure continues…..

December 29, 2006

          We have been so blessed this Christmas season. It has been a joy to experience Christmas through the eyes of our two year old. The squeals of excitement when the tree is lit, the twinkle in her eyes when she opened presents that were all hers(“mine”), and the sheer joy that she has shown make this a Christmas to remember. We spent the beginning of this month confined to home as a result of the snowstorm. It allowed us a lot of family time, and we spent lots of it playing, decorating for Christmas and enjoying the tastes of Christmas.

We took lots of pictures and found just the right one for our Christmas card. We had our family portraits done, finally. We had such a great time dressing up. We laughed so hard at our “princess”. She got so excited about wearing her Christmas dress. She twirled, danced and pranced about for a while. Then, mom went to change, and Miss Mia decided to join the pile up of her brothers wrestling. It was such a funny sight to see the”princess” all dressed like a lady but acting like a tom boy (didn’t I tell you, she fits right in!).

         We spent Christmas with our family and traveled to Brad’s sister’s house to share in the festivities. The kids had a great time playing with all of their cousins. We got to visit and just had a great time being together. We spent Christmas Eve going to church and loved celebrating the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. After church it was time for lunch with the family and then the count down began. The kids could hardly wait until that evening to open presents. In Brad’s family, the tradition is to open family gifts on Christmas Eve, and Santa comes on Christmas morning with gifts for the kids and stockings. For the first time this year the kids drew names. My kiddos found such happiness in buying for their cousins, and they were equally excited to watch them open their gifts. Santa brought the boys some very special gifts this year. The boys are growing to enjoy music and are very talented. So they asked for musical instruments. We saw benefits for home school music classes. Nolan got a guitar, and Garrett got a drum set (ok, so we are crazy….). Nate got a power wheels four wheeler. Mia got a ride on “zebra” pony, and a beautiful doll that was almost as big as Mia.  Now before anyone thinks we spoil our kids (which we do!), these presents were the only request. They have been pretty special kids this year, and Santa wanted to let them know he had been watching.  They were bouncing off the walls and could hardly sleep on Christmas night.  I love watching my kids on Christmas morning. They were awake and ready to go by 7 am, but they had to endure waiting until 8 am for everyone to awaken. We got some pictures of all the fun.

         We will spend New Years at home and celebrate with the kids. We are working some around the house as well. Brad is hopeful that he will finish some shelving before he has to return to work next week. I hope so too! It will sure help with my organization around this place. We begin the New Year looking forward to what the good Lord has in store. Each day is a wonderful gift, and we pray that we can use our time to honor the Lord and live our lives for Him. We wish you a very happy and blessed New Year!


December 1, 2006

       I just had to post…. What is it about Snow (at least the first snow) that makes a person so happy?  It all started yesterday with lots of ice and thunder snow storms.  The kids were beside themselves with excitement and wanted out in the mess as soon as possible. Unfortunately for them, they have a mean old mom for a teacher. They (unlike the other kids) did not get a snow day. So they endured their lessons and completed them in record time. Then it was off to pile on the coats, hats and mittens. It was almost more than they could endure to have to take the few minutes necessary to bundle up. …. And they were GONE!!!  The boys played, played, and played some more in the sleet and ice. They played ice hockey, went “shoe” ice skating, and turned skateboards into snow (really ice) boards. They didn’t even mind that they were being pelted with sleet. Then it was inside for hot cocoa and soup for lunch. We all kept hoping to see snow, but it just kept icing. So in between outside times and Laundry, we decorated the house some more.  The kids helped decorate the trees, and mom put out the Dickens Village. We aren’t quite finished yet, but it sure helped to have a day inside.

          We went to bed last night with it just beginning to snow. We didn’t expect the surprise that awaited us this morning. Our neighborhood was covered with beautiful, white snow. The kids were wake and dressed before 7:30 this morning. They had a blast playing in the snow. This was Mia’s first snow (as far as we know). We don’t believe that she would have ever experienced snow in her short lifetime. We showed her the “pretty” snow this morning, and she excitedly exclaimed,” Ice Cream”. We bundled her up and took her out for playtime. She really didn’t know what to think. She stood looking around and trying to decide what all the fun and excitement was about. We tried to play and make snow angels…. Mia just sat and stared. She only protested when her bottom got cold. She didn’t want to come inside though. She stayed out with the boys until she was shivering, and momma brought her in to warm up.

Snow just brightens a person’s spirits. At least it does mine. I love the beauty and joy it brings, and I get almost as excited as the kids. I must confess that I have never seen snow like this, ever. Although we saw small dustings of snow as I was growing up, we never got the joy of large quantities of the beautiful stuff. This was an exciting treat for me and for the kids.

It looks as if winter is coming in with a big BANG!

November 29, 2006

          Well time sure flies by when you are having fun. I cannot believe that nearly a month has gone by since I wrote last. October went out with a bang and November just kept running. Our new niece, Eva Marie, was born on Halloween morning. The kids and I packed up and went to Texas. We arrived in time to visit my sister and the new baby at the hospital. Then, it was back to Nana’s house to get dressed up for some Halloween fun. The kids and I went with my other sister and kids to a Halloween Trunk or treat party at a local church. The kids had fun. The boys loved getting candy, but I think they had just as much fun looking at all the “cool” costumes. This was Mia’s first Halloween, and she took to it like a duck to water. Dressing like a princess and getting lots of candy (yummy chocolate), what more could a girl want? We continued to spend the rest of the week with my mom (Nana). Mia just cozied up and became fast friends with her Nana on this visit. It was a joy to watch! Nana and she played, cooked, read and just had fun together. The boys had a terrific time playing basketball and exploring the backyard. My mom’s house is the old home where my grandparents had lived. It is the same home I visited often as a child. My brothers and sisters and I all enjoyed playing and exploring that very same back yard. It just touched my heart to watch my kiddos, and it helped me to see that happiness isn’t always in material things. So much happiness can be found in family and those times that we share. I set out to help my mom with some remodeling projects that needed to be done on the home. I helped her paint a small bedroom and the bathroom. The bathroom project turned into a major remodeling job. So, we returned home only to prepare for a return trip the next weekend. We solicited daddy’s help this time. We spent the next weekend tiling the bathroom and worked without much stopping. The kids got to spend more time with their Nana which made their weekend. We returned home and tried to accomplish a few things at home. Our house was looking a bit like a tornado hit it!

The third weekend in November, I took a long awaited and very much needed weekend for myself. A friend and I went to Texas (yes, another weekend spent in Texas). This time it was spent in Grand Saline, Texas. An old friend (who is a Creative Memories consultant) holds a scrapbooking retreat there every year. We spent the whole weekend scrapbooking and visiting with friends. I accomplished my goal of 30 pages and more. I actually finished 40 pages in Mia’s lifebook which almost makes it complete. I hope to get a chance to finish the last few pages soon. I came back rested, but there was no time for the weary. We left for guess where? ( you got it, Texas) We began our Thanksgiving trip on Wednesday. We traveled to my mom’s house for our Thanksgiving this year. My mom had a houseful of people to celebrate. We got to spend time with my 92 yr old grandfather and my aunt from Georgia. The kids love spending time with my grandfather and listening to the wonderful stories he has to share. The kidddos were able to spend fun times playing with their 3rd cousins (they hadn’t seen them in a long time). What a group we had… there were 12 grownups, 8 little boys, and 4 little girls.

We are so thankful for many things. Not the least of which is sharing with Mia the celebration of her first Thanksgiving. She was such fun, and really learned to work the crowd. We had to laugh as we watched her enjoy her first “feast”. Her eyes just got huge at the spread of food that was open for her choosing. After her plate was fixed, she sat and attacked it with gusto! She loved turkey and mashed potatoes the best. Her very favorite was the carrot cake and pumpkin pie for dessert. We are thankful for our wonderful family and our very handsome little boys (who are growing into handsome young men much too soon). They have shown their tender loving hearts and their selflessness this entire year as we made the   transitions necessary for Mia’s adjustment and our adjustment to a family of six. Perhaps the hardest adjustment has been to having a “girl” in the house.  I was just mom but now they have a “prissy” sister. They have done surprisingly well and treat her like a princess (Mia just knows that she is the most special princess in the world). She is pretty special at that!! She has brought frills, giggles, and joy to our rather “rowdy” house. Do I sound like a proud momma or what? My children are such wonderful gifts from God. I am very thankful for all of them, for my husband’s unwavering devotion and love, and most of all for God’s unchanging love for me!

We have begun the Christmas decorating and look forward to the joys that this season brings. We are enjoying Mia’s wide eyed discovery of all the beautiful decorations and lights. We are enjoying the fun of family activities and accomplishments. We look forward to all that December has to offer. Until next month…..


October 16, 2006

       Don’t you just love this time of year?! Can’t you smell the pumpkin pies baking and the fragrant odors of hot spiced apple cider?! I love fall and winter so much. I love the beautiful colors of fall and the cool, crisp weather. Fall is beginning to really transform our little town. Autumns in this part of the country are something to behold. Although we do not look for our autumn to be a very long one this year (our summer drought was extremely hard on the trees), we are being treated to a beautiful display of vibrant colorful leaves. It can just take your breathe away!  The weather has been cool and crisp and almost perfect. So, we spend our days enjoying as much of the beauty as we can.

 We were able to spend a glorious day outside this past Saturday. Beautiful weather, beautiful surroundings and terrific friends all add up to make a spectacular day. We were so blessed to spend the day with our China travel group. We celebrated our sixth month anniversary at a local amusement park. The setting was a wonderful way to enjoy all those terrific sights, sounds, and smells of autumn. The children all enjoyed the time to share, laugh and play together. Our beautiful China dolls have just changed right before our eyes. All three of these beautiful girls are blossoming into beauties and are so very different from those days six months ago when they were first placed in our arms. I spent a lot of the day just watching and observing the way our girls interacted with one another. They are forming lifelong friendships with one another, and they are just such a joy to watch. I am once again in awe of our Lord and Savior. The path that He led all three of these families on is just an amazing mystery to us all. We have all formed a bond that is hard to describe.  Certainly it is an amazing friendship but it is so much more. This journey that all adoptive parents travel on weaves your life in directions you never knew possible. You experience so many blessings and treasures not the least of which is meeting terrific people. We were given the wonderful gift of being part of a group of godly people. We are honored and privileged to have become a large family. We look forward with much joy to many future gatherings with our extended family.

Time continues to move much faster than I do these days. Looking at the calendar, I discovered that we are starting the ninth week of school. Is it ever possible to figure out where time goes? The boys continue to work diligently on their school work taking time to enjoy all the fun activities that fall has in store.  We have picked out our pumpkins and decorated our front porch for autumn.  We have plans to carve a pumpkin and toast pumpkin seeds next week. Who knows maybe mom will be courageous enough to try making a pumpkin pie!  Mia and the boys enjoy when we take time out for nature walks. With so many things to see, do, and collect (acorns and leaves make great art work) they stay intrigued for hours. Nate is so excited about his fifth birthday on Thursday. He tells us that now he is a “big” boy. Mommy (on the other hand) is having a difficult time with her baby boy turning five. It is so true that childhood passes in the blink of an eye. I am trying to worry less and enjoy my children more.

Happy Autumn everyone! Take time out to enjoy the beauty around you and the beauty of your children.  God is Good!

October 5, 2006

       Our week has been a productive one, and the boys continue to excel at school. The curriculum seems to be a good fit. The boys love to discover all that it has to offer. They are transported every day into the historical past through wonderful literature that ties in with our history studies. They are finding each new topic more and more interesting and are motivated to stay on task. As a result, we are accomplishing a lot and completing many school projects. The boys are enjoying science which allows them to discover and do many activities and experiments. Nolan and Garrett are working on multiplication and division. I have finally found the point at which Math challenges Garrett. He is our Math Whiz. I have been having so much fun watching Mia join in with us as we work on school. She has learned to sit and listen when the stories are read. She loves to pretend to write and draw. She loves to be read to, and she is beginning to pick up on lots of words. Her speech seemed to digress in the first week after her surgery; however, she is making improvements and talks all the time. A lot of what she has to say is 2 year old gibberish, but her words are becoming clearer and more recognizable. We just Praise the Lord for her wonderful recovery and the success of her surgery. Mia’s next step will be to be involved in speech therapy. The ENT surgeon recommended someone who specializes in cleft palate children. This S.T. is highly sought after and thus we are on a waiting list. We are practicing and working with her on language development and speech during this wait.

           Mia is definitely 2! She loves to show her independence and her temper. We continue to work with her, and we continue to be challenged by her independent nature. She has a hard time understanding that there are some things she is not capable of doing just yet. I love her ambition and drive to learn new things. She is a very determined little girl, and she sticks with a task until she learns about it and/or accomplishes it. She picks up on things so quickly! She seems determined to do all the things her older brothers do. I would not claim her to be a shy child. She is actually the furthest from it. She says “hi” to everyone and makes sure everyone knows that we are her mommy and daddy. She loves to look at and touch little babies. It is amazing to see how gentle, caring and concerned she can be with these babies.  She is so very loving, and she delivers hugs and kisses with ease now. It is hard to describe the overwhelming feeling I got when she first declared “I Love You Momma.” She has been declaring her love for mommy, daddy and her brothers for a couple of weeks now. What a huge change we are seeing in our little girl.

        We have had a few weekends of travel and family fun. On Sept.23 we went to Shawnee,OK to visit with Grandma and Grandpa. We got to meet our new baby cousin Emily. She was so precious and tiny. A whole large group of family was there. We got to visit with Aunt Tracy and the girls, and we got a special treat visiting with Aunt Lenora. The cousins all had fun together, and momma had a blast holding the baby. On Sept.30 we made a trip to Texas. Nana, Aunt Mary and momma gave a baby shower for Aunt Ce. Aunt Ce has been under doctor’s orders to stay down with very little activity because our baby cousin wants to come early. So the shower was at her house. It was very nice and she got lots of nice things for the baby. Unfortunately Nana got sick with the stomach flu so we were unable to visit with her much.  Saturday night we celebrated Megan and Natalie’s (cousins) birthdays with them. We had  fun eating good food, playing and watching  the girls open their presents. Sunday we went to breakfast with Aunt Mary, Uncle Michael, Megan, Natalie, and Ryan. It was a terrific breakfast, and we enjoyed great company. We miss being near our family, but we are thankful for the job and God’s provisions. So we enjoy our times together, and we say prayers of thanksgiving for the love of our families and for all our blessings.

 We look forward to many happenings in the month of October. We have plans for a China Travel Group six month reunion. We have a birthday celebration coming soon for our handsome Nate. We are never without plans and things to do. Our lives for the next few months will be filled with travel plans, activities with friends, celebrating birthdays and new baby arrivals. We hope to make a lot of progress on repairs and small renovations to our 100 yr old house ….and who knows what else the future might hold. We are just trusting God to lead us on a path that will glorify Him.


October 4, 2006

       Today was a day of reflection. We can hardly believe it, but Mia has been in our arms for 6 months today. As I look back over these past 6 months, I stand in awe of our Almighty God and Father. We are privileged to be the family He chose for our Mia and continue to be amazed at the way He orchestrated it all!  Nine months ago we were preparing for a long wait (China had just announced that the waiting time for receiving referrals would increase to 12-14 months). We had no idea that God had another plan. I found myself watching the special needs forums and web sites praying for these precious children to find families. The welfare of these children was weighing heavily on my heart. Little did I know that God was preparing my heart and our family for a beautiful little girl.  That was exactly what was in store for our family, and we have been blessed beyond measure having our beautiful “Princess” Mia join our family.   


September 15, 2006

          As I type we are sitting in the hospital waiting for Mia’s Cleft palate repair surgery to be done. It has been a long few months to reach this morning. She has been scheduled for this surgery 3 other times and each time we have had to postpone. She is finally healthy and is at this time in surgery. I will use this time to reflect and write about these past months.

          I can hardly believe that we have been home with Mia for 5 months (today). She seems so much a part of our family now that it is hard to believe that she hasn’t been ours forever. We are so grateful to God for bringing us together. Mia is a beautiful blessing to us all. She just blooms more each day. She is so full of sunshine that she lights up any and every room that she enters. She is learning many new things. Her new word is “NO”. She is talking more and understands everything. She is very independent and stubborn (I am praying that this is just 2 but I suspect that it is more her personality). Did I say that she is 2?!

Some of my favorite times are to watch her interact with her brothers. She has learned quickly that they will do her every bidding. She is the Princess, and they are her royal subjects. I have watched them all fall in love and become the most wonderful friends. It fills me with such joy that all my kiddos are forming a strong bond. My sisters and brothers are my greatest friends and supporters. I want that for my children as well.

          The past few weeks have found us busy with many things. We finished out a whirlwind summer that was filled with many odds and ends. I am not sure where our summer really went just that it flew by. Some of the highlights: 1) On August the 4th we made a trip to Texas to celebrate Mia and Joseph’s (Gogef) birthdays. We spent a very HOT day (107 degrees) playing, eating lots of good food (thanks Nana), and eating lots of chocolate cake.  2) On August the 6th, Brad and I celebrated 12 years of marriage. We didn’t celebrate with any fancy dinner. We drove back to Missouri from Texas and shared a pizza dinner with the kids. Where has the 12 yrs gone? 3) We went to Springfield to celebrate Jaelyn’s (Mia’s orphanage sister) 2nd birthday. They surprised Mia with a birthday cake for her to celebrate her birthday as well.  We were thinking that Mia would have to go through surgery instead of having a birthday party. The girls had fun being together, and Mia enjoyed the cake. I think she liked the icing even better. 4) We had to postpone Mia’s surgery for a third time as she had a cold. This was frustrating, but a blessing in disguise. She was able to enjoy her 2nd birthday. Grandma and Grandpa had come to watch the boys and decided to stay on for a couple of days. We had a fun visit and got to celebrate 2 birthdays. Garrett made the decision to be baptized. Grandpa baptized him in a creek near Ozark Christian College. It was a terrific day that he will never forget! (* we included pictures in the photo section) Following the Baptism we went back to the house and celebrated the “birthdays” with a big dinner and cake and ice cream. Mia had so much fun opening her presents from family and friends. 5) We started school the last two weeks of August. The boys were very happy to start their studies. We are studying the second half of American History. We are developing many activities and trips to enhance this study. They are especially looking forward to our study if the Civil War. Reading, Science and math are all favorite subjects, and this year there are many hands on activities to keep us busy. 6) We took a road trip over the Labor Day weekend. We were so excited that we got to go visit our China travel buddies, the Lakey’s. We enjoyed a three day visit and had such fun. The kids (all 7 of them) had fun visiting, playing, and hanging out together. The adults had a great time just relaxing and watching the kids play. The dads got to spend Saturday morning playing golf. That afternoon we celebrated a half birthday with Amy. We had cake, and got to meet and visit with other adoptive families. The children had such fun playing in the park, and no one seemed to mind the cool temperature very much.  On Sunday the dads took the older children and went to a baseball game. The moms took Mia and Amy and went to the scrapbook store. We had a good time with the girls, and they had a blast playing together. They grew so close on this visit. Mia and “Amuah” became fast friends. The moms enjoyed working on scrapbooks and visiting late into the night, and the dads slept (pretending to watch football). We had such a great time and look forward to our next visit.

       We returned home to continue with our school work and daily routines. Mia managed to stay well and her surgery is taking place. We are working hard at being content with life, and we thank God for all the many blessings he continues to bestow upon us. Our prayer now is that God will direct us on the path that he chooses for us, and that we will live our lives witnessing to others through our actions, reactions and speech. We want to be a shining example of His Love!

  P.S. I forgot to include that we welcomed a new baby cousin into our family. Baby Emily was born on Sept. 14th. She looks just like her big sister. We received word from friends in California that their baby boy was born on the same day. We look forward to seeing pictures and someday meeting Josiah. These are happy days!


July 23, 2006

       Wow, it has been nearly 2 months since I have written in my journal. It still amazes me how fast time goes by being the mommy to 4 children. Where to start? Baseball finished at the end of June. Garrett’s team finished first in their division and only lost 2 games. Nolan’s team didn’t fair as well; however, He was selected and played on the 9 year old All Star game. He so enjoyed playing this year and even tried his hand at pitching. Mom, Nate, and Mia followed along as cheerleaders. Nate made a lot of friends (siblings of players) and enjoyed playing outside. Nate is looking forward to his chance to play ball next year. Mia became a baseball fan. She fell in love with baseball, nachos, and HOT DOGS!  It was great fun watching her transform into a number one fan, cheering on her brothers.

      We discovered that there is life after baseball (ok, mom is probably the only one happy to be done with baseball). We have enjoyed working a little on our house and having family time together. This summer has been filled with many first for Mia. One of the most memorable first would be her First 4th of July celebration. It took on an extra special meaning for me this year. I realized more than ever what an honor and special privilege it is to be a citizen of this land of the free.  It is a gift that we have been honored with such freedoms (A gift that God allowed many of us at birth).  I thank God for this gift, and I thank the many men and women who fought for our freedom and continue to fight for freedom for others. Our celebration wasn’t elaborate, but we were together. We turned it into two days of family fun. The day before the kids enjoyed lots of water play and then playing with sparklers in our backyard. The fourth was spent with more water play and relaxing at home. We did take a little time out to take the kids to a park for family pictures. Mia got so excited about wearing her red, white, and blue dress. We called her our “American” girl and from that point on she called her dress “mewica dress”. We enjoyed barbeque sandwiches and lots of fireworks.  At dark we took the kids to the city fireworks display. Mia was enthralled with all the beautiful colors and didn’t seem to be bothered by the loud booms. She did well until the very end when fatigue took its toll. She alternated between putting her head on my shoulder and looking up and “oohing and aawing”. She finally had enough and became fussy so we departed a tiny bit early. She was asleep before we got home.

      On July 6th, Mia became final again. We had our court date for the refinalization of her adoption. Basically this is a technicality so that the state recognizes her adoption and name change. She has her American citizenship papers in her legal American name, but in order to get a state birth certificate we had to finalize with the state. She is now officially ours in China, in the USA, and in our state. She has been ours in our hearts since God called us to be her family.

      On July 8th, we left town on a family trip to Georgia. My aunt and grandpa live there, and I was looking forward to seeing them and introducing them to Mia.  This was Mia’s first “long” (13 hours) car trip. Mia surprised us and traveled like a pro. We broke the travel into 2 days, spending the night in Nashville,TN. . We took the kids to Hard Rock Café and took a carriage ride touring downtown Nashville. It is a terrific place to visit. We spent the next 7 days visiting with my family. The kids had such great fun and love spending time with Nana Mary and Papa. Some of their favorite times were spent listening to stories of my papa’s life (he is 92 years young), and they love to feed the “wildlife” around my aunt’s house. They have many wild birds, salamanders, lizards, squirrels, and chipmunks. Mia fell in love with her papa, and he fell in love with her.  It made my heart sing to see Mia and my papa together. We spent part of the time visiting with my brother and his family. We got to meet and hold my baby nephew. He is 4 months old and precious. We celebrated my birthday with family. My mom, older brother, and sister came from Texas at the end of the week.  My sister and I share a birthday (she was born on my 4th birthday), and we had fun having dinner and remembering past birthdays together. My Aunt treated us to dinner at the Olive Garden (my very favorite restaurant).  We broke the return trip into 2 days staying overnight in Poplar Bluff, MO.  We explored the town a little and took the kids swimming. It was a wonderful trip.

     We returned home in time to prepare for Mia’s surgery, but Mia returned with a sinus infection. As a result she developed a runny nose and cough. The surgeon/ ENT doctor felt that it would be safer to wait until Mia was well. So we wait until next month. We will spend the next few weeks enjoying our summer. The kids will participate in our church VBS.  We will plan for school and order curriculum for the school year. Mia’s birthday is coming soon. We keep on being busy!

I will try to write sooner this next time. Until then …….


June 8, 2006

          Princess Mia is blossoming every day. She is such a happy little girl. It is so much fun to watch her experience new things and to see her explore her surroundings. Her favorite new foods are spaghetti, pancakes, scrambled eggs, and pudding. She loves lots of fruits and vegetables. Her favorite fruits seem to be mandarin oranges, bananas, and occasionally apples.  She has tried Oreos, ice cream, and ice cream sandwiches. These are all favorites! She is beginning to exhibit some 2 year old eating behaviors. It seems that she picks 1 thing that she likes and that is all she wants that week. It might even change the next day. Mothers of toddlers know what I am describing here. Even though she is eating well, she hasn’t gained any weight. We are hoping to convince her to eat more things with protein and calories. I think she will always be very petite and thin (not such a bad thing).

        She has been enjoying playing baby dolls and with her doll house. We love to watch her act out her family using the little people from her doll house (We had to laugh one day when she had the mommy scolding the daddy for something).  She loves to help mommy around the house. She loves to sweep the floor; although, everyone has to watch out or she will sweep them up too! She is very good at keeping her brothers in line, and she will scold them for not following mommy’s directions.  We are truly amazed at her grasp of the English language.  She is following directions extremely well, and wants to “parrot” everything she hears.  She loves music and is already quite a dancer. She isn’t picky about the type of music either. Mommy and daddy are trying to convince her to love country music of course! Her favorite song to sing right now is “pider...momma,pider” (Itsy Bitsy Spider). She is an accomplished pianist too (just take a look at the photos and you will see her concert performance)!

        Mia is becoming a very good traveler.  In the 8 weeks (almost) that we have been home, she has made many trips. There was the 15 hour trip back to the USA (in reality it was more like 31 hours).  Two weeks after arriving home, she took a trip to Texas. She enjoyed meeting family and friends there, and she helped her cousin Ryan celebrate his first birthday. She enjoyed playing with Nana , Aunt Ce, and Joseph (“Gogef”),Megan (“me-me”)and Natalie(“na-na”).  We have made 2 trips to Springfield to visit her good friend and orphanage sister Jaelyn.  During these visits she got to go to her first semi professional baseball game, see the Titanic museum, and have pizza and play at Jaelyn’s house. The girls are just darling together and act truly like sisters. They love one another and are very close. They can fight like sisters, too! She took a trip to Oklahoma to visit Grandma and Grandpa. She got to meet Uncle Jason for the first time. He had only been home (back from Iraq) for a week.

         After all of this travel we were more than ready to spend a little time at home. So we opted to remain home for Memorial Day weekend.  This weekend turned into a terrific, fun-filled time.  Our travel buddies came to see us.  One of the families drove from Kansas and spent the weekend. We had such fun visiting! Princess Mia and Princess Amy played and talked together. They were cute, cute, cute!!! I think Mr. Brad fell under both of the princesses spells.  We were all so amazed at the way our girls have blossomed and how they shine! Princess Jaelyn and her family came over on Saturday to share a Mexican “fiesta”. The girls had fun playing and picking on Mr. Brad (or maybe it was he who was doing the picking). It turned out to be the nicest time and such a great way to spend the holiday. We loved the camaraderie, the good food, and we loved to watch the girls growing and changing in God’s love. We are so truly blessed. Our travel group has become so much more than just travel buddies. We have grown into a very big, happy family. It still amazes me how well everyone gets along and how much the kids (and the grownups,too) enjoy spending time together. This weekend of fun was only one of many that we plan to share as a group.

         We continue to finish up the little school work that we have remaining. We are spending many nights watching the boy’s baseball games.  Mia loves being outside, and she is the biggest cheerleader at her brother’s games.  The kids have been playing a lot outside and water play is a favorite of all four.  Mia has had many doctor’s appointments.  One of these was the appointment for her cleft palate. We have a set time for her surgery this month.  When Mia has recovered we hope to take a trip to Georgia. We want to introduce Mia to her Great Granpa, her Great Aunt Mary, and to her aunt, uncle and newest cousin (ok, mommy wants to hold that newest cousin). So, we have a very busy summer planned. 

           I will try my best to update my journal every month….        

May 21, 2006

       We have been home now for about 6 weeks. What a time this has been!

Mia became a citizen of the United States upon landing at Chicago O’Hare (Chicago, Illinois) on the afternoon of Friday April 14th. We arrived safely home after many hours. Boy oh boy was that a killer …31 hour awake from start to finish! It was quite a surprise to be greeted at the Springfield Airport by family, friends, fellow adoptive parents, and the news media! Most of all we were thankful to be home and hugging our terrific, sweet, handsome little boys. It seemed to mommy that they had grown about 3 inches! What fun we had watching the boys meet their new baby sister.  While we were gone Nate had not been very excited about a girl coming to his house.  He quickly decided that Mia was “not too bad for a girl”. Watching all the boys fall in love with their baby sister has been something that I will treasure in my heart forever. After a much needed stop at Taco Bell (Mom and Dad were hungry and craving any type of Mexican food), we headed to our house. We were very tired but anxious to show Mia her new home. Tiredness overcame hunger, and the food lost its appeal. We got everyone ready for bed and after lots of hugs tried to sleep.  We managed to sleep for a few hours, but we were still on China time (at least Mia was).  At about 3 am, Mia decided that we should all be awake and playing. She and daddy shared their first “tea party” together.  Mommy came along as an observer, but only managed to stay awake for a short while. Daddy did manage to get Mia to sleep for a couple of hours more. At that point, we decided that we should just get up and start our day.

        Mia’s first day at home was already filled with plans (it was Garrett’s birthday). We tried to celebrate Garrett’s birthday in a very quiet way. We let Garrett open presents, and we had cake and ice cream. Since grandma and grandpa, Aunt Le Nora, Aunt Leslie and Samantha, Aunt Tracey, Hayley, Alex, Ashlyn, and Cariann had brought the boys home, they were able to share in Garrett’s birthday. We had cake first and then went to lunch at El Charro.  The family told us goodbye and left for home.  We spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Mia, (sleeping), doing a little laundry, (sleeping), unpacking a little, (sleeping), and adjusting to being home (did I mention that we slept a lot). Brad and Nolan went to a baseball practice (they had already missed a few practices while on our trip to China).  Every baseball player knows that you don’t miss any more practices and games than you have to. Baseball season has begun!

         Over the next few weeks we filled our days with chores, catching up with our school work, and baseball, baseball, baseball. Mia has been adjusting to life in our household very well.  God has definitely placed this beautiful little girl in our home and hearts. In many ways it seems as if Mia has always been a part of our family; however, we have to caution ourselves to remember Mia needs our special attention at this time. It is so easy to just expect her to go with the flow of our very busy and very crazy family. She loves to go, go, go! She has learned to make her own place among all the boys.  I believe her first English words were “Stop It”. She plays lots and appears happy most of the time.  We experienced some difficulties with sleeping; although, these problems were minor in comparison to “night terrors”. Mia is so full of life and so inquisitive that she doesn’t want to miss a second of what goes on around her.  So, she didn’t want to sleep much. (Sleep is a must for this 20 month old toddler!) We worked on encouraging and comforting Mia so that “sleep” times were less stressful. We tried many different ways to comfort her and went through lots of trial and error. We were able to discover things that worked for Mia. It was very important to keep everything low key before naps and bed time.  Many days we just prayed that she could be relaxed enough to sleep. We can now happily report that after recovering from jet lag and adjusting to her new surroundings, Mia is sleeping through the night and finally taking naps!

        We had prayed along with many others that Mia’s transition would be an easy one.  We feel that God has heard and answered those prayers.  She has been adjusting beautifully (aside from the sleep issues and a few minor attachment issues).  There are many things that we never had to purposefully concentrate on with our biological children. One of these things is attachment.  As you hold your babies and care for their needs you are bonding and forming attachments with that child.  As adoptive parents many times we miss out on these opportunities.  So as we continue with Mia’s adjustment, we are working with her on attaching and bonding. She has many good days, but she still has a hard time totally relaxing around us.  She will have great days when she reaches out to us, holds our hand, gives us kisses and is very loving.  We are beginning to see a few difficulties with her making a healthy attachment. Some things that we saw as adjusting well are proving to be things that she learned to do independently in the orphanage, and they were her survival tactics.  She doesn’t like to be held except for short periods of time. A lot of this is part of her independent nature and adventurous personality, but she was used to doing things for herself and by herself, as well.  She avoids looking us in the eyes, has difficulty holding hands for more than a second, and doesn’t like to be hugged or touched very much. She wants to be held one minute, and then she wants you to leave her alone.  Some days she will have several “melt downs” in a short period of time. Many of these tantrums are brought on simply by touching her.  It hurts my heart to watch her cry because I am holding her.  We want to form a loving bond with her, and we want her to learn to feel comfortable and relaxed with her forever family.  We want her to know that she is loved forever!  So we are working hard to develop her attachment and to help her trust us. We are accomplishing this slowly by “going backwards” and taking her through many things that an infant experiences.  We hold her lots, cradle her, feed her, and do many of the things that she was used to doing for herself. We spend lots of time holding Mia even if she screams and cries. This “holding” therapy has helped her begin to relax. Her tantrums have become less frequent and less intense. She is beginning to turn to us for comfort when she is hurt, and she seeks us out to hug, play with and love. My favorite time of the day is bedtime.  Mia and I have cuddle time. I wrap her tight in a blanket, hold her close, feed her a bottle, sing to her, and rock her to sleep. It is such an awesome feeling to feel her relax and snuggle close.  We see many encouraging signs and continue to do what we can to make her understand that she will always have us and can rely on us to be there for her.

          Yesterday and today, the boys have been having fun playing with their friends outside. This has allowed some wonderful mommy and Mia time. We have played doll house, tea party, baby dolls, sang lots of songs and danced. Mia continues to amaze me. She is very astute and picks up on anything quickly.  She has learned lots of sign language to assist us in communication. She can sign please, thank you, I’m sorry, more, and all done. She loves to sing “the Itsy, Bitsy Spider” and especially likes to do the hand signs. She plays patty cake, and her favorite is to “mark it with and M for Mia and me”.  She loves music and dancing (she must have been exposed to lots of music). She loves to read and be read to.  She loves to smile, laugh and play. Her brothers are her “bestest” playmates. They think that she is wonderful. I love to see them in their roles as older brothers. They take this job very seriously and already protect her to the death. Her brothers have even allowed themselves to play “tea party” with Mia. What a sight it was to see her very tall, very big 9 year old brother sitting in these teeny weeny tea party chairs!   She is definitely the “princess” of our family, and she is growing into the beautiful “princess” that God created her to be! We have been so very blessed!

More later….