Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top Ten Memories of 2010

OK, when I saw Tonggu Momma made a list of "Top 10 Christmas Memories of 2010" I thought I would definitely be stealing that idea. But considering it's almost New Year's I decided I'd make a "Top 10 of 2010" instead. I've asked everyone for input, so this list reflects what our memories are as a family unit (not just MY point of view, as usual). And they are in no particular order (OK - except #1 really is #1!!!!).

1. Abby became a part of our family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. Moving to Japan

3. Climbing Mt. Fuji (well, at least for THREE of us this is one of the top 10 memories).

4. Taking Abby and Josiah on their first trip to Disney.

5. Sanibel Island with DH's family.

6. Road trip to TX to see family. Mom having to drive all 5 kids by herself for a ridiculous number of hours at a time. And everything this trip included - visiting with old friends and family. Strangely, this is the ONLY picture from this trip that I could find on my computer today. I'm sure they're all in there somewhere - I would've liked to include a group picture, but it'll have to wait because my eyes hurt from looking. Plus, I like this shot of Lanie with Uncle Juan anyways.

7. Abby's first Christmas.

8.Three day getaway to Tokyo.

9. Jim's big promotion!!!

10. Climbing the Great Wall of China (OK, at least for two of us). The memory of how sick we were that day has pretty much faded and all we can remember is the awe inspiring views, and just the magnitude of such an incredibly impressive man made structure. And I'll always be grateful for well placed friends armed with anti-nausea medication who prevented my memory of the Great Wall from being something much more horrific!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post Christmas Cheer

I enjoy the days following Christmas almost as much as the days leading up to it.
It is now time to just relax and enjoy all those fun presents that showed up under the tree......
Or just hang out and revel in the fact that we have no responsibilities for a few days.

Well, outside of laundry. And dishes. And meal making.

Daily Bread

In spite of the busyness around here , or maybe because of the busyness, the time just seems to be flying right by. And my babies are growing up WAY too fast. So, I'm trying to hang on to those sweet little things that soon fade to just memories, as my youngest little man turns into a BIG boy. Sadly, scrapbooking time has become almost nonexistent, and although I still truly enjoy creating albums I seem to sit down and do it less and less. So I better keep track of some of these little things here, so I'll have a record of it somewhere. Amidst the craziness, these are the things that help to keep me going when the batteries are running on low - my daily bread. I think there's not one place where you can see Jesus' love more purely than in the love of a child.

A few weeks ago, Cy came up to me out of the blue and said "Mom, you're so pretty. You're a flower." He said this completely on his own! I almost started bawling right then.

Now we play a little game. I'll say "Cy, can you say something nice to me?"

And he'll say "Flower?????"

I reply "Yeah"

He gets this giant grin and says "Mom, you're a flower!!!!!" and then gives me a great big hug!!!

It just doesn't get much better than that!!!!

And on another note, for those of you adopting older children. I have to tell you that my little Abby just grows sweeter every day. In the last several weeks, she has completely let go of any apprehension, any guarding, any fears that she has had. She has finally allowed us to truly start to see her personality, and I think she is finally trusting that she is here to stay - no matter what. Now, she will have been with us one year in January. And we did make a major overseas move about five months after she arrived, which I'm sure was dirsuptive to her on some levels. All in all, her transition into our family was a smooth one, and we did not experience many of the extreme behaviors I've read about other families going through. But, it is not until now that I can truly say it feels like we have molded as a family and I can see that she feels like she belongs. I have to tell you, it is a complete joy. It makes me so relieved for her to know that her little heart feels secure.

Every time I walk past the girls' room and hear the giggling in there, when I see them come downstairs in their matching shirts, or help each other do their nails, my cup overflows!!! Have we had difficulties along the way???? Absolutely!! Was stepping out in faith and opening up our hearts and homes to an older child worth it???? 100%!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Not White Christmas

I'm very happy to report we didn't have a white Christmas. I think white Christmases are overrated. It got cold enough to wear jackets out, and that's cold enough for me.

I'm quite exhausted right now after all the festivities, but wanted to at least share some pictures. Abby had a fantastic first Christmas - she enjoyed every bit of it. From the singing carols at church, to "Christmas Eve pj's", sleeping over in her brothers' room, dragging mom and dad out of bed, etc... And she loved that we got to have deep fried turkey again.

Josiah really got a kick out of getting a birthday cake for Jesus. I think that might have been his favorite part of the whole weekend. We even let him blow out the candle, which as someone pointed out, will just serve to confuse us years from now when I get around to scrapbook these pictures. We'll be asking if it was his birthday, or what.

So, although I actually have about 200 pictures, here's just a few of our favorites.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cranberry Bread......... Amongst Other Things

So, today's goal is to bake enough goodies for everyone at DH's office to receive an individual package of something homemade. I know for a lot of them, it will be the only fresh, homemade baked good they have this season, being so far away from home. I know the younger, single people in his office in particular could use that little piece of a homespun Christmas.

I am making a ton of loaves of cranberry bread, but I don't realistically think 17 of them for tomorrow is doable. So I'll be throwing in some magic bars as well. Maybe some fudge. ???

So my kitchen is pretty insane right now, but I have to say I love it!! I love the mess of baking, mostly because my kids clean it up - and because I LOVE the results!

And speaking of loving the craziness, it has really stood out to me this year how much people like to complain about the busyness of Christmas. Oh, too much to do, too many parties, all this baking, too much money spent, etc... And a lot of Christians will say that we've gotten away from the "true" meaning of Christmas. But I say, that all depends on your perspective. It's true that for many, Christmas is void of any true celebration of Christ. But for those of us that KNOW what this holiday is really about, that know we are celebrating the birth of a SAVIOR, then yes, we should be going ALL out. Yes, I want to put bright lights ALL over my house - I want a BIG tree, I want to have a GIANT party EVERY night, I want to play my Christmas music as loud as possible, for as many days as possible, I want to do EVERYTHING I can to shout out to the world that CHRIST was born. And I absolutely LOVE that we have not just a day, but a full SEASON to all out CELEBRATE this fact. That doesn't mean I don't live out my faith the rest of the year, but times set apart to remember and to celebrate ARE important - just like they were in Biblical times.

I don't give my loved ones presents because I feel obligated to. I do it because God gave me the most important present of all 2,000 years ago in sending His Son, and I want to take the time to show my love to others with a gift as well. It doesn't have to be big, or expensive - I could never match the gift He gave. It is just a way of saying you are loved, you are special, you are thought of. It doesn't matter if I spent $5 or $50, or maybe even $0 but just took the time to do make or do something special

I don't want to be guilted into thinking I should celebrate less. Like somehow I am more spiritual if I buy less gifts, or bake less, or turn off my Christmas music. I celebrate God in plenty of quiet ways all year long. For the month of December, I say turn it up a notch.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Break is Here

OK - so with the exception of one person who shall remained unnamed and who is upstairs at this very moment (9 pm on Friday night) trying oh-so-very-hard to get done, we are THROUGH with school and officially on CHRISTMAS BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm not excited or anything!!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Christmas

I posted this video around this time last year. This year, it has a whole new meaning to us!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


We've been having a great time around here preparing for Christmas.

And we've been trying to explain to Abby that the best part of Christmas is the Advent Season - this time of preparation, of looking forward to the BIG day!

One of the traditions that is a MUST around here is our advent chain. About 10 years ago, I saw this idea in a magazine and started doing it with my (at the time) 2 kids. We make a paper chain with 24 links, and on each link we write down a different fun Christmas-y activity. Ex: singing carols, watching The Grinch (or Charlie Brown, or The Nativity, or It's a Wonderful Life), making cookies. It helps us to make sure we make time for all the little things we like to do this time of year, and not let any of them slip our minds.

I had no idea back when I started this that my kids would love it so much. The chain (or as Abby calls it, the train) has become an absolute MUST each year. They start talking about it around Thansgiving, planning what kinds of things they're going to write down this time around. And they have come up with some unique things throughout the years, like "December Fools Day" - 'cause one annual day to play parent sanctioned jokes on everyone in the house is not enough.

Anyhow, we've been happily busy enjoying the season. And it holds special meaning this year, because it is Abby's first time celebrating Christmas. Everything is new through her eyes. And the sweetest thing is, she gets it, fully understands what all the hoopla is about. As a matter of fact, when she refers to Dec. 25 she says "Jesus' birthday", not Christmas. I love that!!!

This last picture is from the day we made popcorn balls. I broke out the good ol' air popper - which I've had since college - and hadn't brought out in SO long none of my kids had any recollection of it whatsoever. But it still works!! I absolutely loved the look on Abby's face when she saw what was going on in there!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Face of God

When I was getting ready to travel to China in January, somebody commenting on one of my posts said "You're about to see the face of God". Silly me, I thought they meant this would happen the moment I met Abby, which it did. But that was just the start of it.

I have seen His face, upclose, pretty much every day since then.

In taking a scared little girl and teaching her to trust.

Teaching her that families are forever and love unconditionally.

In teaching a momma to love a child she did not bear.

A child she did not get to rock, and bathe, and love.....

A child she did not have the privilege of loving for the first (almost) nine years of her life.

I have seen His face in my biological children's eyes, as they love their new sister as though she had been here forever.

I have seen His face in my other family members, who have all accepted and loved Abby the same way - as though this was the most natural thing in the world, as though she was always here.

And that type of unconditional love, friends, comes only from God.

But that's only the start of it still.......

In adopting Abby, I became part of this giant network of adoptive families. And I have had the joy of seeing the face of God as I witness Him at work in their lives.

The stories are many, they are beautiful, and they are touching. And they all have His fingerprints all over them.

The story I want to share today is one particularly close to my heart, because it is happening in the life of a dear friend. Melissa and I have never met in person, but we connected with each other in 2009 when we were both waiting to hear if China had received our paperwork. I believe it was even before either one of us knew who our children were. We then had the privilege of supporting each other through the roller coaster of international adoption - what a ride that was!!! In November of 2009 I got to follow along via the amazing world of computers as Melissa and Ryan traveled to China to bring little Everest home. And then I got to keep following along over the next year and watched them mold into a family. Well, their story doesn't end there. To hear what awesome twist God just brought into their lives, visit their new blog . If you're able to get involved and help them complete this story, please do so, whether by donating or just backing them up in prayer.

And to my tech - savvy friends out there, if anyone knows how to make them a nice little button for their blog that would be AWESOME. I am clueless in such matters!!

In closing, let me assure you, I feel like I fall short every single day. Not one day comes to an end that I don't feel like a failure in one way or another. I am so glad that in spite of all my shortcomings and imperfections, He still extends His grace and allows me so close a glimpse at His face.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tough Week

It's been a tough week this week, and I haven't felt much like blogging.
Not a tough week around here, but for a lot of my loved ones all over the place.

DH's grandma passed away this weekend, and will certainly be missed. Even though we've been far away for so long, we all have fond memories of the visits we shared with them every time we did make it home. And it stinks to not be closer to family at a time like this.

My cousin P is hospitalized and very seriously ill, with a lot of unknowns and unanswered questions. She is terribly missing her little man who is only about three months old.

And my parents are visiting my uncle who has been very bravely fighting leukemia for a lot longer than anyone ever thought possible, but we don't know how much fight he's got left in him.

Closer to home, one of Lanie's volleyball teammates lost her dad in an accident this week. Pretty shocking and a great reminder that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. My heart is breaking for this little girl and her family.

So, if you could take a minute to lift all these needs up in prayer, it would be greatly appreciated by many more people than you can imagine.

I'll lighten the mood later this week with pictures of our more cheerful happenings, like Jake's 12th birthday (yeah, TWELFTH!!) and our beautiful - yet- not - as - big - as -we're - used - to Christmas tree.

Oh- and lovely pics of Abby fully enjoying her first Christmas season.