Thursday, October 31, 2013

Harvest Fest

We are very blessed to have a wonderful church that gives us an option to celebrate the Fall Harvest time instead of Halloween. 

Yes, we do not support/celebrate Halloween. 

But we DO honor God's bounty of the fall/ harvest time- so many wonderful things He gives us this time of year. 


With our party the kiddos miss NONE of the fun, games, candy, dressing up---  it's all at the Harvest Fest.

They played--

Knock over the toilet paper with funny faces on it:)

Knock down the gourds bowling (Phoebe's favorite)

Ring the pumpkins


Then they decorated cupcakes and ate those. 

And the grand ending was lining up for the older kiddos to hand out candy to the younger kids.


The kids all had a blast. They went as a princess (Kat) Superman (Phoebe) Turtle (Paisley) Camden had a mask but didn't wear it. 

They all came home and had to sort through/ trade off candy favorites.

 They had lollipops, snickers, taffy, smarties, tootsie rolls, licorice, twix bars,  sweet tarts, PB cups, candy eye balls (gross), M & M's and chips. 


 Lots and lots of goodies.

Poor Phoebe is still not allowed any candy that's sticky with her spacers in her mouth, so she traded off, gave away any she could not have. She does so well with that. 

Along with all the candy,we ended up coming home with juice, pumpkins, gourds, cupcakes and icing. 


Joking that we always seem to end up with much more than we take when we go anywhere there's food-- 

----but it is true we never have it go to waste, so it's fine with me if the extras get sent home with us:)

The older boys had stayed home so they were thrilled to get some goodies. 

Chloe had her last field hockey game tonight (play off's) in which they lost so that's it for her season. 

Happy Harvest Fest to all! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fall fun

 Please do not wonder why there are not often pictures of the whole crew-- see captions on pictures below and find some understanding, if you will? (MOM) 

It's like a form of torture. For ME. Even so I persevere (MOM) so there are pictures of these cuties for all to see:)

 ENJOY.
What's funny Chloe?


HELLO?? Camera's over HERE guys!

Got an issue Chloe? Head itchy Chase? 
Chase, don't you DARE smile.

Bored Chloe? Eating something sour Camden?


Yo, Camden, can you look HERE?

Mom gives up, this is as good as it gets

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Happenings

Well, since my last post I have gained another year of age, as well another year of marriage:) Yep, a birthday then  our anniversary today.  

We actually did go out alone-- I KNOW, it's shocking--- but we managed a supper out by ourselves much to the surprise to our waitress when she heard we had 12 kiddos. 

We were very thankful Jay and Malaree were willing to stand in at the annual Halloween parade so the kiddos didn't have to miss the parade because as usual, we didn't have many free evenings we could go out together.

At any rate, it's not been all celebrations here, nope, we got some really bad news this week.

Paisley has lost a dear friend. An accident took her buddy's life, a boy she grew up with in the orphanage in China. They had called each other because he was adopted soon after her and she was so happy he got a family before he aged out. 
Zeke bottom left-- Paisley back row forth from left

And now he's gone. Such a precious child that we are so thankful he was so loved and knew he belonged. 

 Please join us as we pray for peace for his family as they go on without him:(

And if you will, a prayer for Paisley- she's so sad. She spent most of the day crying on and off.  She was very close to most of the older children at her orphanage, as our other teens were at their orphanage. 

So it's like losing a distant brother. She's taken it very hard.

Rest In Peace with your Heavenly Father Zeke. You will be greatly missed. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Birthday girls

It's Birthday time around our house. We have a whole bunch of them all within a 3 week time period.

Who is it now?

First Mal, who turned 22 yesterday. 

She was able to come tonight so I baked her favorite, pumpkin pie. Yep, she's never been a cake kinda girl so pumpkin pie it is. And hey, candles fit in pie too:)

Malaree, if you haven't noticed, looks just like her dad. 

Same beautiful blue eyes, that deep dimple in her chin. She not quite a quiet as dad though, she tends to be more passionate and talkative like me:)

 You should hear her rooting for her football team--- wow. 

She's in her last year of college, to become a social worker. And a good one I am sure she will be.

Now the second birthday girl-- Miss Kat. Double digits. GASP. 10 years old??? How can this be? 

Growing up wayyyy too fast. 

She seemed pretty happy with her gifts, she really, really wanted a bracelet maker and was so excited to get it. 

Sadly, having so many siblings that "want one" had her in tears before too long, thinking ALL her rubber bands to make the bracelets for all would be used up:(  

She was assured she would be able to get many more rubber bands and she didn't need to worry about running out, so then the tears stopped.

Kat has gained some size this year, she's 4 ft 5 inches, just a tad shorter than Paisley and Phoebe. She's still stick thin at 52 pounds but finally over 50 pounds. Again, less than Phoebe and Paisley but that's just her.  Tiny.

Although healthy, she rarely gets anything but a cold. 

She's still saying she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. It's been a couple of years now she has had that in mind. 


She would certainly make a good teacher-- she is very patient. She's kind. She's mostly respectful, now don't think her eyes don't roll occasionally when she *thinks* mom isn't looking.

Yeah, (MOM) I know she's a tween now and that's gonna happen. 

Miss Kitty has taken sharing her spot as the "baby of the family" with Phoebe very well. Once over those initial bumps and she realized she is still our wonderful Miss Kitty Kat, and no one is replacing her.

Nope, no way. There's only one Miss Kitty:)  

So pretty, always making us crafts, and I mean daily crafts, from folded paper into animal shapes and hearts, to detailed letters telling dad and I how much she loves us and is thankful to have us. She's just the sweetest child.

You know, when she's not rolling her eyes:)

Seriously, she's a blessing, such a funny, sweet, kind, loving, and amazing girl that we have the honor to call daughter.

To both of our wonderful daughters---- 

Happy, Happy Birthdays girls-- we love you both soooooo much!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Firsts

Although it seems as if she's been with us forever, it's actually only been since January that she's been home.

So for Miss Phoebe girl, many "first" are still happening for her. If I have somehow failed to tell you all how much FUN, how JOYFUL it is to see even everyday things bring such utter delight with this "older child adoption" then I'm tellin' ya now.

It's amazing. For her and us. So many things that she takes such delight in.  Things we do every day and sometimes special  things we do for certain seasons. 

Sunday evening was one of those special times. A hayride. Through the fields, on a wagon with no sides, driven by a tractor. Phoebe doesn't really get "farming" so the tractor was a "bigger 4 wheeler" to her and the wagon was for carrying the food for the animals.  

She couldn't really see the elk, too far away and too colorless compared to the background but she was no less thrilled to enjoy the bumpy ride and look forward to her favorite food afterwards, hot dogs.

Yep, totally unhealthy and rarely served here at home, HOT DOGS. Most all of our kids do not like hot dogs. So they aren't supper at home hardly ever.  Many of the outings we have are with our church family and they often involve HOT DOGS, so she gets her favorite food then:)

Her hayride came with the usual 100+ questions, but why do we sit on this "stuff" (the hay) and why are we going in the woods, and did I know she had a new friend, Nay Nay?  A nickname for the cutie she got to play with, Phoebe didn't have many toys in China so she was fascinated with the toy food set that Nay Nay had. 

Nay Nay is 4, and at times that's the maturity of Phoebe. So they played together very well and Nay Nay was so sweet when she tried to show Phoebe things on the hayride that was very far away (a field of cows) and when I told her she couldn't see that far she immediately went to "right off" the side of wagon, "Do you see the rocks, the leaves, the berry bushes"--- don't you just love the way kids adjust to differences like it's nothing?

One of the reasons we love our church family is just that-- total acceptance of who we are, our differences, not a big deal:)

At any rate, we all are enjoying sharing her first autumn. Just taking in all the pleasures she shares about all these new-to-her things. 

She can hardly wait for snow, now don't be thinkin' the girl has turned to the loving the cold stuff, nope, she just knows Christmas is when it's cold and she's heard enough about this special holiday to know it's something she can't wait for.

I heard her tell Kat, "Christmas is so special, it's about God. It's His birthday. I can't wait to celebrate Him."  Ahh, the innocence of her. I could just see God smiling down on her when she said that, HEY--- maybe that 's why her hair is white, it's God's light shining down on her, because she is such a special child:)

Makes me happy and I have no doubt it makes God happy to know this child has gotten it right- it's all about Him. Celebrating Him. 

Makes me excited for CHRISTmas to come just to experience it with her:)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It began here

It all began with one. Little Miss Kat. 7 years ago today we were handed this tiny girl and our lives changed forever.

For the better:)

We adopted her for selfish reasons, a little girl we wanted to add to our family. A girl in need of a family and a family with a need. 

Back in 2006 she was considered an "older child", yep, not even 3 years old and a minor "special need" of a doubled toe nail and larger last toe than her other foot. Something you can hardly see, to be honest.

Almost our whole adoption group were adopting babies, as young as possible, yet we wanted a toddler, a "buddy" for Camden who wanted a younger sister.

And she was named well--- she was "Copy" Kat for years, following his every move as only a little sister will, with love, adoration and annoyance to the poor boy.

This tiny child, who opened our eyes to a HUGE need, the plight of older Chinese orphans. I knew while in China adopting Kat that we WOULD be going back. And for another older child, even older than Kat or Camden because there was a need. 

 So many children needing and wanting a home, their own family and us a family with a home and love to give and a "spot" right between Camden and Donovan that needed filled. Oh, did He ever fill it:)

I can't possibly describe the instant love we felt for Kat. We worried, "Would we love her as much as the others?"  And yet, it happened as soon as we met her and she was placed in my arms. 

She really wasn't too keen on me at first, daddy was super cool, which was HARD, but it was only a short time till she figured out that mom cooked the food and she was hooked:)

She was and still is a dream come true, adopting her led to us opening our home to foster children here, seeing how much her foster parents loved her and cared for her opened our hearts to be foster parents. 

And of course, she started us on a journey that would bring us 3 more daughters and 2 more sons. Bountiful blessings, all from the smallest one of our family.

Small and mighty, I can only imagine how many people she will touch in her lifetime. 

We are completely honored to be her parents, we adore her. She's a wonderful daughter, little sister, big sister and all around sweetheart.

Happy Gotcha Day Miss Kat 7 years HOME.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Baby Boy

Our baby boy. 5 years gone by. It seems so long yet, so short that we faced that the time had come, you needed to be with Jesus.

I think of you still, as I always will, but more often now I am able to think of you and not cry. Not that I am sad you went to Jesus, no my precious son, I knew it was best.

I cry because I miss you, I miss your smell, your curls, your smile. I miss having you to hold, knowing I was blessed with each and every day we had with you.

We are left with fond memories, pictures, half of your ashes. Yes, half. Because in death, we shared you with your birth mother, just as we did in life. Not that you were anything but 100% special to all of us.

5 years our son, and the joy of knowing you are free from the pain has not, nor will it, lessen. No more suffering for you, just what we wanted for you. You were so brave and inspiring before you left us,  you were the most wonderful blessing to us all.

All my love, sweet precious Tristan--- I know you are there waiting for me, and I will finally hear "Mumumumum" from you--- until that day comes, I will never, ever stop loving you.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Birthday Girl

Yesterday was a BIG day for a small person with a BIG personality.

Yep, our Paisley turned 16.  Just a tiny thing she is, but full of life and spunk. 

We had cake and a small party, just us and grandma (Ron's mom) because I am sick and spent most of her party on the couch and when I did get up to see her open her gifts Chloe was trying to take pictures of ME for some reason, looking awful so I had to scowl at her, which I'm pretty sure Grandma thought I was scowling at her. (I wasn't)

So I'm late posting because of not feeling well. Sorry about that. Paisley did not mind, now don't think I was offended, nope, she's 16 after all. Life is all about HER:)

She was very happy with her gifts, especially these-----



Toddler size 13 shoes--- I kid you not, she has the tiniest feet. 

 But loads of fun to be able to buy these bling, bling shoes. She may not be thrilled when she's 20 and wants heels to wear and can't find them in toddler sizes but for now she loves being able to fit these cool shoes.

Let's see, things about her--- she loves music. Sings wonderfully.  She's quiet but can be quite intense when she's passionate about something (like her momma, but not the quiet part- ha ha)

 She's a wonderful big sister, having taken Phoebe under her wing and is so patient when answering her questions-- which are all day long.

Paisley is stoic. She's very adamant we do not treat her differently due to her arthritis and if she is able to do something, even if it takes her longer, she wants to do it. And we let her.  

Because she's a tough cookie even while she looks fragile. She's faced daily pain as a way of life and still has a smile whenever you look at her.

She's a daughter we never expected but she's no less loved. We didn't get to travel to China for this girl, but she's home and she's our blessing. 

She's our only freckle faced China girl:) I love her freckles. She's soooo pretty. Such a beautiful smile she has. 

We are so happy to have her as part of our family, she's a precious treasure we are thrilled to call our daughter/sister. We can't imagine our family without her, noooo WAY:)

Happy 16th Birthday Paisley!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Family and adoption

I was asked "Am I talking to my MOM, when I make comments to (MOM)."

Well, kinda. You see I sadly do not have a good relationship with my "mother" meaning the woman who actually birthed me. (I don't mention a dad because my dad worked away all week and then died of cancer when I was young so I haven't had a dad in my life:( 

Instead MOM is another mother figure in my life who cares deeply about me and my children.  Sometimes it just happens that way.

A difficult childhood (to say the least) and continued dysfunction into my adult life brought me to a place of great difficulty. I asked God, "Please help me understand how You want me to be mothered, how do I handle the connection of blood relations not being a HEALTHY relationship?"

It's a hard place to be. But the more I walked with God the more I realized I did NOT have to have negative/hurtful people in my life, affecting our daily lives. God doesn't want that for me-or anyone. And I CAN break off ties with someone in order to spare me and my family pain. You see, being related doesn't give people the right to treat you bad.

It DOES NOT. There is NO rule that you have to take crap when someone is hurtful over and over. You MUST be polite, do not spew poison and lower yourself to their level. You MUST pray for them, because God loves them too and wants you to show them His love (which is another reason you can't spew poison) but it can mean that happens from a distance that makes it "safe" and healthy for you.

Our adoptions came "at a price" in a way. I don't know if family/people thought we were nuts, that we were "better than them" (we are soooo not better than anyone else), if our love for God's chosen children embarrassed them? I don't really know.

But while most of the adoption community understands our love, our joy, the blessings these children are to us, in every day life we are sometimes met with discomfort (from family) that has grown with the more children we brought home.

Just one example is--we received gifts and congratulations when we adopted Kat. When we announced Chloe's adoption we received 2 gifts on her arrival home and many "Why do you want to do that?"

When we said we were going back for her brothers-- we thought that was clearly a "no brainer" as to why-- but we got NO congratulations, a number of "Wow, how many does this make you?" And many "Glad it's you and not me." This makes me so sad. There's so many blessings these kids bring and so much more that they give US than we give them. I want others to have this!!

Phoebe's and Paisley's adoptions brought about a kind of resignation -- "Well obviously they are going to do what they want" and it did keep most comments away from our ears. And again, no congratulations or gifts for the girls:( 

Now, please understand we don't NEED gifts for the children, and the gifts that really meant a ton were little things like the doll Melissa handmade for Phoebe to look just like her, now that was SPECIAL.  God provides well for our children to know they are loved and special to us and others.

But for us, adopting meant we had love, a home, our family wanting to love and provide for more children. And our kids needed a family with love who would provide for them. Clear reasons to us WHY we adopted. But for some reason people wonder WHY and don't always believe we have the purest of motivations to adopt.

And I know some adoptive families that the lack of support comes from other places- neighbors, even church family:(  

We've been asked "How much do you get for "them"?  Um, nothing. We WORK to support them and do not get any monthly subsidies like people do when they adopt from foster care. 

And honestly, we fostered kiddos, I have no problem with people who DO adopt from foster care and get subsidies to help them with monthly expenses for a child. It's darn expensive to raise kids and often those subsidies help kids get adopted that may not have gotten a family due to funds. I don't think that lack of funds should EVER be a reason a child doesn't get a family.

But it doesn't work that way with ours, we support them just as if they were born of us. And we are fine with that- they are our kids. No different than the ones who are bio kids. We took this on willingly and happily---Again, we are not special people--- we do not have perfect lives, we do not sin less. Sometimes we can't afford to do something we would like to do with the kids, but do I ever think they would be better off left as orphans? No. I do NOT.

God always provides us with plenty for the needs of this family. And some wants are covered as well. And as we have "lost" family, God took care of that by giving us stand in's when we need them, as well as a whole adoption community that is like family, and a wonderful church family. 

Am I sad at times that people who SHOULD be supportive aren't? Well, yeah, I am. But you know, the more you live for God the more you see His hand in the "new family connections" you make in your life. Giving us exactly what we need, when we need it. 

We are honored to have our children, all of them. And we are thankful to share them with people who love them as well, people who see what treasures they are. We hope others are encouraged to adopt because it can be the most wonderful WIN-WIN situation for you and the child. 

It doesn't take PERFECT parents to adopt and we fully get that we are very far from perfect.  We rely on God to guide us day to day with our children He has blessed us with.  We couldn't do it without Him. Just like we aren't perfect Christians and God forgives us and knows our hearts.

So while our "family ties" may look different than we expected we do not lack for supportive family. We do not surround ourselves in negative-- we pray for those people who choose to be negative. That they will receive blessings and be able to ENJOY the blessings God has for them.

Yes, there's a MOM and she tells me things like "Carving your name in a bridge is vandalism, you could go to jail for that, you know?" And "You need to use bleach on your dishes when anyone is sick."  Or "Did you wipe down the door knobs with bleach"-- because the kids have a cold.

Yep, there's a MOM, alright, and she does "keep me in line" as all daughters should be kept in line:)

Just like sons should be too--- just so you know Brandon is now saying he can be "available" to redo the family picture. I'm not holding my breath. Now, I *might* have made him feel bad when I sent him the picture of us all-- less HIM. Might have added some more guilt to his plate.

 But that's what moms are for, right?  Now don't any of you worry, Brandon knows he is loved and I only want him in my picture because he belongs there-- he's a part of this crazy/wonderful/nutty family and who wouldn't want to admit to that? 

And who wants to lay odds on me getting the other 11 kiddos to agree and show up to do pictures again?