Good Bye 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

This time last year, I thought I would share some of my favorite photos that highlighted 2010. Ha. That post never happened. Not this year, though. I wanted to take a moment to share some of our favorite memories. Now, these photos aren't necessarily my finest. However, they define the wonderful year we had. Here we go.

We take Caleb to Disney on his birthday every year. Why? We love this boy dearly....and NO LINES! It doesn't get any better than that with the Big Mouse or Buzz Lightyear.

Baseball. There was a lot of it. I mean A LOT. Two seasons and three different teams. Caleb moved up from tee ball to coach pitch, and Madeline gave tee ball a good go.

In March, our Bei Bei celebrated her first birthday with us and her third on this earth. She has grown so much since coming home in July 2010. She's no longer that scared little toddler. She's smart, fiesty, vocal, all-things-girlie, and a whole lotta fun.

In the spring, I helped Patrick out by taking some headshots for his business. And the kids, in turn, helped me out by posing at home while I figured out my settings for my studio lights (since it had been a long time since I used them.) I love this photo because Madeline finally started coming around with Caleb. Up until this time, she tolerated him (despite his big brother best efforts). Now, she started reciprocating that love and affection.

Our summer was super busy. Madeline had swim lessons 5 days a week for 7 weeks. The end result? A little fish who can swim-float-swim. Ms. Carmen was/is an awesome intructor and loads of fun.

We were also blessed by the birth of our precious nephew, Joshua. Gosh, how his cousins adore him! We have lots of eager hands that wait their turn to hold this precious boy.

At the end of the summer, we managed a little family vacation and China reunion. We had such a lovely time soaking in the natural hot springs in Virigina.

And it was so amazing to be reunited with our China travel group. Four out of five families made it. So so nice.

October proved to be a very busy month for us. We had the chance to travel north and celebrate our niece, Lydia's 5th birthday while also fitting in a day trip to NYC and the Statue of Liberty.

Madeline and I also had the chance to walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for my sister's friend, Gina. We were so privledged to be a part of Team Gina.

The kids and I had so much fun taking our Christmas card photos this year. This one is definitely my favorite.

Christmas time is always special, celebrating the birth of our Savior with family. Doesn't get much better.

This past year we experienced tremendous growth in our homeschooling philosophy, thanks to Susan Wise Bauer and Charlotte Mason. Choosing to homeschool our children has been one of the greatest decisions we have ever made.

The ever elusive Family of 4 photo was finally captured. Finally. I think we had been a family of 4 for 9 months when we finally snapped that photo. Now, hopefully it doesn't take that long to get our family of 5 photo when the time comes.

Now I don't have a photo to go along with this next highlight of 2011. However, I wanted to share that this year, on Sept. 11th, Caleb accepted Jesus into his heart. Patrick is his children's church teacher and led Caleb and a few friends to accept Jesus as their Savior. We are so proud of our boy for accepting the greatest gift ever from the greatest Gift Giver! The angels in heaven are rejoicing.

So, there you have it, 2011. Farewell. You've been a wonderful year. We can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for us!

A warm Christmas

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We had a truly lovely Christmas this year, but before I share about Christmas, I need to back up just a little bit (and warn you that this post is LONG.) Remember how I've been such a slacker with uploading photos? Uh huh. Yes, it took until after Christmas to finally upload all my photos from the month of December. Remember how I promised to share those tree trimming photos? Well, here they are....finally.

Caleb was always curious about what his sister was up to. So even when he was hanging an ornament, his eyes couldn't help but wander.

Back in 2004, we began collecting the White House ornaments. This is the 2004 ornament, the first in our collection. They are scenes from Christmases past. They are so beautiful and delicate.

This is our "kid only" decorated tree. You can see that Madeline had an affinity for the bottom left portion of the tree. Caleb tried to put most of his ornaments at his eye level. Then he asked Daddy to help put some on the top of the tree when he noticed how bare it was.

Christmas Eve was quite low key. Patrick had to work part of the day. Before we headed to church, the kids made Jesus some birthday cards.

After we returned home from church, we enjoyed a simple lobster dinner. The kids get such a kick out of giving the lobsters spoons and forks to hold before we toss them into the pot. After dinner, I made a strawberry birthday cake for Jesus. I was actually supposed to make it for Patrick's birthday in October, but I never got around to it. So when Patrick said he'd like to have one for Christmas, I knew I had a chance to redeem myself. One of our local restaurants makes it, and since we purchased their cookbook recently, we now had the chance to enjoy this treat at home. I didn't take any pictures of it, but we sure enjoyed it. (We even ate it for breakfast Christmas morning!) After we put the kids to bed, Santa's little helpers had work to do.

Madeline was the first to awaken on Christmas morning at 6:45am. I had to scramble to get Caleb up before she put on the tears. Why was mommy making her "wait" to see Caleb? As soon as I let her out of room, she marched straight over to Caleb, bypassing the tree and all the presents. It was as if she totally forgot it was Christmas. It was so cute. Patrick had to rouse Caleb from his slumber, and he was none too pleased. When Patrick reminded him it was Christmas, he sprang out of bed!

The kids had an abundance of presents under the tree, thanks to Bammy and Aunt Michele, Uncle John, and Lydia. We tried to stick to just three presents for each child. (Jesus only got three presents on His birthday, too.) And for our first year, we came pretty close.

Madeline's special gift from mommy and daddy was a custom made baby doll. This little doll is Chinese like Madeline, and she's also missing her left arm below her elbow.

Caleb got a game cube (at least that's what I think it's called) so he can play basketball and baseball on the wii.

One of the things that he really wanted was a basketball hoop. He's been playing basketball on our back patio with the broken Fisher Price basetball hoop that was given to him he was three. And it's been broken for nearly as long. So an upgrade was way overdue.

And if you noticed that the kids jammies looked familiar, you would be correct in assuming they were wearing their Halloween costumes. Yep. That's what happens when you have zero time to sew anything for Christmas.

Deb, Andy, Leah, and Joshua arrived around noon. Andy's parents, Phil and Marsha, were not far behind. The kids were so excited to see each other that they didn't even think of opening up more presents. They were able to wait for Phil and Marsha to arrive.

Madeline sported a new princess dress about every 30 minutes (thanks Aunt Michele and Uncle John). However, she kept the same princess shoes on most of the day (thanks, Bammy...but of course, in this shot, she traded them for Princess socks).

Once again, Deb outdid herself with wrapping her presents. I know her gift tag is out of focus on this shot, but trust me when I say that Rudolph is adorable...and he doubles as an ornament. So he's already on the tree. Joshua presented Madeline with her gift.

My girl has been in desperate need of a new ballet leotard and some ballet slippers that I don't have to cram her feet into. So Joshua and crew delivered. Leah, we'll she was pretty pumped about getting some new Leapster cartridges.

I'm easy to please. And I didn't really ask for much this year. But I did mention to my sister how I would love a bias tape maker so I can make my own cute bias tape for Madeline's clothes.

My sister also made me some really cute organza ribbon hair pins for my hair. I didn't take any pictures, but this is what they look like. Thanks sweet sis! Patrick surprised me by having my masters thesis bound. I've had several copies lying around in a box for (cough cough) twelve years. Thanks honey.

Patrick also didn't ask for much this year. I had a small 8x10 gallery wrap of Madeline done, plus some other photos of the kids. But the big surprise...Patrick and I will also be heading to Orlando in February to hear Andrea Bocelli perform. Oh, how we can't wait!

For Deb and Andy AND Phil and Marsha, Patrick and I bought them tickets to a Yankee Spring Training game. Now, before you go ahead and think they're all Yankee fans, you need to know this is a game vs. the Minnesota Twins. We may not all root for the same team, but we still get along quite well. *wink wink* It's going to be great fun this March.

So after all gifts were opened, it was just about time to head over to Vero Beach Disney for an early dinner. We were tickled to discover that we were seated at the same table as last year. It makes for quicker trips to the buffet and has a great view. The kids thoroughly enjoyed coloring.

Phil really enjoyed sitting next to Madeline. He kept her laughing.

I also had a chance to chat with my sis, which is always fun.

After a delicious meal, the kids all ran around on the lawn. If you can believe it, it was in the low 80s here. We haven't had a Christmas this warm since I lived out of state and came home for the holidays. The Christmas outfit Patrick won this year for Madeline at a silent, wasn't gonna happen. Since I had nothing that was warm weather and Christmas-y, I let Madeline wear one of her princess dresses to dinner...and a pair of shoes. You could hear this girl a mile away, click clacking along. It was hilarious. And did she take her shoes off when they were running around outside, playing pretend baseball and all? Nope. She almost lasted the entire time without getting hurt. But she had a small fall on some steps and quickly pulled her dress over her shins so I couldn't see her sratch (and make her take her shoes off.) Funny girl.

After running around a bit, the kids came in to watch some classic Disney tv. They even got to see Goofy.

Then we headed back outside for some more play time and an attempt at a group photo of the kids. The adults were a funny sight I'm sure. Nothing like a half a dozen adults trying to get the attention of a few little ones.

I had a hard time getting individual photos of the kidlets. Leah was elusive. Caleb, well, he was kind enough to stop for a moment...sweat beading down his face. And Madeline, I could catch up to her because of her shoes. However, she kept telling me, "I don't want my picture taken."

After dinner, Phil and Marsha headed home while the rest of us went back to our place. Since we knew several days prior that Christmas was going to be warm, we decided to heat up our pool for a fun Christmas swim. The kids had a blast. We also popped into the hot tub, which the grown ups liked more. The kids enjoyed the hot tub, too. Somehow, they still try to swim in it. Needless to say, a hot tub filled with kids is not as enjoyable as it is without. Regardless though, it was a nice treat.

All in all, it was a wonderful and relaxing Christmas. We are so thankful to have some family close by. However, our family in the north, Michele, John, Lydia, and Bammy was sorely missed. I hope your Christmas was as blessed as ours. It's hard to believe that 2011 is almost over. Next thing you know, we'll be celebrating Caleb's 7th birthday!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours! Here's our card from this year.

{the front}

{the inside}

{the back}

The kids and I had so much fun taking photos this year. There were too many to choose from. So I did my best to choose as many as I could! lol I couldn't help myself. Anyway, enjoy your Christmas everyone!!!!

Thoughts on Homeschooling- Part 2

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."

This motto has completely changed my attitude and approach toward home education. The initial reason we chose to homeschool Caleb was out of "necessity." He was of the age that most children begin some type of child enrichment program, either preschool or Pre-K. However, being internationally adopted, Caleb had some separation anxiety. Fostering attachment and providing an environment in which Caleb felt safe and secure was more important than "where" he began his early learning. So we chose to keep him home for Pre-K/K.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Caleb did well and learned a lot. What do you do when that happens? Continue on, of course. So we did. As time went by, I saw the need to fine tune our curriculum choices. We switched a few things up, and Caleb continued to do well.

So, why am I choosing to change things up again? Charlotte Mason's motto. It pierced my heart. I'll start with the part of the quote that I was already in complete agreement with.

Education is a discipline.

It goes without saying that education is a serious matter. Developing good habits is critical for any education program to be successful.

Education is an atmosphere.

Ouch. What Charlotte Mason was advocating against was the creation of "artificial" learning environments. We should give our children the opportunity to learn from what is already available in their environment. How does that translate into modern day English? We should not create environments in which we "teach to the test."

This is what most schools, public and private, are guilty of, whether or not they admit it. They want as much funding as they can get their hands on. They want all the "Blue Ribbons". They want bragging rights. Unfortunately, even home educators can be guilty of this "approach" to education. This part of Charlotte Mason's motto has really made me think about why I continue to educate my children at home.

Admittedly, I want my children to be successful in their education. Who doesn't want their child to succeed? That's a silly question, right? However, if our reason to home educate our children is to turn out students who bring home all the awards (those "Blue Ribbons" so to speak), are we not falling prey to the same misguided goals as those larger educational institutions? I'm afraid so.

This is how Charlotte Mason described the end result of "artificial" learning environments: (This is actually a paraphrase in modern English.) "We can create a fragrant but stale hot-house atmosphere by modifying and controlling conditions. In this atmosphere, children grow well enough from all outward appearances, but they are weak and dependent."

Wow. Is that what I really want for my child? I don't think so. So, how do we, as a home educators, avoid an artificial learning environment? Get outdoors and experience life. Observe nature and life experiences all around you.

Education is a life.

Education is for the body, soul, and spirit. The mind needs to be fed a variety of ideas. Ideas are what make the mind flourish. Dry facts are as palatable as sawdust (CM's idea, not mine.) A steady diet of rich literature from living books provides the nourishment our minds need. While a steady diet of the same food doesn't nourish our bodies, the same can be said of educating our minds. This is why Charlotte Mason believed in exposing children to a variety of subjects- history, science, art, nature, foreign language, music, etc.

So what happens when you let this motto dictate your home education program? You create life-long learners. A steady diet of rich literature creates a hunger for more knowledge. Knowledge of God, of man (history, literature), and of the universe (science, math, geography.) Knowledge becomes the motivator, not good grades or achievements. Long after "formal education" is over and all the degrees have been obtained, a Charlotte Mason approach to education creates a person, who continues to learn. Now, what I'm talking about.

Thoughts on homeschooling- Part 1

Saturday, December 17, 2011

When we started on this homeschooling journey two and a half years ago, I had no idea what home education would "look like" in our home. Being a newbie, I chose a boxed curriculum for Kindergarten, A Beka. When Year One was over, I was pleased to see Caleb learning. Math was a breeze, and he was learning to read. However, I knew that I needed to find a more challenging math program for him.

I was thrilled to discover Singapore Math. This was exactly what I was looking for- a program that focused on math concepts, not just rote computation. Caleb has thrived with this curriculum. Math was easy part. Enough said.

Moving on to Language Arts. I was not thrilled with A Beka's approach. There was a lot of repetition and not much progression. A year ago, we switched over to First Language Lessons for grammar and Writing With Ease for writing. We have enjoyed the variety in the grammar lessons, and since most of the program is oral, lessons are easy to implement. Writing With Ease has a nice, gentle approach to writing that stays away from creative writing and focuses on simply putting thoughts together succinctly. Both of these programs take very little time to implement and are very effective. We're continuing with both of them.

Last spring I decided that it was time to branch out from the 3 R's and introduce History and Science. For History, I decided to go with Story of the World Ancients because it was easy to implement and "open and go". Both of these are true, and we have enjoyed it. However, I have more to say about that in a little bit.

I also wanted to introduce Science and chose Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding, a curriculum that is very hands on and integrates all the scientific disciplines. Although it is not "open and go" and can be hard to schedule sometimes (okay maybe more than just "sometimes",) we really like this program because of its depth and breadth. Not many elementary science programs can claim that AND do it well. It's a keeper.

Now, on to the bigger picture. I learned about Charlotte Mason about this time last year. I knew vaguely of her ideas and approach to education, but admittedly, it was vague. It seemed nice, but I thought using her method in teaching at home would take A TON of time and was only for those students advanced in language arts. Frankly, with all of Caleb's (and now Madeline's) therapy, we didn't have time to do that type of challenging school load.

This summer, however, I was once again drawn to Charlotte Mason's philosophy, mainly through the Ambleside Online curriculum. There are quite a variety of subjects taught each year. However, I wasn't looking to increase our workload. I loved the "book lists" and wanted to supplement our history, science, and literature study with them. So I chose a few books from Year 1. But honestly, it's not possible to simply use these books to "supplement" your current curriculum. Why? These books are living and breathing. The result? Well, it makes you hunger for more.

Over the course of the year, we have been slowly adding in more books from Year 1. And in the next few weeks, we will be doing all of them (yes, even Shakespeare!) So, why do I feel so compelled to share this with you? Our home education program is a prime example of implementing Charlotte Mason's methods and seeing them work! In just a few short months!

Okay, so what is her philosphy, and what are her methods? I am NOT an expert. In fact, I've been doing most of my reading just recently. However, this is what I can tell you.


1. Lessons are to be short: 10-15 minutes.
2. Narration. When the child is young, they are expected to narrate, tell back what they just heard, after one reading. Yes, just one reading. The older student is expected to do written narrations that increase in frequency with age.

It sounds simple, and it really is. Lessons should be short to give the child just enough information to digest. Lessons are narrated after one reading so the child becomes engaged. It reinforces what they just learned and commits it to memory. Narration works on the habit of attention. And if you read a passage more than once, the child loses that habit.


Books should be of high quality. No "twaddle." If given candy, children will eat. The same is true for literature. Give children a healthy diet of quality books.

Reading through a particular book occurs over a long period of time. This allows the child to truly engage with the text. Read to them just a little bit whets their appetite. They come back begging for more. Oh, how this is true! Every last bit! Caleb begs for me to read more. It's take a lot of self control to say no, that we'll pick back up tomorrow. But the reaction is so worth it. Caleb will also ask me questions about our readings, days, weeks, and months later! He truly meditates on what he's learning.

Books are chosen at the level which a child understands, not the level he/she can read. This is so important. As books are read aloud to the child for the first four years (generally), they are several grade levels above that said "year" in school. By the time the child is reading their own books in Year 4, they are reading high school level books AND understanding them.

This was the main reason I steered away for so long. I thought there was no way a language delayed child could handle this kind of work load; however, I am quite wrong here! It took a little practice at first. However, several months into our CM approach, Caleb can easily follow along during all the readings. Simply amazing. So I stand here in agreement with Ms. Mason when she said that her methods were NOT just for wealthy or advanced children. Her methods work, regardless of socio-economic status or cognitive level.

In fact, her method of narration is the very reason I believe Caleb will be wrapping up his language therapy at the local elementary school sooner than expected. His progress in therapy this year has taken a major leap, which can only be attributed to the daily narration work we do at home.

So how we do plan on better implementing Ms. Mason's methods in our home? We are reducing "twaddle." I have been slowly removing TV shows from the kid's approved line-up. Books. We're cutting back on the Magic Tree House (too "light") and other cutesie-wootsie but educationallly irrelevant books.

This is also why we will be using Ambleside Online's History selections completely. Although we've enjoyed Story of the World Ancients, it's well, so light. It's not nearly as meaty as the other history books we're working through. So it's being pushed aside as a free read.

Yesterday, we began our "Fine Art Friday." I typically use Friday for easy narrations (like Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse, which is on grade level), Math review, logic, and anything else that didn't get done during the week. However, yesterday we added Hymn study, Folksong study, and Art study (we didn't get around to Composer study this time.) It was so precious to hear Caleb try to sing along. It warmed my heart.

I can't tell you how wonderful it has been to see Caleb do so well with this approach to learning. No workbooks are needed. Lessons are short, which is what we need in our therapy driven schooling. Learning happens anywhere. We've been reading on our back porch, and then I type Caleb's narrations into the iPad, all the while the birds are singing sweetly in the trees. Does it get any better? Now, I'm not advocating that all homeschoolers adhere to Charlotte Mason's methods. Different curriculums work for different families. I'm simply saying that this is what has worked for us. I have been learning so much, too. It's really great learning alongside Caleb. And that really gets at the heart of Charlotte Mason's philosophy.

Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.

I still have more to say on the topic of homeschooling, especially the principle above. However, I think this rambling on has been long enough. If you have stuck around for all of this, kuddos to you! So, you've learned more about Charlotte Mason than you ever cared to. Now, go enjoy the rest of your weekend!

What we're up to

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Since I received a few questions about our adoption of Havi, I thought I would go ahead and answer them here. This time around, we are using Bay Area Adoption Services (BAAS) as our placing agency and CCAI (Chinese Children Adoption International) as our home study agency. We are excited for the opportunity to finally work with BAAS. In fact, we had wanted to switch to Bay Area when we were with Bethany during Madeline's adoption. At the time, they did not have any children that matched our preferences. So we kept looking....and that is when we found our precious girl on AAC's waiting child list. So we switched from Bethany to AAC in a heartbeat. Working with AAC was great. We had such a fabulous in-China experience with Helen in Guangzhou. :) And the U.S. team was also wonderful.

We had our orientation meeting yesterday morning (yes, on a Saturday!) with CCAI. So now we have a boatload of paperwork to begin. Are paperwork fairies still in business? Or am I still playing that part?

What else have we been up to? I'll give you a clue. It starts with "S". Actually, it's two things that start with "S": School and Sickness. Both kids had quite the cough, and Caleb got the worst of it. It's times like these that I'm so glad we homeschool. I can't imagine Caleb having to make up two weeks worth of school. Not fun. But we don't have to worry about that because we school at home. *insert big grin* We did a lightened schedule and took it easy.

And school? What can I say. WE are having a great time. I say WE because not only am I thoroughly enjoying the stuff WE are learning, I am downright giddy. I plan on doing a separate post to share more details. But for now, I'll just share that I have been incorporating more Charlotte Mason inspired, Ambleside Online curriculum into our schedule. I love the content. Love the approach. And the side effect? We're learning AND remembering what we learned months later, with no review, no worksheets, no tests. :) The added bonus of incorporating Charlotte Mason's methods in our home is that I'm giving myself the education I never got as a child (in private school, no less.) We are learning together and having so much fun in the process. Okay, really...I'll share much more on all that a little later.

(Caleb was "using his computer" to write a letter to Daddy.  He really wrote a
touching letter to Daddy.  I wished I had taken a photo of the letter too.)

We managed to put up our Christmas tree this past Sunday. But the bad photographer that I am these days, I haven't even uploaded the images to my computer. So those will have to come later. For those of you who may not know, I'm quite the micromanager of the tree trimming here. Yes, every ornament has it's own special place. Well, if you can believe it, I placed only one ornament on the tree! Yes, one. That's it. Madeline managed to hang as many ornaments as she could on just a few branches. Thankfully, our tree is artificial. Those poor branches. Caleb did his best to hang some ornaments a little higher than others. Still, when he finished, he asked Patrick, "How come there aren't any ornaments on the top of the tree?" He tried. He really did. But 49" is only gonna get those ornaments so high.

I had a lot of fun this year taking the kids photos for our Christmas card. They had a lot of fun, too. As the years have passed, our Christmas card list has grown. And with each passing year, I moan about the increasing number of cards to address. Well, not this year. I decided I'm drawing a line in the sand. I know it's not proper etiquette to use labels, but I'm sorry. I decided that if I'm sending out over 100 cards, I'm allowed to use labels. I'm cheating. And I'm fine with that. Please don't take it personally if your address isn't handwritten. I'm knee deep in adoption paperwork and schooling. I need a break somewhere. Anybody else use labels to address their cards?

Well, I captured a lot of great images for our card this year. And once those babies are in the mail, I'll share the card here. For now, here are some photos I didn't use.

(My favorite. She looks so interested at this point, doesn't she?)

Anyway, I promise to be back with more on homeschooling. I was also going through some old images and videos and realized there's quite a bit I haven't gotten around to sharing. So some randomness in review will be thrown in the mix too. Anyway, it's back to the paperwork pile for me. Happy Sunday!

A little sister for Caleb and Madeline

Monday, December 5, 2011

Well, as you can see from our letter to Havalah, Patrick and I have decided it's time to begin paperchasing for her. We don't actually have a referral for her yet. Sorry if I wasn't clear about that and disappointed ya. Believe me, as soon as we know, you'll know, too! What we can tell you is that she'll hail from the People's Republic of China, be younger than Caleb and Madeline, and have a limb difference. That's about all we know. ;)

Anyway, we decided to begin this journey to Havi this past summer, but we've had some paperwork glitches just getting out of the starting blocks, so to speak. At this point, all we've done is submit our applications to both our home study agency and our placing agency. So, now the real paperchase begins.

If I'm being honest, I am NOT looking forward to the paperwork. You'd think with this being our third time doing it, I'd be fine with it. Um, nope. Life is WAY more hectic now than it was when we paperchased the first two times. That's what happens when you grow your family and homeschool the munchkins. And it's all good. lol. But...

While I'm not looking forward to the paperwork this time (in fact, Patrick filled out both applications!) I am NOT going to fret over the timing of it all. We'll get our dossier to China when God says it's time. I'm not going to sweat the small stuff. It'll get there when it's supposed to get there. And may I repeat these very words to myself when hiccups happen, right? 'Cuz they're gonna happen. What would an adoption be without them. I just pray they're not more than we I can manage.

You may be wondering where we came up with Havalah's name. So let me explain. Havalah is Hebrew for "life." Although my Gramma's English name was Eva (my namesake, which also means life), Havalah was all my Gramma's gramma ever called her (because she didn't speak any English.) In fact, my Gramma would often call me Havalah when I was growing up and even as an adult. We think it's a beautiful name. In fact, Patrick had picked it out for daughter #2 before he even knew how sentimental the name was to me! For that matter, he had the name picked out even before we brought Caleb home! lol. Anyway, we also thought it would be a wonderful way to honor my Gramma without having two Eva's under the same roof. I had that very experience growing up, and it was a bit confusing to me as a little girl sometimes. lol. Alright, enough rambling. There you have it. Let the fun begin!

Our Havalah

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dear Precious Little Havalah,

We feel so blessed to be called your family. We don't know who you are yet, but we know that Lord has hand-picked you for us. And us for you. We have been praying for you for quite some time now:

that peace fills your precious little heart, that your mind rests in the knowledge that you will one day have a family of your own, that your nights aren't so lonely or cold, that a gentle hand wipes away your tears when they fall, that your boo boos are kissed and bandaged up, that you know the love of your caregivers until we arrive to bring you home.

Yes, precious girl. One day, when you least expect it, your world will be forever changed. You will be taken from all you have ever known and then begin your life with us, your forever family. You will be sad and traumatized, and we recognize that. How you cope with this transition, only time will tell. Our prayer is that God will equip us to help you the best way possible. One thing we know for certain, we will be there for be patient, kind, and, most of all, loving to you. In fact, we already love you because God has called us to be your parents. We are so blessed to answer His call. We pray also for your birth parents, that God may give them peace and comfort to know their daughter will be loved and cared for by her forever family.

We can't wait for the day that we can finally hold you in our arms and kiss your sweet face. Some day soon, as the Lord has designed it, our hopes and dreams will be realized. In the meantime, our love for you, precious one, will only grow. We love you, dear Havi.

Daddy, Mommy, Big Brother Caleb, and Big Sister Madeline

Sunday Snapshot: An amusing time!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ok. So, remember all those photos I took in October? Um, yeah. Tons. And the time to edit them? Non-existent. So what did I do? I used minimal editing on all of them so I could get them up here to share. Then life happened. Yep. Back to the hustle and bustle of every day.

Anyway, I thought I would share a few photos from our trip to Disney World last month for Patrick's birthday. We don't typical "do" Disney on his birthday. However, this year Caleb's Gotcha Day fell on a Saturday and conflicted with his baseball game. Still, we didn't want to miss out on our Disney trip. So we saved the T Rex Restaurant for his Gotcha Day and hit up the Big Mouse a little earlier.

We don't hurry over there in the morning. So we typically arrive in time for lunch. We usually catch the Dream Along with Mickey Show.

Then we'll head over to Pinocchio's Village for some lunch. Caleb started getting a bit hungry while he waited for Patrick to come back with his food.

The kids really enjoy playing with all the fun stuff there is at the Winnie the Pooh ride. It just might be more fun than the actual ride.

We ALWAYS hit the Raceway. Caleb has become quite the little driver. And well, Madeline surprised me by giving up the wheel this time.

We inevitably stop for an afternoon snack, like ice cream or a smoothie in Tomorrowland, as this is where we spend most of our time.

And just to be sure the thrill and excitement of amusement parks didn't end, this past weekend we had the chance to attend our local state fair. We only stayed for a little bit, but boy, did we pack in a lot of fun. This was our first time going. So I was pleasantly surprised at how many kiddie rides there were. Caleb and Madeline had an absolute blast. It was non-stop laughter from the two of them. We dined on carnival food of corn dogs and chicken-on-a-stick. Yummy. Madeline spotted the kiddie roller coaster and begged to go on. Patrick has been hesitant until this point to let her ride a roller coaster because she's so young. But he finally relented. I rode with her, and from the first turn, she never stopped laughing! She loved it! My own stomach hurt so bad from laughing the entire time. As soon as she stepped off, she said "That was so much fun!"

One thing that we all had a chance to do together was the slide. The slide was my mom's favorite carnival "ride". I had a chance to capture this little race between Daddy and the kidlets on video. To say that we all had a fun-filled night would be an understatement.

To check out more Sunday Snapshots, head on over to Stefanie's blog.

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About This Blog

This blog is the place where shared our lives while waiting to bring our daughters Madeline and Havi home from China. (Our son Caleb was already home before this blog began.) It is now the place where we continue to share our life experiences, both big and little, as we try to glorify God and raise our 3 dumplings from China.

Feel free to join us as we journey through life, while I try to capture our days...

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