Two + one = love!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

We are beyond thrilled to announce that two more feet will be running around our house some time this summer!

We have recently accepted a referral for our daughter Havalah.  And now that we have PA (pre-approval from China), we're sharing the incredible news here.  She is 14 months old and hails from the Shanxi province in China.   That's about all we can really say without getting too specific.

Since we accepted her referral late one evening, we had to wait until morning to tell Caleb and Madeline.  Patrick wanted to be there for the big reveal, but he didn't think it was fair to the kids to keep the news from them all day.  So I printed out her photos and videotaped their reaction.

Aren't they precious?!  Oh, the references to Micah are for their younger brother.  Now we don't know if we'll be adopting a fourth child  or not.  I mean, we're still working on #3 here.  lol  But Micah will be his name if we do.  In the meantime, the dumplings will keep holding out hope. 

Anyway, thanks so much for sharing in our joy.  We are still pinching ourselves to make sure we're not dreaming.  We are over the moon in love with her!  

We love you Havi!!!

Just chillin' out

Friday, January 25, 2013

The other morning I was hanging out with my precious girl, eating snacks and playing on my iPhone. I had already snapped a bunch of photos of her and the two of us together with my phone when it dawned on me that I needed to grab my big girl camera.  So I dashed around the house and grabbed it.  I was too lazy to hook up my wireless remote trigger or set up the tripod.  So I propped my camera up on the table and kept running around it to get in the shots.

I love this girl!!!!  
We've had so much fun doing school together these last few weeks.  She's really coming along with her reading and numbers.  I wish I had done K with Caleb this way- a lot less structured. 

Anyway, while I'm busy talking about Madeline, I thought I would share this video of her riding her brother's old bike...without the training wheels!  She was determined to do it, and it didn't take long.  Somehow she finds a way to keep balanced, despite having a shortened left arm.  After Patrick showed her how to keep going, I showed her how to start.  She's completely independent now.  Amazing.  

We went to the park

Sunday, January 20, 2013

We love winters in Central Florida because they are so mild.  And this winter has been an exceptionally mild one indeed.  We usually hit up our favorite park by the river quite a bit, but because of our recent move, the dumplings have spent more time playing in the cul-de-sac than at the park.

So when I told them the other day that we were going to head to our favorite park, they lit up!  As we were driving along the river and the park was in sight, they gleefully exclaimed from the back of the van "We missed you!!!!"  Hilarious.  But true.

I always bring my camera to the park, ever since those photography classes I took last summer.  So snapping a few shots of the dumplings was to be expected.  What I wasn't expecting, however, was the early winter sunset.  I just forgot that it sets so early now.  So this was a total plus.
They chased dragon flies and rolled around on the ground while the heron on the dock posed for me.  Of course, when I wanted to snap them having fun, they were done.
I think we need to get back to the park some more.  Sorry new cul-de-sac.  I do love you, just not at this time of day.  I hear the river calling my name.

Ni Hao Yall 

He turned 8

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Yep, I know he turned 8 almost a week ago.  I'm a bit behind in blogging his birthday, but I do hope you'll hang in there with me.  We've taken Caleb to see the Mouse every year on his birthday since he came home from China,  except the first one because he was home just two months.  Why?  Who wouldn't want to spend their birthday with the Mouse?  And who wouldn't want to do that when it's almost 80 degrees in January with no crowds?  It's a no-brainer for us.  This year's celebration was the hottest one on record though.  It's usually in the 50s-60s.  Yep, short sleeves and shorts were in order.

This birthday boy loved looking at the map and finding our location.
We started off in Tomorrowland, as we always do... People Mover, Carousel of Progress, Raceway, Buzz...and ice cream.
We managed to finally make it out of  Tomorrowland and hit up the New Fantasyland.  We rode the Barnstormer.  Madeline still likes it more than Caleb.  He tolerates it; she can't wait to go again.  We also enjoyed Dumbo and Winnie-the-Pooh.
We used Fast Passes whenever possible, as if waiting 20 minutes in line for stand-by was too long.  We're spoiled.  We know.  We headed over to Adventureland for Pirates of the Caribbean.  However, when we finally got there, it was closed.  We were bummed.
So we finally said good night to the Magic Kingdom and made our way over to Epcot.
 The kids loved ride Spaceship Earth.  I mean, who wouldn't?  It's so beautiful.  We had dinner reservations in Japan.  It was delicious!  Before we headed back around to the other side of the World Showcase, I thought I'd snap a shot of Spaceship Earth.
 I'm kicking myself that I didn't have my tripod with me. Thankfully, I could prop my camera up on a post to steady it some.  But I only slowed my shutter down to 1/25 sec because I didn't want to risk any blur from pressing the shutter (I didn't have my remote trigger either.  Grr..)  Anyway, now I know better for next time.

The dumplings also really enjoyed the Nemo ride and looking at all the sea animals in the tanks by the ride.  They spent a lot of time there.
We wanted to stay for Illuminations to watch the laser show and fireworks.  The dumplings were exhausted though.  So we only stayed for a little bit.
So all of that adventure took place the day before his actual birthday.  On the actual day, we took him roller skating with his sister, cousin, and a few friends.  I didn't snap any photos prior to skating or during because I was busy at the last minute working on his cake.

Now, I'm not an expert baker.  But I was determined to put a stop to the homemade appearing cakes that were coming out of my kitchen.  So I purchased a few tools and read a lot of recipes and tips online.

I made a vanilla cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream frosting because vanilla is what the birthday boy eats.  Not chocolate.  The verdict?  The cake was light and fluffy because I used a reverse creaming process.  I also made my own baking strips so the cakes didn't burn on the tops/sides or dome.  They baked evenly and without burning.  Score!  The buttercream frosting could've had a touch more vanilla, but I loved how light and non-sweet it was.  (I'm definitely making more and using different flavors!)  Since I added the dot border after skating and just before we ate it, I had no time to actually pipe the red baseball stitching that I wanted to do for the baseball loving birthday boy.  Instead I lined up the 8 candles with 4 on each side to mimic the stitching and called it done. lol  Also, since that handsome revolving cake stand you see didn't arrive until after I had smoothed the top and sides, I had too much frosting still on the cake.  Oh well.  Now I know better.

 Caleb scored a bunch of Legos to add to his collection.  He couldn't have been happier.  We are so thankful for all these years we've seen him grow.  He's becoming such a big boy.  He's so caring and compassionate, smart, athletic, and he loves the Lord. We are so blessed to be his parents.  Really.  Our God amazes us.  And in just two short months, we'll be celebrating another special birthday, which the birthday girl regularly reminds us of.  So now I have 2 months of cake making and eating to get ready for it!

Morning sunshine

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Throughout the day, our new kitchen gets a tremendous amount of natural light streaming in.  That's due in large part to a huge, south facing bay window.  Although this bay window doesn't overlook our front yard, like our old house, I love to sit in front of it at the kitchen table and look out as the sun rises.

This week Madeline spent battling a cold.  On this particular morning, I let her watch some TV while I had my coffee.  
I just love capturing sun flare of any kind.  However,controlled sun flare had been alluding me, until now.  I love that rich blue stream and how it looks like it's falling right on Madeline in these images.

Eventually she turned the tube off and decided to work on a "States" puzzle.
She's finally feeling (mostly) better, though her nose is still runny.  Thankfully she hasn't passed this on to me or Patrick.  Caleb was the one who actually gave her the cold, but he, fortunately, wasn't sick for very long at all.

All of this meant that we were in pretty good shape to help Caleb celebrate his birthday this weekend.  I still can't believe he's 8 years old.  It seems like just the other day we were celebrating his first birthday home with us.  It's hard to believe that first birthday home was 5 years ago.  5 years ago!!! Wow. Anyway, I still have to download the photos I snapped of our celebration.  So you'll have to check back for that.  Until then, I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

For more great photos, visit Stefanie and Rebecca's blogs.
Ni Hao Yall 

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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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