Thursday, February 28, 2008

Letting Go

I loved this post, over at Big Mama's. If you're in need of a faith lift (who isn't?), go over and check it out. Love the verses she ended with:
Psalm 103: 2-5 “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We've been a family of five for one year!!!

Piper, showing off her Gotcha Day outfit from last year.
Piper this morning, looking at a picture of one of her Xiushan buddies dressed in her Gotcha day outfit

The outfit fits her much better this year. It was HUGE on her last year.

Same outfit, last year...Me and Piper, w/all of our new friends in the background getting to know their little ones.
February 26, 2007-what a blessed day!
I can't believe it's been a year since that wonderful day when we first held Piper. She has changed so much, and it's neat to look back at these pictures of that day, now that we know her. What in the world what she thinking, I wonder!!! We were just in awe of her, and the entire process. It felt like a miracle.
Still does.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I'm so excited!

Our friends, Anton and Christie just got a wonderful surprise - a call - they are parents...finally. Go here to see them as they get their news. I am crying happy tears for them!
They started their process to adopt from China just a bit after we did, but because of the extreme slow down, they will not get their referral until next year sometime. Soooo, in the meantime, they decided to adopt from Ethiopia. These two people will make absolutely wonderful, fun as all get out, loving parents.
Did I tell you how happy I am for them???
Thank you, Lord! Keep little Quint safe and loved until Christie and Anton can get to him.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Lantern Festival - it's been a year!

February, 2007 The Lantern Festival, in China-Piper lit up when we put this dress on her, and then the shoes, oh, she loved the shoes!
We were on a boat like this one.
Brett and Estee, Estee and Piper were dressed alike that night.
Piper and me.

One of the dads, Tom, from our travel group, posted this on our group this morning:
"Today is Lantern Festival, marking the end of the Spring Holiday Season. Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao) has been celebrated for more than 1000 years, beginning in the Tang Dynasty. By traditional Chinese reckoning, it is one year since a dozen little girls went cruising on the Pearl River."

Those dozen little girls were Piper Grace and the other girls in our travel group. We happened to be in Guangzhou on the night of the Lantern Festival, so our guide took us for a cruise on the Pearl River to celebrate with the Chinese. At that point, we'd been in China with Piper for about a week.

One of the other moms posted that she missed China. I do too. It was such a magical time, being there with Piper - in the country where she was born, so rich in history. I really hope we get to go back again when Piper is older.

So according to the Chinese lunar calendar it's been a year since these girls were forever placed in our arms. On our calendar, that blessed date is February 26th, next Tuesday. Still don't know how we'll celebrate, but we will.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A few of our favorite things...

For Valentines Day, I thought it would be fun to interview the loves of my life. So, this morning, over these donuts, we did just that.

Explain what you think "love" is.
Piper(22 months): "Mine!"
Ella(5): "Love is Jesus coming from our hearts."
Hunter(7): "Love is triple times 'like'."
Scott(40): "An enduring bond b/t two people." (who is this guy?)

What are some of your favorite treats?
P(we helped her a little): "orange juice, mommy's make up, chocolate"
E: "donuts, icecream, spending time praying with God"
H: "family parties, going to cousins house, Wisconsin, donuts, cake"
S: "lemon icebox pie, diet coke"

What is your favorite thing about our family?
P: "Mine!"
E: "That we love each other and we all have Jesus in our hearts."
H: "That we love each other."
S: "That my wife looks like a supermodel as she runs our family with grace and love." (Ok, so he wasn't present for this question, but I'm sure that's what he would have said)

What is your favorite, everyday thing, our family does together?
P: "Mine!"
E: "I like when we take walks together."
H: "I like sitting at the dinner table together."
S: "playing and laughing together"

Pretend you are Oprah and list your Favorite Things.
P: (Ella and I helped her a bit) "laughing, jumping, climbing, singing, copying, dogs, cats, playing under the covers, SHOES!, dresses, looking pretty"
E: "horses, dogs, ponies, hearts, friends, God, mommy, daddy, brother, sister, Mama Linda, Papa Roman, Mandy, Grandma, Papa, all my cousins, earth, that God loves every single one of us, loving, sharing, when Grandma Linda and Papa Roman send us stuff in the mail
H: "Heard Museum, Dinotopia books, Half Priced Books, God, singing, music, African drums, history, writing, sauropods, drawing sauropods, praying, science, my whole family"
S: "my family, reading to the kids, hugging wife, dinner with family, Alabama football, and God" (but not in that order he wanted to clarify, but in some way, Alabama football and God go together in his mind)

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

My mom's idea of "taking it easy"...

Ella, modeling her new, "most beautiful dress she's ever seen", made by her Grandma. My mom and I found some really cute dresses online and got a little obsessed with finding cute material and a pattern. She's wearing it to school for her Valentines party today, and is just sure no one else will have a dress like it, because "most Grandmas don't know how to make a dress like this!". This is my mom's way of taking it easy post surgery. I could get use to this! She's making one for Piper too!
Later today, I'll post our Valentine's Day interview...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

For mature audiences only...Preacher discusses being a "real man" rather than a "male"

I believe I may have a sick sense of humor, but I find this terribly funny. Sad, but terribly funny.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Self Esteem builder for the day

Have I mentioned that Ella is 5 and is sooooo ready for Kindergarten? Unfortunately it's still over 6 months away, not that I'm counting. Meanwhile, I've discovered a great game for lazy parents...Hide and Seek. Ella loves it when we play, and I've learned to love it as I've discovered that if I find a good hiding place, I can be assurred of a few minutes of absolute quiet time.

This morning I put Piper down for a nap with visions of getting some things done. I had barely walked downstairs when Ella said, "Are you ready to play Hide and Seek???!!!!"

She helped me unload the dishwasher first, and then we prepared to play. As she was going over the rules, she says, "I'll count first while you hide. It's going to be SOOO easy to find you, because YOU ARE SOOOOO BIG!!!".

Thank you, Ella. Thankyouverymuch.

"Ready or not, here I come!" You'll probably hear my big heavy feet headed your way, b/c in case you haven't heard, I am SOOOO BIG! I'm not bitter or anything. I'm sure she just meant tall, yes, that must've been what she meant.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Moving On, part II

The "after" shot

The picture makes it look a little more distressed than it does in person.

While the sofa drama was playing itself out, I calmed myself as all artsy types painting something.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided the little desk I was using as a buffet in our dining room was too small. All the furniture was the same height and that is just not right. I had gotten that little desk at my favorite local resale shop for $8.00 a couple of years ago, and decided they could have it back if I could find something to take it's place.

Then, over the weekend, we were organizing the guest room, which serves as the "small" playroom for all toys that fit neatly into a 21 month old's mouth. The clouds broke open, and there it was...the perfect piece of furniture to use as my buffet. The only problem was it was black with pink and white drawer fronts - not quite the look I'm going for in the dining room. And, it needed to be a little taller. Other than that, perfect! We had gotten this dresser unfinished before Hunter was born, 8 years ago. We(I) painted it white and blue for his nursery. When Ella came along, I painted it the black and pink/white combo. for her nursery.

After a trip to garage, where I found 4 fence post finials that would be perfect for new feet, the new buffet was on it's way. Scott went out of town for 2 days and came home to our beautiful new, but antiqued work of art. I love it so much, I keep walking by it just to say hi. It needs new knobs for the bottom drawers, but I'm sure I've got some around here somewhere.

My only regret, one that keeps haunting me project after project, is that once the creative process takes over, I can't seem to slow it down long enough to take a "before" photo. Trust me, the change is dramatic, unbelievable, astonishing really.

Really, the most unbelievable part is just how much pleasure I get out of things like this. Scott says a drill and a can of paint are my crack. Joan Steffand has nothing on me. From "trash to treasure" is my middle name. Well, that and, "one who forgot to take before photos".

Moving on is harder than it looks

Now that China's weather emergency seems to have settled down, I can move on to the decorating emergency developing in our home.

My floral sofa and I have had a rocky relationship lately, ever since the new wood floors came to town actually. The floors changed the look of everything, and got my eye wandering to new, simple sofas.

In an impulsive moment, late one December night, I posted pictures of my loyal floral sofa on Craigslist, and offered it up for sale. I received several responses, which mostly ended with people named "Victoria Smith" and "Amy Letsmakeadeal" offering to wire me money from Brazil straight to my bank account, and could I give them account information please?

I gave up and decided to try and work things out with my loyal floral sofa. After all, it doesn't show a darn thing, and believe me, my kids have tested this out thoroughly. And, we have a history together, we know each other well, and that has to count for something.

But then, everything changed. Last week I recieved an email from "Sweetie". "Sweetie" had seen my listing on Craigslist and wanted to know how long my loyal floral sofa is. Nice try, "Sweetie". I emailed her back a short, curt response.

"It's 82" long. CASH ONLY. LOCAL ONLY." And no, you can't have my bank account number.

She emailed me back saying how much she loved my beautiful sofa. It was just what she was looking for. Could I send her some more pictures, please? After many emails back and forth, "Sweetie" appears to be a real live person who apparently "adores" my sofa. She is sending her husband over tonight to PAY FOR IT WITH CASH!

How did this happen? Months ago, we were a happy pair, and now I am faced with saying goodbye to my loyal floral sofa, and more importantly find a younger fresher substitute. I have my eye on one, but it's a little risky, however I'm in a dangerous mood.

But, we have to wait and see if Mr. "Sweetie" actually shows up with real CASH tonight. I've already made my emotional break with the "Sweeties" new loyal floral sofa. Ella, on the other hand is having some trouble dealing with the loss.

The drama, it is dramatic.

Trying to empathize, I gently said, "we've had a lot of fun on that couch, haven't we? Reading books, talking, watching shows..." My plan was to then talk about how we'd do all the same stuff on our new younger sofa.

She interrupted me saying, "I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!!!"

All of this on the Eve of Chinese New Year. I hope our family can weather this storm and come out on the other end stronger, closer, and with some real live CASH!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

National Emergency

Though we've barely heard about this on the news, China is experiencing a disaster which has been likened to Hurricane Katrina by people who are actually there. Many areas in central and southern China have been under snow and ice or several weeks. Their climate is very similar to the South here in the USA and Mexico, so they are completely unprepared for these conditions. It appears the government is also completely unprepared as well, and the people are left to handle this crisis as well as they can.

We've been receiving updates from Jenny Bowen of Half the Sky who now lives in China and runs the organization that places nurturing nannies in orphanages, and strives to have a lifelong caring adult in the life of each orphan. You can read more about their wonderful, life changing work here.

They have asked for reports from each orphanage they serve. Some are okay, despite struggling to keep the babies warm, and have asked that help go to other orphanages first. But some are not okay. These kinds of situations shine a glaring light on why God, over and over in His word, tells us to care for orphans. Who protects and cares for these children who have no parents? They are not getting any sort of media attention and will not. So here's my little attempt to give them some sort of a voice.

Here's an excerpt from Jenny Bowen's report:
"Chenzhou, Hunan – still facing the most difficulties of the orphanages we’ve reached. They’ve had no electricity or running water for 8 days and there is almost no possibility that power will be restored before New Year’s Eve (the 6th of February.) Because of the blackout, the hospital is closed. 20 children are ill and being cared for by institution staff as well as they can. The banks are closed so staff is contributing personal funds to buy food, coal and diapers. Prices are skyrocketing as all roads to Chenzhou remain impassable."

You can read the rest by going to their website . You can also make a tax deductable donation to help these orphanages. Look on the right hand side for details.

Because of Piper, these children are very real to us. We know they exist and we can picture their little faces. As Piper runs around here today, we will pray that God would make His presence known to those quietly caring for the ones that are often forgotten, but close to His heart.