Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

The Christmas tree is up, the lights are on the bushes outside, the manger scene is on the mantle and the wreath is on the front door.  The Christmas cards have been ordered and most of the shopping is done.  We even woke up to snow on the ground this morning.  It is beautiful and has been snowing all day long.  The snow came just in time for Keenan's Christmas program at preschool.  He was so cute in it.  He loves songs and music and he did great!  We are so blessed to have found another amazing Christian preschool for both he and Bella since our move.  Their teachers are wonderful!

We also went to my work today to attend breakfast with Santa.  The kids had a blast!!  They got to see a performance by the MadCap Puppets, play games, eat breakfast, get a "tattoo", make an ornament, decorate cookies and even have a visit with Santa.  Santa had a great sense of humor today.  He asked all three kiddos what they wanted for Christmas.  Keenan told Santa he wanted a DS and Santa said, "Really, you just want the letters 'd' and 's" and no other letters?"  It was cute, but Keenan is now a bit concerned that he is only going to get letters for Christmas. 

Keenan decorating his cookie

Aidan and Keenan making their ornaments
    Family pic

 The kids with Santa 

Part of the event this morning included a toy and food drive for local families and the kids each took a toy and we took a bag of food as well. As a family, we are always trying to find ways to show the kids how to share God's love with others by giving and helping out.  We especially want them to know that Christmas is not just about them getting toys.

Here is a picture of Keenan's list for Christmas. I just have to share because it is such a cute story. Keenan is learning to write and read words right now. He can't spell, so when he and Aidan were writing their lists, he kept asking me how to spell the items he wanted to include on his list one letter at a time. Well, it got time for Bella to go to bed, so I told him that he could look at the pictures in the magazines and that under each picture the black bold letters spells what the item is. He continued with his list. Several days later I noticed that his list had things written on the front and back of it. One side had the few items that he wants and on the other side I saw this ... Michael and I just cracked up at this! What it is supposed to say is "Temporary Price Cut".

And here is a pic of Aidan's list ...

We have lots of plans this Christmas, including visiting the Creation Museum's Christmas Town, going to a local farm for a Christmas walk and live nativity, going downtown to see the trains and do our yearly ritual, and spending lots of time celebrating our Savior's birth with family and friends.  I hope to post a couple more times this month, so stay tuned!

Bella posing in front of a Christmas tree

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gatlinburg 2010

We did not get to go to Gatlinburg when we normally do.  Since we moved to Ohio, the school schedules are a little different.  Instead we went over Halloween weekend and stayed until the Tuesday following.  It was the PERFECT time to go!  Beautiful weather ... less of a crowd ...could get into places without a wait .... just perfect.  Michael's parents were able to go with us this year and we again rented a cabin.  The cabin was probably the least of the highlights because it was a haven for ladybugs!  Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with ladybugs, BUT when there are hundreds of them all over the place (and I am not kidding!), it is a little much.  I guess it was because of the warm weather, but seriously, we could have done without.

Here are some pics from our trip ...

We took a pretty lengthy hike to see this waterfall.  The kids were are troopers because it took about 3 hours roundtrip (we had no idea when we started!). 

Aidan and Keenan at the falls

We took the kids to a Halloween event in downtown Gatlinburg.  They had a great time.  Here they are ... Robin Hood, Little John and a beautiful butterfly.

Look how fierce ... the scarecrow does not even have a chance!

At the event, there were multiple characters dressed up and Bella wanted to love on them all!  The event also had a Chinese acrobatic troop that did a short show.  She just sat down and watched it all, enjoying every minute of it.

Our favorite place in the mountains.  The boys, Michael and I loved jumping the bolders and successfully did not fall in.


Bella's foster parents, Bobby and Julie, came and spent a night with us.  They were in town for a conference the following week.  We loved seeing them again and spending time with them.

My Keenster ... he kept posing and asking for me to take pictures.  So cute!

We took the kids putt-putting a couple of times and they loved it.

Bella, Keenan and Aidan

We also spent time racing cars, riding some rides and doing a little shopping and a lot of eating!  Aidan said it best, "This was the best trip ever!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Fall!

We have had an amazing fall so far and I just wanted to share a few pics.  We also are happy because Bella is doing great since her surgery and has also been released from the cardiologist's care.  He did another EKG and they said everything looks perfect, so no further need to follow up on her heart.  WooHoo!  One less doctor to see and one less procedure for her to have to endure.  She is such a little trooper and amazes me how much she has gone through.  We have lived at doctor's offices this past year, so to have one less doctor to see is a huge thing for us right now.

As promised, here are some pics of our clan ...

Bella cheering her brothers on at soccer

Family from Texas came in for a weekend and we went to Michael's parents and had a hayride, camp-out and bonfire - so much fun!  (Keenan, Aidan, Collin, Hunter, Bella and Abigail)

The boys ... Hunter, Keenan, Collin and Aidan

Mamaw and Bella riding the tractor

Keenan and Michael

Aidan and me ... I loved this time with the kids!

Me with my boys

Family pic

Keenan and I got to go along on a class field trip with Bella to Barn-N-Bunk.  They got to through a corn maze, make a scarecrow and take a hayride.  (Just look at how much Bella loves her brother)

We all went to Niederman Farm last weekend and had a blast.  We went through the corn mazes, went on a hayride, picked out pumpkins, went on the giant swings, visited the farm animals, ate some yummy food (including homemade doughnuts) and the kids also got to jump on the gigantic air cushion and played on the enormous mound of dirt they made for the kids.  Here is the trio smilin' it up.

Keenan found a keeper

Aidan showing off his strength

Bella just being so darn cute

Michael and I on the hayride
Silly faces ... there is not a day they don't crack me up!

Happy Fall Everyone ~ Love, The Garland's

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another Surgery

On Tuesday morning Bella underwent another surgery, her sixth in all.  She had her pharyngeal flap repaired which we hope will now allow her to produce many more sounds like "p" and "b".  It will also stop her from sounding so nasal when she talks.  We are hoping this will speed up her speech and that she will have the ability to take off.

She did amazing with the surgery and after a few LONG days in the hospital was released Friday afternoon.  She was so ready to come home, but had to prove to the doctors that she could eat and drink.  The surgery is very painful.  The doctor essentially had to go in and cut the back of her throat to pull a flap forward and reattach it.  She has been through so much and we know she has a high threshold for pain, but this one was hard for her.  He hope this is it for a few years.  She will eventually have to have a bone graft taken from her hip to create her top gum line.  This probably won't happen until she is 8 or 9.

One big downside is that she now has severe sleep apnea ... at least until the swelling goes down.  So this makes for some long nights and makes it difficult for her to sleep.  She has been crying out a lot during the night.  Please pray the swelling goes down soon so she can sleep better.

We want to thank all of our family and friends who have helped us out this week and have prayed for little girl.

Here are some pics from our week ...

Bella with Daddy before surgery  (she really wasn't this happy before surgery ... smiles were rare)

 Keenan with Bella a couple of days after surgery

 Family was able to visit this time ... Bella and her mamaw

Taking a stroll with Grandpa, Grandma and daddy ... she hated being all hooked up, but was excited to get out of the room

Bella with her Papaw and Gram

Last morning in the hospital ... Yay!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bella's Family

We had an amazing weekend this past weekend.  Bella's foster family came to visit with us and stayed with us a few days.  We were so excited to see them and be with them again.  We have kept in close contact over the past year and could not wait for their visit.  Bella loved being with them all again and picked up where she left off with her sissy, Cassie.  Those two were so cute together.  Best buddies forever.  They are more the same height now and it was so cute to see them playing on the swingset, swimming and helping each other destroy the playroom together.  We thought they would have fun sleeping together so we got them all snuggled in together and they just giggled with each other.  We had to go back in there a couple of times to tell them to settle down.  The second time I went in I saw Bella on her pillow jumping up and down and Cassie in the middle of the bed jumping up and down.  Let's just say they were wired!  I settled them back down and told them to go night night.  Well, around 1:00 a.m. Bobby went in to check on them and they were still up!!! They had gotten into Bella's speech homework papers and were tearing them to pieces!  Needless to say, after that their sleepover was over and we had to separate them.  After the first time of going in there, Michael and Bobby rigged up a video camera so we have all of their little adventures on tape.  Should be fun to watch in years to come.

We just enjoyed time together as a family and hanging out.  We introduced them to some of Cincinnati's favorite places like Skyline Chili, Graeter's and Jungle Jim's.  Jungle Jim's is an international market and Julie was able to get some foods and spices that she used to use in China.  We also introduced them to Corn Hole, which they thought was something we made up.  But I think we won them over!

I was able to learn more about Bella's time with them and her time in the orphanage.  Some of it heartbreaking, but we know she is thriving now and are thankful for that.  All in all we had a great time and know that God brought our families together to be one big family.  We are forever grateful to them and for them.  They are such a blessing to us all!

The boys with their aunt Janel ... couldn't pass posting this pic - so cute!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

First Day of School, Birthdays and China

The last couple of weeks have been full of activity ... getting back into the swing of things with Aidan going back to school and Bella and Keenan starting preschool.  Aidan started 2nd grade at his new school and so far, so good.  We feel blessed that we live across the street from a family that also has a couple of boys, one of which is in 2nd grade along with Aidan.  I think that has helped with the transition of going to a new school this year.  Keenan and Bella also started their new preschool and seem to be enjoying it also.  Keenan usually always asks the teacher when I am coming to pick him up ... sometimes many times during the afternoon.  His teacher told me Thursday that he did not ask one time!  That is amazing, so I know he is having a great time!  And Bella, she just loves being apart of things and eagerly goes to her class everyday.

Aidan's 1st Day of 2nd Grade!!

Aidan, Bella and Keenan going to school - 1st day of Preschool (I think the sun was in their eyes)

The boys  also celebrated their birthdays this week.  Aidan turned 8 and Keenan turned 5.  Oh my, my boys are growing oh so fast!  We have learned by now that birthdays are not celebrated for just one day, but are celebrated all week long!  The boys had several friends come over Friday night for a party and sleepover.  They had a blast, but it was crazy!  They went swimming, played games, went on a treasure hunt that ended in a silly string battle, opened presents and had pizza and cupcakes.  And a few hours after the friends left, our family party began.  It was such a beautiful day outside and again, I think everyone had a good time.  We are blessed to have a wonderful and loving family.

Bella, Aidan and Keenan

Keenan went to the skatepark for his birthday ... Tony Hawk watch out!

All the kids playing a game at the party ... check out some of the faces.  Too funny!

Aidan, Keenan and their cousin Hunter

Aidan and Keenan waiting not so patiently for their presents

The trio took over our bed
We are so happy for our good friends, the Stanleys, who are in China right now adopting their precious Lily.  We met Doug and Julie through mutual friends who knew we were both in the process of adopting from China.  We met shortly after we both were logged into China and found out we had log in dates within a couple of weeks of each other.  They have been so supportive and loving as we went through our adoption and we are blessed to have them as friends.  If you would like to follow along their journey, go here.  We CANNOT wait to see Lily in their arms forever!  God has been so good and faithful to both of our families as we have walked with Him to bring our beautiful daughters home.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

State Fair

We went to Indianapolis to have our 1 year post adoption follow up visit with our social worker last Friday.  A couple of the ladies that helped throughout the entire adoption process came out to meet Bella.  It was bittersweet for us all.  I can't imagine what their jobs are like.  So wonderful to see so many children united with their forever families ... I would LOVE to be a part of that someday!

We decided that since we were Indy, we should make a weekend of it.  We visited some dear friends we went to college with and had dinner with them.  We enjoyed seeing them and are looking forward to another visit soon!

We spent the night with my sister and her family and headed out to the State Fair the next morning.  We weren't sure we wanted to brave the tremendous heat, but there was a cloud cover and we got an early start.  Let me tell you, we had a blast!  Probably the best state fair experience ever!  The kids loved it and enjoyed seeing all of the animals, playing the different games and doing the activities they had set up and just being farmers for the day.  Michael and I both grew up in 4-H and it is sad for me to know that our kids probably won't get involved just because of the area we live in.  It would be pretty hard to put a barn with cows and pigs in our backyard!  But at least with the fair, they get a taste of the experience.  The thing they haven't stopped talking about it the largest pig - wow, he was huge this year!

Here are some pics from our day...

Miss  Bella loving up to the baby goat

Keenan is such a sweetie with the animals

Bella feeding a goat a carrot

My precious boys

Bella, Keenan and I doing some fishin'

Aidan ... a little too small to take on the combine

Keenan being a farmer for the day

What a cheeser!

My precious niece Addy ... the hat was a little too big, but gosh she is adorable!