Thursday, September 5, 2013

Some Important Dates

We have had some important dates over the last couple of months.  We celebrated our family day with Bella on August 10th.  Bella has been part of our family for 4 years.  Sometimes I can't believe it has been 4 years while other times it feels like yesterday that we were in China meeting our little Spicy Girl for the first time.  As always, we went and had some yummy Chinese (American) food and had a great afternoon out together.

Our 4 Silly Kiddos - almost impossible to get them all to look at the camera at the same time

 Our Sweet Bella
We snuck in one last trip before school started.  We went to Milwaukee for the first time to visit my sister who moved there a couple of years ago.  We had a great time visiting with Alyssa and Will and seeing the city, going to the beach, having fun at the waterpark and eating a lot of wonderful food.  The lake is so beautiful and the weather was perfect!  One of the highlights of the trip was going to Chicago's Chinatown on our way to Milwaukee.  It was a small glimpse of China for our kids.  We did some searching and went to a wonderful restaurant and it was like being back in China with the smells, the language, the people.  We love China because it is a huge part of our family, so this little pit-stop was so fun!

We also were able to meet up with sweet friends that we met on our first trip to China.  It was so neat to see Della and Bella together again, 4 years later.  We loved catching up with them and hope to do it again soon.

The boys giving a thumbs up at the beach

Aunt "Sissy" with her adoring niece and nephews

On the way out of town we stopped at the Jelly Belly factory and took a tour.  We also had to stock up on some beans, which didn't last long in this family.  Here is a pic of our goofy boys "acting" scared of the train ride through the factory.
The first day of school came quickly.  We had a wonderful summer, but the kids were ready to head back to school (I think).  Bella is in the 1st grade.  Keenan is in the 2nd grade.  And Aidan is in the 5th grade (how do I have a 5th grader??). 



Last but not least, we celebrated Aidan's 11th birthday and Keenan's 8th birthday over Labor Day weekend.  We had 2 parties ... one at Sky Zone with friends and another with family at our house.  Figured out a cheap and easy way to feed 9 hungry boys is to go to CiCi's pizza for all you can eat pizza.  :-)
Jack, Aidan, Matthew, Jason and Garrett
Colin, Keenan, Jacob and Matthew

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Celebrating 6 months

6 months ago this weekend Eli was placed in our arms forever.  He was so sick, scared and timid.  It took us several days to get smiles and it wasn't until we were home that he really showed us his true self.  If I could use one word to describe him now, it would be pure "joy".  He is always smiling, laughing, and just being sweet.  The only times he is not happy is when he is hungry.  He loves food and has not turned down anything we have offered him yet!  In 6 months, he has learned to walk (practically running now), he is starting to form words (his current favorite word is "no"), he has learned how to do puzzles, he no longer needs a bottle and he loves to swim!!  He has had so many transitions, but he truly is doing amazing!  He loves his older brothers and sister and I can't imagine our family without him.  Aidan said the other night that he is "the best thing that has ever happened to us".  Adoption rocks!  I am so thankful that God has called our family to adoption.

In the last 6 months we have been a very busy family.  We have traveled to South Carolina and Tennessee to visit with friends.  We have traveled to Cedar Point to attend a soccer tournament and to have a family weekend away.  We have visited with friends, both near and far, spent time with family and experienced lots of new places and things.  Here are just a few pics from the last 6 months.

The Super Hero Boys

Aidan ... love that smile

Bella and Lulu

First trip to the Strawberry Patch (check out the strawberry juice running down his face)

Great day (someone ate more than he kept) 

Time with a friend we met in China ... Josiah and Eli

Great visit with sweet friends we got to know while in China.  The "big" kids hit it off and had a blast swimming together


First time tubing - Aidan

Our college group get-together ... the kids out boating

Keenan loving being on the lake
 Love these two!

Fun with friends catching fireflies 

Celebrating 6 months with some good Chinese food

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring Break - Part 2

Since I had so many pics to share from the first part of spring break, here is part 2.  Our first adoption agency put us in contact with a wonderful family that had just adopted a daughter with the same special needs as our Bella.  A couple of years have gone by and that connection has turned into a beautiful friendship.  The really cool thing is that all of our kids are about the same ages ... they have 4 and we have 4.  They have 2 adopted kiddos and we do too.  Even though Amy and I have gotten to spend more time together, our kids and hubbys have not, but they all hit it off!  We met up for a few days in Pigeon Forge and really had a good time.  When we left the cabin on Sunday we asked the kids if they had fun and Aidan's immediate response was, "Yes!  When can we see them again?"
Our cabin was in a community that offered a lot of free activities ... there was a putt putt, a 3 par golf course, a pool, fishing ponds and hiking trails.  We took advantage of it all other than the pool (still a little too cold).  We all enjoyed the hot tub and the cabin had plenty of space to relax and spend time together.  The older kids were often outside in the surrounding woods exploring and having fun.  On one afternoon, we decided to take a hike.  The hike ended up being straight up a mountain (where we thought we would eventually see a waterfall - we found out later that the waterfall was on a diffferent trail ... oops!).  The kids all did awesome and did not complain.  Actually, I think the grownups did a lot more complaining than the kids did!  Here are some pics from our time in Tennessee...
Claire, Keenan, Aidan and Anna
My sweet friend Amy and I
Family Pic

Claire with one of her treasures
Aidan and Eli, my oldest with my youngest - LOVE!
All of the kiddos
Bella and Ella, aka "Double Trouble"

I said in a previous post that Eli was going to get thrown into soccer this spring and has he ever!  Aidan had a tournament this past weekend and Keenan also had a game.  5 games in all!  The kids who hung with me on the sidelines did amazing!  Michael coaches Keenan's team and assists with Aidan's team, so I always have whoever is not playing with me.  I have learned over the years to have plenty of snacks and toys to keep them occupied because I love watching the games.  Keenan's team won their first game 3-2, with Keenan having 2 of their goals.  Aidan's team made it into the championship game and lost with 5 seconds left to go in double overtime.  Talk about an intense game!  We were so proud of the boys ... they all did an amazing job.  Here are some pics of our first weekend at the fields.
Keenan and Eli
Bella and Eli
Aidan and Michael
The Lakota Futball Club Bearcats

I also headed back to the office this week.  I have been working from home for several weeks, but Monday was my first official day being back in the office.  My mom is watching Eli for us until the summer and this is a huge blessing.  This allows him to be at home longer before going somewhere else for daycare.  He did great, but this momma's heart hurt all day long.  So thankful for the friends who have reached out to me with encouragement over the last few days.  I needed it!  I know we will get into our new routine, but this week has been harder than most.  Just trying to see the blessings in everything that God has provided and orchestrated and to rest in that. 

Spring Break - Part 1

Decided to play a little catch up on here and talk about ALL that has been going on in the past few weeks!  We celbrated Eli's 2nd birthday surrounded by family.  Eli was dedicated shortly after his birthday and we followed the dedication with a birthday party for Eli.  We loved having as many family members as we did and Eli LOVED everything about it. 

Eli enjoying his Mickey Mouse cake and ice cream

One of his presents ... a super hero costume!

We also had a wonderful spring break.  We packed the car (and I think we had everything but the kitchen sink in there!) and headed to South Carolina!  Our sweet friends just moved there in November and they showed us their wonderful southern hospitality and welcomed us all to their lovely home for several days.  We had lots of fun playing outdoors, eating some amazing seafood, celebrating Easter and just hanging out with them.  God has truly blessed us with these amazing friends!!

Hope and Bella

Gabbie, Bella and Hope - such sweet girls

Keenan and Aidan being goofy

Gabbie and Eli
Easter morning - our crew

All of the kiddos

The Deckard family - such sweet friends!

Keenan - Calabash, NC

Hope with her new buddy, Eli

Aidan (he did eventually catch up to his mom to win)

Bella and I - starting off the race

Eli's first trip to the ocean.  Even though it was chilly, he LOVED it!!
 Our little mermaid returning to the ocean
 We have so many great pics and memories that I thought I better divide this post into 2 parts.  We left South Carolina and met up with friends in Pigeon Forge for a few days.  The entire trip was truly wonderful!!  We have never regretted taking time seeing and doing new things ... especially the time we get to spend together as a family!!