Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas 2012

Wow, this has been an amazing Christmas.  Honestly I was a little concerned how crazy it might be.  Six kids is a lot to take care of and I was worried we would get jealousy or complaints.  But....I am happy to report, all we received were "WOW!!!!", "THIS IS AWESOME", "THIS IS SO COOL". Every single one of our kids were genuinely happy with every gift they received.  And their smiles (and tears......I'll explain later) were priceless to me.  Here is a photo of our family at our Christmas Eve service at church (Thank you Holly R).  This year, we met at the high school football stadium. It was awesome.  I heard over 1500 people attended.  There was even FL snow (aka bubbles).  The kids loved it. And so did I.

On Dec 23rd Bills family came over to celebrate Christmas. We had a lot of fun. We ate a late lunch and then tore into the gifts.  Hope & Maggie picked up quickly and were so thankful for every gift.  Have I said how much fun it's been to watch them???  Maggie LOVES babies. And she could not get enough of baby Finn.  I was a nervous wreck with her holding him.  But she would cradle him and rock him in her lap etc. She was in heaven. I know she misses the babies in Huainan.

Christmas morning, the ONLY day of the year that I wake up before anyone else.  LOL  Of course Tiff, Abby, Jadyn & Ethan were excited and all smiles.  Hope & Maggie were grumpy and wanted to sleep.  It was only 6:20, they are all usually up by then any other day anyway. I don't know why today they would want to sleep.  LOL  It did not take long for them to wake up and get as excited as their siblings.  They found what Santa brought, opened their stockings, and then we passed out gifts and sat in a circle. They took turns opening up 1 at a time.  And they were all very patient and loved watching what the others received.
Throwing Reindeer Food Christmas Eve night

Later Christmas afternoon my family came over.  We had fun.  We ate a late lunch and then opened gifts.  It was fun watching the kids open their gifts.  Again, all of our kids were very thankful and grateful and full of smiles.

We also celebrated 4 December birthdays with my family.  Edie (my new sister-n-law) is Dec 12, Bill is Dec 14, Jadyn is Dec 15 and Daniel (my brother) is Dec 31.

We had a great Christmas.  The kids have been opening up their gifts and playing with everything.  They received a lot of art & craft kids and that has been fun.  H & M also received some school workbooks and LOVE them.

OH, the tears I mentioned earlier.....This was from Tiff. And they were HAPPY tears.  She has been wanting to go to NYC for a few years now.  At Christmas time. She wants to see the tree & ice rink etc.  Well since she will be 18 in April, and graduating in May, we figured this is the year to surprise her.  We kept telling her it's too expensive and there just is not any time.  She was so upset.  Several of her friends were going and she wished she could go.  Well, her last present she opened was her trip to NYC with her daddy.  And we got the reaction that we hoped for.  :-)  They have been there for 2 days and fly home today.  She is having the time of her life.  She had a list of things to do, and I think they are able to cross of all of them.  I'm so happy that she is happy.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


As we are about to celebrate Christmas, I sit and watch Hope & Maggie.  This is their first REAL Christmas.  Yes, they saw Christmas trees, and santa hats and even got a present (I think) in China, but this is their first REAL Christmas.  Where they will learn what Christmas is all about. Where they will spend it with a family.  Where they will experience the laughter and singing that we all do this time of year.  And let me tell you, the girls are EXCITED!  I took the kids shopping to buy each other gifts.  They LOVED picking out something for their siblings (they all loved it).  But Hope realized that she did not buy something for Maggie, and Maggie did not buy something for her (because they were together when we shopped).  So I told them I would pick something up and show them and see if it was okay.  Bill & I went to Epcot the other night, (just the 2 of us) and I found 2 things.  I picked up a Tinker Bell Coloring kit for Maggie, and a Disney back scratcher for Hope.  Why a back scratcher???? Well when we were there a few weeks ago, Hope saw it, knew what it was and kept asking for it. She said "Everyone can use it".  So, I wanted to make sure we picked it up.  One by one I brought them in my room to show them their gift to the other.  And they both said "Yes, good for her, but not for me".  LOL  Hope could not wait to wrap up Maggie's gift and put it under the tree. She also could not wait for Maggie to wrap up Hope's gift so she could see the shape.  LOL  I keep telling them "on 12/25 we will open them all".  They are counting down the days.

The girls made cookies for all of their teachers (they took 10 or 12 I think) and passed them out last week. They were beaming. And the teachers said "for me???" with huge smiles.  The girls loved it.  Then yesterday one teacher gave them homemade chocolate chip banana bread.  Hope & Maggie said "everybody to share from teacher".  Again, the girls were beaming.

I love that they want to share things with all of us now.  It's precious.  And now every day Maggie kisses me on the cheek when she gets out of the car, and Hope blows me kisses (she's too far from me to actually kiss me).  And at night, they both want hugs AND kisses from us.  I love that I don't have to force a hug or kiss on them, I love that they WANT the hug & kiss.

We still have some hard moments with Hope.  It's mainly just attention seeking issues that we have.  I broke down on Sunday because I realized that I hardly spoke to Jadyn all day on Saturday, which was her birthday, because Hope was demanding all of the attention.  Hope will interrupt anyone and not have anything to really say.  She just does not want anyone to have our attention.  We are working on this.  Telling her she needs to wait her turn.  And she does try.  Some days are really good.

When we came home on Sunday there was a package for us with over 3000 photos.  These are photos of the girls from about 2006 until right before we met them this past August.  And they include photos of the kids from the orphanage.  (no, we did not get over 3000 pictures of just the girls LOL).  These photos are priceless to me.  These are the earliest photos that we have of the girls.  I did not even recognize Maggie.  When we were looking through them (we only got through about 600 photos LOL) I realized how much they have had to go through.  I am able to see what their life was like when they were younger.  Some of the photos they look happy. Some they look so alone and sad.  I'm so thankful they are home.  I'm so thankful they tell us that they are happy. I'm so happy they say they love us.  Because I worry that they might not. I worry they might not be happy.  But last night we were having a discussion about another one of their friends from Huainan who is not happy right now, and I asked "are you happy?" And they both said with HUGE smiles "Yes, very happy".  They want to call their friend and tell her "don't be sad, be very happy".

In case you are wanting to comment on the blog, I have turned off the comment box. I have been getting a lot of spam emails from this blog and it's just freaking me out.

Here are 2 photos of the girls.  Our precious Hope & Maggie.

Maggie 12/2007 age 7

Hope 1/2008 age 8

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

4 Months

I just realized I did not do a post on our 4 month Gotcha Day.  The girls do not understand why I want to take pictures of them every month.  I finally just told them that China wants to see that they are happy.  That's all it took and they smiled big.

God is so good!  Look at the changes in just 4 months.

Gotcha Day 8/6/12

1 Month 9/6/12

2 Months 10/6/12

3 Months 11/6/12

4 Months 12/6/12

Merry Christmas

Just a quick update.  The girls are doing great. They are so excited for Christmas.  They have picked out gifts for their siblings and they wrapped them.  They can't wait until 12/25 when they can open their gifts.  The looks on their faces when they see Christmas lights, or when they see what our Elf of the Shelf has gotten into during the night is just priceless.

I will try to update more soon.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Lot To Be Thankful For!

This year our Thanksgiving was a little louder than last year.  :-)  Full of laughter (and talking) and excitement.  Seeing everything through Hope & Maggie's eyes made the day even more meaningful to me.  We celebrate the holidays every year. And sometimes it seems to be a routine.  But when you have a new child come into the family, especially when you have adopted two OLDER children who have NEVER experienced these holidays, well it makes everything seem different.  More exciting.  Because it's not about the's about being with family, and enjoying each other's company.

Hope & Maggie LOVED Thanksgiving.  They ate until their tummies hurt.  Maggie ate so much food. The most I've seen her eat since China.  A grown man could have eaten about as much as she did.  Hope had seconds too. But did not pile as much food on her plate as Maggie did.  :-)  They ate EVERYTHING.  And liked it.  They did not complain.  They smiled all day.

I love their innocence.  It's precious.  I keep reminding myself that even though they are 12 & 13 years old, they have never had Thanksgiving. They have never had Christmas.  So they are two innocent little girls experiencing it all.

Their expressions over the Christmas decorations is awesome!  The little things excite them.  Seeing the lights, and all of the ornaments excite them.  And when I hand them THEIR OWN ornament, the smile on their face is priceless.  (I bought two Hello Kitty ornaments the other day just for them).  They now tell me they have 3 ornaments.  The Hello Kitty one, the one they made, and the one they chose from Downtown Disney.  And they point to them several times a day.

I am so thankful for my family.  Thankful for the kids God has chosen me to parent.  Thankful for the smiles & giggles.  Thankful to hear "thank you mama" from our kids. I'm excited to experience Christmas with all 6 of my children this year.  Watching Abby & Jadyn teach Hope & Maggie what it's all about is precious.  I love seeing our younger kids teach our older kids.  I love seeing them together.

I hope you had an amazing Thanksgiving with your family.  I know we did.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lots Going On

Wow, the past few weeks have been non-stop. And I don't see life slowing down any time soon.

Hope & Maggie are doing great.  Hope has a new obsession/hobby.  It's jigsaw puzzles.  She spent 8 hours doing 5 different puzzles the other day. She came down long enough to eat, and then asked to go back upstairs. We tried to get her to go outside with her siblings but she wanted to do the puzzles.  So....looks like she will be getting more puzzles for Christmas because she has done just about every puzzle that we own. And she lines them up in her room for NOBODY to touch.

Maggie is bonding well with the girls.  She is trying so hard to be just like them. She loves to do arts & crafts and she loves to hang out with the girls.

They got their first report card a week or two ago.  They got all A's and B's.

Their English is coming along great.  They understand a lot of what we are saying to them.  And they are able to tell us a lot of what they are thinking too. I'm so glad communication is getting easier.  Hope still "cries" to get her way. It's not a real cry. It's fake. Because if we give her a look, she immediately starts to laugh and moves on.  Maggie has started to stomp her feet if she does not get something she wants. All we have to say is "Maggie cut it out" and she stops and says "Sorry" and then acts good again.  It's amazing how quickly they have learned how to do this.  And Bill & I have decided that they have been home for almost 4 months, we need to stop giving in to everything, especially their tantrums.

Maggie still has issues with taking things that are not hers.  She does not understand that Abby & Jadyn have a lot of toys that have been here for years. Some things are their personal things (like notebooks and books etc).  Maggie thinks if she sees it, it's hers. She will take it and hide it and sometimes even write her name on it.  It has caused some issues between the girls. We are trying to help Maggie to understand.

They both went to the eye doctor last week and they both need glasses. Hope more than Maggie.  Of course, they had to order their lenses so we are waiting for them to come in.  The girls are excited.  I will take pictures once they have them to wear.

Our family grew again.  We adopted a dog. Everyone is so happy.  We named her Nala.  She HAD to have a Disney character name.  Nala is from The Lion King.  She is a good dog. She's 3 years old and house broken.  YAY!  The only negative thing is she sheds. Dog hair is everywhere!  :-(

Last week we took all of the kids to the Friends & Family night for the marching band that Tiffani is in.  I wanted them to see the show.  Maggie loved it. She said she wants to do this when she's older.

We put our tree up this week.  Hope & Maggie were confused by what we were doing.  They said "No Christmas in Huainan".  They had fun putting up the ornaments.  They were sad that they did not have any personal ones yet. I told them that we will get them some.  They did make one the other day and proudly hung it on the tree.

Yesterday we took the kids to Downtown Disney.  Oh my.....Hope & Maggie were so excited.  This is their first "taste" of Disney World.  I can only imagine the excitement they will experience when we walk through The Magic Kingdom gates for the first time.  Each of our kids picked out a new ornament for this year.  Then we told them they could each pick 1 thing to buy.  They each chose a Lego kit.  We also went to The Rain Forest Cafe for lunch.  They had a blast, but said it was "too loud".  We also let them get Cotton Candy (we all shared a bag).

5:00 finally came and we went in line to meet Santa. Hope & Maggie were excited. They kept practicing "Hi Santa, Nice to meet you".  :-)  Santa was great!  We waited about 20 minutes to meet him and they let Abby & Jadyn go first.  Then they let Hope & Maggie go.  Then they let all 4 girls go back to see Santa.  You can tell in the photos how happy they all were.  Hope's smile in one of the photos is precious to me.  Very genuine.

We had a great day yesterday. We are itching to go to the Disney parks.  Who knows, maybe (hopefully) soon.

The girls are excited about Thanksgiving. They tell everyone "Happy Thanksgiving".  I can't wait until they see how much they are allowed to eat.   :-)

We have SO much to be Thankful for this year.........
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Well I've tried several times to add photos to this post and blogger says I'm out of photo space.  :-(  I'll try again later.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

THREE Months

Yesterday, 11/6/12, marked THREE months since we met Hope & Maggie.  Crazy! Time is flying by now that we are "getting in a groove" and feeling a little "normal".

The girls are doing great!  Still have some issues with things. But...they are starting to be "normal" issues and not issues of being adopted.  They seem to have adapted to school, and LOVE it.  They are making friends. They saw a few in our neighborhood when we were out for Halloween. And the girls (friends) would say "Hi Maggie, Hi Hope. See you tomorrow at school".  Made me so happy to hear this.  And made H & M happy too.

Their English is coming along nicely. We are starting to have actual conversations with them in English. And last night they were on Skype with a friend from Huainan who has been home for about a week. We would hear them say some things to her in English. They did not realize they were doing this.  LOL

Hope's new thing to say to us is "Daddy/Mommy Come on.....LOOK AT ME!"  This is if we do not give her our full, 100% attention as soon as she wants it.

Hope is teaching herself how to read.  She will type in words to her iPod into the translate program and then listen to what it is.  Maggie is starting to do this now too.  The other day Hope came home with this paper. She wrote all the words down (thinking she copied them from someone) and she can read about 95 % of them and know what she's saying.
Hope's vocab

I am just simply amazed with how fast they are learning.  God is so good!  Without Him, our family & our friends I don't know how we would have all come so far.  So thankful for the love & support from everyone.
Gotcha Day 8/6/12
1 Month 9/6/12
2 Months 10/6/12
3 Months 11/6/12
Yes, had to take a pic with the sign. Their first election. Bummed with the outcome though.  


I know, I know.....Halloween was a week ago. Where have I been????  Busy with 6 kids, that's where. LOL  And honestly I just have not had the motivation/energy to get on the blog.

Now that I have some time, I will do an update on Halloween.  (and then I'll do one on being with the girls for 3 months).

The girls were so excited to learn the phrase "Happy Halloween".  We have been blessed with people who are teaching them a lot at school.  I know some think we should be the teachers. But honestly Hope & Maggie are learning so much more being at school than being at home.  And, since the people who they come in contact with are amazing, I feel good about sending them to school.

The girls dressed up in costumes that we had. They did not care that we did not buy them new ones. Because these were new to them.  They did not question us to why they were dressing up. They just did it.  Then we explained that they say "Happy Halloween", "Trick-or-Treat" and then "Thank You". They were excited. The smiles on their faces were priceless.  We walked our neighborhood for 2 hours.   Besides the phrases above, they also kept saying "WOW!!!!!" when they would look in their bags.

Not once did they ask to eat the candy while we were out.  They were just excited that people were giving them candy.  It did not take them long to figure out how this worked.  :-)

Taking 5 kids trick-or-treating was not as difficult as I thought. They all stayed with me and Abby & Jadyn would help Hope & Maggie if there was a bowl sitting out with candy.  1/2 way through the night, they would ask the homeowner "1 or 2?"  I was so happy that they did not think to just take a lot.

Halloween is not my favorite time of year. But we did have fun. I'm thankful the night is over and excited about Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Enjoy the photos!