Saturday, December 24, 2011

MJ is 6!

So, since I finished the 30 day challenge, I've been a very bad blogger. Actually, I've just been a very busy blogger. In addition to the usual December craziness, MJ turned 6 years old, so there was a birthday party to plan. I also spent my first day substitute teaching at K's first day in a classroom as a teacher since May of 2005. So, now I'm playing catch-up.

MJ is the kind of child who decides on her birthday party theme the day after her last party, and this year, she wanted a princess-themed party. This is pretty funny because she tends to be friends with boys, and we all know boys' opinions of princess parties. They were very good sports, though, and we tried to include activities they would all enjoy, even though there was a princess theme. Here are a few pictures from the big day...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Made It!

Well, I actually managed to post to my blog every day for the month of November. In some ways, it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Ideas for posts came a little more easily than I thought they might, thankfully. I think the most difficult parts for me were (1) coming up with ideas for a week's worth of post for the week we were on vacation and getting those scheduled to post ahead of time, and (2) finding time to blog in these last few days while trying to get caught up with life, back into the regular daily routine, and get everything decorated for Christmas.

So, I'm back to my regular non-scheduled blogging schedule for now, although this 30 day session does show me that I am capable of posting more frequently. Maybe, just maybe I'll be able to do that.

If you've stuck with me through this month of posts, thanks!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Horseback Ride

Like many little girls, MJ is positively fascinated by horses. And she has a grandmother who actually owns a couple of horses. MJ has asked about riding many times before, and this trip to Grandmama's, she finally got her chance. She is in love! She did get to ride one more time after this first round, and would have gladly done more if we had had time.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Just a teaser of pictures from our trip last week, but this means I'm making progress. Photos have actually made it from the camera and onto the computer...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Home Again, Home Again...

I had every intention of posting a nice Sunday Snapshot post with pictures from our trip to Georgia for Thanksgiving, but alas, life has gotten in the way of my blogging plans. Today has been extremely busy--church this morning, cleaning the house (I didn't get as much done as usual before we left, and our cats were especially messy this trip.), starting to decorate for Christmas, and Hanging of the Green service at church tonight. All of that said, my pictures from our trip are still in the camera. Hopefully tomorrow (or at least no later than Tuesday), I will have some fun vacation pictures to post. For now, I just didn't want to mess up my daily blogging record for the month of November.

Tomorrow, back to the regular for the girls. And tomorrow is my volunteer day at both girls' schools, so again it will be a busy, busy day.

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

On the Road Again

Today is our day to travel back home. We would certainly appreciate any prayers for travel mercies that you can offer. It always is funny to us, living on the coast as we do, that we come home from vacation to a view that most people see when they go on vacation. Living in a tourist area year-round is definitely an interesting experience, but that is another post for another day. Back to regularly scheduled posting tomorrow, hopefully with lots of pictures from our trip!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Our Adoption Journal Website

Since I am trying to find subjects to blog about for all 30 days of November, I decided I would use one of those posts to put in a shameless plug for our adoption travel journal hosting service. Back when we were waiting for our referral for MJ, we were looking around at our options to journal about our adoption trip to China. As we were looking around, Hubby says, "You know, I think we could do this ourselves." And, thus, Adoption Voyages was born. It has amazed us how this has almost been a ministry of sorts, as we have worked with different adoptive families over the past years. We have built friendships that we never would have expected, some just online and some that we have met in person. We have hosted websites for families adopting from China, Vietnam, Guatemala, S. Korea, Russia, Ethiopia, and the U.S. Awhile back, we had thought we were going to phase out our business, but it ended up just being a break for awhile. We are now back up and hosting websites on a regular basis.

If you or someone you know is in the process of adopting and is looking for a way to document their journey, please come and check us out. You can find us here. For China families, we ask that you have PA for a special needs adoption, or have a LID on or before September 2, 2006 before signing up. (The NSN LID is for one month past the last LID referred, so if a batch of referrals comes out Thanksgiving week, adjust that date accordingly. I am writing this post ahead of time, so I don't know what will happen before it goes online.) For other programs, we just ask that you are in a comparable stage of the process, meaning that you are at the point where you are okay to post pictures of your child, or you are within a few months of travel.

Come and pay us a visit!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Retrospective, In Pictures

MJ's First Thanksgiving, with her cousins at Grandmama's House

K's First Thanksgiving...This was a tough one because Chet's dad passed away the October before.

The next year, we were at my SIL's house. Hubby fried his first turkey that year...

Same year, but had to include this bit of K cuteness...

M's First Thanksgiving...He sat by himself for the first time on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Week, last year at Grandmama's house. K and I both had a stomach bug on Thanksgiving Day last year, so photos just didn't happen on the actual day.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I know this is going to sound like so many other Thanksgiving posts around, but I am truly thankful for...

My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

My Wonderful Husband

My Three Precious Children

My Parents

My Sister

My In-Laws

Our Church Family

And so many more things, too many to name...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Friends

My husband's hometown, for a place its size, has a huge number of families who have adopted children from China. Today, we are planning to have lunch with some of our "China friends" who live here. The really cool thing is that my husband has known these families for years, and we all knew each other before we adopted from China. One of these families was the one that inspired us to look at China when we first started researching the adoption process. Looking forward to a fun time!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Travel Buddies!

Today, if all goes according to plan, we are going to see some of our China travel buddies. We met A's parents when we were both in the waiting stage of our adoptions. We lived 3 hours apart in Georgia at the time and used to see each other a couple of times a year, at least. When we moved to Florida, they moved to Tennessee, but we still managed to see each other on a semi-regular basis since we live fairly close to the land of the mouse, and they are fond of visiting that mouse. Now, they are back in Georgia and within easy driving distance of Grandmama's house, so hopefully we can see each other even more frequently.

Of course, this post won't have any pictures from today, but here are our Tonggu girls, MJ and A, through the years...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Snapshot: {Field Trip!}

Friday, I had the chance to go with K on her school trip to a local agricultural museum. It was a fun day. She wasn't too fond of the animals running loose, but once we got past that part, she had a great time...

K and her wonderful teacher...

Friendly Turkey...

Watching the chickens, totally oblivious to the rooster who had walked up behind her...

Walking is more fun with a friend...

Getting water from a well...

Big Pig...

And lunch and cookies to finish the trip...

*I plan to link this on Sunday Snapshot if I get a chance on Sunday, but if I don't link it, know I just didn't have a chance to do it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Best Road Trip Invention Ever

Well, if this publishes as it is scheduled, we will be on the road when it posts. I have to say, the portable DVD player is about the best road trip invention for kids ever made. We only take ours out for road trips, so the kids know it is a special treat for them when we are traveling. We have a 2 screen unit that hooks to the back of the seats and a separate hand-held version that MJ uses since she can change out her DVD's on her own. The kids generally watch cartoons and nap while we travel, and we don't really get any "are we there yet" questions until much later in the trip.

So, over the state line and up the highway, to Grandmama's house we go! :-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Let's Talk Turkey

My favorite Thanksgiving turkey school crafts by the girls...

K's Classic Pine Cone Turkey

MJ's Paper Bag Turkey (named "Curly" because SHE has curly legs, according to MJ)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pre-Vacation Craziness

I'm making it in under the wire for getting a blog post written today. Saturday morning we are leaving to visit my Mother-in-law in Georgia for a week. Tomorrow, I am going with K on a school field trip, so the morning I would usually have for packing is not available. Therefore, I intended to get most of our packing done this afternoon.

Then, around lunch time, I noticed M was feeling warm. Sure enough, he had a low-grade fever. With us going out of town, I went on and called the doctor and took him in. He is like me, in that almost any time he gets sick, it goes straight to his sinuses. So, now he is on antibiotics. Thankfully, he hasn't really acted like he has felt that bad, except right before bedtime this evening. I think he will be fine by the time we leave. Thing is, this happens EVERY time we are getting ready to go away. I should pretty much build in a trip to the pediatrician's office in our travel prep schedule. And we've become quite adept at traveling with refrigerated antibiotics.

Somehow, though, I've still managed to get most of the laundry and clothes packing done...things are not in suitcases, but they are stacked and organized. (I may want to move it all off of our bed if we actually want to sleep tonight, though.) Hopefully tomorrow I will have time to do some cleaning before we leave. I can't stand to leave a dirty house when we go on vacation, mostly because I don't want to come home to a dirty house afterwards.

I am going to TRY to do some blog posts tomorrow to schedule to post while we are gone, but I can't guarantee that I'll have time. I've made it 17 days into this, though, so we'll see...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sometimes It's the Little Things...

like having a place to hang the girls' backpacks and dance bags instead of our previous method of stepping over backpacks on the family room floor and hanging dance bags on the doorknob of the girls' bedroom.

Now to see how long it takes for them to get used to the new system...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Like Father, Like Son

It's always fun when you have no idea what you are going to blog about on a given day, and then a photo op you just can't pass up just presents itself. Hubby is skyping in to an associational meeting this morning, and was getting set up when M decided to pull out his big sister's toy computer so he could be just like his daddy. They really are little sponges. :-)

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him."--Psalm 127:3

Monday, November 14, 2011

All VBS, All the Time

I'm tired this evening and really am not up to writing a long post on anything, but I'm not going to mess up my daily posting record so far in November, so I'm going to share a funny from this morning...

We have a carpool arrangement with a friend three mornings a week where she takes K and her 3 year old son to their preschool and I take MJ and my friend's 6 year old son (L) to kindergarten. This morning when it was time to go to kindergarten, my husband was ready to go to work, so we dropped him off at church on our way out. (He usually walks to work.) I must also mention at this point that although our friends attend another church, they come to VBS at our church in the summers. So, as I pulled up to drop Hubby at work, L says to Hubby, "You mean you work at VBS?!? Seriously?!?"

I think I laughed inwardly all the way through car rider line. :-)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Snapshot: {It's That Time of Year}

This may be my shortest ever Sunday Snapshot. It is not what I planned...I planned cute pictures of the kids from our church picnic yesterday, but then I left my camera here at the house. Not really easy to make pictures when you have no camera.

So then I started thinking, "What else do we have going on lately?" and remembered that it is once again time for Operation Christmas Child. Our church participates in this program every year, and this year K's school is also participating. We used the online donation option this year, and should actually be able to find out where our boxes are delivered.

So, in this season as we think about what makes us Thankful, and as we prepare to give gifts to our family and friends, I encourage you to think of those who do not have what we are blessed enough to have. Participate in this program and experience the joy of giving!

Sunday Snapshot

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Heavy Heart...

Please pray for our friends who have just learned that their daughter waiting in China has passed away after a tragic accident. Pray that God will wrap them in His loving, strong arms during this very sad time. We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow...

Friday, November 11, 2011

New and Improved

The bedding in our master bedroom has been in serious need of a makeover for awhile now. For a long time, we used a duvet over a comforter because we could pull the duvet off and throw it in the washer to get rid of the cat hair. Problem was, the comforter was a full/queen size, and on our queen bed, it was always just a bit small. And then combined with the fact I managed to melt one of the pillow shams with the iron, our bedding was kind of in a sad state. I referred to the look as "early bachelor." I don't have any photos of that for obvious reasons, although I'm kind of thinking it would be worth it for the "before and after" effect. And we no longer let the cats in our bedroom, so the ease of washing factor was not nearly as important.

Finally, though, we have a new and improved version, and I am very pleased with the results...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ways to Help

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that there are many ways that you can help the orphans in our world, even if you are not called to adopt. Today, I'm going to conclude this adoption series with links to organizations that can always use our support. These are listed in no particular order, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. It does lean a lot towards China, just because that is the country with which I am most familiar.

Half the Sky Foundation

Love Without Boundaries

An Orphan's Wish

Show Hope

Southern Baptist Convention Adoption Fund for Ministers

Reese's Rainbow

Henan Kids

Caring for China

CCAI Charity Outreach

Florida Baptist Children's Homes
(I included this one because we live in Florida. There are Baptist Children's Homes in a number of states. Just search for your state and "Baptist Children's Home" to find more information.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

So, You're Thinking About Adoption?

Do you feel that you might be interested in adoption? I have two points to my advice for anyone considering it.

1. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray
2. Research, research, research, research, research


There has been a big push in recent years for Christian families to adopt, which I believe is an amazing and wonderful thing. Adoption, however is a calling. If God is not clearly calling you, as a believer, to add to your family by adoption, then you should not do it. Adoption is not for the faint of heart.

I do feel I need to clarify what I mean by “calling.” I do not view adoption as a rescue mission, but as a means to build a family. A “calling” would be for God to make your desires the same as His desires, and you know without a doubt that adoption is the right thing for you and your family.

God does tell us in James 1:27 that we are to care for the widows and the orphans, and some are to do this through adoption. Others are called to help in other ways, whether by meeting financial needs, donating time to work in orphanages, host a child in your home for a time, or in countless other ways.

And then there is research...

Once you have decided that adoption is the right path for you and your family, you need to research. Here are a few of the things you need to consider, and this is by no means an exhaustive list...

Domestic or International Adoption?
If domestic adoption, private adoption or foster to adopt? Is open adoption an option?
If international, what country?
What are the requirements for the program we have chosen?

From there...
What agency?
What are the fees?
What documents/paperwork will we need?
If considering a special needs child, what are the different needs and what can we handle?

And then...
Attachment and bonding
Medical issues
General baby/child care (especially if this is your first child)
Issues related to children who have lived in an institutional setting

One thing we have found to be true, and we have tried to do the same for others, is that if you have friends who have been through the adoption process before you, they are usually very willing to share their knowledge and experiences with you. Don’t be afraid to ask them. So much practical wisdom about the whole process came to us through friends who had “been there, done that.”

And also, the internet is an amazing resource. There are countless online groups made up of adoptive parents who are willing to offer advice and share their experiences.

So, to summarize, if you are considering adoption, PRAY and RESEARCH!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Helping the New Adoptive Family

If you know someone who has recently adopted and wonder how you can help, here are a few ideas/suggestions...

* Provide meals for the family, just as you would for a family with a newborn. Those first few weeks home are a HUGE time of adjustment.

* Offer to help with grocery shopping or other necessities, possibly even stocking their kitchen in time for them to return home.

* Help with things around the house--cutting the grass, cleaning, laundry...whatever they need done.

* Remember to give the baby/child time to bond to his/her new family. For attachment and bonding purposes, it is better for the parents to do most, and sometimes all of the holding of the baby for awhile. If you do hold the baby, hand him/her back to one of the parents, not to someone else.

* Remember that some things just work differently for babies who have been adopted. There may be institutional delays that cause the child to act younger than his/her actual age. You may see an older baby or toddler with a bottle instead of a sippy cup. You may see a baby sleeping in the bed with the parents. You may see a mom sitting in the church nursery with her toddler. These are things that need to happen to help overcome delays and to promote attachment. Just try to be understanding.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just hits the big highlights. Does anyone have any suggestions to add to the list?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Things People Say...

And now for the next installment of my adoption talk series, everyone’s favorite--bizarre questions and comments...

Does she speak English?

Um, she’s almost 6 and has been with us since she was 9 months old... (Thankfully, it’s been awhile since we’ve gotten this one.)

Does she know she is adopted?

It seems like I may have covered this in another post awhile back, but yes, she knows. There is the obvious fact that she has the only Asian face in our family at the moment, of course, but also we speak openly about adoption in our home.

How much did it/she cost?

Thankfully, we haven’t gotten the “she” version of this, but I know people who have. We have, however, had total strangers ask us about our adoption expenses. Unless someone is interested in adoption as a potential adoptive parent, this would fall into the “none of your business” category. I like the example that I’ve never had anyone walk up and ask me about our expenses for the births of our biological children, so why would someone find it reasonable to ask a total stranger something that is so personal?

“They kill baby girls over there, you know!”

Yes, we really got this one about a month after coming home with MJ, standing at the check-out counter in a local restaurant. I was floored, and was just standing there thinking, “I sure am glad my child is only 10 months old and can’t understand what she was talking about.” My husband had the presence of mind to educate a little bit about the reality of the situation.

“They don’t like girls over there.”

Thankfully, we’ve never had this one said in front of MJ, but we have definitely heard it on more than one occasion.

“Oh, you adopted and then you got pregnant! That ALWAYS happens!”

Um, no, it doesn’t. Statistically speaking, the same number of couples with unexplained infertility will eventually get pregnant, whether they adopt or not. This was our situation. Others who adopt may not be dealing with the same situation as we were--they may have adopted first by choice, for example.

“They are sisters?”
“They don’t look anything alike.”
“That one [pointing at K] looks just like you. The other one must look like the daddy.]

This one happened at Wally World the other day. I had my 2 girls in the cart and asked MJ to hand me K’s tights so I could pay for them. The above conversation was her reply. I suppose it could be an honest mistake, but K doesn’t look the slightest bit Asian. (and for the record, she looks more like her daddy than like me)


The way I’ve explained this in my talks is this--Our daughter was left to be found at one day old in December. She was taken to an orphanage and then placed into foster care. Then she was taken from her foster mother and handed to these 2 people who looked, smelled, and sounded different than anyone/anything she was used to. Then she was taken to another country to live. If you look at it from her perspective, I don’t think “lucky” or even “blessed” are words I would use. We do feel very blessed to have MJ in our lives, and do believe that she is blessed to have a forever family that loves her and cares for her. However, she needs to come to this conclusion on her own. She doesn’t need people to keep telling her this.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Snapshot: {Trick or Treat 2011}

This year, we had Trick-or-Treating Royalty at our house. May I have the honor of presenting to you...

Princess MJ

Princess K

Sir M the Knight

(My sister asked if one of us walked behind him with coconuts, a la Monty Python, but we did not...only because we didn't think of it.)

And one final shot of our royal trick-or-treaters...

**I'm attempting to blog daily for the month of November. If you want to provide some moral support, please come by and visit during the week, too. :-)

Sunday Snapshot

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Yes, It's Really a Cooking Post

Those who know me well know that I don't cook a lot. It isn't that I can't do it, but more that it isn't something I really enjoy. My husband, on the other hand, really does enjoy cooking, so he takes care of most of our meals around here.

I do, however, occasionally enjoy baking. That said, I have never baked a pie. This week in our MOPS meeting (the same one where I was the speaker), our craft project was putting together homemade apple pies. I am on the steering team, and we also were making pies for the wonderful ladies who were keeping our little ones in the nursery, so I just brought my pie ingredients home with me. Yesterday, I got around to putting everything together.

This is actually a very easy and very tasty recipe. The most time-consuming part is peeling and chopping the apples. I take absolutely no credit for this recipe and don't actually know where it originated, to be perfectly honest.


2 refrigerated pie crusts
6 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (mine were more chunks)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Find yourself a cute baking assistant to taste-test all of your apples.

We put all of the dry ingredients into a gallon sized storage bag.

Peel and chop your apples. This was a mixture of Granny Smith and (I think) Fuji apples.

Since I was at home, I put my apples into a bowl and mixed in the lemon juice. At MOPS, we were doing this with a second gallon storage bag.

I forgot to make a picture of the next step, but I put the apples into the baggie with the dry ingredients, sealed it, and shook it around until it was all mixed together. I tried to get my baking assistant to help, but he declined. And my other two baking was at kindergarten, and the other was taking a nap.

I put the bottom of the pie crust in the pie pan, then poured the apple mixture into the crust.

Then you should add the second refrigerated pie crust on top. Wrap excess top crust under the bottom crust edge, pressing the edges together to seal. Cut slits or shapes in several places in the top crust. (Please ignore my sad excuse for slits.)

Bake 40-45 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. Cover edge of crust with 2-3 inch wide strips of foil after the first 15-20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. (I couldn't get the foil thing to work just right, but it did well-enough.) Cool at least 2 hours before serving.

It isn't the world's most beautiful pie, but it tasted really good. (Of course, you have to serve it with vanilla ice cream.)