Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Campers

(Gotta love Mei Lin's post-pigtail hair)

has been talking about camping out all winter long. She had been patiently telling us we said she could go camping when it was warm enough at night. So, daddy took the girls camping in the backyard over the holiday weekend. We had dinner at some friends' house and found ourselves locked out of our house, so they got started a little late at night, but they all had a great time. They read books and talked before falling asleep with Levi just outside the tent for protection.
Next is fishing. Miyah talks about fishing all the time, too. Sounds like some good daddy/daughter time. I don't have the patience for fishing.

Pretending to be asleep

The next day the girls and their neighbor friends had a picnic in the play tent.

Miyah loves catching bugs. Today it was a slug and a pill bug. She liked watching the slime trail left by the slug and named him "Sluggy." Very original.

I think my girls are happiest when they're outside. The neighborhood kids practically live in our yard and they LOVE to run, jump on the trampoline, swing, dig in the sand, and play, and play, and play. Ahh...spring is wonderful!
Tomorrow we're hoping to get the little pool out and fill it up. The pool in our subdivision opened over the weekend and they had a great time. I was concerned they'd have forgotten how to swim since it's been so long since lessons, but Pat said they did great.

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Honor of Maria and Her Precious Family

Maria Sue Chapman (2003 - 2008)

I debated whether to post this here for fear of trivializing the Chapman's tremendous tragedy, but I also wanted to honor them and their sweet Maria and be reminded to continue to pray for them. I know thousands of prayers went up for them this past week all around the world and condolences have been many, but they're going to need even more prayer in the coming weeks and months.

If you're not in the adoption community it might be hard to imagine this, but every one of these little angels are so close to my heart. They're like my own in some way. I love them to pieces and I'm proud of them almost as my own. So, this tragic loss hit especially close. My heart has been so heavy and I honestly don't remember when I've cried more.

The Chapmans have been so faithful to God's call in so many ways; Steven, of course, with his beautifully inspired music, and in the last six or so years, in the call to be the voice for orphans around the world. They've challenged Christians to embrace the call to care for orphans and established Shaohannah's Hope which has gone far beyond finanacially supporting more than a thousand families with adoption expenses. I'm sure heaven has offered Maria a new vantage point as she and God have peered down to earth to see all the children and families blessed by her and her family. And I know she sees the world's orphans and continues to advocate for them.

We're most definitely one of those families God pointed out to Maria. God has used the Chapmans to speak to us in both of our adoptions, and Maria's story in particular. While we were still unsure about pursuing our first adoption, it was Steven and Mary Beth who spoke clearly to our hearts at an adoption conference and put our fears to rest.

God used them again in our second adoption as we were considering a child with a congenital heart defect. Just moments after Pat and I were discussing whether we would request her file, we turned on the radio to hear Steven sharing Maria's story during National Adoption Month. He explained that Maria had a heart defect in China but was perfectly healthy when they brought her home and we felt God speaking clearly to us through their story of Maria and went ahead with adopting our sweet Mei Lin. I'm not certain we would have our Mei Lin if we hadn't heard Maria's story.

Thank you, Steven and Mary Beth, for letting your lives shine and touch so many.

"Cinderella" is dancing with her heavenly father now.

Those must be the most amazing dance lessons!

Maria's memorial celebration was terribly sad, but beautiful and full of hope. It brings me hope to see that the family is strong and full of faith, but they continue to need our prayers. I can't imagine how one would get through such a tragedy without faith in a God who heals broken hearts, restores, brings hope and peace, and ultimately has a plan beyond that which we can see or understand.

And if I've learned one thing from all this, it's to treasure those I love and consider every day with them the most precious of gifts.

Here's a song Steven wrote about his daughters. At the end he explains what inspired this song.

Hug your children tight and as Steven said because Maria loved butter, "let them eat the whole stick," :).

If you'd like to send your condolences and read more, you may go to:


My very best friend, Michelle, and her daughters came from Illinois to stay for the week and we all had a wonderful time catching up and hanging out. We didn't really do a lot but take walks, watch movies, and play with the girls, but we enjoyed the company. We both had just finished several weeks of busyness and appreciated the break.

Megan, Jenna, and Jami were contented to hang around the house and play games, take pictures, watch movies, etc. It was just so good to be together for more than a weekend.

Jami celebrated a belated 13th birthday with us!

Even though we saw them one night while we were in Orlando this year, they had never met Mei Lin because she was sleeping. Mei Lin and Miyah LOVED Michelle, and I'm pretty sure the feeling was mutual. Michelle played with the girls and read them books every day. Mei Lin would even ask Michelle to "lay with her" at bed time and would tell me I could "go now". It was very sweet.

40-Hour Project Complete!

Every Spring semester, the students at Matt's school are required to present a 40-hour project representing something from the era studied in humanities that year. This year they studied antiquity and Matt and two friends built a trebuchet, which I guess is one of those things you see them fighting with in Lord of the Rings and Prince Caspian.
The thing was pretty huge.
To give you perspective, the orange ladder is 9 feet tall.
I'm glad I didn't know the project involved so much dangerous work....
Welding?? I didn't know they knew how to do all this. Joseph's the boy scout.
The guys worked well over 40 hours...probably twice that. They were at the school with generators running until 11:30 the night before it was due, having no idea if it would even work. They launched a cinder block or something the next day and it worked!

I'm impressed.

No More Diapers!

Alright, this is probably one of those posts better kept to myself, so if you don't like potty talk you can just skip right over this one. But I wanted to document this milestone. For about three weeks now Mei Lin has been totally potty trained and I have no more babies in diapers....YEAH! She had a bit of diaper rash a few weeks ago so I let her go without a diaper and she went ALL day without using the restroom. The girl has amazing bladder control. In less than a day, with candy rewards, she was using the potty and staying dry at night.(Some day she's going to hate me for this)

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Spring is sort of bittersweet for me. The flowers and fruits growing in the yard are beautiful, but the allergies are K I L L I N G me this year! I wish I could fully enjoy the season without the extremely unbearable sneezing, itching, irritable allergies.

The two climbing roses we planted five years ago have completely taken over the pergola in the backyard. They're gorgeous!
I never imagined they'd grow this much when we first planted them.
Pat had to leave behind his grapevine in IL, so we gave him one for Father's Day a couple of years ago. I think we're actually going to get a good crop of grapes this year!
These are the strawberries a few weeks ago. Now they're full of ripe strawberries, which the girls love to pick...if they get there before the bunnies, snails, and birds.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Park Days and Birthdays!

At the park with the neighborhood girls...

Happy 4th Birthday, Miss Isabella!

Isabella with her silly daddy
Elizabeth loved Mei Lin and vice versa. Apparently Elizabeth had recently been adopted from the Ukraine and didn't speak much English. She helped care for Mei Lin during the whole party. Her smile is so joyful and beautiful.

Mei Lin's happy about the pinata candy.

Miyah pinning the tail on the pony.
Mei Lin didn't really catch on to the musical squares game.
At the park with Miss Grace. Miyah's a little monkey!
Grace, relaxing on the slide.
Another dandelion blowing the lips!
The three girls pretty much just like to look for bugs in the dirt.

UGTBK = You've Got to Be Kidding

I'll never understand the need or desire for text messaging, but apparently for teenagers it's right up there with oxygen and food.
Apparently my two children (according to them) were the only humans on earth without it.
Can you imagine?
We heard all the reasons they needed messaging, not excluding the story of a kidnapped girl being rescued from her captor because of text messaging. Well, what kind of parents are we anyway to deprive our children of such an essential, lifesaving tool?

Pat made a deal with the kids that if they mowed the lawn for x number of weeks, he'd give them text messaging. Megan upheld her end of the bargain and unfortunately Matt declined because he's had a bad knee from football. Megan got her first text message from her dad announcing the exciting new feature to her phone. And the texting has begun!

Still don't understand it.

Probably never will. Isn't it just easier to dial and TALK! Same with instant messaging.
The issue definitely underscores the ever-widening generation gap. I'm just getting old.
I don't understand all the abbreviations either:
(stumped?...answers below)

(Megan earning her text messaging)

(Answers: CWYL=Chat with ya later; PROLLY=probably; ^5=high five; and my favorite SWMBO=She who must be obeyed...meaning the wife)

Please tell me I'm not the only one scratching her head on this one!

Well, SIG2R (Sorry, I got to run). TC (take care).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!

Happy Mother's Day to our MOMS!
Pat and I have been blessed to have these two incredible women in our lives. They've both worked, prayed, and sacrificed so much for us. We are eternally grateful to them for their love and devotion to our family.
We love you, Moms!
My mother...

Pat's mother...

And me with all my blessings (most of whom weren't happy about having their picture taken)...


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Outdoor Movie Night

Tonight we had our first outdoor movie night of the season, featuring Alvin and the Chipmunks. Neighbors and friends came over to watch, but I suspect they were also enticed by the pie and various goodies. We kicked off our small group Bible study the night before with a cookout and had tons of pie left over. Goodness knows who would eat it if we didn't have guests over SOON! And when the cleaning ladies have been here and we've cleaned the backyard we might as well take advantage of prime hosting time.

Mei Lin and Miyah were SO excited to have a "movie party" that they sat in front of the blank screen earlier in the evening. If you look at the photos above and below, Mei Lin (white shirt) is mostly distracting people instead of watching the movie.

Sweet Faces on the Fridge

Would you look at my refrigerator? It's gotten full over the last few months.

All these beautiful little faces will soon belong to anxiously waiting, and very blessed parents who happen to be friends of ours. All of these gorgeous children have special needs and are coming home in the next few months or so. It makes my heart so happy to think that every one of these precious children will have wonderful homes.

I'm especially excited that my sister and brother-in-law will be traveling within the next month or so to get my little nephew, Brock. Brock (Ji Hao) will be 8 this summer. They have adorable updated photos of him. He's such a handsome little guy.

Click HERE to go to their blog (but come back, because there's more).

Our good friends, Angela and Richard, will be traveling in less than two weeks to get their beautiful little girl from Mei Lin's orphanage. We were astounded to hear that little Claire is from Kunming, is just 18 days younger than Mei Lin, and she'll be living just around the corner from us! Now if that doesn't make the world feel small! We figure Mei Lin and Claire most likely spent time together in the same baby room for a few months before going to foster care. We're so excited for them.

Cyber friends, John and Sharon are leaving in a few days to get beautiful Bailey. This coming week, you can follow their trip over HERE. I can't wait to see them with little Bailey!

Good friends, Tony and Jo are going to get a little sister for Grace. Anna has an adorable little round face and they're hoping to have her home in the next month or two.

Also, my new and amazing friends, Scott and Heather, are waiting to bring their little guy home from China. Zion is almost two years old and SO very adorable. AND, she just got video of him so you definitely need to stop over and see sweet Zion. He only has one toe on each foot, so they assumed he couldn't walk...well, the video shocked and amazed them. He's tenacious, that's for sure. Scott and Heather are fundraising for the final $11,000 to bring Zion home, so please help them if you're able. Click HERE to see Zion.

Lastly, Mei Lin's foster sister, Grace, is going to be a big sister soon. Mike and Jen are waiting to bring sweet Sophie home. She's so gorgeous! You have to go over and take a look at all the photos they've received from an American gentleman who is visiting the orphanage and helping with an organization that has provided funding for Sophie's cleft surgery. They even have footage of her in a news broadcast before getting her surgery. Click HERE to see Sophie.
God is good. Please pray with me for each family and the child they're waiting for.
(Keep scrolling down....I'm catching up on blog posting.)

Nana and Bumpa

Last week Pat's parents came down for a visit.
Unfortunately, it was an extremely busy week at our house (but when aren't we busy?) and it seemed we were in and out of the house the entire time they were here.
Matt had two doctor appointments (eye doctor and knee injury), his Jr/Sr Banquet (below) which we had to find a suit for him and dress for me, and Matt was either at school, work or, working on his 40 hour project; and Megan had ballet and school, the girls had field day (rained-no pictures); Pat and I had a meeting for church, I just finished my final, Mei Lin needed to go to the emergency room at 10 PM...and on and on.
Mei Lin is okay. She woke up with her ear bleeding, but the doctor said she'd only lacerated her ear canal by scratching it way in there. Oh, and Matt locked his keys in his car with his homework inside and we had to find the spare key Miyah and Mei Lin had been playing with....NEVER a dull moment at our house.
Even though we wished we could have all stayed at home and just visited with "Nana and Bumpa," it was so helpful to have them here during our very busy week. Nancy tirelessly entertained Miyah and Mei Lin, did the laundry, hemmed Matt's pants, and helped around the house The kids loved having them here.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom/Nana!