Saturday, September 21, 2013


A couple of weeks ago I got the idea from a friend to start menu planning - not just supper but breakfast lunch and supper.  Can I just say that this new little area of planning in my life has made a huge difference.  Not just for me but for everybody.  Tonight right after I posted the menu for the week up on the fridge the kids were all flocked to it - Nathan reading out what we were having to eat this week.  It was kind of fun to watch!!

this photo is from a couple of week ago
So what do I do - how do I do it?  When I first started doing this a couple of weeks ago I just made up things to eat and then made a list and my sweet hubs went to the grocery store.  Yes I have the best husband ever because he usually does the grocery shopping - yep he's a keeper.  Anyway I digress.  Well the next week I decided I would check what was in the freezer and what we had on hand and then I made up my menu.  DP had also suggested I check Southern Savers to see what was on sale and what coupons were out now to help plan out the menu.  Now I think I have it down to a science at least for me.  DP checks Southern Savers and gives me a list of whats on sale (yes I know I am spoiled - he is a keeper) then I take that list plus what we already have on hand and make a menu - type it out, print it up and stick it to the fridge.  I do this on Saturday afternoon or evening and we are ready for the week.  I usually don't plan out meals on Saturdays b/c its our laid back day and Sunday morning I try to do something quick and easy since we are kind of busy in the morning.  Having all this planned out has been so helpful!!  This is whats on the menu this week: (no judging) :-)

cereal bars / leftover chicken biscuits / cereal/ monkey bread / eggs n biscuits / baked french toast
leftovers / hot ham n cheese crescents carrots / sandwiches chips yogurt / hot dogs french fries apples / sandwiches chips grapes / chicken nuggets oranges 
leftovers / BBQ chicken veggies / leftovers / pizza / taco salad corn / leftovers or pizza

In all seriousness I don't always eat what the kids are eating at lunch and breakfast after all they are still young lads who can still enjoy hot dogs and pb&j's without worrying!!  I am reading this book right now Trim Healthy Mama.  Once I finish it up maybe I will give it a review.  So far I am enjoying learning about how our bodies process food and how to plan accordingly so I can be a "trim healthy mama" who cooks and plans well for her family.  Happy planning!!

Birthday Overload coming our way!

We have 4 birthdays coming up over the course of just the next two and a half weeks!!  Yikes!! 
Tonight a "Jake" cake was underway to celebrate some cute littles of mine.  Do they have to grow up??

Thursday, September 19, 2013

this kiss

In the world of child-rearing reaching milestones is HUGE.  In the world of adoption reaching milestones is even BIGGER.  

Just recently our sweet little princess started coming up to us and giving us kisses all on her own.  This is such a priceless gift.  To think that just a little over a year ago she didn't even know how to show affection is beyond me.  

Here is a sweet picture capturing such a sweet moment with mommy. Oh how I love her so!! 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

AWANA time

Look what started back tonight. I have some new AWANA clubbers. Praying Gods word penetrates their hearts.

Monday, September 2, 2013

5 things I learned taking 5 children on vacation.....

We had such a good time and I have lots of pictures but I am working on a photo editor so it will be easier to load - so check back I will try and get them up.  However in the meantime I had to write down the five things I learned about taking 5 kids on vacation.  These are not in any particular order as they are all equally important learned lessons.

1. Pack light - which I did - I fit all three of us girls in this one duffle bag - including shoes...

I thought I was doing good.  Even the boys only had a small sports bag for their things.  Well all you really need is bathing suits, underwear a play outfit and a nice outfit - they wore the same thing every day.  And again I didn't pack that much!!!

2.  My mini van can hold way more than I ever gave it credit for - I don't know how we managed to have more than we came with because all we really brought home were the extra groceries and seashells but our van was on overload - and she can take it!!   

3.  NEVER and I mean NEVER go family grocery shopping.... David usually always runs to the grocery store while I unpack and get us settled, we have already planned a menu and he likes to go in and get out.  He thought it might be fun if I went along too this time since I never usually go.  IT WAS NOT FUN.  We both learned a valuable lesson that day - if at all possible do not take 7 people to the grocery store together.  We lost a whole day of vacation...or at least it felt like that :-)

4.  We can count to 5 million - I am sure we did it- always in groups of five.  You know 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 yep they are all here. 

5.  Reading material is no longer necessary on vacation - there is NO time for it.  I once was able to read two or three books on vacation - for now that is a thing of the past I barely got a few chapters read.  

All that aside - I would not trade our time or memories for anything.  Even now that we are home I will just think of something funny and bust out laughing - that is what vacation is really all about - enjoying every moment - even the crazy ones!!  

So blessed - full heart!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

can a picture paint 1000 words?


I think sometimes a picture can actually paint more than 1000 words and then sometimes I think you just can't have a picture for everything.  

We have been so  blessed this week to be on vacation!!  No school, no doctors appointments, no tests, the sound of the roaring ocean and daddy 24/7!!  Woo Hoo.  Can I say it - yes it has been nice not having to go anywhere!!  The kids have been having so much fun playing in the sand, boogie boarding,  playing UNO a billion times, having daddy around to let them eat lots of snacks :-)  It has really been so great.  The water has not been at its peak because of the rainy summer - in other words its pretty "seaweedy" as the kids say.  We had been planning all along to visit this State Park area that we went to last year and do some snorkeling.  The water was pristine - like the Caribbean last year.  The kids have been so excited to go and snorkel - Ethan especially as he just learned the art of snorkeling in our neighbors pool.  We were all really looking forward to this little adventure as the water where we are at is not good snorkeling water.  So off we headed this morning to find not so good snorkeling water.  The local girl told us that the rain had caused the rivers that run into the baby to flood and so the excess water as dumping into the bay along with the pine needles etc, and it was staining the water terribly and all they have had here since July was rain.  Can you say there was some disappointment in our crew.  Um yes!!!  However I reminded the kids that God always has a reason for everything including the fact that we were not getting into that water.  We hung around the water for a bit and I am so glad we did because we got quite the show - a dolphin show that is.  Ethan spotted the dolphins.  We nicknamed him the dolphin watcher. We saw dolphins and we saw some more dolphins - we even saw a mama and a baby dolphin.  The baby dolphin was quite the performer jumping in and out of the water for us to see.  Oh the big kids were hollering get the camera mama, get the camera - and you know what - I didn't!!! I sat right next to my sweet baby boy who really isn't a baby so much anymore and took in those special moments with him.  It really is almost impossible for me to describe the delight, excitement and wonder this little dolphin show brought to my little guy - but I am more than glad that I chose to forgo the camera and watch the excitement unfold through his eyes. It was a precious few moments for this mama.  And while pictures from a camera certainly would have been amazing - (I mean seriously how often do you see dolphins completely jumping out of the water in their natural habitat) - there can be nothing more amazing then experiencing it with my face glued to Ethans - it was priceless - a memory I will always cherish.  

After we were done dolphin watching we decided to take a ride down to some of the other beaches in the area to see if we could find some clear water where some snorkeling and fish seeing might take place.  We found the perfect spot and headed down to the beach.  We were all able to get into the ocean water.  Abbie for the first time.  She enjoyed parts of it but I think prefers playing in the sand.  Linnea loves the water so she was happy as long as mommy or daddy were around with her.  Nathan and Luke had no trouble snorkeling away catching hermit crabs, trying to catch a fish or two.  And yes our sweet Ebear got to snorkel in the ocean for the first time - and again there are no pictures except the ones daddy and I have in our mind - but it was oh so special.  He was so proud of himself!  In a way he grew up a little bit today - he was finally out there with his big brothers - not left out - not the baby brother - at least not in that moment anyway.  I am so thankful we got to experience this with him.  The 2 minutes I actually got to stick my head in the water and snorkel with him might be my favorite part of our whole vacation.  It was a sweet time.   

Once we were tired of the water and snorkeling we headed back to the car and got cleaned up.  Before we left we stopped at the local market and got some "old fashioned" bottled drinks.  We visited a few shops and then made our way back to our home away from home - where we later "crab hunted" :-)

What started out to seem was going to be a disappointing day turned out to be a fabulous day.  And while I did not have the camera out snapping away - we did a few pictures - but they really don't do the day justice.  

he had quite the day :-)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

the homeschool blog

Are these not the sweetest things you have ever seen....

Well you can read about our adventures in homeschool right here.
I am hoping to be diligent with it once we start - as it would make a great year book at the end of the year.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

homeschool homeschool jiggity jig...

I am so super excited to be homeschooling this year and so very thankful that I know mama's who have trod this path and been willing to share their successes and failures.  And oh my land - what did we do before technology??!! There are tons of websites and blogs and resources out there on the world wide web. I have homeschooled before but when I did - I did it through the online public charter school here in GA no planning on my part neccessary.  This year I wanted to do my own thing and so I am.  I am not using one particular curriculum but an assortment of a few I really liked.  I guess you could say its kind of eclectic :-)  Here's what we are using

Bible ~ Gods Promises 
Ten Commandments and Books of the Bible Songs
A Psalm a month/A Hymn a month
(I may change these out quicker depending on how quickly they catch on)

Reading/Spelling ~ Luke: All About Reading/All About Spelling

Math ~ Nathan: Teaching Textbooks

Writing ~ Luke:  Writing with Ease
Luke/Abbie : A Reason For Handwriting 

Science/Read Aloud ~  Luke/Abbie :Apologia : Exploring Creation With Astronomy

Social Studies ~ I made up my own on this one thanks to a dear friend : we are going to learn our 50 states and all the US presidents.  I have maps to color, place mats to look at, a puzzle and some $1 books from Target!

I will continue our reading a chapter book at lunch tradition - the kids really love this.  We just finished up Charlotte's Web - not sure what we will start on Monday.

Ethan and Linnea will be going to preschool at a local church but we will do Bible in the morning before its time for school and I am hoping to throw calendar and social studies in as well as I think they would enjoy the songs and puzzles.  They are only half day just 3 and 4 days a week so we will all be home on Fridays and I have adopted from my sweet friend that I mentioned above Fun Fridays and Free Fridays for us all to be a part of.  Nathan is also taking part in Konos - so he will be gone one day a week as well.  Many have asked what I am going to do with Abbie.  Sweet Abbie is working so hard to learn the English language - so we will continue working on that as well as colors, numbers, shapes, the alphabet, and fine motor skill activities.  This girl is learning all day long every day simply because she is in a new environment with a new language, new sights, smells and sounds.  This girl is learning and the best place she can be right now is home with her family. 

Right now we are planning on doing school in the kitchen area but we are working on making one of the rooms upstairs in our house a homeschool room.  Its a work in progress.  So for now all of our homeschool stuff was all over the dining room floor in neat piles....

Then I remembered and thought to myself I should go get the bookshelf that we are going to use in the home school room and just put the books that are on it on another book shelf and bring that shelf into the dining room and then I won't have our school books all over the floor anymore and voila...

Doesn't that look so much neater!!  Earlier in the week I put together each child a morning notebook - it this notebook are : Psalm for the month, Hymn for the month, Song sheets for: books of the bible song, ten commandments song, states song, Presidents song, Continents song, and Directions song,  List of states and presidents, map, and calendar.  They each have their own color notebook and a colored journal to match as well as colored reading sticks that I made thanks to pinterest

I am so thankful that my sweet husband trusts me to teach our children at home - and I am thankful that God put this on my heart even when I was adamant just a few short months ago that there was no way that I could possibly do this.  HE clearly knows whats best for me ;-)  We are not full fledge starting school until after Labor day but next week we are going to start getting into routine - we always do Bible time in the morning at breakfast so I am just going to add our morning notebook time and Math.  Then we will really get going on September 3 complete with first day pictures! 

A fellow homeschool mama I know came up with her own blog for homeschooling and used it as a yearbook to print out at the end of the year.  I LOVE this idea - so I am looking for a catchy blog name for homeschooling - have any ideas??  I have no idea how I would keep it up as terrible as I am with this blog but I can certainly try right?  So if you think of any clever blog names for homeschooling leave me a comment.  In the meanwhile I will be thinking too!!

Its way past my bedtime... must go get some sleep!! Nite :-)

Friday, August 16, 2013

new friends....

You know how you meet someone once but don't really have the chance to get to know them - but you are aware of who they are and maybe even keep up with them via a blog or facebook - but then circumstances and in my opinion the sovereignty of God brings you together again - and you feel like you have known this person forever?  Well that is how I feel about my new sweet friend Sharon Ankerich.  She is a sister in Christ, fellow adoptive mama of precious Chinese babies and a homeschooler as well and a great encourager!!!  God has been so gracious to put her in my life at just the right time and I am so grateful He did.  We met last summer at an adoption get together at our friend Andrea's pool,  and haven't really "talked" since then but God in HIS infinite wisdom and sovereignty brought us together last month and I tell you I think I have talked/emailed/texted with this sweet friend so frequently that when several days go by and we haven't heard from one another we feel as if its been forever!  While we live in the same great state of GA we live a bit far from one another so I recently suggested we try to hook up somewhere in the middle and get our families together - and so we did at  a Gwinnett Braves game.  We got really cheap seats as in $3!! It was such a fun night.  We knew that by the end of the night the kids would have all warmed up to one another and then it would be time to go - yep we were right.  We enjoyed pretzels, cotton candy, getting game balls, and most importantly one anothers company.  Ankerich family we can't wait to do it again.  Here are some fun pics from a great night!!

they could be sisters... they look so alike

not so happy about the mascot... 
I think she likes cotton candy

oh I love this sweet girl! she was so "cold"

two mamas and her babies


Its Friday!!! YAY YAY!!! And on top of that I got to stay home all day - not one place to go AND the weather was perfect in my opinion - a crisp cool outside with some lovely rain - my kind of day.  I got caught up on housework and organizing some things, finished reading a book to the kids and just enjoyed being home.  There used to be a time when I loved being on the go and getting out - but now I just love being able to stay home with my kiddos and I am so thankful that that is exactly what I got to do today.

This week was super busy as far as the girls go - they both had Drs. appointments everyday this week but today.  Phew!!  With each appointment came news.  So the good news Abbie's ABR which is a hearing test came back great!! She can hear just fine and has NO nerve damage.  So thankful for this news.  We also heard back about her genetic blood work and she has no chromosomal abnormalities - again this is such great news!!!  While she does have the rare brain disorder - polymicrogyria (pmg) she does not have anything else going on.  We are so thankful.  We are still learning about pmg and there are many unknowns about it - its a learn as you go - I am so thankful she doesn't have anything else added to her medical plate.  She will begin speech therapy in the fall and she is constantly learning as everything around her is pretty new.  Please join us in praising the Lord for this good news.  

The other news - I am not sure how to process this news just yet.  I am sure you will remember I had written earlier that Linnea had also undergone some genetic testing as she was born with multiple special needs.  Her blood work came back and she indeed does have a genetic syndrome called 22q.  It is the second most common syndrome next to downs syndrome.   I am so glad to finally have an answer to many of our why this and why that questions and it explains a lot about her medical history past and present and now future.  I do not know what this means for Linnea or us as I don't know enough about it - but we are meeting with the genetics counselor next week to learn all about it and to see what's next.  You would never know from looking at her that there was anything wrong - and she is quite the spit fire so I don't believe she is going to let this diagnosis get her down ;-) I am certainly not.  And we are praising the Lord for this news as well - because now we know!!  He is sovereign in all things.

Even though this week has been filled with appointments to the max.  I am so thankful to live where we live and have some of the best doctors in the world like the one you saw in this post   We actually have been spoiled by several really great doctors and nurses so when we visit a new one and he is not up to par - it makes it hard.  I have learned now to ask the favorite doctors for their recommendations - they always know best and I make them tell me as if it were their kids.  

Well I am off now to begin our Charlottes Web party - we finished the book today and are celebrating.  I have so many pics and posts I want to get on here - maybe I will get to do a few more later.  Thanks for catching up with us!

Monday, August 5, 2013

our favorite doctor - for real!!!

So when I say we see a lot of specialists - I am not making that up. Well this one - Dr. Clifton - he is by far my whole families FAVORITE!!!  He was actually a second opinion and I am more than grateful for my friend Kim Shimer who recommended him - for multiple reasons.  The first being that he actually was way more proactive about Linnea's condition than the first opinion I got.  However he's our favorite because he treats Linnea like she was one of his own - he is the only doctor she lets hold her.  Anytime we have to go to the doctor she always says "Dr. Clifton?" in the cute little way she says his name.  When Linnea had her first surgery I cannot tell you how many times I told him he needed to pretend that she was his child on the OR table and he said to me - "I try to treat every patient that way." Perfect!  That is exactly what this mama needed to hear and that is why he's our families favorite.  He didn't just treat Linnea he treated our whole family.  When we were doing our weekly visits to CHOA there were often times when I had to take some of the other kiddos with me and he was just as good with them as he was with Linnea.  In fact my kids play "Dr. Clifton" - its hilarious.  If you know me I ask lots of questions and he was always willing to answer them and teach me how to care for Linnea in the best way possible. He also has the best office assistant - she always calls back in a timely manner and is just so super sweet.  I tell you they have set the bar way high for other doctors offices.  I have recommended Dr. Clifton to several friends - I even have a friend who drove from South Carolina who came to see him and felt the same way I did - He's a great doctor!! So if you ever need a peds surgeon I have got the one for you!

This picture was taken at our last post-op visit at CHOA Egleston. It was in a weird kind of way bitter sweet.  You have to remember we have been seeing these specific doctors and nurses for a little over 6 months and sometimes during those months we were seeing them weekly.  They called us the frequent flyers - sad but true.  We are so thankful to have had such great care!! Thank you Dr. Clifton and team!!  You truly are our favorite doctor!! Thank you!!!

Friday, August 2, 2013


You can't see Abbie's face in the above picture but she was not a happy camper

This picture is from today.
It's almost been 3 months and so much has changed... I LOVE this sweet expression of pure joy and happiness. So thankful God brought her here. After some hard times and heartache HE brings joy.

Weeping may last for the night (or many in our case) but joy comes in the morning.
~ Psalm 30:5

Thursday, August 1, 2013

leaving the "fog" behind...

Well, I finally feel like I have come back to the land of the living somewhat.  The adoption "fog" as they call it is slowly but surely lifting and there is somewhat of a normal routine falling into place in our home.  Now don't get me wrong I'm not out and about traipsing to Target or Kroger with 5 kids in tow but I might be getting there....maybe :-).  I know its been a few weeks since I've blogged and its not that I haven't thought about it - I have - its that I just haven't.  I don't even know if I've had the words to blog or adequately express all that is been transpiring in the Pruiksma's corner of the world - but here I am tonight and I will catch you up as best I can!

First off we are embarking on the new adventure of homeschooling!!!  Woo Hoo!!!  I am so excited about this for a plethora of reasons.  Flexibility being one, not living in my care being another.  We go to so many drs. appointments and therapies that I felt like I was in the car a lot, and that's when I just had one special needs kiddo.  But now onto a much more important reason - I only have a tiny speck of time (in the scheme of the grand design of life) to be with my children and I want to savor these moments.  I want to teach them.  I want to love on them and I want to saturate them with the gospel.  Now I will do all of these things imperfectly and I already know this - however I do know that God will use me and He will use this time and He will use this time we have together for HIS glory and HIS purposes.  You might be wondering how in the world this is going to happen - well I will tell you a little secret .. Ethan and Linnea are going to preschool and that is how I think I can do this.  I have loved the time that my other sweet kiddos got to spend at the preschool nearby and I don't want Ethan or Linnea to miss out and selfishly I love all the little crafts and muffins with moms that they do.  The littles won't go to school everyday E will go M- Thurs. and Linnea will go Tue.- Thurs.  and its only half day. This gives me a few hours in the mornings to work with my oldies.  I think this will work out quite nicely.  We aren't starting hard core school til after Labor day - but we have already established some routines and I am sneaking in a little bit of school here and there and the kids don't even know it! This really is a privilege for me and I am so thankful that my husband has confidence in me to do the job.  I know I was a teacher but teaching your own kids is totally different.  And friends when I get down in the trenches of homeschool and want to quit - please kindly remind me of my excitement at this moment!!

Our little fam or big fam however you look at it is doing well.  We are adjusting to being a family of seven and we have good days and bad days.  I think Abbie is attaching to our family so well.  She has picked up a few English words/phrases such as no, stop that, yes maam, thank you, Ethan James, Luke, Nathan, mommy, daddy, sleeping, outside, I love you... - and probably a few others I am forgetting.  Her siblings are still trying to get used to her and I know that is a work in progress (and another good homeschool reason).  Both girls have had lots of drs. appointments and I am thankful that we live close to two major children's hospitals.  These girls have and will go through a lot.  Oh how I took my boys health for granted.  And just because a child looks perfectly normal it doesn't mean that they are and I mean that in the nicest way.  My girls are beautiful (yes I know I am biased) and if Abbie didn't have an enlarged head you might not know there was anything wrong with her - but that couldn't be farther from the truth.

Sweet Abbie has been having seizures - probably since she was born and was recently diagnosed with a rare brain disorder that happened while she grew in her China mommy's tummy.  It cannot be surgically fixed and there are no therapies to make it better. We have no idea what to expect long term but that doesn't mean we aren't hopeful - we are!! Who knows what God has planned for this sweet girls life!! He brought her all the way from China to here and HE created her so we for sure have HOPE!!   She has started seizure meds and has some of the best doctors on her team we are awaiting some genetic blood work and then will meet with her neurologist again later this month.  We are also going to have an ABR hearing test this month as well.  With her condition comes hearing loss - something I am now somewhat familiar with - God was preparing me - you think?!!

Cutie Cakes Linnea is still plugging along.  She recently had some surgery and will have one more sometime this fall to fix a palate issue she has in her mouth and hopefully that will resolve some of our speech problems.  We are still in speech therapy and thankfully we have gotten someone to come to us - which means one less place to go!! Yea!!! We met with genetics a few weeks ago and had some blood work done and we are awaiting those results as well as seeing some other specialists in the mean time and then will have a follow up with genetics again.  Because of the many anomalies she was born with she likely has some type of syndrome we are just not sure what - and again not sure what that will mean but this girl is a firecracker so I am not worried!  All 21 lbs of her is dynamite :-)

We have recently taught all the kids minus the cutie cakes how to play Uno and therefore we have played every night!!  Tonight we tried to pick up Rummy but they just insisted that we play Uno!  Even Abbie has gotten in on the action and beaten us a few times!!  I love their expressions and their strategy in playing the game.  I think DP and I laugh so hard we cry sometimes.  Such precious memories.  I look forward to teaching them other games!!

Today we went tubing - yep you read that right we took all five of our kiddos tubing.  We did go with another family.  I must say it was quite the adventure - but again such sweet memories and two exhausted parents :-)

God has been so gracious to me - doing such a work in my heart and reminding me of my utter dependence upon Him in this walk of mama-hood.  I LOVE this verse in Phillipians (I LOVE a lot of verses but this one has been really working on me recently) "Not that I am speaking of being in need for I have learned in whatever situation to be CONTENT."  Paul wrote this in chains in prison for goodness sake - so I think I have a few lessons to learn and I am grateful God is patient with me and continues to teach me even when though I am undeserving.

Thanks for letting me catch you up a bit.  

A little Uno fun!!

the tubing crew.  thankful for such sweet friends!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

in the midst of chaos....

I have felt so busy lately.  We haven't really been lots of places except doctors offices - I have just felt busy because I am the mom of 5 children.  That can make life busy and on top of that two of them require some extra TLC.  Having said all that I read this tonight :

"Feeding people is more than giving them life-sustaining calories; it's an opportunity to share with them soul-reviving grace of God" 

Friends that was huge for me - as recently I have felt like I live in my kitchen - I finish cleaning up one meal and its time for snacks and then after a snack its time for another meal and so forth and so forth - but if I could just put some perspective on it like from the statement above - oh how that would change things!!!  Every time I go to prepare a meal for those 5 precious souls I have the golden opportunity to live out the gospel..... making PB&J's with some peace and love all from our Savior of course...

And of course as I kept reading along tonight I came across this other little thought provoker....

"What would our hospitality look like if we believed that Jesus's death on the cross was the measure of God's compassion for someone?"

Oh how I need to think that way?  I don't often think of hospitality in regards to my children - but I should.  My hospitality to them should be far greater as they are the souls God has entrusted to me to care for!!  So tonight I had to ask myself - will I serve my kids this way??  I must look at each one of them and know and believe that Jesus's death on the cross was the measure of God's compassion for that one child.  That one child that might be causing me to go gray early or eat my weight in bon bons (just kidding they don't even make bon bons anymore!!) The point is they are His - they are created in His image and I must seek to serve them for Him.  

Oh how this mothering thing is tough business!!  Thankful for God's sustaining grace in my life.  Please pray with me that I will uphold this high calling of motherhood for the Glory of God and that my sweet children will love their Savior more!!!!  Allow me to close with this "Prayer of Love" from the Valley of Vision a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions.

Grant me more and more
to prize the privilege of prayer
to come to thee as a sin-soiled sinner,
to find pardon in thee,
to converse with thee;
to know thee in prayer as 
the path in which my feet tread,
the latch upon the door of my lips,
the light that shines through my eyes,
the music of my ears,
the marrow of my understanding,
the strength of my will,
the power of my affection,
the sweetness of my memory.
May the matter of my prayer be always wise, humble, submissive, obedient, scriptural, 
Christ like.
Give me unwavering faith that supplications are never in vain,
that if I seem not to obtain my petitions
I shall have larger, richer answers,
surpassing all that I ask or think.
Unsought, thou hast given me the greatest gift,
the person of thy Son,
and in him thou wilt give me all I need.

Yes God help me prize the privilege of prayer....

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

not my post...

I read this from The Gospel Coalition blog and I always wanted to be able to find it and its too good not to be read so I copied and pasted it here - gotta give credit where credit is due.... what a good read and great reminder....

A Prayer for the Mom Who's Worn

Motherhood is both the best job and the also hardest job I've ever had. It has brought me great joy and revealed to me a level of love I hadn't known before. It has also stretched me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I've lived on less sleep than should be humanly possible. I've even learned more than I care to about bugs, science, and how machines work (two boys will that do that to you). While the physical stretch marks may fade, the ones on my heart are there to stay.
Though the joys are many, there are days when motherhood wears me down to the core. Some days, I'm not even sure I'll make it through to bedtime. When night time finally does come, my head hits the pillow hard, and I wonder what I accomplished all day. My heart sighs because I know that tomorrow will most likely be a repeat of the same. Because the job is never done, I'll wake up the next morning to the house still in disarray and mountains of laundry to wash. And based on the sniffles I've heard lately, certain illness looms on the horizon.
Some seasons of motherhood feel more intense and exhausting than others. It's easy to become discouraged by the endless cycle of cleaning up the messes—physical and emotional. Joy sometimes feels like a thing of the past and just out of reach. We can feel isolated and alone. We may question our qualifications to be a mother or think we've failed our children.
The truth is, motherhood is hard, and we can't do it on our own. As John Piper wrote in A Godward Life, "I need help. Always. In everything. I am simply kidding myself if I think I can move an inch without God's help." Just as we cannot live without water, we cannot do anything apart from Christ, including motherhood. "Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5).
Rather than swim in guilt or wish life were different, we need to go to the Source of our strength, joy, and peace. We need to drink from the living water that only Christ provides. There we'll find that the truths of the gospel are always within reach, always ready to refresh, remind, and restore.
Jesus died to free us from trying to do life on our own. He came to redeem us from slavery to sin and restore our relationship with the Father. He faced every temptation and sorrow that we face, yet lived a sinless life. The grave could not hold him, guaranteeing a future resurrection for all who trust in Christ. As these truths saturate our thirsty soul, we find the nourishment and strength we so desperately need.
And it's because of Jesus that we can go before the throne of grace in confidence to find the help we need (Hebrews 4:16). If you are like me and feel tired and worn, this prayer is for you:
Dear Father in heaven,
I come before you weary and beat down by this long day. Being a mother can be so hard. I often feel helpless and inadequate. Part of me wants to complain, but then I remember the extent to which you were beat down, and I'm struck quiet. I remember that you are the Man of Sorrows and that you understand just how hard life can be. I also remember that you collect all my tears and care about my troubles, trials, and fears.
The Book of Hebrews tells me I can come to you in confidence and find the grace and mercy I need. And so I come to you now to lay all these burdens at your feet. I feel so overwhelmed by the details of life. It seems like I can never get ahead. Just when I clean up one mess, another one pops up somewhere else. Some days I wonder if I'm really cut out for motherhood.
I know I failed to glorify you today. I failed to love as you love me. I failed to extend the grace you've given me. Forgive me for striving in my own strength. Forgive me for not finding my complete satisfaction in you and seeking it elsewhere. Each of these failures reminds me of just how much I need a Savior. Today reminds me that I need Jesus more than I did yesterday and that tomorrow I will need him even more.
I'm so thankful that there is so much of you to give. You're never tired or weary. Even while I sleep, you remain at work. Nothing happens outside your knowledge and will. You're never stretched beyond what you can handle. And the well of your grace never runs dry.
Because of what Jesus did for me, I ask that you create in me a clean heart. Renew a refreshed spirit within me. Give me gospel strength to get through the day. Open my eyes so that I see your hand at work in the mess of my life. Be my constant in my fluctuating emotions. Keep the gospel ever before me and make it a reality in my daily life as a mother.
I pray that tomorrow you would be with me in all the muck and mire of motherhood. Help me to find my joy in you and not in my circumstances. May I remember that even when it feels otherwise, you are always with me, will never leave me, or forsake me. Tonight I'll sleep in peace knowing that even when I lose my grip, you never let go of me. And I'll open my eyes in the morning to find mercy, fresh and new, ready for the taking.
It's because of Jesus and in Jesus' name that I pray, amen.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The little princess...

We have had several friends ask recently about Linnea and how she is doing adjusting to having a new big sister around - so I thought I would take a few minutes and update you on our littlest princess.  She does not like having a big sister.  In Linnea's defense the very first impression she got of Abbie was Abbie pulling her dress up to see if she was wearing a diaper or not.  No lie that is the very first thing Abbie did to her upon meeting her in the civil affairs office in China.  So needless to say I am not sure they quite got things started off on the right foot.  It also doesn't help that Abbie likes to be a little mother.  This little princess of mine was used to getting all the attention because she was the only girl in our family - and now that dynamic has changed and she's not quite liking it.  And well Abbie does demand my attention these days .... the funny thing is out of the two girls Linnea is the most medically needy - so in the long run she will likely get more of my attention than Abbie may - but of course she can't understand that now.  They do share some moments of fun and laughter and I envision in several months they might be good buddies.  They have so much in common and just don't realize it yet.  Abbie really does love Linnea for the most part - its Linnea that doesn't so much love Abbie.  Linnea really is struggling.  She is a mamas girl and she wants no one to forget that.  Some of her behaviors from when we first came home with her are resurfacing and there are other new behaviors that she is showing off to us for attention.  She has quite the bottom lip these days....When she is not frowning though she is oh so adorable and actually when she is frowning it is the most pathetic little look one can't help but scoop her up or laugh!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that she will just walk up to me and plant a little kiss on my lips or cheek  - its one of my favorite things about her -and to think she didn't even know how to show love a year ago is amazing to me.  That little princess has come soo far.  She is working so hard to try and communicate with us and she is communicating far better than she ever has.  We discovered right before we left for China that Linnea has a sub mucus cleft palate which is one of the major reasons she is not able to talk!!  This is correctable with surgery and we are looking at having that done sometime in August after she has met with a geneticist.  Because of the many special needs that Linnea's little body presents with she more than likely has some type of genetic syndrome which is why we are going ahead with the testing.  This testing will take place in July and I feel like it will give us so many answers and help us to better plan for this sweet girls future.  Don't let this tiny 21lb little girl fool you - she is full of herself and we just know the Lord has great plans for her life regardless of her medical conditions.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Happy One Month Abbie cakes!!

I know all parents say this - but seriously how in the world it has been a month is CRAZY!!  (kind of like our day- but I will spare you all those details!) While this sweet girl sure has given me a run for motherhood - I cannot even imagine life without her.  What a difference four weeks can make.  She is the most beautiful child and has a smile that can light up the room!  She is settling in and of course still learning the ropes and adjusting.  She knows a few English words and thinks it is very funny for "daddy baba" to say "oh my land!" She tries to mimic him and gets herself so tickled.  She is attached to her mama and follows me around often.  She is struggling at bedtime and we are unsure of what her insecurities are but they are there and so we comfort and encourage.  Her fits of rage are decreasing and she is learning how to better handle her anger.  A friend said to me today - just think about the noticeable differences in her life now and how much more different she will be when she has Christ as her Savior - I thought that was so fitting and true - good things to think about.

Today Abbie got to become acquainted with our friends at CHOA.  Tomorrow Abbie will undergo an MRI to see how her hdyrocephaly is and what our treatment plan is going to be.  We are so blessed to live by an incredible team of doctors for both of our girls at Children's Healthcare.  She presents some signs of a possible genetic syndrome so we are hoping to get her in with the geneticist when Linnea goes next month. One of the components of this syndrome is possible hearing loss and speech impairment - I am all too familiar with that aren't I..... which reminds me of a funny story.... well I think its funny and I have to laugh because if I don't laugh then I would probably cry.  It is important to note the boys are not home at this time its just me and the girls. This afternoon I was out on the deck and I hear crying inside - which sounded like Linnea - so I rush in to find Abbie and Linnea standing next to one another but Abbie is the one crying and Linnea is just standing there looking at her so I of course ask "whats wrong, what happened!!!??" Did I seriously just ask my two daughters who can't speak, hear or understand English and expect an answer......what was I thinking??!!!  ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!! I thought it was kind of funny!!

Well a month has come and gone .... heres to many more Lord willing!! Happy one month Abbie cakes!!! God loves you and we do too!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Confessions of a "cocooning" mother....

Confession number 1: I did not come up with this blog title - my sweet friend Tamara did - and it was just too good I told her I had to use it..

Confession number 2: Currently as I begin to write (you know I won't get to finish this now) I am sitting outside of Abbie's room - it is bedtime and she wants to go downstairs - I have told her we are going to stay up here - she did not like this - so I am listening to her talk her ugly talk to me as I sit with her...nice huh.... 

Confession number 3: I really do not want to be sitting here - I want to be downstairs spending time with my three boys ...

Confession number 4: I am struggling today - I am feeling selfish today - I am missing aspects of what I  might call my old life, I am full of sin ie getting impatient and angry with my children,  amongst other things - I started not even to write that but I need to be truthful - with myself and with you regardless of what others might think.  

Confession number 5: I am a "cocooning" cheater.  We have been out and I have had a few friends stop by - I am sorry Lifeline....  - and yes it usually puts us back a few steps - ie the friend who stopped by today with her kids to bring a meal - well Abbie hit one of her kids... and this friends is why I have to stay home and should not cheat.  Its not like we have been all over and go out frequently - I know all to well the repercussions you know the two steps forward four steps back - but in reality people we had to get out!! And we enjoy the company of others - so yes sometimes its worth the risk.  You are probably wondering where in the world have we went out to well one of our first stops was the good ole Dwarf House our stomping grounds.  And yes she loves CFA nuggets and fries.  One of our other stops was Target where we got Abbie a pair of tennis shoes - and let me tell you she is proud of those shoes.  We have also been to a friends pool as well as my neighbors pool.  So see its not like we have traveled the world - I assure you I will not be getting on a plane with any children for quite some time if I can help it.  

***** Fast forward a few hours - told you I wouldn't finish this post up when I started :-).  Abbie eventually fell asleep, and I did get to enjoy some time with the boys before they had to go to bed.  I continued in my sour mood (my sweet hubs loving on me and assuring me it will get better - thank you DP - ILY!!!)  doing the "mundane" things of motherhood you know loading the dishwasher, getting laundry ready,  filling out medical paper work,  and trying to remind myself of gospel truths.  Psalm 103 came to mind and I rehearsed what I knew of it as I was in the laundry room and purposed to memorize it since I couldn't remember a lot.   As soon as I finished up with what I needed to get done I went straight for my Bible to Psalm 103 - 

"Bless the LORD, O my soul and all that is within me, bless his holy name!! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.  The LORD works righteousness and justices for all who are oppressed.  He made knows his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.  The LORD is merciful and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heaves are above the earth so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.  As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.  For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.  As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.  But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to his children's children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.  Bless the LORD,  O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion.  Bless the LORD, O my soul!"

Oh how thankful I am to my Father who does not deal with me according to my sour attitude or my impatience and anger toward others.  This - His word is what I must retreat to - I am thankful for the prodding of the Holy Spirit in bringing this passage to mind.  I was reminded tonight that I must be "breathing deeply the atmosphere of the gospel." "The gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me..... The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ." (quotes taken from A Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent) 

Tomorrow is a new day and I pray that I will remember that I stand in grace and rejoice in hope.  Tonight I am going to bed rehearsing Psalm 103 .... "Bless the LORD O my soul....

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Will Glory in My Redeemer....

I have so many many things that I would like to journal about here on our blog - but there just aren't enough hours in the day and I am sleepy right now and I have kids who will rise before dawn! So for now for tonight I just want to share a few thoughts and truly glory in my Redeemer.  

I have been reading this book Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman. 

First of all I love to read and second of all I feel like when I am reading this book that she the author Gloria is just talking with me over a cup of coffee at my kitchen table.  God knew what book I needed to reading this summer in this season of my life.  If you are a reader - buy this!! I am thankful for the sweet friend who gave it to me.  All that to say is that is has provoked much thought into me as if I don't have anything else provoking my thoughts these days :-)

Do you see this picture above here - that picture is totally and completely a glimpse of HIS grace.  That is what I call girl snuggle time.  This photo is precious in so many ways. Linnea is actually happy to be in a photo with Abbie (that is another story for another night).  And  I know Abbie looks all smiles all the time - but its not always that way.  This small act of snuggling with me was HUGE for her and for me.  A few weeks ago neither one of us really liked the other one and snuggling was not really on our agenda.  This is precious to me and I am beyond grateful for this moment - it is HIS grace.  The very night after this snuggling took place - Abbie was not all smiles.  As we put her to bed and tucked her in telling her we loved her and turning on her music I noticed something wasn't quite gelling this night but  I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  Moments later she burst into tears and just cried.  I have no idea why and of course she wasn't able to tell me what was wrong.  So I laid down next to her and held her and let her cry and then I began to cry.  I was so overcome with sadness ... I will never ever ever be able to empathize with either one of my girls.  I will never know what it feels like to be abandoned - to be left completely alone.   Even if I ever felt alone I know I am not really alone because God is everywhere always with me.  And clearly He has always been with my girls preserving their lives for His glory and for sure I will share this truth with them.  I can't know what it feels like to be taken from the only place you have ever known and brought to some other place where nothing is remotely the same not to mention the language barrier.  I just kept thinking I can never feel what they feel - how will I ever be of any comfort to them I cannot empathize and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I know ONE who was left alone - completely and utterly alone - because HIS Father did turn His face completely away.  I have goosebumps as I type.  God the Father sent Jesus Christ here to earth and then at the very end when His life was literally hanging - He turned His face away - FOR ME, FOR MY GIRLS, FOR YOU!!!!!! Jesus Christ knows exactly how my daughters feel - and He was left to feel that way to give them HOPE!!  So when those moments come and they will come I will tell them how much I love them and as much as I love them I know ONE who loves them more the ONE whose Father turned His face away - so they (I, you, we) could live.... and that my friends is why I Will Glory in My Redeemer.

Friday, May 31, 2013

thoughts from David...

Since my wife is extremely busy, I figured I would write a quick post. I see the stats of the number of people checking the blog daily and start to feel guilty that we haven't posted an update in a while!

So here are a few of my thoughts...

Our time in China...

  • Beijing was a great experience. The weather was perfect (warm but not that humid and very blue skies which we had never seen in China before). Visiting a section of the Great Wall we had not seen before was the highlight for me. Hiking the Great Wall was a workout with two children but  an incredible memory. It definitely made LeighAnn and I thankful for CrossFit workouts! My other highlight was meeting friends for dinner in Beijing that we met on our last trip to China. The only glitch in our time in Beijing was all our checked luggage not arriving to the airport. We were told that it would be delivered the next day. That did not happen. We called the airport on the morning we were supposed the leave Beijing to check on our luggage (our flight from Beijing to Guangzhou would leave that evening). They stated it was there and that it would be delivered late that afternoon. I told them that we were leaving on a flight that evening and needed it sooner. The airport staff member in broken English said they couldn't get it there till the afternoon. I told them I was an "angry American" and "I needed my luggage within two hours"....short pause on the phone and then the guy says, "ok....we are on our way with luggage now." When I told our guide what happened, he was surprised we were able to get it sooner. He liked that I used the "angry American" line and thought that's why they changed their minds! Guess I need to keep that phrase in my back pocket if needed again!
  • Gotcha Day....Great experience at first, but almost too good to be true. LeighAnn and Linnea dressed up the same (a sweet lady from Fayetteville made all three girls matching dresses and we were able to send Abbie her dress a couple months prior). We were told later that Abbie picked out what she wanted to wear this day and she chose the dress we sent her. So, all three girls matched and that helped with an instant connection. When she came out, she went straight to Linnea first and then LeighAnn and made eye contact with the dresses. It was a neat moment and hopefully I can get the video posted soon. Abbie sat with us nicely on the couch and played with a few little things we brought (bubbles, etc). I worked with Miko on getting a few things translated in regards to her daily habits such as what she likes to eat, sleep schedule, etc. We realized Abbie was very strong-willed and independent rather quickly. She did not like being told what to do and pitched royal fit when we had to take her hand to get her to come out of a computer office she had ventured into after she decided to explore her surroundings. She hit and screamed but finally calmed down after some time as well as soothing words and water from LeighAnn. I have to be honest, I was thinking, "What have I done to my family!?" Here is Nathan and Linnea watching this child try to beat us up, she obviously is very strong physically, and I knew this was going to be TOUGH! My wife and I didn't really state our true thoughts until a day later, but we were thinking the same thing. This probably sounds so selfish but just being honest. 
  • Week one in China....Each day got a little better but Abbie still had meltdowns. We had great moments with her. She has an infectious smile and laugh. She is a beautiful little girl. We got to have a lot of fun with here. Then something would set her off....usually her not getting her way and she would pitch a fit. One of the worst was when she threw herself down on the ground outside the hotel in the rain. She was dead weight. The guide was talking to her in Chinese and she refused to move. That was hard to watch. I just wanted to pick her up whether she was hitting me or whatever. Instead we were encouraged to just let her get up on her own. So, I watched my sweet and gracious wife sit down next to her outside and sooth her wife her words while stroking her hair. One thing that was obvious once again on this trip was I definitely married way up! To see your wife be hit, scratched to the point of being cut, kicked to the point of having bruises all over her legs....and in return to hold this little girl, speak softly to her, stroke her cheeks and was just evidence of His Grace in her life that she in turn could be so merciful and gracious. No, it was not easy to watch as you just want to stop it. I did not want to see my wife crying like she was while these tantrums were happening or afterwards when it was over. My Son even asked me why she could get away with that (knowing that he is not allowed to treat us like that), so it was a great teaching moment for him. Sure, I could have stopped her kicking and hitting by physically overpowering her (which I must say was my instinct that I had to constantly fight back) but my wife would just say, "I got this, just let me hold her." As my wife posted, we reject authority in our lives all the time. We fight God unfortunately. We were able to point Nathan to Jesus on the Cross when He asked his Father to forgive those mocking and torturing Him as He took the pain Himself. Plus, we were able to teach him that Abbie may not know any better and that she was in "survivor mode." We were total strangers to her, spoke a different language, ate different things, etc. She did not know where her next meal would come from, where she would sleep or how she would be cared for. I asked Nathan to think about him in the same situation since he was the same age. He thought about it for a while and then stated, "yeah, I think I would probably act the same way." 
  • Week two in China...Much better week for Abbie as she started getting more into a routine. However, we figured this would start all over again once we got back home with a new routine. Life at a hotel and going from appointment to appointment is not reality back home! Abbie's tantrums seemed to be subsiding. She would still get into 'moods' but those are easier to deal with. We went to the circus and a couple other fun things which she really enjoyed. We finally asked the guide to tell her to point to things that she may like (food, toys or whatever). She started to do that so it helped to know what she likes. We bought her a couple toys and treats she liked and it seemed to make her day to have some things of her own. She definitely likes to shop now so I'm in more trouble with three girls in the house that like to shop! Everything was getting better with Abbie until the plane ride home. She did not like being confined in a seat belt. Not sure if she had ever had one on. I can't imagine how she felt since she had never seen an airplane before and her first trip was a 13 hour flight. She had about four kicking and hitting fits, with the last one being the worst. She was yelling so loud that about 15 other passengers gathered around us plus some of the flight crew. We had a three hour layover in LAX so we were able to get some food and relax for a little while before getting on the next flight. Plus it gave us some more time to get some snacks she liked and pray some more that the next flight would be smooth for her. It did go much better. She slept a good portion of the trip. When we were getting off the plane, I made the mistake of taking her carry-on bag from her. Keep in mind this small pink pull-suitcase had just about every possession she owned in it. She was having trouble pulling it down the airplane aisle as we were disembarking so I said something like, "let me get that for you sweetie." Well, looking back, of course she didn't understand me or my intentions. All she probably saw was me taking her bag of possessions and that totally set her off. She WOULD NOT get off that plane. She started crying and sat down in the aisle in front of me and all the passengers trying to get off the plane behind me. LeighAnn was ahead of us with Linnea and some other carry-ons. We basically had to pick her up with her fighting us to get off the plane. It took about 10 minutes in the jetway to calm her down. She was fine going towards baggage claim and it was so nice to see so many of our friends there to greet us at such an early hour on a Friday morning. What a sweet reunion it was to see Luke and Ethan!!!! 
  • Since we have been home.... We were so blessed by our wonderful friends ....our yard was taken care of and even landscaped, the pantry and refrigerator were stocked and a meal schedule was posted on our refrigerator of the people bringing meals in the first couple of weeks we were home....WOW! Totally blown away. Also, I had asked our associate Pastor while we were in China if he could help coordinate moving Abbie's bed out of Linnea's room into LeighAnn's craft room. We decided while in China that it would not be a good idea to have the girls in the same room. Our long term intent was for Abbie to have her own room within a few months but we were going to have the girls together for a little while. Well, with Abbie being like a "little Mommy" at the orphanage, we realized we had to make a change quickly. We thought we would come home to a craft room with a twin bed in it. Instead, all the craft stuff was moved down to our guest room and the room was decorated for Abbie. "Abigail Joy" in letters were on the wall, a dollhouse was in the corner, white children's furniture was in the room, and the list goes on. Sometimes it drives me crazy how much my wife uses certain words ("cute" being one of them!) but this room did indeed look cute. Abbie had her own room to sleep in and enjoy. It was fun to see her reaction. It is also fun to see her reaction to experience so many "firsts" in her life. She seems grateful and we are trying to go slow to not overwhelm her. We are trying to stay home as much as possible because over-stimulation can overwhelm her. Her tantrums are very few now, maybe one a day if that. She still gets upset and angry, but she is controlling it much better. We just sit her in a chair, sit next to her and let her calm down. She usually is not thrusting or hitting anymore....usually just some tears or silence. Then we ask her is she is ready to play again, talk to her in basic English about her actions (using a good amount of hand signals in which she acknowledges what we mean), give her hugs and then she is back to playing again. She has come a long way in a short time. She still speaks Chinese to us and we have picked up a few words (thanks to our friend Annie who speaks Cantonese and helped us with this). We have learned key phrases in Chinese to help her (and us) in this transition. We play outside a lot which she loves. Her brothers seem to like her and are helping her adjust. Linnea is probably having the hardest time. Sharing is the main thing we are working on with Abbie. Her favorite word in Chinese seems to be "it's mine." She is getting the hang of the sharing concept now but it will take time as she is still pretty reluctant to share. We find her hiding things under her pillow and sheets. We find her sneaking snacks. All these things will probably subside in time. Yesterday I came downstairs and she had an apple in her hand. She looked at me like, "can I really have this?" and I motioned that she could. She just got this huge smile on her face. (We keep a basket of fruit on the table so she can learn that she can know that food is available to her!)                     Here are a few more things from this first week:
    • Friday -- First day home. Several of our friends and family followed us home to help with the luggage. It was great to have them come. Afterwards, we enjoyed our first breakfast as a family of seven!!! 
    • Saturday and Sunday -- mainly spent these days outside playing. Abbie has quite an arm as we noticed when we were playing baseball. May have to sign her up sometime for softball if her mom allows me!! We also went swimming. I think this was Abbie's first time in the pool. She was unsure of the water but eventually got in with us holding her and mainly played on the steps. 
    • Monday -- Abbie's first Memorial Day. We went out to breakfast ...Abbie's first Chick-fil-A experience. I was wondering if she would like CFA (especially the nuggets since our kids love them and b/c she would not eat McDonald's chicken nuggets in China). She loved them and even asked for more!!! Made my day!!! Sorry McDonald's but real chicken always wins out!!! After breakfast we went to the graveside of a fallen soldier I knew. We placed flowers and small flags at the graveside and talked about what Memorial Day was really all about. Our boys (led by Luke) wanted to say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing "My Country tis of Thee" so we did both.    Monday afternoon -- gave Abbie her first bike. She now has a bike and scooter so she really likes both! What a smile on her face when she got this! We had a cookout that night (other firsts for Abbie ...hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans, corn on the cob, etc)
    • Tuesday - Thursday -- A lot more playing outside and more pool time. Abbie is now walking in the shallow end on her own so by next week I bet she will be jumping in! Abbie picked out a pair of tennis shoes  from Target and was so excited about those. When I got home, she took my hand and motioned me to come upstairs to her room. She pulled out her tennis shoes, held them up, smiled VERY big and pointed to herself. How sweet that she got so excited over a pair of shoes that we her own. I got my lesson for the day in gratefulness right there. On Tuesday night, Abbie came over to me with an alphabet train puzzle. She wanted to go through each letter and practice. It was almost like she was stating, "ok, I'm ready to learn to talk your language!" We got about four letters into the puzzle and she walks off. I figured she was done. She came back with a leap frog alphabet machine. As we went through each puzzle piece letter, she would find the matching letter on the keyboard, press it, and then proceed to make all the sounds (i.e. "A"..."AAAA", 'Ahhhh", "Apple"). We went through the whole puzzle twice. I then took her over to the piano and broke out a lesson one book which Luke had been working on. We worked on her finger position, finger numbers and a C scale. We went through what each white key note was. She stopped me, walks over and grabs the leap frog, points to the letter "H" and then points to the piano and shrugs. She wanted to know where the "H" was on the piano. Ahh.....this kid is going to be smart! It was hard to explain since she could not understand my English that the white keys go from A through G and then start over with A, however, it was neat that she realized this! 
    • Friday morning -- Abbie heading to her first pediatrician visit. Hope everything goes well! Probably more pool time later!
Thank you so much for your prayers during this journey. They are definitely felt. The first week was not easy at all. The second got better. The third is going very well. Abbie is wonderful little girl. We are trying to let her be just that -- a little girl. You can tell Abbie likes to help (she would fold clothes, sheets, clean the floors, get Linnea out of bed and change her if we allowed her to -- yes, she has tried to do all of these repeatedly). We are trying to let her get comfortable here and just let her enjoy playing and being a little girl. It is fun to watch her have laugh and just enjoy life. Sometimes my mind goes there...there being "why could we have not gotten her earlier in life?" ....I know this was all in God's timing but just being honest that these thoughts do come to mind. I cannot wait to watch God's plan unfold in Abbie's life.

Thank you again for walking this journey with us. We are blessed to know you!

P.S. Friends --- we will probably stay home as much as possible as Abbie adjusts. LeighAnn will probably stay home with her while I take our other Children to Church with me. Here are things we are specifically working on so it may help you understand why we are staying put for now (and also how you can pray for us):

  • Abbie thinks she has to help all parents with their smaller children. Again, this probably comes from her having and wanting to help with the smaller children at the orphanage. This may take some time being away from small children for this to reverse.....not that we want her to lose her sweet spirit of serving, but to allow her to realize that she does not have to be responsible for small children.
  • Sharing ...probably a new concept for her which is much easier to work on within our family than with other children. This also goes into her taking things and hiding them (which would probably be seen as stealing to most). As soon as we correct her and tell her she cannot take a certain item and hide it, she does not do it anymore. For instance, she took some Chinese money that I had leftover out of my pocket and placed it under her pillow. If you ask where something is like this through motions, she will lead you right to it. This will take some time for her to realize that she does not have to take and hide things. 
  • Obedience and getting her way ...these are the two things that lead to most of Abbie's outbursts. She is obeying MUCH better now but still has her moments. It will take time for her to learn her boundaries, our expectations and right from wrong. 
  • Attachment --- this is probably the biggest issue for all adoptive families....we want Abbie to attach to us. Right now she would go to any adult and seek affection from them. She would even call other men "Baba" (Daddy) as she may be confused by this new person /role in her life. 
Thanks again for your prayers!!