Monday, February 23, 2015

Happy Chinese New Year 2015

Happy Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram!  
The girls and I had a little hair playing time....
and nail painting time....
so we took advantage of being all dressed up and had a little photo session....
So thankful for MK!  She is my biggest helper with Maryn and loves every minute of it!
Maddox is our comic her quick wit!
And this little one keeps us all on our toes!  She is our fast moving, eager eating, baby girl!  
After our playing time, we all met up with our friends who have adopted from China.  Such a fun evening!  We had our families who always join us, families who are just home from China, and families who are in the process.....all in all, we had 19 families and 92 people!  Amazing!  
We stepped it up a notch and did our very own dragon dance....our little Maryn was one unhappy camper!  She is not a fan of masks or anything of the sort!
The children all enjoyed a few sparklers....
and in keeping tradition, we sent a lantern into the air - always a hit!  
So thankful for the time we get with these families! Our family cherishes our adoption gatherings!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day was a bit different for us this year!  We awoke and began our day supporting our friends at the Trot To Adopt.  The Trot helped us raise funds to bring Maryn home and is a very successful way for families to raise money and adoption awareness in our community. 
After our running jaunt, the boys were off to battle - gone are the all day Nerf war games, now we have air soft wars!  It's bigger, better and it hurts!  Fabulous for these boys and their friends!
Meanwhile, the two big girls went to play putt-putt with their daddy while Maryn and I had a bit of girl time....truth be told, she napped, I worked!  
In years past, I have always cooked a big dinner on Valentine's Day and we have all been together.  Staying true to the season of life we are in, the boys had pizza with friends while we took the girls for Chinese.  
And then our guys came home and this mama was feeling full again.....I love for us all to be together!
Of course, "Cupid" had to come with a few surprises....
and brownie sundaes were the treat of the day! 
Maddox was all in....she yelled, "Thank you for the love day!"

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Day of Play

When the going gets too busy, the busy needs to rest.....
 and this mama needs some time with her kiddos....
 not the everyday-do-your-work-go-to-your-activity time.....
 some play time!  So we all packed up and headed to the park.....
 the weather was perfect, the park was all ours, everyone was all smiles and it made me feel whole!  
 Because no park day is complete without ice cream, we decided a Bruster's ice cream lunch would be best!  Maddox exclaimed, "Oh, I LOVE summer!"  Nevermind that it was 60 degrees out and we are in the month of February!  
 Later that evening, the boys and I joined some friends for a night of Winter Jam....
the auditorium was full, sold-out, to an audience there to listen to a line-up of Christian bands!  And my boys, along with their friends, worshipped all night long!  Perfect evening with my favorite guys! 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Behind The Scenes

We will call this the behind the scenes tour.....

China Hosting program - this summer, our family will bring a little one into our home for 4ish weeks from China.  He/she will be available for adoption.  Our job, our mission, will be to find this little one a forever home!  We hope to know a face early next week!

Mission trip to China - Pryce and I will be returning to China in November for a 10 day mission trip.  We will be with a team of volunteers loving on kiddos in an orphanage in Shaanxi.  I believe this trip will be very eye opening to both of us.  We have had the opportunity to visit our girls' orphanages yet each time has been more of a sightseeing tour versus a real-life tour of how orphans in China spend their days.  We are both looking forward to ministering to the nannies and children!

"My baby girl".....while visiting Maryn's orphanage last summer, we met a 10 month old baby girl.  We took pictures and loved on her for the few moments that we were allowed with her.  There is an "angel" in Maryn's orphanage, an American volunteer.  I contacted her several months after we arrived home to find out how the baby was doing and asked specifically for her Chinese name so that we could look for her file with our agency.  All the while, I was speaking with some dear friends about adoption. They have always wanted to adopt.  I showed them my baby girl's picture and they were sold!  They began their paper chase immediately to bring her home....we found her file, they requested it, they accepted her referral and now they are in the midst of madness as they feverishly press forward in completing all necessary paperwork to bring her home!  In less than six months, Maryn will have a friend from her orphanage living here with her, going to church with her, homeschooling with her....and the best part?  The baby's big sister is Maddox's "sister friend" aka best friend!  They just love each other and we love being on this journey with their family!

Consignment sale.....twice a year I do a boutique consignment sale to raise funds for adopting families.  I love doing this sale!  Having people in my home, asking questions about adoption and sharing our story with them makes my heart happy!

Our life....Maryn's adoption opened my eyes to the fact that our family is growing up.  Gone are the days when we could all enjoy an activity together.  With a 14 year old, a 12 year old, an 8 year old, a 5 year old and a 2 year old, game nights and movies are a thing of the past.  The 14 year old isn't up for watching Barney and the 2 year old just wants to make a mess of the cards or board in our games.  Sigh.  This has been and continues to be our biggest adjustment as a family of 7.  And everyone is home this year.....I have a high schooler, a middle schooler, an elementary schooler, a pre-schooler and a toddler all under my roof 24/7.  Trying to wrap my head around Algebra 2 while telling the toddler not to eat food off the floor, well, it leaves me overwhelmed at times.  Being transparent here, it's realness in our life.  Would we change anything?  Absolutely NOT.  It's a season to embrace and grow in but one that I struggle with because I do not like change....the mommy in me wants to keep them all young in a world of easy! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

January 27 we celebrated Maddox Ren's 1/2 birthday with a mommy/daddy/Maddox date to ChuckECheese....
 She enjoyed her moment of being the "only" child!  
 Maryn was evaluated when we came home six months ago for early intervention services.  She qualified for occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy.  Today, she is almost all caught up!  She is learning to dress and undress, feed herself without making an incredible mess, hold her writing utensil correctly, puzzles, etc....she is doing amazing in OT!  Speech was never really a large concern but the therapist has come once each month to check in just to be sure all was well!  And, all is well.  She talks and sings all.the.time.  And still repeats everything we say!  Physical therapy is going well too!  We have been going to a local gym twice monthly for the past few months.  Maryn loves jumping on the trampolines, walking on the balance beams, kicking the balls, walking on the treadmill, and jumping into the pit of foam squares!  
 Our little one also loves to read and listen to others read aloud to her.  She was making me laugh one morning as she took our read aloud book for school and pretended to read to us!
 Maddox will be in my cousin's wedding in March!  She is super excited and could not wait to try her dress on!
Our sweet little-big girl is no longer taking daily naps but we can almost be sure that she will fall asleep in the car....
and she is just too cute not to photograph when she sleeps....
I love and admire that she has always been able to sleep regardless of where she is!  

Friday, February 6, 2015

Saying Goodbye

In all of my sadness, I have been comforted in knowing that my Nannie would not have lived her life differently.  94 years is a feat in and of itself, and to live that long and still have your mind in tact is a blessing.  She lived a good life and it makes me so proud to tell others she was my grandmother.
She lived all 94 years surrounded by love from family.  Whether it was my Papa or her five children or her sisters or brothers or grandchildren or great-grandchildren or the many, many extended family, she was loved on until the very end.  
She loved my children and I am so thankful for the time that she had with them.  They knew her.  They loved her.  They mourn her loss.  She is my one grandparent that got to see my dream of being a mom to a large family come true!  She adored all five of my kiddos.  
She was referred to as the "matriarch" of the family.  She was the Queen.  She loved to laugh.  And when she laughed, others joined in - it was contagious.  She would "get so tickled" - her words for laughter.  
A few things that will always make me think of her first.....Alabama, Little Drummer Boy, speeding ticket - I may have acquired one with her in the car and her response to the officer was quite memorable, "the machine" aka computer, the word "yes" because I am pretty sure she never told me "no," ripples in the water, Braves baseball, chocolate....
five children....she had five too!
I already miss our visits with her.  If ever there was a stretch of time that we did not see Nannie, the children would always ask when we could go visit.  They loved to go and see Nannie.....the boys would play the piano and Nannie would get lost in their music....she would always give them her bingo winnings, we would take her to lunch or just hang out in her room with a Chick Fil A meal, one of her favorites!

The smell of my Nannie's house is one that will forever be ingrained in me.  It was the smell of fresh baked biscuits, macaroni and cheese, caramel cake, bread pudding, southern style vegetables, chicken, ham, jelly was the smell that surrounded us growing up, a smell that reminds me of the thrill she got out of seeing her family eat well, it was her way of serving others,  her happy place.
My nannie loved me.  I know I held a special place in her heart.  As a young child, I spent a lot of time with her and it was that time that created the bond between us.  As I got older, the bond grew.  She took care of me, worried over me.  I often tease my cousins and tell them that I am and always have been her favorite.....and my cousins and I would always tease her about who was her favorite....she loved us all dearly and I am glad we made her laugh with our antics.  
So thankful for this woman and the 41 years I was given with her!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Happy 5 1/2 Maddox Ren!

Happy 5 1/2 Maddox Ren!
 To add a little flavor to our lives, we chose to celebrate Maddox's half-birthday and Mason-Kate's 8th birthday together this year at a local gymnastics arena.  It was perfect for all involved!  
 Maddox and all of her sweet friends enjoyed their day jumping, twirling, swinging, was truly a fun-filled day!  Maddox was thrilled to have her bests with her to celebrate her life!
 It was cute, too, to hear her friends say, "Maddox is 5 1/2! Not 5 and not 6, 5 1/2!"  They got it!
 Our little Maddox has had a great "1/2" year of being 5 and has accomplished lots of fun things.....reading, writing, adding, counting to 100, recognizing her numbers to 20, ballet, swimming, riding her bike....and the list goes on!  
 I often say that everyone should have a Maddox in their lives!  She is her own, unique kiddo and we love her to pieces!  

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