Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Family asks.  Friends ask.  Acquaintances ask.  Strangers asks.

Look into the eyes of this child.
An orphan.  Lost.  
And then look into the eyes of this child.
A loved, treasured, baby girl.
We visited Maryn's orphanage just four days after she was placed into our arms.  I held Maryn close to me during the visit.  Her reactions were blank.  She definitely didn't smile at the caregivers.  She didn't cry either.  She was really unmoved by the experience.  As we were leaving, though, that changed.  We were invited to go and see the playroom she spent time in each day.  We walked into the room and I placed Maryn on the floor.  My thought was that she would run free, play with familiar toys and I was hoping to see a smile that wasn't forced.  In the four days she had been with us, we had not really seen her walk from one place to another and play with toys.  We tried to get her to walk across the room and interact but she enjoyed sitting and playing with a few toys in once place.  Her smiles were few and far between.  She did not smile without a lot of effort on our part and hers as well - it wasn't her norm.  She didn't really cry either unless Ryan came too close or I left the room.  I placed Maryn in the middle of the room thinking she would walk over to a favorite toy and begin to play.  After all, this room was what was familiar.  The smell was familiar.  The people were familiar.  
She stood still.
No tears.
No smile.
She had a blank stare.  
The nanny came in, her nanny, the one who had been with her on Gotcha Day.  The nanny was animated and looked genuinely happy to see Maryn.  
Maryn just stared at her as if she was searching for an answer.
No tears.
No smile.
She was empty.
The change is profound.  If you have met Maryn during our months at home, then you are well aware that this child is not the same child we met in China.  Maryn smiles easily.  She laughs.  She runs.  She giggles.  She kisses.  She hugs.  She plays freely.  She is so happy.  She is loved and adored!
For the family members who ask "why," I pray they see the answer in her sweet face.  
For the friends who ask "why," I pray they are touched by her story.
For the acquaintances who ask "why," I pray they seek to learn more about adoption.
For the strangers who ask "why," well, my cynical answer to them is "Why NOT?"  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Our traditional Labor Day parade day with family in SC....
the added bonus to this day each year is that we get to celebrate Jay-man!  Jay turned 7 this year and was most excited about his new police uniform!
Sweet Maryn took it all in, clapping as the day continued on - she was thrilled with the parade, loved eating cake and ice cream and was most relaxed spending time in my parents' home.
Though Maryn will go to her father and to her siblings, she loves most to be held by mommy.
A rare opportunity and lucky shot of Pryce - these boys of ours are growing too fast!
Our little big girl.  Maryn Gentry has been sleeping either with us or on a crib mattress right beside our bed since our first night with her.  The mere suggestion of sleeping in a crib was an insult to this baby girl.  After two months of being home, we have transitioned her, quite successfully, to her own bed in her very own room.  So far, so good!
School began again once we settled into our new home.  Pryce has asked for a new desk since we decided to move and the decision was made that he would have his own room.  Needless to say, we intend to buy him a new desk yet cannot seem to find the time to make the purchase.  Until then, Pryce is making due.....he created and decorated his very own school area!  Love his creativity!
Sweet Maddox Ren....she is a whole lot of sass really and even more sweetness.  She is one of a kind and we are so thankful for her!
Our two littlest took some time to explore water....this was just the beginning of what became a water day for these two!  And note, Maryn has just a diaper on....all three of the older kiddos came out at different times questioning me on why Maryn was being allowed to wear only a diaper.  They all three walked away with their mouths opened wide when they were told that they, too, once played outside in a diaper with water - it is just what little diapered kiddos do!

Sunday, August 31, 2014


A few pictures from the last two weeks - 
Maddox is totally herself in this photo....I mean, really, who doesn't wear sunglasses with their beautiful smocked clothing???  
 Maryn decided to help Colin in assembling a bar stool....
 sweet girl....
 Ryan had two requests in our new home - a smart tv and a dishwasher that was a step up from our old one!
 Introducing one of the best big sisters ever!  She LOVES Maryn and the feeling is mutual!  She is quite motherly to her and very attentive to her needs!  Such wonderful help for mommy!
a little smile....
 my view each night after dinner - the children all grab something to ride, Maryn gets in her stroller, and we all take a walk to the local park....
 the girls love to see-saw....of course, sometimes they forget and jump up real quick only to let the other one fall fast!  
 Our basement....we are finishing our basement as we go....the floors were stained this weekend....
 Drooly girl - so sweet.....
 our view from our bedroom this morning....

Saturday, August 30, 2014

An update without goes our life at this moment.

*Maddox was evaluated Friday by her private speech therapist and it was determined that she no longer requires private speech therapy!  We are so proud of her though she was a little sad to say goodbye to Miss Christy!

*Maryn was also evaluated by Miss Christy and she suggested we either see her once a month or re-evaluate in three months.  I prefer her to be seen once a month just to be cautious but she is doing fabulous.  She is now saying our names, she says "baby" and it is the sweetest sound ever, she says down and immediately gets down from my hip to walk and play, she sign and says "more" as well as "please", she follows simple commands, she makes great eye contact...

*Colin visited our local high school and was not at all impressed - he made us all laugh when he stated that he wasn't sure how anyone went to school because it seemed so "depressing....the walls are all white....there is no color" home he stays.  He has such a fabulous group of friends and his teachers are phenomenal so we will stick with it for now.

*Pryce is just loving life.  School makes him happy.  His ripstick and Legos make him happier.  And he found a pond today in our new neighborhood that he can fish in....he is one happy kiddo!

*Ryan and I are swimming like we are in the minute we are coming up for air only to be knocked back down again by another wave.  Our lives are busy.  There have been forgotten appointments, missed phone calls, as well as little sleep.  Boxes are still full.  Furniture still waits to be placed in its appropriate place.  Decor is going to be put up next year - ha!  Who has time for that?!  That said, we LOVE our new home.  We did not realize just how much more space we would have until we moved in.  On paper it didn't look that large....we are grateful for the breathing room we now have amongst our growing family.  Our neighbors have welcomed us with open arms which has been an answer to prayer.  The children have already hit it off with kids in the neighborhood playing football, riding bikes, going to the park...

*Maryn continues to settle in.  She is all sugar and spice!  She is the sweetest, her beautiful eyes light up  every morning when she awakes, she loves to cuddle up in my arms at naptime and bedtime, she adores her siblings.  She loves to be outside.  She loves to swing.  Watching her explore could occupy every moment of my time - everything is a first for her!  This week I especially enjoyed watching her step in a puddle of water....she walked in it with caution, then stomped her foot down, then started marching, then squatted down to feel with her hands, and then just decided to sit down and play in it with her hands!  So precious!  There are times, though, where we see her spicey side come to life.  She has no problem arching her back in protest or screaming loudly so that all the world will know she is unhappy.  So goes the life of a two year old.

*While Maddox adores her new little sister, she is grieving her previous position in the family - being the baby.  We are all learning how to respond to Maddox's needs so that she is not feeling left out....however, this task can be a challenge.

*Ballet has begun, baseball is on the horizon, basketball is in full swing, piano is beginning, co-op occurs in between all of the above and school is in session.

So that is our current status in a nutshell.  Life is busy but we would not change it for

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Maryn has been with us almost two months now....

she sleeps well most of the time....she will awake usually once per night and reach out for my hand to comfort her....she naps once a day....sleeping in the car is not on her agenda....

she eats well....broccoli is a staple in her diet along with yogurt, chocolate milk, grits, grapes...she will typically try everything but is quick to daintily allow something she doesn't care for to just roll out of her mouth....

she is usually very happy....usually being the key word - so long as she is doing what she wants to do, she is full of bliss; however, the minute you try to redirect her or remove her from something she is enjoying, she is full of spunk!  She does not hesitate to just throw herself down when she needs to communicate her dislike for any given situation....thankfully, these fits are few and far between but I will say when they are present, I am always left without words - I have never seen anything like it! 
she loves being outside, dancing, swinging, swimming, climbing....

she has said many words - hot, water, down, mommy, daddy, bump, pop, uh-oh.....

she copies everything - the children all love having her make faces....she does pat-a-cake....and she loves to play peek-a-boo....

she is always on the go....

she is precious!  we all adore her!  and we are so thankful she is home with us forever! 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Fastest Five Months EVER

In January we decided to put our house on the market.  Little did we know that the sweetest family would come in the middle of an ice storm, view our home, and make an offer...and it was the offer we needed to plunge forward into our next journey in life.
 Two months later, just as everything had been packed away, a little surprise came upon my computer screen and our lives changed forever - we found our baby girl, Maryn Gentry.  Four days later, we closed on our home of nine years and landed ourselves at my parents' home for the next five months.  
 The hardest part was saying goodbye to the many memories we have made at 616 Cornerstone Place....and our neighbors, the infamous bunny cakes, the yard that three of our children learned to ride their bikes in and swing on a swing by themselves, our friends....
Alas, we were packed into our van, Frozen on the ipad, and away we went to South Carolina for five months we will never forget!
 Our new home was being built and the fun was just beginning!
 So what have we been up to?  Well, we have made countless trips to the zoo - with and without friends....MK even attended a zoo camp!
 We have been enjoying life in the country - bike rides on country roads and through the wooded paths....
 we have tromped through the woods and exploring all that life has to offer in the country while sighting deer daily....
 Pryce joined a baseball team for spring ball - he joined the team through a league where we knew of no one....this kiddo walked on the field, played outfield his first night and the coach must have seen a bit of thing we know, Pryce was the designated first baseman for the season....very proud of this kiddo!  He enjoyed every minute of his time on the field and blended right in with boys he had no history with whatsoever....
 all the while, we made trips back to Georgia to see the progress being made on our home....even a bit of dirt being moved around on our lot was exciting!
 Our Easter was spent surrounded by family....we LOVED being close to all of the cousins!  Just as we were moving in temporarily with my folks, my brother and his family were moving back too!  So, all nine grandchildren were within 30 minutes of one another for the first time ever!
 We found a local strawberry field and headed out with cousins to pick some deliciousness!
 And we made our way back to Georgia to visit friends and play a bit of dress up during a fundraising event!
 We jumped and attempted gymnastics at the local trampoline park a few times....
 we celebrated a very special twelve year olds birthday - the boys needed to begin their celebrating at our lot:)
 and Colin danced the night away at his spring formal.....
 and the second level of our home was built!  Watching the building process was such fun!
 We spent almost a month at the beach....the beach is our happy place!
 The building continued....
 Lake Murray became our friend - more cousin time, many days of kayaking, water-trampoline jumping, swimming, trips to Eptings for inexpensive treats, island hopping, and jet skiing....
 And swim team....what would a summer be without swim team?!  We joined a local team - a team that had never won a meet in all of their two years of swimming!  Lo and behold, they WON several this year!  We were so excited to be a part of a team that never gave up!  
 The house continued and the visits were always exciting....Colin has gotten so very tall and jumping up to touch the ceiling is a favorite of his at this time!
 During the first few months, we spent many hours calling, checking, and preparing paperwork for our anticipated trip to China to bring home our baby girl!  Honestly, we thought we would not travel until September....imagine our surprise when we received our official approval from China on April 1, just a week and a half after seeing her face for the first time!  Most families wait up to 4 months on this approval!  Finally, it was time to board the plane to CHINA!  With a lump in my throat as we said goodbye to our boys, and a heart full of anticipation to meet our girl, we were off!  June 23, we held our baby for the first time!
 Two weeks later, we were home, all united together once again and back to see our house had come so far!  There were painted walls, and cabinets had been installed, and lighting that was in need of being picked out!  
 And then an event our Maddox had been waiting on all year to occur - her very own birthday!  Five years old!  We celebrated big and loved on her lots - her little world has been turned upside down!  She was our baby for three years and though she is handling her new status well, she has her sad moments.  She recently told me her heart was "cracking"....I asked her why and she said it was because no one ever holds her anymore!  So not true yet sad to think that is what she is feeling!
 In the midst of it all, the boys acquired their very own boating licenses....they also attended a sailing camp!
 And our third birthday of the season - sweet Maryn!  Two years old!  So glad we were able to celebrate this special day with our girl - her first birthday surrounded by her family and celebrating her life!
 Things are winding down....our days in SC are coming to an end....
 country living will be a thing of the past....
 our afternoons at the lake will be replaced by schooling.....
 The door will be opening to our new home in just 5 days!  
 The house that we have watched grow from a lot to a full fledge building will become our home!  
While we are looking forward to moving in and beginning our new normal, we are also so grateful for our time in SC.  We have reunited with old friends, reconnected with special people, met new friends, and created a life time of memories in just 5 months - my boys will tell you this is their favorite summer yet! We are so thankful for our parents - mine for housing us for the last 5 months and Ryan's for being available to watch our kiddos at the drop of a hat!  
Stay tuned for the next step.....
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