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!  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sweet Sisters

"She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future"
Proverbs 31:25
 "Sometimes being a sister is even better than being a princess."
 "We laugh, we cry, we make time fly.  Best friends are we, my sisters me."
 Big Sister
"My little eyes are watching all you say and do and when I grow up big and tall, I want to be like you!  My little ears are listening to everything you say, I am learning how to grow up to be like you someday.
 So be careful how you teach me to be the person that you are.  You're the best friend that I could have; you're my brightest shining star."
~Patsy Gout
"How do people make it through life without a sister?" ~ Sara Corpening 
 Oh these girls!  These precious girls.  
 How our lives have changed for the better because of each of you!
 Each day you bring us joy and laughter.....
 and sometimes even bring us to our knees as we learn the ins and outs of raising baby girls!
 Each of you offer your own flavor to our world....
 and a little spice to our lives!
 We would not have it any other way!  
Always remember you are loved and cherished from the tips of your sweet little heads all the way down to the tips of your itty bitty toes!.
Eight looks great on Mason-Kate!  She started her "birthday week" with a gymnastics birthday celebration with all of her favorite friends!
 The girls all gathered for a bit of instructions....
 and then they were off and enjoying the different stations in the gym....
 this pic is so blurry but it had to be shared since it was MK's favorite activity of the day!
 The whole time, the gym was blaring Highschool Musical music - both of our girls have memorized the songs from watching the movies numerous times:0!
 After a bit of play, it was time for a bit of cake and ice cream!
 Presents were a hit too!
 I love seeing MK's expressions as she revealed each gift!  
 And the birthday cake....MK is not a cake, cookie cake it was and she was one happy girl!
A big day was had by all! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Happy 8th Birthday, MK!

Today is a day that you have looked forward to for a very, very long time.....
 each morning this week, you have awakened to tell me "only 2 more days until I am 8!" and so on....
 So, today baby girl, we celebrate you and we give thanks for your life.  
"May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;  may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."
Numbers 6:24-26

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Kicking off 2015

Happy New Year!
 We rang in the new year with our traditional fireworks display....low-key but fun all the same.  
 Sometimes the noise is still a wee bit much for some but, noise and all, you better believe this little one isn't going to miss out on any type of excitement!  
 This is likely one of my favorite shots....everyone is focused on whatever just made its way into the sky!  Classic!  
 Due to wet wood and the lack of a fire starter, we went for oven-cooked smoores....yummo!
 New Year's day we had a few of our favorites pay us a visit for a bit.  Brooklyn and Maddox are in our co-op together as well as church on Sundays and Wednesdays.  They refer to each other as "sister friends" and we think they are the cutest buddies ever!  They may or may have gotten into a bit of make-up during their time together;)  Brooklyn's family is in the adoption process and hoping to bring home a baby girl from Maryn's orphanage!  How exciting!
 Our new neighborhood is a great area to ride bikes and walk.  The girls and I have spent quite a few chilly afternoons making our way to the park for some fresh air.
 Our first week back to schedules, new opportunities + math with M&Ms = all is well in the homeschool world.  Though it can be overwhelming having all 5 kiddos home and schooling, the time that I spend with them is irreplaceable.  This year has been one for the books....I have a toddler, a pre-schooler, an elementary kiddo, a middle school kiddo and a high school kiddo. 
Another moment to share, was the father-child camping adventure this crew went on the day before New Year's Eve.  Ryan, the boys, and our two big girls took off with a tent in the trunk to a local campground by the lake for the evening.  Our neighbors took off right along with them!  So, two men, seven children, a whole lotta food, firewood, a couple of tents, bikes, and sleeping bags, all off for the night.  Being that the temps were in the mid-thirties that night, and they were camping on "primitive" sites aka "no electricity," I was thankful to be home in my warm bed and Maryn was thankful too!  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Maddox: "Mom, my dream was about me and you in jail."  I asked her what in the world we had done to be thrown in jail and she couldn't say....MK said, "Yeah, I tried to make sense of her dream but I couldn't."

Maddox: "What ruffled your feathers?"  Mind you, she said this as she was all curled up in my was a very peaceful moment.

Colin:  As he is staring at the pantry looking for a snack, he proclaims, "I don't get it.  There is NOTHING in here to eat yet you always manage to put dinner on the table!"  He's a 14 year old boy.  He eats ALL the time.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Six Months of Forever

Six months of forever.

I am most positive that little Miss had no idea what lie ahead of her on that hot afternoon in China.  To me, it happened SO minute we were waiting, the next minute we watched as our beautiful 22 month old baby girl bravely walked out from behind the curtain that separated us.  Just as no one can prepare you for the birth of a child, no one and nothing can prepare you for the moment when you meet your child - the "gotcha" moment.

Looking back at pictures from our trip, I noticed a theme in little Maryn's life at that time - scared-to-death.  For days, she clung to me not because she knew me or had this immediate bond to me, but because I was all she had to go with.  Ryan was a no-go while MK and Maddox were fun to play with as long as she was placed securely in my lap.  There was no walking about the room, getting her to smile was like pulling teeth, no exploring, no babbling - just a quiet, gentle, sweet baby girl who was so content to sit in one place.  And she was precious.  So very precious!

We laughed when the orphanage director told us, "She is a feisty one!"  Hmmmm.  I told Ryan in China that if we had not seen video of her walking and crawling, I would not believe that she was able.  She really sat in one place all.the.time.  Wherever we put her, she stayed.  And it wasn't because she couldn't walk, she definitely could....she just didn't want to or she was too scared to.

And then there is now.
Six months later, and we can't remember a day without her.
Six months later, and I have to look at pictures to be reminded of those early days with her in our lives.
It seems as if it has been forever.
She no longer  refuses Ryan.  Instead, the minute he arrives home from work, she runs to him, hugs his legs and yells, "Dada! Dada!"  And he melts.
Maddox and Mason-Kate are still so much fun to play with but Maryn prefers to be outside jumping on the trampoline, blowing bubbles, dancing or taking a walk with them.  Or playing Barbies or baby dolls or reading books.  She loves books.

I am pretty sure the minute we landed in the USA, Maryn jumped down and began running full speed ahead and she hasn't looked back.  Our girl who sat in one spot for two weeks is no longer sitting still for two seconds....she is a girl on the go.  She walks, she runs, she crawls, she climbs, she walks up and down stairs, she jumps, she dances....if there is a movement to be made, she is on it!

Her smile.  It warms us all to see her smile.  And it brings us back to the little things - if you get the puzzle piece in correctly, SMILE and clap and smile some more.  Most all things warrant a smile in her world....even when she is saying the word "Noooo" in her little sing-song voice, that is worth smiling about too.  And to hear her giggle makes us giggle....she has a deep belly laugh and it is contagious.
And she is still precious.  And I can't get enough of the nighttime baby lotion on her - she smells so good!  And the diapers - ah, a fresh clean diaper is the best smell ever when it is on your child and she is cuddled up on your chest really doesn't get any better.  And she is talking and singing - singing is her favorite!  Deep and Wide, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, ABCs....she loves a good song.  And she won't go to sleep without hugs and kisses from all siblings.  And she loves shoes of all sizes and gender.  She tolerates the dog - he may steal a bite of her food from time to time so she is constantly pulling that finger out and shouting, "No! Bad Boy!"  Nobody gets in between Maryn and her food!

All this, yet there are moments when I see her retreat back to our time in China.  Six months later, we are in love with this little angel and can't remember life before her yet she does.  She goes back to that time every now and then.  That time of fear.  The unknown.  Just today I took her to a PT appointment at a local gym.  She has only been once before and did great during her initial visit.  But today was different.  Today as the therapist tried to engage Maryn in therapeutic play, Maryn stood there, her eyes staring into space and her face with little expression.  She was just as she was the day we visited the orphanage - lost.  I reached down and picked her up and she clung to me.  Clung.  And after a few moments of me holding her and telling her repeatedly that I was staying right beside her, she got down and continued with her therapy.....but she always looked back to make sure I was right there behind her.  It's these moments that I have to step back and realize that it has only been six months.  What has been so seamless for us, has been life altering for her.  And she continues to adjust beautifully.  But every now and then, she needs a big hug of reassurance that this is forever, HER forever!
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