Monday, February 8, 2016

Chinese New Year~ {How We Celebrate}

Monday was Chinese New Year and we were excited to celebrate! There were celebrations in our area over the weekend, but we have found enjoying this holiday at home is right for us. After all, that's what their Chinese families are doing in China!
It just made sense to incorporate this special day into our school routine.
I pulled out all the things we have collected from our many trips to China. First thing was for everyone to choose a Chinese silk for photos~
The kids are always so kind and willing to let me get portraits of them in their silks (don't know how much longer it will last~
One of my favorite photo sessions of the year~
It was really fun to pull out each special item, remember who it was chosen for, and discuss its Chinese heritage~
Everyone had a turn playing the Chinese horn and playing paddle ball~
Probably the most interesting item was the abacus so we watched a video to show us how it works. We also studied the intricate silk stitches on our tapestries~
There were fan dances and puppet shows~
Lantern making, mandarin character writing, and decorating~
The day ended with Chinese take out and sweet friends waiting to travel to Korea for their little boy~

My Thoughts on Chinese New Year~

When EK was younger, we took her to everything we could Chinese related to be with other children adopted from China. It was considered good practice to immerse our adopted children in their Chinese culture and heritage. She didn't really get that much out of it... maybe over stimulation, but it was good for Scott and I to be other families like us. We LOVE all our fellow adoptive family friends!!! Plus living out in the country makes for a very long drive to most events.
When SJ came home, we continued to attend a few outside celebrations but with each passing year and new children home, it was just too much. Too many to cocoon from strangers, manage feeding them, and visit with all the families (which is what we wanted to do). It became very evident our celebrations needed to be near or at home.
SO over the last few years, we have either gone out or ordered Chinese take out with family/friends. It's fun to focus on our own children and where they lived in China. Reading lifebooks and watching their videos is fun for them too.
Making this holiday personal has been such a blessing. Yesterday as we discussed 'their' China, they were SO proud of their heritage and culture. The number one reason in celebrating Chinese New Year is building self worth through knowledge of their culture. Being proud to be Chinese will go far in life when they are adults.
In my heart as a mom, it allows me another opportunity to show respect and love toward the family and country that gave our children life. We also spend time praying for China, their seven birth families, and all the children still there waiting for their forever family.
And lastly, it gave us a way to celebrate sweet CallaAnne who is enjoying this great celebration with a precious foster family.
Our prayer for all that is Chinese~
"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."'    ~ Numbers 6:24-26

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Family Birthday~

Evie and I were so happy to celebrate our birthday with my parents, sister/family, and brother/family today.
My sister, Becca, and Sam had been here with the kids while Scott and I were at Chosen for Life conference. Go HERE to read about our time there.

I bought a simple cake at Publix, added some tissue paper and cupcakes around it
and Evie thought it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen~
{I even wrote the words myself}
 We grilled hotdogs and ate cake~
 Watching her face while we sang to her was priceless~
 Everyone gathered around for gift opening~
 She got a family for her playhouse and tons of art supplies~
It was a Simple Sunday birthday celebration, and a fun birthday WEEK!!!

My Thoughts on Birthdays and Parties:

Why are we so sure big birthdays and big parties are the way to do a birthday right? I used to worry more about how everything looked or if the gifts were grand over the happiness of my children. Don't get me wrong... they LOVED their birthdays and the parties I threw but looking back, I might have been a little crazy.

Then in time I wearied at the thought of pulling off a big shindig, so I asked if they would rather have a party or use the money for something they wanted. They always chose the money and it ended up being a much simpler and fun time.

Now with the littles, it has simplified even more. There are no big parties thrown although we have a big family. I know being a homeschool family makes this whole idea of keeping it simple way easier!

I've wised up in my middle age...

~ Kids don't need big parties or big cakes to have fun.
I was talking to Savannah this week and we laughed at the thought of her looking back over her albums and thanking me for that big elaborate cake on her 5th birthday. Honestly it's the only one she does remember (grocery store bought) because she tried to move it from one room to the other and dropped it top down onto the floor. :) A sweet memory!!!

~ Kids don't need lots of gifts to feel special.
How many times have we thrown big parties and end up with a bunch of gifts that were little to be desired. Now what to do with all that stuff? Can you see how that would be a problem with a big family? Chances are our children will remember one special gift given to them on certain birthdays, and talk about it in future years. The big girls still talk about American Girl dolls they received and playing with them together. I find giving our children gifts that make them want to play with each other are the best!!!

~Kids don't need extravagance to feel loved.
A big party, cake, and lots of gifts might make a child happy for a time, but we all know that fades away in time. TIME is how a child feels love. Time spent planning a family party. Time spent singing to them, eating cake, and opening gifts is special, but choosing to sit down and play with their things together is where the love happens. Yes Evie, let's play that game for the 1000th time or yes SJ, let's bake cookies in the easybake again. Time equals love, and you can't get it back so do while you still can!!!

Do you have similar thoughts on birthdays and big families???

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Don't Miss It~

One year ago this past weekend I was invited to the If Gathering at the last minute, and on the second day we were asked to write on a stone a word God was speaking to us.
I wrote the number 7.
God had shown me 7 a few times in the weeks before and would after too.
I really felt like He was leading us back to China for a 7th child but when I shared this with Scott, he reminded me of a pact we had made 6 months before that. He said no.

It was June 27, 2014 and as we hit the tarmac, we locked hands, looked into each others’ eyes, and made a promise we were done! Done with travel, done with adopting, and just ready to be home. Little did we know, God had such better plans for us.

Back to February 7, 2015… I was home from a mountaintop experience thinking I had heard a clear word from God and my husband was sure I had not. I didn’t know what to think or pray.
I decided to pray IF we were meant to go back for our 7th child, God would tell Scott. It was SO hard to sit back and let Him work.
In April, I saw the face of a little girl that took my breath away. I wanted her to be our little girl but didn’t know how to approach Scott about her. I casually mentioned a precious little girl who looked just like SJ, and he said she probably had a family. I checked… no!
I told him I would advocate for her and just see what God would do. That was SO hard. Trust God to give her to us even when I was putting her out there to be chosen by someone else. I believed with all my heart if she was meant to be our daughter, God would work it out.
For two months she waited on an agency list and I kept praying for her, for Scott, for our family.
I remember getting a message while we were away for our anniversary in June that another family had sent LOI for her, and I had to force myself to be thankful she was chosen and loved. It hurt so much but God was working.
For two months her file was gone and we believed a family was pursuing her adoption. I still thought about her and continued to pray for her.
In August I was standing in the school room staring out the window watching the rain pour when a message appeared on my phone that Raine was back on the list and the family had released her file. I could NOT hold back my feelings. I sent the file to Scott with a note saying, “Don’t be mad.” For days he didn’t say a word.
One Saturday he was running and God revealed her eyes to him. He knew. The next day at church God would make it SO clear during a sermon challenging us to be Lifesavers… who were we going to save?
Bam! That was it… the answer to my prayers over the last 7 months. That night he reached over to take my hand, looked me in the eye, and said Okay. Nothing else needed to be said. I knew he meant Okay, we have a daughter and Okay we are going to get her. It was also a moment when 7 made complete sense.
7th child had been chosen 7 months after God had spoken to my heart. He had taught me He is able to do immeasurable MORE in His timing. I just had to believe and wait.
Our children were thrilled when we told them they had a new sister while vacationing at the beach.
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And the rest is history… we are waiting for LOA and hoping to travel in the Spring.

Chosen for Life Conference~ {Yesterday}

One year later yesterday, we were invited to share our video and testimony at Chosen for Life Conference. One year later God gave us the beautiful privilege to share our adoption story with people chasing adoptions or foster care. It was amazing to stand on stage and shout God’s provision in our marriage over the last 30 years! SO thankful to Bryan and Lisa Miller for this amazing opportunity!
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IF I had not gone to IF Gathering, I might not have been available to hear God’s plan for our family.
IF I had chosen to ignore God’s nudges, I would have missed the blessing of speaking for His glory.
IF I had pushed Scott instead of waiting on God, I might have missed our 7th daughter.
IF our marriage had been weak and we had been selfish, we may have chosen our own path.

SO What to Take from all this?

God will reveal His will to BOTH of you but not necessarily in your timing OR at the same time.
Prayer moves us to a place where God ordains His will.
Never say never because you don’t always know what God has in store.
His plan is ALWAYS better!
Ephesians 3:20… Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Our favorite matra lately has been: WHAT if we had missed this?

Final Thought: DON’T MISS IT! It’s TOO good to miss!!!

Share what might be holding you back from a first adoption or maybe your 7th.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Another Protégé~

Evie woke up from nap and wanted to shoot some pics of Macy~
Imagine her surprise when I said YES!
Another Protégé!!!

Fun Friday~ {Art, Music, Library}

Today was began two Simply Charlotte Mason studies: Art and Music~
 We loved learning about Millet and Chopin. (even Macy listened!)
Then we loaded up and went to the library~
 Everyone got their own library card and chose 3 books each~
 It was a very Fun Friday!!!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Watercolor Thank You Notes~

We took time to watercolor postcards to send to some special people~
 We absolutely LOVE our sunroom and find ourselves on the floor often!
The notes turned our pretty awesome~
Of course Evie was not done when we finished the postcards so~
I wrote the alphabet for her and Holly so they could paint each one.
They loved it SO much!!!

The Story of Ferdinand~ {FIAR}

This week we enjoyed the sweetest book, The Story of Ferdinand,
about a flower smelling, cork tree sitting bull~
 We enjoyed learning all about the country of Spain, bull fighting, and Spanish foods.
We also researched and watched how cork grows and is harvested~
We had another sickie this week so two days were missed for birthdays and strep.

Birthday Week~

Evie and I celebrated our birthdays on Wednesday.
The difference in her over the last three years is astounding!
Daddy left us both sweet K cup notes and she thought she should have coffee too~
 It was raining like crazy but it wasn't keeping us home.
We met Scott @ The Iron Wok for Chinese~
 Then to the toy store for Evie to choose her birthday gifts.
We started this tradition over the last round of birthdays and let me say it is a BIG hit~
 Sissy bought her this adorable doctor's outfit, memommy gave her rainboots, and
we gave her another Calico Critter house and family~
 She also got new blankets... this girl LOVES her blankets to 'eat' as she says~
We went to church that night so the kids could stay in a routine~
I've been amazed to watch them mesh in with new friends
and enjoy going to their 'class'!
It was a very fun day and we are looking forward to celebrating again on Sunday!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Poetry Teatime~ {Bravewriter}

Today we gathered some our poetry books on the coffee table
and each child chose something for me to read to them~
 We decided chocolate milk was a better choice than tea along with Lindor chocolates!
We have a new poetry book called Poems Every Child Should Know,
and today we listened to them being read as a podcast.
We loved 'Little Things' so much, we decided to memorize it~
 We also began reading a Midsummer Night's Dream, and they loved it too!
It was a sweet time of beautiful language!

And I had to share Evie's story this morning in her journal of our trip to Hibachi~
Just SO cute... chef with the tall hat! Adorable!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Birthday Celebration with our Children~

Evie and I will celebrate our birthday on Wednesday, but today I received some beautiful gifts
from my amazing friend Lori... a blanket for CA and adorable outfit plus this gorgeous bracelet~
 The blanket is just so sweet, and I already look forward to wrapping CA up for a cuddle!

Our big girls wanted to go out for a birthday dinner so we all met in Athens for Hibachi~
 This was a BIG first for all our littles, and they handled the fire and noise perfectly!
It was just SO fun to be together on a weeknight~
 There were gifts, dinner, and delicious cupcakes~
I could not love my family more, and SO thankful to share my birthday with Eviebaby!!!
Thank you all for a perfect big family birthday party!!!