Beautiful Life

Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Birthday....AGAIN!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We did, though I forgot to take a single picture! Do you believe that? I can't! I don't go anywhere without my camera. Everyone I know teases me about taking so many pictures and then I manage to completely forget to take a picture of Claire's first Thanksgiving!!! Oh well.

There is one thing I am not lacking though, and that is pictures of Claire's birthday parties. We had another one! This was Claire's third, 3rd birthday!!! Now, I think we have made up for the two birthdays that we missed with her and we are done! And, not a moment too soon, as Christmas is coming around the corner way too fast!

Here she is, blowing out more candles! She's a pro now. This cake was decorated with letters so she could "pell", because that is her new favorite thing to do! She is still working on learning her lower case letters but she did pretty well.

Cousins, Brooke and Megan, helped with the presents this time. Of course, by now, she knows exactly what to do!

Here she is with her first Trike...which she LOVES! I don't think it will be too long before she is going to be riding it by herself, but for now it works great with the handle on the back for us to push! And, she got everyone to push her!

Claire with cousins, Brooke and Brianna. Thank you for coming to my party....because I know most teenagers could think of 10 things they would rather do than go to a birthday party for a 3 year old!

Claire and Casey playing around. They are exact opposites. Claire is shy and reserved...Casey is wide open! But they both love friends in the making!

Casey is more interested in the dogs! Knowing her mother the way I do....this is no surprise to me! My dogs LOVE Miss Michelle and I'm sure they will feel the same about Casey if she keeps this up!

Recognize this pretty face....well, you do if you follow the blog, Significant Source. Claire is posing with her new friend, Darling Daughter from over there! Darling Daughter has been a big fan of Claire's from way back before we left for China and we were so happy to finally meet her! We can never thank her enough for all the prayers!

The twins.....with the twins! Parker and Noah had a great time today with SS's twin boys, Quatro and Pip Squeak, and hope to see them again when we visit up this way!

And, here I am with Significant Source herself! We went to school together....ummmm, 20 years ago (yikes), but only knew each other causally. Of course, we aren't really that old...we both graduated from high school when we were like 8! LOL!

Claire had another great birthday thanks to our family and dear friends, but the icing on the cake.....

Was watching Claire take her first independent steps! Just like a baby's first steps, they were wobbly, but she is definitely not letting that stop her. She practiced over and over again...with an audience, of course! She was so excited that she was finally doing it! Paul got a few of her attempts on video, though he missed the first and best because she just started going and he wasn't in the room at the time! She physically tires quickly, but she wants to keep trying even when she isn't able to any more. In the end she was just standing there and falling face forward because her legs were to tired for her pick up her feet anymore! But, she just laughed and said, "do again"! It was really hard to believe that we were seeing her do something we only dreamed about months ago! Seeing her just balance there for a few minutes and take off like any other baby taking first steps, just confirms for me that SHE WILL WALK and that day is going to come sooner rather than later! Amazing!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Part III

What Thanksgiving Is All About
By Parker Norman

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks to God and to enjoy what God provided for us. I like Thanksgiving because of the wonderful food and getting to see our relatives. God has provided me with food, clothing, and a house and bed to sleep in. I'm grateful for my twin brother to play with and my pets.

I am very glad that I can be a Christian and that we could adopt Claire. Claire is fun to play with and she's loving and cute. I enjoyed that I could go camping and go to the Renaissance Festival because it was a time to spend with my family. I love my family!

Thanksgiving Part II

What Thanksgiving Is To Me
by Paul Noah

Thanksgiving is a time of thanking God for providing and for making enjoyable creations. I love it because we get to see some of our relatives and have fun with our cousins! I also like the food because it's always savory and it really brings us together.

This year I'm very thankful for my little sister Claire. She always gives us something to do! I thank God that he gave her to us to be her family and that he kept her alive . And, I am thankful for my family! I'm glad I have food and drink. I am delighted to have a bed to sleep in.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Part I

by Isabel Lee

I like Thanksgiving because I get to see my family and there is a lot of great food. I like to see my family be happy. I am thankful for my family and seeing Lizzie makes me excited. I like everything that God created and I am really thankful that I live near the beach.
I love to play in the sand and water.
I also like singing and dancing and listening to music, so I am thankful for the Lord because He gave me everything I need and I get to sing and dance!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Party Number 1

Much of Paul's family and some of our dearest friends were here on Saturday to celebrate Claire's 3rd birthday. We had a great time, and though it was a little overwhelming for Claire at times, she was delighted with all the attention! I know this because she is STILL talking about it!
When 30 people broke into the "Happy Birthday" song I really thought she was going to loose it. She had a brief look of terror on her face and I was waiting for the tears to come. Thankfully it ended quickly, and we distracted her with blowing out the candles, which she loves!

Of course, she wanted to play with every present as soon as she opened it, so here she is having a short tea party with our sweet Maggie Mae! Maggie dropped by with her family even though they were supposed to be having early Thanksgiving at their house an hour later!! We love you Sara, Sean, Maggie and Nicholas!

One of the best parts was having our Lizzie there all day!

As you can see, the children were in rare form! They're so special....and we're so proud! LOL

What a goofball!

She loved opening the presents....Duh, what kid doesn't! Isabel and the other girls wanted to "help" but Claire would say, "Not you"!

I tried to get a quick picture of Claire playing with the other 3 year olds, her cousins Emma Hope and Sophia. It didn't turn out so well.....because they were not paying any attention to me, what-so-ever, THANKYOUVERYMUCH!

Unfortunately, I was too busy to take a lot of good pictures. I got some pictures....they just aren't the ones I wanted to get! Oh well! I'll try again next time....which for us is next weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Here are some more pictures from Claire's first 3rd birthday!

I Three!

Mommy ALWAYS makes the cakes! The only time a child of mine had a store bought cake was when Lizzie wanted an ice cream cake for her 5th birthday! Now, I'm not promising that they are always good cakes....for example, this one was falling apart...but they are always a labor of love!
Claire LOVES Chahit(that's Claire for chocolate)!

I'm a goofball! In case you were wondering!

It just means she fits in perfectly with the rest of us!

More presents!

It was a great day! Thank you to all the kind people that wished her a happy birthday on Facebook and emailed me and to Brianna and Brooke who tried to call her....but it was nap time! We love you all!

First time Birthday Girl!

No, it isn't her first birthday, but it's the first time her birthday has been celebrated.....that we know of. Do we know for sure that today is her birthday? No. But, we do know that she was found on November 22nd and she was obviously a newborn. Her birthday was assigned to her based on these things and I see no reason to question it. It is one of many things China gave to her....along with her Chinese name, her heritage, her features, her life saving first surgery, her chance to be adopted into a forever family....

So, today is her special day and let me tell you, she has been made ready! In the past month we have celebrated Lizzie's birthday (10/20) and the boys' birthday (11/13), so she knows what this is ALL about! We have been coaching her for weeks on how to say she is 3 years old and show her three fingers! She knows without a doubt that birthdays mean CAKE!

And, in our house, birthdays mean being woken up with a camera in your face! Not really liking that tradition!

Give her a minute....there's our happy girl!

You don't get breakfast in bed until you sleep in a bed....but Isabel got up early to bake cinnamon rolls (and they aren't even organic) and cut up Claire's favorite strawberries! What a sweetie sister! So, no breakfast in bed, but a special breakfast still.

A present, for me? She did not know what to do with this. Lizzie and the boys are at that age where all they got were cards full of money! Don't worry, Isabel was happy to show her how to tear into it!

Ooh! Ahhhhh!

Letters, my favorite! This toy is really cute. She knows all her letters already, but when you put the letters in the sun it tells you the sound they make and if you push the green button it sings the ABC song! She really liked this!

Later, we will have a dinner with cake, which she has asked for all day. She will also get two more presents from us as we missed her first two birthdays. Isabel decided we had to make up for it and get her three presents! Makes sense! Anyway, Miss Claire will think she is a princess when it is all said and done, because she is getting not just today, but two birthday parties! We couldn't skip celebrating today because today is the actual DAY, but she is having a party on Saturday with all of Paul's family and our close Charleston friends. Then she will have another party out of town next weekend with my family and some friends from my hometown! I bet she learns to sing the Happy Birthday song soon!

I don't have to tell you how special this day is to us. Somewhere, on the other side of the world is the mother that gave Claire life 3 years ago today. She made the choice to give it and not to take it away and I thank her for that. We will never know or understand why she did not keep Claire, but I do know that we waited two long years to welcome her home and we love celebrating her life!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Power of Prayer

It can save marriages and lives. It can heal the body and the soul. It can move mountains and part seas. Six months ago, I watched as it joined nine small children with their forever families. I watched as children in need of love, attention and in some cases, medical attention, were scooped up and given just that. The power of prayer is what brought our own little girl home. It's what gave us hope for her future and it's what has made this possible!

Everyday she gets a little stronger and everyday brings new promise. This is a child that China thought would never walk! Thank you to all the wonderful people that include her in their daily prayers....this would not be possible without those prayers!

Meet me over at the Wednesday Prayer Meetin' if you have any prayer requests or feel the need to pray for others!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A new resource on the block!

An amazing group of women, namely, Stefanie over at Ni Hao Ya'll, Tonggu Momma at Our Little Tongginator, Rebecca from China Baby! and Aimee at Heart Smiles have labored in love to create a wonderful new resource for parents adopting or wanting to adopt special needs children from China! I share with those women a heart for China's countless Waiting Children and as you all know, our own sweet girl was one of them! Claire is truly a living miracle and gift from God that we would not have been able to receive without the Waiting Children program. I was excited to lend our information to this new website and I have already reaped the benefits of it, as I found a new resource for our family based on Claire's special need!

So please, if you have a special needs child, want a special needs child, think you could one day open your heart to the blessings that wait....check out this new site, No Hands But Ours! The site is designed to encourage parents, provide support and resources and get the word out about children that are still waiting. And, if you want to see anything added to it...your family story, a link to your blog or your favorite resource listed, you can let them know at The more the better!

Replacing fear with knowledge
Replacing doubt with assurance
Replacing isolation with community
Replacing defeat with hope

Monday, November 17, 2008

Role Play

We knew it was only a matter of time. Claire decided to cath one of her baby dolls today. She has all her supplies handy but she skipped the hand sanitizing! I hope the baby doesn't get a UTI! Yeah, I think it's going to be a few more years before she will be quite ready to do this on her own!

Step one: Fling the baby's dress over her face....because who wants to watch, right? Then remove the diaper.

Step two: Hand sanitizing-who needs it! Skip that step and go straight to "use a box of wipes to clean the baby's bottom!" The more, the better, right?

Step Three: Get your catheter and paper cup ready, (yes, I sometimes cath her into a paper cup because they are way cheaper than diapers, people!) and search for the little pee pee hole.......ummm, where is that thing?

Step Four: If you can't find it, improvise! Hey, and this baby isn't even crying, so it must be fine!

Step Five: All done.....except there is nothing in this cup, mom! At this point she asked for some water in the cup! Now she wants to go give the baby a bath!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This is more my speed!

The boys were almost as excited about their new Nerf Vulcan, fully automatic, Rambo style, machine dart guns as they were the rifle they got for their birthday! This is more my speed. Needless to say, we were under attack this weekend!

Friday, November 14, 2008

This was so not my idea!

Hubby, who is a gun enthusiast, has decided to pass this passion onto our boys. It wasn't hard. Trust me, they were more than willing to receive it! Yesterday, for their 12th birthday, he convinced........more like offered to let them, spend some of their birthday money to buy a used semi-automatic .22 rifle from a friend. The boys were thrilled with their first gun purchase. I have a feeling it won't be the last. They have been itching for this day for some time now. I guess it's like a girl getting her first make-up kit to use.......sorta? I would say that the make-up kit is a little less noisy and violent....but I was a teenager in a house of girls and I know first hand that getting ready in the morning can be like going into combat! My father, an Army man, knew well enough to get out of the house quickly in the morning and stay clear of us! LOL!

In this picture Parker is holding his Dad's .22 bolt action and Noah is holding their new .22. Please note, that though you can not see it, Noah's shirt says "Every great idea I have gets me in trouble". That should tell you something right there! I'm not sure we were ready for this....okay, I was not ready for this....but Dad does keep them unloaded and locked up at all times. Except this afternoon, when they get to go to the Rifle practice.....I feel sorry for those paper targets, because these boys have dead-on aim!



Don't you feel safer now?

Switching gears....on to the subject of knife throwing. That is the other thing they got for their birthday. Yep, throwing knives and tomahawks and a video that teaches you how to throw them! GREAT! Dad's little escapade at the the Renaissance Festival really inspired them. He bested the King's man at hatchet throwing and now the boys want to learn that skill too! I feel sorry for any boy that comes around here looking to court their sisters! LOL! It's okay YoYo, they agree, you are safe. They'll just run off any competition!
*Where, you might ask, do we purchase these throwing knives? At Vision Forum . com, of course. They have a boyhood catalog full of old fashioned boy toys, girlhood toys and Christ centered books and DVDs.*

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Twelve years ago today....

at 5:33pm Parker Norman entered the world (right)
and at 5:48 Paul Noah followed (left)

God answered a prayer I'd been sending up since first grade....He gave me a set of twins! That may sound like a strange prayer for a 6 year old, but I was fascinated with twins from the time I met a set, Meredith and Michelle, in first grade. I decided then and there that I would have my own twins when I grew up....... I still stand in awe that the Lord actually granted that prayer!

My pregnancy with the boys started out like most, and at my first doctor's visit I had an ultrasound that showed only one baby. Imagine Paul's surprise, five weeks later when a second ultrasound revealed TWINS!

Around 30 weeks the boys got a little impatient (big surprise, if you know them! LOL) and I had to be hospitalized to stop labor. I was sent home 5 days later.....on strict bed rest and high doses of a horrible drug that gave me the shakes, and made me so hot that I had the temperature in the house set so low that Paul had to sleep in sweats. If you know Paul at all, you know that had to be COLD! But it worked, for 4 more weeks anyway. By then I'd gained over 70 pounds and yes, I stopped counting after that! My doctor decided we'd had enough...or maybe he'd had enough, and sent me to be induced. How ironic, one day they are stopping my labor and five weeks later they give me drugs to start it again! When it was time to deliver, I was sent to the OR, just in case I required a C-section. There were nurses lining the walls. I had no idea that labor and delivery was a spectator sport! They were there "just in case" as well. There was also a team of doctors and nurses for each baby. Talk about overwhelming!

After a little vacuum procedure (sounds lovely doesn't it), Parker was born. He cried and he breathed and he was perfect....and big! He weighed 6 pounds 1 ounce! His brother was mad. Mad that Parker got somewhere first! If you know Noah, you know I am right about this! He lodged himself butt first and insisted on being born that way! And, he was! He weighed 5 pounds 9 ounces, and yes, folks, it took 15 minutes to get him out butt first! He came out breech, black and blue from the doctor having to climb on the delivery table and push him out, and so mad that he started a scream and then refused to breath. He scored a 2 on his Apgar just for that. Turned himself purple! Let me just tell you that he has tried to be first and fast at EVERYTHING since that day.

Five days later we went home and that first year is a blur. But a happy blur! The only sad part is that they grew up too fast!

The boys are so much a like in many ways.....competitive, athletic, coordinated, honest, sensitive. They also have very similar likes and dislikes. They have always shared everything....their parents, their room, their toys, their friends and even their crib when they were little. They get along like best friends and you won't usually find one without the other.

Parker is....just like me in many ways. At home, he is a natural leader, in public, more of a follower. He is the child that leaves me love notes. The one with the patience to build with Lego's. The deep thinker, the perfectionist and the planner. He is passionate about fairness. He is also the one with a temper that has to be kept in check. But, he will give you his last dollar if you need it. He has his nose in a book a lot of the time and he loves to be outside.

Noah is....a version of his Daddy. He's the mischief maker, the jester. His mission is to make you laugh. He is in motion most of the time...always running, always trying to be first at something....anything....everything, and that means that he sometimes does things without thinking them through. He was first to crawl, first to walk and plays the piano like it's going to run away from him if he doesn't hurry! He's the one that offers to help. The one that is quick to be sure you are okay if you fall. He loves to read but it's the only thing he does slowly!

Random facts about the boys:

They are not Identical twins, but Fraternal!
You tell me.....which one is which?

Parker wore glasses 6 months before Noah needed them. He also had two minor surgeries before he turned 2 and Noah had none.

Noah was so terrified of people dressed in costume that he would hide under the table at Chuck E. Cheese when Chuck E. came out and we have no Santa pictures where he is not crying until he was four years old.

Parker rode the roller coaster before Noah, but even he had to be pulled on it!

They have played baseball for 8 years and their Daddy coached all but one of those years!

They love each other. I once sent Noah off with his Dad to run an errand, but Parker didn't know he'd left. I was standing at the door looking out (they had just driven off) when Parker came along and asked where Noah was. I had a mischievous moment and told him that a band of Gypsies had come by and I'd sold Noah to them. I had a wad of cash in my hand that Paul had handed me before he left. Parker looked at me with wide eyes and teared up. He said, "Mom! I like to play with him!" Oh, how I love that guy!

Like it or not, they are pretty much a package deal!

And today they are TWELVE!

Happy Birthday to my "baby" boys!