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

Friday, January 30, 2009

One Year Ago Today....


I saw this picture on a multi-agency special needs list. Oddly, I saw it on the website for Great Wall and not my agency, Children's Hope. You aren't supposed to see photo-listings from China on other agency's sites but some agencies used to break bend that rule...shame on them. Being nosey very curious, I sometimes checked around to see what I could see. I noticed that no one from that agency was even reviewing her file and knowing that we could not request a child whose file was not with our agency, I sent up a hasty prayer.....you see, her sweet face caught my attention, but I was only just beginning to realize that God's plan for us wasn't just adoption, but to adopt a child other's might not feel able to. My prayer that if that child's file appeared on my agency's list I would jump at a chance for it, quickly turned into the path that lead directly to the blessing of adding Claire to our family. That simple prayer was answered the following day and served as some confirmation for me of what I felt I was being called to! My God and my husband broadened my understanding over the next few weeks as we waited to view her file and made our decision. They helped me to realize that it wasn't about me, or even our other children. It was about putting faith in God to provide the resources and give us the strength and wisdom to parent the child he'd chosen for our family.... no matter what.

The rest is the history of this blog and has resulted in one of the biggest blessings of all of our lives! The other children, that I worried I would be burdening with another child's needs, have gained the most through this all. They love and adore their sister and have learned compassion, empathy, patience and tolerance in ways they didn't understand before Claire became part of our family. I am so thankful that God called us to this adventure!
Pictures of Claire doing her favorite things!
Reading a Noah's Ark book with her Noah
Playing with her Little People camper...'cause it doesn't get much cuter than a Little People pop-up camper to remind her how much she LOVED camping! LOL!
She loves her people!
And her books






Don't forget her most favorite thing in this world....letters...and puzzles, how cool when you can get them together!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We Interrupt this Blog....


For an update and a Prayer Request.


First, I broke down and went to the doctor...and took the girls to see theirs too. Including the trip to the pharmacy afterwards, we were gone from 10am until 3pm and spent $94.00. Great. The day was a bust as far as school went, but hey we're all on drugs now! Isabel and I are on antibiotics for sinus and ear infections, as well as cough medicine and decongestants and I'm the lucky one, I also get the nose spray. Claire presented with goo in her eyes last night, so I figured since I was going, why not have then give her a once over.....yep, it's conjunctivitis. Fun stuff, people! I know you guys are all jealous but you can not borrow my kids or our germs! They're mine, all mine I tell you! HA!


Second and most important, I have to pass on a big prayer request and I have no idea how this could have slipped my mind on Wednesday. My Friend Rina over at Bringing Home Myah really needs some intercession, friends. She brought sweet Myah home right after we came home with Claire. Myah was born with anal atresia and it was later discovered that she only has one kidney. Myah had some "corrective" surgery in China and needless to say needs more here in the US. A lot more....4 more surgeries to be exact and they are all taking place in the next 3 weeks! This family lives in Florida, but alas, the best doctors for this are in Ohio....isn't that always the case! So Rina, who is terrified to fly, flew anyway, and got Myah to the hospital in Cincinnati. Please visit Rina's blog for updates on cute little Myah. We know the Father has her in the palm of his hand. Join us in lifting Myah and her family up!

A little culture

In an effort to expose our children to the Chinese culture and as part of our Chinese New Year festivities, I took the children to see some Chinese performers that came to our local cultural arts center. The show was less than an hour long and attended by hordes of local public school kindergarten classes The kids really enjoyed it. Most of the show actually held Claire's attention, and even the boys thanked me for bringing them afterwards.
These talented youth from Beijing showed off their skills of dance, acrobatics and contortion.

Ouch!

Please enjoy these short video clips!

These girls are dancing with spinning plates over their heads....very graceful!

video

This one takes table dancing to whole new level!


video

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Truce


Meetin' Time

Join me over at the Prayer Meetin' on Significant Source if you want to leave prayer requests or feel lead to pray for others. We are continuing our prayer vigil for our sweet Hannah Duncan, who by-the-way, has her own blog now, so check her out at The Duncan Family!

I also want to mention that Isabel and I are still hanging on to these nasty colds. It makes for days filled with phlegm and snot coupled with coughing fits and head aches. Guys, it's not pretty! We would REALLY like to get past this and get back to normal, and would greatly appreciate ANY prayers that you felt you could send this way!

Oh, and check this out!


video

This is the first day that she has been able to walk unassisted with her crutches! She's not known for her speed yet...but that's okay, it's one more step towards independent walking and I LOVE IT! Please note that she was not freaked out when the dogs came in the room!! She didn't even loose her balance! Please do NOT notice the huge chunk of missing wallpaper....what can I say, I'm not Martha Stewart, people! I know how bad it looks, I just care about other things. I say every year (yes, it's been there for years now) that I'm going to have my nieces help me strip the paper and paint the room in the summer.....but you can see where that's gotten me. There's always this summer....right Brooke and Brianna?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More Adventures of Piper the Wonder Cat

We didn't actually adopt Piper to be a mouser....'cause we never really had a mouse problem....that I knew of. However Piper, being the wonder cat that she is, discovered a rat amoung us and HUNTED IT DOWN!


The rat was discovered hiding out with the Ty Beanie babies....yes folks, that sneaky little rodent concealed itself there with the pink poodle and the tender young fawn!

But our Piper, she would have none of that!

Piper uncovered it's trail and drug it out of hiding!

She ruthlessly attacked the vile creature!

choked it out!

And left it for dead....whatever would we do without that cat! I feel so much better knowing Piper is on the job! :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gung hay fat choy!


May You Prosper!
Happy Chinese New Year

Today is the first day of the Chinese New Year. In an effort to honor Claire's Chinese heritage we have planned to celebrate the major Chinese holidays with her each year. Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, is the most important of those holidays. It grew out of ancient celebrations marking the end of winter and beginning of spring. The celebration dates are based on the Lunar calendar and begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice. It lasts 15 days until the full moon. This year it begins today, January 26th!


Year of the Ox

Ancient legend holds that Buddha called all the animals on Earth, but only twelve came: the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, and the pig. To reward them, Buddha gave each animal a year to represent in a cycle. This is the year of the ox! The ox is said to be steadfast, loyal dependable, honest and strong. I don't know any oxes........so I can't really say! However, anyone born in the year of the ox will supposedly resemble these traits. Not bad!

To celebrate, we decided to join in the festivities with our local Chinese Association. Yesterday they held a nice New Years Eve party at a local school. There was dancing, singing, food and....door prizes (I'll get back to you about that)!

We got there a little after the activity had started, but just in time to see the very important Lion Dance! The Lion came from the back of the room, where we were, right past us, and up to the front. Claire was mesmerized by it and not at all scared.


Here, she and Lizzie are watching as the Lion passes by us!

Yep, there he goes!


Coming right at us!

Isabel and Claire wore their traditional Chinese clothing. So pretty. But, Claire was a little tired, it's nap time, and was not going to smile for any pictures. That included when the guy from the paper wanted to get a shot of her eating her oranges.....she ate, but no cute expression on her face. Oh well!



Noah, Parker and Lizzie....ready to go but being good sports!

Now, about those door prizes....we each got a ticket when we walked in the door. The door prizes were given out towards the end, and we were just getting ready to bolt over to Bessingers BBQ when they decided to start calling ticket numbers (can we just say that the food at the buffet was not the kind of Chinese we are used to!) The door prizes turned out to be anything a sponsor had donated. Among the coveted (and I use that term loosely) items, my favorite was the shower liners....with Spanish words on the them???! Unfortunately for us, our middle kids have this thing about door prizes. First, it doesn't matter if the prize is a shower liner, our kids feel validated if they win anything that's being given away! Second, one of them almost always wins something...I don't know what it is about my kids. And, if we go somewhere where they are choosing kids to be in the act...my kids are magnets for this stuff! Okay, Okay, it was me that ended up riding a tricycle with a velcro jacket on while kids threw velcro balls at me at Universal Studios 9 years ago, but we can discuss that later! Back to the door prizes.....Paul and I tried to round up the kids and leave.....Lizzie even begged them, but they were having no part of it.....because we are homeschoolers and we value free stuff....and shower liners with Spanish words on it could be a whole school lesson, people! Just when Lizzie had bribed the kids with candy and we were heading out the door, Isabel's number was called and she raced to the stage to receive her prize!

A man's size shirt of some kind made with "digital ink"...whatever that is! Yes, she was actually thrilled with this. She wore it home over her silk outfit, wore it to bed last night and came down stairs with it over her shirt this morning! Great. Just what I needed. Hey, at least it's not a shower liner!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Something to think about....

When Paul and I went to China last year, we traveled with eight other families. All the families, save one, were adopting children that had been labeled "special needs". The needs and "disabilities" varied widely from Katie with a missing arm and Mia with a cleft lip and palate, to YoYo with bladder exstrophy and Claire with Spina Bifida. I think we all understood, to some degree, that they would one day ask, "why me?" That life wouldn't always be easy and that it would be our job to help them learn not to dwell on what they couldn't do or didn't like about their lives, but on what they could do and how truly special they are, just because they are.

Claire is young and has not begun to really understand how she is different from her "Sisabel" (Isabel) the way Ellie over at AND NOW THERE ARE FIVE has realized she is different from her Josie-Tatum. She has not yet said "I wish I was Isabel." Maybe she won't. Hopefully she won't. But, I know at some point she's going to realize that she is not like most other kids her age and she probably won't like it. And telling her it's okay, won't make it so.

I am thankful for blogging and the window it has given me into the lives of others like us. I am afforded the opportunity to see how parents and their children are handling these tough issues before I have to and that is priceless. Pip over at Significant Source is always an inspiration to me and so are the children of Always In My Heart, especially Elaine. And this guy should be an inspiration to all....(turn the music of at the bottom before starting the video)







Today is the Prayer Meetin' over at Significant Source and I'm about to head over there to join in. Feel free to join us by clicking on the button. Please remember sweet Hannah in your prayers today. Her mother says she is doing great! Also pray for our Claire to continue to progress each day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our Tuesday

I thought I'd show you what a typical Tuesday morning looks like around here. What's so special about Tuesday? Well, that is the day that Miss Denise comes. I realized that we've been seeing her for 3 months and I have yet to post any pictures of Claire at therapy. Seems a little strange considering that I post pictures of all aspects of life around here......like it or not.



Miss Denise is a wonderful therapist. She does lots of different exercises with Claire and we have seen lots of progress. Of course once a week is not enough, and I have to exercise with her throughout the week for it to work very well. It does seem that after some huge steps, Claire's advancement has leveled off a little...but I assure you we are still seeing steps in the right direction, even if they are baby steps. The other day she stood balanced, talking to me and using hand gestures without even realizing it for several minutes. No one had ever seen her stand that long before and we were clapping and carrying on.....and she looked quit confused about this! She is very adept at using her walker now, so we are hoping she will move into the fore-arm crutches this year.



Getting some trunk strength from doing the "airplane"





Playing with Denise



Balancing games




Leg lifts


More leg lifts

The best part is that Claire is self-motivated. She wants to do everything and she loves to do her exercises. She will say "again" and work so hard the whole time! She is a therapist's dream and Mrs. Denise says so every time she is here. We are so blessed to have this child!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Unextreme Home Makeover: Phase I Part 2


TA DA! The roof was done by 5:00. The roofers were packed up, the trailer of trash hauled away and other than the new roof, you could not even tell they had been here. Unfortunately the overcast sky did not lend enough light for you to really be able to see how BEAUTIFUL our new roof is. So, you'll just have to trust me on this one. Did I want to spend money on a new roof? No way, folks! But after seeing hubby on the roof three times last year and still there were the leaks in the sunroom and water-spots in Isabel and Claire's room....I am glad for the peace of mind, thank-you-very-much!

Un-Extreme Home Makeover: Phase I Part 1

I wish I could say that this is what happened at my house this morning.....


but alas, I woke up from that dream. Oh well.

This is what happened at my house today!



And it wasn't a dream! The best part- that is NOT my Paul's derrière up there on that there roof! We saw enough of that back in the fall, right Annabanna? It belongs to a gen-u-ine, actual roofer! Yes it does!

They were crawling all over my house today starting at 8:30 this morning, and had the whole thing off before 11 0'clock! DO YOU SEE HOW STEEP THAT ROOF PITCH IS? Yeah, that would be why my Paul is NOT on that roof and won't be....ever again, because that is a 30 roof folks!



Okay, I thought the guys working the roof were nuts enough, but this guy took the cake (where did he take the cake? That's what I want to know.) Anyway, he rode the boom up to the roof from the truck that brought in the shingles. There is a BIG warning sign on the truck that says.....wait for it......yep, RIDING ON THE BOOM COULD RESULT IN DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY. Duh! I want to know if this guy's mother knows what he's doing????

And who knew that roofing was a spectator sport? These guys had the day off from school and guess what they chose to do.....watch the roofers, of course.


By lunch time we were onto stage two: putting the new roof on!

Got Milk?


Friday, January 16, 2009

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Or should I say, "pictures"?


No, it isn't that my vacuum is out in the floor...or that the cord is not wrapped up neatly. I use it a lot during the day so it stays out. Hello, I have four kids and five pets in my house!!!
What's wrong with this picture..... Piper has cornered the dog!


Now she is stalking the dog.

Now she is gloating! Yes, she is. Our 2 year old Pomeranian Chihuahuas are curious, but afraid of the 2 lb kitten that we adopted. Piper has decided to take full advantage of that every chance she gets! As a matter of fact, she had our 95 lb Lab cowering under the kitchen table, whimpering just this morning. All she did was chase the dog out of the living room hissing and spitting. She didn't even get her claws out yet!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Our Own Personal Rainbow

Really, does this picture need explanation? I'm not sure there is one anyway! Yes, she picked this out. Yes, she went out in public. Can I just say that I think she gets her wacky fashion sense from my niece Brooke...who refuses to wear the same color socks on both feet! At least she's color coordinated! That lovely yellow frock showed up in a bag of hand-me-downs we received yesterday. We LOVE hand-me-downs, but Isabel is perfectly aware that she will never get to wear something with those straps (You don't have to agree, but that is a rule in our house. We don't allow bikinis either *gasp*! ) She liked it a lot though. So, she found a loop-hole!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Please pray for Abby

I was all set for today's Prayer Meetin'....it is Wednesday isn't it? I have been under the weather with a bit of a cold and a horrid cough. The cough is the bad part. It makes my head hurt. Hence the reason I might not know what day it is.....so, I was planning on asking for prayers for me and my family. And then this was brought to my attention.


Please go and read about Abby....and pray for the Riggs family. Far more important than my silly head cold. And, please don't forget about Hannah. I haven't gotten an update from her mother so I'm sure all is going well as of right now! Praise God!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do you know what time it is?

IT'S UPWARD TIME!
I know, because I spent Saturday at basketball games. Isabel's game was at 11 o'clock and the boy's game was at 3 o'clock. Paul coaches both so we have to be there a little early. Upward is a great family activity! We've been involved since the boys were in 1st grade....can you remember then so little? I'd put up pictures from then, but that was before my digital camera,so I'd have to scan them in and I just don't feel like it right now...fighting a cold/cough/tired bug thingy! Enjoy these from Saturday.



Isabel is not shy on the court.

Claire watches from the sidelines! I wonder how long it will be before she's asking when she can play?
Lizzie was sweet enough to allow us to drag her out to the games....this once....I doubt she'll spend another Saturday at the gym...at least not for a while!

And, Papa was there, of course!
Noah and Parker before their game.

Parker about to be fouled by his good friend, Zack!


Noah bringing the ball.