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

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Breakfast of Champions

I make smoothies.  I make a lot of smoothies.  My kids drink smoothies.  My kids are rarely sick.  Do you think it's the smoothies?   I don't know.  But, I think I'm on to a good thing here, so I'm going to keep it up.  We don't necessarily eat them for breakfast.  We often have them as an after dinner treat.  Since we only allow dessert on weekends.  'Cause you know, I'm mean like that. 
Moving along.

My smoothie recipe is real simple.  Juice of some kind and frozen fruit.  I have never used a recipe for my smoothies.  I just start throwing things into the blender!  But, here is what it looks like.

I start with juice.  I often use OJ, because that is usually handy around here.  But, on the occasion that I have splurged for some Superfood, I use that.  I mean, would you ever get your kids to drink green juice any other way!  I know I won't.  But, once camouflaged in the smoothie, they have no idea they are drinking wheat grass and Jerusalem artichoke!  Mwahahahahaha {that's my evil laugh, y'all}! 

Then it's onto the frozen fruit.  I use strawberries, peaches, mangos and lots and lots of blueberries.  I have also been known to use banana and pineapple. 

I just start dumping it in the blender and blending it.  Prepare for your blender to get stuck if you load too much in at one time.  But a big spoon will remedy this problem.  And pretty soon your green-juice-that-no-kid-in-his-right-mind-would-drink, looks like this!

And they will happily slurp this up!  So that is the standard smoothie.  How can you make it better?  Oh, let me tell you!  In addition to these fruits and juices, I have been known to add yogurt, flax seed oil, acai berry powder and protein shake to it.  My kids won't drink the protein shake because it's gritty, but added to the smoothie it's not so bad.  Flax seed oil is wonderfully nutritious but what kid can swallow those pills?  So I add a tablespoon or two to the smoothies!   But, if you add these things, it is best to do them with the juice, before you add the fruit.  Once the fruit is in the blender it becomes to think to be sure these things get mixed in well!  
{Plain yogurt will do, this is just what I have on hand today}

And, I use rice milk if I need more liquid than just the juice I've used.  You know, if it gets too think for the machine to handle.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Little Boy and a Smoothie

What do these two things have in common?  Absolutely nothing.  Nada.  But, I promised pictures of our boy and a reader asked for my smoothie recipe.  I don't want to disappoint on either count!  So, this post is about a little boy.  And the next post will be about my smoothies!  Okay?  Okay!

Without further ado, I will tell you how this guy, became our son.

I saw this picture last summer {yes, almost a year ago}. He was called Drake by the agency.  I thought he was precious and I printed his file.  I showed it to the husband.  He was not as smitten as I was.  As a matter-of-fact, he was less than interested in discussing adoption again.  We weren't ready to do it again.  And no matter how I begged, he would give this little guy no concern.  After a month or so, I gave up and put the file in a drawer.  To be forgotten. 

Only it wasn't.

Unbeknownst to me, Isabel found the file and ran copies of this pictures.  Numerous copies.  Which she placed all around her room.  And whipped out to show anyone and everyone that would look.  How did I find this out?  Oh, only when my in-laws questioned me about "our new son".  Our new son????  The one Isabel had showed them. 

Boy did I have some explaining to do!  After which, I had to set Isabel straight and explain that this kid was not her brother and probably was not going to be her brother and that she couldn't just go around telling people that he was her brother!  Oh. My. 

Fast forward to Christmas.  Paul has a complete change of heart.  Now he's ready and he specifically wants me to show him some little boys with heart defects.  You know this part of the story.  If you need a recap, click here

When we separated from Shan Yi, we were not exactly in a hurry to attach to another child.  And yet, we knew we were in this for a reason.  To give a child a home.  We couldn't stop just because our plan fell apart.  After all, it's not about us.  That was the hardest part of separating from Shan Yi, was understanding that we did it for him.  We wanted him.  But he needed a family that would be more than we could be. 

At that point Paul brought up "Drake".  Was he still available?  Was he a possibility?  Our agency was very interested in exploring our options for a child, and we mentioned "Drake" they let us know he was in fact still  available.  After 9 months!  I could not believe he was still waiting! 

But he was.

I shared the story of Isabel's long time attachment to him with our agency and they quickly became convinced that we needed to be matched with him.  They locked his file for us on May 11th and on May 13th (Claire's adoption day) we received pre-approval for him!

Why did it take so long for us to share this information.  Well, quite frankly, we were still processing our loss of Shan Yi and not actually ready to celebrate.  It seemed to quick.  I hope that makes sense.  And honestly, I have had to warm up slowly to this "new" little guy. 

Who by the way is not so little anymore!

After we locked him, we requested updated measurements and we were very happy to also get updated pictures!  But, our guy has grown up so much since I fell in love with him last July.  Even better, I have two videos of him too!

So, Isabel gets her brother.  Hard to believe she knew all along.  And she never got rid of his pictures even after we told her Shan Yi would be her brother.  I found then stuck to her cork board over her bunk bed when I was cleaning up for the homestudy! 
Another thing, he is from Tianjin.  Claire was from Tianjin! 

Monday, June 14, 2010


So today, before this week really gets-a-going, I thought I'd send out an update of things here on the home front! 

Because this week is shaping up to be a wee bit on the crazy side.  Why, you ask?  Well, only because I have four kids, that are not finished with school for the year, that are on the swim team.  3 of them have practices twice a day and 1 of them has practice once a day, except on Tuesday and Thursday this week when 3 of them will have practice once a day and 1 of them won't have practice at all on two days.  Got that? But, that is just because they have swim meets on those days.  4-5 hour swim meets.... during dinner and bed time. Which means we will eat dinner at the pool and get to bed around...oh, midnight!  Plus also, one of Isabel's bestest friends in the whole world {and her God-sister} is doing golf camp down the road and so I will pick her up everyday at noon and let her stay here for playdates....because when you have this many kids, what's another one?  AND, we are leaving town on Friday for 10 days {counting Friday}, so I have to clean the house, wash the clothes, pack suitcases for the 6 of us, wash the dogs and leave everything just so for the dog sitter {a wonderful teenager-soon-to-be-adult that lives across the street}.  Oh, and clean out the Monster Van, and pack it!  At least that thing is so big, I shouldn't have any trouble finding room for all our stuff!  Hey, I wonder if I really can take the kitchen sink? 

I'm so excited about our trip to St. Louis this year!  It's always a great trip anyway, because we love St. Louis and because we always get to see someone we love along the way.  Last year we got to stop in TN to see the Caudills on our way out and went on the Chicago to see the Gulkes after our doctor's appointment in St. Louis.  This year, the Gulkes and another family from our travel group, the Corkens, are going to join us in St. Louis and possibly the Caudills.  And then we are going to drive back to the Caudills (us and the Gulkes) and hang out there for the rest of the week!  So. Much. Fun! 

But anyway, an update:

Our homestudy is complete.  Done.  Finished.  I think I got the email that it was headed to SCDSS around June 3rd.....possibly at exactly 9:54am.  But, it's really hard to keep track of those things!  Why is it at DSS when it was completed by a certified social worker?  Yeah, don't ask me.  That is a requirement in our state.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the fee involved?  Hmmmm. 

What is next?  That would be USCIS.  We need to get our application for that in the mail this week before we leave.  I'm waiting on the funds.  Which is code for, I'm waiting on God. 

This beautiful photo is of our first state certified document that has come for our dossier.  We will begin building it with this employment letter fresh in from Indiana, folks! 

Unfortunately, the next document to come should have been here, but is being delayed.....due to having to pay the stupid tax.  Stupid tax is when you do something stupid and others make it worse and it costs you money.  We sent my birth certificate to GA for it's certification and forgot to include the $10 fee.  The nice lady called and left a message telling us to send the check {which we did the very next day}, and then proceeded to send back our document in our pre-paid Fed-Ex envelope!  So our check is there now, but the document is not!  That cost us close to 40 bucks in Fed-Ex fees!  So now I wonder if they will send our check back while we are sending the document back???  What do you think?  I think I won't pay that stupid tax again.  I will send the document and another $10 check.  If they don't want the second check they can send it back.  If they send back the first check, HA, I got them.  If they cash both, it's still cheaper than paying Fed-Ex a third time!!  UGGGGGGGG! 

So that is where we are at.  Homestudy done.  Dossier being built.  Next stop-Immigration.  And life goes on. 
Oh, is anyone interested in seeing pictures of our boy and hearing about how he has come to be our son? 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Blueberry Power!

A tiny fruit packed with vitamins and antioxidants was our prize for the day.
Well, pounds of them actually!

We consume many of these little treasures each week in our smoothies.
Smoothies that are largely responsible for keeping my kids illness free!
At least in my opinion. 

Kid eat smoothies.
Kids rarely get sick.

Smoothies = Healthy Kids!

And since they are in season now, we thought we'd gather some fresh ones.
So, we loaded up my Monster Van and headed to the blueberry farm!
{ Yes all those children were in my van...and their mothers!}

We spent an hour or so in the hot, hot field collecting buckets of treasure!

What do you call it when 458 blueberries try to go through the door at the same time?
Blueberry Jam!

I'm not sure if they ate more, or picked more.

I caught someone throwing them!

At a girl!

But, I'm not sayin' who.....

Needless to say,

We picked until we dropped!
Or Isabel did anyway!

'Cause what you need on a blueberry farm is a little D.R.A.M.A. y'all!

And a pinch cuteness!

Now excuse me while I go make blueberry muffins.

Friday, June 11, 2010


"Determine that the thing can and shall be done,
and then we shall find the way."
 ~Abraham Lincoln~

Swim team began over a month ago.  Claire decided last year that she would be on the team this year.  No, it didn't matter that she didn't know how to swim or that she wouldn't even put her face in the water.  She. wanted. on. the. team.  She wasn't taking no for an answer!  Like I've said, Claire spent a lot of time on the sidelines her first two years in this family.  She's done with that!  She's off the side and into the game!  No looking back!

Thursday night she had her first swim meet.  Her amazing coaches support her and her desire to do what the other kids are doing.  She wears her ducky, because that is the only way for now that she will be able to do this.  In time, she will gain enough upper body strength to leave ducky behind.

She waited patiently for her turn to do the exhibition freestyle.

Coach Jason go her ready for the heat.

And tossed her in!

She swam!

She swam with all her heart!

Her heart made up for what she lacks in physical ability!

She had a fan club too.
The. Entire. Pool.

I could hear them,
and I don't think a single soul at that pool wasn't yelling "GO CLAIRE!"

It was just amazing to watch! 
And she's a winner!  Not because she finished first, but because she finished!
She doesn't let a little thing like working legs and feet get in her way!

Oh  yeah, my other kids swam too!  I didn't actually forget that.  Of course I didn't!


I didn't actually get many pictures of them.  One reason is because as the sun goes down it is harder to get a good shot without flash.  The other reason is that I was too busy trying to keep up with Claire!

I did get Isabel's FIRST PLACE freestyle!

I know it's hard to see, but she is the one waaaay out in front in the 2nd lane from the far side.

And, she got to the wall waaaaay ahead of any other swimmers!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adoption is....

Adoption is Paperwork.  Mountains of it.  An accordion file box is a required supply for the adoptive family.  Someone should market them just for adoptive families with the tabs all filled out....Agency Contracts, USCIS application, Homestudy, Dossier Documents, Adoption Education, Book Lists, Names, Medical Definitions, Referral Information, Travel Information, Province Information....

Adoption is Acronyms.  PAP, SN, NSN, WC, PA, LOI, USCIS, DTC, LID, LOA, TA, CCAA.  What does it all mean? You learn fast, trust me!

Adoption is heartache.  Seeing a sea of faces on the waiting lists and knowing they all need a family. 

Adoption is love.  Reaching out to love a child born in your heart.  Falling in love with grainy photographs and minuscule amounts of information. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

She Did It!

I know most of you come here for adoption information or updates on Claire and the rest of my immediate family.  And, I do have an update to come very, very soon about our upcoming adoption.  But, this is first-


My niece, Brooke Riane, graduated from high school!
Oh yes she did!

This child, that was born when I was 21 years old.
That, came into the world as the first grand on both sides of her family
and was loved fiercely by all!

This child, that was a bundle of energy and creativity from the get go!

Just to know her is to love her and she will love you with all she is!
Because that's the only way she knows how.

And yes, she is all that, and a bag of chips!
Because this child got brains too! 
And the combination of beauty, brains and creativity is positively frighting.

But more importantly, God has his hands on her. 
He's got plans for her!

And I can not wait to see what they are!

We Love you

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


The word can't defined this child for two and a half years.  I believe, just based on what I got when she was placed in my arms, that she heard that word, or some semblance of it, more often than not.  You can't walk, you can't run, you can't do it, you can't learn, you can't understand.....

The 30 month old handed to me, was a developmental 10 month old.  That's a huge deficit, even for an orphan and especially for one living in foster care for 24 for those 30 months.

She never uttered a word to us in her native tongue.  According to her foster mom, she only knew about ten words anyway.  They had tried to teach her.....but, she couldn't learn it. They had to tried to teach her songs and counting, but she couldn't learn that either. 

I confess, I'm not without blame.  I too have spoken in haste to tell her she can't do something.  But, she is patient with me.  She simply looks on and says, "Mama, can I try?" And the truth is, there are some things she can't {yet} do. But only some. 

And yet, that word.......the word can't,  has not found it's way into her vocabulary!

If anything, I think her beginnings have made her fighter.  She's out to prove that she can do anything you can do! 

She doesn't know how to swim.
She wouldn't put her face in the water three weeks ago.
She has to wear braces and shoes in order to walk around the pool.
And she doesn't {yet} have the upper body strength needed to keep herself above water and compensate for the low muscle tone in her legs.

But the idea that she can't be on the swim team has not occurred to her!

Thankfully, it didn't occur to our coach either!

Claire joined the swim team in early May.
She has since stopped wearing the Ducky.
And, will put her face all the way in the water.

She works with Coaches Brad, Shelby, Emily and Patrick.

But coach Jason, who also wore leg braces as a child, has taken a personal interest in her.
He talks to her and encourages her every time he sees her.
He thinks she is brave and has made it his mission to make sure she sets
 and reaches a swimming goal this season.
He'd like to see her swim the 25 meter backstroke or freestyle.
Without her Ducky.

Can't is not in his vocabulary either. 

God is good to make sure that she is surrounded by people who do not know that word!
Is it harder for a child with special needs to participate?
Thank God for people willing to make adjustments so she CAN!
Because neither she nor I care if she swims the 25 meter anything this year,
it's just the shear fact that she got to try!

The joy that she can if she wants too!