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, July 30, 2011

Where in the World...

Were Shane and Paul?

Well, Shane climbed up on our roof and he would not come down.
Paul tried and tried, but he said he wasn't coming down until we served red meat!

Just kidding!

Shane came to SC with the intent to help us with a little project.  And by "us", I mean Paul and by "little", I mean ginormous!  Every morning, Shane donned his overalls and got on with the job.  That man is dedicated!  And he has a servants heart, that is for sure.

The first day he pulled all the old rotted wood siding off the sunroom before the rest of us even got out of bed good!  Okay, Paul was out of bed, but he was at work.  The rest of us.......well, we just sort of tried to stay out of his way.  He was definitely on a mission.

Then there were rotted fascia boards and soffits.  The old AC unit had to come down and then all 7 sliding glass doors came out.  Of course they started working on the hottest days of the summer so far!  Paul helped out when he could, but Shane was a machine!

He framed in the holes for dry wall and windows. 

 And like last summer, when we were at the Caudills helping , the boys were invited to join in the fun!
And by "invited" I might mean told.

Hey, it was an opportunity to use sharp objects....And power tools.  What boy in his right mind passes on that one?

The house is now covered in ply board, foam board and house wrap!  I think it's pretty well insulation!

And I am very excited about these doors!  Can I just tell you how very much I hated those sliding glass doors!  I HATED THEM!  I love this.  The windows....the doors.

So, next on the agenda is vinyl siding.

And then the inside will need a lot of love and work.
Maybe we'll have it finished before next summer!

You've heard about the kitchen remodel we did in 2009......and 2010....oh yeah, we aren't really quite finished with it yet. But, then are the projects ever really done?


That's okay.  I'm just thankful it's been started!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Best!

I can't explain it.  The attachment we have to some of the families we traveled to China with three years ago.  Maybe it is because so many of us were going through our very first adoptions.  For sure, it was the first international adoption for all eight families with our agency.

We were thrown together by our choices and God's providence into a place where everything looked/sounded/smelled/tasted/felt different from anything normal in our lives and the only thing familiar to us were the strangers we were with.  And I know that doesn't make any sense and yet.....doesn't it make perfect sense?

The experiences we had were exclusive to international adoption.  We weren't just traveling to places afar for the sake of the view.  We were being lead through cities and legal processes in an effort to soak up the culture and bring home a child.  Children many of us had waited years just to hold.  Children who when put in our arms had the whole of their worlds turned upside down and inside out.  That alone drove us to connect to the only other people that know, really know what it's like and were there with us from the beginning.

The connections with made with some of these families will most likely last a lifetime.   Three summers after returning home with Claire and I still long to be with these families for a while.  But, this summer looked like it would be one without any visits.  Just home from our 3 weeks in China with the L'il Emperor, Paul is down to just a few days of vacation for the rest of this year. 

It has been a year since we traveled to Tennessee with the Gulkes to be with the Caudills and a year since Karla visited us with Mia last summer.  I was so sad to think that I would not see any of them this year. 

But, surprise!  God smiled on us and sent the Caudills our way.  I don't know what kind of trouble that was, but it could not have been easy for them to drive away from home and therapy and doctors and work with all they have going on, to come see us. 

But, they did.  And it was a wonderful week!

They drove up ready for our welcome.....because after last summer, they knew what to expect!  Yep.  Water guns and water balloons.  It was a very wet welcome to Charleston for the Caudills.  But, they are great sports!

 Shane took it like a man!

 Anna jumped out and grabbed up the hose to fend off the soaking guns!

And YoYo just did his darnedest to look cute as he can!
Which is pretty cute in my opinion.
But, since he is my future son-in-law I could be called biased.

Our week was filled with Nerf wars!

Water Balloon fights.

And pool fun!

It was a giant happy sleep-over!

We spent a wonderful day at the beach


It was a first for this guy!

And he gave it a thumbs-up because it was awesome!

I think he looks like a natural beach boy!
Right at HOME.
{hint hint}

YoYo and Claire gave me permission to take photos at their wedding !  YAY ME!

And all to soon it was time for them to go back home.
As they drove away, I missed them.
And I miss them to this day, several weeks later.
It was such a good visit!


Where were Paul and Shane in all the pictures?

Funny you should ask.
You'll have to come back and visit again to see!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ten Years

Ten years ago an answered prayer and the reason we landed on the international adoption scene was born.  I was induced around 8am and spent the morning and early afternoon surrounded by family and friends. 

At 2:05pm we welcomed our daughter, Isabel Lee into the world.  We laughed with surprise when they said she weighed 8 lbs 1oz.  She looked so tiny to us!  But, then we had been lugging around 4 year old twins before she came along. 

A tiny perfect addition to our family.

Nothing but sweetness from the beginning. 

She has always had a way of experiencing life to the max!

And she was born to be a princess.

From the first birthday to this one, Isabel has been a bright ray of sunshine in every day of our lives!

Happy Birthday to my sweet girl!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Hello.....Hello......Anyone there?

I doubt I have any readers left out there.....maybe a few die-hard ones.  So if you have stuck around, waiting and hoping for an update.....and pictures, today is your lucky day, people!

Why haven't I blogged?  If you need to ask, you don't know me.  I want to blog, really I do.  But, busy with these kids is an understatement this year!

And it's not just the kids.  It's the homeschool and the home repair and the cousins.  It's the cooking and the cleaning and the packing and the unpacking.  It's the shuffling here and yonder for this and that. 

And the kids!

My mother asked me just this morning, "don't you ever just get tired of it".  No.  No I don't as a matter-of-fact.  I figure the kids {cousins that visit every summer} are only here for a while and then they grow up and have their own life.  Two already have.  And one is my step-daughter.  We have seen Lizzie only once since May.  Last night.  And it isn't because she doesn't want to see us, it's because she has a life.  And, it's not here. 

Thankfully, she took a few minutes out to meet us {last minute I might say} for frozen yogurt last night.  We were in her town for a post placement visit with our social worker.  It was so good to lay eyes on her and hug up on her.  She looks great, doesn't she?!

And so, I miss blogging, but I wouldn't trade my crazy busy life for it.  Which just means that if you want to see pictures of my kids or read anything I have to say {as if it's all that great},  you have to hang around and check back.  Often.  Or not, if you have better things to do or blogs to read!  That's okay too. 

How did our post placement visit go?  Amazing!  Just like our little boy!  Our social worker is very kind and fun so she makes it easy.  And you can see that Asher is thriving.  Just look at that boy go and you know, he's gonna be fine! 

More on his adjustment later.  And hers.  And mine.

What else have we been up to? Besides swim team and jetting to St. Louis and first 4th birthday parties?  Well......

We had some familiar visitors in June.  They usually start showing up in our photos about this time every year!  Yep, my niece, Brianna, nephew, Christian and Darling Daughter from over at Not a Significant Source

Asher had his first bowling experience!

Having fun!

Big brothers are the best!

I know, right?  And we get to live with her!

Still can't believe she is going to college this fall!

They left and then we got prepared for the highlight of this summer, a visit from the Caudill family.  I was so sad when I realized there was no way we could get on the road this summer to visit with any of our travel group family friends.  But, so exciting when Anna called to say they wanted to come see us!!  And help Paul with some renovations.  And stay a week! 
But that is enough for today.  I know, I know.  But, it is.  'Cause I have 2 kids to get into bed, more cleaning to do and .....well, I won't bore you with the details. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

She Did It!

I practically have my own team!

Here we are at the end of Claire's second year on our swim team.  Our team coaches have been wonderful with her! All along they have let her use a floatation device of one kind or another because with very little lower body strength we feared it would be years before she could attempt to join in. 

Remember last year's ducky floater? 
Who could!

Everyone on or associated with the team has encouraged her and cheered her on at each meet. Coaches, swimmers, parents! She always finishes last.  She always holds up the meet to get to the finish line.  But, they never once were in too much of a hurry not to let her swim. Not to stop and watch.   Everyone has always been a blessing to her.  Older swimmers high-five her when she gets out, and stop to tell her what a good job she does. And many of the parents and grandparents too! 

So, here we are at the end of her 2nd year on the team.  At the request of one of the coaches, I searched high and low and found one of those floaties that has removable foam pads.  For weeks now, we have slowly removed pads from the front and back of it.  Claire was unaware.  Because it became apparent to me that she now has the strength to swim, but not the confidence or endurance.  Slowly she has built up more endurance.  More confidence. 

Last week I forgot the floatie and had to wait for big brother to bring it from home for practice.  But, practice started and coach decided not to use it.  Miss Claire surprised everyone and  swam 3/4 of the pool to him without it!

So last night, at the end of her 2nd year swimming...

Claire lined up for her 25 freestyle missing a little something!
A little something that she doesn't need anymore!

See for yourself.
Yes, she grabs the lane line quite a lot.  More than she really needed to.  Out of nervousness I think.  But, that's okay. 

She DID it! 
She swam just like all the other 6 and unders!
And she was so very proud of herself!