Saturday, January 28, 2012

Our little explorer!

Behind our home is a wooded area that divides our neighborhood from the one behind us.  We have been in this home for almost two years now and it is only in the last 6 months that the woods behind the house have become so alluring to our children. 

Our youngest, in particular, is enamored with these woods and loves to go on "adventures" and "expeditions" back there. (For those who don't know my son personally, this actually IS how he talks. His ridiculous adult vocabulary is the topic of a whole separate post! Maybe someday I will go there...)

I love how something as simple as a wooded lot can encourage such imagination in my boys.  Tommy has "discovered" several gems back there recently.

There's the "lookout spot" and the "picnic spot" and let's not forget the cool, "Spider tree" aptly named because the roots are pulled up and look like spider legs (to a 7 year old!)  There are vines strong enough for Tarzan and don't think for a second that each one has not been put to the test!

Tommy has been pestering me lately to go back there with him so that he can show me all these amazing places he has found.

Since we came home from our second trip to China, time alone, "Mom & Tommy time" as I call it, has been scarce, so I threw on my flip flops (yes, we are in the south) and traipsed into the woods to battle the vines and the roots and the thorns....

I saw every "trail" and shortcut he could show me.  He was happy as a clam showing off his "domain" to mom!

We weren't back there very long, but it was a few brief minutes in my day that I could treasure my little guy and give him my undivided attention.  I love you Tommy!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jesus & Ice Cream!

Our oldest, Colin-14, absolutely LOVES church on Wednesday nights. 

He and 100 or so of his "closest friends" meet at church for T4:12 (our Middle School ministry).

It is the highlight of his week and when they took several weeks off over the Holidays, I thought he would never quit asking me about "middle school". LOL

Of course, our Middle School Pastor, Danny Beech is amazing, 

and he really loves the Lord and these kids!  As you can imagine, he strives to make this a fun time for the kids as well as a time to learn about the Lord and deepen their relationship with Him.

Last night, Colin came home and was so excited to tell me about "middle school" that I just had to ask Danny for a picture.  See for yourself!

That's right. A handless Ice Cream eating contest. According to Colin, he came through the winner!

Now, as if that sign of pure testosterone wasn't enough to make a mama proud, what was even more impressive was that he was able to tell me about it when he got home--- without. a. translator!!!

Progress, people! Progress.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Anniversary Honey!

Well, today marks 11 years of marriage to my "honey sweetie", Tom. 
As you can tell, there is a large age difference between the two of us.

So, even before kids, we've been the ultimate "odd couple" amongst our group of friends. In the early phase of our adoption journey, we were required to take an online class on being a conspicuous family. For us, this is just normal. I've been told that once people get to know us, they almost forget about Tom's age because he is the fun, silly, childish one and I am the old fuddy-duddy, responsible one. But, it works.  

Now that we have a 7 year old bio son and two adopted sons from China, well...
let's just say not much has changed in that regard. :-)

Folks are often so amazed that Tom, at 68 years of age, would want to adopt, but it was really never something that we spent a great deal of time on. Really. 

I think the Lord had been preparing Tom for this for a long time. In fact, the first person to mention adoption in this house was Tom. Then, many months later, it was Tommy, our then 6 year old. He casually announced in the car one day that Tom and I should "adopt a brother for him". But, again, I brushed it off with the excuse of all excuses.- No money. (Seemed rational and responsible to me at the time!) 

Then, it happened. One beautiful April day before Easter. Attending an Easter egg hunt with our local homeschool group, I struck up a conversation with my now great friend, Kim. She was sharing about her plans to travel to China to adopt their third daughter.  I shared with her about the comment that Tommy had made and mentioned what a crazy idea that was. I mean, after all, my husband was 68!

She told me that she advocated for waiting children in China and that if I ever wanted to learn more about adoption or Chinese children who were waiting to let her know. 

(Yes, then came the ever so polite response--"I'll let you know, thanks.")

Of course, in my mind I knew I was only being polite. I "knew" that was not in the cards for us.

God had other plans.
For the next 7 days, and I am not overstating this, EVERYTHING pointed us to adoption. Every new family we met that week- adopted. Every TV show we watched had something to do with adoption. (Come on, seriously, Law and Order? Adoption?)

Finally, Tom says to me, "What's up with all these adoption related stories?"  I admit that I, too, had noticed and that it had been on my mind since the egg hunt.  He suggested that maybe I could email that "Kim woman" and just learn a little bit.

Well folks, the rest as they say...

Now in the interest of being transparent, no, we hadn't originally planned the second adoption any more than the first one was especially planned, and definitely not so SOON. But, we could not be happier with our beautiful boys. Each one of them fills us with joy! 

As our anniversary approached, it was hard not to think about our 10th anniversary. Just one year ago, we celebrated with a long awaited cruise. 

Our first. And...more than likely our last. :-)
 It was amazing!

Back then, a mere 12 months ago, we had
 that the Lord was about to fill our home and our hearts with so much fun and craziness!

Adoption was nowhere near our radar. 

I can honestly say that our lives have never changed so dramatically in any other single year.

So, how did we celebrate this occasion?
Chinese Buffet of course!

We enjoyed watching our three boys 
eat and eat and eat....

My gift to them? I did not take out the camera ONCE.  

Suffice it to say that there was not a clean face or pair of hands amongst them and they each polished off at least three plates (and by plates, I mean MOUNTAINS) of food.  

We are that family. The one that will NEVER overpay at a buffet. 

With three healthy male eaters (even the little one), we will always get our money's worth here!

It was a wonderful day. Looking forward to our 12th year together.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Doctor's Visits, Hand-Me-downs and Snowballs!

Friday was a very busy day! We started off with Cameron's first visit to see the Orthopedist at MUSC.  Our first hurdle, although rather cute (says mom!) was that Cameron was embarrassed to take his pants off and replace them with these dark blue "paper" shorts so that the Doc could examine his legs as well as his feet.

So, Mom left the room so he could get changed. :-)
Now, our newest addition is a true fidgeter!  He cannot sit and wait without touching EVERYTHING.  So, each little drawer and tray and "scope" was touched and moved. Of course, there was the ever famous rolling round stool that was twirled around a billion times while we waited. LOL

This was the "whoa is me" we got when we told him to leave the implements alone. LOL

What's this do?

The verdict? Well, while he is not experiencing any pain, he does still have a good bit of correction that is needed in the left foot, so we will start with a brace for a few months and see how that helps. The doctor did not recommend surgery yet because his bones were still growing and he preferred to wait. So, we will wait and see.

After we left, we went to see a friend who had inherited a ton of really great boys clothes and wanted to share the wealth with us!  

And boy did we hit the jackpot. 
We received a huge box of really nice clothes that were the perfect sizes for Tommy and Cameron. 

Dress shirts, barely worn, some with the tags. still. on!

Long sleeved shirts, great for the cooler months! 

Barely worn.
No rips.
Great looking pants. 
That fit! 
Praise the Lord!

And sweaters, and coats...
and perhaps best of all?
I don't think these were worn more than once or twice. They weren't even dirty!
We have, or rather, we will have real issues getting good fitting shoes for Cameron as his feet are not the same length, but these are self-adjusted shoes and they fit!
Just another in a long line of examples that God is IN THE DETAILS and He cares about the little things in our lives!
And the cutest long sleeved shirts for Tommy who is really into comfort clothes lately.

more long sleeved Ts!

No, we're not done yet!
These beautiful shorts were in there too!

Once we got home and sorted through them all, it allowed me to purge through their closets and pull out all the things that Tommy had outgrown. Thank you Cindy!!

Now, after all that, it was time for me to get the family ready for our first ever 

Now, try to imagine for a moment the look on Colin's face when I told him we were going to a party in. our. pajamas!

It was one of those Priceless moments!

That's right!  Our good friends invited us to their 4th Annual "Winter Pajama Jam!" 
Here we are ready to throw the kids in the back of the pickup truck (we had a horrible flat on the white truck!)
So off we went in Tom's S-10 with kids in tow to the Winter Fest of the Year! 

Here is my "cool" friend Ali. She is always so much fun and this party did not disappoint!

When we arrived, Ali had placed a small plastic plate on the entry table with blue water-based paint. There was a sign with instructions for each guest to "sign in" by making a "finger snowman" (Winter theme, remember?) and writing their names underneath. This was done on a canvas that I know will make a nice keepsake for their family. 

So, after the 5 of us made our snowmen and wrote our names out, Colin wrote them all in Chinese. Kind of cool!  But, what struck me most was when Colin asked me, 
"Mama, what's your name?"  
Huh?  It had never occurred to me that my own son would not know my name.  But, he only calls me mama, so...

Tom immediately got into the spirit of things and found a comfy spot on the sofa!

Now, we had a ton of yummy foods and lots of great company, but, for the children, the best part of the entire night was...

The Snowball FIGHT!
Yes, I know, we do live in Charleston, SC where it only flurries once every 15 years or so....

But our Ali would never let a little thing like the climate stand in her way of throwing the best winter jam ever!

No Snow? No Problem!

Tommy "hiding" in the playhouse bunker!

Sweet Rachel and her beautiful "almost 12" year old daughter Emma!

Colin being chased by all the younger kids so that he could
swing the bouncy ball around and try to "get them"!

Tommy's friend, Alex (former neighbor)
attacking him amidst the chaos! :-)
Ali had managed to load a large number of what looked like cheesecloth sacks full of flour and laid them all in a line in the middle of the yard. On her count, the kids ran in to get their "snowballs" and go at it. And did they ever!

Yes, that is my filthy dirty oldest son!

Cameron dipping into the flour bag to refill his snowballs
As I said, this was just a part of the fun.

There was food...

and Fun!
It was so much fun and there we were, all of us, stomping around someone else's home in our PJs!
The kids were so entertained that we had the chance to sit and visit with old friends and catch up with one another without worrying about a thing.  I especially loved catching up with my sweet gal pals Rachel & Leah!  

As the evening dwindled, the fun pressed on... Ali's husband got the fire pit going and supervised the creation of what I am sure were some 
DE-lic-ious Smores!

Colin enjoyed lighting each tea light--
(what teenage boy doesn't like an approved excuse to play with fire?)

Unfortunately, it was now time for the Rylands' clan to see, we had another "secret mission" to tend to....
More on that at another time. Stay tuned!

Today's plans?
1. First post-placement visit with our wonderful social worker, Matina.
2. Fix the TIRE!

Cameron helped Dad fill the tire with air so that he could get it across town and get it fixed.

Pray that all will go well and that it won't cost us an arm and a leg. We already replaced two tires last week...

All in all, our weekend got off to an amazing start and we can't wait to see what else is in store. If there is one thing that I am absolutely sure of it is this...

Life with three boys? Never boring!
God Bless!