Deuteronomy 4:35

You have been shown these things that you might know the Lord is God besides him there is no other.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas 2016

Since it is already nearly impossible to get everyone looking and smiling in the same direction, I imagine that next year with another little one to pose we might never have a "perfect" photo.   
I hope your Christmas holds sweet memories of times shared celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Rolls and Cookies..OH MY!

 Every Christmas season, we are busy in the kitchen.  Like most families, food defines most of our traditions.  One traditional food that we always make, and give as gifts, is Jumer rolls.  They are a small rolled cinnamon sugar nugget of goodness that was served in a local restaurant back home.  Our church there would mass produce these at Christmas time to sell at our bazaar.  They always sold out.  We made 55 trays this season for others, and also baked about 6 that we consumed for ourselves.  The girls are very, very good at making them after so many attempts.
 There is nothing in this world like having a little help in the kitchen.  I love, love having these littles beside me every day.
They are a tremendous blessing, and they also make everything I do take about four times longer, but it is so worth it.

And then there are the cookies!  Boy do we make cookies.  I probably would have scaled back this year, but the teenager insisted we make all the cookies.  We got a late start, but I made more than seven kinds, and twenty dozen in one day.  Tradition is important to my biggest girl.
In most every picture this year, our Jillian is smiling.  This is the happiest holiday season she has ever had.  She has done this Christmas thing five times now, and I feel like she finally is enjoying it.  It makes this momma's heart overflow with gratitude to God as I watch her trusting so much.
 We make these cookies that I made when I was a kid.  They are not cut out, but formed by shapes we cut.
 Emily has been making them her whole life, and she insists we do it every year.  Many, many memories have been made while we have made these cookies.  Many Christmases spent with good friends decorating with laughter.
 Jilly doesn't chew so she won't eat a cookie, but she isn't afraid to touch and play in the trimmings anymore.
 This is the first one Molly ate.  She came home not liking sweets too much, but Anna Mei has successfully converted her to the sweet side.
 I am not sure there could be any more frosting on this cookie.  Anna ate it all though.
 Who needs to eat?  Throwing is so much more fun.
 Daddy stepped in and finished, as usual, when the girls were tired of decorating.
Here is Anna Mei over looking a favorite variety of ours for Christmas.  These are her beloved Mrs. Larkin's cookies minus the frosting.  We had no trouble polishing off three dozen of these babies as they are our favorite.  Now after I see all that we have been eating around here, we may need to fast for the entire month of January.  I hope your holiday was a blessed one, and you ate a bit healthier than we did.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Its Cold Outside

Well friends, I am not a fan of cold.  Hate it in fact.  To make passing our days inside a bit better, we have been busy trying to come up with things to keep us entertained.  Some days are better than others, but we got through our first super cold stretch and survived!  We even enjoyed ourselves sometimes.
 Contact paper is always a hit.
 Closed Eyes..bless her.
These ornaments were cute.
 Contact paper taped to the picture window on a cold, snowy day was a huge hit.
I added craft sticks, cotton balls, qtips, and pipe cleaners to a loose parts tray so they could go to work.
 Molly was busy,
 but artist..was busy for an hour.
 She created the manger scene.  
Cutting and placing loose parts filled her afternoon with purpose.
 This sticky Christmas tree tray was a hit too.
I took a couple of cups of varying widths, stacked them on each other, and then covered them in reversed painter's tape.  I added the loose parts tray so they could decorate their trees.
 Molly worked hard on this.
As much as I love Christmas, I am counting down the days until we are outside again.
Warm weather..when will you come back to us?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Waiting At Christmas

In the quiet of this morning, this Christmas Eve morning, I sit here dreaming of our little one who is so far from home.  As a veteran waiting momma, I know that Christmas without our little girl is always hard yet somehow it has taken my heart by surprise.  The flurry of activity this week has been a good distraction, but this morning the hole that exists in my heart because of the absence of our newest baby girl is exposed in this quiet.  I mourn her absence.  I cry for all that I have missed with her, but I wait with hope.  For this year, she will be placed in the arms of this loving, forever momma, but the future for most is not so bright.  Most babies who lay in orphanages all across the world will never know the comfort of a mommma's arms.  As I watch my babies today and tomorrow celebrating the glorious birth of our Savior, I do not want to be so overcome with joy that I forget these babes who so desperately need the body to be Jesus for them.  As I sing silent night, unwrap gifts, read the Christmas story, consume a million cookies, and feast on food saved specifically for this time of year, may I not forget those who are so easily forgotten.  It is my constant prayer that more will be welcomed into loving, Godly families so that they too may know the love of Jesus because they know the love of family.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Gingerbread House Fun

So building a traditional gingerbread house has been a flop at our house a time or two.  The kits come cracked, the bread is heavy, and the girls are so little they can't really do any of it independently.  Many years ago, we started making these little houses that use a milk carton, like the ones you get at school lunch, as a form.  We cover the cartons in graham crackers and decorate them just as you would a gingerbread house with candy, cookies, and trim galore.  I even use store bought icing because somethings are worth saving time for.   The girls can do it 100% by themselves, and they enjoy it so very much.

 It's no surprise that my artist spent a good long while decorating her house.  She used just about every embellishment known to man, and even built snowflakes out of icing and marshmallows.
 Molly went right to work choosing only to use all red gumdrops on one side.
 She didn't finish the entire house by herself mostly because she was too busy eating entire spoonfuls of icing.  Oh my girl!

 Doesn't everyone decorate a gingerbread house while wearing cat ears?  This girl has enough personality for all of us.
 Molly's house ended up being decorated by me a bit.  She was off and playing after about 10 minutes.  Here is her house.
Anna Mei's creation was all her own this year though.  It was a fun, fun day!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Molly Writes and Spells Her Name

This amazing girl of mine has been handed her fair share of challenges.  She has only been in our family for 18 months, has no thumbs, is missing radial bones in both of her arms, and has severe hearing loss.  The first time she began to hear sounds at all, with the help of her aids, was not even 12 months ago yet.  She has had many things stacked against her, but she continues to blow us away with how quickly she is learning so much.  She is such a bright, bright girl who has such a strong will to take on this world with all those challenges and conquer it!  I am in awe of her..

 I  made this sensory bag below with hair gel, 
a quart freezer bag, 
some silver duct tape (to seal the seams),
and foam letters that spell her name.
It is small so we can take it with us
to keep us busy squishingly sequencing and spelling 
her name where ever we go.
And here she is spelling her name..

For three years old, her cognitive ability is pretty much where it should be!
Though she has only been hearing for 12 months, her receptive language is within average range!
She is amazing!  We are so blessed to call her our daughter!

Snow Good

 We had our second snow of the season,
and the girls could hardly wait to get
home from church yesterday to play in it.
I had dinner to make myself,
but I could hardly wait to get out there with them. 
 I left Daddy in charge of the mashed potatoes, 
and I went out to get to work on this guy with my two helpers. 

Happy girls!
This is the first time the sled came out.
They are heavy to pull so finding a hill will be necessary soon.
Here sits Molly.  
She did not want any part of playing outdoors in the cold.

Friday, December 9, 2016

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We kicked off the Christmas season by decorating our memory tree.
Anna Mei has affectionately given it that name because it has all the ornaments, pictures, and special items we have collected over the years.  As we decorate, it is so fun to remember the moments we have had along the way.
It's hard to believe that this is the last Christmas with this girl living under my roof.
Where did the time go?
Having a teen sure puts parenting the littles in perspective as I understand just how precious all of these moments the Lord grants us are..
I am grateful to have had the many moments of parenting this growing up treasure.
This is the first year that Jillian has actually had no stress about the tree going up.
Though she has been home for five Christmases now, they are still always rough on her.
This year, she had no anxiety whatsoever!
In fact, she actually decorated the tree for the first time.
She went back and forth to the ornament box completely on her own, and decorated the same spot on the tree with five thousand ornaments just as the other little girls did.
Daddy bought the girls some candy to eat as we decorated.
Molly was a goof ball as always.
This girl is truly our family clown, and we love, love her.
Big smiles from this girl as walking down memory lane makes her so happy.
It has never been more apparent to me as it is with this one that our children, at this age anyway, believe that they are who we tell them they are and I pray that the truths I am speaking into this precious girl stay  put for a lifetime.
Seventeen, five, three, and seven this Christmas looks pretty good on us.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Our TV Star

This summer we were blessed to be a part of a program that helps children with hearing loss.  Our Molly attended twice a week for six weeks this summer, and it was an incredible experience.  The mountains of information we were able to get about her hearing, and the connections we made have been so very valuable.  One day the Big 10 network came by the program and did a piece that they aired on the University of Iowa's program.  You can see our Molly throughout it.  She has the makings of a star..don't you think?

Our Dossier Is Authenticated

Our dossier is certified, authenticated, and being overnighted to our agency in California this very minute!  I am giddy!  My fourth dossier is about to make its way across the world to Ch*na!  I never dreamed this for myself, but God~God knew all along how this would all go!  Praying like crazy that I get my Letter Seeking Confirmation (our next step in this process) before the shutdown for Chinese New Year at the end of January.  It is nearly impossible, but I have seen impossible before many, many times in this process so I am hoping!  Now to get Anna Mei's passport, and begin to get things in order for our travel.  Oh, I can't wait!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


I love adoption for a million reasons, but today I love adoption because, as much fun as Sean is, making Christmas ornaments with only my man by my side wouldn't be near as much fun.

These faces..
 these precious moments..
 the loud laughter..
 the joy that fills my home..
 is so much more than I ever hoped for when planning out my life.
 Good, exceedingly good, is the Lord for bestowing such tremendous blessings on me.

Praising Him today because His plans are so much better than mine.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 
Jeremiah 29