Deuteronomy 4:35

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

The County Fair

I wasn't sure this day would ever come, but I finally feel that I can manage these three beauties in places like the county fair when I am flying solo.  Because of this, I headed there last Saturday with the three littlest girls, the wagon, and a packed lunch.  It was in the lower nineties most of the day so it was hot, but the girls did so well, and we had a great time!
 There was a barn with lots of farm animals.  This is great for Molly as I am working hard to try to build her vocabulary.  She saw many, many creatures to connect to her words.  These experiences are so language building for her if only she could hear better in these crowded environments.

 There was a huge sandbox made with bales of hay in the corner of the barn.
 The girls played for an hour.
 It was HOT, and this little one consumed nearly 32 oz of lemon shake up all by herself.  She is her momma's girl.
 It was a large cotton candy for this one. :)
 Most of the day was free, and the girls enjoyed every minute!
 This is the first time that Anna Mei wanted to go on rides.  Everyone enjoyed them!

 Bumper boats were a hit with Jilly.
 I think Molly may be a mad, crazy driver.
 Anna Mei stayed near the side away from the bumping.
My littlest baby was on the front of the train and got to pull the string to ring the bell.  I am not sure she heard it as she kept searching for what pulling the string was doing, but she was all smiles!  It was a beautiful day.  I enjoy these babes so much.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Clean Mud Sensory Dough

Recently, I came across an idea for "clean" mud play.  Because I am always looking for something fun to set up in the sensory tables for the girls, I bought the ingredients, added my own spin, and gave it a try.
I set it up with garden themed accessories.  I used some fake flower bushes from the dollar store, some paper grass (also dollar store), a watering can, shovels, and small pots to set up my play table.

 The dough was super soft and packed really well.  My teenager was outside helping me set up, and she wouldn't touch the stuff.  Molly wasn't interested either as the pool had water in it, but Anna Mei was all in.
 She loves her some imaginative play right now so it wasn't long before she set up a garden shop for me to purchase flowers in pots.
 She spent most of our evening at the sensory table though eventually she began "cooking" with the dough and playing restaurant because all things turn to cooking with my girl.
Truthfully, the dough reminded me so much of ice cream that I began planning a  little ice cream shop play center for them.  It packs in balls just like scoops of ice cream so add some different colors to the recipe, and viola..a whole new play adventure.  It  is in our future for sure.  Here is the recipe I used if you are interested in some good, clean mud..
2 rolls of shredded toilet paper
2 bars of grated soap
2 8oz cups of coffee
coffee grinds
Mix together all the ingredients and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Imagination Grove

Recently, we traveled back to Illinois so our DH could perform a wedding ceremony for one of our dear youth who is now grown.  We always enjoy these trips because we get a little vacation.  The girls love seeing our old friends, dancing the night away at the wedding, swimming in a hotel, and our little side trip plans.  Imagination Grove  was one of our destinations this time around.  It is a hidden gem just outside of Bloomington, IL.  The year before we moved, I discovered it when I took a group of boys I was helping home school on a maple syrup trip.  I have been dreaming of taking the girls here since that day.  It is a natural play area that encourages you to get dirty!  Perfect for my peanuts!
 A creek.  Need I say more?  She hiked up and down the creek for a good hour with her Daddy before exploring anything else.  This place had the makings of Jillian's paradise.  Monkey bars, a creek, sand, mud, trees to climb, a zip line..WOW was she happy!
 The digging pit had this sign next to it.  We dug a good long while, but never ended up in China.
 For the love of a good, clean creek, Molly played!
 Our Anna Mei was busy fetching water.
 She used it to "cook" all morning in this outdoor kitchen area.  Water plus dirt/sand with many pots, spoons, and muffin tins equals a morning of bliss for my little imaginative girl.
 Trees.  Oh the trees!
 You couldn't help but just be beaming as you watched Jilly, because she was so happy.
 She looks so grown up in these pictures.
 Anytime our girl is able to play this freely without worry, and be so very happy, we are thrilled!
 Molly was covered in mud at the end of the afternoon.
And so was this sweet one.  
What a wonderful afternoon with great memories!  Another bit of time to just be absolutely grateful to God for as we marvel at our chance to parent these great little ones.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Her First Day of School

My baby girl started a summer school program at the University last week.  Two days a week from 9:00 to 12:00 this little one has an army of professionals assigned to her.  They are helping develop her communication skills, expand her vocabulary, and (the coolest to me) teaching her to be more aware of her listening helpers.  There are audiologists, professors, and SLP students who get to love on her, helping her grown in all these ways, while I watch through a one way window.  I am always so hesitant to leave my girls, but this baby was ready.  She is so tiny in her little class as she is sporting her 18 month little sundresses and size 6 sandals, but she is watching and learning so much.  Of course, her baby doll is welcome in class too as the baby literally never, never leaves her side.  By the end of the first day, she was exhausted, and so were Anna Mei and I as we tagged along.  I am a bit relieved that the program runs only five weeks as keeping up this commute would be hard. In the fall, she will get to attend preschool in the same incredible school district where our Jilly attends, but for the summer we are so thrilled she has an opportunity at the University.  We are so blessed to live so close to so many superior services for our babes.  I can't wait to see where this summer takes her.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


I am often contacted by families who have brought home a babe like my Jilly who are considering adopting again.  They have valid concerns about how adding another child to their family might affect their sweet one with such high emotional needs.  My treasure, Jillian, requires much.  Here emotional needs, and all that it takes to care for her, can be overwhelming, but I am always sure to tell those that ask that while adding a child to your family is never an easy ride under any circumstance giving Jilly her sisters has been such a rich blessing.  It has had challenges of course just like any other change we make to our lives, but her sisters love and care for her like no one else.  I often have explained to Anna Mei that Jilly's mind is not going to grow up like hers will, and that momma will always have to take special care of her as she gets bigger.  My Anna Mei, being the nurturer that she is, will be the first to tell me that she will take care of Jilly for me when I am not able to anymore.  I remember the first time she came to me with that thought.  At three years old, being newly home herself, she declared herself Jilly's future guardian.  Friends, this is the gospel in action.  
Bringing home our Molly Kate has been no different.  She loves her sisters, and our family.  I looked out the other night in the backyard while doing my dinner dishes to see Molly, barely three years old, pushing Jillian on the swing.  Jillian loves swinging.  It comforts her and makes her so happy.  It was darling to see Molly trying to care for Jilly in that way. 
What a rich and incredible blessing it is to have these sweet babe's in our family.  They have altered our hearts and changed our thinking in ways I never would have dreamed as we planned out our lives.  It was never my plan to have a baby I would have to care for into adulthood, but what a beautiful and perfect plan the Lord had for me as my daughter, Jillian, has been one of the greatest blessings of my life.  My arms will never know an empty nest, and, frankly, I couldn't be happier about that.  I picture myself rocking this girl, and holding her like a newborn cuddled against my chest well into my eighties.  What a precious gift God has given me in that, and what a beautiful gift He has given each of us in this family to love one as special as our Jilly.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Hiking Mattheissen State Park

 We took a bit of a road trip last week and made a stop at our favorite state park hiking spot in Illinois.  When Em was little, she and I would hike Matthiessen State Park regularly.  I knew Jilly would be in her element as you literally hike down a creek in the canyon.  To say this girl was happy just doesn't do the day justice.  Jillian was ecstatic!  
 It was warm, but not too hot so the day was perfect!
 Anna doesn't usually love dirt or bugs, but she was great.  I think she enjoyed herself too.
 There are lots of places to stop for pictures and Emily tolerated my requests to pose.
 Have you ever seen a bigger smile?   At one end of the trail, you find this deeper swimming hole that is fed by a magnificent waterfall.  It is truly spectacular, and made Jillian so, so happy.
 I photographed Emily on this rock many, many times when she was young. 
 We literally parked here for an hour just watching this amazing little girl play!  It was wonderful.
 Sometimes it is challenging to find something that everyone can do and enjoy, but this day was fabulous!
When we left the park, the girls slept for a couple of hours as we hiked three and half miles.
This tiny little one is much like her sister Jilly in that she is all in where mud and water are concerned.  She hiked most of the three miles herself!  What a trooper.  We are so blessed to have a day together to enjoy the beauty God has created!  They did so well that I think more hiking is in our future.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

One Year Home

At the end of last month, we celebrated one year with this amazing girl.  It hasn't taken long to be completely smitten for her.  She still loves to be carried in my ergo, rocked to sleep, and cuddled which this momma loves! Her attachment to our family has been a dream.  She is truly an amazing little one.

 She is tiny for a three year old at 35 inches and only 25 pounds, but so full of life.  She is constantly joking, dancing, and hamming it up.  When hiking last week, she was crossing the "balance beam bridge" and thought it was hilarious to pretend to loose her balance making all the onlookers laugh.
 She is so smart too.  Having only had the ability to hear for six months, this girl's language is taking off.  She is "spelling" out words with the letters she knows, counting to five, and naming all of her colors.  I can't believe how quickly she is catching on to life.
 She loves, loves her baby doll.  It is always right next to her.  It is adorable to watch her play out her life with her little doll.  Jilly loves to wrestle with Daddy right now, and it was adorable to see Molly Kate playing that out with her doll the other night.
 I can't even begin to imagine a life without this darling little girl in it.  She is always up to something as she is so very busy.  She loves to pester her sister, mooch any food you might have, and scoop and dump whatever she can find.

She is also pretty fond of us too.  Her potential to change this world for the better is limitless, and I love watching her grow.  She has such an effect on people as they get to know her.  I am so very blessed that God has allowed her to be my daughter.  I am crazy, crazy for her.  Happy one year home my love!  You have been a tremendous blessing!