Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Our latest Nutcracker from the Nutcracker Ballet.  LG named him Greenburg.  

Baking a Red Velvet cake with a mermaid. 
Bob Elf left us a Christmas Eve breakfast along with a letter from Santa granting Lily Grace a very special wish.  She was allowed to open one gift from under the tree early.  

After preparing breakfast, apparently Bob needed an elf bubble bath.

Her early gift was a much hoped for Lego Friends Dolphin Cruiser.

This year Santa got Red Velvet cake.

So excited to have Saige and her horses.

Much of Christmas Day has been spent laughing and playing.  Too bad Santa didn't leave this downstairs in the game room.  Daddy has a big job ahead of him. 

Merry Christmas!  Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Card Outtakes

Each year we plan for the perfect Christmas card and each year it's a huge relief when it's printed and in the mail.  Here are a few funny outtakes on our way to the mailbox.  

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Cutie

cute in her curls

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Fun

Performing her annual Thanksgiving Day job- the mixing of
 the cornbread dressing. Yes....she washes!
Even Molly got to enjoy some turkey, apple and carrots. 
 No...she doesn't wash, but she is patient!

As always, the day after Thanksgiving, we decorated and put 
up our trees. (wrestled with  lights!! Right Matt?)
We woke to this festive banner and the first appearance 
by our elf, Bob.  Lily Grace was beyond excited!!
Reading her arrival letter from Bob explaining that he 
had left donuts and a Scavenger Hunt for our family.  We 
had to follow clues to find 5 ornaments hidden around the 
house.  We had so much fun!
Following the clues and notice Molly put herself
 in the mix, sniffing out the clues or more likely, 
what is on the counter she can get in to
We had a great time hunting for ornaments and 
yes... we enjoyed the donuts too

On Sunday morning, Bob had left us a decorated chandelier 
and a Gingerbread kit.  We had a great time as a family 
decorating our Gingerbread house after church.

So excited to visit with Santa.   
The holidays are upon us and we are having a cold but wonderful time.  
Thanksgiving brought with it flurries of snow, yummy food and family time together and even a lost tooth.  We had a great time and have so many blessings to be thankful for.  We even managed to see Santa over Thanksgiving.  
The trees are now up, (three this year with the addition of our Jesse tree), Bob our elf has started visiting, the Christmas card picture has been taken, the gifts are wrapped and we are joyfully awaiting the birth of our savior.
As I type this post, snow is steadily falling.  It's a mere 17 degrees outside and it truly is a most wonderful time of year.  I hope your family is enjoying the season and staying warm.  Thanks be to God!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Wet Halloween Fun

Enjoying Class Party Treats

Party Crafts

According to Gracie this is a "Cat Pose"

With neighbor Claire
We had quite the busy, fun and wet Halloween. A big storm front moved through and while it made for a messy Halloween, it certainly didn't dampen the fun.  
This year Lily Grace asked to be a black cat.  She was adorable.  
We enjoyed her class party with crafts, games and treats.  We also had some of our neighbors over for some warm chili and trick or treating in the rain.  
Lily Grace, I absolutely love sewing your costumes and sharing in your class parties.  You are the BEST treat ever!!!!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Six Year Reunion

Watching with excitement

Having just met-  here they are six years later

Yes, there were even pillow fights

They wore themselves out.  We turned the light on in the basement to take this picture and they never even moved.

Before breakfast this morning and before saying goodbye turned their little smiles into frowns
Where to even begin with this post?  Six years ago, God blessed us with the most amazing little girl.  His blessing would take us all the way to China.  We would become parents halfway around the world and share a connection with a family we had yet to meet. 
As many of you may remember, we met Scott and Kathy our first day in Beijing and from that moment on, we spent each day together. We shared many, many laughs, adventures and special moments.  We became parents together and our Lily's started their little lives together nine months prior to our arrival.  
Saying goodbye to Scott, Kathy and Lilyana at the Minneapolis airport upon our arrival in the United States was one of the hardest parts of our trip.  Being together made our trip more special, easy and memorable. 
Once home, long distance and busy schedules kept us apart.  Until now.....
This weekend, six years later, we saw our Lily's together again, at seven years old. (Having moved to Indiana, we are now only 3 hours apart.)  Leading up to their visit, the girls were beyond excited, pen-paling, sharing pictures of themselves, asking questions about one another and planning.  I will be honest, Matt, Scott, Kathy and I were just as excited.  The morning of their arrival, Lily Grace was glued to the window watching for them with sheer excitement.  I even got in on the watching after a while.  Her excitement only elevated mine.  Once in the driveway, all we saw was Lilyana bolting around the corner and two China sisters (as they call themselves) standing there hugging and in awe of one another. It was truly something special to see.  Six years later, the six of us were home, settled in our lives and finally, together again.  
We spent the weekend cooking out, catching up, laughing a lot, reminiscing, taking lots of pictures and enjoying the giggles of two little girls who were sharing special time together.  
This was the first time either of the girls had spent the night over at a friends.  By mid-day, they had decided that they had to sleep together and two separate bedrooms just wouldn't work.  So, after much play, running around, crafts, giggles, a bubble bath, dolls, a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs and near midnight bedtime, they were asleep, together, the same way they had started life. 
We just melted each time we saw them.  They were the cutest. It was something quite special.  God is so good!  Now the same size, and seven years old, they still looked exactly the same in the face and it was just precious. 
It's amazing when I think about it.  As soon as Scott and Kathy entered the front door, it was just easy to be together, just like it was in China.  It's as if we just picked right up and carried on.  We all felt it and had to say it out loud at least once.  
The girls said goodbye this morning after breakfast but just until Nov. We have been given a gift with this move and the distance it closes between us.  The four of us are making it a priority to get together on a scheduled regular basis.  So while this is the first post of our families together in six years, it's just the beginning of posts for these two growing China sisters who will always share a connection and thanks to God's wonderful blessings, now share in the ability to grow together.  Thanks be to God!

2nd Grade Picture Day

Beautiful...inside and out!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

An Evening of Music

Miss Priss (sorry for the iPhone quality- that's what you get when your husband won't carry the camera in his coat pocket for you- I'm just saying.......)

LG and Mr. Caleb before the performance.  

As I mentioned in my last post, now that we are settled, Lily Grace has picked her violin back up.  Lessons started again a few weeks ago.  Her last teacher, Ms. Jones was really good with her. 
When searching for a new teacher here in Indiana, I found Caleb.  He's a very nice young man and super talented.  I told Lily Grace about him and she insisted that it needed to be a lady because, "she really isn't that in to boys." Matt and I convinced her to give it a try.  After the first lesson, Lily Grace declared Mr. Caleb, her "best teacher ever!"  Funny!!!  
He is very soft spoken, gets down on her level and makes her work!  She looks forward to each Tue. afternoon.  
Last night, Caleb performed with the Philharmonic and invited Lily Grace to come watch.  She was busting with excitement when she saw him.  He took time to come down from warming up on stage to say hello to her and snap a quick picture.  They performed Brahms Symphony No.4.  The music was beautiful.  
Before attending, we reminded Lily Grace that unlike the musicals and broadway shows she had been to before, this would simply be music, no singing or acting.  The show didn't start until 8pm and ended at 10.  Afterwards on the way home, we asked Lily Grace how she enjoyed the show.  She proceeds to tell us that the music was nice but it was boring and would have been better with a little singing maybe.  We were tickled.  Then she follows up with this, "Im really tired.  I got tired watching that.  I won't do that when I get older because I don't know how Mr. Caleb even stayed awake to play that late."  Too funny!!!!  
We had a great time getting all dressed up, eating dinner out and according to Gracie having a "fancy" date as a family.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Second Grade & Settling In

All loaded up and headed for the airport from CT to IN

Moving wears you out

Lily Grace with her Second Grade Teacher

Here's how these two kept busy during all the unpacking.  

Gotta love these homemade window treatments. HA!

Oh! At the end of our first week here we were forced to find a vet because Molly sprained her leg.  Lily Grace kept her occupied.  

Having died here, Johnny Appleseed is a big deal so we went to the JA festival where we enjoyed a yummy caramel apple, some demonstrations, crafts, apple cider, games and LG got her face painted like a cat. 

The main reason she wanted to come to the festival was to see Jonny Appleseed's grave site.  Only LG would pose in front of this thing wearing a cat face and all smiles.  

Gracie is thrilled to be back in a neighborhood and got a new REAL big girl bike (which she fondly calls Sophie), complete with a kickstand and handbrakes.  She loves riding around here and could do so for hours.   

Two weeks after moving to CT, Lily Grace and I locked ourselves out of the car at the outlet mall with my cell phone inside.  To make matters worse, Matt was out of town so we had to borrow someone's phone (apparently pay phones are nonexistent now days) and wait for Matt to coordinate a locksmith from TN.  In true form, we did it again.  This time we locked ourselves out of the house when going out for a bike ride.  Luckily I had my phone and daddy was just 25 minutes away.  At least we are consistent. HA!

I'm not really even sure where to start with this post as it has been so long.  I guess I should start with the good news, that we are settled here in IN.  We are all really enjoying life here.  The people are super friendly, it's a very family oriented area, our church and school are amazing and God is good!  Oh!  and yes, there is a lot of corn!  
With the house sold in CT, we watched just 14 short months from our arrival to movers once again packing and loading us up.  As before, Matt drove Lily Grace and I to the airport and we flew on to IN from CT while he and Molly made the 14 hour drive.  
We were really blessed this move in that one, our house in CT sold in 24 hours so we didn't have to deal with that once we left and second, the movers delivered our furniture the day after we closed so we only went an evening without our things in IN.  
Speaking of closing day, this wouldn't be a post without some excitement.  So as you may recall, the big excitement back in CT when we first moved involved snakes in the basement and living on Rubbermaid containers until our furniture arrived several days later.  Indiana proved to be no different when it came to moving matters and little surprises along the way.  (and praise God, none of it involved snakes)
Lily Grace and I arrived in IN on late Wed. afternoon after a three hour delay at the airport and two missed connections.  Matt joined us at midnight Thursday night after making the drive with Molly.  (Oh!  and just know that Google may say it takes 9 hours and get your hopes up, but it takes 14)  After settling in with a 70 pound Golden Retriever in a tiny hotel room, we get a little rest as Friday is the big day.  We are set to close at 10:30 on our house in IN and Lily Grace starts her first day of second grade.  
Friday morning was filled with excitement.  We joked about Gracie starting her first day of school from the Residence Inn and enjoyed breakfast at Panera before heading off.  Lily Grace was beyond excited as she was very ready to start school.  Matt and I couldn't have been more proud.  You see, school started in IN two weeks before our arrival, so not only was Lily Grace new to the school, she was walking in well after the others.  I was excited for her and very worried too.  No need to worry, Lily Grace handled it like a champ, full of confidence, all smiles and eager to get to know everyone.  She absolutely adores her teacher and we couldn't be happier.  Her teacher is just wonderful.  She worked diligently with us the two weeks before our move and Lily Grace never skipped a beat.  I still can't believe I dropped my baby off at second grade.  I did manage to hold the tears until the car and I thank God for his support to all of us during that time.  Lily Grace as I often tell her, truly is one of the bravest girls I know.  
With a quick picture, a hug and a kiss, Matt and I left our second grader and were off to our closing.  We even had a little time to kill so naturally we were off to Starbucks.  Ahhhhh everything was coming together and soon we would be settled, again.  That is......until Matt gets a call from our realtor and there's an issue with a mistake on the title.  What??? Easy fix right?  Apparently, and I share this from my limited knowledge, it's not easy to just fix mistakes on documents.  We leave and head over to our relator's office and in a conference call with the mortgage company, title company and our realtor who are trying to solve the issue, the words are said, "so will we be able to come close or do we need to come later?"  WHAT!!!!!  Did I mention that I was  already not feeling well on Friday morning and then this?  We are also up to 10:00 and we haven't even left for the closing.  Huge teas begin to well up in my eyes and I look at Matt across the table who gives me the, oh! don't you worry, we ARE closing today look.  I feel a little better because I know Matt.  And here's another fact based on my limited knowledge of this process, someone looking at the wrong document can lead to hours of chaos.  Finally, at 12:30, two hours after we were suppose to close, we do so.  
Matt and I decide that we will go and get a bite to eat, relax a little and then go by the hotel to gather our things and Molly before we go to pick up Lily Grace from school.  I'm still feeling very sick but thinking that perhaps a little lunch and having this closing behind us will help.  Lunch is yummy and Matt and I sat and laughed about the days events and what we had left to do.  We had a nice lunch and left to go to the hotel as we had just enough time to gather our things and Molly and deliver them to the new house before picking Lily Grace up.  We decided sleeping on our air mattresses at our own house was better than another cramped night in that hotel.  Home free.....
Then as we make our way down the street to our new home which passes by Lily Grace's school.  We see a firetruck taking the corner with sirens blazing and just where do you think we see that truck racing towards?  Yes! The firetruck is headed for Lily Grace's school and we can see all the kids standing outside.  Matt and I wheel into the parking lot and look around.  Finally, it appears that they've just had a fire drill.  Apparently, a very real fire drill.  Relived, Matt and I look at each other like....REALLY??????  Today????? What else???
Once everything was unloaded at the house, it was back up to school to pick up Lily Grace.  She was all smiles and had the best day.  We enjoyed hearing all about the kids she had met and what she did.  
We have since settled in and started to enjoy our new city and neighborhood.  I'm back to volunteering at school, Lily Grace is preparing for two sacraments this year, violin has resumed and Matt is really enjoying his new role.  
A lot of memories have already been made here and I know that a lot more are to come.  Indiana suits me well.  It reminds we a lot of the south without the accent. Church and manners are important here. Lily Grace has loved it since our first visit and Matt, he's pretty happy too.  
Funny how life comes full circle, Matt actually lived here for four years when he was younger.  We love our new house and neighborhood.  And at last, everything is unpacked and it feels like home.  We are blessed and thank God, for everything comes from Him.  We are loving Indiana and it's where God wants us to be.  Many have asked if it's the last move and honestly, I don't know, only God does. He hasn't asked us to do anything yet that hasn't blessed us in some way.  So for now, I give Him thanks for this very blessed opportunity to experience and live life here in the Midwest.