Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Week in Photos!

1) We say yes!  China here we come!
2) Chinese New Year is just around the corner.
3) Still Life -Corn Chowder
4) Playing in the snow with Papa
5) Little Ballerina Tries Baked Oatmeal
6) Battle of the Books!  Roman reading to win!
7) Sisters learning to swim.
8) Happy it snowed (or at least for 6 minutes)
9) Snow Angels

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


My neighbor came over the other day and asked if I would take a couple of head shots of her baby for her!  I was happy to oblige as he is a super cute happy baby.  This year I have decided to get out of my comfort zone and really put myself out there a photographer.  I have 12 shoots lined up so far for this year.  I am nervous and excited at the same time.  Now I just need to scouts some really great locations.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Joyful Surprise

Hi!  It has been a little quiet here on my blog.  So much going on right now in terms of filling out paperwork to complete the adoption of Ivy.  Spent the morning sending off documents and a care package for miss sweet thing.  Later this week I have to go renew my passport.  I am also in the process of fundraising as everything just happened so quickly and we don't have all the money sitting in the bank.  If you are interested in helping us bring home Ivy, we are selling t-shirts to offset some of the cost.  Just follow this link.   However, I didn't come on-line to talk about t-shirt or Ivy as I wanted to talk to you about some of the movies I have seen recently.

When my mom asked me to go see the movie Joy with her I wasn't so thrilled.  The trailer just didn't really pull me in, but I knew the cast was good and in any relationship you have to compromise.  Joy is the story of an average American woman and even maybe a woman down on her luck who uses his creativity and tenacity to bring herself and her family out of a desperate situation.  The movie is brilliant.  One of my favorite scenes is where Joy (played by Jennifer Lawrence) has had enough.  She whacks off her hair and she basically tells this man who has been taking advantage of her that she knows he is legally wrong.  He is completely dumbfounded and knows he has been caught.  Joy walks away from the situation triumphantly.  I related to this movie more than I thought I would because while I am not a multi-millionaire like Joy.  We grew up in kind of the same family dynamic. which was crazy and dysfunctional.

Now that I have finished watching Downton Abbey at Christmas ( we have access to European TV through a VPN), I  have started watching a new series called Mercy Street. This series tells the stories of American woman nurses during the Civil War time period. The jury is still out on this one as it is slowly opening up the story line, but I have a feeling it is going to be good.

Last but not least, I finished watching a television series out of Germany that I purchased on-line called Deutschland83.  I bought the series for my husband for Christmas. We both thought it was brilliant.  The series takes place at the height of the Cold War.  Who doesn't love a little bit of 80's music weaved through a tale of spies and political politics.  While the show is in German you can switch on the English language option or use the sub-title option.  What are you watching these days?  Do tell me?  I am always looking for something to watch in the evenings as I sit by the fire when the children are in bed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hawaiian Haystacks

I have no idea where this recipe originated or how it got it it's name.  I have a feeling it may have been one of those recipes you find in the Better Homes and Garden or Family Circle or maybe on the back of a soup can.  It isn't one of the most sophisticated meals, but it is a meal everyone can enjoy. The original recipe calls for the use of Creme of Chicken Soup, but that is just a little processed for our family.  Don't get me wrong, we do eat soup out of cans, but not very often. What kids love about this recipe is that they can add their own toppings to the top of the dish.  Toppings range from shredded cheddar cheese, green onion, fried noodles, pineapple chunks, peanut, mandarin oranges, and diced red pepper (not shown).  Then you make enough rice to feed your family.  My family of 7 needs about 2 cups of dried rice.  We makes our in a rice cooker, but you can make on the stove top.
Then follows the sauce and chicken.  These amounts can be easily increased.  I kind of eyeball it based on the number of people home that night.  I have really found joy in using chicken tenderloin.  It is a little more expensive than buying breast, but the results are a much more tender meat.  Buying this item in bulk can really bring down it's price making it much more affordable.  Anyway for my family of 7 including little ones we need about 13 tenderloins.  If using breast meat I would suggest 1 breast per adult and 1/2 a breast  per child depending on the age, so for our family this would be about 5 breast.   In a large skillet brown the tenderloin meat, take out as soon as meat is cooked through this will keep the meat moist. While cooking add salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic.  If you like garlic you can add more.  Set aside meat and in the same skillet melt 3 Tablespoons of butter and 3 Tablespoons of flour over medium heat. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme to the mixture and cook flour and butter until the flour is just becoming golden brown.  Add 2 cups of chicken broth to mixture and whisk until mixture is completely incorporated.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Depending on sodium levels in broth you can go less on the salt.  Then once sauce begins to thicken decrease the heat to low and add one cup of creme.  Cook for a minute or two until sauce thickens and add chicken back to sauce serve once chicken is warmed through serving over the rice.  Now let the kids have fun.  The sauce is pretty mild, so if you like a little spice I certainly suggest adding pepper flakes to taste.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

More Photos of Our Sweet Ivy

Those cheeks don't they want to make you kiss all over them!  Hang on baby girl we are coming to get you.  At the moment, we are currently waiting for our Letter of Acceptance or LOA, this document is a letter from China that says they accept our petition to adopt her. The current turn around on this document is around 42 days.  We are about 4 days into the wait. Once we have this document. We then sign it and send it back to China where they then notify our immigration department that we will be bringing this little one home. Travel usually occurs within 8 weeks of this document.  We are shooting for the beginning of May.  In the mean time nesting has begun. I need to sort through the girls clothes and get rid of the ones that will no longer fit and make sure we have enough for the current summer season.  I have some friends who will be traveling to her orphanage in March, so I am hoping to get a report back in regards to whether or not she drinks from a bottle. We don't have any of those laying around the house, so if she does than it is off to the store.  We will be sending her a care package soon that will include photos of our family along with a few items like a USB drive to obtain any photos of her they might have and a few treats for her and her friends to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year!  We would love for you to join us in prayer that she is being treated well and that her heart is ready to accept us as a family.

Friday, January 15, 2016

A New Addition

I don't think one ever leaves China with their heart whole.  I mean who can witness the thousands upon millions of children living their lives in orphanages, and while living in an orphanage is certainly a much better place to live than on the streets it is not the same as living in a family.  We thought our family was complete when we added Avery to our family two years ago, but month after month the feeling that we could do more just wouldn't go away. Certainly 5 children today is a large family and now we will have 6.  Some may think we are crazy; however, how could we say no when we have been so blessed.  Blessed beyond measure. We have a beautiful home and my husband has a fantastic job.  There are a lot of what if's in this life, but one of those what if's we didn't want to think about was saying no to this amazing opportunity to bring this sweet little girl in our home.  What's her name?  We are going to name her Ivy Margaret, and she is 20 months old.  She lives in Henan province and is currently living in an orphanage about an hour away from where Avery was born.  If all goes well, we should be traveling to China around the beginning of May.  The children and especially Addy and Avery are so excited to have a new baby sister and we are excited to have a new sister.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Baby it is Cold Outside

One would not know by the sun streaming through the living room windows that it was freezing outside.  The temperature on the thermometer read 28 degrees.  Wasn't it 75 degrees just a few weeks ago?  After taking the children to school and skipping the gym.  I headed to Target to purchase some much needed undergarments and then like Target with it's magical powers to persuade one to buy things they hadn't planned on buying I walked out with a cart full of Valentine cards for the kids classes, soaks because they keep disappearing (girls), mac and cheese as it was on sale, and snacks for the children's lunches.  I was feeling full of energy so I made my way to the gym where I didn't work out, but instead signed up the girls for swim class two days a week after school, and since I was on such a roll I drove up to the dance studio to sign of the girls for a dance class.  I have made a decision that if the girls were going to spend the afternoon deconstructing my house than I needed to find a way to keep them busy. Addy will do great, but I am worried about Avery wanting to participate.  She kind of likes to stay by my side.  Right now her favorite phrase is, "I don't want to." My car rolled up in the drive way just a little after one and with an hour before having to pick up the girls I decided to turn on the fire, make a cup of hot cocoa, and read.  I am currently reading a book by Jennifer Worth called In the Midst of Life who also wrote the book Call of The Midwives that has been made into a BBC TV series.  I love the series, but have also read the book.  I was a little surprised that the book was on death. Kind of a strange topic to read about, but I am actually finding the book fascinating as the book isn't just about dying, but about medical practices and perception of death.  Like her other book The Call of the Midwives the book is written from her experience from working as a nurse for over 20 years.  Jennifer has a way of writing that draws you in and takes topic that could be otherwise boring something you can't put down.  What are you reading?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Night with the Hawks

In our house, we have one boy who loves all things related to sports.  His favorites are soccer and basketball, but you will find him watching football and other sports events in his free time.  Last night as part of his Christmas presents, Winston and I attended the Atlanta Hawks basketball game. They played against the Chicago Bulls.  Can't get any better than that.  The Hawks won!  Also, pretty cool on the left on the front row court seats is LL Cool Jay.  Like Serious!  Spent my teens dancing to his music.  Hope you are having a great weekend!  What did you do this weekend?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Never Ending Lice Story

Remember back before Thanksgiving when Addy came home from school with lice, well it is back.  Actually, this is the thrid round.  Despite washing everything we own, putting stuff animals away, washing down all surfaces, and trying all treatments.  So off went the hair, and tomorrow we have an appointment with a professional service that claims they can rid heads of lice.  The problem is the lice are the same color as her hair, so they are really hard to see.  I am not a person who swears, but I have had to hold my tongue.  I am exhausted!  Do you know how many times I have washed her hair and combed it, or the number of tears shed (hers and mine), and how much laundry that has meant.  I am beyond frustrated.  Praying tomorrow will be the end of our lice woes!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Time sure does not stop.  It seems like yesterday I was the one in the bridal photo and here we are 18 years later at a dear friends daughters reception.  How is it possible that the little 5 year old who was at our reception so long ago is now old enough to get married.  Erin has grown up to be such a wonderful young woman.  She has served a mission.  She graduated from BYU this winter and is now starting a new adventure with her husband Benjin.  So dearly missed was her mother Maryanne who passed away this past year of cancer.  While my heart was rejoicing for Erin at the same time my heart was breaking for her to think that she couldn't share this moment with her mother and that her mother won't be there as she becomes a mother, and then on the other hand her mother was there as looking at Erin is like looking at her mother. I am so grateful we had the opportunity to go to her reception and be apart of this amazing moment in her life as well as to be reminded that this life we have is ever so short.  We need to soak in every moment and count our many blessings.   Maybe that is the lesson for 2016.  Congratulations Erin and Benjin! 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A New Year on The Road

A brief stay in Nashville attending a wedding reception and visiting friends then found us in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  A few years ago, I took a photography class on-line and through that class I met a woman who was also in the process of adopting from China. We kept in contact and this past fall she came with her family to Atlanta. Anyway, we decided to visit them on our way home. In and of itself, Winston-Salem isn't that special.  Upon first glance my mom and I were scratching our heads for why any one would want to go there, but the city holds a hidden gem in it's historical preservation of the it's early settlement.  The town was settled by the Monrovians a group of people similar to the Quakers who were escaping religious persecution. If you ever visit, don't forget to stop in the bakery and try some of the sugar bread!  Super yummy! The girls had so much fun playing with Carolina and we enjoyed visiting with her parents.