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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

1 Year

One year ago in Zhengzhou, China with a group of 9 other families, who were there to meet their children for the very time, our lives were forever changed for the good when I met our daughter Ivy. This post could not nearly contain all the emotions and gratitude for that day.  She truly is an amazing gift from God.  People say to us all the time that she is so blessed to have us as her parents, but I would say it is the other way around.  We are truly blessed to have her as our daughter.  She has given us way more than we will ever be able to give to her, and on the same note we recognize that this comes at a sacrifice for this little one.  She has lost so much.  She has lost her culture, her language, and the opportunity to know her birth family.  While we may never know who they are, I hope that somehow they know that she is loved beyond measure and that we are grateful to them as they choose to give her life.  I can't imagine it was easy for them to make that decision, and with that said today we are celebrating our 1 year forever family day!  It seems crazy to believe it has been a year since she joined our family and we can't imagine our lives without her.  She is sweet and sassy and incredibly intelligent.  We love you Miss Ivy!  Thank you for coming to our family!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Reader






Bouncy and full of life, Addy is finally a reader.  It was like the door was unlocked and all of a sudden she completely understood how it worked.  She hadn't put a book down since last week.  She amazes me at how she really takes the time to sound out all the words.  Love this little constantly talking girl of mine.  Today I had a little interview with her and here are her answers: What is your favorite color-blue, What is your favorite subject at school-math, What is your favorite food-tator-tots What is your favorite thing to do-play American Girls?   Hope all is well in your corner of the world.  I have a few home sick this week.  See you back soon!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

March Movie Review

While life has been busy, tearing the tendon above my knee has given me plenty of time to watch a few movies.  This go around there have been a few movies I have loved and a few I just could not force myself to continue watching and that is pretty unusual for me as I usually watch a movie to the end even if I don't like it.  Up first is Lion.  Loved this movie.  Starring Dev Patel from Slum Dog Millionaire.  This story revolves around a little boy  who is separated from his family and despite the efforts of the orphanage directors attempts to find his family they have no luck in finding them.  In the end he is adopted by an Australian family and is raised in a loving home.  Years later the boy begins to have flashbacks to his childhood and eventually pieces together the memories to located his mother.  While the storyline is heartbreaking it is also a story of love and hope. This story is based on a true story.  It has to be one of my favorite movies I have seen in a long time along with Hidden Figures which I featured in my last movie review.


The next movie is called Fences.  Starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, while I can't complain about the acting I could not finish the movie. I love both of these actors! The story is about a African American man in the 1950's coming to terms with life.  While I didn't really have a hard time with the angry black man storyline because to be honest black men of that era had a ton to be angry about, my biggest gripe with the movie was that I honestly had a hard time understanding what they were saying.  I only watched 30 minutes before I had to turn it off because the mental exercise of trying to understand what they were saying was just too exhausting. Bad on my part I suppose because I know this is how Black people speak and it made the movie authentic, but it was just too much for me.



Sloan is a two thumbs up movie!  Love it! Totally Brilliant!  Jessica Chastain once again delivers a first rate movie.  The movie has all the similarities to a John Grisham movie of the 1990's.  Wish they would make more movies like those!  This movie is about a female lobbyist who decides to take on the Gun industry and work on passing anti-gun legislation.  Whether you are for or against it doesn't really matter as this movie is really about the effect of lobbyist on Washington.  The movie will have you on your edge of the seat the whole time and you will never guess the ending.


While Hollywood and critics declared this movie brilliant and a masterpiece this was also another movie I could not finish.  The story line is about a teenage boy who has lost his father and his uncle who he is then left in the care of his uncle.  The uncle feels he is unworthy of the job.  Maybe the story is brilliant, but I just could not get past the f words one after another.  I ended up falling asleep. Since I rented it I tried to watch it again when I wasn't so tired, but nothing about the story or it's characters drew me into the story and so in the end I ended up turning it off and watching the next episode of This is Us!



The Great Wall of China was another failure in my book.  Not my usual genre of movie I like to watch, but when my husband asked me to go to this movie I said, "I would love too," because he doesn't ask me to go to the movie that often.  One of the things I was looking forward to was seeing scenery of China, but that wasn't really the case. The movie takes primarily around the wall and except for one scene in the Summer Palace that is all you get to see of China. I will give the movie credit for a couple of funny comical moments in the movie, but overall I thought the storyline offered very little depth. I came walking away knowing very little about the characters and how they got to be where they were at in the movie. While the movie could have offered a love scene between Matt Damon and the main warrior actress, the audience got nothing.  Now if you love martial arts than this movie will be a big hit!

Up next is Beauty and the Beast which debuted in the theater yesterday.  The Girls were so excited to see this movie and I was a little guarded about the movie because I had seen reviews stating that Disney was using this movie to push their gay agenda. This I did not find in the movie.  They christian critics said that Disney was using the character of Lefou who is Gastons sidekick to bring in the concept of homosexual love, and  as hard as I looked I did not find any of the claims to be true except for like two seconds at the end where all the characters are dancing and you see two men who switch partners and end up in each others arms.  I actually loved this version better than the cartoon version because of all the new songs they introduced.  I loved Emma Watson as Bell and was thrilled to see Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts.  Keven Kline did a great job as Bell's father and the scenery and costumes were lovely.  My only complaint about this movie would have to be it that it was a little scary for the 2-6 age range.  Wish they had downplayed the wolf scene and the Beast was also a little too scary.  I had to tell my girls to close there eyes a few minutes a couple times during the movie because they were begging to go home.  Overall they loved the movie though and so it gets a thumbs up in my book.  Have you seen any good movies lately?  What are you enjoying watching on TV?




Friday, March 17, 2017

Soccer Season and Other Comings and Goings

Hi!  Happy Friday!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Hope you are enjoying some fine Irish Food today.  I had a lovely Shepard's Pie for lunch followed by a Mint Chocolate Crunch cupcake from my favorite cupcake store.  Lots going on right now at our house right now, as we prepare to leave for Germany the 1st of June.  The biggest news being is that we finally straightened out the passport/visa situation for the children and me.  It was touch and go for a while as we weren't sure if were going to be able to get passports for our two youngest daughters who are adopted from China.  It turns out we were missing a really important document because we gave it to the U.S. immigration and they never gave it back.  Thankfully, I contacted the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China and they were able to send an electronic copy of this document and then they were able to verify it with the German consulate that it was a legitimate copy of the original.  We were on pins and needles for a couple of weeks, but it worked and they are processing our documents as we speak.  Sadly that isn't the end of the story, as we will need to legalize the adoptions once we get to Germany, but at least for now the children and I will be able to go over with my husband come June.  Thanks to my mother and father-in-law they are going to purchase the appliances for our apartment too, so that we don't have to stay in a hotel for very long once we get there.  In other news, my son Harris won third place in his entrepreneurship category for FBLA for the state, so he has a chance to go to California in July if he can get off of work.  He is also a finalist in the interview process to work in a laboratory at Georgia State University Neuroscience Lab.  Let's pray and cross our fingers he gets the job.  Thankfully, I have almost all the dental and doctor visits under our belt, so that we don't have to worry about that while we are in Germany.  I just need to get my knee healed and we are good to go.  Last but not least, Winston is really enjoying his soccer club this season.  They dismantled his team from fall and put some new kids in the mix and they are now playing much better.  I have to give my husband credit for all the weekends he has spent on the soccer field the last two years, while it is fun to watch our son it isn't so much fun to watch him when it is cold and windy outside.  Well, I hope you have a good weekend! Do you have anything fun planned for the weekend?




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Constant Struggle



I don't know about you, but eating healthy is a constant struggle.  I mean with 8 people in our family and so many likes and dislikes it is hard to find food that we all like and if we all like it then it isn't something that is extremely healthy.  My husband eats mostly paleo, but is not a big salad person. My kids aren't big fans of salad either but do love cucumbers.  I think you get the picture. Anyways, the other day this recipe for this salad came across my feed and I thought it looked pretty good, so I gave it a go. My husband even liked it too!  I did make a few changes to the orignial recipe  just because I am not a big fan of Kale and also because I couldn't find any barley at the store. Enjoy!  Hope you like this salad as much as I did!


Mixed Greens, Brown Rice and Quinoa, and Feta Salad

4 cups of salad
1 1/2 cups of brown rice with quinoa cooked.  (I cheated and bought one of those 90 second microwave bags of rice in the grocery story)
1 cup of chickpeas
1/3 cup of feta
1/4 of a red onion chopped
1/4 cup of Sunflower seeds
1 avocado diced into chunks

dressing:
2 teaspoons of honey
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoon of white vinegar

Place the items for the dressing in a bowl and whisk together or my favorite way to make dressing is to put the ingredients in a mason jar with the lid and shake until you can tell the ingredients and really come together.




Monday, March 13, 2017

21 pilots









Two weeks ago, Winston and I had the opportunity to attend a 21 Pilots music concert in Birmingham, Alabama.  Unfortunately, this mama has snoozed at the wheel and missed out on buying the tickets when they had played here in Atlanta.  Thankfully, Birmingham is only 2 hours away and I had a free night at the Marriott Hotel.  The boys are beyond the age of toys, so finding something that is meaningful to them for Christmas presents can be a little difficult; however, Winston had wanted to go to this concert for ages.  We left school a little early and headed to Birmingham where we stopped for a burger and fries at MooYah Burger.  The Burgers were amazing! Then on to the concert.  I wasn't to thrilled by the opening act which was Judah and The Lion, but the next act which was Jon Bellion was pretty good.  Then it was time for 21 Pilots!  Winston was in music heaven; especially, when the lead singer came pretty close to the area where we were sitting.  He could almost touch him. Sadly, we didn't have anytime to stick around and explore the city the next morning as Addy had a birthday party to go to for her good friend Morgan.  Going to these concerts with Winston is one of my favorite things to do!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Celebrating 1 year











Almost a year ago, 16 families boarded a plane for China to add beautiful additions to their families. One less no longer orphans children belong in families, and in the two weeks these families were over in China finalizing the paperwork the children's families built bonds that I am sure will last a lifetime.  Sadly only 4 of the six families could gather, but they hope that in the future more families will join them. It is hard to believe that it has been almost a year since we added Ivy to our family as it seems like a lifetime ago, and it also seems like she has always been apart of our family.  We were all suppose to meet in January, but then came a storm and  I don't think any of us would regret that because we were blessed with beautiful weather.  We gathered in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  We had so much fun playing at the park, exploring the children's museum, eating delicious food (see previous post), swimming in the hotel pool (not pictured), celebrating the girls birthdays (turns out all their birthdays are just weeks apart from one another), and making memories that are sealed upon our hearts.  So grateful to have these families apart of our story!  God makes no mistakes!  He writes beautiful stories!  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Where to eat in Chattanooga!

Chattanooga located on the southern eastern tip of Tennessee bordering Alabama and Georgia lies along the Tennessee River and is surrounded by gorgeous mountains makes for a great day trip from Atlanta, Nashville, or Knoxville.  It may be small but overs a wide variety of activities for everyone, and if you are a food lover no worries because Chattanooga is not small when it comes to flavor and variety of foods.  I have said it before, but when visiting a new place I tend to stay away from the chain restaurants.  Here are two of my favorites!

Wanting a taste of the south, then try Tupelo Honey Cafe.  Here you will be served giant biscuits accompanied with a side of honey and jam, Wanting buttermilk fried chicken then this is your place served perfectly crispy and the meat is so tender if practically melts in your mouth. Wash it down with a peach lemonade. The banana pudding pancakes are nothing to joke about either oozing with banana pudding, vanilla wafers, and banana foster bananas you will think you have died and gone to heaven.  My mother had the Appalachian Breakfast and my friend had the Shoo Mercy Omelet equally worthy of a mention.  I mean to be honest I don't think you could go wrong.  The atmosphere is cozy and full of light and the service was impeccable despite being jammed pack.




Up next is south meets tacos at a restaurant called Taco Mamacitas! Definitely a favorite as there was not a seat to be found when we arrived, but thankfully we were seated pretty quickly.  When I say south meets tacos that is because the nachos have a taste of BBQ sauce. You won't find your typical American Mexican food at this restaurant everything is fresh, light and innovative.  I really loved my vegetarian enchiladas, the tortilla soup was lovely, despite being jammed pack the waiter was attentive.  All I can say is yum!  Now I only listed two restaurants, but here are a few others to try: Urban Stack, Milk and Honey, Public House, Blue Plate, and Forbidden City.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

No Guilt Chocolate Banana Muffins

The other day I was scrolling through my facebook feed when my friend Lisa posted this recipe for Chocolate Banana Muffins.  I love chocolate and I love Bananas!  I have made a few recipes that Lisa has made before and they were delicious; however, you just never no with some of these no gluten no sugar recipes.  Would they be as rich as those I have made before?  Seriously, these were so delcious and most importantly my children didn't even no the difference.  They gobbled them right up! Usually, I end up taking treats to my neighbor but this time they disappeared before I even had a chance.  I call that a winner in my book.  We will be making these again.



recipe and photo from

1 1/2 banana mashed up
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup of melted coconut oil
1/3 cup of pure maple syrup
1 3/4 cup of oat flour (made mine by putting oats in blender)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/3 cup of cocoa powder
plus 1/3 of a cup of dark chocolate chips plus an additional handful for topping the muffings.

Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl and when all is incorporated add the dry ingredients.  Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups or spray your tin then with an ice cream scoop add batter to pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Cool and enjoy!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Eighteen


Happy Birthday dear one!  Eighteen years ago you made me a mother.  You made us parents and we couldn't be more blessed.  You are amazing! Here are just a few things we adore about you!  We love that you are driven and passionate about computers and how they can be used to make the world a better place.  We love your desire to search out the truth.  You keep us on our toes and while it hasn't always been easy we wouldn't have it any other way.  I love how when you decide to accomplish something you go after it.  Congratulations on getting into all the schools you applied too!  Love you to the moon and back!  We couldn't be more prouder of you!


On a side note, Harris turned 18 on the 28th but just getting around to posting about it because we have had such a busy past week.  On another note, I cant believe I am a mother to an adult.  How did that happen!  It seems like I was just 18 myself.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Day in Savannah











Poor Roman woke up in the middle of the night sick with the flu.  He was able to sleep a few hours before he got sick for the second time and that was when mommy packed him up into the car and took him to urgent care.  He said his stomach hurt really bad and while I knew it was the flu I didn't want to take chances that it could be his appendix.  When we finished at urgent care we went back to the hotel where Nana took the girls down to the lobby and Roman and I took a little nap. When we woke up Roman was feeling OK and so we packed up our stuff and headed into the city.  Before heading to lunch and a little shopping, we stopped at Forsyth Square where the girls played in the city park.  I might be a trader by saying this, but Savannah really is the crown jewel of Georgia.  It may be small but it sure makes up for that in charm.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wormsloe





















Last week when we went to Savannah, we had the opportunity to visit Wormsloe where the street lined with Oaks is of legendary status.  It is the longest row of live Oak trees in the world.  Noble Jones arriving with Oglethorpe established the Wormsloe Plantation as a military lookout to protect the colonist against the Spanish to the south in Florida.  While today the house has deteriorated the house gave archeologist plenty of information on how people lived at that time.  Today you can visit and interact with members of the National Park system or costumed actors who will offer a wonderful rich knowledge of the history of this estate. This estate is just one of the many wonderful things to do while in Savannah.  On another note, we are off on another adventure.  We are heading north to Chattanooga where we will be hanging out with a couple of families we met on our trip to get Ivy. These families have become such dear friends.  I am grateful our girls can all grow up together.  See you when I get back!  Have a great weekend!