Tuesday, December 30, 2008

6 Months Changes Everything

This time a year ago I could have written a blog entry entitled, "3 years changes nothing." 1 year of paperwork and 2 years of official waiting and we still had no tangible reason to believe that we would have a baby soon. 6 months later we were holding Will in our arms. Now, today, it's already been 6 months since we officially adopted him and perhaps the fastest 6 months of my life.

Once upon a time, Will was just a dream to us, a picture that we carried around and talked about.

When he first met us, we were just the scary people with big eyes and big noses who talked weird and smelled funny. There was no love at first sight for him. He cried from about 5:30-10p.m, and only stopped then because he was so tired he fell asleep.

Now, 6 months later, our lives and our hearts will never be the same, forever changed for the better. I remember thinking it was going to be my life's mission to put a smile on that face, and now I have a collection of pictures of me with grins that are way too big and cheesy to post for the world to see. (But I'll probably cave some day. That would make a good entry!)

We are so proud of Will for all he has accomplished--especially his ability to keep laughing in spite of all the changes and challenges he has been through. He's progressed from bottles to sippy cups and straws. He climbs up and down the stairs with little or no help. He tries to dress himself, sometimes even trying to put on his own diaper! He still loves music and his dance skills are becoming more diverse. (He was copying Bing Crosby while we watched White Christmas!) He's now ready for a big boy bed and to be potty trained. Our baby is not a baby anymore.

Will, we love you! I'll never forget the first time I held you. Or the first time you called me, "Mommy!" Or the first time you ran to me when you had a boo boo. We have no doubt that God put us together. We are so happy that you are part of our Forever Family!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Traditions

I have always been an old soul. Even as a child I would think about Christmas traditions I wanted to start when I had children. This year we started three new traditions that we hope will help Will remember what Christmas is really about.

1. On Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas story from the Bible and sang Christmas carols while John played the guitar and Will played the xylophone.

2. I heard about this tradition a couple years ago and thought it was a wonderful idea. Jesus, the most important person in the world, only got three presents--gold, frankincense, and myrrh. So we limited our gifts to three per person.

We also wanted to make sure we include gifts that teach about Jesus since it's His birthday, so in addition to the three gifts, Will got some Bible stories. I may try to include these in the three gifts in the future, but I already had three wrapped when I remembered the Bible stories this year.

3. For dessert, we had a birthday cake for Jesus. If anyone has any great cake ideas for the future, please let me know. This year I tried making a red velvet cake for the first time. Unfortunately, there was no red food coloring at the grocery, so Jesus had a purple velvet cake. He's royalty, so I figured that fit.

These were pretty simple things, but they, in addition to reading different children's versions of the Christmas story to Will every night for the past month, made Christmas much more meaningful this year. Now we're ready to take on the New Year! We'd also love to hear your Jesus Christmas traditions.

Merry Grinchmas!

Unintentionally we developed a theme for this Christmas--Merry Grinchmas! While we were not feeling Grinchy at all since Will was finally with us this year, many of our holiday festivities did center around the Grinch.

John and I had gone to ICE in Nashville 3 years ago on our Christmas vacation. Thanks to John's lovely job, Christmas vacation has been cancelled ever since. But this year we wanted to make sure Will didn't miss out on any of the things we loved about Christmas, including a visit to ICE and the Opryland Hotel, so on John's one day off for the week, we packed the car and took a day trip.

Much to our delight, the theme for ICE this year was the Grinch. Check it out here. For those of you who don't know about ICE, it's basically a refrigerated theater where Chinese artists carve intricate sculptures for an indoor Christmas playground. Will was interested, but a bad fall before entering the theater made him quite uncooperative during picture taking!

Yes, we are sitting on ice!

Our favorite book store, Joseph Beth, had a reading of How the Grinch Stole Christmas just a couple days later and invited the Grinch as a special guest.

I think every child there was actually scared of the Grinch, but Will warmed up to him later and gave him a high five.

I don't let Will watch much TV, but with so much Grinch activity, I did let him watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and he loved it--especially the songs.

Then, when I finally got around to wrapping the Christmas presents, I found some Grinch wrapping paper I had bought on clearance a few years ago. It must have just been sitting there waiting for Will. Of course, Will wasn't too interested in the paper.

I hope that many of you had a very Merry Grinchmas too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

All About a Baby

I started out today, Christmas Eve, crying my eyes out. I sat down at the computer to get my quick fix before running around and trying to clean house, go to the grocery, and make a stocking, all before 3 o'clock this afternoon. The stress of everything I had to get done was weighing heavily on me all day yesterday and when I awoke today, but it hadn't pushed me to the verge of tears, at least not yet. For some reason, before my feet even touched the ground, I realized that I hadn't printed a copy of Will's picture on our adoption agency's special needs page. I'd hated to miss that little piece of history, so I ran into the computer room to copy it.

A few weeks after we got back from China, our agency had contacted parents of children with special needs about getting pictures to use for their website. We were more than happy to oblige because of our three favorite things--pictures, Will, and adoption (not necessarily in that order)! Will, the perfect model of a child with a special need, is there as soon as you pull up the web page. What I hadn't seen before this morning, was the AHH Blessings Video. Doing what every mother with a million things to do on Christmas Eve would do, I sat down to watch the video instead. And the tears started.

Staring back at me were the faces of some of the most beautiful children in the world. Many of the children we didn't know, but some were extra close to my heart as we had journeyed through China with them and their families. Others we had actually applied for, or wanted to apply for, on the special needs list. Obviously, that didn't work out, but it was so wonderful to see not only the pictures that had made us love them at first, and then a picture of how they had changed and are thriving now. Will's beautiful face popped up there also. Then it hit me--Christmas was all about a baby.

These babies are beautiful. They pulled at my heart strings and reminded me that we are one of the luckiest families in the world to have our Will, with all his spunk and personality, home with us. We hadn't even seen his picture last Christmas. What we had seen was a picture of one of those little girls in the video who we couldn't even apply for because of a piece of paperwork. In our hearts last Christmas, a seed was planted to move forward with a special needs adoption. God gave me the foresight last Christmas to know that we needed to move on in the adoption process because, after all the waiting, we were to have a child SOON.

The beautiful faces on the video, also reminded me that there are so many beautiful children that still need a home. I was driving in the car a few days ago and the Steven Curtis Chapman song came on, "All I Really Want for Christmas is a Family." It's about an older orphan boy who gets into trouble and really just wants a family. I started crying and looked back at Will, so glad he'll always remember having a family, even if we missed a few months. Of course, Will was just giggling and playing, oblivious to how moved I was by the song on the radio. That song, however, just like the video, reminded me there are more babies out there needing loving homes.

Jesus was "adopted" by Joseph. We have been reading various versions of the true Christmas story every night. We point out baby Jesus whenever we see nativity scenes. Will gets very excited and shouts "baby!" He also points at Mary and Joseph and screams at the top of his lungs, "Mommy! Daddy!" It's the sweetest (and loudest) sound that you'll ever hear. Sometimes, he'll point to Mary and say "Mommy!" and then look back at me. I am so blessed to be Will's mommy. I just don't know how I could love him any more than I already do, but somehow I find a way to love him more every day.

While all these thoughts were tumbling through my head watching that video, it also occurred to me how lucky Mary was to be Jesus' mommy. How lucky Joseph was to be His daddy. How lucky are all the parents who have children to spend Christmas with. How my heart breaks for those parents who long for a child to spend Christmas with. But Christmas is really about one child, baby Jesus. I'm so glad I sat down at my computer this Christmas Eve morning to have a good cry and refocus before I started the day.

Will arranging the nativity.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We'll Miss You, Papaw!

Few people love you like your grandparents do. This was and is true in the case of Will's Papaw. John's dad went to live in Heaven a few days ago. He will be greatly missed here. He loved Will with all of his heart.

Will's Papaw was one of the first people to see his picture. He was staying at the nursing home recuperating from a broken hip when we first got our referral for Will. He was pleased with him right from the start. Even on his last day, he was singing songs about Will around the house. We're so thankful for the short amount of time that they got to spend together.

The first visit we took to see Papaw we got a great picture of him with Will on a disposable camera. (We forgot our digital.) Our copy of that picture is somewhere in the basement on a CD, but that's kind of like saying something is located "somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle." We'll find it and put the pictures on the computer, but for now, this picture will have to suffice. In it, John was showing him all our thousands of China pictures, but Papaw had stopped to look up at something Will was doing. He loved looking at pictures of Will. We'd given him several and he looked at them all day long, every day.

On a lighter note, whenever you have to go to a funeral, take a small child with you if you can. Will definitely lightened the mood when we really needed it.

First Visit to See Santa

One of my favorite Christmas memories is laying in bed with my grandmother, who spent the night every Christmas Eve, and actually hearing Santa in the next room leaving my presents. I was so excited that I could actually run in there and talk to HIM that I didn't know what to do with myself. Luckily, my grandma reminded me that if I went in there, he wouldn't leave me any toys.

Will finally had his chance to meet Santa this year. We went to find him at the mall, but when the elves said his camera broke, he magically hopped over to Lexington Green so we could get our pictures with him there. Amazingly, we were the only people in line, so we didn't have to wait. Santa and his photographer gave us plenty of time to warm up to him, but you can see a slight look of distress lingering on his face anyway. Santa is a nice guy and all, but a still a bit intimidating. But pictures with Santa are a right of passage at our house, so here you have it!

Since we had our picture made, any time we see anything that reminds us of Santa, Will says, "Ho, ho, ho!"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!!!

A few things I'm thankful for tonight...
--finally having my son home with us for the holidays
--a family that loves me, even though we're all a little on the crazy side
--people who are willing to dress alike for family photos
--Black Friday
--wearing my hubby's pajamas when he's not here to cuddle with me
--having enough faith to dream big and believe "it" is actually going to happen
--waking up early and having time to myself
--free Christmas light tours where so many local businesses aren't afraid to spotlight Jesus
--a God who is patient with me
--the way my little one loves his Pa Pa

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

National Adoption Month--Soap Box Please

I had never heard of National Adoption Month until we began the adoption process. Naturally, as an adoptive parent, I wish that I could do some big, wondrous thing for National Adoption Month, but the best thing I can come up with is to show others how happy adoption has made us.

I do want to reiterate that not being able to conceive a child biologically is not the only reason that people adopt. That is not the reason we adopted. No matter how many times we tell people that, it still seems to be what people think. I can't tell you how many times we have heard how funny it would be if we got pregnant as soon as we adopted. (No hard feelings if you were one of those people!) Well, it wouldn't be funny. Not because God would be pulling one over on us, but because children, no matter how you get them, are a blessing from the Lord. We wanted our child and we knew God was telling us that our first child was in China. So we tried NOT to get pregnant. We wanted an adopted child, so we tried not to get pregnant. Having an adopted child was not our second choice. It was not our only option. It was the option we CHOSE, because we felt that's what God wanted for our family, therefore, the option we wanted for our family. Will should never feel that he's here because we couldn't have a biological child, that we would rather have someone else, but we settled for him. He was our FIRST choice.

We also plan to do it again. Biological children are a "maybe" for us. But we DEFINITELY want to adopt again.

Another thing I would like to educate people about is the phrase "a child of your own." I understand that most people use this phrase out of ignorance, meaning no harm. I've even had this conversation with my own family. The truth is, asking if someone plans to have a child "of their own" or asking if they couldn't have a child "of their own" insinuates that the adopted child is not their own. The politically correct term is "biological child." The truth of the matter is, even when said by a well meaning party, the phrase "of your own" hurts.

Will is "my own." I've prayed for Will every day since before he was conceived. I've shed many a
tear for him and spent many a penny to ensure his well being. When he's bleeding, I clean him up. When he's crying, I kiss away his tears. I dress him, bathe him, eat after him (and I'm a germ freak!) and play with him. I'm with him 24/7 most weeks. I take pictures and scrapbook all his important moments. I mourn for the time I didn't get to spend with him during his first few months on this earth. I sing to him and read to him and love him more than I love myself. He has my love of peanut butter and dancing, my optimism, my wild hair that sticks up all over his head when he first wakes up, my love of kisses. He has his father's natural inclination for guitar and all other instruments, love of books and bread, ability to take things apart and put them back together, and heart for sharing. He has his aunts love for talking. He has his grandmother's love of quilts. He has his grandfather's knack for cleanliness sense of humor. He has his uncle and his grandfather's name. He is definitely "our own."

Everyone isn't called to adopt. But God does ask everyone to care for the orphans. And adoption is VERY expensive to a common person. Yes, there are grants and fundraisers, etc, etc. But we only got one. And yes, we applied for many. So if your heart is moved by National Adoption Month and you aren't planning on adopting, consider making a donation towards someone's adoption(http://www.heartsforadoption.org) or giving to a charity that helps orphans who need surgery. If it weren't for such a charity, our Will may not have had the VSD surgery he needed when he was a baby.

Thank you for allowing me to indulge. Adoption is a wonderful thing. Will is a wonderful child. We are very blessed. We hope that, in some way, you are blessed by adoption as well.

"Wiggle" It!

One of the things that we had to write and/or verbally promise a few times when we adopted Will was that we would give him every opportunity that he could have as an American. Now that's a pretty big bill to fill! So when when we found out the Wiggles were coming to town, we knew that Will would love it. After all, our little musician sings into microphones; plays guitar, mandolin, and xylophone; and loves to dance. Unfortunately, however, my staying home with Will means that we must make some cutbacks, so one of the things we reluctantly decided to cut was Wiggles tickets.

I'm a firm believer that God blesses those who try to be obedient. A few hours before the concert, I read on Facebook that one of my friends had access to free tickets. The post had been made a couple hours earlier, but no one had claimed the tickets yet. We had just enough time to finish up our projects for the day, get the tickets, and head to the concert. We figured we'd have to at least pay for parking, but one of John's friends was working his parking lot downtown, so we even got a primo spot right across from Rupp for free! Will loved the concert. To be honest, John and I did too. Thanks to everyone who made it happen!

We managed to get a few pictures before Will danced so hard that he smacked the camera right out of my had and broke it. Luckily it wasn't one of the SLRs. But Santa, now I know what I want for Christmas!

Will is inspecting one of the free sticker booklets that you can use to make your own Wiggles stage.

Will was completely fascinated.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Our church just concluded a series called Kingdom. It was a reflection of what the world would look like if God's kingdom were to come crashing down to earth and God dwelt in the midst of us. The main idea was that we are God's hands and feet, so we should be living out God's kingdom here and now. We may not be able to stop wars or global warming, but we can impact the lives of those around us.

During this series, the church was challenged to actively participate in God's kingdom. One of the ways we were challenged to do that was by taking photographs of God in the ordinary. I've included a few of the photographs that I submitted. You just can't deny God's existence when you see Him in nature, but unfortunately we don't take the time to stop and appreciate it enough.

This picture was taken a couple of years ago when we were still waiting to adopt our precious little one. It was taken while the Moon Festival, a huge family holiday, was taking place in China. I thought about how the birth parents, and perhaps my little one, were going to be staring up at the same moon even though I was half way around the world. It gave me the hope that I needed at a time when I felt like my baby was so far away.

Aren't flowers amazing? Here they are in the midst of a busy campus, at the arboretum, a little haven in the middle of a crazy world.

Ah...vacation. God wants us to rest, just as He did. I don't ever feel closer to God than when I'm somewhere on the water.

We don't take enough time out of life to do little things to appreciate or encourage people. It's the little things that let people know we care.

This says "kingdom" to me the most. If you want to know what's in my heart, take a good look at this picture. My sweet, wonderful husband sharing the story of Jesus with the most precious treasure, my son. My favorite time of day is reading Bible stories and praying with Will and John each night. No matter how crazy and just plain stupid John's work schedule is, he's here with us at this time. We as a family are sharing and learning about our God. This is the most important thing that we do all day, all of our life.

So there is a peak at how God's kingdom looks out my window. What does it look like to you?

Round Robin

A Round Robin (at least in quilting) is when one person makes the center block and then passes it on to someone else to do a border. The quilt goes around to several people who all continue to add borders until everyone in the group has added a border. This Round Robin group is from the Quilters' Guild of the Bluegrass. Since Will isn't quite ready to be left yet, he came to the unveiling with me. (See him screaming at the side of our new quilt?) We hadn't seen our own quilts since they left our side nearly a year ago, so the result was quite a surprise to us, but a pleasant one. It's fun to know that a little piece of you will be hanging in someone else's home and they in yours.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I am sitting in the floor of Will's room typing by night light. We've reached a new stage in our relationship in which Will doesn't like to let me out of his sight for even a second. In a crazy kind of way I guess that is proof of how close we've become and how much he loves me. I love that little guy tossing and turning in the bed beside me. I guess that I now know, however, what my mom meant when she said that sometimes you just want to go to the bathroom alone.

Monday, November 3, 2008


It was my first official trick-or-treat in 19 years. I've handed out candy, but it's just not the same--especially since we've only had a few trick-or-treaters the past couple of years. So John and I were both extra excited to go trick-or-treating. We decided to go to the mall since we only know a few neighbors here and there. Definitely a good choice. We got to see the Kentucky Wildcat, pirates, and a giant cookie passing out candy, among others. There were lots of Tootsie Rolls, which Will can actually eat, but there were a couple fresh cookies and caramel corn thrown in the mix. Yum! Will knew what the jack-o-lantern was for. We had a hard time keeping him out of it!

Then it was off to Aunt Jo's house for the best treat of all--a giant Reese cup. Will shares the same love of peanut butter as his dear old mom.

Will seemed to have a good time, but probably not as much fun as John and I did, especially me. Only 365 days until next Halloween. And we've already picked out his next costume!

Halloween Howdown

Our local library hosted a Halloween Howdown early Halloween morning. The library was packed with so many people that we had to park at the bank down the street. We sang Halloween songs, marched in the costume parade, practiced trick-or-treating for the upcoming night (see the cute little trick-or-treat station in the photo), and did a scarecrow craft. We'll definitely be attending again next year.

Sophie Throws a Great Party!

Sophie is one of Will's friends from church. (You may recognize her as Pebbles in the front row, next to Bamm- Bamm.) This was our first official party with friends. Will did a great job keeping his costume on, even his hood. We had a great time making pumpkin crafts, eating Halloween goodies, and playing with other people's toys! Thanks for the invitation, Sophie. You throw a great party!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Huber Farms

There are some good pumpkin patches around here, but for us, if you haven't been to Joe Huber's, then it really isn't Halloween. I don't know what it is about it--the country food, the beautiful ponds, the winery, the cute gift shops, the ice cream and cheese shop, the long hay ride, the large pumpkin patches, the barnyard playground, the apple launch, or the corn maze--but for some reason I think it will always be our favorite pumpkin patch. (And it's not too bad during the strawberry festival either!)

Pumpkin Patch Party

Every year Crossroads Christian Church has a giant Pumpkin Patch Party. We've volunteered before when we use to go to church there, but we were especially excited this year because we had our own little one to take. There was so much going on, that I'm not sure Will knew what to make of it. I'm sure however, that the highlight was getting Mommy to take him up a giant inflatable slide. (Take that, Boyd's Orchard!) For you parents who have never done that, you haven't lived until you've tried to climb a giant slide with a 28lb weight in your arms. Very funny to watch, but I thought I'd spare you the pictures of that!

Will's First Football Game

For someone who doesn't understand a thing about football, I sure love the atmosphere of a good football game. In spite of that, we managed not to make it to any of my nephew's games until the last one. Sorry, Josh.

I love watching Josh play and figured Will would too--and I was right! Here he is cheering on his one and only cousin, Josh. Will clapped and screamed with the rest of the crowd (sometimes for the wrong team!). Will did manage to scream, "Go!" and give a high-five. At the end of the night, he also managed a few, "Yeah, Josh!" s. (Big deal since we have said very few multiple word phrases and never said Josh's name before.) And, with Will's encouragement, our team won the game.

Boyd's Orchard

Our second AND third pumpkin patch trips were to Boyd's Orchard. The first time we tried going there with some friends, it rained. We shopped the gift shop, but that was about all we could do. On the bright side, we did get some very yummy apples.

So when some other friends asked us to go again, we thought we'd give it a try. This time we got to go to the petting zoo and the patch. Much to my and Will's disappointment, adults were not aloud on the playground slides, so we didn't get to go. (Mommy had been down one of the giant slides on a field trip with her k-1s a couple years ago. Big fun!)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vampire Lovin'

Twilight, the topic of our book club discussion last night, is one of my new favorite books. Yes. I have joined the masses of crazy fans. Our book club even has tickets to go see the movie on opening night. In about a month, I will have read the entire 4 book series.

To keep the mood festive, I tried my hand at creating some Halloween dishes. Unfortunately, the people on TV and the internet always know how to make the difficult seem easy. I can pour over a scrapbook page for hours trying to get it to look just right, but when it comes to pretty food, I've still got my work cut out for me. But without my wonderful husband, who spent 99.99% of his day off watching Will, hanging blinds, and cleaning for me, I couldn't have pulled anything off for book club. Thanks, Honey!

Vinefest '08

Every fall our church, the Vineyard, has a big throw down complete with potluck, paddle boats, hayrides, corn hole...the works. This year Will experienced his first inflatables at Vinefest.

9 Days Until Halloween!!!

But who's counting???

One of the absolute cutest things Will does is go into the TV room first thing in the morning, point at the Halloween decorations, and scream, "Yeah!" repeatedly and very loudly until we turn them on. When they're on he keeps screaming, "Yeah!" and claps his hands. He's going to love Christmas!

Museum Go Round

One of the things I love about living in Lexington is that very often there are fun and free events. Museum Go Round is an event that I've missed the last couple of years, but this year we finally made it. Will and I packed up the diaper bag and headed to the Explorium (formerly the Lexington Children's Museum). Outside on the street budding young artists had their crafts for sale. You could feel the creativity--just like I did as a child when I opened a new box of crayons. There's just so much potential there! Anything and everything is just waiting to be created. This is the kind of event that I, a child who slept with her Crayolas, absolutely would have loved growing up. Maybe one day I'll have an artsy child, but maybe not. We want them to persue I think Will is going to be our musical prodigy. (Note that the best pictures from the day were of him making music!)

There were all kinds of booths, from a tiny baby's finger paintings, to drawings, sculpture, and photography. But my favorite booth of all was owned by a couple of adopted Chinese girls that I had seen in the newspaper a couple of years ago. At the time, one of the girls was helping make soaps to raise the money to bring her sister home. Now they work together making soaps and bracelets to raise money for one of their best friends who cannot be adopted and is still in the orphanage. What great hearts these girls must have! We hope our children will learn to help others like that. We also want them to know that they are never too young to make a difference.

After the shopping, Will and I took advantage of the free admission to the Children's Museum. He loved it! But I did learn why so many people (not including us) don't want the number of children in a household to outnumber the parents. Just trying to keep up with one child in there is a bit scary when it is so crowded and, of course, I'm trying to take pictures while he's running off to the next greatest thing. To be perfectly honest, Will is not too far away from being able to outrun us! He may have a future in track or cross country.

After we left the museum, Will was ready to eat. Mommy was probably more ready to eat because I knew if we waited Will would fall asleep in the car and nap time would be ruined! So we got a little food and sat down to listen to Radio Disney and watch a dance contest. Will danced in his seat and learned the word "Cha Cha!" As a matter of fact, he's saying it right now.