Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas

Oh my gosh, the kids were SO much fun this year! Not that they haven't been fun in the past, but Connor was really taking it all in and was getting the hang of everything. Travis still "believes" and enjoys everything about Christmas. Here they are on Christmas Eve. For some reason I just like dressing them in matching things occasionally. I will do it while I can because I am sure it will not last much longer! LOL (This was the only one Connor would cooperate for..... we were just happy to have him look at the camera without throwing himself on the floor or covering up his face! Yes, he is at THAT age right now!!)

I like giving the kids new pajamas on Christmas Eve. It lets them have a gift to open and use right away. They both loved their new pj's and robes.
Travis prepared some milk and cookies for Santa.
How awesome, Santa brought both of the boys a pillow pet! They just love them! (As you can see from these huge smiles!)

This year I let Travis purchase some Christmas gifts from the Christmas Shoppe at school. He picked out these hats for his grandpas. I think they liked them, they didn't come off all day long!
Those are some of the highlights of our day. We went to my mom and dad's house in the afternoon and had dinner over there. This is what happened to Connor on our drive there....
Yes, he fell asleep holding the garbage truck that he got from Santa. That is what he kept asking for! He is fascinated with them for some reason. He held onto that truck all. day. long. He kept hugging it too. Overall, I think both of my boys had a wonderful day. They continue to be extremely spoiled by their grandparents too! A good time was had by all, that's for sure!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


One of the fun things about teaching is getting the little presents from the kids at Christmas time. Over the years I have received quite a collection of interesting items. There have been loads of candy and baked goods, Christmas ornaments and decorations, gift cards, homemade cards and gifts galore. However, after 14 years of teaching I think these two snow people will perhaps be my most memorable gift from a student ever. Sure, they are adorable. Sure, I collect snowmen. Sure, the little boy who gave them to me is a cute little kid. But there is more to this story than meets the eye. You see, this little boy's mother was diagnosed with cancer in September. I first met them at the beginning of the school year. In August our school had a Mother/Son Sock Hop and this mom came with her two little boys too. I remember watching them and seeing how much fun they were having dancing together. Fast forward to September, conference time. The dad came to the conference (I was surprised that mom was not there) and through our conversation I found out about the mom's cancer diagnosis. To say I was shocked is an understatement. At that time they didn't know what stage the cancer was in, they only knew it was in very advanced stages. This little boy never said a word, never acted differently, nothing. At first it made me sad that he didn't say anything but then I figured school must be a safe place for him, away from all of the worries about his mom. Of course my heart went out to him. Over the past few months I have had some emails from his mom. She has the best outlook on life that I have ever seen. Although her diagnosis is grim she maintains a positive attitude and an amazing strength to fight this thing through. She recently told me that since September she has been hospitalized six times. In October they found cancer in her thyroid so they removed that. Then, each time she has chemo she gets so sick she has to go back to the hospital. I am sure you get the picture. This lady has a fight on her hands and a will to live like no other. Imagine my surprise when her son handed me a Christmas present. I didn't know what to think. How did this woman have the time and energy to think about her son's teacher at Christmas when she was going through so many health issues herself? Then I opened up the wrapping paper and found these two cute little snowmen. Yes, his mom made them herself. All I could think was how amazing she was in so many ways. I brought them home and placed them right with all of my other snowmen. I know that every year when I pull them out of my Christmas box I will think of this family. They are in my prayers every day. Life is fragile, appreciate every moment you have with your loved ones. Now, I am off to play with my boys.... ;-)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Graduation + Snow + Family = FUN TIMES!

Yesterday was the BIG day I had been looking forward to for over two years. Here we are, all packed up and on our way!
Connor was intently playing on his Leapster.
Travis had his DS and webkins all situated.
Dad was getting ready for the three hour drive to Flagstaff, looking forward to seeing snow soon.
Here I am, ready for the big day! Off we went so I could walk through graduation ceremonies at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. Four other teachers and myself embarked on this journey together. Two of them finished up in May, the rest of us finished up in December. The time flew by so quickly. In some ways it feels like no time at all and in other ways it seems like ages and ages ago. My life has changed so much since August of 2008. We had just started the adoption process so of course Connor wasn't even in our lives yet. (Well, physically he wasn't here... but we knew he was somewhere!) Now I can't imagine life without him so to think he wasn't even with us when I started makes it seem like it was so long ago. Here are my biggest supporters and fans! I could not have done this without all of them. Thanks so much, I love you all tremendously!!

A year ago my cousin Lynn and I found out that we were on pace to graduate together! It was great to get to share this wonderful day with her too!
Of course any big ceremony would not be complete without Connor falling in a mud puddle!
Afterwards we went out to dinner and had a great time. We were exhausted and went to bed early. This was Connor's first time staying in a hotel (well, since Russia... he has no memory of that!) and he just loved it. I can't tell you how many hugs and kisses I got. He loved everything about it. He was so cute checking out every last detail. The highlight for him was looking out the window this morning to see the garbage truck! He loves garbage trucks, in fact that is what he asked Santa for for Christmas! We were on the third floor so he thought that was so cool too. This morning it was snowing and my two little Russians were so darned excited. Connor hasn't ever seen snow and he kept calling it rain at first. It has been a few years for Travis so he was excited too. In fact, ALL of us were pretty excited. There is just something magical about watching the snow fall... especially when you don't get to see it very often! After getting them all bundled up, here they are.

NAU's mascot are the Lumberjacks. My dad happens to be an alumni so now we both are. This morning we went back over to the campus to get a shot of us with "our mascot". (Notice Travis had to get in too... we figured he could be a future alumni!)
Here is a closer shot of us.
Here we are after our little snowball fight. The kids had a blast! (So did mom, dad, grammy and grandpa too!)
A few cute shots of my boys.

Here we are all nestled back up in the car for our ride home. The good thing about visiting the snow is then you get to go home where it is 60+ degrees outside!

It didn't take long for this little guy to fall asleep....
We are all back home safe and sound. Now on to finish up the last minute Christmas shopping. At least school is out for the next two weeks. Travis will be starting soccer again in the next week or so. That means the craziness will start up all over again. At least now I can get to know the kids on the team because I won't be going to class or doing homework! Well, I had better get going, I think I can hear the wrapping paper calling my name.... ;-)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Catching my breath

It seems like we are constantly on the go. I have been especially busy the past 2 years doing lots of homework in my "spare time". Suddenly that is now all behind me. Do I find myself with extra time? Not really. But I have found that I have more time to just spend with my family. Yesterday I actually had time to drive over to my parent's house and just visit for a bit. Finally, some relaxing time on my hands! I was looking through my pictures and found some more from when we went to our town's holiday celebration. Here are the boys and I making some crafts. They both love to make things.
During nap time we often find Connor in odd positions and in strange places. The other day he fell asleep like this. Yes, that is an area rug he has cuddled up into! We let him be for fear of waking him up. He looked so relaxed.
Travis also decided that he knows how to do stunts on his bike. We have no idea who taught him this (he insists he taught himself....perhaps) or where he got these ideas in his little head of his. At least he is wearing lots of padding, I just hope Connor doesn't get any wise ideas any time soon!

This past weekend we reached another milestone. We took down Connor's crib and put up a twin bed. Sniff, sniff. I didn't cry but my heart was breaking. All I could think of was when I first put it together for Travis. I had it up in our house in Memphis even though we moved before he got home. Then I put it up again here in our house now. When we put it back up for Connor Travis helped me. That was weird. Now Travis helped me take it down again. Strange. Now Connor looks so teeny tiny in this big bed. He loves it though. We are hoping he can stop sleeping on the floor now since that must have been more comfortable than his crib! Now I am faced with what to do with the crib. Part of me wants to sell it and get rid of it. Another part of me is just not ready. It's not that we plan on having more kids. You just never know about that. It's the memories and saying good-bye to that time period of your life. I am too sentimental for my own good, I know! On a happier note, I AM GRADUATING ON FRIDAY!!! WHOO-HOO!!! I was hoping for some snow up north while we were there.... well the weather forecast is predicting a huge rain/snow storm for Friday and Saturday... now I am just praying we don't get stuck up there for longer than we planned for! Wish us luck!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Welcome to Holland

Somewhere I read this story on a blog. Today my mom sent it to me in an email. The story really hits home to me. Even though my children don't have disabilities like the author of the poem I think it can also be related to being adoptive parents. Like my mom said, it sure puts a different spin on things. Enjoy!

Welcome To Holland
Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Oh no, the big 4-0!

Finally 1. grandpa brought over the cord to the camera and 2. I had time to upload the pictures to share here. On Thanksgiving we also got to celebrate Daryle's 40th birthday! Yes, I am married to a 40 year old now!! Travis and I decorated the house the night before and among his presents was a necklace and light up button that he was to wear for the day. Well, he wore them for a bit... he was a very good sport. I told him just to save it all and give it back to me when I turn 40, which won't be for at least 14 more months! Here is the birthday boy himself: Of course we had to have birthday cake along with our pumpkin pie. Travis insisted we make dad a cake. I love this one of my boys together just as we started to sing and blow out candles.
Here is a sample of what Daryle woke up to. I love decorating with a 7 year old. He just stuck tape on things and then stuck on the balloons. Instant decorations!
Travis had a turn with the camera. I love seeing things from his perspective. I guess this is what the counter looks like to him!
After Thanksgiving ended we started to get the house ready for Christmas. I am hoping to finish this weekend. At least the outside and the tree are done. Connor got his first taste of hot chocolate.... I will let you decided for yourself whether or not he liked it...He is now addicted to marshmallows! Travis also decorated his little tree for his room. I tell you, when I decorate with him I have to bite my lip. A lot. He refused to let me fluff out the branches and he chose each ornament for the tree. I do like how he chose the nativity picture to put towards the top (he made that when he was 4 or 5). He quietly took all of his ornaments into his room and worked HARD on this little tree. It is hard to see in the picture but he has all these little picture frame ornaments all along the bottom. The branches are just sagging! I love it! We did decide to put it up on his bookshelf though... just to keep the little guy from checking it out too closely! (It was then that I had to rescue the tree a little bit and fluff out some branches.... I just could not resist!) It seems he picked some of the most heaviest ornaments as well. However, the little white dog in the bottom right corner was made for me by my Great Grandma Melzer. I just love that I have things like that around to share with my kids!Now tonight, a week later, we went to the town celebration. I got this cute picture of the boys as we were waiting to sit on Santa's lap. Travis picked up Connor and they smiled so perfectly!
Even though this is not Connor's first Christmas it is his first Christmas where he is starting to understand things. For example, Santa. He was SOOO excited to see the guy in the red suit. He kept waving to him and when it was their turn he just ran up to him like they were long lost friends. Travis was a good big brother and helped translate a few things for Connor to Santa.
I love how in our pictures Santa is giving the kids such expression as they tell him what they want for Christmas. Connor would like a green garbage truck. Travis wants a pillow pet and a basketball hoop for outside. We will see how good they have been when Christmas morning arrives!
And here is the happy little family. It was so hard to get both kids to look at the camera at the same time with tons of people walking around. At least they are both smiling.
One awesome thing for me was last Sunday I submitted my final assignment for my last class. Two weeks from tonight I will officially have graduated with my Master's degree in Education. It has been a long 2 and a half years... the end has finally come!! Now to figure out to do with my new found "free time". Haha!! That just means I will find something else to dig into I guess. It will be great to spend more time with my family. I can't wait!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Patiently waiting....

I have some REALLY cute pictures from Daryle's **40th** birthday and Thanksgiving. Unfortunatly I don't have the cord to Grandpa's camera at my house. Why didn't I remember to just get it this afternoon?? AAHHH!! Oh well.... maybe he will bring it by tomorrow??? ;-)