Friday, December 28, 2012

Feeling Sad

I took this off of the Facebook page for the agency we used to adopt Connor.  I can hardly believe it.  We are so happy we got our boys home safe and sound.  Our hearts go out to the families who are in the middle of this process and now may never get to bring their children home. This is a political move on Putin's part, it is such a shame that it comes at the cost of the lives of hundreds of thousands of Russian children.  I have so many feelings about this, it is hard to process and put into words. 
With the news this morning that Russian President Putin signed the bill effectively banning US adoptions of Russian children as of January 1, 2013, we are heartbroken and saddened. Hand In Hand is working with our staff in Russia and cooperating with the US Department of State.

Up to date information can be found at:

Please join us in praying for all of the children of Russia who need forever families.
I am also disgusted with the comments I am seeing on news feeds regarding this story. It seems that many people in our country still continue to be uneducated regarding the subject of adoption.  Of course there are children in our own country who need families as well. I don't judge where you adopt your children from (neither do I discriminate against people who had, gasp, biological children) and I resent being judged because of where my children came from.  Also, if you have never adopted a child then I don't think you have a right to bash parents who have adopted their children. People can be so ignorant.
Actually, all adopted children came from heaven, some families just had to cross an ocean to find them. 
God led Daryle and I to our children (we had NO idea they were in Russia. In fact those that know us know we originally were headed to Guatemala. Oops, little did we know.) and we thank Him every day for His tremendous blessing to our family.  Not only were we blessed once, but twice.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas

I have to say this was one of the best Christmas' I can remember in recent years. It wasn't because anybody got some huge present. It wasn't because we spent tons and tons of money.  It wasn't due to anything in particular except for the pure joy I experienced through my children.  Mostly Connor.  He is just the most precious 4 year old I know.  I am pretty sure I know why he was sent to be in our family.  He is a pure breath of fresh air.. well 95% of the time anyway!  The past three days have been so much fun I feel like I must be living some other life.  I know that sounds strange, but really it is the truth.  I don't want to jinx anything.. but... everybody is getting along, behaving,  and enjoying every minute of the holiday season.  Not that I haven't enjoyed previous years, but there has been something different, if not magical, about Christmas in our house this year.
On Christmas Eve morning the boys helped make cookies for Santa.  Yes, I let them get on the counter top. It was the only way they could both reach the dough. (Well that was their story anyway, and they were sticking to it!)
Christmas presents arrived in these boxes so the boys wanted to pretend they were actual presents.  Silly kids... see how much money we could all save??  Give them each a box and they are in heaven.
Later that afternoon they got bathed and dressed up as "matchers". Believe it or not, but they do enjoy dressing alike. I will go with it as long as they will let me!
The traditional pictures in front of the tree on Christmas Eve.

 We met my mom, dad and my grandma for Mexican food. This has become a sort of tradition with us.  Here I am with my mom and my grandma.  I cherish every moment I get to spend with my grandma. Even though it can be hard to carry on a conversation with her it made me feel warm inside to see her face light up when I told her about my cousin's new baby girl. 
 As soon as we got there Connor went right up to my grandma to give her a giant hug. He is such a sweetheart and he loves his Great Grandma a lot!
 After dinner we went to 8:00 Mass at our church.  In the front of the church they have had a nativity set out but there was no Baby Jesus.  Before we went inside we went to check it out and low and behold the Baby Jesus was there!  I wish I had taken a video to show his joy and excitement about the baby being in the manger.  This smile will have to do for now.
 Not long after we sat down Connor was passed out, fast asleep in Daryle's arms.  I am not sure what Daryle was more excited about... Connor sleeping or Connor sleeping in his arms. 
 When we got home it was a mad dash to get things ready for Santa.  We had been tracking him on Norad all day long.  At this time he was  hitting the East Coast and he was moving quickly.  We put out some reindeer food....
 and set out both plain and chocolate milk (per Santa's request the other day) along with our fresh baked cookies.  We couldn't forget the carrots for the reindeer too! Travis even left Santa a note. 
I am so glad he is a believer. It makes Christmas that much more fun!
The boys had each asked Santa for new bikes.  Santa did not disappoint at all!

 Grandpa got them each "hunting hats" which they proudly wore.
 Connor is a car guy. He can pick a Mustang (or a Camero, or any other car for that matter) out a mile away! He requested a Mustang calendar for Christmas. Of course mom and dad searched high and low for one.  It was a hit, just look at that smile!  I can still picture him looking at each month shouting, "OOH, yeah, look at THAT one!!" over and over again.
Daryle got this hat made for Travis, he was so proud.  Travis loves it.
I forgot to bring my camera to my parent's house. We had a wonderful time there as well.  We opened gifts and my dad cooked steaks on the grill.  Everything was delicious. Once we got home and all settled in I walked in Connor's room to find this. It has never happened before but I hope it happens a lot more often in the new year.
I don't have video of the day but I have to tell you it was as if the Christmas bug hit Connor this year.  From the moment he woke up to the moment his head hit the pillow he was full of smiles, hugs, I-love-yous, thank yous and "this is just what I wished for" comments.  All. Day. Long.  He never missed a beat. Travis had a great day too, don't get me wrong.  But for Connor it was as if he was experiencing it for the very first time.  It was in a way that he seemed to understand what was going on. For the past four weeks we have been lighting the candles on our advent wreath in anticipation of the birth of Jesus.  One night he and I were eating dinner by ourselves and he asked me to light the candles and say the prayers. It was just the two of us. I loved it.  Like all kids he was pretty excited about Santa too, don't misunderstand.  I just think he took it all in, soaked it all up, and was so joyful about every moment.
I just want to bottle this Christmas up so I can take it out and revisit this day in the years to come. 
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better the boys and I had the most awesome day today.  We all rode our bikes to Dunkin' Donuts for a donut (and coffee for me) and then we rode to a neighborhood park. It was so much fun. I have waited years for days like this. And now I got 3 of them in a row.
If this week is any indication, I think that 2013 is going to be the best year yet! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Never A Dull Moment....

The baseball bats, baseballs, eye black, water bottles, and sports bags barely had time to rest before soccer season was upon us!  Travis had his first game two weeks ago, last week's game was rained out and now we have a short break before we return full force in January.  This is his first time playing on an all boys team. He finally reached the age where they split the boys and girls up. There are only 9 players on his team so if anybody isn't there they have the play the whole time. Which is what happened for the first game. They did well but I can see they have a long road ahead of them! Never fear, Coach Daryle will whip them into shape in no time at all! Here is the happy duo before the first game.
We also took the boys to see Santa at the local Bass Pro Shop.  They always do a great job there and the store is full of entertainment to help pass the time while you wait to see Santa. Here are the boys posing for me while we endured our hour wait to see the Big Guy.
Finally! Santa!  As you can see Connor is showing Santa his list this year...
This past week was our last week of school before our break for Christmas.  Let me tell you, Travis is not known for being crafty, artsy, or anything like that.  When he signs a card you get his name and maybe one little drawing.  Well, he seems to be changing. Either that or he REALLY REALLY likes his teacher this year. I never saw him work so hard on a card before.  Here he is showing off his work, he was pretty proud of himself!
Here is the finished product... I had to have him stop before he got too carried away. I love how he signed it "Tman".  He cracks me up sometimes!
Yesterday I saw on Facebook that the real Santa was going to be visiting the farm that is just down the street from us.  We just HAD to go!  Of course the boys also had to take a train ride.
And then we had to take a hay ride to go find Santa's reindeer.
They even got to feed the reindeer too!
Oh my goodness... it is warm enough for shorts yet there was a big hill of snow just sitting out there??!!
And last but not least, they got to visit with Santa, sit on his lap, chat a while and give him some big hugs.
Travis has had his picture taken with this Santa, the "real" Santa, since he was 3 years old. He didn't make it to the elementary schools this year and I was pretty bummed out about it. I saw his picture posted online with the information about where he was going to be yesterday morning. Of course my boys (mostly Travis) about came unglued when Santa hugged me and said, "Are you still teaching?" and then I proceeded to have a conversation with him. It's the little things I tell you! I was so happy we got our picture with him this year. He is awesome. After all, this IS Santa!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

'Tis the Season to Be Busy!

So, December started out with the end of the fall baseball season. Connor finished being on his first ever t-ball team.  We knew all of the kids would get a medal but the parents on our team also wanted to get the kids their own trophies.  Connor was pretty excited about getting his very first awards! The trophy even has his name on it which makes it that much more special. He was so cute.  After the game he said, "Mom, we got the GOLD medals, the other team must have gotten the silver ones!"  Ahh... it seems he did pay attention to the Olympics last summer!  I didn't have the heart to tell him they all got a gold....
 Last weekend we started putting up the Christmas decorations. I always put out this little nativity for the kids. This is the first year I haven't had to keep it away from Connor.  (Thank goodness for super glue...) The manger has seen better days but I still love to walk in and see how the boys have arranged the figures.  Connor did this one. I love how they always seem to include a car in the scene. I asked Connor why he put a car in there.
His response: So that if the Baby Jesus wants to leave he can.
Oh, ok then. That explains it!
 Then I have my super nice one that usually NOBODY touches but me.  This year the boys wanted to help me take out the figures from the box so I let them arrange them as I took them out. This is what they came up with.
 A view from the top shows that they are all looking at the baby. Phew. I was thankful they didn't put a sports car or monster truck in there... lol  I did have to suggest that they put Mary right next to Jesus because after all she is his Mom! (They had her way out towards the back.... boys!)
 The frustration got to Daryle this year and after having half of the lights up around the house he gave up. Oh well.  Last year we did lights and no blow ups and this year we have no lights but we do have blow ups and some lights.  Connor has to give them all a hug each night. I just love 4 year olds!

 Then we came inside to decorate the tree.  Travis has been helping me for years but this was the first year that Connor really got into it and actually helped the entire time. He got so excited about each ornament!  He really liked finding this "C" even though his excitement wasn't captured in this moment.
 They take their tree decorating very seriously....
Travis' decorating hasn't changed... he still likes to put the ornaments all in one area.  (I treasure this and know one day I will miss his crazy ideas about tree decorating. In fact I am such a softie I get teary eyed thinking about that day...geesh I have issues I guess! )
 Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of two busy boys and a crazy busy puppy???  I am glad I got one with them all looking the same way!

Well, I guess we are ready for Christmas!  Bring it on!
Now I just have to do some shopping which leads to wrapping.
And then comes the baking.  And the parties. Etc. Etc. Etc.  Fun times!
Oh and soccer season just started for Travis too.  (Connor refused to sign up... he told me he WOULD NOT play in any game. I took him seriously and saved us some money. Even though I know he would like it.  He has many years to enjoy it in the future!)
So if I am absent from here for a bit you will know where I am... probably knee deep in Christmas chaos bliss!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Turkey Day and Birthday Boy

Before Christmas day is knocking on my door I had better make some comments about Thanksgiving and Daryle's Birthday. 
Before I begin I have to tell you how Thaksgiving Day started.  Connor runs into our bedroom shouting, "HAPPY CHICKEN DAY!!!"  That was an awesome way to start "Turkey Day"!
We had my parents and Red Truck Grandpa over for Chicken Day Thanksgiving Dinner. It is great because we divide up our favorite dishes and it all comes together great. I wanted to baste my turkey and discovered I was missing part of the baster.  Daryle couldn't find one at the store (he ran there to pick up a few last minute items) so I quick called my mom.  She had one but wouldn't be at my house for a good 30 minutes or so.  When she got there I took out my turkey... and it was completely cooked!  I thought it looked pretty perfect so I got out my camera to take a picture. It was DELICIOUS even though I didn't baste it until it was done! 
 Daryle's birthday was on Sunday.  Connor LOVES to write all of his letters and numbers.  He is actually getting pretty good at it too.  I told him the letters to write on Daryle's card but other than that he wrote this all on  his own.  He did a pretty good job.  After I took this shot I told him to open up his eyes.....
 So this is what I got next!  Silly kid! He was so proud of his work!
 Happy Birthday Daddy!  Be glad we didn't stick on all 42 candles on  your cake this year!!

Wishing many, many years of happiness to a wonderful husband and fabulous father.  We love you! (Even if you are getting old and having to go in for "fun" tests on your aging body!!  I know it stinks but we want you to stay healthy!!)