Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Problem With Having 9 Sisters...

that live at home, is...

they like to dress their little brothers, like...


As you can see the problem got progressively worse...

If only you could smell the perfume and see the shimmer...

And they went back upstairs and...

did more damage!

and now they are rocking hairdos and more make up...

And these two boys...

loved every minute of it!

Poor Johnny was a victim of his older sister Katie, 
just 19 short years ago...
It seems to run in the family...

Seriously Katie, I think your younger sisters may have won 
in ALL categories!
Dress, Hair, and Make up!

I may have known of a certain Momma that did not have a Halloween costume for her 8 month old son named, Billy.
So she may have possibly (not for certain) had to resort to the same type of clothing
 in place of the costume that she may or may not of forgotten...
And if you are confused by that sentence-
(sorry no pic)

The kittens were the next targets...
poor dears...
Although, she does look quite cute in her wedding dress!

And her brother, is sporting a pink bow tie!

this was the last straw...
Mike Wazowski did not like the pumpkin costume one single bit...
So we called it quits for the night!

Friday, March 20, 2015

And The Walls Come Tumbling Down!

It truly was a 
God Moment...
I didn't know it at the time, 
but I know it now...

So, on with the story-

Our journey home...

 started out very slowly...
We weren't even off the island and this guy in the yellow tractor pulled in front...

Do you know how incredibly slow those machines are...
Oh my goodness gracious...

Well, we began to feel like we were in the movie
"Office Space"

Bike riders were passing us!

People walking... were passing us...

And I even had a great conversation with this man 
out my car window
as we were

Thankfully, the big yellow tractor did a U turn and we were free to go!

The children were all in their carseats and buckled in - ready for the long trip home!

You know you have a big car when the children use walkie talkies to talk!

Sarah is back there but she's ducking down on the left!
Mia is hiding behind the teddy bear!

Everything seemed to be going well...
Day 2 at 9:00 on I-75
in the middle of Atlanta
 on a Sunday morning...

When all of the sudden, the air pressure in our back right tire began rapidly falling...
(FYI, German cars actually tell you the tire pressure- as it's falling)
to zero...

We were in the HOV lane and had to move across 4 lanes to get to the shoulder.

By then the tire was bellowing smoke.

We quickly got all of the children out of the van- single file- and stood on the side of the road.
I do have a fear of being unable to get everyone out if there should be a fire.
Once the smoke stopped we all filed back into the van and buckled up!

Triple A and Highway assistance arrived in 30 minutes!

So what does Ava do in the midst of a stressful moment...
she reads a book!

And then came the bad news...
that we needed to clear out the back in order to access the spare...


Thankfully, it was only a partial unpacking of the trunk!
We had bought a few toys but didn't have a chance to open them...

So the children were in heaven!
They wanted
"at them"!

The whole process was such a learning experience!
A first for all of us!

The Atlanta Highway Assistance and Triple A were

This was their first time changing a tire on a vehicle like this!
They worked together using two jacks strategically placed on the bottom of our van!
They were pros!

We had to have ALL of the kids sit down and be still
because they were rocking the van trying to watch what was going on!

I love this picture of Sarah!
She is so interested in everything.
I told her she could watch if she stood very still...

So thankful to God that everything went well throughout this tire event!

These guys were amazing!
Thank you Atlanta Highway Helper!
And thank you Triple A!
And thank you for your prayers and support!

Looking good and ready to go!

When we left Southern Atlanta we had plans, a destination to go to-
 We were supposed to meet in Chattanooga with a family that had a daughter from Mia's orphanage.

But as soon as I texted them that we were on the road and would be there in 2 hours...

we got a flat tire...

I had to text them that we couldn't meet as the planned...

They said, "No problem, they will go to church and if it worked they would meet us in Nashville, TN for lunch."

GOD does NOT make mistakes..
There are no coincidences...
HE has it perfectly planned!
All praise and glory go to HIM!

And so it was...
despite the opposition-

We met in Nashville, TN.
Pam and her family drove from their hometown to meet us!
YunYa (Victoria) was Mia's roommate and maybe even her bedmate.
There were 6-8 girls per room.
No heat, no air conditioning, no inner corridor.
Their orphanage was like an old fashioned motel with exterior hallways.
It got cold in her city -  about 15 degrees at times.
The children all wore layers and layers of clothing all of the time.

And hot... very hot... in the summer.

It was dirty, very dirty...

These three girls were best friends!
They are all home now.
Each in different places of the USA.
California, Minnesota, Alabama.
This is Yunya's photo.
She brought it and I was able to take a picture of it.

Mia was looking forward to seeing her friend.
A little nervous but mostly excited!

After the initial nervousness wore off they could simply enjoy each other!

We met at buffalo wild wings and it turned out to be the perfect place!
Very casual, loud enough but not too loud. The big game of the day was over so a crowd had just left.

The other kids in our families were able to play a few video games which kept them entertained!
Something they NEVER get to do at home.
It allowed the adults to visit!
It was as wonderful for hubby and I, as it was for Mia and Yunya!
What a treat for us to visit with the parents of one of our daughter's BFF's!

Our Mia remembers nothing of China.
There are no stories, good or bad.
There is no past, good or bad.
There are no clues to the mystery of her past life in China, good or bad.

The other children from her orphanage seem to remember more.
Their stories have helped us to better understand our daughter.
It has shed some light on her past.

Mia is a smart girl.
While in China she used her "smarts" to survive.
Thankfully, at home she is moving beyond survival and 
she is learning because she wants to, 
behaving because she wants to, 
enjoying her life because she wants to...

Something happened on Sunday, March 1st, 2015...

She shed her chains...

The walls came tumbling down...

Our daughter, who was completely unprepared to be adopted, 
realized that it was okay for her to be happy.
Her friends were okay.
They were in families like hers...
They were happy...
She no longer had to worry about them...
Or worry that she was going to be sent back to China.

Mia has made wonderful progress all along 
on this day something changed.

She was finally free to be HAPPY!

We waited to hook up with other families because we felt Mia needed more time to bond and learn.
We are happy for the time that we waited and we are thrilled for her to have had this opportunity!

We also found out that Mia is not originally from this orphanage.
She came on a bus when she was 5 yrs old from another orphanage (sadly, even more poor than this one.)
We think she is from Funan, Anhui Province.

Yunya has told her parents the date she thinks she was born- 
it's 2 months younger than her records state. 
Mia has no idea when her birthday actually may be...
We are guessing she is probably about 2-6 months younger 
but for now we will keep the date we were given.

Since March 1st, 2015
our daughter Mia has been a changed person.
She is free!

What a joy to have this opportunity!
God, you are soooo good!
Thank you Pam and family for meeting up with us!
Hoping to see you all next year!
And hoping there is another reunion- so we can go to it!
(The last one was on the same weekend as Matt and Caitlin's wedding.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

More Florida!

We are home now but I still have many pics from Florida that I would like to put on the blog!
This will be last Florida post but I do have an "on the way home" post for later!

Katie did a photo shoot of the kiddos while we were in Florida!
Can't wait to see more of the photos!

We loved walking around the lake at the park and feeding the ducks, turtles, birds and geese!

Katie helped the kids do IXL math since we didn't have all of our school subjects with us!

We were soooo happy to have Emma and Ellie join us after 2 weeks!

We missed them and they missed us.

Our sitter Karen flew to Florida with them and after spending the day with us she met up with her friends!

We showed Karen the beach we go too! 
The kids love exploring the beach!

Ava found this starfish but then refused to... hold it!

It was wonderful spending time with Karen, the day went by so fast!

The next day we went swimming... even if it was a little cool, we didn't care!

Emily loved all of the attention from her Momma, Nana, and Aunts and Uncles!

The blow up toys were so much fun!

Sarah got the smallest one(s)...

And I got a spa treatment by a bunch of really cute kiddos!

We picked up a few craft projects!
The boys got trucks to paint and decorate!
Sam and Ben were the first to paint so they could show the little boys how to do it!

The next day after the paint dried they put their stickers on!

They all loved this project!

Some of the girls had paint by number pictures- they really turned out well!

More math on the computer!

Partially done!
Good job, Ava!

Hubby worked while we were in Florida so we did a variety of activities during the day to keep us busy!
We went to the local Library!

Joey has found a new use for his library books!

While others read to younger siblings!

This Momma LOVES quiet reading time!

It's a moment of peace and quiet!

Good boy, Joey!

He is learning his ABC's and phonics.

He is able to read many blends now!
Joey had a tuff start in China and has many developmental milestones to reach before learning becomes an interest to him.
He is such a sweetheart and wants to please his parents but he is impulsive and lacks the ability to make good decisions.
We have others with this challenge so it is not new to us
but it is something we will be working on for a very long time...

When we moved from one home and to another while in Florida,
there was a 6-7 hours period of being homeless...

(map of Marco Island)
We try to make the most of it, by doing fun and interesting things!

This time we visited the Rookery Bay Educational Center.

We saw a presentation on Florida Snakes...
and then went to our new home and saw one!

After a variety of responses on FB it was determined that it is a corn snake.

Harmless, but still scary!

I went to bed that night thinking it was a 


Wanna guess what I dreamed about?



you're right...

Thank goodness this guy is NOT real!

We also went to the park and played. 
Then had a pizza lunch.

More craft projects-

And playdoh!

Emma is happy if we are happy!
She is so sweet and simple!
More people should be like Emma!

There paintings turned out to be quite nice!

Went to the beach and hung out...
We had our regular clothes on- 
so this pic isn't from that time...

I told the children not to get wet...
Why do I bother!
Of course, at least 6 of 13 had WET bottoms!
I call that a victory!

For dinner we hit one of our fav restaurants!
I love this sign!
YES, I take a pick of it every year!

Thank goodness everyone behaved and was "attended"!
No expresso and no free puppies for us!

And this clock is

I want one!

As I look at this clock I can see it is time for us 

We have squeezed every ounce of fun we could get our hands on!
The children are ahead in their reading to the point of finishing their books that we brought, 
we should have brought more!

We have refilled meds on the island and 
our necessary medical supplies are almost diminished. We need to head home so we can refill! 

We are ready to see our kittens and doggies! 
And get back to our schooling and schedule!

The good news is-

 back home their seems to be a warmer weather trend happening!


Hope the trend continues!