Homecoming video 9 years!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
I am so embarrassed that I have not posted since January. I have so much to share....Will's college decision, Easter etc.  But two days ago was Kate's "Special Day."

Kate and Dave and Will came home from China on April 4th 2007 so we consider that our forever family day.  I let Kate decide whether she wants to celebrate or not.  And some years we have done nothing.  Some years we go get ice cream or a mani pedi.  One year she wanted to go to tea at a hotel.

This year, Kate wanted to bake cupcakes for her friends at the gym.  And she wants to go to the Heritage Society (an historical museum type place) next weekend. We also ordered pizza (her choice) this weekend and Dave made Kate's favorites slow smoked ribs on the grill. It is always her call for what we do this day,

Kate had some practice testing at school so I could not sneak her out for any fun adventures but I did go have lunch with her yesterday.

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We also baked red velvet cupcakes and brought them to the gym.

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Will was goofing around in the background while Kate frosted the cupcakes.

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And I know most of you have seen this but I have some new followers too so I thought I'd post it just in case.  Have some tissues. People tell me it makes them cry.


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Kate has been such an incredible blessing to our family.  She is truly an amazing little girl.  I know that all Moms say that but honestly everyone says it about Kate.  She has the most pure, kind and giving heart I have ever known.  She is really funny and makes our whole family laugh every day.  She is completely optimistic and always thinks the best of others.  Her brothers and Dad wrestle her around and give her a hard time but she never lets it get to her and just rolls with the punches.  She was a tough toddler (you can go back and see those posts when she was 2-3) but she is the easiest and sweetest little girl there is now. She is my buddy and I feel incredibly blessed and honored to be her Mom.

Family News

Saturday, January 30, 2016
I will post Christmas 2015 photos this week.  I have never skipped blogging about a Christmas and I can't start now.

Let's see what is new at our house...

Will has heard back from all of the colleges he applied to. He applied to 8 schools. He was admitted to all of them and got academic scholarships at 7/8. The only school that did not award a scholarship was Texas A & M (it is a GREAT school but it was his safety school as it is close and extremely reasonably priced).  It is too big for him though.

He has narrowed his options down to four schools and is visiting some this month.  I think he will have a decision by the end of February. Let's hope.

I have started gathering a few things for him for college as I see them... towels, a travel bag, etc... little by little. I think starting to get some things ready is helping me deal with reality. I know it might seem silly but it helps me.  I plan to make him a supplement/medicine box.  I keep all sorts of natural supplements and vitamins here and the kids always come to me asking...Mom, what can I take for XYZ?  So, I am going to make him one with all our regulars to take to school.

I am happy/sad about this phase. I know this is what we work so hard for as parents.  He is an amazing kid with great values and awesome options.  He is stepping out into adulthood.  It is still really hard to start letting go.

Will just finished up varsity swim season and has moved right into water polo.  It is weird knowing this is the last time he will be in organized sports like this as he will not swim in college.  He is leading two weekend retreats this month (confirmation and Kairos) and I am so proud of him.  That is where Will really excels and it is what he loves doing.  I hope he finds opportunities for Spiritual Leadership in college.  God gave him a gift for that.

Will and Elizabeth went to her Winter Formal this month.  I did not get good photos. It was dark and rainy that evening and I got a new camera and ended up returning it as it would not focus. Anyway...here are some shots.  They looked fabulous.  Elizabeth is really a beautiful person.

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I began this blog 9 years ago on January 7, 2007.  Can you believe that?  I have 9 years of family memories on this site.  Thank you for hanging around that long.  I know a lot of people have probably stopped checking in as I don't write that frequently anymore.  But I am so grateful for the friendships I have made from the adoption community and the blogging community.

Kate is busy working on gymnastics, crafting, knitting and her science fair project.  She is looking at the difference between tap water and alkaline water on cut flowers.  Let me just say now...I loathe the science fair at this age.  I think that participating in ONE science fair in 5th grade or higher is a great idea. At her school it is mandatory in 3, 4 and 5th grades.  That is too much.  Kate LOVES science but this is killing it for her.

She is making sweet little hand made boxes for Valentine's Day for each kid in her class.  Then we will fill them with something.

Here are a few phone pictures of Kate..

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{At a fun Spa birthday party}

Kate knitted this blanket for herself over Christmas break and Scout loved it.

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So being the sweet thoughtful girl that she is...she knit Scout her own little blanket...

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These are the Valentine boxes she is making completely by hand.... I think she has 20 more still to make!

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Harry is doing well.  He is as entrepreneurial as ever. I don't think I am allowed to post about this businesses here though. He is currently playing lacrosse at his high school but he is not loving it right now.  We will see if he continues or finds something else to do in high school.  I do strongly encourage my kids to play a sport or be involved in their school community but I also want them to be happy so I don't "force" them to do something if it is not right for them.  He will find his thing.  It may be lacrosse and it may not be.

Harry got his driver's learning permit this month too...

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I simply cannot believe how quickly these kids are growing up!

I spoke at a women's retreat this month on marriage.  I was dreading it as the retreat was right after Christmas and I was pressed for time to prepare.  But it ended up being such a blessing and honor to have the opportunity to share with these women.  God has made His calling so clear to me as I love getting to do what I do for a living. When I am speaking or working with clients, it never feel like work. It always feels like I am right where God wants me to be. And trust me there are many times in other areas of my life that I don't feel that way.

Life is really busy in our house right now.  Three kids, three sports, senior year activities, two working parents.  It is a good busy.  A full and blessed life.  I know it is all going to shift a bit in the next 6-8 months so I am trying to be fully present in the here and now.

Harry's birthday, Caroling and Gingerbread Houses

Thursday, December 31, 2015
Our Mom's group at church carols every year to the local senior citizens.  Over the years, we have gone to convents, senior centers, home bound parishioners, and the fire station.  It varies.  This year was a sentimental one for me.  See, we split into groups and for the past several years, we have have gone with the same few families. These families are our very good friends, fellow parishioners and neighbors. My son, Will and his best friend, David have been doing this since they were toddlers.  We missed the years in VA but other than that we have done this about 16 years.  I knew this would be Will and David's last year as next year they will be away at college. Sniff, sniff.

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Will is not smiling in that first one...but my friend's eyes are closed in this one....

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 Here (below) we are caroling to the sisters in the convent.

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And at a senior center.

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After the singing, we all go out for pizza and salads are spend some time together.  I LOVE this tradition.  We always do it on a Sunday afternoon in December and sometimes it is hard for the kids because they are studying for midterm exams.  But we have always made it a priority. I love seeing the smiles on the seniors' faces.  They especially love the little children.

Another thing that happened this month is Harry turned 15!  WHAT?!  How did that happen?  He was only 5 when I started this blog!

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And he is so cute.  He is doing great his freshmen year in high school.  He is happy, earning awesome grades and making lots of new friends.  He also has a great little business or two going (he's my entrepreneur).  His birthday fell during the week and he was busy studying but I made his favorite meal (meatballs, sausage and pasta) and brownies (his request).  And he kind of has his permit.  Well, he took he classes and passed the test.  We just need to go pick it up from the DMV (not fun).  Yes, Harry will be on the roads!

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Another one of our Christmas traditions is making gingerbread houses.

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We have tried homemade gingerbread and various kits but the Trader Joe's ones never let us down.  They are solid.  In fact, Harry and Will tried to destroy them (see bottom of post) and they could not.

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The cast of characters: Harry, Amy, Will, Eden and Kate.  Will's girlfriend was supposed to come but could not at the last minute.  We missed her.

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He is really concentrating...

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The finished products.

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The adults judge the houses based on three categories: Creativity, neatness and something else I cannot remember.  Anyway, Eden won.

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I am thinking we should not judge them next year.

Will and Harry like to blow their houses up (or shoot them with air soft guns or run over them with RC cars--boys will be boys).  So they took them outside and tried to explode them with fireworks.

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The thing would not blow up!  It did decapitate a ginger woman though. Just saying these things are sturdy!

After the gingerbread houses, we took Kate and Eden to a dance performance.  Kate is taking contemporary dance and her teacher was in a show.  Kate enjoyed it and was so excited to give her teacher flowers after the show! I feel bad because Kate loves dance and would love to continue and be challenged with a good dance class but there simply is no more time with her gymnastics schedule.  She has been moved up to optionals and her practice time has increased again.



And here are a few photos of my Christmas decor.  I had a bookclub luncheon here in December and this was my table...

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The salad I made for the luncheon. Mixed greens, shrimp,  green apples, pomegranate seeds, crumbled goat cheese and candied pecans.  SO good! I also made Thai butternut squash soup and cannoli cake.

And here is some of my family room...

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I hope everyone has a lovely and safe NYE.  I will try to keep the posts going to finish out the year.  I still have to post about Christmas Day!  Happy New Year.

Grandma's Christmas Butter cookies

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Mom has a recipe for my grandmother's butter cookies.  My Mom made them (with us) every year for Christmas.  They are kind of a lot of work and very unhealthy so we have not always made them.  They are also FULL FAT (butter and crisco) and full gluten (hello 9 cups of flour!).  And you know we don't usually eat like that.  So some years we make them and some years we don't.  This year, we did.


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Kate and Elizabeth cutting the maraschino cherries.

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The dough gets mixed by hand and typically my Dad or Step-dad or Dave or Will has done this because it takes a bit of strength.  Kate really wanted to do it this year. So, she tried and she did it really well.  Girl is STRONG and determined.



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Kate and Dave were trying to put flour on each others' noses....

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Hands were washed many times.  No worries.  I am kind of a germaphobe.

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Harry is the BOSS of the cookie press.  We used my grandma's original old press.  It is finicky but we have figured it out over the years.  Harry has the magic touch.

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I have to say that Elizabeth picked it up quite well too.

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She definitely brought her A game.

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These are the little moments I treasure in life.  Right here.

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First batch going in...

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It appears as though I never got any photos of the finished cookies.  They were quite delicious.
I cannot believe I did 2 blog posts in one day.  And I have another one ready to post tomorrow!