Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Adoption Fundraiser ??

This might be a long post - so please keep reading!! :-)
I haven't mentioned much on the blog about our next adoption....I think because I kept telling myself it wasn't ever going to happen. I was pleasantly surprised yesterday though when we received an email from our agency telling us that China had *finally* sent out referrals for the remainder of February '06 dossiers. That's right folks.....2006!
We were logged in March 7, 2006 -- at the time, we never expected that the wait would expand to nearly 3 years for a referral (at the time we submitted our paperwork, the wait was only 6 months). Now we're at the point where we can actually start believing we will receive a referral. We have only 7 LID's (log-in dates) to go -- this could still take a couple of months, but hopefully we'll have a picture of our new son/daughter by March of 2009.

OK...now to the good stuff. :-) We're thinking of doing a fundraiser or two to help with our final adoption costs. China has just increased the orphanage "donation" fees, and the cost of airfare is really high, so we're a little short on finances. I completely understand that we're in a recession right now, so I know money is tight for everyone out there, but every little bit we can raise will help tremendously. Here's what we're thinking of doing via our blog....please feel free to email me and let me know if you'd be interested in any of this...or let me know of any other creative fundraising ideas! :-)

** raffle of a lovely quilt (100 good wishes or another pattern - machine sewn and quilted)
** raffle of a Wii game system, or a Wii Fit
** raffle of a gift card to WM, Target, etc.
** raffle of an autographed basketball from the '94 UA championship team
** sale of baby quilts (I have some lovely patterns)...only problem is that these are really time-consuming for me

We're also thinking about these things here locally...a big garage sale fundraiser, selling our boat, and selling a big Barbie collection. I've also seen many other families use a "chip-in" system on their blogs, but am not sure how we'd fare with that.

OK folks...let me know what you think! We need all the help we can get, and are open to suggestions!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Christmas

We had a lovely Christmas this year. I think the girls got almost everything on their wish lists, plus a few nice surprises. We did our annual name exchange between the five of us again, and "made" something for our gift recipient. I made Claire a book on shutterfly; Claire made a tied fleece blanket for me (great for covering up while watching tv in the evenings). Emily made a wall calendar for dad; dad made one of the fleece blankets for Allyson; and Allyson made a really cute pocket calendar for Emily. These are just a few of the pics from our holiday. More pics of our "homemade" gifts to follow.


Annual tradition of decorating a (store bought) gingerbread house. Allyson and Claire did the "decorating" and Emily piped the icing where they wanted it.

Miracle on Main Street

The girls performed in the children's choir musical, "Miracle on Main Street" earlier this month. They all had solos, and did very well. The musical had a great message as well.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

School Choir

Emily and Allyson's school choir performance was on Thursday evening. The theme of the event was "Going Green", and it was a cute performance. They also sang several Christmas favorites...I think Allyson's favorite was "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer". ;-)

On Friday, the choir took a field trip to the mall and performed at the food court. Afterwards, I treated the girls to lunch and a little bit of shopping before they had to return to school.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Questions for Santa

Santa made his annual visit to Randy's office this week. 'Tis the season when Claire really thinks about all of the details that surround Santa and his reindeer. In preparation for her time with the jolly old elf, Claire made out a list of questions she wanted to ask him. (She had a long list of questions last year as well - as Santa so kindly reminded her.) "-)

This year, Claire wanted to know:

1. If Santa knows when she is sleeping and awake, WHEN does he sleep?
2. Just exactly HOW does he fit down the chimney...especially tiny chimneys?
3. Is she on the "bad" list?

and sister Allyson threw in her own question for good measure....

1. Since Santa eats so many cookies, isn't he worried that he'll get diabetes? (Can you tell our girls know about a little about this disease?)

As usual, Santa was wonderful at answering the questions. He did such a great job that *I* believed him!! LOL Claire was also amazed that Santa mentioned her teacher's name and how she was doing in school, as well as her extracurricular activities. He also knew what she had written on her wish list (without her telling him). That Santa is one smart fella! :-)

This photo is all I could get from my vantage point. The office always takes photos of the kids, so that photo will be better.

Hello Snow....man

You all know how much I love kid's artwork, so it's no surprise I'm posting more! (Sadly, as the kids get older, the less artwork they do in school, so remember to enjoy it with them!)

Miss Claire brought this drawing home from school this week. Hopefully, she'll get to make a real snowman soon!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Coco Bonbons = Super Cute!!

Just found an ADORABLE kid's clothing line called Coco Bonbons! I found the site via this blog. She's having a contest and I figured it couldn't hurt to enter. :-) Coco Bonbons has *the* cutest clothing...for girls and boys!! They're having a great sale now too! All of their lines are great, but I've got my eye on the jacket and hat in the paisley line.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Adoption Day #11

We have had the pleasure of being parents to this lovely young lady for 11 wonderful years.
We recently enjoyed a weekend with the three other families who traveled to China with us 11 years ago - on a trip that changed our lives forever. We were all strangers and first time parents-to-be, traveling to a country on the other side of the world. Before meeting these families, we would never have guessed how close we would become. During that trip to China, we all pledged that we would make an effort to maintain in contact so that our BengBu girls would know one another (we live several hours apart). Since that time, we have grown together as a sort of extended family. Not only are our four girls the best of friends, but the parents are great friends as well. We have been fortunate to have gathered with these friends every year to celebrate our adoption day - aka gotcha day (a phrase one of the parents coined). My how our families have grown since that day! :-)

This year's "gotcha day" reunion was held in Oklahoma where AG's family were our hosts for the weekend. We were treated to a tour of the National Weather Center (where AG's dad works as a scientist - he's one smart fella!). Everyone thought it was fun to balance the earth on their finger (of course, I had to take pics! Unfortunately, the graphics on the "earth" changed and we didn't have time to wait for more earth-like pics to come back on the ball). Later in the afternoon, we went to OKC and toured "Bricktown" via a canal boat.

------- --------
We also toured the OKC Bombing Memorial. Visiting the memorial brought back many memories for the adults as we all remembered where we were when the bombing happened back in 1995. (I was at work in a mental health facility. Once the news announced the bombing, our therapists scrambled to get a team deployed to help the victims in OKC.)

Each of these chairs represents the life of a person killed in the bombing. Names are etched on the glass bases, and are lit at night.

This is the "survivor tree" - named because it survived the bombing (although it doesn't look very healthy now). The tree is definitely scarred on one side and leans due to the blast it received.
This is part of the original fence that was put in place immediately after the bombing. It's a place where people leave memorials to the victims and their families. There have been more than 60,000 items placed on the fence (they are removed periodically and placed in an archive in the museum).

After touring the sites, we went out for a traditional Chinese group dinner. Then, it was back home for cake and presents! The four girls had a sleepover at AG's house (while we stayed in a nearby hotel). We had our traditional group breakfast at Cracker Barrel before heading home.
Happy "gotcha day" sweet girls! We love you all! We are SO blessed to be Emily's parents, and are so happy to call the others friends!

School Activities

Wow...I've missed posting a lot these days. Just too busy to blog I guess...sad that I can't remember many of our activities though. :-( Maybe it's just that I'm becoming a "once a month blogger". Sorry to disappoint our blog readers...all 2 or 3 of you! lol

A quick catch-up on a couple of school activities, and then I'll *try* to stay more current. The second grade musical this year was called "Once Upon A Lily Pad"....a very cute musical about a little frog who was trying to find her place in the great big pond. Our little miss Claire had the starring role as Freddie the Frog. She did an amazing job of memorizing not only her many lines, but also the lines of everyone else in the play as well! She also did a great job of singing a solo.

Emily's first band performance was also held on the same evening as Claire's musical. Luckily the events were 30 minutes apart, so I was able to watch the band and then hurry across town to see the musical. Emily has been working hard in band, and got first chair again for the concert. She was SO excited! There are only 6 flute players in the band - compared to about 70 clarinets and 50 trumpets - so the flutes were drowned out...but it was still a great performance anyway (considering the kids have only been playing for about 2 months!).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Costumes this Halloween: Claire was a cute cardinal (& won the costume contest at church). I saw a bunch of red feather boas at the $ store and thought it would make a cute bird....so glad Claire was agreeable to the idea! :-) None of the kids could tell that I ruined a high school musical hat for the costume (oh the horror!!). LOL :-)

Allyson ended up wearing her big sister's old school program costume...a duck. She originally planned to be an angel, but at the last minute decided she didn't like it...so we scoured the closets and found the duck outfit. She thought it was comfortable and was happy to wear it, so a duck she was!
Emily was one of the three blind mice - still awaiting photos from her two mice friends.

As usual, we participated in our church's trunk-or-treat event. We decorated with the theme "On the 3rd day, God created the plants and trees". We won in the biblical category! Our prize package included a $25 gift cert to the local camera store...just need to figure out what I "need" from there now! :-)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Carving Pumpkins

We *finally* had time to carve pumpkins last night! Nothing like last minute!!
The girls all chose their own designs for their pumpkins. Claire really wanted her pumpkin to have a tooth, but she accidentally cut it off.....so I stuck a small piece of pumpkin in to hold the "tooth" in place. I told her it looks as if her pumpkin is eating a cracker....that was fine with her as long as the tooth was still there! LOL

Slippery, slimy, yucky pumpkin guts!

School Catch-up

The middle school is doing "Red Ribbon Week" (drug awareness) this week. The girls made posters for student council, and have been participating in the fun, daily activities. On Wednesday, the kids were to wear mismatched socks and shoes. This was Emily's choice....pretty tame compared to some of the boot/flip-flop matches I saw. :-)

Middle school awards ceremonies were this week as well. Both Allyson and Emily received an award for all A's. Way to go girls! We are SO proud of you!

Corn Maze

We went to a corn maze with the girl scout troop last weekend. The girls all successfully completed the maze, and then took a short hayride....followed by a picnic lunch.

I think Allyson and Claire had the most fun just jumping on the bales of hay though! :-)


Goodness! No time to blog lately! :-(

Just a quick pic of frost on the car window....Mother Nature is amazing!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Scrapbook Retreat

Haven't blogged in awhile....just so busy with the kids, volunteering at school, etc., etc.

Went to a weekend scrapbooking retreat in OK last weekend. I had such a great time! I shocked myself by completing a whopping 49 pages!! That is an amazingly high number of pages for me since I'm such a slow scrapper. I took only school event photos, along with the Becky Higgins school kits, and was able to get ALL of the past school years caught up for all three of the girls! Once I put the pages in the albums with all the memorabilia for each year, I have already filled two albums for both Emily and Allyson. It appears that I'll have at least 3 school albums for each child by the time they graduate from high school....wow!

I feel like I've found my scrapping "mojo" again, and can't wait to do a few more pages this week.

Other news around here:

Emily had another band chair test and got first chair for the concert next month. She is super excited.

Claire was awarded the lead role in her second grade musical. Another super excited kiddo.

Trying to figure out how to split myself in half as both the band concert and musical are on the same night/same time! :-(

Thursday, October 2, 2008

12 Years Old

Hard to believe, but Emily just celebrated her 12th birthday. Well, it wasn't really 'celebrating' - she just had a few friends over, we roasted hot dogs over the fire pit and then made s'mores, the kids jumped on the trampoline, and then went inside to play board games. Not a normal birthday "party", because Emily doesn't want to have parties anymore...she's getting too old for that now! LOL :-) She didn't even have a birthday cake because it wasn't a "real party" (not to mention they also had s'mores), but we picked up a giant cookie at the last minute. I needed pictures for the scrapbook after all! :-)

Happy birthday sweet girl. I am constantly amazed by you, and love you with all my heart.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

After Picasso

One of our school fundraisers this year is original art...basically, the parents buy products with their student's art image on it. They sure know how to get our money don't they?! LOL

This is the "After Picasso" work submitted by Emily and Allyson. I just love these!

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Good Day

According to the girls, yesterday was a really 'good' day. :-) The girls' faces were just beaming as they hopped into the car after school. Then their rush of words hit me.....
"Mom,Imadethestudentcouncilagainandsodidallofmyfriends! Oh,andIalsomadeFIRSTchairinflute! Mom,I'mSOexcitedbecause'I'madestudentcouncilTOOandsodidmyfriendKathryn!


Once everyone settled down and I was able to talk individually with each child, I could more clearly understand their news...
Emily made student council again this year. She was especially excited because several of her friends who applied also made council.
Emily tested in band again this week, and made first chair in flute.
Allyson was super thrilled because she also made the student council, along with her friend Kathryn. This is also good because this is one school activity that Emily and Allyson will do together.
Claire brought home all A's on her paperwork this week.

Yes, it was a really good day! ;-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Le Flute

Emily was chosen as one of five flue players for band this year. She wasn't even able to make a sound during the tryouts, but we believe she got the part due to her piano experience (knowing how to read music). First assignment from the band director this year: decorate their instrument cases to make sure they wouldn't get mixed up. Scrapbooking supplies to the rescue! :-)

Emily chose the scrapbooking papers, ribbons and font for her name (I smudged out the last name on the pics for privacy). Result: one happy flute player!

- - -

Practicing before a chair test...
Result of first test: 2nd chair!!! That's really good considering she and another girl (who took lessons during the summer) tied, so the band director used alphabetical order to determine first/second chair. Way to go Emily - we're so proud of you!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Allyson's Gotcha Day #9 !!!

We celebrated Allyson's 9th "Gotcha Day" (adoption day) over the weekend. Wow...9 years. I still remember seeing Allyson for the first time...sitting on the nanny's lap, holding a rice cake in each hand, her hair still in that little mohawk style like her referral photo. She was a happy baby and didn't cry at all when the nanny handed her to me. Now...9 years later, she is still a happy child, has a winning smile and a caring personality. We love you deeply Ally girl!!!

All five families from our Hubei China travel group met at the Fin and Feather Resort in OK for our reunion this year. Allyson has SO looked forward to this weekend and has constantly talked about wanting to see the other girls. We arrived around 8:45 in the evening, so it was already dark...but that didn't stop the sweet reunion. As soon as the other girls saw us park the car, they ran toward us yelling Allyson's name! :-) The same thing happened when the last family arrived a few minutes later.

The resort had a laid-back, country atmosphere with plenty of space for the kids to play so it was a good place for our reunion. As soon as breakfast was over, the kids begged to go swimming. The pool was a bit chilly, but the kids still had fun.

- - The gang's all here!

Since we were all new to this resort, one of the dads browsed a few pamphlets (for local entertainment) while the kids swam. The parents then decided to drive to Talequah, OK to visit the Cherokee Heritage Museum. Much to the kids delight, we stopped at McD's for lunch on the way. :-) At the museum, we took a walking tour and learned how the Cherokee tribe lived, saw examples of their mud houses, learned how to make an arrowhead...and Claire even tried blowing a "poison" dart. :-)
Then it was back to the resort for another round of swimming, and playing with a stray dog (that the girls quickly named "Buddy"...see update below). Our group had a yummy dinner at the resort's diner (Soda Steve's), and then it was cake and present time!
- -
The five girls decided to open all of their gifts together, so they counted 1..2..3 and made sure they were in sync with each other on every gift. :-)
Here are the girls with the pillows I made for them. I asked Allyson to choose the colors for the pillows...so everyone got pink. ;-) The girls also received a jewelry box (with a traditional Chinese cork carving), a silver necklace (of their Chinese zodiac animal), a Chinese cat penny bank, some neat Chinese snacks and jellies (Ally LOVES those little jelly tubs!), and several other cute items (I can't remember them all, and Ally has already put everything away!).
The 5 Hubei girls
About the stray dog....he looked like a mix between a large dachshund, bull terrier, and something with big ears. :-) He was pretty cute. I joked that Laura's family would be taking him home with them. Before we left on Sunday, they checked to make sure he was a stray, and the dog *DID* indeed go home with them!! LOL

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Panning for Gems

Our Claire is a rock-lover. She has a prized rock collection...but most of her rocks are simply just plain, brown rocks. She also has a few white driveway rocks thrown in for good measure. :-)

As we drove to grandma's house on Monday, I decided to surprise Claire with a stop at War Eagle Cavern. I have been there on field trips with Emily and Allyson, and knew that they had a gem panning station, not to mention a hike into a big cave (but we skipped the cave tour this time). Claire was ecstatic about the possibility of finding gems!! So, we plopped down the hefty $8.50 for a big bag of dirt and let the girls get to work. After about 30 minutes of "panning" at the sluice box, the girls all came away with a small baggie of gems (crystals, amethyst, citrine, fool's gold and more).

-- - -- - --

Bag of dirt...$8.50
The girls' reaction and the memories...priceless

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Claire's 6th "Gotcha"

What a cute group of girls!!!!

We drove to Teague, TX over the Labor Day weekend. We met up with the four families who made up our '02 China travel group to celebrate the girls' 6th "Gotcha Day" (aka Forever Family/Adoption Day). Wow...6 years..how the time has flown!! In some ways, it seems that it was just yesterday that Claire joined our family, yet in other ways, it's like she's always been here. The families in our group take turns hosting each year; this year our hosts were Cait's family. We always love seeing how all of the children and grown and changed.

The girls were asked to dress in traditional Qi Pao dresses for a tea party, which was held upon our arrival on Saturday. Claire wasn't sure how to hold the cup of hot tea, but quickly learned to stick out her pinkie finger. :-)
- - - -
getting the hang of how to hold the teacup...

The remainder of the day was spent just allowing the kids to play and get reacquainted, while the parents visited (and played paparazzi). :-) At one point, the kids all decided to grab some sugar cubes and feed the horses. Within minutes of going outside, Claire was complaining of pain on her feet. It was quickly determined that she had been bitten/stung by fire ants, so a little pampering was due in the kitchen sink.

Since there were no close Chinese restaurants, the host family treated us to a wonderful Texas BBQ dinner. Of course, we couldn't end the reunion without cake and presents! Many thanks to Cait's family for hosting our group this year!!

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