JOY

We discuss sister a lot around here especially with Savannah who is already in love with the idea of her.  I'm praying Caroline will actually LOVE the idea of having a sister too especially when she has never had a family before.

One of the things we talked about at bedtime tonight was her middle name.  Savannah would like it to be Elizabeth just like hers and mine.  Grant picked out Joy.  This verse came to mind as we talked about it tonight.  Psalm 30:5  "Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning."  I pray this for my Caroline.  Weeping, Sadness, Hurt, Anger, Loneliness is with her now but overtime with us that the Lord will allow her to experience Joy.  And that one day she will be twice adopted this time into God's forever family and truly know the fullness of Joy.

We got an email from our Coordinator today that she received all of our dossier documents and only 1 out of 20 needs to be tweaked.  We are now just waiting on my passport to arrive and to finish the Home Study and then we can move on to the next phase!  So exciting!!

She said I could start working on the I800A application that will go to UCIS or immigration.  I think this is the document that will make her an American when the plane lands :)  at least I think that is what this is.  At times all this paper work is overwhelming!





MADE IN CHINA


Several years ago God began working in each of our lives making a soft spot for adoption.  About two years ago (while pregnant with Luke) we started to seriously discuss the idea of adopting a child. This idea sounded totally crazy especially with the toddlers we already had and one more was on the way soon!  But we wrote it down in our journal that we would pray that our hearts and minds would open to the idea but honestly we were thinking let's just see how life with 3 goes first.  Over the past year lots of different things have come to us together and separately to start preparing us for this new adventure.  So the BIG announcement we are adding another little girlie our family this time from China!  We have found an agency we really like and have been accepted.  We are now currently in the middle of the paper chase stage and meeting with the social workers that will complete a home study. The paper chase is the stage where you run around like crazy to collect every document ever recorded about us and have it re-issued, notarized, and certified within a 6 month deadline due to various expiration dates on some of the documents.  This alone is overwhelming but God has already answered so many prayers in this area.  We are now slowing down and just waiting for some of the documents that we ordered to arrive. (4-6 weeks)

This label like most of the labels on everything we own I have for the most part ignored.  But all of a sudden each and every tag has a special meaning.  Especially through the eyes on my almost 6 year old.   To her joyful delight almost all of her toys are "Made in China" just like sister :)


Amazingly just like when you find out you are pregnant you start envisioning this sweet baby in your arms.  And as soon as we turned in our application the same thing happened we started to envision our little girl with sleek black hair completely beautiful the way God made her and we already miss her not knowing yet who she is.  

We named all of our children before we met them and couldn't help but to do the same with our new little girl.  Her name will be Caroline Joy (named 100% by her Daddy!)  She is more than likely just being born or already living in an orphanage.  From what we have researched the orphanages are not uniform in their care in any way.  We are so excited to have our daughter home but it will be a long time from now making pregnancy seem quick!  In the meantime we are praying earnestly for her safety, care, and that one of the workers in her orphanage will find a soft spot for Caroline to give her a little extra whether it be attention, picked up and held, clean diapers, or at least a smile.  We have already seen God start to provide for her adoption in some amazing and unexpected ways.  Please pray for us as we work our way through this paper chase stage and for Caroline.  We expect that our paper work will be complete and ready for China to receive this winter and then we will move to the referral stage where we will get a "match" for the girl that will be ours.  

Thank you all for your prayers as we step out and trust God for her!  This was a huge learning curve for us so if you have any questions please let me know and I'll try to answer as best as I can.

Grant and Julie


video




FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL

It's hard to believe that all 3 of my kiddos are now in some sort of school program.  They all survived the first day and 2 of the 3 have made it through a whole week of class and seem to want to go back each morning so I think all is going really well!


Jack is doing awesome in Pre-K loves his teachers and all the things to do and new friends to play with.  His only problem has actually been leaving in the afternoon which he is getting better at now that I think he has realized he really does get to go back the next day. His teacher said he sure is busy but he obeys too.  That was the best compliment ever!  He talks all about his guy friends and one little girl named Madeline.  And when he mentions her name his whole face lights up.  ;)





I can't say I know as much about Savannah.  Going to Kindergarten in the big school is so much different than I expected.  I think I'm having the hard adjustment mainly from the lack of communication from not picking her up from the classroom and her teachers saying one or two things about her day.  Now I have to rely on her to tell me.  The first week of school we heard a lot about about the bus and really only the bus.  She rides it home in the afternoon and it has been HOT.  She has learned and told us about all the different ways a body can sweat.  Quite funny!  Then we cool down with a popsicle and hopes she reveals a little something else about what she was doing the last 7 hours away from me :)



Luke started his first EVER day of school on Wednesday.  He goes 3 days a week to Bethany Learning Center at the church.  The same one the older two went to when they were his age.  He is one of the older kids in the One year old class and had a blast from what a could tell.  He can say backpack and teacher really well.  And I think he knows he is one of the "big" kids now that he goes to school too.
iphone pic of the busy boy

We are off to a great start as long as they continue loving going to school I'll be happy :)

ON THE ROAD JACK

On the drive home from the beach we didn't leave the car or make many detour stops.  We did make the exception at this cute little store for boiled peanuts to teach our kids the super important southern LOVE of the boiled peanut.  One day my kids will experience a laser light show at Stone Mountain, GA with boiled peanuts which is my favorite childhood memory of all time :)  And when they are there the boiled peanut will not be brand new.
 Our other stop was at this famous location.  When we first got married I was introduced in Duck Hunting mainly through this family on some old VHS tapes it is mainly about hunting.  Then it was a Duck Commander show which was a blend of the two.  The girls rarely made an appearance in the Commander shows.  Now it is Duck Dynasty.  Much less about the hunting...and I kinda miss that part surprisingly.

 There is not a whole lot to see but the sign.
and the loading dock...
 I can't believe this is our only whole family/friend picture of the trip.  We should have taken more...
 We visited EVERY part of the parking lot..


SUMMER FUN?

Warning: This post may leave you with a creepy crawly feeling!
It doesn't take much to entertain this family.  I heard laughing and screeching on the back porch to find Jack and Savannah trying to freeze a "giant" bug with ice. 
They had found a live locust that I guess couldn't fly.  Not sure how that part happened but I wouldn't put it past two little curious kids.  Pouring water and ice on the locust made it spin, jump, and vibrate which was the delight of the kids.  
They wanted to take a closer look at the bug so the first challenge was holding it.  That lead to "holding" him in different ways.  
Then we compared him to his shell.  At times these shells are quite collectable around here but I not sure they had ever seen the bug that comes out of the shell until today.  

Teaching tip:  We believe in Jesus/God/Heaven around here.  So the locust is an easy way to discuss death and what happens as an illustration.  The shell is the "old body" it looks just like it.  Kinda like our dead body looks like us but the good stuff the "soul" the part that makes you YOU leaves the "shell" and gets a new body, a better body in heaven.   ;)  The locust even gets wings!







YAY FOR FAMILY PICTURES

Just like the painters house is never painted my family is never photographed.  I'm working on changing that and jumping in pictures with my husband and kids.  Often my own self esteem issues get in the way but I want them to know that I was there and present in their lives too.  With a big push from our sweet friends the Smiths Grant even got a few "kissing" pictures ;)  a dream fulfilled I think.    
 Sunset the "golden hour" doesn't last long and to get two families photographed before we lost light was difficult so you will actually be able to tell the intensity of the sun lighten.  I like both the bright colors and the muted tones.  The only downside is the squinting but Jack was obeying so well it made me so proud of him.


 The hardest part about family pictures this year was Luke... no surprise to me actually.  He is in that one stage 14-24 months that is the hardest of all ages to photograph.  They don't understand the concept of standing still and if they do they definitely don't do it more than once usually.

Luke actually thought we were playing a game and his smiles were totally genuine which I loved so I just went with it.  There will be plenty of years that I get sweet posed smiles... this just was not one of them.

 And here we are all of us.  I love my life with these people and I'm so thankful for each of them!







 Not his most natural smile but man he was trying so hard!


 Luke totally loved the "beetch" ;)

 The helicopters that flew over were a big favorite.
 Containment by siblings was not his idea of fun...maybe next year.  I mean how cute is this pose!!!



A big big thank you to our sweet friends Lucas and Janet Smith who took all the photos I was in :)