Friday, June 28, 2013

Family Weekend {Father's Day 2013}

Jason and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago and were reflecting on how our tradition was typically to get away for a night, just the two of us.  Tradition has changed and while we miss our little getaway, we treasure the new tradition we have created.  Father's Day weekend marked the fourth year of taking the family to Door County.  This is definitely one of the kids' favorite annual "events" (Father's Day weekend seems to work well as it generally just follows our anniversary and the end of the school year).  As soon as school is out (and typically before), they are asking if / when we are going to Door County. 

This year, of course, was extra sweet as we got to go as a family of six.  Last year during our Door County weekend we were in the stage of anticipation, wondering when we would see the face of our daughter.  We had no idea that it would be that next week!   His timing is always perfect, even when we doubt.

The highlights of the weekend included:

1. Swimming in the warm indoor pool
2. Playing in the sand at the hotel's beach on the lake
3. Miniature golfing
4. Eating Ice Cream
5. Cramming two adults and four sugared-up kids in a hotel room with two queen size beds Sweet family time

Warning ~ many photos to follow ...

This picture needs a little commentary ~ this was Nora's first time in the sand, she wasn't quite sure of it as evidenced by the death grip she has on her sister's swimsuit!

And yes, it did not take long for her to realize that the sand is fun, even getting buried in it is kind of neat! 


The boys were quite happy with their choice of "Pudgy Bunny" sundaes!
And, that was Door County 2013!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A First {Lydia's 1st Haircut}

I had not cut Lydia's hair ... at all ... not even a trim (even when she was going through that dreaded mullet phase), and I'm thankful to report that the boys didn't cut her hair either nor did she cut it herself (all tales that dear ones have shared with me).  But, it was time.  For the occasion I took her to the salon that I go to (which, yes, family readers, I did feel a tad guilty about not having my niece do it since she is a stylist ... but this was just for the first ... I'm sure "Birdnee" will be giving Lydia lots of cuts in the future). 
I had this mental picture of what Lydia would wear to her first haircut, you know, something really cutesy as this was surely an outing to be photograghed.  But, she just wasn't having it.  And, I could tell she was a little anxious about having her hair cut, not certain what to expect.  Alas, I avoided this battle and let the girl don her camo cargo shorts and pink converse which is a better reflection of her anyhow.
After a few little tears, she did great!  And, she loved getting hairspray in hair because "it smells sooooooo good!"  We had to smell her hair many times that night!  It's hard to tell from the before pictures as her hair was quite fine and light on the ends, but she got about three inches cut off the back and everything all evened out.  

Our little girl is growing up too fast!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Seeing her face {Reflecting on 6.21.2012}

One year ago today we got "the call" from our agency, the call essentially announcing that we had a daughter on the other side of the globe.  We anxiously awaited the e-mail with photos and more information, I at work and Jason at home.  And, finally, this is what we saw.
Per Nora's Orphanage, photo was taken in March 2012
Beautiful, beautiful daughter.  Look at that silky pure skin, those intense brown eyes, that sweet round face, and as we know now, under all of those layers are the sweetest little toes. 

As I ponder and reflect on seeing her face for the first time, I cannot help but marvel at how God knits families together, marvel at His goodness and how He spoils us, His children.
Sweet child of ours, you are loved and treasured!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Gift {Photos from Kirstin Roethel Photography}

You may remember me posting that shortly after we were home Amy graciously asked if she could take family photos for us, and she helped design our fun Christmas card.  Amy does photography as a hobby, and I'm thankful she graciously offered to photograph our family for "practice."  I'm also thankful for beautiful family photos with Nora pre-surgery.

Well, shortly before we left for China, a photographer in our community, Kirstin Roethel, approached me at a soccer game (our kids play sports together) and asked if she could do family photos as part of Project Jane.  Project Jane is Kirstin's way of giving back in memory of her mom, an amazing lady who made it a priority to serve.  The offer was humbling.

A couple of weeks ago we had our session, here are some of my favorites.  We will treasure these as they continue to tell the story of our family.

Thank you, Kirstin, this was truly a gift!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Nora's Readoption

Today was Nora's readoption.  Readoption is a process in which the court in your county reviews the details of the adoption done in the child's birth country.  The judge then issues a new adoption decree which is independent from the foreign decree.  The new decree essentially states that your child has been adopted in agreement with the laws of your state, Wisconsin in our case. 

Some states require this and in some it is "nice to have".  One of the most important pieces of this is that Nora will essentially get a US birth certificate which will make getting her US passport, driver’s license, marriage license, etc. easier in the future. 
The readoption process required more paperwork (no surprise there) and then a court appointment with a Judge.  We all went to our county's courthouse, and I’m positive that we were a spectacle walking in.  The whole “proceeding” with the Judge was very quick but very formal.  The boys really liked when the Bailiff had us all rise for the Judge (and she kindly thanked the children for standing for her). 
Our social worker told us that a readoption case will likely be one of the most enjoyable for the Judge in comparison to what they normally preside over.  This definitely proved to be our experience, the Judge was so kind. After we finished the “proceeding” she asked if the kids wanted to come on up behind the bench.  She even got out a gavel.  It was all quite entertaining. 
I was sure to warn the boys that this better be their only time inside a courtroom ... all while shaking my finger at them.  It turns out that the Judge, the Bailiff and the Case Recorders caught that and were amused.  It was a fun ending to an important day for Nora.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A day with my boys ...

This past weekend we surprised the boys with an end-of-the-school-year date day with mom.  We went to the ballpark for a game, it ended up being a beautiful day (and a great game with lots of excitement).  Thankful that these boys are still okay hanging out with their mom for the day.

At the Ballpark
The Boys
Blue-Eyed Brothers
Aoki Samuel
The last photo makes me smile big and will be a constant reminder of the boys' and their boy humor and silliness.  Did I mention that there was a lot of boy humor on our date day?  Anyhow, this cutout of Aoki entertained Samuel all the way home as he tried to make it look like Aoki was sitting in one of the girls' car seats.  After we got home Samuel made a few videos of Aoki ... Aoki sleeping in Samuel's bed (all snuggled under the covers) ... Aoki stuck in his drawer ... you get the idea, and while I'm tempted to post a video, I'll spare you as finding Aoki in random places in the house is a little creepy.
Thankful for my boys ... boy humor and all ...

Monday, June 10, 2013

China Girl Dress

While we were waiting for a referral we purchased (ordered online) this dress for Lydia from a shop on Shamian Island and paid way too much for shipping ... but these pictures of the girls wearing it were totally worth paying more for shipping than the dress.

Lydia at 17 Months ~ May 2011

The dress served as a physical reminder and sign to others that we were continuing down the adoption path.  During our pregnancy and after Lydia was born, this was the question that we most often got - were we going to continue to pursue adoption?  Y.E.S.

And, here is Miss Nora rockin' the China Girl dress.  Pure sweetness.

Nora at 22 Months ~ May 2013

These photos remind me of a conversation that the kids had this weekend along with conversations I have been having with friends lately.  The kids have been making comments like "I wish I had an Asian nose like Nora" ... "I wish I had big, brown almond eyes" ... "I wish I had her beautiful bronze sun-kissed skin" ... (okay, for the record, the last wish was me) ... And, I've had some great conversations with friends about how it's as if Nora is starting to really look like the other LilyKids.  I know it seems odd, but I see it too.

This is one area that will likely bring some of our more challenging, yet rewarding, parenting conversations ... the conversation that will ensue the day Nora realizes that her physical attributes are quite different than those of her siblings.  On that day we will do our best to tell her her story.  Her birth mom is my hero ... we will never understand the exact circumstances that lead to her giving Nora up, but she is my hero for carrying her, an ocean away.  My hero for allowing us to love Nora.  Nora's story is one of bravery, her story is important and when the day comes that Nora starts questioning, we pray that He will grant us a portion of her bravery to honestly, with raw emotion, tell her her story.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

And, this is what happens when you blink ...

Here we are, already at the end of another school year!  How can it be that these boys flew through 5th and 2nd grade?  It seems I was just contemplating Jack's integration into the Middle School, and now the school is year is already at an end.

When I say "flew through" I do not, certainly, mean without incident.  We have many stories from this year that make me laugh and question, especially with Jack, if he is really my child.  And, so many other stories that confirm, yes, the apple does not fall far from the tree.  What a joy to parent these boys!
To commemorate the end of the school year, I spent the afternoon hanging out with Samuel guy at the elementary school.  Then, at the end of his school day, Jack walked over from the Middle School.
Samuel's teacher, one of our absolute favorites, was also Jack's teacher for 2nd grade.  When Jack was in 2nd grade we had Lydia, and this year we picked up Nora.  We have been so blessed by this teacher and the love she has shown our boys and our family.  It was certainly a memorable year and the way she loved on Samuel when we were in China was above and beyond.  How we love her and hope that the girls will also fly through 2nd grade with her!

Aside from being the last day of school, today also marks a milestone as it was one year ago today that Jack had his seizure. I realize that I really haven't blogged much in follow-up to that. I am so thankful that it seems it was an isolated incident with no other occurrences ... but I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say that it still worries me especially hen he's hanging out with friends, sleeping over at friend's houses, etc. 

Thankful for these gifts which He has so graciously given us.