Another month is behind us already! I am having a difficult time remembering what happened this month to be honest. Thankfully I have some pictures to help.
We love to pick berries together as a family each summer. We get enough to munch on and some to freeze for the winter. Some of the prices at the local berry fields are fantastic. With Callie on my back and the boys “helping” us pick we were able to go a few times this year, resulting in plenty for blueberry muffins, pancakes, scones and smoothies this year. Eli and Luke stayed up a bit later and had some S’mores as a treat. Eli then camped with Dad in the backyard and Luke got to have some special time with Mom and sleep upstairs. Luke is loving having a new sister most of the time, but it has been a big transition for him and he was in need of some special attention.
Eli turned 5 this July and he asked to spend a day at the Everett Children’s Museum instead of having a party. We had a great time as a family. The kids loved it. By far their favorite area was the water play area.
We met some friends at the beach to play on a beautiful summer day this month. The weather was perfect and the kids LOVED looking under rocks for small crab, sand dollars, and other creatures. It was a lovely day.
Callie didn’t fall asleep at nap one day this month and so she fell asleep hard at bedtime. Isn’t she so cute? You’ll notice that I have to put her sleep sack on backwards, otherwise she will undress herself as much as possible. She can actually unzip her sleep sack and get her feet out even with the zipper backwards.
This month we took Callie to a pediatric eye doctor to have an eye exam. Her UW Medicine Pediatrician recommended we do so. Going into the appointment I imagined they would find her eye sight to be normal and healthy, but that wasn’t the case at all. Now that I am more educated on the subject and know what signs to look for it doesn’t surprise me one bit that she cannot see well and it explains many things. Her glasses are being ordered and we hope they will arrive next week. She will need to wear them 100% of the time and we are hopeful that they will help her see a great deal better. I have posted a picture from the internet below that attempts to show what her vision may be like without glasses based on her prescription. It probably isn’t totally accurate but it helps me to have a better idea of what she is facing so that I can parent her better.
Callie’s left eye has worse vision than her right eye, but as you can see both aren’t great. Without a prescription you or I would see what is shown to the right (Left and Right Eye with good vision); Callie would see something similar to what is on the left (Left and Right Eye). It is easier for her to see things at a distance (20/200) but very difficult for her to see things at a close range (20/20).
Finding out that Callie has trouble seeing was not what I expected and it was hard for me to hear; not simply because it was unexpected but because I feel so sad that she has to deal with one more thing. She has been through SOOO much in her short life so far and I feel sad that she has one more challenge. Ultimately I am incredibly thankful that there are ways we can help her with her vision and I am glad that we will be able to walk through all these challenges with her one step at at time
We are looking forward to the month of August. The Antique Tractor Show and the NW Washington Fair are big highlights for the kids, so they excitedly look forward to this time of year. We’ve had a lot of medical appointments for everyone lately and we have many more to come so we are going to work diligently to sprinkle in some intentional family fun too this month; especially because Eli begins school this Fall!! Have a wonderful August.
Andy and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this past week. It has been a wonderful 10 years and I am so thankful that he is my husband. It is a great feeling to be married to your best friend and Andy is just that. He is an incredible husband and father.
Andy and I have known each other for a long time; since we were kids. I still remember the first time that I ever saw him – though I don’t remember it because of romantic reasons at all, since I was maybe 10 years old. I was visiting Central Elementary School to watch their yearly musical production. My neighbor was giving me a tour of the school and while we stood at the entrance to the library she pointed out some of her friends in the distance; one of them was Andy. He was in the library with some other cast members loudly goofing around. I can still picture it in my minds eye.
A few years later my family started attending the same church that Andy and his family attended. And while I still didn’t get to know Andy well at this point, my older brother Adam and him became good friends. Andy would spend time at our house often and quite frankly I couldn’t stand it. They were in middle school and early high school at this point and since I was the younger (likely annoying) sibling I was often teased and picked on.
Fast forward another few years; I am now 16 and Andy is nearly 18. We are both in high school youth group together and attend Ferndale High School together as well. My brother Adam is now off to college. I am noticing that Andy is funny, smart, hard working and a great friend. We have a lot of fun together and even though I am not supposed to be dating anyone I ask if I can go to grub tolo with Andy; my parents say, “With Andy? Of course!” or something along those lines. We went to the dance together; didn’t dance much – skipped out for some Ben and Jerry’s and drove around to look at houses before heading back to my house! (I really like going for drives to look at houses; still to this day) And the rest is history.
Of course Andy still went away to Seattle University for 4 years of college before we were married and I had two years at Western under my belt by then as well.
I am so thankful for Andy every single day. I know that when I was 16 I was in love with him and that I dreamed about what our life would be like together; and I feel like I lucked out big time with this man! He is unbelievable to do life with and he makes my days so much easier. He is still so smart and so hardworking. He makes his family his number one priority every single day. He provides well for us. He sacrifices daily and never turns his nose up at a chore. Did you know he cooks dinner every night (he’s an amazing cook) and grocery shops each week and that is just the start of all that he does around here?!! He is genuinely concerned about my well being, my happiness and my struggles. He listens to me and cares for me. And he loves the Lord.
Of course we drive each other nuts sometimes and we get on each other’s nerves, but it never lasts long because he knows exactly how to make me laugh and how to talk it through with me. And we disagree about things from time to time, but he is easy to communicate with because he is patient and kind. He treats me as his partner in life and I love him for that. I may still not be able to tell when he is being sarcastic or serious; but that usually works to his advantage (“No, really, honestly…I was just kidding, I was just being sarcastic”). Uh huh..sure.
I love him so much and I am so thankful that he has been by my side through all of it; the good, the bad and the ugly.
Right now our life is busy with little kids and work and we don’t have as much time for one another in the same ways as we used to. We miss getting out to play, explore, hike, bike, and eat out together as much as we used to, so we continue to remind ourselves that this is a season; that there will be more time for that with our family as the kids grow a bit older and everyone settles into this new family that we’ve God’s created. And that someday our kids will be out of the house and how weird will that be, and surely we will miss it!? We are looking forward to the next 10 years of our life together, and the next 20 and 30 and 40 and so on.
I had a lot of fun and some sorrow too as I looked back on photos of our life together so far. We have many pictures of the fun we had together before kids and precious moments with our children too. There were lots of selfies too; who knew we were so hip back in the day before smart phones?
Here is a glimpse at just a few of the memories we’ve made in life together so far.
Tofino, BC for our Honeymoon
Yellowstone National Park. Summer 2009
Looking through these photos it is so easy to see that we are immensely blessed in this life together! Thanks for following along.
Eli celebrated his fifth birthday this week and we are finding ourselves very thankful for him. He has many wonderful characteristics and he is a lot of fun to spend time with. Right now he loves spending his time building legos, riding his bike, jumping on the trampoline, playing at the park and spending time with the neighbors and with his friends. He is a great playmate with Luke and they can become quite engaged in imaginative play with one another. He is particularly caring and gentle with his new sister Callie.
We really enjoy watching him grow and learn. Of course it hasn’t been and isn’t always butterflies and roses; if any of you remember him as a small babe you’ll know what I mean.
I had fun perusing some photos from the last few years and reminiscing about his baby days. I am feeling particularly nostalgic because I know he will be heading off to Kindergarten this fall; and while he is ready for that, I know that I will miss him!
Let’s recap June! I have been busy busy with these three lovely little kiddos! I would love to blog more and share a bit more about what our day to day is looking like, but my day to day life just doesn’t allow any time to do so. So for now we will just take a brief peek into the past month.
In all honesty this month has been hard, but really really good too and we are starting to see some of the rewards of our hard work parenting these kids through this transition as a family.
Friday, June 10th at 7:30ish in the morning I was sitting on the couch drinking a chai tea latte, reading and waiting for the kids to wake up. (Sounds relaxing doesn’t it? Don’t worry this RARELY happens!) That relaxation came to a crashing halt when Lola (the dog) and I were startled silly as we heard our very large pine tree break and smash to the ground. The kids were still asleep, thankfully, so after a quick check on the monitor that they were okay I ran outside to see if the tree had caused any major damage. I was unable to see how far into the neighbors property it had gone so I called 911 (in hindsight maybe this was a bit unnecessary but I was kind of freaked out!) to ask them to send a police officer to check on my (very elderly) neighbors. Turns out the tree didn’t do any damage to the neighbors or their house! (Thank goodness!) Our fence was quite damaged, the raspberries took a hit, and the kids sandbox and slide weren’t in the best of shape but NO ONE was hurt!
We are counting our blessings and so thankful that the tree fell at a time when no one was in our yard; especially considering the fact that it landed directly on the sandbox which is occupied by some or all of my children for many hours of the day; especially in the summer. We’d had the tree inspected several times in years past by an arborist and even asked them about concerns that the tree was rotten. We were reassured that it was safe, but the truth is that the tree trunk was completely rotten. In the area where the tree snapped there was only the layer of bark and less than an inch of good wood; the remainder of the trunk was rotten. We can’t believe the tree didn’t fall in a wind storm this past fall or winter. We are praising God that the circumstances weren’t tragic.
Rawls tree service was able to come that same afternoon to remove the tree from our yard! They had a team of 9 men and cleaned the entire tree up in 58 minutes! It was very impressive how quickly they worked and so nice to have it taken care of so our yard was safe again.
Eli took the camera and photographed some of the damage.
I was able to get a day away with my Mom, my sister Kristin and my sister’s good friend Rachel to the Seattle area for wedding dress shopping for my sister Kristin! It was so fun to get a bit of a break and it was wonderful to share in the wedding dress excitement with my sister. She is so beautiful and she is going to make a gorgeous bride! Andy held down the fort with all three kids for the first time by himself and of course he did fantastic! They had a great day at Berthusen park; where they happened upon a tractor pull and were able to watch the model airplane club flying their planes.
We decided to get a trampoline for our backyard so the kids have another outlet for their energy. So far it has been a lot of fun! The box it came in has even gotten quite a bit of use!
We had a lovely 4th of July weekend and we hope you did as well! Eli’s 5th birthday is right around the corner and we can hardly believe it! I will be back at the end of the month to update you on how July was. Life is a lot of fun around here but it is also a lot of work with three young kids. We are doing just about as well as can be expected but we don’t get out much and we don’t have it all together! We hope to see many more of you in the coming months; thanks for being patient with us as we navigate this new season of life with three kiddos.
I am quite late getting my May in Review post out because life with a four year old and two two year olds doesn’t allow for much “free time”. Even now, there are many, many things that need to be taken care of; mostly cleaning, but I am taking some time to myself during nap to do something that I enjoy. (That should actually read, “I am taking some time to myself during nap over the course of multiple days“).
The month of May was a BIG one for us and a BIG one for our daughter Callie. Nearly every single bit of the beginning of the month was spent planning for our trip to China and planning for the boys while we were away. We then traveled for two weeks to China and returned home at the end of the month, jet lagged and exhausted but so happy to be home.
With all the wonderful weather we had in April our yard was looking so beautiful prior to our departure. I snapped a few pictures of everything just before it was about to bloom. You can also see our big pine tree in some of these pictures. Little did we know it was a completely rotten throughout the trunk and highly dangerous – just waiting to crash down in our yard. About a month later it did just that. We are extremely thankful it happened at a time that no one was in our yard. I will post some pictures from that day in my June review post.
The boys play dress up with each other often. They enjoy pretending the bunk beds are different vehicles (fire truck, UPS truck, ferry, etc). It is wonderful that they are such good friends. They have a certain fondness for the UPS man because we have Amazon Prime, so we get quite a lot of deliveries; saves me so many trips to “the big city”.
We left our home on the morning of Thursday, May 12th. It was difficult to say goodbye to the boys but we knew they’d be in good hands with my parents. We drove to Seattle, parked the car and arrived at SEATAC for our Delta flight to Shanghai. Our plane was on time and we were so excited to begin our journey. Sadly, our seats, which we had upgraded to “comfort plus” were super uncomfortable. Since we booked our tickets with less than a week’s notice we didn’t have many options for seats and we were seated at an exit in the middle of the plane. The seats must have been made differently because they felt like plywood. We even tested out a few other “economy” seats and they felt much softer (and they were much softer on the way home when we rode economy class). This led to a very uncomfortable flight since our bums were sore before we’d even taxied to the runway. When Delta emailed to see how our flight was Andy shared about the seats and they were very nice to refund us the difference we’d spent in upgrading to “comfort plus”.
We didn’t sleep much at all on the 13 hour flight to Shanghai so when we landed we were exhausted. We then went through customs, security, etc and waited to board our flight to Xi’an. It was late in Xi’an when we arrived and our bodies were dizzy, tired, confused and totally worn out. It was great to grab our bags, meet our driver and guide and get to our hotel.
We spent Saturday and Sunday morning exploring a local park, looking around the city , finding good food options, getting a few baby supplies (diapers, wipes, etc) and preparing to meet Callie.
Sunday afternoon it was time to meet Callie. It was tough waiting those last few hours. We checked and rechecked to make sure we had all that we needed then anxiously waited for the driver to come pick us up.
Callie was waiting for us and had already made friends with nearly everyone else in the hotel lobby. She was friendly to us and had a ready smile. We played with her and visited with the wonderful woman who has been caring for her over the last year and a half. Then, before we knew it, it was time to leave with her to go get passport photos and head back to our hotel.
The following day we went to the Civil Affairs Office to sign paperwork; making Callie legally our daughter.
Our good friends Amanda and Nehemiah came to visit us in Xi’an. They live in China (along with much of the rest of their family; two adult children are state side). We traveled with them 8 years ago when they moved to China. It was so wonderful to see them!
The rest of the week we spent getting to know Callie, helping her feel comfortable with us and getting out and about to enjoy some low-key sightseeing.
At the end of our first week in China it was time for us to leave Xi’an and fly to Guangzhou. The United States Consulate is in Guangzhou and it is a required part of the adoption process to stop there before you leave China to return to the U.S. Due to Thunderstorms in Guangzhou our 7:oo pm flight was cancelled along with many flights that evening. We went to the airport with high hopes to get on another flight at 11:00pm that night. We hoped and prayed that the weather would clear up so that flight wouldn’t be cancelled; this would enable us to make our morning medical appointment in Guangzhou! While I rocked Callie to sleep Andy networked with our friend Amanda, the guide agency, and touched base with Nina at CHI. How nice it was to have internet and cell service to sort all our arrangements out! Thankfully the 11pm flight wasn’t cancelled and there was room on it for us! We were able to get to our hotel by 3:30am, get a few hours of sleep and make it to Callie’s medical appointment!
We had quite a lot of free time in Guangzhou and our hotel was located directly on a subway line; which was fantastic for easy transportation. It was hot and humid but we were able to enjoy a few outings; our favorite was the Safari Park.
Our hotel was in a great location with many malls surrounding it. The hotel was actually in the same building as a mall, and there was a huge mall on either side of it. This provided us with a TON of restaurant options and access to anything we needed without ever leaving the indoors! You could just go to the basement and use the underpass to walk to the neighboring mall or subway. This was nice because it was so warm outside and also really convenient when you have a small child to take care of.
After our medical appointment and consulate appointment later in the week it was time for us to pick up Callie’s passport and drive several hours to Hong Kong. It was from Hong Kong that we’d catch our Delta flight home to Seattle. We didn’t have any time for tourism in Hong Kong; we stayed a hotel near the airport and then caught our plane the next morning. Our flight home went fine, but flying with a two year old for 12+ hours isn’t what I’d call enjoyable. Knowing we’d be home with our entire family together was so motivating and we all made it through just fine!
That is a brief review on our May 2016. My June recap will be out soon!
We actually flew home from Hong Kong just over a week ago on May 27th. After arriving in Seattle we drove home to a warm welcome from my parents and our boys. It was so good to embrace them and to see them after being away for just over two weeks. We missed the boys terribly and it was difficult for all of us to be away from one another that long.
This week we’ve kept life simple and stayed home every day. We’ve taken a few walks around the neighborhood and visited the local park once. We have been enjoying playing in the backyard and getting used to one another.
Eli, Luke and Callie are all doing incredibly well adjusting to their new normal. We are continually impressed with each of them.
Eli is a fantastic big brother. He is eager to play with both of his siblings and to lend a hand to either of them when they need it. He comforts them if they are sad and he shares in their joy. He has also been a great help to me; he even prepared snack for himself and Luke while I was busy and later told me, “I wanted to make snack because I knew you were helping Callie and that it would make you happy.”
Luke is now in a completely new role! He has always been the younger brother and now he is a big brother, though only by a few months. He has had a few rough days stemming from this transition and being away from Andy and I for so long, but overall he is also doing very well. For the most part he and Callie play just like toddlers do, alongside each other instead of with each other, but they are getting along well. We’ve had to remind him to give gentle hugs and kisses since he likes to practically pick her up off her feet when he gives her a hug.
Callie is doing fantastic. She is happy and has a wonderful personality. She loves to play with us and her favorite place to be is outside (ours too!). We have been holding her a lot and keeping her close so that she feels safe in her new surroundings. Each day she is getting more and more comfortable and venturing just a little further from us. She is learning so much every day and adjusting very well. We are so thankful that she is now a part of our family and we feel incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to be her parents; what a gift!
Guess what? We got Travel Approval this morning! I can still hardly believe it and we’ve been puzzling through when we can leave to get our daughter all day! We will request a Consulate Appointment date and see what we end up with then start booking our plane tickets, hotels, etc. We are super excited and also a bit overwhelmed with all that we need to tie up before we go. Thanks for praying for a quick travel approval, it worked!