Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

I had a truly wonderful birthday today! It is so much fun how the girls acknowledge my special day. They mimic what we do for them so I got lots of hugs, kisses, and special treatment today.

Analiese told me that it was my day so I should just relax and do whatever I wanted. She gave me some choices: sleep, watch TV or play on the computer! When I started to cook dinner she told me to "STOP"! She just had no idea what would really happen if Mom actually "STOPPED!"

When Grace asked me how old I was, I told her the year I was born and challenged her to figure out my age. Well, she did a great job of writing up the subtraction problem. When she came up with my age (no, I will NOT tell you how old I am) I took her word for it--even though I thought I was a year younger. However, as the day wore on today, I kept wondering where that "lost year" went to...I was a little freaked out thinking that I had some how lost a year. Turns out that Grace used 2010 instead of 2009 when she did her subtraction!

Did Grace listen to me? Nope...it wasn't until my Dad, Granddad Matt, called and told Grace how old I was that she finally believed me!

It wasn't the year older that bothered me so much, it was the belief that I seriously could NOT remember being the "lost" age.

Getting older is really not much fun--but enjoying my kids growing up is just priceless!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

An insider's view

Clarkdale Elementary School

The flooding last week has touched us in so many ways. I experienced not only the fear of possibly not being able to get to Sarah but the necessity of staying calm in a terrifying situation. Dave and I were out of work, the girls out of school and we lived with having to boil our water for a week. But we were lucky, luckier than so many others who lost a lot more.

Some lost so much more; their homes and others their lives. But, what has really made an impact on me has been the elementary school that was demolished in the storm. For whatever reasons, Cobb county did NOT close their schools on Monday.

As Monday wore on, the rain continued to fall and the water had no where to go. Many of the Cobb schools became unreachable, but none as bad as Clarkdale elementary school. As you can see in the above photo the school was just consumed by water. The children were able to be evacuated but they had to wade through high water to get to safety.

Being an educator is like being a part of a large family. One of our teachers received the following email from Ellen Auchenpaugh a teacher at Clarkdale Elementary School. I received permission to post it here and hope that all of you feel the power of her words.

I've been wanting to write some of this down while it is fresh on my mind. After so many years of teaching young children, my writing has become very straightforward and somewhat simplistic, but at least I will have a written record for myself and maybe others of what has happened this week.

I went to work Monday morning, Sept. 21, 2009, knowing that the trailers would be in some kind of jeopardy that day. Several years ago, they completely flooded during the summer of Hurricane Dennis, so we already knew that the water would be rising out there. Students never went out there that day - each trailer class has a "buddy class" in the building for days such as this. Non-homeroom people started right away to move items in the trailers up off the floors, just in case. There was little or no accumulating water at that point, other than the usual puddles. By the time we got to the last trailer, water was on the steps of the first ones we had done, the ones closest to the creek. So we then began to move as much inside the building as we could, including the new LCD projectors that we had only received less than a week earlier. When we ran out of space, we began to put things in people's cars, just to get it out of trailers. That turned out to be one of the smartest things we did that day. But it then began to rain, so we had to stop (and we were exhausted by then as well). The water during that time began to encroach upon the side parking lot, and was beginning to cover the back field as well. So then the trailers on the other side of the building were also in jeopardy, so we began to do the same thing over there. The whole time, the weather and the state of things were being monitored.

I don't remember it raining all that incredibly much that morning. That and the fact that water had been on the fields and parking lot before but never in the building must have made us feel somewhat safe inside the building, though the encroaching water was beginning to be a little disconcerting. By around noon, I think, you could step outside about every 5 minutes and tell a difference. Announcements began to be made for certain people to move their cars. Then an announcement was made to quickly get things up off the floor as much as possible. While I was doing that, I looked out the front window and realized that I needed to move my car, too. I waded through ankle-deep water to get to my car, and moved it up the road a little. By the time I was walking back to the front door, maybe 5 minutes later at most, buses had arrived and children were exiting out the front. I didn't even know where we were going, but it was all orderly and calm. I knew I had to quickly go back in after my purse, and when I got back to my office, the carpet was wet about halfway into the room (I'm on the end right by the side door - creekside). (Later I found out that what began as calling students out a grade level at a time ended with just line up and move out.) I grabbed my purse, grabbed a plastic trash can, retrieved my family photos, a few papers from my desk, and my album with 30 years worth of class photos and other school pictures, put my computer and the Tier 2 files on the top shelf of the highest bookcase (almost at ceiling level) and evacuated. Water was almost knee-depth by that time (in the front lot), and students were safely on the buses. I got in my car and we all headed to Garrett Middle School.

The students were amazing. Some were in the theater for hours before going home on the bus or being picked up. A teacher from Garrett is a storyteller, and she stepped up to the plate and entertained the kids. Some people with cars took the teachers who had ridden the buses back to the school to retrieve their cars, in the nick of time. We watched The Bee Movie and the students were absolutely fabulous. So were our hosts.

Most of what happened after that has been recorded on the news and in newspapers. Even at the worst of the time while we were there, no one ever suspected that it would ultimately be this bad. We were shocked at the photos on the news.

I can't even describe the feelings. I think I've experienced almost every emotion there is this week. I've had spontaneous tears numerous times, both from sadness and despair as well as gratitude and overwhelming appreciation. I've felt guilty about receiving so much stuff. I've felt guilty when things get a little frustrating, when I know that so many people have it so much worse. I feel guilty that students in other schools have also lost their homes, yet are not getting the same attention just because their school is intact. I feel bad for the host schools. They had no choice in this, either.

I want to mend things one at a time - let's get all of the living situations and basic needs met, and then let's go on with school. But it can't happen that way. We must do it all simultaneously. It's hard to be the receiver rather than the giver. One has to learn to do that with grace - it's very humbling. It's hard to accept so many wonderful gifts, but you must because you really do need it. I feel bad that we can't possibly keep up with where all of this stuff and help and support is coming from, and that there may not be a formal thank you note written. So many feelings. Just overwhelming.

At the parent meeting Wednesday night to explain the new plan, the crowd was tremendous. The support for the school by the parents was so touching. The main thing that the parents wanted to make sure of was that their children would have the same teacher. Some burst into tears when they found out that the teacher would be the constant. Maybe that should drive the budget processes. It's not the stuff or even the building, but the teacher and staff who make the difference. It's not WHAT is delivered but WHO delivers it and HOW. Hmmm..... there are some lessons here for all of us.

There have been so many stories this week that would break your heart and warm your heart. The loss for so many families is devastating. One child couldn't stay at school Thursday because she had lost her home and the picture of her daddy who had been killed a few years earlier. She went back home with her mother, who is also a Clarkdale staff member. An aunt has a small photo of her dad, and one of the other Clarkdale staff members is buying a locket so that this little girl can keep her photo with her all the time. One child came to school today with dress shoes on, and was embarrassed. Though his dad wouldn't admit that his tennis shoes had been lost in the flood and all he had left were dress shoes, we suspected differently. When we asked the child later if he had tennis shoes, he didn't. When we asked if he had food to eat, he said that the people he now lived with were sharing their food. We traced his foot on a piece of paper and the county computer guy who was installing the secretary's new computer volunteered to go shoe shopping. We gave him a Walmart gift card we had received. He came back with, in the words of the child, "way cool shoes" and returned the gift card to us. Teachers who were already exhausted from working long hours still found time and energy to go shopping after work for clothes for some of their students. Those are just a few of the stories that I can remember in my exhausted state of mind.

A not-so-small miracle: we taught on Monday at Clarkdale. By Tuesday, the building was destroyed. On Wednesday afternoon, we began to set up classrooms from absolute scratch, had another "first day of school" at two locations on Thursday, and by Friday there were reading and writing and math lessons occurring, almost as if nothing had happened. The students have textbooks and some supplies, and are all getting new bookbags with more supplies on Monday.

Of course, none of this could have happened without the help of so many people. The staffs at both Compton and Austell Intermediate have been amazing. We know that it must be like relatives moving in with you for an extended period of time that you didn't invite. We know that many people were displaced from classrooms and offices into smaller spaces because of us. We know that precious commodities like copy paper have had to be shared, and there must be numerous headaches with all of this. We know that we are an interruption in a school routine that has just finally gotten established. Yet all we feel is welcomed. People have donated things, bought things, made things, moved boxes and tables and chairs, given lesson plans, fed us, hugged us, smiled at us, given the kids a pep rally to stress that we are all a family, complete with gifts at one school and a drumline, cheerleaders and giant cardinal mascot at another (one child exclaimed, "Look at that big ROOSTER!") (The cardinal, by the way, is our mascot).

I have to commend Cobb County Schools as well. Who would have thought that we could go back to school with everyone else on Thursday? That certainly wasn't the easiest thing for us, but it happened. So much work has gone into all of this, and the planning and support and just "being there" has been great.

The outpouring of prayers, notes, love, support and stuff has been totally and completely overwhelming. We are stunned, and don't even know how to begin to thank everyone. Heroes and angels abound, my friends. I guess part of the reason that there is tragedy on this imperfect earth is so that God can reveal all of those people. My life is forever touched and changed because of them.

Because of all of the love and support, we will get through this disaster. School will go on. Lives will be rebuilt. I am praying about the future. We are so small. It was too easy in some ways to find another place for us. Economic times are tight, to say the least. Even though it would hurt greatly to demolish the old building and build a new one, it would absolutely break my heart to see Clarkdale nonexistent. We can be in a new building, even in another location. But we cannot let Clarkdale Elementary School go by the wayside because of a flood or any other reason.

I wish I could describe what it is about Clarkdale that makes it so special. People who enter the building comment on it, but no one can put their finger on exactly what it is. Even though I've seen many people come and go over my 30 years there, the spirit remains the same. There are good teachers everywhere, and good schools - I'm not at all implying that there are not. I've been around many this week. Maybe I'm a little prejudiced, I guess. Maybe it has something to do with our size - less than 450 students. I don't really know what it is. But it is something. It is definitely something. And it cannot be lost.

Please pray for our students and their families, families from other schools who have been affected, our staff, the people in our new "homes," and those who make decisions about our future.

Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow! He will be with us into the future, whatever it holds. And that is sufficient.

More to come next week, I'm sure. There will be more stories of tragedy and hope, but I know that things will get better overall, little by little. With all the help and support and prayers, it's inevitable!

What it's all about!

David found a wonderful program for all of us to watch as a family. It was a National Geographic show about odd animal relationships (you know the orangutan and the dog???). I was on the couch with the 3 girls but had Analiese in my arms. She looked up at me with those big black eyes and said, "I'm so glad I have a Mom."

My heart just melted. That child is darn amazing! She can frustrate the heck out of me but then turn around and in one short sentence make me realize what being a Mom is all about!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 3 and counting....

The fort

sleeping peacefully

Today is day THREE of no school because of the rain, floods and resulting damages.

The rain had been coming down for days but on Saturday and Sunday it just seemed as if it was never going to end. So, on Monday morning, when the 5 AM call came in that our schools were closed it came as no surprise. What was a shock was that Sarah, who is now at the private school, had to go to school--as did Dave to work!

As the rains fell Monday morning, I began to get very nervous. And then the phone call came from the university, at noon, with a recorded message indicating that due to the roads being very hazardous, everyone was being asked to NOT come to the school. WHAT???? My husband is at work and my daughter is at school!

I quickly ran to the phone to call Sarah's school. No sooner had I dialed then an email came in, from the school, indicating that we could come and get the kids early. Well, off I went with Analiese and Gracie in the car.

What normally takes 18 minutes, took us over an hour to get to the school. As the rain fell in buckets we were met by closed road after closed road. I honestly have to say I felt the stirrings of panic as I contemplated the possibility that I would NOT be able to get to Sarah.

I called Dave, in hopes that he could leave school and get her. Unfortunately he was in the middle of the campus closing and could not close. So, we pushed on. We finally got to some open roads but passed playgrounds, homes and businesses under water. We knew it was just a matter of time that the road was going to be closed.

When I pulled up to the school it was not only full of parents but the school itself was flooding! I walked through deep puddles just to get to the front door. After waiting about 20 minutes Sarah finally arrived. We then left for our trek home!

The amazing thing was by the time I got back onto the road, the rain had stopped. We then were able to see more of the dangerous waters. We even saw rescuers bringing boats to evacuate people out of their homes--this was about 2 miles from our house!!

Fortunately, the rain continued to slow on Monday and we've not had another drop. We actually had sunny skies yesterday and today. However, the damage is so great that many cannot get out of their subdivisions or the roads to some of our schools are unsafe.

It has been a challenge keeping the girls occupied. Yesterday they built a fort. I let Grace and Analiese sleep in it because we, again, had no school today. Sarah is back to school, as is Dave to work.

I sure hope we return tomorrow. The teachers have to make up all of these missed days.....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Wonderful Saturday!

Our traditional after meet photo!

A shout out to Sarah from Matthew!

Forever connected!

Oh, Analiese missed Matthew!

We love you, Matthew!

Even though we woke up to yet ANOTHER day of rain (number 5, I think!)we had expectations for a great day! We started out very early as Grace had to be at her meet by 7:45. The good thing was that it was at our gym and we didn't have too far to drive.

Grace was excited about the competition, and had been since last week's meet. She told me the other night, as I tucked her into bed, that she wished she could compete EVERY DAY! I asked why she liked to compete so much, if it was because she always did so well, or if she just liked the feeling of being out there performing. Grace said that she just liked doing gymnastics and the feel of the competition.

I took the time to then talk to her about not becoming over confident, that she, so far, has done very well but it may not always be that way and to always remember to have fun! Grace said that it was OK if she didn't win but she would always do her best. Well, I wasn't so sure that Grace would have such enthusiasm if she wasn't winning each event but I hugged her and told her that we were so glad she had found something she loved.

Well, today was a test for Grace. Even though she did her best, and scored very well, she did not place in vault! This was the first time Grace did not get called up to the podium to accept a medal. She scored a 9.00 on her vault but it was not good enough to get in the top 7! How did Grace respond? She said she was surprised but she did her best and now she knows she has to work harder! That was it....

As for the other events? 1st on bars, beam, floor and all around! Grace had an awesome beam routine. She held her handstand so long that many people in the audience were gasping and later came up to her to tell say how awesome her routine was!

I think the best part, for Grace, was that her "big sister", (a level 10 gymnast) was at the meet and was the one to give her the trophy for #1 all around! She hugged Gracie so tightly and Gracie just beamed! It was so sweet. I watched her big sister go up to the young lady who had the trophy for Grace and ask her if she could please be the one to give it to Grace. I have to say, Gracie's big sister has been so supportive of her.

After the meet, we went home to rest and get ready for next exciting event. We were meeting Matthew and his Mom and Dad for dinner! We were so looking forward to seeing him. Unfortunately, Sarah had other plans and was not able to be with us. Matthew, of course, commented on missing Sarah. I assured him that the next time we got together, Sarah would be there. He was happy about that!

I just cannot put into words the emotion I felt seeing Matthew for the first time in 3 months. It was so bittersweet. He is doing so well and I know it is because of the environment he is now in. While living with us, circumstances were such that he just was not afforded the opportunity to reach this level.

Matthew seemed to be a bit uncomfortable in how he was supposed to act around us. I can only imagine how confusing it must have been for him. I mean, we were his parents for 18 months. Now, he has new parents but, here we were and he just wasn't sure what to do. I took Matthew aside and told him how happy I was that he was doing well. I told him that we missed and loved him but, again, we were so happy he that he was happy and loved his parents! I also told him that we would continue to see and talk to him. I told him that we would call him and we wanted him to call us whenever he wanted to. He seemed to relax and understand that everything was good.

Analiese just loved seeing Matthew, whereas Grace seemed alittle more reserved. Later Grace and I discussed that even though we missed Matthew, we knew that he was doing so well because he was not with us. It is hard for Grace to understand but she is so trusting that we only want what is best for our kids that she accepts Matthew no longer lives with us.

For me, this visit was so emotional. Not a teary kind of emotional but something much deeper. I watched Matthew with his new parents, and realized that he fit, really fit. And after talking with Matthew's Dad, and learning of the challenges they have faced and seemingly conquered, being an only child has been the salvation for Matthew.

My faith in God was strengthened today. But so was my understanding that when we are called to do something it doesn't always turn out the way we envision it should. When Dave and I realized that WE were meant to bring Matthew home, we never thought, not for one second, that he was anything but our son. But, almost 2 years later, we realize that we were were never meant to be Matthew's forever family.

The journey with Matthew has been long and hard. There have been tears, stress and anger. But today, in the midst of all of the rain, a HUGE ray of sunshine burst in my heart. It was so clear that Matthew is where he is meant to be and we made the right choice for him.

We celebrated SO many successes today....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Gotcha Day Gracie!

Gracie's referral picture...don't you just want to hug her?

Grace Today...still so beautiful

Almost eight years ago, I brought up adoption to Dave. I can't say that his response was very positive. I mean, he already had 4 children. Why ever would he want to ADOPT a child? I didn't give up though. I continued to bring up the conversation, explaining why I wanted to adopt. I wanted Sarah to have a full time sibling and I wanted her to have a sister. It took awhile but Dave also came around to seeing that adoption was something he wanted also. I knew where I wanted to adopt from; China. Before I had Sarah, when I envisioned myself with a child, it was always a little Asian girl.

We ventured into the China adoption world at a time when quota's had been put into place limiting the number of families who could adopt. There were not many agencies who were accepting applications. But I had done my research and wanted to use Children's House International. To my surprise, right when Dave agreed to the adoption, CHI began accepting applications! We immediately began the process. Between collecting the paperwork, getting our homestudy completed, waiting for the INS (as they were known back then) and eventually the shut down of adoptions because of SARS it took us almost exactly one year to see our sweet Gracie's face on the computer. The rest, as they say, is history.....

SIx years ago a sweet angel walked into our lives and stole our hearts! We are forever grateful to Stefani and GInger of Children's House International who helped us bring our sweet Grace into our family. We also marvel at the wisdom of the Chinese when they matched us with little Wen Fei Zhen, even though we had requested a much, much younger child.

We cannot imagine another child in our lives. For the past six years we have marveled at how absolutely perfect we all fit together. When God placed adoption in my heart he knew that Gracie was soon to be found at the base of that mountain and she would need us to be ready for her. When we received our referral information, never, not once did we mourn not getting the baby we had requested. We knew that Grace was our daughter, no matter that she was 28 months old instead of 18 months.

Six years have flown by. Grace has blossomed from a frightened, quiet toddler into a wonderful, confident (but still quiet) young girl. We don't know what the next years will bring, but we sure are glad that we are on this journey together. We love you Gracie Feizhen!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Disappointment and Excitement

This weekend has been an extreme of emotions.

Today Sarah auditioned for a spot in the Atlanta Ballet's the Nutcracker. We felt pretty confident that she would secure a spot because she performed with them last year. Well, unfortunately, the economy has affected the ballet. The Atlanta Ballet has had to cut the Nutcracker casts from 6 to 4 as they will have less performances this year due to loss of income. So, that meant the spots that would have been open to the public (as opposed to the spots taken by the kids who dance at the Ballet's school) were cut.

We did not know any of this before we decided to audition. All of this information was given to us right before they took the kids into audition. So, when Sarah emerged from the audition, she looked at me with sad eyes and shook her head "no". Needless to say Sarah was disappointed (and my heart broke for her) but after we spoke and she realized that not being chosen had NOTHING to do with her dancing ability but it was all about the economy she felt better. But, she is angry with President Obama because he hasn't done what he promised. She wants the economy to do better so she can perform with the Nutcracker. Hmm...maybe she should write to him so he can view the world through the eyes of an innocent 11 year old. I mean, she is being affected now by the economy and certainly will have to pay for his fiscal decisions in her future.

On the other hand, Grace had her second meet on Saturday and once again, just amazed us all! She took 3rd place in the vault, 1st in beam, bars, floors and all around! She increased her all around score from the last meet--from 36.75 to 37.17! So, once again Grace came home with 5 medals!!!

It was a little scary for us, because during warm-up Grace landed on her head during her bar dismount and immediately burst into tears! We thought she had hurt herself but after the meet she told me she cried because she was so frustrated that she ruined her dismount!! I thought for sure the meet was going to be a wreck for her. But, Grace bounced back and once again, enjoyed herself and it showed!

Because Grace has scored above a 32 on these past two meets she has qualified for the State meet in December. We sure hope she continues to do well and places well at State.

We are so proud of both girls. Proud of Grace for doing her best and proud of Sarah for not only being brave enough to audition for the Nutcracker but to take the disappointment in such a mature way.

The silver lining? We will be able to watch the Nutcracker as a family this year. And next year? Hopefully the economy will be better and the Ballet will be able to add back the performances. Sarah will certainly be there to audition--she's not ready to hang up her ballet slippers yet!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Birthday Celebration

Let's start with the cards.

Oh, this one is purple and has a star!

Kai Lan!!

Oh, a password journal that I can keep from my sisters!

An Ice cream cake with cookies and cherries!

I'm not going to waste any breathe!

Hope my wish comes true!

What a great day! We got to celebrate Analiese's birthday today. She received several checks from relatives so off we went to Walmart. Analiese tried to tell me about this iCarly item that she wanted. I had never heard of it, nor had I seen the commercials that had sold Analiese on this so we had a slight communication problem!

We walked the aisles at Walmart in hopes that this iCarly item would just "be" there. Well, it wasn't! So we walked some more...and then we walked some more! Oh, there were a few items that Analiese picked up but they weren't things that would have held her interest for very long. So, back on the shelf they went.

There are some things that Analiese loves; drawing, writing, singing and anything electronic! I tried to talk her into combining her money to buy a Nintendo (she has a Leapster but is always borrowing her sisters' Nintendos). Analiese said, "No, Santa is going to bring me that."

We eventually found our way over to the toy clearance aisle and found absolutely NOTHING that fit Analiese. Tomorrow we will hit Target! It's fun to allow Analiese the freedom to choose but boy-oh-boy how overwhelming it is for her to have so many choices! I'll narrow the field down for her and we'll walk away with some awesome things!

Analiese did get a Ni Hoa Kai Lan doll. She is purple (Analiese's favorite color) and has the character for "giggles" on her shirt. How perfect for my little Chinese princess! She loves Kai Lan and it is so great to be able to give her a doll that looks like her!

We did get Analiese a "Password Journal." This is a great gift in so many ways; she can keep it a secret from her sisters and she has blank paper, lots and lots of it, to write or draw on! Some day, I hope, Analiese will be a great author or illustrator!

The last gift is that we are redoing Analiese's bedroom. It will be purple (of course!) with some green and pink stripes. We will go back to the Tinkerbell theme; I bought some pictures of Tinkerbell that I will frame and hang up. Granddad Matt and Grandmom Eileen bought some wooden letters that spell out Analiese's name and we will put them up for her. I'm sure the room will look just adorable.

Happy Birthday Analiese, our family is so much better for having you as a part of it--what DID we do without you????

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy 7th Birthday Analiese!

Today Analiese turns 7 years old! It is so hard to believe she is that old! We are going to celebrate as a family tomorrow but Analiese did get to celebrate at school with cupcakes and the PE coaches playing the Beatles birthday song for her during gym class!

I woke Analiese up by singing happy birthday to her and of course the rest of the family made a big deal out of it being her day. The best part was when I was driving the kids to school and Analiese said, "Mom, it makes my heart sing when everyone tells me happy birthday!"

Oh Analiese, Happy Birthday Baby and let your heart sing, sing, sing. We love you!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My kids are growing up!

My girls are changing, right before my eyes! Analiese came home today and told me that she and her teacher talked about "self-control". Oh my! That means my sweet Analiese is talking ALL of the time and her teacher is tired of competing with her! I hate to give Analiese a consequence for "talking" at school but I know I must, to not only support her teacher, but also to help her learn compliance.

So today, Analiese lost her TV watching privilege. With most children that would make a HUGE impact. With Analiese? She just moved on to the next thing--drawing and coloring. This is one of the best things about Analiese...she loves life! There is always something wonderful to do; watching TV, riding her bike, reading a book, doing homework, talking to anyone, dancing, talking, singing...We ALL need to take lessons from this sweet one---enjoy EVERY minute!

Grace? What can I say? She continues to amaze me in her ability to juggle her gymnastics with school! She learned a new skill today--she was able to do a forward tuck! She was so excited--but then, turn around and her level of enthusiasm was the same when she learned how to do a word search on the computer for her spelling homework! She is the most "even" person I know. I need to take a few lessons from her!

Now Sarah, of course, is changing the most! Her level of understanding of human nature amazes me. On Friday, she received a note in her locker from a boy in one of her classes. He wrote to tell her how much he liked her. Sarah was so touched, even though she doesn't share his feelings. She asked me what I thought she should do and I gave her the "mom" opinion. Sarah decided to write back to the young man. She thanked him for the note and told him how sweet it was that he liked her. She didn't ignore him nor did she "lead him on" to believe that she felt the same about him.

Having Sarah in middle school is showing us how we have done as parents! She is sensitive to others, a great time manager and an eager learner. Sarah is an awesome kid and we are so blessed to call her our daughter!

Sarah, Grace and Analiese are as different as different can be. However, there is a common thread they share...they are confident, independent and loving children! These girls are amazing and continually challenge me to be the best mom I can be. I sure I can live up to the challenge!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Final weekend of summer

Falling is not going to hurt this one!

Go Analiese, GO!

Even though the calendar says summer does not end until September 21st, this weekend has been the traditional end of the season. The weather was beautiful today, which allowed us to spend some time at the pool. It was so crowded so we didn't stay very long.

We really just enjoyed the long weekend as a family; playing Wii, watching movies and relaxing. The girls were happy they didn't have dance or gymnastics! Sarah did have to work a bit on some homework but not so much that she wasn't able to relax.

Dave did start working with Analiese to teach her how to ride a two-wheeler. He took her training wheels off and right away Analiese got the hang of keeping her balance! She was determined NOT to get hurt and covered every possible part of her body with pads or a helmet! What a kid!

Since we've been back to school for several weeks now, not so much will change for us. The girls have been into their fall schedules and we seem to have a good rhythm going. Some days Sarah is pretty stressed because of her homework load but we are working through that.

I just cannot believe that summer is over. It seems that we just got out of school and were planning our trip to Disney! I know that before I'm ready, Halloween and Thanksgiving will be here!

Next weekend the pool closes, so in between a gymnastics meet, dance rehearsal and auditions for the nutcracker, we'll try and swim one more time!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Where is the time going?

Gosh, I feel like just yesterday it was the weekend and we were enjoying being at a pool party and now, well, it's Wednesday already!

We had a very busy Saturday but were able to relax at a friend's house to celebrate her daughter's 7th birthday. The kids had a great time with their homemade "wipeout" in the pool.

On Sunday it rained so Dave dug in the basement and found the EASY BAKE OVEN! What fun making tiny chocolate chip cookies and melting marshmallows. The girls couldn't believe that a lightbulb actually could cook something!

And of course Sarah couldn't resist putting the giraffe hat on Clarence. It was quite comical when he spotted his reflection in the oven door. He kept looking at the "other cat" and even tried to locate him under and around the corner!

On another note, we knew that on Monday Matthew and his new family were due in court to finalize his adoption into their family. I expected to have mixed emotions and indeed I did (and do). However, when Dave called Matthew's new dad he was so jubilant that we couldn't help but be happy for all of them!

So, today it was with tremendous pleasure I visited Matthew's family blog. In an email thanking us Matthew's Dad invited us to follow them on their blog. Reading the posts, I felt such a peace knowing that Matthew is right where he is supposed to be. He is doing so well and is loved so much. What a testament to how awesome God's plan has turned out to be!

We will always love Matthew and always consider him to be a part of our family. The girls still consider him to be their brother and from what his Dad says Matthew speaks of us and the traditions he shared with us. We have made an impact on each other's lives and nothing will ever change that.

In the words of Matthew's new dad, "Is Matthew the perfect child? Oooh, no. But we don't know how we have done without him. We feel like he is the perfect fit." And that just says it all.