Thursday, December 31, 2009

The new year is just hours away. As I look back on 2009 I realize we all went through lots of changes and learned lots of lessons.

Our biggest challenge has been going from a family of six to a family of five. Saying goodbye to Matthew was hard but the benefit has been immeasurable. What could have torn our family apart has brought us closer. Our girls have learned some hard lessons about people, honesty, trust and faith.

Sarah's move from elementary school to middle school has been full of changes and challenges. Dave and I made another tough decision to move Sarah into a private Christian school. The anticipation through the summer was awful. Sarah was convinced she would never make another friend and we had ruined her life! The reality? The new school fits Sarah like a glove! She has proven to be not only a good time manager but quite adept at fitting in! The changes have been so positive and we are so pleased with the education, both academically and spiritually, that Sarah is getting!

Analiese's changes have been more of a challenge. As we continue her cleft treatment, that now has moved into orthodontics, we've confirmed what we suspected all along; Analiese is at least a year younger than the age given to us by the Chinese. Even though she has risen to the academic challenge, and even surpassed it, the emotional one has been more of an issue. We realize that even though her birth certificate indicates a seven year old, she really is more like a very early six year old! We work hard at keeping our expectations for her at an age appropriate level. On the other hand, she is so darn smart! Her mastery of vocabulary is incredible and she is reading so well!

The year for Grace has been nothing short of a whirlwind! Her gymnastic talent is undeniable and everyone is just in awe of natural ability! Her first year of competition has been just incredible ending with a first place, out of 270 athletes, in the GA state level 4 championship! Her training schedule has changed to include mornings at the gym and late arrivals at school. The changes continue as Grace will participate in an elite training clinic with the National Gymnastics Team this weekend! Her schedule will change and she will move from level four starting next week. Final decisions have not been made as her coaches are so concerned to not do too much, too soon! Grace has the potential to compete Nationally and one day be part of the US Olympic Team! Our job is to not only support her but to keep her grounded and to reinforce the importance of education!

Dave has finally been given the promotion he has so deserved! He is now the Assistant Vice-President of the Library! It's a well deserved promotion but one that has added a little stress to our family. Since we don't have family close by to help us with the kids we really have to balance our schedules. Dave must now attend more meetings, do more traveling, and has less flexibility in his schedule.

My change has been mixed. I was informed, at the end of the last school year, that I would be moving schools. I was devastated, for many reasons. The girls were attending a school that was not their home school because it was where I worked. We now had to decide if we wanted to move the girls. We could have moved them to our home school, to the school where I was going to be or just keep them in place. Not one of those choices appealed to me. I did not want things to change! In the end we kept the girls at the same school. I've had to adjust in so many ways. Even though the change has been positive in so many ways for me it has not been without challenges. I am so grateful that the principal I work for has been so flexible in allowing me to not miss some of the more important events; parties and celebrations!

So what do we look for in 2010? Hopefully as much happiness as we have had in 2009! Sarah continues to enjoy dance and we will support her in her upcoming competitions. Sarah is also talking about becoming a cheerleader for next year and we will be there for all of those games also! Grace will train for not only her next competitive season but also the chance at attending the National Training Camp in Texas with the Karolyi's! How exciting will that be! Analiese will get her braces, begin piano lessons and continue to touch so many lives! She is our brightest star and we thank god every day for having her in our lives!

We can't forget the boys; James will graduate high school and the twins move into their junior year at GA Tech with internships and decisions.

Dave and I will continue to work to be the best parents we can be. However, we hope to spend a little more on couple time.

On a more individual note...I remember, years ago, praying that each new year would grant me the wish I wanted most...a child. God granted me that times over! What I want in 2010 is the guidance to know how to be the best Mom to a middle schooler, to an elite athlete,and to a spirited-child!

We welcome the New Year and anticipate that it will be full of lessons, love, and challenges. We shout out to Matthew that we love him and are just waiting for the day that we can, once again, be an active part of his life.

Happy 2010 to all of you!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Tradition

Every Christmas, since Sarah has been a baby, we've opened one gift on Christmas Eve night. It started out as a special gift from me but has evolved into new christmas pajamas! The kids know what the gift will hold but still are so excited to open the box to find out what their 'jammies look like!

This year the elves gave the girls new pajamas on Tuesday night so the girls thought that "maybe" their Christmas eve gift was going to be something other than pj's. Surprise--two new pair of pajamas!

The excitement level has been so high all day today. We've called NORAD several times to find out where Santa is in his travels, we've checked the NORAD site and finally agreed that Santa won't come until everyone is in bed asleep!

I never grow tired of the excitement this holiday brings. Nothing is better (OK, meeting your child for the first time is better) than seeing the girls open their gifts Christmas morning! Only a few more hours and the house will be just full of surprise and more excitement. How blessed we all are to be able to celebrate together.

So, to quote Mr. Moore...."the children were all nestled all snug in their beds...." "Good night to all and to all a Merry Christmas!"

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Fun

The holiday fun started last week for all of us. Yes, the girls were still in school but there were LOTS of fun activities. First Grace and Analiese celebrated Holidays around the world (public school, very politically correct) then there were the parties on Thursday and on Friday they both wore their pajamas to school to enjoy the Polar Express. I was so lucky to be able to be at BOTH parties.

Sarah, on the other hand, as a middle schooler, doesn't get to enjoy those types of activities anymore. But, she did get to do some celebrating. In history her class was studying ancient China. Needless to say Sarah had lots to share. We were able to get one of our former teachers (from the Chinese school) to come and talk to Sarah's class on Tuesday. Dave was also able to attend. On Wednesday the class enjoyed some foods from China--we made some vegetable fried rice!

Since then we have been going, going, going. Tonight we slowed down a bit and made some goodies. We dipped strawberries, bananas and pretzels in some chocolate. Yummy--we can't wait to taste them!

Christmas shopping is done, wrapping is almost done and Grace only has 2 more days at the gym. Santa is just waiting to bring all of the gifts to the girls.

Speaking of Santa, he sent a video message to each of us. What fun it was hearing our names and seeing our photos. If only I had thought to video tape Analiese as she watched Santa open his book to check her "page"! It was priceless.

If you are interested in creating a special video message, go here and watch the wonder on your child's face.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

And the State Champion is

Grace Evans! Not only did Grace win first in her age division, she took first place out of 247 athletes!!!

Grace took fifth on vault (9.175), first in floor (9.70), bars (9.60), beam (9.50) and first all around (37.975). Her goal was a 38.00 all around! She had such a fantastic competition. It was obvious she was confident and having fun during the entire meet.

Grace's team also won first place--out of 34 teams. The girls had a great season and the state meet was just the venue to show how hard they've worked. It was so much for all of the girls!

Now that the level 4 season is over Grace will move from the team. We aren't sure where the coaches will place her but know that she will be working on new skills after the Christmas holidays!

This past weekend the team had their end of season celebration. We had a party and sleepover at the gym. The girls had the gym to themselves and loved just having fun. Even some of us Moms got into the activities. We did the vault--I was even able to flip onto the mats. I also tried the beam, I didn't do much because I hardly had any balance and felt like I was up so very high off of the ground!

The girls did not go to sleep until 3:30 (yes they played from 7:30-3:30) and then we had to be up by 6:30! Needless to say we had a bunch of very tired little girls on our hands. Grace I got home and went right to bed. I had to be up by 9:30 so I could go watch Sarah's dance performance but Grace slept in until 11:00 AM.

Grace then had to turn around and come BACK to the gym at noon so one of the coaches could video her doing the level 4 routines. This coach is doing a training clinic in Mexico over Christmas and needed a gymnast who could do the routines very cleanly. Even after very little sleep Grace knocked out the video piece in less than an hour!

We are so proud of Grace. Not only for how well she did but for how supportive she has been of her team and how humble she is about her talent.

I guess she doesn't need to brag....Dave and I do it enough for all of us! Wouldn't you????

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Great Give away!

I have been reading the blog Kelly's Korner for almost a year now. I started when Harper was born and put in the ICU. I prayed for the family and have continued to follow Harper through her first year.

Today Kelly has a wonderful give away---a new HP computer!!! Go check out the site and see how awesome this computer is. I'd love to upgrade.

UPDATE: More HP give aways: Boomama also has a giveaway and Jen has one also, as does Stephanie


Thursday, December 3, 2009

need a blog update?

Jamie has done a great job updating some blogs. I'm hoping to get a free header from her. Maybe I'll learn a thing or two???

Go take a look here

The final meet of the year

We leave for Moultrie tomorrow for Gracie's state meet. She won't compete until Saturday evening but we are taking the weekend to celebrate her hard work. We booked a hotel MONTHS ago that wasn't even completely built because it was going to have an indoor pool (not to mention NEW--which I like). Thank goodness it was finished in time--not sure where we would have slept!

So, the girls will go to school 1/2 day tomorrow and then we'll make the 4 and 1/2 hour drive to Moultrie. I'll paint the windows with good luck slogans and we'll count yellow cars and volkswagen bugs all the way there (it's 2 points for a yellow car, one point for a bug, 30 points for a YELLOW bug!).

At the end of practice tonight the level 6-10 girls (and coaches) all stood in a line, holding hands (like a pyramid) so our level 4 girls could all run through it. The whole time they were hooping and hollering! Yes, I got chocked up to watch the comraderie.

Grace got some sweet gifts; her big sister gave her some balloons and flowers and her TOPs teammates gave her a necklace and stuffed teddy bear. Grace is SO excited.

Stay tuned and we'll post results on Saturday night.