Monday, November 28, 2011

The Joy In Each Day {A Post of Thanksgiving}

I have so much to be thankful for today (and always for that matter).

For this man who leads our home and loves all our girls with this over-protective fatherly love.

For these girls who delight me with their love, joy, and exuberance for life.

For the tender kisses.

For the crazy moments.

For the memories we are making.

I'm relishing and thanking God for it all, for tomorrow these memories will be gone and there will be new ones in their place.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Second Blog Anniversary & Giveaway

Last week I hit year two of blogging. What an amazing journey this has been.

I look back on my writing and I can see that I have grown much as a writer this year. My mom always told me that practice makes perfect, and in this case it really has. Well I'm not perfect but you know what I mean! :)

The friendships I started two years ago have grown deeper and I've also met many new friends. I've learned, changed, and grown along this journey.

For those of you following along since the beginning, I have changed in that I haven't done as many giveaways this year as in the past. The main reason for that is that I truly enjoy sharing with you. I want people to read my blog for what it is, not for the giveaways. I like the personal aspect of blogging and I feel in some ways, when one does only giveaways (or a lot of them), that is lost.

It's been a fun break to step back from that area of blogging a bit. I think most of you are okay with that too as my readership has grown. Don't worry, I'm not done altogether with giveaways, instead I just plan to be selective in the ones that I do.

Today because I really do enjoy the joy in giving and because I wanted to thank you for being here, encouraging me, and supporting me along this journey, I have a $50 Visa Gift Card to giveaway to one of you.

This is my first time ever using Rafflecopter for an entry, so feel free to let me know if you experience any glitches and if you like it! Also because it is Thanksgiving week, I will run this giveaway until Monday, December 5, 2011.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On Meeting Natasha

I got to meet me new niece Natasha yesterday. Sigh...I am in love. She is even more beautiful than the pictures I have seen of her.

She is my second little niece and I can say I am just as in love with her as I am India. She was so sweet, calm, and adorable!! I also loved that hair!!

Speaking of India, she also was there to meet her new cousin Natasha and it was so crazy busy I forgot to have someone take a picture of me with my two nieces, but we did make sure we got a picture of the 5 granddaughters or 5 cousins in order from oldest to youngest. With 5 girls under the age of 4, we were working fast and trying to get all to look at the camera at the same time. This was the best picture I got! :)

From left to right: Zoelle, Meridian, Xiomara, India, Natasha

I also got a picture with each of my girls holding Natasha and Chris holding her. Being that she lives states away, it may be awhile before we see her again, so I wanted to make sure I took pictures galore! In the meantime, I'll savor each of these pictures!

Are you an auntie? If so how many nieces/nephews do you have? Do you cherish each of them like I do my two nieces?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

{Almost} Worldess Wednesday: Girl Time

This is my best friend of almost 15 years. We met when we were 13 and have been friends since then. She now lives states away from me, but whenever she comes home to visit, we make a point to have girl time. Love her like a sister and so thankful for her in my life!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reflecting on Xiomara

Dear baby girl,

It's November and November is National Adoption Month so I wanted to write a little letter to you.

I can't even begin to imagine what life would be like without you. Tonight as we were tucking all three of you in, your two sisters were both crying. I looked down at you, and there you were smiling with all that is in you that beautiful smile of yours back at me. I turned to your daddy and told him, "I know that no matter what is happening in our home, I can always look to Xiomara to put a smile on my face".

When we were waiting for you, we prayed that God would send us a little girl who was full of joy. That she would light up the room and charm everyone with her personality. That you do little peanut. That you do.

Snotty nose and all, we love you!

If you weren't here in our lives, it would be a lot dimmer. I wouldn't be feeling the pain of a fat lip from you head butting me? kicking me? in your sleep last night. :) I wouldn't get to hear you and Meridian squeal to each other as you fight yet again over another doll. I wouldn't get to see the pure delight on Zoelle's face as you give her those big smooches you do everyday to her!

And your daddy, he would not have that sparkle in his eye that I see him have every night when he looks across the table at you. As for me, who would I talk about to your daddy every night as I tuck you into bed and stare into your beautiful brown eyes? Whose little milk chocolate skin would I be able to massage each day just because I know she loves massages? Who would I be able to whisper to when no one else is listening but you, "You are so beautiful Xio. I love you. God has great plans for your life."

I'm so thankful that you came into our lives after two years of waiting. You were worth every second of that wait. Every agonizing minute of wonder. Every tear that poured down my face.

You were worth it.

You are worth it.

Adoption is worth it.

I love you Xiomara Marie.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best!

Is it their puzzles like my girls love? Or the art supplies? Or perhaps it is the art easel that my girls are getting for Christmas ('s a surprise)?

Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll". You'll get a Melissa & Doug 25% off coupon to use at just for voting!

There is no better time to shop at a discount then now during the Christmas season! So go vote today!

Disclosure: I receive a Melissa & Doug shopping credit for posting about this promotion.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Unadoptable is unacceptable!

I don't often blog about them, but I have 11 adopted younger siblings all through the foster care system. I grew up with one older biological sister and when I was 18, my parents adopted a sibling set of three. Two years later, they adopted a sibling set of six. Shortly before we adopted Xiomara, they adopted a sibling set of two.

I definitely have a heart for foster care. I will do anything I can to promote it. Thus when I recently got an email from the Dave Thomas Foundation For Adoption asking if I would share this video on my blogs, I said yes.

Because November is National Adoption Month. Because I love them. Because there are others like them who still need a family.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 Things I Love About My Big Sister On Her 30th Birthday

My big sister turns 30 today. I've been wanting to write this post to her for a long time, but every time I sit down to write it, I get teary and my brain locks up just thinking of so many memories with her. I'm truly not sure I can communicate with words how much I love and appreciate her. I'm trying my best though with 30 things I love about her.

1. You make me laugh. You have since day one I'm pretty sure and I love that!
2. You have stood up for me even when no one else around me did.
3. You may be just as crazy, strange, odd, and effervescent as I am! ;)
4. My favorite memories are when we made up a "knocking code" between our rooms. I would look forward to hearing your knock each night.
5. Of course memories of hiking in the woods/fields, and swimming together are at the front of my mind as well.
6. I have looked up to you my whole life and I'm proud of it. You are a pretty amazing person to look up to.
7. You are just as beautiful on the inside as on the outside.
8. You gave me my precious niece India.
9. You are very crafty. There really is not a thing you can't do.
10. I LOVE when we sing together. Pretty sure our voices were meant to perfectly harmonize.
11. You are always creative. Whenever I need an idea on something, I go to you.
12. It has been so much fun to be mommies together with our little girls. Something I will cherish forever.
13. I love listening to you play piano and sing.
14. Your endurance to stay healthy/exercise has pushed me to do the same in my life.
15. You ran a 5K alongside me to encourage me, with a babe strapped on you...pretty awesome if you ask me! :)
16. You love my girls as if they are your own. This makes me cry (in a good way).
17. The love and compassion you have for people is incredible!
18. You are an example to me of showing love to everyone no matter what and not judging.
19. I know that no matter what, I can always trust you.
20. You married Dallas, who is a perfect guy for you and a pretty awesome brother-in-law.
21. You have challenged my thinking on many things. Challenge is good.
22. I have learned so much spiritually from you.
23. You are a great writer. I've learned a lot from your blog this year.
24. You encourage me constantly whether you know it or not.
25. I love your enthusiasm for life! It is contagious!
26. You are always the life of the party!
27. You love India with everything in you and I've been so proud to watch you be mama to her. You do a beautiful job!
28. You make a perfect big sister to 12!
29. You give of yourself freely.
30. I love that you are my big sister!

I love you Genevieve! Have an amazing birthday!! By the way, I'm glad you turn 30 before me so you can tell me what it is like! ;)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Zoelle's New Adventure

Zoelle has taken on a new adventure this fall. It is something she has begged me for a long time to be able to do. Typically, I would not start her so young, but because she was asking and because I figured it could fit as part of our homeschooling, I said yes.

The adventure: piano lessons.

I teach piano lessons each week to about a dozen students. I've been teaching for eight years now, after taking lessons for eleven years or so. I teach children of any age and in the past, I've even taught adults. I do think piano comes a bit easier for children when they can read the instructions themselves, but being that I am her mom and teacher, I decided to go ahead and start with Zoelle.

She has a 15 minute lesson every week and she beams that entire time! It has been so much fun for Chris and I to see the joy on her face and her talent in piano come forth this year. I'm looking forward to seeing where she goes with this and if that joy stays. Remember I've taught for a long time and took lessons myself, so I know that most likely there will be a time that she doesn't love it. Thus I'm capitalizing on today!

We have also been talking lately about having Zoelle start violin lessons. Chris took violin lessons for years and plays quite well, although no one really knows because he is pretty shy about it. We haven't made an official decision on when exactly she will start violin, but we do know that our girls will all learn piano and violin since we both have that ability to teach them.

Where they go from there in their musical abilities is up to them. I only know it will be fun to see where the future leads them and cheer along with them as they all begin these new adventures.

Did you play an instrument growing up? Do your kids play anything? If so what?