Family picture

Family picture

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

This is the first Christmas since 2005 that we haven't been waiting for someone else to join our family!  Our children are home! 

Thank you God!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The gingerbread cookies have returned!

Working very hard to design just the right trap to
catch their cookies!

As it happened, our friend Luke stopped by yesterday morning and offered his
expertise on setting gingerbread traps.  Each year at his school, the first graders
make gingerbread men who always run away for a bit, and Luke was able
to offer valuable insight into how to best catch them!  Wonderful timing!

Carefully testing the traps

Yay!  They have returned, and the traps worked!

We are happy to report that our cookies have come home but not before they were spotted far and wide!

The grandmas kept an eye out for them yesterday but did not see them; however, many other people did!  Kevin's sister said they were by her school, our friend Cheryl called to say they were crossing a street where she was shopping, and four other people left cute comments letting us know they had also spotted them. 

Laura (our China travel buddy from Utah) said, "BTW, I think I see your missing gingerbread men in my backyard making snowmen!"

Three sweet bloggy friends also left comments saying:

Debbie:  I saw them running through the snow in our backyard in Colorado, but they were so fast I didn't have time to get my camera!

Sharon:  I saw them riding the Space Needle to view the beautiful mountains!  They looked like they were having a ball!  They said they were going to grab a Starbucks coffee before they caught their next plane ride!


Anne:  They decided to run up into British Columbia and visit us Canadians before heading back.  My little dog chased them, and as I was trying to catch her, they yelled "Merry Christmas" and ran off to their next stop!

Wow!  It seems our little cookies headed north then west in our city and then skipped west across our country and north up into Canada before heading home!  We found one lone little one at our local park yesterday afternoon, and the other three tired but happy cookies were found in our traps this morning.

Thank you to everyone who helped spot our cookies.  What a fun time we had hearing your comments. 

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Mystery! Oh My!!

Oh my!

We read The Gingerbread Man story yesterday.

We baked the gingerbread cookies, too.

Then today we discovered that 4 of the cookies
have run away!  Oh my!

Discovering the note telling us that the cookies
have run away to discover the world.  They
said they will be back before Christmas!

Where could they have gone?

Calling the grandmas to see if they have seen the cookies.

Telling Grammy all about it.

Does Grandma know where they went?  Sophia keeps saying,
"The book is right.  The book is right!"  She was listening
as the grandmas read the story yesterday!!

Three little children busy designing ways to get our cookies back!

Can you help us?  If anyone reading this post today happens to see our cookies, could you leave us a message telling us about the sighting?

I will post as soon as we have found them.

Thanks for your help.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gingerbread Houses, etc.

It has become a sweet tradition at our home during the Chrismas season to decorate a gingerbread village with both grandmas.

Today was the day!

First, both grandmas took turns reading the Gingerbread Man Story . . .

Then the decorating of the houses and cookies commenced!

We decorated,

and decorated,

and decorated some more until . . .

the village was complete

and the cookies were all iced.


Now we can sit back and relax.

I sure hope those gingerbread cookies don't decide to run away!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scenes of the season

Decorating our family tree -Yes, that really is a bed in
our family room.  It's where our oldest sleeps since we
needed his old room for Sophia!!  :)

All three of our little ones sang in the children's musical at church.
Eli is supposed to be a sheep (in the front row), but they couldn't
find his ears!  I guess he is making his own!!

Sophia, Philip, and Elijah wild with excitement over all the
holiday festivities!  So heart warming to see such joy on their faces.

To tell you the truth, having all of our children home now makes Kevin and
I want to run with reckless abandon and exquisite joy, too!

Even our big boy was in a Christmas musical which he also directed at our church.
Always a treat to hear him sing!

Elijah tenderly holding a baby Jesus doll his
Sunday School teacher had given him.  So sweet!

Participating in a Christmas party craft time with fellow homeschoolers.

Stopping by our favorite park to check out an indoor bee hive after
studying about bees in school.  The weather was perfect for enjoying
an afternoon outdoors later - one of the perks of homeschooling!

Adorable Eli in his preschool program.

Enjoying a night at the zoo with all of the Christmas lights and holiday cheer!

We are wishing you all a
Merry Christmas and happiest of New Years
from our home to yours.

It is with great joy that we celebrate this season
of Christ's birth!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quick update

I am happy to report that Elijah and Philip did very well yesterday with their ear surgery, and Philip did not have to have those horrible nose stints put in.  He just had the steroid shots and some stitches up in his nose to help it's shape.

Thank you for all of your prayers, and thank you to God for a great outcome.  Now on to the Christmas season!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Prayers for a great outcome

Posting tonight about Eli and Philip's surgeries tomorrow.  They both are needing to have their ear tubes replaced (third set), and Philip is going to receive steroid shots in his nose and lip incisions to help break down the excessive scarring taking place.  He will also have a little stitch inserted inside his nostril to help his nose shape and those stints put back in for a time.  The doctor actually wants him to keep the nostril stints in for up to 6 weeks!  Yikes!  That may be difficult to do because he is SO active all the time.

Could you please pray for wonderful outcomes for both boys as they enter back into surgery?  I realize that it is minor surgery compared to what they have undergone and what they will need in later years, but even minor surgeries turn mommy and daddy's tummy upside down.  Philip and Eli are also a little bit anxious remembering previous yucky recoveries.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A little of this and a little of that

Kevin had eye surgery last Thursday and was still home on Friday to recover.  He got to spend some lovely time with our littles helping me homeschool.  We all enjoyed this time with him.

He is doing well, by the way, and his eye is continuing to heal.

Our precious little ones at the zoo.

Complete joy!

There is a fellow Shepherd's Field mom traveling to the village soon, and she has asked fellow Philip Hayden families to send pictures of their children who once lived there to her.  She is going to design a bulletin board in the village of children now home with their forever families. 

The above three photos are some of the pictures we took of Philip to send to her.  His smile melts our hearts.  His eyes pierce our souls.  And the amazing way his coming as changed our lives leaves us speechless at times!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A time to ponder

I just had the most amazing few moments a little while ago.  I was needing to purge some of our receipts from several years ago, and as shredding them takes forever, I usually don't find time to do it often.  As my three littles were taking a break from schooling, playing in the family room, I commenced to shred as many receipts as I could in their short break from doing school work.

Curious to know which dates of receipts I was shredding, I quickly glanced at the date at the bottom half of one and discovered it was from a Marsh grocery store dated March 21, 2005.  Wow, that brought back such strong memories!

That particular month, as well as the entire year of 2005, was such a momentous time in our lives.  Our oldest son (and only child at that time) Ted was just finishing up his high school career in the spring of 2005, edging closer and closer to heading off to college.  That year from the previous December on was spent readying him to fly, so to speak, off into his young adult life. 

It was a year of letting go of Ted for his dad and me, going through all sorts of rituals to accomplish this bittersweet task which included attending the senior nights of each of his activities - choir, band, cross country, swimming, honor nights, and on and on.  Ted enjoyed his high school years and participated in so many activities, and with each one that ended, there was always a night or time to honor the seniors who were moving on. 

Kevin and I would arrive at each senior night event and shed a few private tears in our car before heading into the school.  Then we would put on our happy parent faces and march in to see our only child recognized in some way along with the other seniors.  Oh, the tears we shed as we let go little by little!  Oh, the memories that were made.  Such a precious time!

But March of 2005 was an especially exciting time for us.  Kevin and I took Ted to New York City during spring break for a graduation present. In fact, we flew out of Indy on March 28th of that year.   Ted loved NYC and had already been twice before, once when we toured during the summer after 9/11 and once when he and his dad spent a week serving in a men's homeless shelter in the heart of the city the summer before his senior year.  Both times had left deep impressions on us all. 

Seeing Ground Zero and taking in the devastation 9/11 had wrought upon the city first hand forever broke our hearts at innocence lost.  Our little family of three had traveled to NYC the summer after 9/11 to in some small way do our part to show support to all of the residents.  We will never forget that visit and what it meant to us.

Then the summer before Ted's senior year, Kevin and Ted served at the Bowery Mission - a homeless shelter for men in the heart of the city.  This trip left Kevin's heart forever committed to following Christ.  Somehow seeing men healed and following Christ after seeing how they once had been, for each person who worked at the Bowery Mission every day had once been homeless and in desperate need somehow but now had had their lives turned around in the saving grace of Jesus - seeing that transformation first hand helped Kevin realize just how miraculous a life could become after giving it over to Christ. 

Kevin, who always knew of Christ but had never really committed his life fully to him, committed his life totally to Jesus in NYC during that misison trip.  And that has made all the difference to him and to us. More on that in a few minutes!

So going back again to New York City was a sentimental journey for us all, and boy did we enjoy our visit in the spring of 2005 at the end of March.  It was a grand way to send off our only child into the world!  Little did we know God was setting things in motion we had never ever fathomed.  Little did we know that we didn't have an only child.  We just thought we did!  For in that month of that year our little Philip Bao was born on a cold spring morning on March 19th in a little village in China - half way around the world.  We did not know then what we know now!  Since that time in the spring of 2005, we have been blessed to bring home not one, not two, but three beyond precious children from China. 

Not only was our Philip just a babe that March of that receipt I happened upon this morning, but also our Sophia was about a year and a half old living with her Chinese mommy and daddy and going about daily life without a clue of things to come.  And our Elijah wasn't even a gleam in his China parents' eyes yet.

We came back from that trip, graduated Ted, sent him to college the next fall, and then our world changed!  At first Kevin and I just went through the days missing Ted so very much, but God soon used that longing for more childhood memories to take us on an amazing journey.  Looking at the receipt today stirred intense memories of what had been and what was to come.

In December of 2005 God stirred our hearts to believe that he meant to give us another child.  As 2006 came, he definitely led us into a journey to bring home a child from China.  When we received the referral information on Philip and saw that his birth date was March 19, 2005, we counted back to what might have been his conception.  Do you know what we found? 

We found that this wonderful treasure from the east was probably conceived around the time that Kevin gave his heart to Christ at the men's homeless shelter in the middle of New York City!  Oh how God works out the details of our lives when we follow him.

With all of the excitement of the last three year's worth of adoption journey memories and how very much our lives have changed course,  I don't take time often enough to remember the wonder of the beginning of this journey we have experienced.  Today, looking at those receipts from a time in our lives when WE HAD NO IDEA of the blessings to come, it just made me stop and remember the beginning.  What one little piece of paper can do!

And I am left with this thought as well whenever I remember that time in our lives back in 2005 - just as we were letting go of Ted so he could fly, a Chinese mommy, whom we will always love so dearly for choosing life, was letting go of her little son so he could fly.  That child was our Philip who was the beginning of our journey into the miraculous world of adoption. 

Our Father in Heaven, we can never thank you for the miracles of all of our children.  For the rest of our lives, we will give thanks.

Ephesians 3:20
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My girl

My sweet, sweet daughter and me!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

HaPpy ThAnkSgiViNg!

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours . . .

As I type this, our four children are piled on the sofa happily watching the Macy's Day Parade.

It doesn't get any sweeter than this!

Eyes glazed over watching the parade.

There are precious smiles - on command!

So thankful for a country where we can worship our Risen Lord the way we want!  So many places around the world that isn't the case.

So thankful our beautiful children (all four of them) are home and surrounded by their forever family - forever! 

So thankful for my amazing, loving, and giving husband who is my soul-mate and the great love of my life.  The greatest joy of our lives is following God's path together.

So thankful for our families (moms,siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins) and friends who sprinkle our lives with huge toppings of love. 

So thankful that we had dads who were so wonderful that their absence is still such sorrow.  So many people do not have that, and we will never take that for granted.  We grew up loved dearly by our moms and dads, and we treasure those relationships and memories.

So thankful that we still live in a free country.

So thankful today for so many things . . .

Wishing you a blessed day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A time of re-direction

Ted had a moment yesterday with his siblings.

Since his bedroom is now in our family room, one of the few rules he has for his sister and brothers is that they are not allowed on his bed unless he says so.  It seems they like to use his bed to catapult off of and, if given the freedom to do so, would fling themselves on it and bounce off of it several times a day.  So it is the one thing that Ted really doesn't want them to do.

But of course, they do it constantly, and he is reminding them constantly not to do it.

So last night he had just had it and said again to stop getting on his bed to his little brothers.  Thankfully Sophia wasn't doing it, but Eli and Philip were.  Ted looked at me in exasperation and asked what he could do to stop this.  His dad and I said he could take away a favorite toy for a time.  He thought this might be a good idea since he had already tried time outs and those clearly were not working.

With Ted in the lead, our two little sons followed him back to their bedroom to retrieve a "favorite toy" to be taken away.  I watched from behind and had to stiffle a giggle.  Eli and Philip looked, for all the world, like they were marching in a parade, willingly and happily following Ted.  Once back in the bedroom, I could hear our littles saying things like, "You can take this toy," or "I don't play with that one.  You can have it!"  Ted, trying very hard not to laugh, kept reminding them that he would choose, and not them.  But after a few minutes of this, he excused himself and came to ask me quietly what he should do since they obviously were not the least bit upset about this supposed punishment!  I thought he should go back in and take control and choose what he thought they would not want to do without.  He went back in and chose their pumpkin flashlights. 

Before he chose those, however, Philip offered to give Ted some money as his punishment.  Just a few days before, Elijah had deliberately torn his jeans after I had asked him not to, and so I said he would have to pay for new jeans since he had destroyed his old ones.  When Philip offered to give Ted some money (about which both littles have!), Elijah happily shared that he couldn't do that because Mommy had already taken his away! 

Honestly, it was a hoot listening to both of them and seeing Ted's flustered approach to it all.  Ted handles his classrooms and his school kids so well, but two little determined Chinese brothers can bring him to his knees!  (And truth be told, they bring their daddy and mommy to their knees as well at times! But, shhhhhh, don't tell them!). 

So, if I had to guess about the effectiveness of last night's "re-direction," I would have to say that we need to come up with different techniques.  Wouldn't you agree?

And by the way, Elijah asked me yesterday just when it was we were going to go get his new jeans!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jesus goes with you wherever you go!

Philip got to take a Jesus doll home with him recently from his children's church time.  His assignment was to document taking Jesus with him throughout the week.  Here are some pictures of his time with Jesus. 

What a wonderful way to help children visualize how taking Jesus with you all the time can make you happy and left feeling very loved.  This assignment led to many talks this week about keeping close to Jesus all the time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A school activity

One of the perks of homeschooling is
getting together with other families
for fun and educational activities.  Our homeschool
co-op calls these activity days "events."

Today we participated in a Native American
time at an area library where we played Indian games and made some of our own games to take home.

We even had a cornbread cookie!  Yummy!

The event coordinator gave each child an arrow head
which will go into my treasure box instead of each of my children's!  Go figure - now why wouldn't I let my littles have their own arrow head to have and hold!??  Philip was practically salivating over how sharp each one was!  :)


After we left the library, we headed to McD's for lunch.  An older lady sitting beside us commented on how well behaved the children were and how
you just don't see that often these days.

  (Whew - I am so glad it was today
she saw my littles instead of a few days ago!) 

Anyhoo - this very sweet lady proceeded to ask me
if I was the nanny for these children! 

Now, Kevin and I have often been mistaken
for being grandparents to our littles, but never, ever have I been mistaken
for a nanny! 

That kind of tickled me! 

I guess (wishful thinking perhaps on my part)
that being mistaken for a nanny instead of a grandma meant that
she tought I was youthful looking??

I think that is surely what she meant, don't you??

Monday, November 7, 2011

A birthday celebration and an anniversary

November 1st marked mine and Kevin's 31st wedding anniversary!  Never in our wildest imagination on our wedding day back in 1980 could we have imagined the joy God would give us in blessing us with our four precious children, three of those amazing treasures later in life!

Ted surprised us with an offer of babysitting his little siblings and paying for our night out!  What a sweet thing to do.  We, of course, took him up on the offer and slipped away yesterday evening to dinner at Outback and then took in the movie "Courageous" (which we highly recommend).  We had a lovely evening.  Thanks Ted!  That was incredibly wonderful of you to spoil us!

Below is another picture of one of our October birthday sweeties.  Eli is being sung to by his preschool teacher and class while we brought in B-Day treats for everyone.  He looks a bit overwhelmed but quickly perked up when he saw Philip and Sophia pop into the classroom.