Saturday, June 19, 2010

Audrey's 8th Birthday "Baby Animal" Party!

My sweet girl turned 8 years old! She has always loved anything tiny! Tea sets, toys, and animals. So she decided to have a Baby Animal Party. It was so fun planning this special surprise for her!

When I took this picture before the party - little did Audrey know that she would soon be playing with a baby goat, bunny & chick!

My wonderful friend's daughter Cassidy "showed" the baby animals. She's very involved in the 4-H club. She actually helped birth these baby goats. Thank you, you darling girl!

Audrey got to name this baby goat. She thought and thought, then decided on "Popsicle".

The world's calmest bunny!

A "teenager" chicken

Some of Audrey's sweet friends

Monday, June 7, 2010

Slip N Slide Smiles

We have had a great start to our summer! We have had nice, hot weather - perfect for the pool! And, perfect for the Slip N Slide in the yard!

My four darling kids!
Tess 4, Audrey 8, Will 9 & Blake 10

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tess at School

Tess continues to make leaps and bounds in her English! She has little phrases she uses all the time. Like, "Last time..." "But Mommy..." "I'm too little to do..." "That's too tricky for me!" Sweet baby girl!

As I am typing this she is doing a puzzle and singing at the top of her voice, "The Ants go Marching Down" I have a couple of pictures I took last Friday of Tess at her school. She started going to pre-school in January. It's one day a week for 3 hours. I call it "puppy class". There are more speech pathologists and PT's than kids! We're so sad it's over! Her last day is this Friday.

But, we are so ready for summer here at our house! One more week!
All smiles with her Strawberry Shortcake backpack!

What a cutie pie!

Blake went on a pretend "Missions Trip" to Africa with his class at school. He did "security".

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I have been going through the zillion pictures I took in California. This is not the best one, but it made me laugh. We were having a "photo shoot" on the beach and they were all getting winey. So, I said, "Who wants candy?" The three big kids straighten up real quick and faked being snuggled and cute. But Tess jumped infront, raised her hand and yelled, "Meeee"!

We're Moving!!

A major monumental change is about to occur in our lives. We are selling our home and moving a whole 5 miles away! Crazy?! Here's how it all has happened...

For the past couple years, after I drop the kids off at school, many times I take a "scenic route" home and just drive by different pieces of land. We have always thought it would be cool to build a house on a few acres someday. As crazy as it sounds - about a year and a half ago I just started knocking on people's doors. If there was a raw chunk of land, I would go to the nearest house and try to find out who owned it. I had a TON of people tell me they would sell us some acreage, but there was always a problem with it. Too rocky, a flood zone, an easement through it, etc. One time the property was actually too close to an "ancient" cemetery and could not be built on w/in so many feet of the graves. Spooky!

Anyway, on one such day in October of 2008 I drove down a gravel driveway that lead through trees and found a little house tucked back in about 1/4 mile off the road. I went up and knocked on the door. (Yes, I am very nervy!) The sweetest people in the world came to the door. I asked it they would be interested in selling their land. They told me that their kids (who are our age) had moved to Colorado and they had sometimes talked of moving there. The women actually said, "I have always said that the only way I would leave this place was if someone came up and knocked on my door!" And so started our relationship with the beautiful 7 acres of land.

Now the problem was we were in limbo with Russia at the time. We thought we were heading to go get "Tess" (the abstract Tess) at any time. The couple told us to take our time and keep them informed. In the past year and a half we have visited them about 5 or 6 times. The kids have been there and played in the woods. It just seemed right, you know? We really feel like God lead us to the land - obviously!

So, last Friday we put our house up for sale in this crazy housing market. On Saturday we had a couple come look at it and said they're very interested. We have also had about 5 other phone calls and emails. So, we'll just wait and see. It is so extremely hard to leave our house in many ways! We LOVE our neighbors! Our kids' sweet friends live here. My girlfriends are here. We have the consolation that we will only live 5 miles away. But, it's not the same and just walking across the street. Plus, our blood, sweat and tears are in this house! We have changed every single room top to bottom. Literally! Plus, when we moved here Blake was 2 1/2, Will was 16 months and Audrey was 10 days old! This has been our life for the past 8 years. Just brings a lump to my throat.

We are praying the Lord will bring the perfect family to live here and enjoy it as much as we have. And we feel confident this is the right move at the right time. Tess is nice and settled. That would not be an issue at all.

We are trying to sell it "By Owner" first. I have tried to do my own adverting. So, what better way than the start a BLOG?? We have it printed on signs all around town. I wish I could know how many people have gotten on and looked at it. If you would like to check it out it is:

Seriously, God is so good to us. I just cannot believe that we have the chance to live in such a beautiful piece of His creation! If everything goes as planned, we will be building a house around the existing house. We need bedrooms and a family room. It will be a very interesting challenge. Rob has a ton load of ideas running through his mind.

If you know of someone in the Kansas City area wanting to buy, send them our way! Our house has 4+ bedrooms and our yard is one acre. Then, direct them to our house blog!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

San Diego

It's been way too long since my last post! Oh my goodness! So much going on! We took a vacation to San Diego a couple weeks ago. It was perfect! Tess loved it. It took her a couple days to used to being "dirty" with all the sand. She loved the pool and ocean. Although she really threw a fit the first few times I put shorts on her, she ended up telling me, "Me likes short pants!" I took over 700 pictures. I know it's crazy! But, you just have to capture the moments!! I really haven't had a chance to go through everything. So, here are a couple that each tell a story. I'll post more soon.

About 30 minutes after we took this picture we felt the 7.2 earthquake in Mexico. It lasted about 30 seconds. It felt like we were standing on a dock in very wavy water. Turned out it was a big one, but we actually didn't know to be impressed!

It took Tess a while to figure out that the tide stopped at a certain spot. She just kept running...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Preparing For Warmer Weather

Finally some nicer weather! Tess was able to go to the "tornado slide park", as we call it, and go down the big 'ol slide. The first time I went down that slide I "made a train" with 16 month old Will, 2 1/2 year old Blake and I was 9 months pregnant with Audrey. Those were the days!! This was a much different 1st. You'll notice I was the one taking the picture and my kids did most of the mothering on that first trip down the tornado slide.

We are planning a trip to California in a few weeks. Our first family of 6 vacation. Tess is such a good girl. We'll have so much fun! But, because she has never been in the US when it has been warm, I have been slowly preparing her for what lies ahead. And this is why: A while ago Tess and I were looking at a book and a boy was wearing shorts. Tess said, "Uh oh! Boy's pants broken!" So, I know there are going to be MANY things that are confusing for her. So today I got out some girly capri pants and a tank top. Tess said, "Tess no like that. That too little for Tess." So, I got out another summer outfit and let her "pick" which one she wanted to wear. She picked the first one. ;) She kept pulling the legs down and saying, "My shirt arms all gone." I just smiled and, "Do you want to look at a book?" She's so easy to distract. I had our photo album from the last trip we took to the ocean. We talked about the sand, beach, ocean, waves, water, sandcastles. She looked at a picture of Audrey with her swim suit on and said, "Audrey goin' outside in undies?! Nooo!" Then about the boys, "No shirts outside! You silly boys!" She thought it was the funniest thing ever.

Also for preparation, I have given Audrey and Tess their goggles to wear in the bath tub. They love it! I've been throwing in pennies and they dive for them in the 6 inch deep water. Audrey is such a good big sister. She pretends it's so hard to find the pennies and goes crazy for Tess when she finds them. Tess totally goes under and holds her breath. I wish you could hear her tell you all about her "ga-does". She's the most animated story-teller! I'll be anxious to share pictures of my wonderful, darling kids with their ga-does on!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Stairs Games

So, this is how the game goes: Blake, Will and Audrey pile on top of a bean-bag chair which is on top of a sled. They perch themselves on the very top edge of the steps and then...Tess pushes them down. Do you think they played that game on the blue stairs at the orphanage? ;) Tess is LOVING life with her crazy fun brothers and sister!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Too Hard Uh Me!

If you were to hear Tess say, "Will, do Yoda to me" - this is what you would see...

Well, my latest challenge I have given Tess is - no more cave-man talk! So yesterday she ran out of ranch dip for her broccoli and she wined, "More dip". I said, "You can ask nicely for dip." And she told me, "It too hard uh me ask nice uh dip!" Hummm, I don't think that's too hard if you just said all that!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Orphanage Memories

When we met Tess for the first time we asked what were her favorite things do. The orphanage care-takers unanimously said, "Kick a ball and sing." And they were right! So, we have signed up for spring soccer! Rob will be coaching the tiny 3-on-3 games with 4 year old girls. I bought Tess a brand new, bright pink soccer ball. She loves it! We have really had to help guide her in the sharing of her soccer ball. When the kids got home from school today Will went downstairs with Tess to play. She had to make the trip upstairs just to tell me, "Tess sweet. Share'n MY soccer ball."

Orphange Memories...
First, I'm not sure I have mentioned that Tess seems to have "no memory" of Russia. Which is a completely internal defense mechanism God puts in us! Sort of self preservation. After she was here for 7 weeks she dropped ALL Russian language. If I ask her something in Russian she tells me "no, Mommy". But, if she does answer me, she answers in English. For example, yesterday I asked her in Russian, "Show me your arm." She said, "No...(long pause)...arm". When I have shown her pictures of the orphanage all she does is comment on herself or the clothes people are wearing. But, then suddenly...

Last week I was going through some pictures and Tess saw a picture of the outside of the orphanage. (You know those beautiful bright teal shades the have in Russia.) She gasped and smiled real big and said, "That MY house!" I said, "Do you want to go there?" She put the picture down and said, "No. Stay home. MY mommy, MY house, MY daddy, MY sister." So, with that in mind, I got on the computer today and pulled up the pictures from Russia. I was hoping to get a little information from her about her memories before they really are all gone. I found the picture she had commented on last week. She got on my lap and smiled real big and said, "That my house!" I told her, "Now THIS is your house, I am your mommy, this is your computer." She smiled and hugged me then I asked her if she wanted to see more pictures of her "old house". She said yes. It was so amazing. A little light went on in her brain. She pointed to the front door and said, "My door, upstairs, blue stairs, my room up up, high." I asked her if she was sad at her old house she said, "Nooo, Tess happy."

I showed her the pictures of the small room with 10 little beds all lined up. She pointed out her bed (the care-takers had told us which one was her bed). She said, "My bed!" I said, "Did Mommy lay down with you in your old bed?" She said, "No...Tess sleep" Just to make sure she was understanding I asked her, "Does Mommy lay down with you in your bed upstairs?" She said, "Yes! Mommy read Bible, pray, sing..." So I know she was completely understanding we were talking about two different places.

Next I showed her the pictures of the room where she ate her meals. All the tables lined up together with little chairs. She said, "My table!" I asked her what she did in that room. She just stared at me so I said, "Did you paint on that table?" She said, "Nooo, eat soup." And, then it was over. She blanked out again and said, "All done". Soooo interesting! Over the years I think she will have days like today. Things will come back and she'll have the vocabulary to tell me. What a life our little girl has had. Can you imagine?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tess Tale

Our sweet little Tess sometimes has a very stubborn attitude at mealtime. I never ever make my kids eat things that are totally weird or slimy or spicy. But, when it comes to a good 'ol peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you're ganna have to eat it!

Even if you fall asleep...

There are soooo many cute and funny things that happen with Tess everyday. So, I thought a good way to make sure I document them is an accountability group. Even if the only person who reads this is my mom, I am pretending that dozens of faithful readers will be disappointed if I let them down. From this day forth I will try my best to tell a "Tess Tale" every day. If I miss a day, I will tell two the next day. ;)

"Tess Tale" for today...
Tess and I were putting a puzzle together that has opposites. Match the wet hippo with the dry hippo, etc. I got up and went into the kitchen for something. Tess said to me, "Mommy. Will you play this with me?" Every word was in perfect order and perfectly pronounced. It completely took me off guard. As you can imagine I flew to the living room and started kissing her all over. "Of course Mommy will play this with you!" She was giggling and said, "Mommy, you's sweet." Ahhh...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Just One to Savor

Let me tell you, it's very different to have just ONE kid to play with! All my parenting years so far have been a three-pack! Blake and Will are 16 months apart. Will and Audrey are 16 months apart. When Audrey was born, Blake was 2 1/2 and poor baby Will was right in the middle. Needless to say, they do not know life without each other. More like triplets! So, my parenting has been more refereeing and playing with a gang of coo-coo kids. Lots of fun fun fun - but, hectic and a little chaotic. That is one reason I was still pushing all three kids in a double stroller when their legs were dragging on the ground. I always liked to keep them "compact". Right under my wings.

Now, I have just one to savor. I have to kiss her a millions times a day! Today we went to the grocery store. She is soooo dang cute! She does not stop talking. I really only answer by saying, "Oh", "That's right", "Wow". A typical conversation she has with me (pretty one-sided)..."Mommy, apples yummy. You like apples? Look green apples! One, two, three... lots of apples! No red apples. Oh no, red's all gone. Hey! Red apples, too! One, two, three..." Seriously, she goes on and on about ANY topic. I just laugh all the time.

We were in the car a couple days ago and the song "B-I-N-G-O" was playing. She started laughing and said, "Hey Mommy! You's song!" (She says you's as in - those are you's shoes). I asked her what song and she sang, "B-I-Angela, B-I-Angela..." Is that amazing? My sister-in-law told me last week she asked Tess, "What is your mommy's name" and Tess told her "Angela". That is VERY smart if you ask me! Anyway, now she's walking around the house singing "Mommy's song"!

She has totally mastered "you, me, my, your". And, she is just starting to say "I". Usually she says, "Tess go get my shoes". But, yesterday we were at the park and she was jumping from one step to another. We were pretending that the ground was water full of sharks. She is awesome at pretending! She was acting all shaky like she was about to fall in and said, "Save me, Mommy! I'm scared!" Fortunately, she did NOT get eaten by a shark. As it turned out she told me, "No mean shark get me. Sweet dolphin!"

It's funny. The more I get to know her, the more I know when she's totally faking. You know how it is when you're the mom. You just KNOW. Today she was in her room crying and yelled to me, "Help me boots on! Too hard! Tess no can do it!" I walked over sat down with her on the floor. I said, "You can put your boots on. Let me see you try." She said, "Okay, Mommy". And put them on in two seconds. Rob and I like to say, "Acting! Brilliant!" ;) If you remember the Saturday Night Live routine from the 80's.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Alive & Well!

It's been one month ago that I last blogged! Wacky crazy! We've had so many (fun) things going on I have set my blogging aside for a bit. But, I'm anxious to share cute stories and pictures. It really IS a stress relief. To write something and re-live it for a bit, puts a new perspective on things. Plus, I'm ready to get back to checking everyone's latest news in the blog world!

We went Tubing a couple weeks ago at Snow Creek which is about an hour from our house. We loved it! Tess is so game for anything. She tried to lug her little tube right along with her sister and brothers. From looking at the picture you might know that I'm working diligently on getting her to NOT say "Cheese" when we take pictures! Who started that anyway?

Since I started this blog as an adoption story, I always like to tell the most about our little Tess. Seriously, you would NOT believe the amazing changes in her these past three months. October 30, 2009 we were starting with words like, "more", "drink", "eat", "done". And, fast forward 14 weeks... Tonight Tess told me tonight, "Oh no! Forgot Bitty Baby! You wait here. Tess go find her. Be right back." NO JOKING!!!! Is that incredible or what? We have normal conversations with her. She eats, plays, laughs, cries, whines, and sleeps like any other 4-year-old. Of course, we still have break-downs. But, they are fewer and fewer. Praise God for making the human mind so miraculous!

Can't wait to post more soon!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy 9th Birthday!

My funny cutie boy Will turns nine years old today! Oh, man. Has it been that long? Nine years ago today Rob said, "Another boy! Blake has a brother!" We are so blessed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No Commentary Necessary

A picture tells a thousand words...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to School

Back to school...back to school...
The three "big" kids had to wake up bright and early this morning for their first day back after two weeks off school. The boys were dragging. But Audrey was all peppy and ready to see her friends. She said the only thing she does not like about school is that she has to leave me all day. What a sweetie! Of course I was sad to see them go, too.

This is one of my favorite pictures. We got Audrey the most darling baby doll I have ever seen. I made her a fluffy pink dress with a matching bow and blanket. Of all the things she got for Christmas she said that baby is her favorite. She defiantly plays with her more than anything else. I am so glad that God created Audrey to be such a sweet girly-girl. I'll keep encouraging playing "house" as long as I can.

Blake built the LEGO Tajmahal! It took him 14 hours and 55 minutes. Amazing! It's beside the Iffel Tower in the boys' room.

Will built the LEGO Carousal! It actually goes around and plays music. He did an awesome job! It was his first big LEGO project. He finished it about 30 minutes before Blake finished his. Right at 14 hours 25 minutes.

Some of Tess's favorite books! Baby Jesus, Christmas Cookies and the B-I-B-L-E!

Although we were sad to see the big kids go, Tess and I had an awesome day at home today! We are starting to focus on letters of the alphabet. She WANTS to learn. We were reading a book last week and we can across the word watermelons. She pointed to it and said every letter, "w...a...t.."etc. What the heck? I first realized her fascination with letters when she started pointing out all the t's, e's, and s's - from her name. That was three weeks after she was home! Since then I just talk about the letters in words and obviously she's paying attention! So, now I'm going through the curriculum my kids used in kindergarten. Seriously!

Also, Tess will start preschool this Friday! I am so excited. It's just three hours once a week. This is not normal preschool...she will be with a speech pathologist, occupational therapist and a physical therapist! And, there are only 7 kids in her class. Each kid has their own set of goals. Tess's primary goal is to have age appropriate language - so talk like she's four. Right now she talks like a 2 1/2 year old. The class is set up like preschool and the "teachers" are young and energetic! Each week they will give me a set of goals to work on for that week. I am so pumped!

I have to tell a story. We went sled riding last week on this awesome hill! I'm telling you, I have gone sledding a million times in my life, and this was one of the best hills! They are monster hills with really big slope landings. Well, Will and Tess were on a pink sled together and they started going crooked and somehow flipped off. Tess took a face dive into the snow. I was going down on a sled right behind them. I scooped up Tess and she was crying saying, "all done!" Poor baby. We all sat there for a while showing her sympathy - which she loves! Despite a bruised chin, nose and forehead, she decided to sled more. We were there for two more hours and had the best time! There were no more accidents - just four tired kids and a dog-tired mommy!

So, Tess loves to tell the story of what happened. She says, "Pink sled, snow, fall down, hurt, ouch, bummer! Pink sled broken, yellow sled okay!" She has told that to at least 15 people. She likes the reactions she gets. Lots of "ohhh, poor Tess!"

Thank you, Jesus for a wonderful Christmas and four perfectly healthy babies. We are blessed. It takes my breath away.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy Twenty-Ten!

My kids inform me that I cannot say "two thousand ten" I HAVE to say "twenty-ten". So...
Happy Twenty-Ten from our family to yours!