Wednesday, September 2, 2015

worst blogger ever

How have four weeks passed since we got home!?

In the blogosphere, that's a neglectful amount of time without a post (or in this case an update).  But, in real life, specifically this life, it's nothing.  I simply couldn't squeak out the time (or energy) to post.  Sorry for anyone who's been waiting with bated breath.  Ha!

In the most paradoxical way, we've been home a mere four weeks, but it feels like months.

We came home to the most glorious welcome by our friends and family.  The blessing of our community, who always rallies for us, never ceases to amaze me.  It's truly God's love in action.

Here we are at the airport.  Weary but full of expectation...our family of eight.

Christine was rather ridiculously showered with gift cards.  So many gift cards that I carry them in my purse in a wad with two rubber bands (one in each direction) wrapped around them.  It's actually a little uncomfortable when I've pulled out this wad at stores to pay for things.  I haven't had a store clerk ask me yet, but I can just hear her thoughts...'Geez, lady, what's up with the stash of gift cards?'  Or worse, she probably thinks they're black market or I stole them.  It's been super fun to take Christine shopping to get her things she wants and needs.  More on that below... 

My dearest friends wrapped up last minute touches to Christine's room that I didn't have a chance to tackle before we left.  The chicken wire board above her desk is full of photos of her with her loved ones at the children's home.  

Nope.  And I also didn't complete this sweet little collage either.  Yep, my girls-peeps.  My sisterhood of friends is priceless.  

I picked this up before we left town.  Cute, huh?

Then there were gift cards for our family...restaurants, Target, gelato, grocery stores, you name it.  Not worthy, I tell ya.

And our first night home, we had homecooked goodness delivered.  Two roasted chickens.  Omigosh.  Soo good.  With rice, of course.  :)

We hit the ground running our first weekend home and went to the Filipino Festival here in town.  We were walking zombies, but it's one weekend a year so we really wanted to take Christine and she really wanted to check it out.  Always happy to have Beverly join us!

Christine brought balut home from the festival.  Be sure to watch the video on what balut is and how one eats it.  Fascinating how different cultures are!

This is a delicacy in the Philippines.

But she was funny -- she wanted to wait until she got home to eat it...

...probably because she didn't want to be embarrassed in public by our reactions!

A week or so later, we visited the ER when Jackson was at a pool party and turned into the lifeguard stand and split his face open between the eyes.  

Love this kid so much.

His first time with stitches.  

An exciting find for us, and probably moreso for Christine, has been a Filipino market not far from our house.  We've been going once every week or two so she can stock up.

We had friends over who are adopting from the Philippines and Christine cooked up some serious grub...lumpia (spring rolls), chicken adobo, and fruit salad (fruit cocktail with sweetened condensed milk).  Super yummy!  We're excited to be enjoying this delicious fare on a regular basis.

Then, this little dude turned 6.  Kinda can't believe it.  When I think about the baby he was when we brought him home, I'm amazed at the child he is now.  He's such a honey!

Gramma, Papa, Sandy, Joe, and Bootsie came.  So fun to have everyone!

Brooks read the birthday boy his birthday card.  For anyone who has a child who's a reluctant reader, you know that's a triumph.

Bootsie surprised him with cash hidden in one hand...okay both hands!

He wanted an Oreo cake from Dairy Queen.  We surprised him with Payton's nickname for him on it...complete with her own unique spelling...HOMEZ.  

And before we knew it, the stitches were out!

Onto school open houses and Meet the Teacher.  James' open house included a practice ride (with a parent!) on the school bus.  Ya think he's liking school so far?  Just look at that FACE!  You wouldn't know it by Alex's expression, but they are thick as thieves.  

Then we went back that night to take Brooks and Jackson to meet their teachers and see their classrooms.  I've been praying for our Brooks...he had such angst about going back to school after being home for two years.  But while he was unloading his supplies into his cubby, he turned and said, 'Okay, now I'm excited.'  

He and his teacher, Mrs. Lawson.  Love that boy.  

Time with just my two girls and James...grabbing dinner at Chick-fil-A, of course.  Yep, our Little A had to get glasses to help see the chalkboard and read signs.  She loves them!

And before we knew it, it was the first day of school.  Praise Jesus (I am not kidding!) that the boys love it and are doing well.  Mornings aren't awful, they head off to school happy and come home happy.  Check back in a few months...  :)

This kid kills me.  Jackson.

His tender heart is precious.  Brooks.

His zest for life is incredible!  James.

The boys being in school has afforded the girls and I to have some extra time together.  It's been wonderful.  So what did they want to do on the boys' first day of school?  Head to the mall, of course.  Christine used one of her gift cards...

Beverly and Bootsie came to welcome the boys off the bus on their first day.  With Mrs. Yoders donuts to boot!  Love them!

Just a regular night at the dinner table.  Just want to capture these times...

We made our first visit to Busch Gardens since Christine's been home.  She'd never ridden a rollercoaster, but was READY!  She loved it!  

Getting James' rides in.  :)

These two and I hung out a lot.  We rode the train a lot.  The sky buckets a lot.  And ate Dippin' Dots.  The rollercoaster riders were wearing the coasters out while we did our thang.

Gorgeous sunset over the river.

And then shopping...

and gelato...

...and more shopping...

School starts for the girls next week and then we're really back to the swing of things.  

I'm ready to start working part-time.  I'm poking around here and there and have a few irons in the fire.  Praying that God will lay the path for the perfect gig for me.  It. is. time.  

Christine's excited to dive in.  She's doing really well.  She has her moments of sadness, but seems to rally well.  99% of the time, she seems to be settling in nicely.  We'll take it!  :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

final weekend in the philippines

We spent our last weekend in the Philippines with JD's cousin, Holly, and her fiancĂ©, Eric.  Holly's lived in the Philippines for a year and a half.  She came here after the typhoon in Tacloban.  She and Eric work for Catholic Relief Services.  

When she heard we were adopting Christine she had just requested a transfer from Bangladesh to Tacloban.  We were excited even then to see each other 'one day' when we came to get Christine.  It was so cool that our plans from a year a half prior were actually happening.

Here's the cool room we got at the B&B we stayed at.  Summer camp, anyone?!  

Yes, there are five doubles and two twins!  We all had our own bed!

Chilling at the pool on Saturday.

We walked down a dirt/muddy road about a mile to the nearest beach.  Locals live on the water and had fishing nets out everywhere.  Eric said he had to show us some of the more beautiful beaches in Palawan.  

The happy couple!  

That night, we headed out to dinner at the coolest restaurant!

We rode in 'tricycles' or 'trikes'.  JD was all about it!  He loved riding on a trike!  It's basically a motorcycle with a cart attached.  Part car-part bike.

This is what Avery thought about riding the trike.  :)

This footbridge led to the front door of the restaurant.  It crossed over a swamp of mangroves.  

A beautiful open air restaurant.

The views from our table...

The girls checking out the view...

Little honeys.

As the sun set over this mountain, it looked like a volcano erupting.  So cool!

Avery wasn't a huge fan of the traditional Filipino fare, but she loved all the fresh mango smoothies.  I think the endless choices of mango options is what sustained her throughout the trip.

The closest plate is breaded okra.  It was sooo good!  This meal was the best we had in our two weeks in the Philippines.  Actually, this was our best restaurant meal.  The women in the children's home could cook!  Man, they blessed me with their cooking.

The next day, we decided to do the Honda Bay Island Hopping Tour.  It was so helpful to have Eric with us.  He was one step ahead of us throughout the weekend talking with locals and finding the best deals to sightsee.  There are thousands (!) of islands in the Philippines -- I think it's around 7,000! -- so exploring them could be a full time job!  Eric and Holly have traveled a lot around the country, but some of what they were doing with us in Palawan was their first time.  Eric secured a boat and we headed out to visit the little islands.  Renting this boat for the day (with two captains/guides) cost us just 30 bucks!  I know!  Crazy.

A shot of our boat, Erma 2, once we arrived at Starfish Island.

I honestly thought it was fake!

This is Princess.  If only she were friendly.  I would've loved to get my hands on her!

The weather was sublime!

We spent a good bit of time snorkeling, but I didn't get any photos.  iPhones and water don't mix.  I think Payton got some shots.  Perhaps I'll post them one day, for the record.

Sweet memories.

Even big girls get tuckered out and need to lean on their aunts for a quick rest.  :)

The water was clear and such a beautiful green.

Our last island and we were headed back to port so Holly & Eric could catch their flight home.

And of course a selfie was required to end our visit!

Spending the weekend with them made us that much more excited to travel to Huntsville in October for Holly + Eric's wedding!  Yay!


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