Sunday, October 6, 2013

Holy Cow - Brantley is 14!

On August 24th Brantley had his 14th birthday, and I seriously can't believe it!  I so clearly remember him as an unbelievably adorable 2 year old having tantrums and getting into all sorts of mischief.  He's certainly grown up since then.  He's now a compassionate and thoughtful young man who adores little ones and has a soft spot for older folks as well.  He also goes with me to volunteer at Northwest Harvest every time I go.  He had a great birthday at Trampoline Nation with his siblings.  Happy Birthday you handsome young man - we love you!

Love that Smile!

I'm so glad Cara is smiling for the camera now.  She has such a beautiful smile that I just want to share it with everyone!

Point Defiance Zoo

We decided we'd better take advantage of our zoo membership before it expired, so down to Tacoma we went to Point Defiance Zoo.  It's a nice zoo, and not so large that you're exhausted by the time you're done.  It also has aquarium petting tanks and you can even pet sting rays.  The kids had a great time!  And can you believe how big they're getting???

Double Baby Shower!

In August, a couple of dear friends from church gave me and Lexie a double baby shower.  We had wonderful food, were surrounded by great friends, and of course, got tons of adorable clothes for our little girls!  It was just such a thoughtful thing for our friends to do, and we appreciated it so much.  Thank you to everyone who planned, helped and attended - we're fortunate to have such great friends!

Beautiful Girl!

We think Cara is amazingly beautiful, with an amazing smile.  When I think of all she's endured in her short life, I can't believe she can smile at all.  Orphanage after orphanage, starvation, neglect, developmental disabilities in a country where that's not acceptable at all, and on and on.  Then to top it off, these white strangers came in a scooped her up and out of everything she's ever known, only to bring her to a totally different place, with totally different people, food, weather, smells, customs, clothing and everything else.  And yet she's happy.  Very happy!  She's just an amazing girl, and certainly one of the Lord's choicest spirits.  I thank the Lord every day for having her in our family!

Hair Bling Part 2

Isn't this bow huge?  And so darling.  A friend from church gave this to Lexie for Evie, and it matched her dress perfectly.  I just love hair bling on little girls, especially a little girl as adorable as Evie!

Lake Time!

Here are the kids at our local lake.  We didn't bring Cara with us this summer because she still wasn't enjoying water or being out in public, but I took the other kids often.  I feel very lucky to live where we have our choice of nice beaches to enjoy.  The kids have lots of fun!

Sling Cuteness

Like I've said before, we're a baby wearing family.  Here's Emily using my sling to carry her baby doll around in.  She does it all the time, and it's just too cute!

All Ready for Church!

I'm having way too much fun having two little girls to dress up again.  And dresses are the best!  Fortunately I'm a great bargain and thrift shopper, so I can indulge my love of all things girly for Cara and Evie.  It's not possible to have too much pink and sparkles, is it? 

Sleeping Sweetness

Evie is such an adorable baby.  We're having so much fun with her!  Here she is in July sleeping.  She's a very calm and easy baby, and we just couldn't love her more!

Marq is 13!

On July 25th Marq became our 4th teenager - if you include Lexie who is still 19.  He's growing into a wonderful young man.  He's sweet, kind, and really cares about other people.  If he does something he's not supposed to (which is rare), he apologizes and tries everything he can to make amends.  I feel so blessed to have this great young man call me mom.  Happy Birthday sweetie - we love you!

Arms Full

Brantley loves the little girls in his life.  He's an awesome uncle and big brother.  I love seeing the tender side of him that Cara and Evie bring out.  Here he is in his favorite position - arms full of adorable littles.
 If it were up to him, we'd adopt a new little one every other year!

Shoulder Rides

Cara absolutely loves to ride on shoulders.  She shrieks and laughs and bounces up and down whenever someone puts her on their shoulders, and it's a sure way to get her in a good mood.  I thought the rides might end the first time she drooled in some ones hair, but she's so adorable nobody seems to mind.  Thank heavens for spit tolerant siblings!

Sleepy Time

Cara doesn't take formal naps, but when she's tired, she just sleeps wherever she happens to be at the moment.  Here she is sleeping half on - half off the couch.  In her favorite princess dress, no less. She stayed like that for over an hour!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Big Sister Annie

In addition to being great with Evie, Annie is a fantastic big sister too.  She's always willing to play with Cara, get her dressed, change her diaper, and feed her.  Cara just loves to snuggle and play with her.  Life is so much easier with little ones when you have super helpful older kids.  Thanks Annie!

Aunt Annie

Annie is such a good auntie!  She's always the first one in line to hold Evie when she visits, and I almost have to fight her off to get a turn myself.  And she's beautiful too!

One More Picture From the 4th

This picture was the 1st one we were able to get with the entire family after Evie was born and Cara came home.  It's not great, but it was so nice to finally have a picture with all of us. BTW, the little boy in the chair on the right isn't ours - he's a neighbor child.  Just thought I'd better explain that since we tend to show up with new family members fairly regularly!

Family 4th of July!

We had a great 4th of July this year!  It was Cara and Evie's 1st 4th of July so that made it especially fun.  I love the way our family just keeps on growing!  It was pretty nice weather - which is always a bonus in our rainy climate.  We had our usual yummy bbq and then did our own fireworks and enjoyed the neighbors fireworks as well. I love the 4th of July because it means family, great food, fireworks, and celebrating our great country's birthday!

The Family That Slings Together..........

I've used a baby sling since Ellie was born 22 years ago.  I use them until my kids are about 3, and I've even used 2 at a time when I've had 2 little ones at once, which has happened several times.  Now Lexie uses a sling for Evie, and Brantley is starting to as well.  Emily even carries her dollies around in a sling.  I guess you could say we're a baby-wearing family!

Finally a Smile!

Cara is a very smiley and happy girl most of the time - until she sees a camera.  Then she just stares, and tries to grab it.  Or squirms around and tries to get down if someone is holding her.  This time though, I finally got a picture of her smiling.  Of course, she loves Brantley, so that helped.  What a total cutie pie!

Out for a Walk

One of Cara's favorite things to do is to go for a walk in her stroller.  She just loves to look at everything and enjoy the outdoors.  She doesn't seem to care what the weather is like, she just gets very excited if we show her the stroller and ask if she wants to go for a walk.  In the middle of the walk, she likes to get out of the stroller and push it instead of ride.  Even though it then takes forever to get back home, it's great physical therapy for her.  She's such a smartie pants!

More Birthday Pictures

Here a couple of pictures from Ashlyn's birthday.  One is with her friends around our kitchen table, and the other one is at Bounce It Up.  Everyone seemed to have a great time!

Ashlyn's 9th Birthday!

June was such a busy month with us gone for the 1st half in Liberia, then birthdays for Tim, Grandma Pat, Annie, and Ashlyn.  Plus the end of the school year.  So for Ashlyn's birthday, we just invited some friends to Bounce It Up, and then came back home for cake and ice cream.  Everyone had a great time, and it was very low planning and clean up for me.  Ashlyn continues to be super sweet, and has the funniest sense of humor.  I just love her jokes.  She's an amazing big sister and aunt, and brightens up the lives of those around her.  I'm so lucky to get to be her mom!  Happy Birthday beautiful girl!

Darling Evie

Seriously, this baby couldn't be any more adorable!  I may be just a bit biased, but I think she's beyond cute.  She's also very sweet and calm and happy.  We all just adore her, and I know Lexie is one proud happy mama.  I can't wait to watch this little one grow up!

Annie's Birthday!

On June 26th Annie turned 13!  She's growing into an amazing, spirited, and very beautiful young woman.  I feel so blessed to be her mom. She's an amazing amount of help with Cara and Evie, and is a super cleaner around the house.  She also loves to do any kind of humanitarian work, and often joins me at Northwest Harvest packaging food for local food banks.  Plus she's super smart and finishes her schoolwork in record time.  She's also great at karate!  Like I said, I feel very blessed to have her.  Happy Birthday honey!

First Picture Home!

After we got back from Liberia, I was so swamped after being gone from the kids for 3 weeks and having a new little one to care for, that I didn't take any pictures for a week or so.  Here's the 1st picture I got of Cara after we got her home.  All the kids just totally love her, and actually argue over who gets to play with and hold her.  She's one loved little sister!

Gymnastics 2013

Emily and Ashlyn continue to take gymnastics and are very good at it.  They've moved up to advanced level 1 and just love it.  I've always called them my little monkeys!  Here they are getting their certificates last June for a job well done.  Good job, girls!

Student of the Semester!

Right after we got back from Liberia, Emily was awarded Student of the Semester at her school.  I was so jet lagged I could barely keep my eyes open, but was so happy for her.  She always does her best at school and she really deserved it.  Way to go honey!