Monday, October 31, 2011

A Family

October 31, 2006, you officially became part of our family.

One day after your first birthday.

One day after the orphanage celebrated with a HUGE, beautiful birthday cake.

And a few days after your birthmom and grandma visited you one last time, with a birthday present.

There are so many people that love you, Charlie Lu Kao!

And we are so thankful that God chose us to be your family forever.

Happy Birthday, Charlie!

My baby boy is 6. Doesn't that sound older? 5 still sounds little, but 6 sounds like he's growing up.

Anyone found the key to keeping kids little?

Char was very happy about his birthday and was smiley all morning.

He thought his birthday card was cool...with Star Wars stickers!

His favorite gift of the morning...his "Ipod."

I can just read this thoughts...this is a mom gift...looks like a fancy way to disguise school...

Hmmmm...what could it be?

Why, it's the armor of God! Eph. 6:11

Amarin made Char a pop-up, Star Wars card.

Jacob found a bionicle for him.

This was the look of the day. Daddy downloaded VeggieTale Praise and Worship music for him.

Not sure about the rest of you, but I'm likin' this idea. Not that I don't enjoy a bunch of vegetables singing...all day...every day...

It's a special day...headphones allowed during meal time.

Later, family and friends came over to celebrate Char and Amarin's birthday. Amarin's isn't until November, so more on his later.

Grandma and Jenna

Note the guys on Char's cake. He decorated it himself...and it looks like they just landed in quicksand!

Happy boys...can't remember what was so funny!

Blowing out their candles!

Happy birthday, Char. We love you so much and you are growing to be such a funny, smart, and loving little boy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Decking the halls already?

Absolutely, it is that time of year already to wrap Christmas presents!

Never heard of it? Click on the link and read all about the organization started by Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham.

The kids and I have had fun shopping for and preparing 10 boxes this year...5 girls, and 5 boys.

We found stuffed toys, toothbrushes, toothpastes, combs, lip glosses, play jewelry, balls, cars, dinosaurs, and lollis to fill these boxes. And they each have a Christmas card that says "Jesus Loves You," with a photo of one of the our kiddos. Monday night, we're having friends over, and the kids are all going to make cross necklaces to put in the boxes, too.

A couple nights ago, the biggest boys and I wrapped the boxes. Jacob even put in some Charlie Brown Christmas songs. This has to be the earliest I have ever listened to Christmas music!

Of course, we needed nurishment for all of this work...hence, the popcorn!

Tah-dah! 10 boxes...stuffed, wrapped, banded, and labeled.

And this is so cool...we could print off labels from the Samaritan's Purse website so we can track our boxes and know to which country they go!

There's still time to fill a shoebox as National Collection Week is not until Nov. 14-21., and there are drop-off locations all over the place. No doubt, there is one very close to your home. If you're interested in packing a shoe box, click HERE and you'll find all of the details.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Introducing Heidi

Laura had a dance at school today with her friends and teachers.

She dressed up like Heidi. Yes, I know Heidi wasn't born in China...but I think our Heidi is cuter!

Little Heidi was running from the camera...

so we had to corner her.

With the help of her big brother, Jacob!
Hard to believe that 5 years ago, these were the only two kids in our house!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

He did it!

My littlest boy. My dynamo child. Mr. Energy. Mr. I-have-to-do-it-my-way.

Mr. Look-out-world-'cause-here-I-come.

God gave this boy a very strong personality, and I know it will serve him well.

Even with this never-ending supply of will and might and energy,

he sat down (key word here is "sat") and learned to read.


And he did it just like he learned to use the potty...on his terms...when he wanted and when he was ready...and then BOOM!

He's reading.

I'm so proud of you, Char!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's Cookin' Wednesday?

It's Wednesday! Time to share a favorite recipe.

It all started with 2 little pumpkins. I'd never cooked pumpkin before. I just bought the cans, which worked fine, and never thought any more about it. But I read how healthy pumpkin is, so I bought two little baking pumpkins, threw them in the oven for an hour, and voila! I had cooked pumpkin. A lot...of cooked pumpkin. I did want to eat some of it mashed with butter, salt, and pepper. But I needed to use it in another way, too.

I found this AWESOME recipe for pumpkin bars on the F**dnetwork website.

I had to make some changes so we could all enjoy it, and it turned out really, really good. As a matter of fact, Charlie wants me to make it for his birthday this Sunday. And I think it turned out more like cake than bars.

Here are the changes I made:

1. I used fresh pumpkin.

2. I didn't put icing on it.

3. I used brown rice flour instead of all-purpose (same measurement).

4. I used 1 1/4 cup honey instead of sugar.

5. I cut the oil down to 10 tablespoons (because I used honey and it would have been to soupy with all the liquid).

Looking forward to eating it again this weekend!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Guess Who's Going to Russia?

No, not the 5 kids, but I bet I had some of you goin'!

See all of these beanies?

There are 31 of them, and they're heading to Russia with the Plummer family.

They finally rec'd their last court approval to bring home their babies, and they will be traveling very, very soon, back to the orphanages. These beanies will hopefully make some children very happy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

100% Girl

It is so much fun seeing the world through this pair of "girly-girl" eyes. She loves everything pink and purple (still not sure why she chose that yellow cast), sparkly, shimmery, lacy, frilly, and bejeweled. Right after her surgery, her grandma bought her some princess shoes to wear after her feet healed. And wear them she can!

(Notice how she's holding on so she doesn't stumble in the heels?)

And yes, the jeans do say "princess" on the pocket. What else?

Let's get a closer look...

And her other grandma took her shopping at the toy store, and what does she pick?
A pink vacuum!
And let me tell you, she scoured the girly-aisles and aisles of toys, touching everything, ooohing and ahhhing over all the prilly things. I think it made grandma's day to know she has another granddaughter that LOVES to shop!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Perfect Piggies

Last week Daddy signed Jenna's cast. Her first signature. I'm just not big on writing all over a cast. But it was time because today the cast was coming off!

Today we headed to the dr.'s office, ready to get this thing off and wear two "prilly" shoes.

She brought her bag with another ruffly sock and her other patent shoe.

We watched videos online about getting the cast off, the saw thing-a-ma-bob, the noise, etc. She was in tears last night, not wanting it to be removed. But today, with her brothers standing around, she was as brave as could be, and even giggled because it tickled her toes.

This gal did such a fine job. She was a bit nervous, we could tell. But was very sweet and efficient.

Next, she cut the fabric that was below the cast.

Done! But boy was her leg itchy! She had such dry skin on her leg, and she itched and itched it so much, I think 1/2 of her skin cells were left in the office!

The dr. came in and gave her the all-clear. No x-rays, no follow-up needed. Just go home and play in the bath tub (finally no more baths in the kitchen sink), clean off that leg, and put on some lotion. I think I'll go with straight coconut oil!

As we waited for the dr., we looked outside. We are sure that those were little snowflakes falling...or awfully white raindrops!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What's Cookin' Wednesday?

I'm going to try something new on Wednesdays. I'm inspired by my friend, Kristin, who shares some wonderful recipes, frugal tips, and a knack for being organized. However, her very yummy sounding food is not always on our diet radar. I'm bummed. The Snickers Cheesecake sounds good enough to devour in one myself.

My plan is to share, each Wednesday, a recipe that we love and that follows our diet.

Note: I'm not on a soap-box, but just sharing what we've learned these past months and have seen obvious health improvements. Every family needs to eat the way they feel comfortable.

To begin with, corn products and sugars (minus a little honey) are big no-nos here. Not to say that we don't have the occassional bowl (or two) of popcorn or the sweet treat, but it's rare, and totally off limits for Charlie & Jenna. And we have seen tremendous health improvements in both of them because of it. I have to read ingredients on corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, dextrin, maltodextrin, corn starch, sorbitol, vegetable starches, vegetable oils, fake sugars (which are just a bunch of chemicals anyway that shouldn't be part of a diet), margarine (would you munch on a plastic bowl? It's one chemical concoction away), sugar, brown sugar, white grains, etc.

It's amazing what's in the food on the shelf, and how much of it we can't eat. I heard once that if you want to eat healthy, shop for your groceries on the outside walls and stay out of the middle aisles. True. There are some aisles that I don't even bother with anymore.

That all said, here's a recipe I just tried yesterday and we all loved it for a snack!

Chewy Granola Bars

1/2 cup nut or seed butter

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 cup oats

1 cup a combination of your favorites: shredded coconut, nuts, seeds, etc.

Melt nut/seed butter in a saucepan along with the oil and honey. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Pour and press into an 8x8 or 9x4 pan and chill for two hours. Cut into bars, wrap individually in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for a quick, healthy snack.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Was Sad

Our new fall/school photos arrived in the mail already today!

I love pulling the prior year's photos off the wall, putting the new ones next to them,

and seeing how much the kids have changed right before our eyes!

Obviously, Jenna's has changed tremendously. Unfortunately, the exact photo I had hanging on the wall is no where to be found on disc. I know it's somewhere, but I'm tech-impaired. This one is close to it...but in this one she has a little smile.

When Jenna saw her "old" photo, she told me that she wasn't happy then. She was sad because she didn't have a mama and daddy. This coming from a 4 year old's mouth...remembering her feelings in the orphanage. How my heart breaks for the millions of children still waiting.

Now look at her...smiling, confident, vibrant, full of vip-and-vinegar!

And loud. Have I mentioned that she's LOUD? I truly see her singing and dancing on stage someday...with no need of a microphone!

What amazing changes we have seen over the past 9 months in this princess. Our family just wasn't complete without her!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Fall Photos

Take a look at the right sidebar. I took new school photos of the kids.

They just keep growing up, don't they?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Captive Audience

Little girls talk...a lot!

I never realized how much until I started sitting on the receiving

end of the never-ending-one-sided-dialogue.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad she's talking, and her English is coming along amazingly well. I'm just glad she's found another captive audience that won't compete for air-space.