December Randomness

 This is how Emmie is when I put her down and am not touching her.  To say she is a mama’s girl is putting it mildly!

 After a bit of whining, a sibling will typically come along and try to cheer her up.
 Dress up time!  Y enjoyed this spider man shirt and he was deeply saddened when they all misplaced it.
 Y quickly learned how to flip on the couch.  No lessons in that.

 While traveling for Thanksgiving, our front grille met an untimely demise via a carpet square on the interstate.  We praise God that it was only the grille that broke.  Mark was able to order the replacement on line, search youtube on how to install it and replace it in less than 30 minutes.    My hero.

 How Mark found Ace one night.
 Determination
 Feet are a glorious thing

 Y’s first day.  So much fun to see that language couldn’t keep our kids from all enjoying each other.

 A trip to the mall, Y and all the kids enjoyed watching the man decorated a cookie cake.
 But seeing Santa and having Santa actually wave to him….Y was in awe.
 Emmie just building up her muscles.  A girl has to work to look this good.
 Giant tower with giant blocks.

 And some bunny ears and photo bombing!
 Y and Emmie!  Instant bonding.
 Our sweet Y enjoying some movie time with Ceili Rain.

 Mark was working on replacing the fireplace and all the kids were piling on each other pretending something or other.  Y was just watching and a little unsure.  When I told him what they were doing, he joined right in!  There was a pile of kids and I couldn’t make heads or tails of them for awhile.

 I think Y thought that all it did was rain here.  We had some pretty serious rain for a couple of days and our creek flooded.  Mark took the kids for a walk to see the flooding.  They just had to get in it.

 Everybody eats snacks this way, no?

 Liam received a snap circuits for Christmas.  But everyone loved it.  Ace and Y worked on it for over an hour one day.  So much fun to watch.

My playdoh creations during another rainy day.  Baymax, a train, Mr. Potato Head.  I may have a future in playdoh creation.  Smirk.

Happy 9th Birthday, Liam!

Yeah, this is the only picture I have of Liam and his cake.  He wanted Revolutionary War soldiers on it.  Easy peasy for an over tired mama!

 When we visited Ge and Granddaddy, Liam was able to open presents from them.  So, at least we have a few of him opening gifts.

On birthday day, we took the whole crew to the movies to see Big Hero Six.  It was definitely a treat for all.  It was a very fun, good movie!

Merry Christmas!

I’m just a bit sick when I think about these next pictures.  We realized at the end of January that we have some how deleted a lot of pictures.  All of our Christmas day present opening chaos pictures are gone.  We had a tinsel fight after we decorated the tree.  Those pictures have disappeared.  And, even sadder, Liam’s birthday pictures are gone.  So from here on through almost the new year, most of these pictures are from our phones so please be patient.

 Zoe and I not only made pants for all the kids, Zoe wanted to make pants for her and Ceili Rain’s American Girl Dolls.   She did an amazing job!

 Christmas Day!  I was so excited I got to make some cute embroidered shirts for everyone too!

 We finally did it.  We got Mark a coffee maker!  And it’s a pretty red.  It has definitely been used quite a bit since then.
Christmas Breakfast and Y’s first time eating hot fruit compote and my homemade biscuits.  He approved.

 Meal time is always quite entertaining in our house.
 We got Y a rubber band bracelet hook and bands.  By the time he left he had over 15 bracelets made and they almost made it to his elbow.
 We found out pretty quickly that Y LOVES cycling!  He would have been riding every single day, no matter the weather.

Okay, we worked hard to make sure Y not only tried a lot of American food but that he had some that was rather familiar to him.  He did not like borscht even though his brief description said he did.  But cucumbers and radishes and any kind of meat…that was perfect for him.  A veteran hoster had mentioned a blog called Natasha’s Kitchen and testified that her recipes were pretty authentic for Eastern Europe.  Every time I made one of her recipes, Y was super excited and would quickly give me two thumbs up.  For Christmas supper, I made meat piroshki.  Oh my, we won’t even discuss how unhealthy these things are all fried up.  But the taste.  Ahhh, they were amazing!  This may be our new traditional Christmas supper.

Looking a Lot Like Christmas!

 Traditionally, we purchase our Christmas tree the week after Thanksgiving but since Y was coming, we wanted to let him in on the experience.   So, we waited.  It proved beneficial.  He really enjoyed seeing  the trees and  hiding from us and jumping out saying, “Boo!”

 Thankfully, Mark was able to explain what we were doing when the guy came to cut the tree down.  There were plenty of times that we forgot to explain what we were doing or going to do and he was so confused for a bit.

 Decorating ornaments for the tree.  I love how I caught Emmie cheesing for the camera.

 Our gingerbread train.

 I finally ran out of the fabric I had purchased for stockings some years ago.  Since I needed two new stockings, we decided to do new ones for everyone.  I absolutely love these and the pattern was so easy and beautiful.  They are fully lined and took less than 30 minutes to complete.  And, my combo machine meant I could embroider all of our names on them. I loved seeing all these stocking lining our fireplace, er, I mean, where our fireplace used to be.  Christmas season was the perfect time for us to start converting our “fake” fireplace in to an actual functional gas fireplace.

And the front yard decorations this year!

Merry Christmas with Ge and Granddaddy!

We traveled to visit Granddaddy and Ge and all of our extended family to celebrate December birthdays and Christmas.
True to Y’s personality, he tagged along and enjoyed the time with everyone.
 A little present balancing before the chaos!

 Checking out the presents before the chaos!

 And after opening gifts with Aunt Yaya and the fam, we celebrated Christmas with Granddaddy’s sister and fam.

 My favorite picture.  Y had gone to the bathroom but had been in there a loooong time.  We were all waiting on him to open gifts.  Mark went to check on him and discovered a sink full of bubbles.  I don’t believe he was used to liquid soap and the bubbles were just too inviting for a young boy.    He decided the bubbles needed to go on Ma and came out and attacked me.  This was one of the first times he voluntarily climbed in to my lap.

 This is all the grandkids of Granddaddy and Aunt D.  The Santa hats were a big hit this year.  Last year Aunt D and Ge decided to get together and purchase several small items that the kids could/would use.  They were a big hit (my kids still play with the goofy balls they got last year) and so they did the same thing this year.  Honestly, though, the kids all have a blast together whether they get gifts or not.

 “These are MY gifts?!”
 Y approved of the red velvet cake.
Aunt Yaya getting some Liam lovin’!

Hosting Party

We first learned about hosting from some loooong time friends B and H.  We followed along on Facebook as they hosted S and then prayed and prayed as they worked to bring her home in to their family forever.  She came home in the Spring, by the way.
You know how people say it just takes one pebble to make a ripple?  That’s B & H.  After their hosting, we had a set of friends host and then this past winter, there were about four of us that hosted in the area.  We all had heard about hosting from B & H. 
Since there were so many of us hosting this winter, we were able to have our own get together.  Only three families came but, hey, our family is a traveling party.
We had a “Wrap the Snowman” game.

And Y got to try his first cupcake.  Little things that we don’t think of having to tell our kids sometimes caused a few giggles.  Like, don’t eat the paper on the cupcake.  And, we don’t try on clothes in the middle of the store (Thankfully, I was paying attention and able to direct him to the fitting rooms before he disrobed).  Sugar, it’s safe to say, is his favorite treat.

B & H have been such a positive influence, encouragement and source of knowledge throughout our hosting.  We are forever grateful for them sharing their experiences and helping us through our first hosting.

Christmas Candy Tradition

I guess if we do something two years in a row, it should be considered a tradition.  We were so super busy getting things ready for Y that we didn’t get a chance to do our big baking days. But, we did set aside one morning to get pretzels dipped in almond bark.

We didn’t get to share these with anyone because when I stepped away for a split second, I returned to discover several faces smeared with almond bark and fingers in mouths.  Those puppies belonged to the family after that.

Happy 12th Birthday Zoe!

Eek!  I have an almost teenager.  I can’t believe how fast the years have flown by.   Honestly, Zoe has been such a blessing to our family and continues to be so.  Sure, we have some fun, hormonal pre-teen issues but the good far outweighs the bad moments.  She is growing in to such a beautiful young lady and is a delight to her brothers and sisters and mom and dad too.  I can’t wait for the teenage years and to continue to see her grow in the Lord.
We celebrated as a family before Y came.  It was her choice and I’m glad we did so.  We were actually out of town on her birthday and traveling back home that day as well (after only getting a few hours sleep…at least for Mark and I).  She chose to go to a frozen yogurt place as her “activity” to celebrate 12 years of surviving our fam. Good choice and we all enjoyed our yogurt so much I forgot to get a picture.

 I love that my kids were intrigued by her gift.  Adams’ Chronological Chart of History, from Papa and Grandmere.  It was so fun watching all of them gather around it to read and look at the pictures!

Zoe decided last year that she wanted to get her ears pierced for her 12th birthday.  She was as excited as Zoe gets about things like that (the pain and all).  So, the Friday before her birthday we headed to the mall for the piercings.  
Before (see the look of utter excitement)

During (yeah, that was the first ear and after it, I think she considered being done but realized the asymmetry wasn’t going to work).
After!  The pain didn’t last long.  It’s been almost six weeks and I’m so impressed with how well she has cared for her ears.  I, um, was not like that which is why I let them grow in.  Twice.  She’s just now been able to take them out and has told me, per her instructions (she was so excited to have them in writing) that she has to wear earrings for six months 24/7.  When she missed an ear cleaning (because, per the instructions it must be done three times a day), I think she had a mini panic attack.  She’s getting braces at the end of February.  This should be fun.

 Yay!  Earrings from Ge and Granddaddy!
 And fun crafts from Aunt Yaya and Uncle J.

Zoe scoured my pinterest pages and landed on this beauty for her birthday cake. Red Velvet Cheesecake with Cream Cheese Icing.  I was scared ya’ll.  You see, when I was a kid, my mom attempted a red velvet cake.  Several times.  It was crumbs.  Lots and lots of crumbs over and over again.  I ate red velvet cake crumbs until I was sick (they tasted really good even it never was a whole cake).  So, a red velvet cake from scratch had me so scared.  I did it though!  And oh lala…it was heavenly good!

Hosting Starts!

December flew by and before we knew it, it was December 17th and Y was here.
 The flight had landed and all the families waiting on their host child gathered together for a group picture!
 The flight got in at 10:30 at night.  Poor Emmie had to go since I am her food source.  She was so sleepy but did so well.

 Everyone from Liam down to Malachi had a spend the night party at Kristina’s house (and thereby earning her about 1,000 jewels for her crown).  Zoe and Ace made the trek to the airport to pick up Y.  Ace was as excited and anxious as we were.

 Zoe tracking Y’s flight in.
Mark and I love the airport.  It’s like a mini-world with all sorts of interesting people to see and things to look at.  This lady was no exception.  She had on elf leggings and hat, a hula skirt and coconut bra.  And I do believe she had a lit up necklace too.  I believe several people had stopped and watched and waited to see who in the world she had dressed up for.  It did not disappoint as a lady about her age with two adorable young girls were met to this get up as she sang “Mele Kalikimaka.”  The little girls lit up as soon as they saw her and ran up and gave her the biggest hugs.  Definitely not a disappointment to watch.
And before we knew it Y was with us.  He was so tiny, ya’ll.  He’s just a few weeks younger than Liam but with all the older kids with him, he looked so small and alone.  We grabbed him and hugged him but he didn’t light up with a big ol’ smile until he saw Emmie! 

 He grabbed her up as quick as he could and then quickly pulled out the letter we had written him and pointed to her picture and each of ours.  He was so excited.

And he had to push the stroller.

It’s safe to say that everyone except Mark and I slept soundly on the way home.  Y had been traveling a full 24 hours.  We had to wake him up the next day!