Friday, December 22, 2006

Preschool Performance

Here are some pictures from Emma & Esther's Preschool Performance last week. It was a cute show where the kids got to dress up in different costumes and sing lots of songs. Esther knew all of the songs and did a great job singing. Emma enjoyed being on stage and looking cute! I didn't get to take many pictures at all, so these were taken by my Dad. We did have the whole thing video-taped, so hopefully soon I'll go throug it and post some video!
The girls are on the far right of this picture
Esther and her friend Brendan dressed up for "Winter Wonderland"
The Nativity Scene- Esther was one of the Wisemen
And Emma was a shepherd

Only One Thing I Despise about the Christmas Season..

and that's when it's time to take the yearly family Christmas picture.. again! We took about 80 shots this year and only got one good one.. and even then the girl's aren't smiling. The only disadvantage of having such a large family is trying to get every one to smile at the same time.. it usually never works!

This one was my personal favorite- I thought we should just use this one for our Christmas Card picture- however, I was quickly vetoed by Mom!

This is the picture that everyone will end up seeing this Christmas- like I said, not the best but it will do for this year!

Here are some random ones we took that turned out prety good:

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pre-Christmas Photos

The weeks have just flown by since school ended! In addition to Elena, Esther and I being sick earlier this week (and I'm still recovering) we've been attending Christmas parties, decorating the tree, shopping, shopping, shopping & making Christmas cookies!!!! Not to mention paperchasing, wrapping gifts and all the other activities that go on during Christmas!

Esther helping to decorate the tree

You see this? This is what happens any time I have to leave! The both grab my legs and hang on me saying "Sera.. don't go!!"

Our family after a Christmas party

Never a dull moment.. don't forget to put the lids back on the trash can.. or, just remember to close the garage door so the racoons don't have a feast out of our "leftovers."

Esther with one of the guinea pigs

The little girls really like to help take care of the animals.

Kayla, Ian & Elena baking Christmas cookies!

I have more pictures coming, including ones from Esther & Emma's preschool performance from last week!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Family FotoFun Friday Challenge: Pigtails

Pigtails are a big part of Emma & Esther's hair life..

To the left: April 2005- Emma's first "real" pigtails

Below: Gotcha Day in March- Esther came to us in pigtails!

Today.. Emma & Esther sport some cute pigtails

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Family FotoFun Friday Challenge- Pajama's

This week's FFFF is pajamas! The girl's love pajama's and they have some real cute ones. Currently, their favorites are these new Dora the Explorer ones we bought at Target. Esther loves anything that is Dora, so when she first saw these new pj's, you'd think she was someone who had just gotten a million dollars!

Donna from FFFF over at "Double Happiness" (Linked on the right hand side) has two little girls who have about the same age difference as Esther & Emma. Our girls are only 39 days apart in age and close in height, so they do look a lot like twins. But to me, they look nothing alike! Most people assume they are twins, and whenever they ask we just reply saying that they're five weeks apart. That gets some pretty interesting looks, but we let them think about it, or ask more questions! When Esther first came home, there was a HUGE difference in height & weight between both girls. Emma has grown quite a bit this summer, and she's almost the same size as her sister. Both girls are built very differently. We refer to Emma as the "little bird" because she's got a very thin build and is soo tiny! Esther, on the other hand is called "The Meatball" because she's got a very solid build! Even though there's not much different in weight, you can definitely feel the difference when picking them up. I think gymnastics will be in the future for Emma. She has long toes and amazing upper body strength. I see soccer or t-ball in Esther's future because she's so athletic!

Here's the differences between the girls: (They're as accurate as you can get with two squirming girls!)

Age: 3 years, 11 months
Height: 39 1/2 inches
Weight: 32 pounds
Clothing Size: 3T-5T
Shoe Size: 8 or 9

Age: 3 years, 10 months
Height: 38 inches
Weight: 28 pounds
Clothing Size: 2T & 18-24 month bottoms
Shoe Size: 6 or 7

Emma is busy, busy and busier! She is always on to something new and doesn't like to concentrate on anything for longer than 5 minutes! She's very bright, and likes to solve things like puzzles. She loves to do any sort of puzzle and can usually put pieces together faster than I can! She also loves to help in any any way she can. We do question Emma's actual age, though. If you spend ten minutes with the girls, you can tell an obvious difference in the two. Even though Esther has only been here 9 months, she has learned her ABC's, several Christmas songs, nursery rhymes and her numbers. If you ask Emma to say her ABC's, her version goes something like "ABCDEFJKZ.. now I know my ABC's, etc." She was VERY slow to potty train and she just acts a lot younger than a normal almost four year old. This summer when the girls from her travel group were here, they were all speaking in complete sentances and all potty trained. Emma does speak in 5-7 word sentances, but there was an obvious difference in their speaking abilities. Instead of asking "Can I have some water please?", Emma will say "I have water?" Emma's information from the orphanage was very conflicting and we never really got any information just that she was found on Feb 15th and they assumed she had been born the previous day. Maybe it's just that Emma has a different way of learning things. She's very bright, but it takes her a lot longer than it does Esther. However, she is the baby of the family and I think she likes that position! Another interesting thing about Emma is that many Vietnamese people have commented that Emma looks Vietnamese. That is interesting since she is from Beijing, which is quite far north of Vitnam!

On to Esther.. well she is a lot more laid back than her sister who has been dubbed "Tigger on Crack." Esther is very smart and is a quick learner. She loves to sing little songs like "Jingle Bells", "Itsy Bitsy Spider", etc. Even though she doesn't know all of the words, she'll make some up, or just hum along. We could tell from our orphanage visit back in March that she was a favorite among the nannies, probably because she is so bright. She loves to color and can write her name. She also is very prideful. If you accuse her of being a bad girl, or blame something on her she will correct you and say "No, it wasn't ME!!" I think Esther's going to be the more studious sister since she likes to finish everything she starts! Esther also has a really funny sense of humor. She can brighten even the most despondent person's day. She has the craziest laugh and loves to play games. An interesting note about Esther is that she appears to look more like a child adopted from Cambodia. She has very dark skin.. she's the darkest of all of us in the family! We're going to have Esther re-evaluated for speech therapy soon. Because of her cleft palate she has a hard time making sounds/words. We understand about 75% of what she says, but we're the only ones who do. Esther loves to talk to other people, but no one can really understand what she says. The speech therapy will really be good for her because she is a quick learner, and it will help us all not to be too frustrated when we can't understand one another!

No matter what their differences, they are both the sweetest, cutest, most adorable little girls I know. (Quite possibly because I am just a tad bit biased!)

Friday, December 01, 2006

It's Christmas Time Again!!

Finally.. I never thought December would get here!

Despite being 80+ degrees outside, the holiday's have arrived again and everyone's in the Christmas spirit. This is my favorite time of the year since Christmas music is playing on the radio, decorations are out everywhere and it just feels like the most wonderful time of the year. (Since, most would agree it is!)

The Emster's (Emma + Esther) love anything and everything about Christmas. Santa Clause, presents, cookies, Baby Jesus.. they are going nuts!! Emma has been so cute telling Esther all about Christmas and how Santa Clause comes and brings presents to everybody. Following the example of their older brother, they love to look at the newspaper and tell us all the things they *want* for Christmas. But they're also starting to understand the true meaning of Christmas, when Baby Jesus was born, so it's fun to watch as they discover this new holiday. Especially for Esther. Her eyes light up when she sees all of the decorations! In our town, one of the local realtor's always has a boat set outside with Santa Clause sitting in it. We pass it every morning when I take the girls to school, and they start screaming at the top of their lungs.. "HI SANTA CLAUSE!!!!!!!" Too funny.

We put up our tree on Tuesday, so here's our Family Foto Fun Friday Challenge (from of the week! Of course, it isn't decorated yet.. but we'll probably do that tonight!!

America's Newest Citizen!

Today, we were all out the door by 8:00 am. Despite the fact that the little one's hadn't had their teeth brushed, we all made it out fully clothed..and only half of us had eaten breakfast! (Thank goodness for coffee! My Dad and I drink two different type's of coffee, but I got to the machine first this morning!)

Today.. November 30, 2006, we Re-Adopted Shen Xiao Tian, so she is now officially Esther Joy Xiao Tian. She is forever ours now! Because only my Dad travelled to China, Esther didn't become a citizen when she came home. But, once we re-adopted her, we finalized the adoption, changed her name, and she is now officially a citizen of the United States of America!!

It was funny during the court procession, the clerk (?) was reading off her new American name (which she butchered pretty badly!) but forgot to say our last name. So Esther piped up and said our last name, which we all thought was funny. Also, sometimes the judge asks to see the originals of all our China paperwork, so my Dad brought our binder of what he *thought* was Esther's adoption paperwork.. and it turned out being Emma's! Fortunately, the judge didn't ask, so it was alrght!

The judge was very nice and we're glad that we have that step of the process out of the way! Now, we can focus more on our next adoption!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Time of Thanks

Some of the things I am thankful for:

I'm thankful for a wonderful family

Supportive and caring friends

Our home that keeps us warm at night

A free country and all of the servicemen who are fighting for our freedom, including my Uncle who won't get to spend the holiday's with his family this year

My health and my families health

Being able to adopt Esther, Emma and now Asher

Having sisters.. right now we fight all the time but I know one day we will be so glad we have each other

For the nannies in China who have and will continue to care for Asher until we can bring him home

Coffee.. can't make it through my mornings without it!

For my parents who work so hard to provide us with a good life and education

A wonderful and caring Father, because we wouldn't be anywhere without Him

And, thinking of my sister Kayla.. the poor turkey who had to die so we could enjoy him tomorrow! (Kayla's one of those future PETA members!)

And, I'm thankful for the life I've been given and for all of my talents and goals I hope to pursue in the future

On Thanksgiving, we usually have a few traditions that consist of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while peeling apples for applesauce, naming the turkey.. those sort of things. This will be Esther's first thanksgiving, so we are very thankful for having her home, and also thankful that we have one more waiting for us at the moment in China.

There are so many things I'm thankful for this year that it's hard to remember them all. On my mind is the fact that we are so blessed to be able to live in a free country and have Thanksgiving. This past Sunday, we took part in a food drive with our church and delivered a complete Thanksgiving meal for a family in need. It was humbling to think about the fact that there are some families in our own town that won't be able to enjoy tasty chicken, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. I'm thankful that we have a wonderful Lord and Savior who gives us all of these blessings and I pray that he brings comfort to those who can't experience this holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday weekend!!

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures FOREVER!" Psalm 118:1

I didn't think this had a chance.. But

I took this picture back in June (You can look back in the June Archives under "Popsicles on a Rainy Day") and submitted it along with a few other pictures to Love Without Boundaries for their 2nd Love's Journey book. The first Love's Journey is a wonderful book filled with pictures of children from China, writings, poems and essays from adoptive parents. It's one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen and whenever it's out on our coffee table, it's always a favorite. I would highly reccommend checking out Love Without Boundaries website to see if you can purchase a copy of the book. It's $50, but ALL of the money goes towards heart surgeries, foster care and nutrition programs for children in China. There's a link to LWB on my sidebar, so be sure to check it out.

Anyways, this picture was chosen to appear in Love's Journey 2!! I don't know when LJ2 is expected to be printed, but we're excited to see that the girls will be featured in it!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Visiting with Santa Clause

We decided to beat the holiday traffic and took the girls to visit Santa Clause today. Esther was so excited and when it was her turn, she ran over to Santa Clause and went to sit on his lap. She and Emma were so cute together!!

Here are some pictures:

Hold on a second.. we need to get into our poses!

Ian, Emma, Santa Clause & Esther

New pose.. same people

The girls telling Santa Clause what they want for Christmas.. a Cinderella Castle, Dora the Explorer things, and a brother from China!

"I want Asher from China!"

Santa looks a bit perplexed at how he can give these cute little girls a brother from China!

And then Ian also asked Santa Clause for a brother.. along with asking for some sort of new game/ipod he wants..

Santa Clause was so relieved to hear we were adopting a brother from China and that he wouldn't have to bring one and sit him under the tree on Christmas Eve!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Notice Anything New??

Look to your right.. on the sidebar.. under "Our Blogs"


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cute Sister Moments

A Swim in November

Esther thought it might be fun to try swimming in the middle of November.

Oooooo! It's really cold!

Maybe I'll try to go in a little further...

Wow.. This is cold!!

Sera told me to get my hair wet. She thought it would be funny to see if I would actually jump into the water and get my whole head wet! She's silly! I made her think I jumped in by pouring water on my head. Hah! And she thought I had actually jumped in!

I didn't have my camera on, but just a few moments later dad "accidentally" helped her into the water. She thought that was funny, and we were all laughing.

Family FotoFun Friday Challenges 5 & 6

Last week's challenge was hats! Here's Esther modeling a cute pink cowgirl hat. She makes quite a cute cowgirl!!

And this week's challenge was Crybabies! I usually delete any pictures I have of the girls crying because I wouldn't think anyone would want to see them! But, yesterday the girls had some Crybaby moments, so I grabbed the camera! Esther is crying because she had just woken up from her nap. Sometimes she will come downstairs once she is awake, but other times she prefers to sit and scream until someone comes to get her. And Emma started crying while we were on the boat and a capri sun pouch flew out as we were going. Not sure why she started crying when it flew out since there was nothing in it, but it proved a perfect picture opportunity!!

Family FotoFun Friday Challenge from

Friday, November 03, 2006


Just kidding! No, we're not adopting again, but this morning we received news from my aunt & uncle that they got their referral!! They started the adoption process in March, after being inspired by us adopting Emma & Esther.

We're still waiting for more details but what we do know is that she is a beautiful 2 1/2 year old little girl. She is a waiting child just like Esther was, and her special need has already been repaired.

We couldn't be any happier! Esther and Emma will have a cousin close to their age who is from China, just like they are. Hopefully once we get pictures, I'll be able to post them here.

Our new cousin should be coming home in February!

Congratulations Uncle Mau, Aunt Norma, Juliana & Milos!!

Family FotoFun Friday Challenge: Glasses

Again, late.. but better late than never!! This weeks challenge: Eyeware! The girls love sunglasses (particularly mine) so that wasn't hard to find pictures of!

Thanks to "Auntie" Donna from for putting on the photo challenge!!

Better Late than Never!

Well, I haven't been able to upload anything to blogger in the past two weeks!! So finally it is letting me add pictures.

Anyways, down to business. On October 15, we celebrated Kayla's 12th birthday! We went out to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant with several of our friends and had a great time.
Kayla is a really funny kid. She's the most argumentative child I've ever met, and my mom has always said that she would argue with the Lord himself if she could. She's very smart so dad is hoping she'll be a doctor one day.. although she'd probably be better as an attorney!! She comes up with the funniest jokes and even if I'm really mad at her she always makes me laugh. She had a great birthday and is so excited that she's officially a "Pre-Teen." Oh Boy!

My prayer for her on her 12th birthday is this:

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 3:18

"Delight yourself also in the Lord,
and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
commit your way to the Lord,
trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass."
Psalm 37:4-5

Happy Birthday Kayla!! (Although it was really on the 15th!!)

Now, on to Halloween and those activities. This year, we attended the annual Fall Festival at our church. We had a great time and the girls really enjoyed "Trunk or Treating", playing games and both got a present at the "Toy Walk".. sort of like a cake walk! But of course, the best part was how much candy they got!! Halloween was good to us this year.. we have enough candy to feed an entire army!! However, we're going to eleviate the problem and send most of the candy to friends of ours who are currently living in South Korea! And yet we still have plenty to go around!

For Halloween, the girls were Pirates! We found the costumes at Target and they were too cute to pass up!! Emma & Esther loved their costumes and loved to sing "Yo ho Yo ho, a Pirates life for me!" They sure made two adorable pirates!

On Saturday, the girls attended a town fall festival and got to dress up and see a Halloween play, that both Elena and I were in. Later, we took the girls to the pumpkin patch along with my friend, her mother and her nieces. There weren't many pumpkins left, but they didn't really care. We did get two pumpkins, but we mostly go just to get pictures!! Dad and Ian were camping this weekend, so it was nice to have a girls night. After the pumpkin patch, we ended up going to the mall and then out to dinner.

On Sunday, we were supposed to take the girls to a local farm, but mom was sick, so we changed our plans. We ended up taking the girls to the park for about two hours! They had a lot of fun, and it's an excuse for me to take pictures! I did get a few cute shots.

Ian was SO exhausted from camping that he fell asleep on the couch around 6:00! He was so proud of the spear he carved at Boy Scout Camp, that he fell asleep holding it!