Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!!

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Easter day, as we reflect upon the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for us. Hallelujah! He is Risen!!

"But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, he has risen as he said. Come see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee, there you will see him.'" Matthew 28: 5-7

"..but God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Since therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that we REJOICE in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we now received reconciliation." Romans 5: 8-11

This Easter is especially important to our family as we not only celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also the welcoming of Asher into God's family. Last night, Asher accepted Jesus into his heart! What an amazing answer to prayer..

Monday, March 17, 2008

Boating Pics

After the karate promotions on Saturday, we spent the rest of the weekend hanging out on the lake..


Kayla even got to try kneeboarding

And Elena got up during her first time graduating!
Way to go!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Karate Competition !!

Elena, Ian and Asher competed in their first karate competition on March 15th.
All three walked away with 2nd place in Forms, and 3rd in Sparring.
Way to go kids!

I had been at the sleepover with Esther & Emma the morning of the competition, so I didn't get to see Asher perform! =( I was so upset that I wouldn't get to watch him, but as soon as I walked into the room he ran up to me-grinning ear to ear- proudly displaying his two trophies!
Asher gets a hug from his little sister
We arrived just in time to watch Ian's turn at sparring!
Sparring is another word for "fighting." It's supposed to be little contact.. but these two were doing a pretty good job of kicking each other! Ian is in the blue belt.
Ian did very well and beat almost all of the other kids in his age group. He placed 2nd, behind the brown belt.

The fan club
Receiving his trophies
Two trophies!
Next was Elena's turn.. here's a view of what she got from that blue belt!
Elena is in green and she did superb, considering she was one of the "youngest" belts for her age group.

Ian, Asher and Elena proudly displaying their new trophies with their karate teacher.
The little girls.. being silly.

Friday, March 14, 2008

First Sleepover!

To help offset the costs of our senior trip in June, my best friend Samantha and I have been putting together once-a-month sleepovers for the kids at our school. (Samantha and I work at her mom's in-home daycare.) I wasn't able to attend the one in February since I was in Michigan, but I was able to make it to the recent one we had in March. We've tried to have a theme each month, and of course for March we did St. Patricks Day. The kids had fun making crafts and watching movies. The best part was when we transformed their playroom into a huge sleeping room- featuring five blow-up mattresses. They thought this was just the coolest thing and one of our little boys even remarked, "Wow.. I actually get to take my shoes off!" =)

The next morning, we ended up scrapping our plans for home-made breakfast and headed out to nearby Cracker Barrell for an even tastier, Southern meal! It was pretty funny the looks we got from people when they saw Samantha, her mom (Nana) and I walking in with nine children, all under the age of five! And it was even funnier when they saw how well behaved our kids were. (No offense, but our kids had better table manners than most of the adults in the restaurant!) And I totally forgot my camera!! =(

It was a fun sleepover and the kids all had a blast. After breakfast brunch, the parents came to pick their kids up and that following Monday, they said that the sleepover was ALL the kids could talk about!

We're doing another one in May, which will be fun!

Ready to head to Nana's house for our first sleepover!
(Looks like a lot of stuff for just one night!)

St Patricks Day crafts

Best Friends: Abby, Esther, Emma and Rachel

The kiddo's all lined up and ready for bed!

Snug as a bug!

Violin Lessons

Esther loves the violin!
She is very dedicated and hard working.
Learning the strings from Mrs Campbell
Playing by herself!
The funny man pretends to play guitar
Going over the notes with Kendyl

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Happy Adoption Day!

Esther Joy Xiao Tian
It was two years ago that a beautiful, funny, sweet and oh-so-very-smart little girl was brought into our lives. March 12, 2006 is a day I will never forget- it's the day that Esther Joy Xiao Tian became apart of our family.
It seems like it was so long ago, and I actually just went back and read through the blog post I made on that very day. (You can go back and read it by clicking HERE.) The whole Gotcha day process went much smoother than Emma's did. I'll never forget the way she just waltzed into the room as if she owned the place. I saw her and instantly fell for that little face of hers and those cute pigtails she had! (I was scared to death they would chop her hair off and she would look like a boy!) I went right up to her and said, "Hello Tian" and she just smiled that beautiful little smile she has. The rest is history.. she was content with us for those first two hours.. and then we met her other side!

Yah, the first few weeks with Esther were definitely something I wasn't prepared for-but who could blame her? At three, her entire world had changed. No longer was she the spoiled favorite child from her orphanage who was given anything she wanted just to make her happy, since they figured her future adoptive parents would deal with it once they got her! (And.. we know this for certain!) Yep, she had left that world for the life of the youngest of six children, sharing that spotlight with another child the same age as her.. which proved to be a bit disastrous at first! Her whole world had changed- she had to learn a new way of communicating with us strangers, to not hit her sister and share her toys and what it means to be loved. She has come such a long way from the over controlling type personality she used to have. We just laugh about it now because she's just the most joyful child!

Up until meeting her, I wasn't sure what it would be like to have a sister who was cleft affected. Sure I knew she had already had surgery, but what were other people going to think? Would her scar be so noticeable that people would stare and make fun of her? These fears were all lost upon meeting her because I barely even noticed her cleft and I pay little attention to it even today. Her cleft does affect her nose, but I think it's the cutest little nose ever! Being cleft affected hasn't stopped Esther from doing anything and in fact, I believe it's why God gave her this "responsibility."

Everyone who meets Esther instantly falls in love with her. She is so witty and has great people skills! Everywhere we go in public she always wants to ask someone what their name is, what their mom and dads name is, do they have a dog, and "oh what's your doggies name?" She loves to ask questions and that's how she learns. When she first got home she constantly asked "What is this? What is that" and that's how she picked up on English so fast. Have I mentioned how smart this child is? At school, she has the best penmanship in the class and she's always first to answer questions that her teacher asks. She may not be the loudest one at answering questions, reciting Scriptures or the pledges, but she sure can belt it out when she sings!!

We always joke around that Esther's going to put Mom & Dad in the good nursing home since she'll be the one with all the money. Esther's ambition in life is to be a mommy and a doctor, and to marry Daniel, the 21 year old brother of my friend. He's quite a bit way too old for her, but she thinks he is funny and that's enough for her! I don't know what it is about my youngest sisters and liking older men.. (Emma wants to marry the kids 21 year old karate teacher.)

Yes, Esther is a little bundle of joy and she makes our lives so much happier and funnier. Her humble beginning into this world has given her so much strength and perseverance that I know she will be able to accomplish anything she sets her mind to. (Like marrying Daniel? Hehe.. maybe not)

Happy Adoption Day!!

I flipped it.. but it still turned out like this when I
uploaded it! Guess you'll have to turn your head!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Kyle's Memorial Garden

In July of last year our friends unexpectedly lost their 19-year-old son, Kyle. It was a shocking time for all of us as we dealt with this unfortunate loss, and how to be there for our friends, Ken, Debbie and their children, Kevin & Kendyl. Kyle died at the beginning of the week and by the end of that week we had received our much anticipated travel approval for Asher. It was so tough since we were rejoicing with our addition, yet mourning the loss of Kyle.

While sitting in his memorial service just a few days later both Mom and I had an overwhelming feeling that God wanted us to give Asher the middle name of Kyle, in honor and memory of him. Of course we asked our friends Debbie & Ken and they said yes, they would be honored.

In a way I feel like God blessed both our families with Asher, since He took Kyle yet at the same time gave us Asher. Asher spends a lot of time with Kyle's family and we are so blessed to have their friendship. It's almost like Asher just knows how much he means to all of us.
Mrs Debbie even teaches Asher, Esther & Emma to play violin!

We have a very close group of friends who attend church with us now, or have in the past. We all decided to set aside one Saturday and go up to Kyle's parents home and create a memorial garden in honor of him. One family in our group is currently living in South Korea, yet they played an important part in the day since they had designed the garden! It was a beautiful way for all of our families to give some of our time to our friends Debbie & Ken who give so much of themselves.

It was a very peaceful, loving and happy day. The garden was done in just a few hours and we spent the rest of the time reflecting on Kyle's life and fellowshipping together.
Here are a few pictures from the day:

A view of Kyle's Garden
Emma and Esther playing Mr Potato Head with Angelina and Brooke
Ian and his friends.. who are only pretending.
Asher was a huge help.. he picked weeds, hauled old palm frauns and even drove a tractor!
Asher working with Matt

Asher and Esther helping Judah plant flowers in the garden
Asher and Chris on the tractor-- I hear he even ran into a tree!
The sprinklers are working!
Elena (second from right) with friends Kendyl, Abby and Bri
Praying over the finished garden.