Monday, July 21, 2008


Some of you will remember this post I made back in China the day after we had visited Asher's orphanage.
I can't go into a whole lot of details right now,
but I'm asking for each of you to PRAY for this little boy, J.

(I know his picture was on a lot of fridge's right after my blog post came out.)

A lot of special things are happening in his life right now..
please pray for God's will to be done and for us to be patient
as we watch His awesome plan for J's life begin to unfold.

I'll update when I know more..

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dad's 50th

This year marked the big 5-0 for the Daddy-o!
We sent him off for the afternoon with the youngest kids to the movies while those who were left scrambled to decorate the house.
Our guests started arriving at 6:30 and we had all of them park down the street so the house would appear "empty." Kayla had instructions to keep Dad out as long as possible and she knew exactly what to do because after the movie they visited the ice cream store and Petsmart! Finally, around 7:30 pm the birthday boy arrived to a house full of close friends and family ready to surprise him. And boy was he surprised!

Friends are here and preparing for the big moment..
Our theme was "Celebrating 50"
Friends hiding in the kitchen..
Here he comes..

The Birthday Boy!
He sure was surprised since we hadn't done much that day. We told Dad we would have a nice quiet dinner as a family and he was quite depressed that we weren't doing anything special. Little did he know...

The cake!

We had to throw in a few jokes.. =)
(that's an inflatable walker)

We asked all of our guests to bring 50 of something..
and it was pretty funny to see what people came up with!
One of our friends made Dad an "Old Geezer Survival Kit" packed
full of funny jokes such as prune juice, stimulants, tp, a giant remote control, marbles.. etc
Prune Juice

Our gift to Dad.. in iPhone!
However, because they hadn't come out yet we could only give him the paper version of one!
Now for the biggest surprise-
Mom: "Honey, the kids and I have decided to surprise you with something..."
(Don't you love Kayla and Ian's faces.)
"..we're going to adopt a little boy from Africa!"
And here he is.. =)

Okay, it's kind of been a joke in our family that the next time we adopt it will be a child from Africa. Mom would always be willing to add to our large brood, but Dad always says we are done! So keeping that in mind our friend Randy decided to dress up and use body paint to surprise my dad. It was hilarious.. Dad was sure shocked and I think he even almost believed Mom when she told him.

Don't worry-- we are COMPLETE and NOT adopting again.
(Although a few of us would always be open to adding to the family)
Meet your new son!
Esther doesn't look too excited about her new "brother."
Mom, Randy and Dad
Aged to Perfection
Singing Happy Birthday

Our Family

Thursday, July 17, 2008

4th of July

Our Fourth of July was rather quiet this year.
Last year we had over 72 people at our house for an annual 4th of July bash that consists of lots of good friends, food, boating and fireworks!
However, due to the events of the following day (Dad's surprise 50th birthday party) we forewent the usual tradition and begrudgingly opted for a quieter, relaxed holiday. (I say begrudgingly since most of us kids were hoping for more excitement!)
At the end of the day the Disney fireworks we saw were through a bunch of trees.
Oh well.. next year we will continue in our tradition.

Here are a few shots of our little Miss Independence Day Beauties..

The view of the Disney fireworks from our street.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Here I go again.. I seem to constantly be apologizing for taking forever to update the blog. Here is it the 16th of July and I haven't even caught up with the end of May or June for that matter! So much has happened over the last two months it's hard to know where to begin an update. Rather than bore you with 16 posts highlighting each occasion, I'll just combine it all into two posts: one for June and the other for July (at least the first half of July.)

So, here we go:

June 6-13th: Mom and I spent a week in the Bahamas for my Senior Trip.

Accompanying us were my best friend Samantha and her mom, Marianna (or Nana, as we call her). We stayed in Treasure Cay, which is located in the Abaco's Islands. To say it was beautiful would be an understatement. My description won't even begin to justify the pristine beauty of this place. Try to picture:
  • White sandy beaches, none of that imported sand we have these days on our local beaches.
  • Water so turquoise you can see your toes
  • The friendliest people you have ever met.
Like I said, I can't tell you enough how beautiful it is. You have to visit Treasure Cay to truly experience what we did. Most people have never heard of it and that's because they like to keep it a secluded place. Only the richest of the rich own homes there, and the biggest Blue Marlin in the world was caught off the shore so it's a favorite of many fishermen. We happened to be there during the annual Billfish Tournament and watched in eager anticipation for what would be caught! The day we arrived an over 1000 pound Blue Marlin was caught, and it claimed the title of third largest in the world.
It was so much fun and we hope to visit again and hopefully bring the whole family back next year! Hard to believe we have such beautiful places located just a 45 minute airplane ride from Florida!!
Enough of the description.. on to details! We had a blast.. we spent most of our days sunbathing and relaxing on the beach, which did I mention it was voted one of the Top Ten Beaches in the World? When we weren't sunning, we were island hopping; taking ferry's to some of the local islands near by. By far my favorite was the small settlement of Hope Town, located on nearby Elbow Cay. It reminded me of a small New Englandesque town, right in the middle of the Bahamas! It's the type of town where people don't own cars.. they get around by golf cart or boat. Even the kids who live there have to travel by ferry to the bigger islands for school.
Another day, Samantha and I were able to go snorkeling and konking with our "neighbors" in the hotel. We snorkeled around a large rock in the middle of the ocean where the water was only about eight feet deep and saw literally THOUSANDS of fish.. and a few barracudas! =O We also got to see what it is to go "konking" and our new friend Jacob brought up six konks, four of which we brought home!
This trip was definitely by far the best vacation I have ever been on, besides China.. yet that wasn't really a vacation!

First time in the water!
Mom and Me
That's what I call Paradise
The four of us enjoying lunch in Hope Town
At the Hope Town Beach
The view from our Hotel Room
Visiting Green Turtle Key
Samantha and Me
Two of the konks we helped catch!

June 15-19th: As soon as we arrived home from the Bahamas, we re-packed and headed out the next day for our vacation on the Disney Cruise Line!

Out of all of our family vacations, the Disney cruise is probably our favorite. Disney just knows how to do it between the wonderful entertainment, fun children's programs, exquisite dining, comfortable rooms, and of course the magic that is Disney! This was our third time on a Disney cruise but it had been quite awhile since our last voyage was right after we sent in our dossier for Emma's adoption in 2003. We'd been planning on taking another cruise again but for the last four years the extent of our "international" vacation has been spent in China! We were very excited to take this trip especially with the youngest three and they all had a blast.
Along with our family, we brought along my friend Samantha who fit right in with out crew.. and the extra set of hands was helpful! We visited Disney's private island Castaway Cay, then ventured north to Nassau for a day and back to a stormy Castaway Cay on the last day. The younger four kids spent the majority of their time in the children's programs and it wasn't by our choice- they begged to go back!
It was a wonderful trip and we look forward to taking another voyage again one day.. maybe in a few years since it isn't the cheapest vacation!

These next two photo's require the rotation of your head!

Just before embarking the ship
Celebrating Father's Day
The special guy!
The kids got to meet Mickey again
Esther and Emma were chosen to participate with Snow White during one of the shows on our first night. Emma is in pink and Esther is in green.
The boys are only pretending to sip our daquiri's!
Family picture in front of the boat
Enduring the annual girl ritual of hair braiding..
Good thing 'cuz they were TOO cute!

The boys enjoyed playing in the water
The girls..
Castaway Cay
Sharing a sweet, uncommon brotherly moment of love!
Pirates and Princesses at Dinner!
Dad and Mom
Aha.. there's quite the explanation..
So our family was enjoying a relaxing day on the Castaway Cay beach. The youngest two were were happily spending their day in the children's program, while the next two in line entertained themselves by flipping each other's tubes over in the water. Dad and the girls were enjoying a swim in the warm ocean and Mom was sunbathing. I hadn't been feeling wonderful that day (probably due to seasickness) so I decided to find refuge in a glorious, secluded hammock covered by a group of large palm trees. I grabbed by iPod to enjoy some tunes and told Mom I was headed off to that hammock. She was listening to her iPod as well but noticed I had said something and replied the common "Uh huh." So I went and sought refuge in that shaded hammock and without realizing it, I had fallen asleep. When I awoke the once crowded beach was completely still and there was NO ONE around. I quickly glanced at my iPod clock and saw that it was only 4:15, so I had 45 minutes to spare before the boat left at 5:00 pm. I headed over to the now abandoned lounge chairs my family had occupied before and noticed the lifeguard calling my attention. She asked if I was Sera and when I replied yes, she told me my family had already left and that they had taken my camera too. A huge rush of relief fell over me as I confirmed my most precious possession was indeed safe, so I could head back to the boat. However, there was still one problem: It was over 90 degrees outside and I had no shoes. They had obviously been taken by my family when they went to leave.. and no one thought to leave shoes for the person they couldn't find. (They went to leave and couldn't find me.. yet they didn't look very hard because I wasn't more than 30 yards away from them..) So, I had no choice but to embark on a very hot, exhausting adventure back to the boat since we happened to be on the farthest part of the beach. Slowly but surely I maneuvered my poor feet onto every shady area of the concrete walkway as possible.. but the two mile walk and lava hot temperatures did quite the toll on my feet. Luckily I was able to reach the tram in time, but my feet were completely numb and I could barely walk. I ended up walking on the sides of my feet and hobbling as quickly as I could. When I made it onto the boat I had no room key or identification but since we were on an island where only Disney Cruise Line guests are, I didn't encounter any problems. The officer who let me on board asked my name and then proceeded to tell me my family was looking for me. I don't know how I did it, but I managed to climb eight floors (on the elevator =) and then walk all the way to the front of the boat towards our room. As soon as they let me in our room, I hobbled to the nearest bed, threw myself onto it and cried.. and cried.. and cried some more. It hurt. My poor feet suffered serious burns.. I'm going to say they were at least 1st degree, maybe 2nd. I couldn't walk, so the wheel chair was my avenue for the evening. Luckily Samantha was there and she and Elena did a great job of "pushing" me wherever I needed to go.
So, Lesson of the vacation: DON'T LEAVE FAMILY MEMBERS BEHIND!

My poor feet..they blistered within 24 hours
and to this day (7/16/08) I'm still blistered.

Pirates Ian Sparrow and Asher Sparrow
Our Third Day was spent in Nassau.. where we shopped and hobbled 'til we dropped!
Since I had burned my feet the night before, I was still not walking very well so we decided to take the wheelchair with us for the day in Nassau. Well, the streets of Nassau aren't exactly wheelchair friendly and I ended up folding and wheeling it through the straw markets since it was so crowded. The wheelchair was becoming such a setback that we took it back to the boat and I spent the rest of the day hobbling. It wasn't too bad- I knew I wanted to go to the straw market and that's where we went.. and where Samantha, Elena and I spent ALL day! We met Dad, Mom and Kayla for lunch at Hard Rock and they spent most of their time jewelery shopping in recognition of their 20th anniversary on the 18th of June.

Ian fell asleep at dinner
Daddy's Littlest Girl
Each night we were surprised with a different kind of towel art in our room. This night we got a peacock and even a few chocolates!
It won't rotate, so you'll have to turn your head..
Same for this one
Our last day on board called for a fun day back at Castaway Cay, however we were greeted with some pretty ugly clouds and rain that lasted all day. While we were stuck on board, the girls and I explored most of the ship. We know the whole thing.. top-bottom!
Finally just around lunchtime, the storm began to clear up so we were able to enjoy lunch on the island.
The youngest four all "graduated" from the Disney children's program.
On our last night, Asher, Esther and Emma put on their dress up clothes and posed with the characters.
Emma was so excited to meet Belle.. can't you tell?
This one turned out so cute.. only it would be better if I could figure out how to rotate it!!
Here we are on our last morning with our servers. They stayed with us throughout our entire dining experience.
And the not so wonderful part about vacation: the dirty laundry.

June 21st: Asher and Sophie's Reunion

Just day after returning home from our cruise we got to experience the wonderful reunion between Asher and his best friend from China, Sophie. We had a wonderful time getting to finally meet Sophie and her family and watching the two of them reconnect. It was so sweet to watch. More details and video are on Asher's blog.
First hugs in over 13 months!
Best friends reunited.
Ian, Esther, Sophie, Asher
Maddie and Emma

June 23-28th: After all of that, our last big event for June was a week at church camp for the three oldest girls.

We spent our week doing various activities, many of which included getting SUPER messy.

And one even involved throwing eggs at each other
(that wasn't the purpose of the game.. it ended up that way after the game!)
We played lots of sports and tournaments, including carpetball.
The group was split into four teams who competed against each other all week.
We had a lot of fun!

This was my last year as a graduated senior; next year will be Ian's chance! =0

This concludes the end of our fun-filled busy month of June!