Sweet Sixteen

Sweet Sixteen

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Yellow Butterfly

This will be the first Christmas without my dad.
 My sisters, my mom and I have all been experiencing a range of emotions these past few weeks as we lead up to a holiday where we not only celebrate Christ's birth, but also cherish many memories of times with our family. 

My Dad liked to keep the focus on Jesus at Christmas, but he did buy each of us 4 girls a gift just from him. I can't remember each and every one but it was usually a practical gift like an alarm clock or a tool set but it was obvious he had put some time and thought into picking out just the right gift.

The emotions of missing someone who is no longer here to celebrate holidays or just live everyday life with, are at times overpowering and unpredictable.  Such was the case today when my mom and I took Nadia and the dogs for a walk.

  It is still warm for December 23rd, but certainly not the time of year to expect to see a butterfly flying around.  Sure enough, there it was, gracefully flying around ahead of us...a beautiful yellow butterfly. 

I pointed it out to my mom and then I burst into tears. My dad's favorite color is yellow, so when I saw that butterfly I KNEW that God sent this butterfly as a thoughtful gift to remind us that while we may not have our dad here in person this year, we still have the many memories of Christmases with him as well as the other times spent together as a family.

These bittersweet moments are to be expected as we walk down the path of grief, and even though seeing that butterfly brought out a lot of emotions that had been simmering under the surface, I am thankful that we serve a God who is willing to take the time to send a sign to remind us how much He cares. He loves us more than we will ever begin to imagine.

Some will say that the yellow butterfly was just a coincidence, but I know in my heart that the God who could part the Red Sea and feed the 5,000 with just a few fish and some bread, can most certainly send a butterfly to spiritually "hug" those who are hurting.

We miss you so very much Dad!
It just won't be the same without you.

For all of you who are also spending your first Christmas missing a loved one, our prayers are with you!

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3,4

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Birthday Girl(s)

The evening before Nadia's birthday I spent time rocking her and looking into her sweet little face. I was overcome with emotion as I thought of her birth mother thousands of miles away, undoubtedly experiencing a range of emotions as she too remembers that Nadia will be turning 4 on Dec. 7th.

 I prayed for her and asked God that He would give her a peace and a knowing that her precious daughter is being lovingly cared for. I hope that she somehow knows that Nadia has indeed been adopted and will not be 'celebrating' her 4th birthday by being transferred to a mental institution, as I'm sure her birth mother knows well this inevitable step for orphans with special needs in her country.

As you look at the pictures of how Nadia got to celebrate her birthday with her forever family, will you please join me in praying for the millions of orphans who have yet to know the kind of love only a family can bring.  And especially pray for those 4yr. old orphans in Nadia's home country who, without being adopted, will face transfer to a place where NO CHILD should ever have to experience. Then take an extra moment to ponder how God might use you to remedy this ongoing travesty.
Thank you.

Nadia's been climbing out of her crib these days so when I returned home from the gym, this is where I found Nadia beginning her birthday...on the couch with her big sister!
When you ask Nadia how old she is, she tries her best to get the right number of fingers up, but still needs a little help.

Excited and ready to start her day! (Actually, her expression has nothing to do with it being her birthday...she just noticed Daddy coming down the steps!  Too sweet!)

And this is Daddy's reward for picking up the birthday girl!

Girlfriend's rockin' it out with her birthday dress and new pink boots!!!

Time to get on the bus! 

Strapped in and ready to go.

A surprise visit from Nonna with a yummy birthday cookie to share with her school friends!

Josi joins in the fun at Nadia's preschool.

The birthday girls. (Mine is the day after so now we get to 'share' our celebrations.)

A little birthday hat 'signed' by all her school friends.

Time to prepare the birthday dinner!
Nonna and Allen are making Italian meatballs...yummy!

Michael helped Nonna make this incredible chocolate cake!

Flowers from hubby for the older birthday girl.

Josi supervising and wondering what's taking so long!

It was a wonderful dinner and a great way to celebrate our 4yr. old's big day!!!

I just had to put Nadia's referral picture in here so you could see what we get to see on a daily basis...

...the AMAZING difference having a family can make!

We love you Nadia Irina Ferguson!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Yesterday my friend Jenn and I drove up to VA to have one last park date with Adeye and her children before they move across the country. (insert weeping and gnashing of teeth here-sniff sniff)

I met Adeye in blogland but have also been privileged to spend some face-to-face time with her and her family a few times over the past 2yrs.

Adeye and her husband Anthony have 7 children, 4 of whom are adopted.  Each adpoted child has her own unique story, but the one that has truly touched my heart is Hailee's. Any child who is forced to spend even one day in an orphanage can't be considered to have had a 'good start' in life, but there are some who have truly horrendous orphanage experiences and Hailee is one of those sweet babies.

She came home as a 5yr. old weighing only 15 1/2 pounds.  But what she lacked in size she made up for in spunk and an innate survival instinct.

Our first park get together was July of last year and all 3 girls just kind of hung out on the blanket together.  Even then it was evident that Hailee was going to make sure her younger sister knew who was the oldest even if she wasn't the biggest.

Yes, ma'am, this girl wasn't going to let someone with a few extra pounds push her around.

However, my (ahem) sweet daughter made sure that Hailee knew that she was definitely going to use her size to her advantage. 

In my sweet bully daughter's defense, she was probably just trying to hug Hailee.  I'm sure it had nothing to do with her trying to steal Hailee's drink or pull her hair or anything like that.

Ok, so there is some pictorial evidence to the contrary showing that Nadia doesn't always mean well, but I really think that even in this situation she was just showing Milana how much she adores her with a nice (albeit painful) "love squeeze".  
Ahh...but I digress. Back to Hailee my Hero!

  I was so excited to see her and her family yesterday and to see the wonderful progress she's made since our last visit.  I could tell she had gotten much stronger and still possessed that same spunk and survival instinct that has helped her get this far in life. 
 But I still wasn't prepared for sista to "bust-a-move" the way she did.  Thankfully, I caught it all with my camera in the following sequence of pictures.

It started out all pink and innocent and cute as Jenn broke out the crackers for the 4 little ones.

In fact it wasn't until I moved Harper up next to her sister that all "you know what" broke loose.
I can just hear Hailee's thoughts..."Oh no you don't, Harper, these crackers are mine!"

So, doing what any sister would do when faced with competition , Hailee pushed her down to leave her with only 2 opponents for the food.

Being next in the line of fire, Nadia gets a dose of  karma  with a good hair-pulling from Hailee.
(Notice Harper's unwillingness to jump in and help out--I'm totally cracking up at this point which I'm sure makes me a terrible mom but the irony of this scene was tickling my funny bone.)

What comes around goes around they say.

This really played out faster than it seems, and even amidst my laughter, I am just about ready to intervene...you believe me right?

Pinned!  You win Hailee.   You can have Nadia's crackers.

"Oh no she did not just reach her hand out for MY share of the crackers."
(Bad move Milana....Really. Bad. Move.)

Told ya.

Hailee is the full package. She's as sweet and cuddly and pretty in pink as she can be...

...and tough as nails when needed. She had to be or she wouldn't be here today.  I thank God that he gave this girl the fighting spirit that she has and that he moved in the lives of  Adeye and Anthony to bring this little one into their family where she can truly reach her full, God-given potential!

(Post Disclaimer: No children were harmed in this photo shoot and no sticks were ingested...just some leaves and grass by Nadia...as usual...)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Birthday Rewind

In an effort to catch up a little on my blogging, I had to go back a few weeks to when we celebrated Allen's 15th birthday.

 Michael decided to dress up for the occasion as we feasted on some of Allen's favorites.  Allen is one of those kids who stopped ordering off the children's menu when he was 2!  He has a very sophisticated palate but it's fun cooking for him because he likes so many things.

Josi hams it up during present opening time.

Dad picked out a new  lake toy for Allen that I think he's secretly hoping to use as well. 

Oh how I love this boy!

 (No judging my cracked cheesecake or the fact that I had to use candles in the combination of 14 + 1 to celebrate 15! My Martha Stewart days are so a thing of the past. ha ha)

Then it was time for the teenage boy birthday party which mainly consists of the following:

1) Hanging out...in the kitchen of course!

2) Playing computer and video games simultaneously.

3) Watching some football and being silly.

4) And of course doing what teenage boys do best--EAT--and I mean EAT!!!

It's hard for me to fathom that the little boy who would cling to me in any social setting is now


tearing it up on the soccer field for his varsity school team,

 refereeing for the younger kids' soccer games,

and just turning out to be a young man that I really enjoy being around!

Oh yes, and I think he's pretty handsome too! :)

And in case you were wondering where little Missie Moo was hiding during all of the birthday photos...well, um, you see,uh... she was unavailable for photos because um...

She was on a field trip! Yeah! That's it!
More photos from that fun day in a future blog post!