Friday, June 29, 2012

Happy Birthday to my Sister!

Yesterday, my sister celebrated one of those "milestone" birthdays.  I won't say which one because as we all know once we hit 29 we are 29 forever.  Nevertheless, I thought of her all day giving thanks that God brought her in my life. God made us sisters but life made us best friends!  Our lives have always been so intertwined in that there were many times we were just extensions of each other.  Time and physical distance have created separation that is a constant reminder of how much I miss her and my heart aches to know that yet another birthday has passed without me being able to celebrate with her.  We haven't seen each other in 2 years and given that she is a busy stay at home wife and mom of three very active kiddos and I live a life with a full time job, 4 kiddos and a stay at home husband, we just don't even get a moment to catch up on the phone and although physical distance keeps us apart our hearts are always connected.....that is the way it is with sisters.  In fact just this week, Emily and Grace were arguing and fussing with each other saying things like, "I wish you weren't my sister" and I had to remind them that one day their relationship would be the most precious one in the world.

So, Happy Birthday to an incredible wife, an amazing mama, and a most wonderful sister!!!!!  I miss and love you beyond words.

Here she is with her beautiful family!
 4 years ago at Cody's Baptism and our last photo together.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Colorado Fires

Having lived in Florida for many years I weathered my share of hurricanes and witnessed first hand the devasting destruction of how powerful weather can be but never in my experience have I seen something as frightening as what we witnessed here in my city yesterday.  Last Saturday morning as the girls and I left the gym I looked out over the parking lot where there is usually a magnificant view of the mountains and saw a large black plume of smoke.  We listened to the radio and discovered that the canyon just behind this ridge was on fire and for three days we stayed tuned to the news praying for rain and for fire fighters to keep the fire from crossing the ridge into neighborhoods on the west side of our City.  The fire fighting seemed to be going well until yesterday when weather conditions provided the perfect opportunity for this fire to cross the ridge and as I left my neighborhood to pick Joshua up from summer school this is what I saw.......

Within, a few hours this was the scene as the fire invaded a neighborhood where Mike and I had seriously considered moving when we were searching for homes in preparation for our move.  In fact the street of the home we looked at was mentioned in news casts and we are certain that it probably was destroyed.  The fire was so powerful that fire fighters were forced to retreat while over 32,000 residents were evacuated within a very short time.  Although we live on the other side of town and far from any danger we still found ourselves scared and in shock as to how quickly one could lose everything  as well as how uncontrollable fire can be.  We awoke in the middle of the night with the smell of smoke in our home even though our windows were shut tight and air conditioning having run all night long knowing just across the highway from our home an entire community was going up in smoke.

We currently have no news as to how many homes have been lost and the weather conditions are favorable for spreading today so we are praying for a mighty God to reach down from Heaven and heal our land.

A shot from the AirForceAcademy Chapel which is about 5 miles west of our home with smoke plumes billowing behind.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Is it Summer?

Well, it is summertime but I will have to say that the living is not exactly easy. In fact I sat in my office one day last week after having just traveled over 60 miles in one morning dropping 4 kids at their camps and activities, with an inbox full of emails from some pretty impatient and demanding parents and dreamed of this……

Ahh, to sit on the beach with a warm breeze blowing listening to the soft sounds of waves crashing against the sand.  Then the phone rang, jolting me back into the reality of my life.  A life that is now characterized by chaos and stress.  I honestly believe that somewhere along this path I have been walking, my mind was lost and I do wonder if it will ever be found.  Just in the past couple of days I have brewed at least 2 maybe 3 cups of coffee in my Keurig only to discover coffee pouring down my kitchen counter for lack of a cup.  I drove out of the driveway the other morning without a child, ran a stop sign, tried to make a bank deposit at the dry cleaners all the while leaving the house every day not remembering whether I brushed my teeth or not.  The stretching that has occurred over the past 1 ½ years has caused me to become frayed, not at all like what I used to be.  I lose my temper so easily, I am disorganized and unfocused and filled constantly with negativity and fatigue.  I have neglected some of the most important things in my life in exchange for a full-time job working, sometimes 45-50 hours week with the addition of weekends spent working on all the things I couldn’t get done during the week. I am exhausted all the time having poured my time and energy into other people and lacking the energy to make it through a page of a chapter book with my own kids before falling asleep.    I have debated on whether I should just close the blog given that I don’t have the time to devote to keep it current coupled with the fact that we just don’t do much blog-worthy stuff anymore.   I barely even take photos.  I know, not a very pretty picture which is why I really haven’t wanted to blog.  I am a firm believer that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all and I really haven’t had anything uplifting to say recently.  Life certainly hasn’t turned out exactly like I had planned but then sometimes it doesn’t, we are forced to accept things that we can’t change and live with decisions we thought were a good move at the time.  We simply just have to make lemonade out of lemons.  Well, along with my mind my love and ability to pull together culinary treats has vanished amidst the chaos of managing a demanding job, 4 kids, a house, laundry, grocery shopping, errand running and just making sure I am fully dressed (with matching shoes) when I leave the house.  I am hopeful however that with a few weeks of disconnecting from my job that I can at least recover a recipe for some sweet lemonade in life.  It may not happen but I desperately desire to reclaim some order to my house (at least have some clean clothes to wear), re-connect some friendships and family relationships that have been severely neglected and love on my kiddo’s who I know have missed their mommy.  So while this blog post is not filled with beautiful pics of fun summer times of our family, I do hope it may let some mom who may be struggling with life know that she is not alone.

Hoping for some Lemonade!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Brunch: Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits

This weekend has been filled with yummy food and great fellowship and we are in full preparation mode for Super Bowl so this Sunday we are enjoying something quick and easy for breakfast which is so healthy and satisfying.  I created this last spring after returning from China with more than  I expected.  Being diagnosed and treated for  Giardia left me with chronic tummy troubles so I concocted these yogurt parfaits as a way of bringing some healthy bacteria into my system.  The greek yogurt is so delicious, great for the digestive system and the added flax is very beneficial for many different things.  Flaxseed supports normal functioning of the digestive tract and the fiber, alpha-linolenic acid, protein and SDG lignans found in the flax have heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids while the SDG lignans have antioxidant properties that have positive effects on balancing hormones.  All of which all of us need on a daily basis which is why this is my standard daily breakfast.  Now I typically don't serve it parfait style given that I don't have time to eat breakfast until I settle in at work and may get some teasing from my students if I whipped out my Lenox Crystal while writing tardy passes but it is nice to serve it this way when you are entertaining.  Of course if you aren't a fan of flaxseed you could always substitute granola instead.  So after last weeks sinful Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding, I hope I have redeemed myself with some healthiness.  ENJOY and may you be blessed!

This is my favorite kind of Greek Yogurt, I find it at my local King Soopers as well as Whole Foods

I purchase my flaxseed with dried fruits at Whole Foods.  I use 2 Tablespoons every day.

Voila, Delicious and Healthy!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

On the Campaign Trail

Wednesday evening our family had the  pleasure of attending a Rick Santorum Campaign Rally.  It was so much fun and brought back some fond memories of times when we were campaigning for various candidates while living in FL.  Election season was always a time we enjoyed, feeling strongly that as Believers it was our responsibility to contribute in promoting those whom we thought would honor the conservative values if elected.  I had even thought early in our marriage that Mike was destined to serve his country in political office however our lives took a different turn so we were thrilled to once again stand behind a candidate who probably is one of the most genuinely conservative politicians we have ever supported.  We were very impressed with Rick Santorum prior to the rally and were not disappointed after hearing him speak on Wednesday.  Although, the numbers indicate that he won't make it to the Oval Office and we will happily support whoever gets the nomination but whatever the outcome may be in the primaries we are honored and proud of men and women like Rick who remain faithful to their beliefs and stand strongly consistent in them once they arrive to their political offices.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sunday Brunch: Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding

May I begin by saying that there is absolutely nothing healthy about this Sunday Brunch recipe that I prepared for Mike's Mens Group on Saturday.  It is full of sugary carb filled donuts, sugary sweetened condensed milk, fatty butter and a little bit of booze if you like.  Not exactly heart friendly but oh is it good and nice to share with friends when you want to wow them with something wonderfully delicious. I would highly recommend that you prepare this to share because the temptation of having leftovers will certainly sabotage any New Year diet goals.

The recipe is a Paula Deen special and one that reminds me of my college days and our late night drives downtown Birmingham to the Krispy Kreme for a fresh batch of warm doughnuts.  Those were the days, when we could devour late night carbs and fat and simply work them off the next morning with a brisk walk to class. be young again.

I have a few things to share but haven't had a spare moment to post.  We have soaked in some wonderful worship and teaching at our church recently, the kids are staying super busy, we continue to absorb new things about Joshua's medical situation, there are possibly some big changes on the horizon for me personally and our family is looking forward to getting together this weekend with some old and new friends.  Soooo, lots of fun things to post about if I can ever get a chance but in the meantime find an excuse to indulge in some Paula Deen's Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding.

1 pinch salt
1 9 ounce box raisins
2 Eggs, beaten
2 4.5-oz cans fruit cocktail (undrained)
1 14-oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk (not evaporated)
2 dozen Krispy Kreme Donuts
1 or 2 teaspoon cinnamon
Butter Rum Sauce:
1 stick butter
1 pound box confectioner’s sugar
Rum to taste


Cube donuts into a large bowl. Pour other ingredients on top of donuts and let soak for a few minutes. Mix all ingredients together until donuts have soaked up the liquid as much as possible.Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour until center has jelled. Top with Butter Rum Sauce.

Butter Rum Sauce:

Melt butter and slowly stir in confectioner’s sugar. Add Rum and heat until bubbly. Pour over each serving of Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding.  (In case your like Jack Sparrow and find yourself saying "why is the rum gone"  you can substitute Apple Juice for the rum)

Enjoy and may your week be full of blessings!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sunday Brunch a day late: Asparagus and Tomato Fritatta

Well, another insane week as come and gone and here we are ready to hit the ground running for another one. Last week was just frustrating in that I felt I started behind and never caught up so yesterday I was still lost in about 20 loads of laundry and the house was a wreck so I worked like a mad woman to try to get caught up. Fortunately my sweet baby girl, Grace who just happens to be a wonderful organizer played "clutter catcher" which made cleaning so much easier. This is where I found her last night when she should have been in bed

organizing our kitchen junk drawer. I just love this girl. I have to take a picture and post the finished is a masterpiece. Anyway, we started our day with a healthy breakfast of Asparagus and Tomato Fritatta. We don't eat out often (way too stressful with the pack) but when we do there are just a couple of restaurants that we enjoy. One is a little breakfast spot that serves this wonderful Mediterranean Frittata. I love it so when I saw this recipe I couldn't wait to try...I wasn't disappointed. It was just as yummy as our beloved breakfast spot and South Beach friendly (yay). So here is the recipe from Kayln's Kitchen. I substituted Reduced Fat Feta for the Havarti and served it with some Aussie Bites from Costo. YUM!

Enjoy and have a blessed week!

Monday, January 16, 2012

19 Years of being "The Mrs."

19 years ago today I said "I Do" to the man with whom I would spend the rest of my life. My wedding day was the most magical day of my life and I love remembering all the special details of a moment in time when I felt like the happiest girl on earth. It was a perfect day and the beginning of a journey that would take me places I never dreamed of going. Destinations in life to which I only arrived because of the man by my side. He is a dreamer, a risk taker and is never afraid of stepping out of the ordinary in an attempt to experience the extraordinary and on January 16th, 1993 he took my hand and has never let go. Holding me tight he has walked happily with me through some of the most joyful times of our lives while carrying me through the fires of pain and then holding me closer than I ever imagined when those fires left us standing in heaps of ashes. Through it all he has been as near as my own heart beat. The walk has not always been easy nor has it been perfect. There have been disagreements, disappointments, and many times when we didn't see eye to eye but our love for each other has never waivered. I am blessed beyond words to share my life with my husband by my side and to know that out of all the people in the world he is mine. And so I celebrate today, the day when I traded my Miss for his Mrs. with an excitement in my heart of knowing I have the rest of my life to love on my man. 

This is probably my favorite wedding photo...I shared more photos of our wedding here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reconnecting and Rediscovering

Many years ago when we were just beginning this journey of life as a family, Mike and I participated in a parenting class at our church.  I will never forget the words of the teacher speaking in length about the importance of staying connected as a husband and wife. Something that stuck with me was his encouraging husbands to routinely take their women out of the roles of being mommies and give them opportunities to just be wives.  While this was directed to men there was also an encouragement of us wives in being willing to allow our husbands to do this for us.  At that particular time in our marriage, doing this was somewhat easy.  We only had 2 little boys with 2 set of grandparents eager for every opportunity to spend time with their grandsons giving us many chances to escape the everyday life of mommy and daddy and reconnect as husband and wife.  Fast forward 12 years, and add 2 more kiddos to the mix and a cross country move far away from grandparents and we find ourselves in a very different place.  Those reconnecting times as husband and wife are much more difficult to mine out of the all consuming responsibilities of doing family.  Lysa Terkeurst says it so well in her book, Capture His Heart,

"When we are dating one of the things that makes us so exciting to each other is the new discoveries about each other that we spend time unearthing....All the newness is exhilarating and serves to stoke the fires of romance.  Then you get married, have a couple of kids and suddenly every conversation becomes the Cliff Notes versions.  There is no time for in-depth reviews and new discoveries.  We slip into survival mode and stop discovering all together.  I look at him everyday, sleep with him at night, talk, kiss and even make babies with him yet there is still so much I don't know and sadly what I do know has gotten lost in the shuffle of life.  It helps to think back to those days of dating and resurrect the desire to discover what makes him tick a priority."

When you are a busy mom and dad taking care of a family finding those moments to rediscover each other is down right hard.  It takes energy, effort and time that often isn't readily accessible and we go for weeks, months and years without knowing what lies deep within the hearts of our mates yet this is a vital key in keeping our marriages strong and vibrant not to mention fueling us with what we need to weather the storms that rise within our families.

I am blessed with a husband who has always encouraged me to sneak away with him and enjoy just being his wife but I am embarrassed to admit that I haven't always been a willing party.  I get so consumed in meeting the many needs of our family that I don't believe I can take the time to date and enjoy the love of my life.  This is something that I have vowed to make a priority in my life and after a little get-away he and I just experienced I am even more motivated to take advantage of every opportunity we have to reconnect and rediscover each other.

In an effort to take me out of my encompassing mommy role my man arranged for his sister to fly out and keep the kids over night while we escaped to the mountains. We spent a day soaking in this

and each other. It wasn't necessarily a time of discovering new things about each other but rediscovering and enjoying all those things that we already loved.  We shared quite rides up the mountain on the ski lift where we laughed, reminisced and just enjoyed being together.  Giving up the black runs, Mike skied greens and blues with me and patiently waited for his slow skiing wife at the bottom of each run.  We sipped hot cocoa together like dating teenagers and enjoyed a couple of calm meals where we actually finished a sentence.  We talked about our hopes and dreams reminding each other of how precious we are to each other.  Mike even spent an hour checking out the new IKEA store with me and was willing to DVR the Bronco game to prolong our time alone.  It was a blissful 30 hours and something that I hope to repeat as often as we can.

Sunday Brunch: Gorilla Bread and the Denver Broncos

I know you are wondering, what in the world do these two have in common.  Well,  I woke up this morning feeling really sad after the Denver Bronco's loss last night.  We have enjoyed the excitement of watching our guy, Tim Tebow navigate through this roller coaster of a football season and were so disappointed with the outcome of the game last night but as always, incredibly impressed with the character and humbleness of Tim as we watched his post game press conference.  This is a young man whose priorities are in the proper place.  I am amazed and encouraged by the way he responds in all situations, never pretending that he isn't disappointed or sad but always honoring the Lord in victory and defeat. We will miss our Sunday afternoons with him.  So, to drown our sorrows I will be whipping up a pan of this:

This Gorilla Bread is a Paula Deen special and as with most of Paula's recipes...very sinful which just might be what we need to lift us out of the post game blues. 

Paula Deen's Gorilla Bread

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
2 12-ounce cans refrigerated biscuits (10 count)
1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the granulated sugar and cinnamon. In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over low heat, stirring well; set aside. Cut the cream cheese into 20 equal cubes. Press the biscuits out with your fingers and sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar. Place a cube of cream cheese in the center of each biscuit, wrapping and sealing the dough around the cream cheese. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the nuts into the bottom of the bundt pan. Place half of the prepared biscuits in the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, pour half of the melted butter mixture over the biscuits, and sprinkle on 1/2 cup of nuts. Layer the remaining biscuits on top, sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar, pour the remaining butter mixture over the biscuits, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of nuts. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Place a plate on top and invert.

Enjoy and have a Blessed Sunday!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

This week has been insanely busy. I have been buried at work and home. In all honesty, I haven't known whether I was coming or going but tomorrow morning, my man and I will leave it all behind for two days and head to the mountains for some MUCH NEEDED time alone and a little bit of skiing. My sister in law arrived from FL last night to watch over the pack so I am looking forward to decompressing and soaking in the love of my life. See you when we get back!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sunday Brunch: Triple Berry Coffee Cake

I love Breakfast and Brunch. It is my most favorite meal of the day. Although I don't get to do it as often as I would like, I enjoy trying new recipes on the weekends and love it when I can share these dishes with family, friends and co-workers. This weekend I had the opportunity to finally try this delicious Triple Berry Coffee Cake.....
It was amazingly easy which was an added bonus. In a moment of weakness I abandoned South Beach and savored a few small bites of this wonderful morning treat (would also make a great dessert too) and had an idea of creating a continuing Sunday post to include some of my favorite breakfast and brunch recipes so here you go. ENJOY!
Triple Berry Coffee Cake
2 boxes of Krusteaz coffee cake mix
2 cups of frozen triple berry mix (any berries will work)
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the two packages of white batter mixes with the needed eggs and water. Add 2 cups of frozen fruit and blend into batter. Grease and flour a bundt pan. (I just used Pam Spray for baking) Pour half of the batter in the bottom of the pan, add one package of cinnamon mixture from the box, take a knife and swirl into the batter. Pour remaining batter into pan and sprinkle with second package of cinnamon and swirl into batter. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for one hour.
Can be baked the night before and warmed in the microwave. Brew of cup of strong coffee and savor the deliciousness!
Have a blessed Sunday!


Well, we are back into the swing of things here at our house and as I look around this morning I see visible evidence that the chaos of life has returned. Yikes, how does this happen so easily? Before I run my Saturday defense against the mess I wanted to take the time to reflect on something I have been pondering this week.
I have been digesting alot of beautiful posts concerning picking a word to focus on through 2012. I was inspired to think about what theme I would want to represent my life for this year. There were many words that came to mind but nothing I could really wrap my heart around until yesterday as I was running at the gym and heard this song from Chris Tomlin...

I listened to Awakening over and over while I finished my work out on the treadmill and with each time I felt overwhelmed with emotion as I prayed to have my soul awakened so I could sing. See, I feel that for the past year, I've been asleep spiritually. I have gone through the motions of going to church, and even praying but I am ashamed to say that I really haven't allowed The Word to live in and through me and the passion for my God and a depth of faith in Him just hasn't been present in my life. For many reasons, my faith has been a little shipwrecked, desperately needing to be rescued and awakened to sing.

In thinking about being awakened to sing I recalled a time in my life when pre-dawn runs were a frequent part of my life. I would wake up before sun rise and run down the beautiful scenic road in front of our home. As I ran, the world would awaken. The birds would begin to sing, the fish would start making ripples in the waters of the Indian River and there were even some flowers that would open with the light making its way into the darkness. I absolutely loved this time of day. The whole scene was a beautiful expression of God's magnificent creation and I was always thankful that I was able to experience it. Remembering this, I decided that during this year I want God to awaken my soul to reflect His beauty just as He does for his creation along an inter coastal waterway in central FL.

So my word for 2012 is


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Celebrating Joshua

On Tuesday we celebrated one year of our brown-eyed boys birth into our family. Sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday while most of the time I feel the weight of a long year and it seems like forever. I love remembering my journeys to China. Those tender weeks of getting know your babies are priceless time. A moment where the hope and dream of holding your son or daughter for the first time becomes real are often placed into the recesses of ones mind once we arrive home and life begins. How encouraging and sweet it is for this mama to dwell if only for a day on a special time when a spicy little China boy blew into my life and left me with a joy that was beyond explanation.
A nervous and very jet-lagged mama
Daddy looking a little more confident
I see him for the first time
Holding him for the first time and him checking out my red lips
We are a family....

Back in the hotel room...already hamming it up


Monday, January 2, 2012

This was me on New Year's Eve....

I know glamorous huh? While everyone was sipping champagne, I was spending a magical evening doing laundry, cleaning toilets, putting away about 30 containers of Christmas decorations and falling asleep before 10:00.
Maybe I am getting old or maybe I am just a mom with way too much to do and not enough hours in the day to do it but New Years seemed like just another day. I didn't even prepare anything special to eat. No greens or black-eyed peas for me. Not that we ever ate those anyway.
Oh well, I feel good to be heading back to work this morning with sparkling toilet bowls, half filled laundry baskets and Christmas all packed away for another year.
My marathon blogging will end today with the reality of leaving my lazy mornings spent savoring my coffee and blogger in exchange for heading back to work.
It has been so good for me to organize my thoughts and be reminded of what a blessed life I lead with my wild and crazy pack. I have enjoyed catching up on the lives of some of my favorite old families in blog world and have loved discovering some new blogs that have now found their way to my favorite list. WOW, you women are amazing, inspiring, creative, thrifty, thoughtful, beautiful and how fun it is to get a peak into your worlds.
Although, I enter back into the time stretching machine of work in just a couple of hours I have committed to leave better memories for the kiddos by not falling behind with the our blog like I did last year so while it won't be a post a day I promise not to fall off the face of blog world.
Wishes for a Happy Day!!

We've come a long way...Joshua Part II

As we prepare to celebrate the day of Joshua's birth into our family, I wanted to share some details about his 1st year with us. I know that I shared some highlights here but there was so much more to his year.
We arrived home from China and he completely embraced with open arms his new brother and sisters. I was in awe of how well he acclimated instantly to life with 3 other kids. The day after we got home my friend Sara, the kids and I hit Target and he found it to be a fun adventure. He was such a ham and although I am sure he didn't understand a thing we were saying he did a great job of pretending that he did which has been a pattern throughout this year. I have discovered that he is masterful at deflecting attention away from his struggles with humor and masking. His struggles have been few but I know that despite how well he settled in, the loss of those women and the life he loved in China coupled with having to cope with all the newness here had to be painful yet he continued to deflect the pain with hilarious antics and his intense curiosity revealed itself in his trying to "help". He watched everyone (especially me) carefully wanting to absorb all that he could and then try to gain our acceptance through helping. He quickly picked up all the cleaning chores, how to operate every electronic and appliance, what I did to start the car, how to prepare food and tons of other things. Just think about all we do during the day, there are so many things that we don't even think about yet he was watching everything like a hawk committing it all to his memory so as to call it up when he thought he could assist. I cannot imagine the information overload that he experienced yet he managed it well. His high energy and constant need for intense supervision wore us all out. We could never relax for we never knew what he would explore next.
Language has been more of an issue with Joshua than it was for Emily. He seems to fully understand everything we say but has a hard time communicating. He tries really hard but we still only understand about 20% of what he says. He never appears to get frustrated and will exhibit his extreme resourcefulness and try to let us know what he is saying through gestures and actions. I am not sure if it is language or issues with speech due to his cleft lip but this piece seems to be a long time coming. Speaking of his cleft we have had many different medical issues come up with Joshua that have kept us hopping with visits to the doctor.
We knew from the moment we saw him that he was very small for his age and that was confirmed by his pediatrician as soon as we arrived home. There were many questions concerning this issue that have yet to be nailed down. According to the birth date we were given, Joshua was almost 4 years old when we got home. A bone age scan revealed shortly after that he had the bone age of a 2 1/2 year old but blood work revealed that his thyroid was non-functioning. All of these inconsistent medical findings left us with so much confusion regarding Joshua's age. Every document we received from China was consistent with the same birthday and according to his finding ad he was abandoned around 2 days so a 2 year mistake just didn't see possible so we have leaned toward the belief after vacillating back and forth for a year that the birth date we were given in China is accurate and that there are some underlying medical conditions that are effecting his growth. We are still exploring and searching and hopefully we will find some answers soon. Currently he takes thyroid medication which makes him absolutely manic and his growth has been extremely slow even with the medication so it looks like there will be more doctor's visits in the future to continue to put the pieces together. I addition to the growth issues he had 3 surgeries...the first was a cleft revision which was painful but he did beautifully. The second, was to repair two hernia's that didn't exist, yes, a doctor insisted that he had two hernias, he underwent another surgery with three incisions only to discover that there were no hernia's UGH!!!! Third surgery was to remove a huge ugly growth called a granuloma which appeared on the side of his nose and was the result of a dissolvable stitch that didn't dissolve from his cleft and nose revision. He has been such a trouper with every surgery and enters the operating room each time goofing off with the doctor's and nurses. I love it that they now let mommies and daddies go with their kids into the operating room and stay with them until they fall asleep. It is not easy for the parents but I know with Joshua it helped him know that everything was going to be ok. He is doing great now and we are not planning ANY surgeries for a while. His lip and nose will need some future work but I am not in a hurry to do anything. I want him to have an opportunity to settle into life without going to see some doctor every week.
We are making decisions as to what to do about school for next year which is not very easy considering his growth physically and developmentally but are thankful that we have the support of all of our physicians as well as the school and are hoping between all of us we can choose what will be best for Joshua.
In some ways it seems that Joshua has only been with us a short time and others like he's been with us forever. The year has been filled with exciting new discoveries, disappointments, frustrations and a stretching for everyone in our family. Adoption is beautiful yet full of sacrifice for an entire family and we have never experienced that more than through bringing Joshua home. Joshua has a strength about him that I admire. He is strong and courageous and never gives up. Due to my being stretched I haven't always had my own strength to give him what he needs but thankfully Joshua is so forgiving and I am so grateful that God chose Joshua as my son and me as Joshua's mommy. God continues to grow our relationship equipping us both with what we need to love each other more perfectly. My days are richer and certainly more lively because he his with me.

He loves bedtime and is so easy when it is time to go to sleep

Just an example of the high heel shoes

Trash can on the head...the fun never ends.

Hair drying....Joshua style with a vacuum. Still learning what all these tools are for

And such a little doctor...maybe it is all the visits to the doctor.

Oh and the endless help with the chores...

His first morning home

Second day home

Second day home and we hit the mall...he found a little horse to ride.

Already checking our the Wii Remote...oh this was a sign of things to come.