Friday, November 30, 2012

A Documentary Like No Other.

Heather entrusted me with today’s post, after our viewing last night of “Somewhere Between,” a powerful documentary that follows a small group of teen girls adopted from China. The movie was spurred by the film-maker’s own adoption journey. (You can view the trailer here.)

It pulled on every heart string. Heather cried. I cried.

I hope that when the day comes – and it will – that we are equipped to answer tough questions about adoption, abandonment, gender bias, cultural differences, and the list goes on. I am thankful for the education that we have received, alerting us to these issues that are especially common to international and trans-racial adoption, but I still dread their eventual rise.

The movie also reminds us about the ones left behind, which, of course, is not unique to international adoption. It shows one girl tracking, and against gigantic odds, finding her biological Chinese family. I pray that we are wise and graceful enough to handle that, as well. All in all, it reinforced what a responsibility, and precious gift, that we have been granted.

Oh, Guan Man Li. We are the lucky ones.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving and new additions.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving at my brother and sister-in-law's this year. Mother Nature served up a 65 degree day - awesome for this shutterbug mama.

Blowing dandelion fuzz in November!
Pre-feast cardio workout.

There are some four-legged additions to our extended family: Riley and Lambeau. Honestly, they stole the show. Ella would have been happier without them. They so desperately wanted to play with her. Our girl still hasn't warmed up to the idea of dogs co-existing with her. My niece Haley does own an incredibly old, blind, quiet bunny. Who sleeps most of her day away in a cage. Ella REALLY liked the bunny. Ella now wants a bunny.

Not a bad looking crew. But my favorite is this picture...

Grant, Allison, Obstinate One, Haley and Christian

It seems like just yesterday these four were Ella's age. And look at Ella's cooperation? Isn't it awesome?

My sister-in-law had great crafts all ready to launch after dinner. Ella was super pumped and before it was over, we even had my brother painting.

Homemade Santa Hot Cocoa.

Re-purposed old school Christmas bulbs with bling!

Back to the usual routines this week (thankful for this!) before gearing up for Christmas at our house. I need just a wee-little break :) Have a good week!

Saturday, November 24, 2012


So, if you haven't figured it out yet...Thanksgiving was a pretty big deal for us. And it wasn't about the food we were going to devour but the food we were going to give.

692 meals were assembled and delivered before the day was over. What you should probably know is that our church consists of about 100 somewhat regularly attending members. When you add in the help of our friends, and other members' friends...it is a beautiful sight! And the kids?! There were kids everywhere helping with their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles. Seeds were planted in every corner of our church basement that morning (it was packed). You can see for yourself :)

Windowsill Ella.

Cousins Michael and Matthew came with their Mama Nicole and their Uncle Brandon.

Frank, Kath (probably doing all the work and not pictured), Jack and Bobby!

Ella is comfortable at her Ah-men.
There is a lot of hurry-up and wait with a project this big. The littlest helpers were so good.

Ella with Josh and Jeffrey.
Cooper and Tamara.
Servin' it up.
After hustling about for a few hours, we piled in our car to head to my brother and sister-in-law's for an over-nighter Thanksgiving celebration. It was awesome. And those pictures will be up next.

But I'll leave you with this: a video of Ella talking to our friend and Larry's band mate, Rayna. Ella spends a great deal of time talking on my old cell phone. Her pretend conversations are hysterical. And animated. Here she is telling Rayna about a mishap on our bed. She bounced so much that she landed on her head. On the floor.

 Funny Ella.

Happy Sunday! ~H

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thank you.

There are so many things in our lives we are thankful for. But today, I was struck by the little things.

A sweet face. A homemade Indian head-dress.

A sun-filled 60 degree day in late November.
A roof over our heads.
A kitchen that is ablaze with sun during this time of year.
Patience to teach an eager student how to fold love into baking. 

And tomorrow morning we will do our small part in humbly serving those who may not have these little things right now, or ever. God is good.

Happy Thanksgiving! ~H

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend Round Up.

We helped my parents with painting at their new home. Ella was AWESOME. She is such a good little helper, busying herself with projects that need attention (painter's tape everywhere, hauling tools around, etc). Her breaks consisted of bike rides around the block while I tried to keep up with her.

We treated ourselves to dinner out at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. Ella and her Daddy-o kept me smiling with their sweetness.

Did I mention bike rides? Um, yes. She can't get enough of it and is having lots of conversations about how she may have strong muscles now to bike through snow-covered sidewalks.

Two screwballs sharing music...
We are excited about helping out at church on Thanksgiving morning. I continue to be touched at the outpouring of support we are getting to make this happen. 650 meals will be prepared and delivered. SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY. We will then hop in the car and make the trek south to gather at the table with our family...and then promptly curl up in a corner and drift off to sleep :)

Live thankfully, Ella-Land! ~H

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gobble Gobble.

Ella had a very important job this week: turkey delivery.

My employer donated money to purchase turkeys for our church. Ella went to the store, helped me load them in the cart and then pushed that cart to the check-out line all by herself. These turkeys and a boatload more will be cooked. Side dishes will be prepared. Desserts will be made. It will be an avalanche of planning and chaos. On Thanksgiving morning, an army of volunteers will converge on our church to box up dinners for 400+ people. These dinners will be delivered to the doorsteps of these people in our community. There will be smiles and tears and teachable moments and gratitude and love.

Last year I missed it all, and my family gathering, because of the stomach flu. I am really excited about NOT missing it this year. I'm really grateful to my employer for their donation and for having a schedule that is flexible enough so that Ella can help me with these little things...little things that are actually BIG.

We also made some time for this stuff too...

Ella, Panda and Mama self-portrait by Ella.

Her latest obsession.

Have a great weekend! ~H

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rockin' it out.

When Ella thinks her outfit looks especially fetching, she'll say, "This outfit rocks it out huh, mama?" We talk about rockin' it out around here. When a good song comes through the speakers, it is our way of encouraging her to boogie down - enjoy the music. It is no surprise that it finds it's way into other parts of our conversations. (You may also recall a September blog post here about rockin' school shoes.)

Sunday morning, Ella WAS, in fact, rockin' it out. Clothes mean almost nothing to Ella. She'd rather run around in the buff (unlike her BFF Roz who has very distinct opinions on clothing!). Clothes hold her back, I guess. But she did ask to wear this outfit. And she did a darn fine job. She did an even better job of rockin' it out in the 60 degree temps after getting home from Ah-men...

It has been a while since I've caught a shot of our girl where she actually looks like Baby Ella all over again. This last one reminds me so much of the little bundle we met almost three years ago...


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Picture Saturday.

Thanks Rozzie, for letting Ella hang out with you and your parents this morning. She was so excited after you dropped her off that taking a much-needed nap wasn't going to happen.
 So we went to my parents' "work-in-progress" home and painted. The weather was incredible - 68 degrees and full sunshine. Ella rode her little tricycle to her grandparents' house for the very first time today. That we did that on November 10 and didn't freeze?? Awesome.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bacation! Blast Off!

She can't say her "V's". So when Ella speaks of vacation it is all kinds of sweet when it comes out 'bacation'. This was her first time on an airplane since the long trek home from China - a journey she doesn't quite remember. She was an awesome traveler and when she blurted out that her tummy tickled during 'blast off!" and her big giggles could be heard in the cock pit we knew this was going to be an awesome bacation.

The weather was stunning with cloudless skies and no humidity. My lifelong BFF and her children made a roadtrip from Charlotte to spend some time with us. It had been two years since we were together. It is mind-boggling when you reflect back on how we couldn't go two HOURS without talking during elementary school, high school and college. It felt sooooo good to be with them and Ella nestled herself in with them so quickly. Awesome.

There were 82 photos that made the cut from our vacation. The difficult part is how to pare it down for the blog! Enjoy our bacation through my camera lens. This will sustain us in February when Ella-land is snowy and blustery and gray.

Kendall and Ella and the aftermath of a good lollipop!
My other soulmate.
Kendall and Alejandro all grown up.

And yes, we piled on that overwhelmingly huge Ferris wheel. Ella had absolutely no fear. I was green.




It is impossible to tell who had more fun - Ella or my parents.

She ain't all smiles, all the time...

...I was on the receiving end of this look quite a bit during bacation, too! What wonderful memories for Ella, for all of us.

Have a fantastic weekend. We are looking forward to mild temperatures, lots of sun and a blitz to clean up our yard and gardens before snow flies!