slide show


Washington D.C. Visit

We've talked about visiting Washington D.C. when the cherry trees are blooming for quite some time.  We carefully followed the progress of the the blossoms and decided that last weekend was the perfect time to go.  We were correct.  It was perfect!  The weather was gorgeous, the trees were in full bloom, and the company could not have been improved upon.

We were able to attend a performance of St. John's Passion in the National Cathedral.  It was beautiful and masterfully performed (even if the chairs were a bit hard to sit on for 2 solid hours).

Poor Casper is recovering from poison ivy on his face and isn't too thrilled about pictures!

We are already planning to go again soon. We certainly were not able to take in everything we wanted to.


An Update on School (Among Other Things)

Our school year is winding down.  We try to start early and take relatively few vacation days so that we can finish in April.  Math books are finished and we are just filling in with some online options.  Most other subjects will be completed within the next week or so.  Everyone has worked hard and done very well, it is a good feeling.

Speaking of online math, we have been using Adapted Mind for some extra practice.  I really like it!  It tests the child's level then gives them the problems they are ready for.  There is a short video lesson for new concepts and if a child works a problem incorrectly it automatically shows how the problem should have been done.  Each day I get an email with a report for each child telling me how many problems they did and how many of those were right.  I think we will continue to use it throughout our summer break.

I really liked our curriculum line-up this year.  I think we will make a few minor adjustments next year (we made a few adjustments as we went along too!), but overall it has been a good combination.

We did achievement tests the other week.  We use an online testing site that uses the CAT from 1970.  This is the same test that was used in the private school the boys went to before we started homeschooling.  I know that these tests are not the most important scores, but it is still fun to see how everyone is doing in comparison with previous years.

Today Annika had her first piano lesson.  She absolutely loved it!  It was so sweet to see her concentrating on doing everything just right!  So now we will have another beginner to listen to.  :)

In other news, I got a new camera lens today!  They are quite expensive, so it is a big deal to get a new one!  This one is a Canon 85mm 1.8.  I also have a 50mm 1.8 and a 35mm 2.0.  Of course I had to try it out right away!

Just because it was the first shot I tried with the new lens! :)

It was a beautiful day so we headed to the park.  It was not my favorite lighting since it was full sunlight, but I still got some pretty fun shots!

I want to tell you all about the various projects we've been working on, but I'll save that for another post on another day.


Six Years

Six years ago today, in a little room in Baby House #2 in Uralsk, Kazakhstan, we met this lovely little girl.

We were nervous, suffering from the exhaustion that comes along with jet lag, and unable to communicate with most of the people in the room.  She was the third little one that we met.  I had imagined prior to getting to this point how very agonizing this decision would be.  It wasn't.  A caregiver walked into the room holding her little hands, helping her to walk.  I picked her up and she put her little head on my shoulder.  That was it.  My heart melted.  I really didn't hear the medical information which was quickly read off and interpreted.  (Honestly, I didn't miss much.  Let's just say the info was pretty limited.)  She was only in the room for a few minutes, but Keith and I both knew that she was ours.  They gave us four hours to decide and let them know.  It is a good thing that it wasn't an agonizing decision, because four hours isn't very long to make a life-changing decision!

I love that she still has this same adorable little grin!

Here are a few excerpts from emails Keith wrote while we were in Kazakhstan:

"We still don't have salt.  We walked a quarter mile down the road to the OPA department store yesterday and bought groceries.   We forgot the Russian phrase book so when it came time to buy salt we were stuck.  We meandered through the store looking and wondering.  There were plenty of assistants who would have been delighted to help us, but how do you receive help from someone with whom you can't communicate?  We saw what looked like oatmeal , so we bought some.  We bought a fair supply of food and then needed one thing more yet – salt.  We found a bag of something that looked like salt.
I asked the young man, "Is this salt?"  He didn't understand.  I performed a salt shaker motion, but he still didn't understand.  I gathered that it wasn't salt, so I put it back on the shelf.  Since I couldn't tell him what I really wanted we left without salt.  We will take the Russian phrase book next time and eat bland food meanwhile."

"Right now Erin is pulling clothes out of the baby suitcase, wracking her brain as to how big she actually is and trying to visualize how everything will look on the baby.  I can tell by the light in her eye that she is thoroughly enjoying herself.  We are asked to provide clothes and diapers for her from here on.  We are to bring about 7 diapers each day and a fresh set of clothes.  Each day they will give us the dirty clothes back."

"Yesterday our lack of Russian got us into a little bit of trouble.  We went down the street a block or so from the store, turned left and walked another several blocks to a little restaurant Katerina had told us about.  When we turned to come back we ended up losing our way.  So we walked aimlessly several blocks this way and that.  I tried to call Katerina's cell phone but the call didn't go through.  Nor did we know any addresses or the name of the store we had shopped at.  Finally we saw a travel agency.  Thinking they probably knew English I walked inside and asked if they could call Katerina for me.  This they willingly did and 15 minutes later Katerina and Alex picked us up from the curb in front of the agency.  Turns out Katerina knew the people at the travel agency.  We were very fortunate and we content to stay at home the rest of the day, except to go the store again for a few groceries."
Annika with Kate, our interpreter and coordinator (she was literally the "in country team"!)
"Today was another very nice day.  We went to visit Annika first thing this morning.  She acted happy to see us and we had a lot of fun playing with her.  I threw her up in the air and she giggled and laughed.  Then I grabbed her and gave her a big hug and lots of kisses and she just smiled and lapped it all up.  What a dolly she is.  We are beginning to love her very much.  At the end of the visit when Kate took her away she held her hands out and wanted to come back to us."

May Day parade
"On Monday or Tuesday we expect to meet the judge.  Kate gave us an overview of what the prospective father is supposed to say during the court session.  It is quite an exhaustive account of our family, our background, why we chose Kazakhstan, how we plan to care for our child, and whether or not we can support her financially.  Then she dropped the bomb shell.  This speech is to be presented by memory with no notes.  So I will have my work cut out for me over the next few days.  It all makes me nervous!  I need notes!  At least I will be presenting it one sentence at a time and Kate will translate it sentence by sentence.  She assures us that if I say something wrong she'll correct it when she translates it!  How convenient!"

As you all know, the judge said "Da!" to our petition to adopt and Diliara became Annika, our treasured little "Kazakh princess" daughter.  We are so blessed!

Sleeping on the airplane between Frankfurt and Philadelphia


Spring Is In The Air

Many, many evenings throughout the warm months of the year you will find us loading up and heading out to explore one of the many lovely hiking trails in our area.  It is one of the things we all look forward to and love to do.  Yesterday afternoon we ventured out as a family for the first time this season.  We didn't do any vigorous hiking, but we did enjoy being outdoors and watching the children frolic.  It certainly makes me look forward to the warmer days ahead!

There is just something about the space and the freedom and the freshness of being outdoors that is so good for children! It's been a long, cold winter with many days spent indoors.  But never fear, spring is in the air!



Saturdays are music days here at the Martin household.  All three of the boys have lessons on Saturday afternoons and Saturday mornings often find them practicing their songs one last time before class.

Today Douglas and the other students taught by his teacher played for the folks at a retirement village in Lebanon.  It was fun and they did really well!  Douglas definitely has a natural gift for playing and it is a pleasure to see him developing that talent.

(I'm sorry for the blurry video, but it gives you an idea how it sounded.)

Most of Douglas' spare time is spent playing his violin or the piano.  We just decided to give him the chance earn the money so that he can to take piano lessons as well as violin and he jumped for it!  So I guess we will add one more class per week and however many more hours of practice. We are so pleased that he has a love for such a wholesome and God-honoring activity!  I pray that he can use this talent to bring glory to God and to bless others.


Just a Happy Hodge Podge of Thoughts

This coming Sunday and Monday in China many little children will meet their new parents, families will be formed, and miracles will happen.

Little ones will become treasured sons and daughters.

But this happens every week, so why mention it this week?  Well, I'm glad you asked, because there is a very special reason that I bring it up.

You see, this week FIVE of those children will be children that I have played with, hugged, held, taken pictures of, and prayed over.

These are "my" children.  So my heart is full of joy, as it always is when one of "my littles" come home, take that joy times five and you will understand.

But then you need to add to that joy.  Because I'm not finished with the good news yet.  Who remembers Bea and Billy?  They are an adorable little duo who stole my heart as they walked into the room holding hands.  At first I thought they were twins, but no, they were just good friends. Bea immediately dropped Billy's hand and gave me a huge hug.  As I picked her up and felt her little arms around my neck my heart totally melted.  Billy was equally charming, just in a quieter way.  We have advocated and prayed for these sweeties ever since.  And now they have a family. The same family.  Bea and Billy will be brother and sister.  My heart cannot contain the joy!!


Another Milestone

On Saturday evening a certain little girl lost her first tooth.

 It's such a little thing, but it's such a big thing.  It's one more milestone.  One more bit of evidence that she is growing up.

  And I want to say, "Nooooooo!!! Somebody slow time down!"  But instead I do what I do.

I take pictures, I let her call Grandma, I make a big deal out of it.  Because since I can't slow it down I might as well treasure every moment.

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