I wish I had a reason, a good sound easily understood reason that I have allowed the summer to slip by without so much as a nod in the direction of the faithful old blog. The only thing I can even come up with is just All.The.Things!

Taking photos of photographers is more fun than taking pictures of popcorn!

Mostly good things like camp for Casper and work for Douglas and Freeland. Like swimming and going fun and interesting places. Like teaching photography classes and going places to take pictures of cute babies. Like birthdays and birthday parties. Like friends and family visiting.

Of course there have also been the not so good things like car trouble and health issues. Like more car trouble, and more car trouble, like driving boys back and worth to work thanks to said car trouble.  Like iron transfusions that unexpectedly caused intense nausea for an entire week. Like needing to re-schedule the birthday party not once, but twice.

Maybe having the school schedule lends a sense of urgency to the summer months. The time is so short and the list of things to do is so long! I want there to be long days of just being, but those days have been swallowed up by the days of doing.

Later this week my parents are visiting from Texas.  Next week Annika goes to camp. And so it goes. Counting down to the days of the big yellow school bus taking them all away each day.


Defender Day 2017

I mostly volunteer at school events so that I can take pictures. Don't tell the children, because I really do love seeing them have fun at school, but the photos I bring home are just so fun!

Each team designed a shield.

Here are the "Purple Peacemakers"

So today was Defender Day. The entire school was divided up into 5 teams. Each team had a color and all wore t-shirts in their color. I had a child in every team except for the green team, so I just cheered for all the teams.

The day started with a treasure hunt. Then we moved on to the most elaborate relay race I have ever seen. It included pie eating, digging for coins, shooting pie plates with little arrows, carrying buckets of water to "fill the moat", chugging down entire cans of soda, and many other fun things.

The games continued throughout the day. In the end they tallied the points for all of the teams and the purple team won! This was Annika's team and she was super excited to be on the winning team! And each team member got a huge chocolate bar.

Only 3 1/2 more school days this year!


I Just Want To Say Thank You

All photos were taken at my brother's wedding in April.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I plan to enjoy my day to the fullest. I have some of the best children ever and my position as their mom is one of the things I enjoy most in this world.

I look at my sons, now taller than I or almost as tall, and I feel so much gratitude. They are so kind and caring toward me. I do not doubt their love and devotion, because they prove it in so many little ways every day. Having a mom with a chronic pain syndrome is not easy, but these boys never complain. They are respectful, smart, funny, and polite. I enjoy conversations with each of them, reveling in hearing their perspectives on life. They are like Keith and I in so many ways, and yet they each have a unique personality.

Casper, Freeland, and Javon (cousin)
And then there are my daughters. Oh my, these little girls of mine. They are so different. They are so amazing in such different ways.

Annika is so independent and capable. She is a natural leader, confident and self-possessed. She is graceful and artistic. And I look at her and see a reflection of our family, but I also see the things we did not give her. Her incredible natural beauty, her grace and athletic ability, her ability to make friends so quickly and easily. Those things come from a family we do not know. I wish they could see her now. Their beautiful brown eyed baby girl has turned into a wonderful ten year old.

Eliana! Sweet, sensitive, cuddly, with a deepness to those black eyes of hers that belie her easy going silliness. Sometimes her responses tell you that she has experienced more brokenness than most adults have ever, or will ever, experience. But most of the time you only see her sweetness. She is quick to forgive and hates to see anyone in pain of any kind. I wonder if her birth family is as sensitive as she is? Does she get that from her birth mom or dad? Are they both petite? Where does she get that little dimple from? And again, I wish they could see her. I wish they knew that she is safe and so very loved!

I look at all of them, these children of mine, and my heart is so full of gratitude. Gratitude for my strong, healthy sons, it could have been so different. Gratitude for the doctors and nurses that cared for Freeland and Casper when they were too small for us to be able to meet their needs. Gratitude for the birth families of the girls, their loss was certainly our gain and I am thankful for the life they chose for these beautiful girls.

And most of all gratitude to God who took two very young, and maybe foolish people and blessed them in unimaginable ways. He gave us our sons and He led us to our daughters, He melded our hearts together and made us a family.


Out, In, Out, In, & Out Again

It's been a little busy around these parts. (All pictures from the time in Texas)

You see, there is the flu. And the flu is a very nasty thing that, once it gets ahold of me, refuses to let go for weeks on end, making everything seem worse and busier and more difficult than it would be otherwise.

There was a funeral in Ontario that we wanted to go to. We did not know the man who passed away that well, but we know almost all of his children and have counted several of them as our dearest friends through the years. Only Keith and I went, so that part was fun. We rarely have 2 days together like that. I have to say, I'm extremely thankful that after 18 years of marriage there is no one I'd rather spend time with. He forgot his passport and I almost thought the drive to the Canadian border may have been in vain, but they let us through. And then the US border patrol let us back through. So that was good.

Then there was Levi's wedding. The whole family flew down to Texas last Thursday. Douglas was a groomsman. It was beautiful and sweet. We ate brisket and barbecue and potato salad and wedding cupcakes. Never was a groom so handsome. Never a bride more excitedly sweet.

But we walked back into our house on Monday afternoon beyond exhausted (remember the flu's chokehold) knowing that I needed to leave for Taiwan 5 days later. And that I had not yet begun to prepare.

But here we are, I leave in about 12 hours. The suitcases are mostly packed. I'll need to throw a few things in tonight, but it is basically done. I think things are in decent order here for the ones at home. It amazes me how it all pulls together.

This trip looks relatively easy compared to China trips. We will be in Taipei the whole time, in the same hotel. We see fewer children per day, meaning we have more time with each child. I'm sure we will still feel tired and busy, but it should be easier in a lot of ways. You can follow along on the Superkids blog or on the Superkids Facebook page. I may even post here, we shall see.


Kiss That Pig!!

We are sending our children to Blue Mountain Christian School this year. Last night was a PTF spaghetti supper and they decided to do a little mini-fundraiser in conjunction with it.

A couple of weeks ago these jugs decorated like pigs showed up in the lunch room. There was one for each teacher and the children could put money in the jugs. Whoever had the most money in their jug by last night would need to kiss a pig in front of all of us.

Excitement was high as the three teachers with the most money in their jugs were called to the front.

Mrs. May seemed pretty excited to come in third this time.

Then it was between Mr. Batz (Freeland's teacher) and Mrs. Batz (Annika's teacher).

Mr. Batz won!! And the table behind us where Freeland and his friends exploded with cheers and laughter.

Not the greatest photo, but it had to be included!
First came the application of lipstick so we would know he had actually kissed the pig.

Then the kiss...

Then another kiss just in case someone had failed to capture it on camera.

I have to say, seeing the children entering in and laughing with their friends does this mama's heart good!


This Just Happened

The eldest son has a new job and I have to say, I really enjoyed watching him get ready and snapping pictures. When he went in for his job interview I told him to take the job no questions asked if families get food discounts. Unfortunately that didn't happen, but he took the job anyway!

I think a trip to Chik-Fil-A is in order soon!


Photog Retreat

I was a little nervous heading out last Wednesday to attend a photographers retreat. I had met a few of the ladies in person, but most I only knew online. Twenty-two ladies in a house for several days sounds like it has the potential to be a little overwhelming.

It was one of the most fun things I have ever done in my life! 

The location was gorgeous and relaxing. We were in a house right on the beach in St. Augustine, FL. To stroll along the water's edge, letting the waves lap at my feet, snapping pictures with other snap-happy friends, discussing reflections, aperture values and the use of horizon lines to enhance photos was so, so much fun.

We went on a photo walk the first morning we were there. We had guides who took us to lovely locations to take photos and pointed out good techniques to use to capture various effects. It was slow moving enough that I could keep up without feeling pressured. I love the pictures I took on that walk!  I almost exclusively take pictures of people, so it was especially exciting for me to capture images I love of inanimate objects.

Another thing we did was model shoots. We had groups of individuals (families, friends, an engaged couple, etc.) come and we divided up into groups based on the focal length of the lens we were using Each photographer group got the chance to pose the group and take photos. It was challenging to work in unfamiliar locations and a very limited amount of time. I was almost afraid to look at my pictures when I got home, but I was very pleased with some of the photos I captured.

This is truly an exception group of very talented ladies! I learned so much and had so much fun. A huge thanks to all who helped to plan this event. It was amazing. I'm already looking forward to next year!
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