Another Year of Gratitude

It is Thanksgiving Day. The day we collectively pause and look at everything we have to be grateful for. The day we try to put aside or petty complaints and count our blessings. The day we observe our bounty and simply say, "Thank you!"

My list is long again this year. Many of the same things are on my list every year. That is one of the things I'm most thankful for. I still have all of the people I hold dear in my life.

Always at the top of the list. He is good. He has blessed us again this year. He has brought both great and difficult things and He has walked each step with us.

My husband, my children, the very core of everything I am thankful for. I feel they deserve to be mentioned individually.
Keith- I never want to have to live without you.
Douglas- Thank you for being my responsible eldest. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.
Freeland- Thank you for your gentle side that you show to me and to other humans and animals who need to be shown gentleness.
Casper- Thank you for your willingness to learn and explore new ideas, and thank you for talking to me about your many ideas and imaginations.
Annika- Thank you for your independent little spirit. Thank you for loving "girl days" and "pretty things". Thank you for being the daughter  I dreamed of having.
Eliana- Thank you for your sweetness. Thank you for the hundreds of cards floating all over the house covered in "I love Mommy", for the snuggle times and the constant reminders of the fact that you trust me with your sweet little heart.

My grandparents, my parents, my siblings, my siblings-in-law, my nieces and nephews, you know who you are and you know how you bless me. I'm thankful for each and every one of you.

I'm a quiet, introverted person. I have a few friends whom I love dearly. And I think it makes me even more thankful for each of you.

I have again been blessed with opportunities this year. Opportunities to do many things I love to do. I went to China twice. I took thousands of pictures of children. I watched many of my China babies matched with and come home to their families.

I started my photography business and have taken pictures of many sweet families. I love doing this and am grateful to be able to.

I am still homeschooling my children. I love being able to do this. It is a bit of a stretch for me to continue because of my health issues, but we are homeschooling and everyone is doing well.

Material Blessings.
The house we live in, the clothes we wear, the food we have in abundance, and the list could go on and on and on, for the ways we are blessed with material things.

Thank you, God, for each of these blessings and the many I have failed to mention!



Over the weekend I went to New York City to attend the Adoptive Parents Committee Conference. It was so good to see Chelsea and Keely as well as the Gladney staff. We had dinner together in China town on Saturday evening and it truly felt like we were back in China but with everyone present!

Leaving Philadelphia on the train

Sunday we spent all day at the conference. We had a workshop in the afternoon and got to share about Superkids and the Gladney China and Taiwan programs.

I know it is blurry, but I love these two ladies!

I think the most fun part was just connecting with everyone and discussing new ideas and inspiration. Well, that and laughing until we cried as we reminisced about China trips.


Breaking Silence, Catching Up

Wow! I have not posted in a long time. So much has been happening that I have not had time to document it. So I'm going to do a little bit of a catch up post. There are some things I don't want to ever forget!

Last week my two youngest siblings came to visit. They are so fun! We had a lot going while they were here, but we managed to have time to visit and catch up at least a little bit!

On Sunday, Keith ran his first full marathon. He ran to raise money for Superkids and I was so incredibly proud of him and the other Superkids runners! It was amazing to be a part of the crowd cheering the runners on!

Much to my dismay and embarrassment I walked out of the hotel we stayed in over night Saturday night and left my laptop there. So I've been limping along all week. I've had photos to edit, blog posts to write, etc. I finally got it back today and I'm so happy to have it! I used Keith's to do what I had to, but everything is so much easier with the one I'm used to!

My sister and her family are here staying with us for a few days. They have 6 children. So our house is bursting at the seams with cousins enjoying each other! Thankfully our children really get along well with each other so most of the noise is happy noise. When I heard little feet hit the floor at 5:15 this morning I wasn't too sure how the day would go, but so far so good!


My Favorite Season

It's always a toss-up. Do I love autumn or winter more?

Definitely autumn...

Until winter arrives, that is.

Either way, I love this season. Right now.

I love the coziness, the chilliness, the crispness. I love the shorter days and the longer evenings. I could go on and on. I was thrilled when it  snowed and sleeted a bit on Sunday!

My favorite time of year is here. May it be long and may we be snowed in for many days in a row!


Classical Conversations Review - 6 Weeks In

As I have mentioned before, our family joined a Classical Conversations homeschool community this year. And, as expected, the children really love it!

Eliana on our nature walk.

I thought I'd tell you a bit how it is really working out for us. We spend about 15-20 minutes per day working on memory work together, then they also listen to all of the memory work for the week individually. There is a lot of memorizing that is expected! Thankfully little brains are like sponges and it is really not hard, it just takes consistency. I love hearing Eliana rattle off all of the prepositions they have learned so far, add the motions and it's really one of the cutest things!

Casper working on an art project

Another thing I really enjoy seeing is their interest and imagination being sparked as they prepare for their weekly presentations. They spend a lot of time researching, writing, and finding pictures or items that illustrate what they are going to talk about. I see that and I think this is why I'm glad we are doing CC!

Freeland hard at work
We are certainly more focused on creative writing with Freeland and Casper than we have been the last couple of years! This was another one of my goals in joining CC and I am seeing the benefits already.

I love watching all of them (Freeland on down) playing and learning with their classmates. They play math games and memory games. They do science experiments and art projects. They are responsible to someone other than me. The tutors do a good job at keeping it interesting and fun.

Annika playing during lunch break. She especially loves the social interaction!

So, over all, it has been a really great fit for our family. Except for one major problem. It knocks me out! It is a long, exhausting day and I'm just not handling it very well physically. And it is every single week. We are trying to think of solutions to this issue, but so far haven't gotten there. I'm hoping that as life slows down now that my China trip and Keith's Ghana trip are over it will seem less overwhelming. I guess time will tell.

I know my physical issues makes it harder for me, but I assume I'm not the only homeschool mom who finds community or co-op day exhausting. How do you deal with it? I would love some helpful pointers! I really want to make this work!


Those Globe-Trotting Martins

While I was in China, about 10 days into the trip, when I was missing home about as much as you can, Keith informed me that he might need to take a trip to Ghana in October. I thought that there was no way I would survive being separated from him again so soon...

Apparently it is beautiful in Ghana!


I'm happy to say he is now on an airplane heading home! We have survived!

The thing is, I'm happy for him to go. It's not like I insist on being the only one who globe trots! But, surely anyone can see the timing was a little rough here!

While he was gone we pretty much just did school, did a photo shoot, went to church, and put in time waiting for life to get back to normal!

One of the photos fro Saturday's shoot

Just in case you are wondering, we don't have any more trips planned for a few months! Just plain old every day living for us for a while please!


Between Two Realities

Last week at this time I was sitting in a seat in a metal tube that was hurtling through the air. I was headed home and could not wait to get here! I'm so happy to be home! I love being here where everything is comfortable and easy! I love being here with my children. I love waking up in the morning and listening to what Annika dreamed last night. I love talking to Keith any time I want to just because I can.

But I have to say, in a lot of ways I still feel like I'm in that metal tube suspended between the two realities that make up my life. I'm here, but the more often I go to China the less successful I am at smoothly transitioning back when I get home. I've met some of those children four times now. This time I saw little faces light up with recognition over and over. These children are so precious to me. Their lives are so very real to me! I can't just go home and get on with life. I have children in China whose lives have become intertwined with mine, at least for a time, hopefully only until their family can bring them home.

It is extremely difficult to even try to explain what it is like. Living and breathing and doing everything here. And loving it, being fully engaged here. But at the same time being always aware of the fact that in another world, children I love are existing in less than ideal circumstances. They are always on my heart and mind.

I used to be able to compartmentalize a little better. But the more real their lives become to me, the less successful I am at this. Re-entry has always been a little difficult, but I somehow thought it would get easier the more times I do it. It doesn't work that way. And it is probably good that it doesn't, but...

They are always on my mind!

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