"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Merry Christmas

Ok, so I have been a bad, bad blogger.  I know that I am going to regret not documenting our trip back to Texas in greater detail, but this has been a very full season in our lives.  It also hasn’t been the happiest season in our lives either – I tend to only like to blog about good things.  Nick and Isla and I are doing wonderful, but there has been a lot of heartache that has touched both of our families and we have been consumed a bit by that.

 

Some of the heartache isn’t mine to tell, but one thing I would specifically like everyone to pray for is Nick’s grandfather who has suffered from a stroke.  Nick idolizes his Papaw, and we are praying for a full recovery both mentally and physically.  And also for Nick’s grandmother – it is very difficult to watch your husband and best friend of 60+ years go through this.

The Younger Wanns

But – I do love to chronicle our lives on this blog so here are a few of the ups of the past 5 weeks (we head home next Friday).

  • Spending time in Temple with Nick’s mom and dad, especially playing with Isla at the Whistlestop Park!
  • Playing Mexican Train with anyone and everyone who would agree to play with us (I am really good y’all). Nick: QUESTION – Why is the Mexican train black and not brown???
  • Christmas in College Station with my brother and the rest of the family!
  • Nick and mines “parents-only” trip to Phoenix! (more on that later) and Putt-putt golfing.
  • Having Kai reach his Angel Tree goal and also obsessively checking the Angel Tree to see who bumped past their goal!
  • Connecting with all of the other Angel Tree Warriors on Facebook – what a treasure they have been!
  • Meeting up with fellow bloggers and friends, Melissa, Lauren, Adrienne (ok so Adrienne left us but I know she’ll be back!), Jessica, Emily (now Emily… she may not come back!), and Krista!
  • Plus meeting up with other friends who do not blog but not everyone and never for long enough!
  • Finally seeing more of It’s A Wonderful Life than just the end where Zuzu talks about an angel getting his wings.  Its about time considering my original blog name was a pun on the movie… also I am I the only one who found it totally hilarious when the Angel is like “NO! You don’t want to see Mary… she’s… she’s an… an OLD MAID!” An OLD MAID! DEAR GOD NOT THAT!
  • Opening presents on Christmas Eve with just my parents and Nick. It was so nice and peaceful.
  • Isla opening presents Christmas morning – she caught on SO fast.  I was worried she would want to play with the presents she opened, but she just opened one and said “MORE!” and/or “TOYS!” and quickly moved on.  It was so funny. Of course after swearing I would scale back this year, I ended up getting her way too many gifts.  Years of Infertility + Gift-giving as my love language = A mother who goes overboard at Christmas.  It’s just me.  I can’t help it.
  • Isla, getting so grown up and saying SO many words.
  • Celebrating Hallie Irene’s first birthday!  Yes, you heard me right – she is already ONE.
  • Seeing my old boss and friend.
  • Holding my sister’s hand at the Christmas Eve service at church.  I miss her all the time in Russia.
  • Spending time with baby Finn!  He is the best little chunk ever… he’s so good that spending time with him is giving me baby fever!
  • Finding out that Isla and I will get spend over a week in Amsterdam with not only my mom and dad, but my Nana as well!  Poor Nick will have to go to Nigeria Sad smile. He had to get a yellow fever vaccination and will have to take malaria medication, while I will be eating my gouda and smelling tulips.  Doesn’t seem fair.
  • Going to the Sul Ross senior center dance in Waco with Nick’s granny.  We were the youngest couple there by at least 35 years, and they made us come up and hand out door prizes.  Before you laugh – that was the best live music band that I have ever heard, and it was fun – because as I have said before – my husband really KNOWS how to two-step.
  • Going to the Container Store and HEB – not sure why, but those two stores make me happy!  Call them a Texas girl’s Tiffany’s.
  • Watching way too much House Hunters – I do love to make fun of most (not all) the people who go on there (some people are totally unreasonable in their requests).  I have to add the “not all” disclaimer because a certain family I love from Mandeville is going to be on the show! They are in this post HERE.

Its late and that is all that I can think of for now… tomorrow I hope to share more on 2011 and my hopes for 2012.

Monday, December 26, 2011

And the iPad Winner is…

SYDNEY MARTIN!!!!! I am so glad that it is going to such a deserving person, sister-in-christ and fellow Warrior.

iPad Winner

Congrats ma’am!  Send me an email letting me know your color preferences (black or white) and a mailing address.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Kai’s fundraiser.  You were so generous and every dollar that you gave will go toward helping his forever family bring him home!

Please continue to spread awareness about the plight of the orphans at home and overseas and the work that they are doing at Reece’s Rainbow.

Thank you thank you thank you!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Miracles

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Yesterday… I witnessed a miracle.

Remember my post about the littlest seed?  I am going to share a story with you about a BIG seed!  And although yes, it was a big seed, what followed afterwards was nothing less than a miracle!

Yesterday afternoon, I got an email from Andrea Roberts, the Director of Reece’s Rainbow.

An anonymous donor had given us RR Warriors a “bump” challenge!  Meaning that for every child that we “bumped” up to the $500 category, the donor would then “bump” the child who was next closest to $1000 up to $1000 and help that child meet their Angel Tree goal. And the offer was only good until yesterday at midnight.  We had 10 hours.

I have never understood the term “going viral” until yesterday!  I mean WHOA.  When the challenge was issued, there were still over SIXTY kids who had less than $500 in their angel tree funds, and there were over EIGHTY kids in the $500 to $1000 category.

Someone, probably Sydney Martin because she never forgets WHO we serve, wondered – could we get all SIXTY kids bumped up to $500?  With the matching grant, that meant that we would only need to work to get the funds for 20 or so kids to meet their Angel Tree goal.

Impossible (I thought), no way could we get that many kids bumped up, there were a lot of kids still in the $200 range. 

Impossible – but for GOD.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26

Over the next 10 hours I watched in awe as all SIXTY children reached the $500 mark!

Amazing.

I mean I was FREAKING OUT. Every time I refreshed the Angel Tree page I watched another child’s grant jump.  And another's.  And another's!

I have no idea how that much money was raised in such a short time. I only know that God is good.

When I started out as Kai’s warrior – I really only wanted to be Kai’s warrior.  I set aside and saved a large amount of money to give to him at the end.  I wanted him at the TIP TOP of the Angel Tree.  We all know how competitive I can be.

But then you know what?  I started connecting with all of the other Reece’s Rainbow Angel Tree Warriors on Facebook, and my heart was changed.  I have found such a treasure in these women and girls.  They have been encouraging and cheering one another on through the past 7 weeks!  They have rejoiced with each precious baby that meets their Angel Tree goal.

One woman even donated $4 to Kai just so that he would move up to the $2500 category.  How sweet is that?  With as much money as he has compared to the other children, it touched my heart.  Just because she couldn’t stand him being right there on the brink of $2500 and NOT be pushed over.

So slowly, slowly, slowly, the big fund that I had set aside for Kai was emptying.  And then it emptied.  And then I had to dig around and find some more pennies and dollars on several occasions.  I just had to help out the Warriors who had been such a wonderful gift to me these past few weeks! And meanwhile, God was taking very good care of my Kai (with a little help from my precious friends Smile).

But we Warriors – we really, really want to see ALL of the Angel Tree babies meet their $1000 goal.

So, for the last 24 hours of my giveaways, I am extending them to ALL Angel Tree babies who have not met their goals.  I was hesitant to do this before, but its Christmas, and I have a feeling that no one will mind me stretching the rules for a good cause!

Here’s how you do it!

  1. Go to Reece’s Rainbow’s Angel Tree HERE.
  2. Select any child UNDER $1000.  Preferably the ones who have the least in their account.
  3. DONATE ANY AMOUNT!  ANY AMOUNT.  Donate $1 to every one. Or $5 to the bottom five. Or $50 to one.
  4. And then go HERE to enter my iPad 2 giveaway and enter a comment stating I donated to (Child’s Name) with your name and contact information.
  5. And then go HERE to enter my 13 Cup Kitchen Aid Food processor giveaway and enter a comment stating I donated to (Child’s Name) with your name and contact information.

You can have a separate entry for each child you donate to!  And the other sharing rules still apply too.

I only have one rule.  PLEASE DO NOT ENTER ON A CHILD THAT YOU HAVE ALREADY DONATED TO BEFORE DEC 24th.  I cannot enforce this rule, so it’s the honor system!  But the purpose of this is to encourage people to donate to those children who are lagging behind.  I am hoping that this last minute extension will help just a little bit.

Here are some other giveaways that other Warriors doing if you are interested!  Please consider checking them out if you donate.  Even if you do not want an iPad or new Food Processor, you may see something else that you want to win and be encouraged to donate!

Angel Tree giveaways!

And this one isn’t a giveaway, but it is an advocate blog for two little girls who are also on the Angel Tree.  I want to share in case their forever families happen across this!

Blessings to you all.

AND MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Littlest Seed

I wrote that when I started this Adoption Advocacy thing I was clueless… and a little scared. 

The reasons for not doing it seemed very big to me:

  • I have a small audience on my blog and a relatively small “friend” list on Facebook.
  • Who would listen to me since I am not adopting?  All of the other blogs that are making a real difference are done by family’s who have walked the walk, not just talked the talk.
  • I hate asking people for money… won’t people think – if Stori is so passionate about this, then let her donate her own money and not ask for ours!

And there have been times over the past 6 weeks, where I wondered if I was a fool for advocating for Kai and Reece’s Rainbow.

But then last Friday, I received an email that stopped me cold -

Hi, I'm Amy. Just came across your blog. Do you know how long Suzanne has been in the institution? My husband and I have been thinking about adoption - we actually took a 6 week church class learning all about it. Right now we're not on the same page as to "when." But I just had to inquire about Suzanne. If by the grace of God we were chosen to be her family, would it be too late? After all the paperwork and approvals? Right now all we have are passports. I just wanna scoop her up and love on her. Precious. Any info would be appreciated.

Amazing.

She came across my blog.

Please continue to pray for this family as they consider whether or not to bring Suzanne into their family! Doesn’t this beautiful girl deserve a home?  Instead she is in an adult mental institution.  How is it possible that she has been passed over for so long?  Oh Almighty Father, do not let her be moved to the In Loving Memory page on Reece’s Rainbow!

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I have read over and over again in the Bible how God takes the tiniest offering and multiplies it into something something so BIG that it can only be called a miracle.

And I am watching it right now.  The work that is being done over at Reece’s Rainbow is being multiplied.  Not just in the USA – but in these children’s home countries as well.  Go the My Family Found Me Page, and you’ll see at least 13 children on there because they were adopted DOMESTICALLY – in countries where adoption is incredibly rare!

Amazing.

God is stirring hearts for the Orphan.

“But You, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.” Psalm 10:14

Today I was talking to a friend of a friend, who told me that she would love to donate to my cause if she had the money… IF.

I was taken aback a little bit, first because I didn’t bring up the subject, and secondly because who doesn’t have a dollar in the USA?  Or $5.  It doesn’t take much.  Just a little bit given in faith to the One who is able to do more than we could ever ASK or IMAGINE.  To the One who is responsible for miracles!  Not us.  We are not in the miracle business – only He is.

The iPad and Food Processor giveaways are ending in a few days, however, Kai’s Angel Tree fundraiser will continue until December 31st.  Over the next few days, even if you have already given – please consider giving a few more tiny little seeds.

To my Kai.  My advocate work for him will NOT end with the Angel Tree fundraiser.

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To Suzanne.

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Or to sweet Spencer.

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Then sit back and watch in awe.

Be amazed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Death Sentence


I promised last week that I would share about a few other babies that have been on my heart. I also shared with you about Eastern European mental institutions. In some countries, like the one on the video, these babies with Downs Syndrome are sent to these places from birth, which explains little Katerina’s condition.

In Russia and other Eastern European countries it is done a little bit differently. These children are kept in “Baby Houses” as infants and then somewhere between the ages of 4 and 7, they are transferred to the mental institutions or “Internats”. This is what happened to little Vanya, the first boy that I shared with you.


90% of children with Downs Syndrome WILL DIE within the first year of being transferred.


For children with cerebal palsy and spina bifida, who are immobile and cannot walk, it means a life time of being confined to their cribs only to be taken out to be changed. They are fed lying down. They are never touched. They do not receive therapies. They rarely have a toy or any kind of stimulation. In the “Internat” the children’s heads are shaven, like prisoners in a concentration camp, because who wants to be bothered with brushing or grooming them? Instead of toys and games, they hear the moaning of the other inmates. Everyone who has ever been in one says that the smells are unbearable. Read about this one little boy’s story of his year spent in the asylum before his family came and took him home… its heart breaking.


Here is one little girl before and after she was transferred. I don’t know her real name, but thankfully a family came for her and took her away. You can tell by the picture that she didn't have long. Thank you Jesus.
Today I want to share with you about a few children who have already been transferred and who are waiting on the Reece’s Rainbow Angel Tree.


Look at this beautiful girl. Her name is Susanne. She has already been transferred; she has so little time left. Isn't she a little doll? That girl absolutely does NOT deserve to be anywhere but at home in her mother's arms, and certainly NOT in a mental institution.
And Spencer. He has been waiting for a long time for a family. God in heaven, how you must weep.


If these children’s families don’t come for them soon; it will be too late. I want so badly for them to find families… so I am extending my giveaways to them in the hopes that we can raise enough money and awareness that SOMEONE will come and take them home, and give these children a crown of beauty instead of ashes, and the oil of gladness instead of mourning.


Please click HERE to donate to Susanne and click HERE to donate to Spencer. Once you have donated, please leave comment HERE to be entered to win the iPad 2 or HERE to be entered to win the Kitchen Aid Food Processor.


"I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'" Matthew 25:45

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Is it worth it?

I promised you that I would share a little bit more about Katerina Hope in this post here.

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Before I can share more, I need to correct one little error – I mistakenly said before that she weighed 15 pounds, here are her correct stats:

  • Weight – 10 pounds, 9 ounces
  • Length – 29 inches
  • Head circumference – 16 3/4 inches
  • Waist – 12 inches
  • Leg, hip to heel – 12 inches
  • Foot – almost 4 inches
  • Upper thigh circumference – 5 inches
  • Ankle circumference – 3 inches
  • Arm, shoulder to fingertip – 10 inches
  • Upper arm circumference – 3 1/4 inches
  • Wrist circumference – 2 3/4 inches

YES! 9 years old and less than ELEVEN pounds! I also need to clear another thing up – Katerina’s Down Syndrome did NOT cause the way that she is… I will let her Mommy say it:

And no, Down syndrome did NOT cause Katie’s condition; profound neglect of her needs on every level since her birth caused Katie’s condition. I have stated this before on this blog, but it always bears repeating. What has been done to her and the other little children in her former orphanage who are severely damaged by neglect was totally preventable. We know a little girl with Down syndrome of Katie’s age who plays the piano, reads, climbs trees, has an excellent vocabulary…

Here is little Katie-bird now – with her Daddy, I’m such a sucker for pictures of girls with their Daddy’s. She has been with her family for two weeks now, and she is now growing healthier and stronger by the day. This little girls is FIERCELY loved, always by her heavenly father, and now also by her earthy family.

Katie bird and Daddy

The amount that it costs to bring these children to the USA from their home countries is staggering – usually at least $25,000 and it can climb as high as $40,000 in some regions of Russia. That’s a lot of money. I wonder what the people in these countries think about that? Obviously these children have very little value in their own counties and here are crazy Americans spending double, and sometimes triple what would be a year’s salary over there to bring these children to the US!!!

And you know what? These children are worth every penny. EVERY PENNY. And more. They are precious to our Father!

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29

Let me share with you just how worth the money these children are!

Meet Julia – who spent her first 4 and half years on her back in an Eastern European Orphanage “laying room”. She would very soon have been transferred to the asylum where statistically she would have died within the first year.

Julia before

She has been home for 6 months where she is loved, treasured, and adored! She has gained almost 13 pounds, and is almost sitting up on her own. Isn’t she so beautiful? I just can’t look at enough pictures of her! You can read about her family HERE.

julia after

And here is little Bodhan! He was taken from the same room in EE as Julia above. He’s hardly bigger than a baby even though is over three years old.

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Bodhan now in the words of his Mama! You can follow his story HERE.

He weighs a whopping 22 pounds!! (13 pounds in January). He is drinking from a sippy cup (I have to hold it tho). He gets all his calories from a spoon. He can stand with his braces on. He is quad crawling a lot! He loves to play and snuggle. He gives bunch of kisses and if you are doing dishes he will come and hug your leg unexpectedly. He is so precious!!

Bodhan afterbodhan after 2

Little Hailee, also taken from the same room as Bodhan and Julia. She was so little and malnourished and suffered from major emotional trauma from her first 5 years of almost total neglect. Yes, she is almost FIVE in this picture!

hailee before

And Hailee now after a year and a half home! I don’t know if there is a child anywhere who is more loved! She has gained weight, can WALK on her own, is interacting, and growing strong! You can follow her story HERE.

hailee afterhailee after 2

I also want to share about one little boy named Theo. Although, I do not follow his story personally, I am going to start reading it HERE! This is Theo at FOUR years old.

theo beforetheo before 2

Theo after 1 year home, now 5 inches and 15 pounds bigger! And also STARTING KINDERGARTEN!!! God is amazing. What truly redeeming love!

theo after

You can read more stories of redemption HERE.

Foreign adoption is expensive, but these children are worth it! And until their countries hearts, minds and laws are changed, it’s the only chance at LIFE that they will ever get.

So with that said, please consider donating to my little Kai. He deserves an after picture too.

You can donate by clicking on the link to the left of my blog, and guess what??? If you donate, you can also be entered to win a brand new iPad 2!!! For details, click HERE.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Eyes Opened

***UPDATE***

I wrote to Katerina's mommy to ask for permission to share her story on my blog. This is the response I received:

Stori (what a lovely name), of course I am very glad for you to share Katie’s story—the wider the truth spreads, the better. Did you know that the Katerina on the S*rbian video is not our Katerina? Our Katerina was nine years old this year, and was from B*lgaria. We just named her for the little girl who God used to open our hearts to adopt. I know I need to address this in a Q & A and plan to do that soon!
Love and blessings!
Susanna

I would never have intentionally mislead anyone into thinking that this was Katerina's orphanage if I had known, and I am so sorry. This was just the impression that I received from reading the Musser family blog! I also know that they did not intend to mislead anyone as you can read from above. I don't think that this changes much though - that orphanage DOES exist. Katerina received the same level of care that those children did (and still do) receive at her orphanage. These beautiful children live in inhumane conditions, they don't have much time, and we need to move on this NOW.

***END UPDATE***

It often amazes the responses that I hear from Christians when they find out about the orphan crisis – the 147 million children worldwide who do not have a mother or father. Often I hear them say that prefer to keep their money at home, to donate locally and help orphans living at home, the implication is that this isn’t the problem of the USA or Americans. I agree up to a point, but not to the point of doing nothing.

The thing is, my God LOVES the WORLD. He is the defender of the fatherless no matter where they are from. And WE are his CHURCH. His beloved bride, his hands, we are the ones who He has called to live in His heavenly kingdom on earth. He commands us to “defend the cause of the weak and fatherless.”

Is this little girl not your problem? 9 1/2 years old and only 15 pounds!

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Her name is Katerina Hope.

Do you want to see where she spent the first 9 years of her life? Only the very brave will watch this video – I promise you, your eyes will be opened.

Did you see Katerina’s precious little body in the video? Holding onto the reporters hand and not wanting to let go? Do you know that her mental institution is considered one of the good ones in her country? YES – the one on the video. She has an amazing story that I will share a little bit about tomorrow.

We are His Church. This is OUR problem. We can make a difference! And tomorrow, I am going to show you just how much.

"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12

I know that you think that this is a big push for money. It is a little bit – my little Kai-man needs a family! But there are other things that you can do to help.

  • You can spread awareness! I didn’t always know about the orphan crisis until I happened upon it thanks to the miracle of blogging. You can tell others about it, send emails, blog, tweet… be creative.
  • You can sign up to be a Prayer Warrior through Reece’s Rainbow. I believe fully that prayer is the BEST weapon against the enemy.
  • You can ADOPT one of these kids. Yes you really can! All the money in the world is nothing if Christians will not step up to the plate for these children.
  • You can sign up like I did to become an Orphan Warrior/Christmas Warrior and learn the joys of pestering your friends and family for money. I kid, I kid.

And of course, you can also donate money! It is so needed, and believe it or not, all over the United States God is raising up families to bring these children into their forever families, and they could use some help. Kai’s future family will need help, and if you do, you also gain the chance to win an iPad 2! For details, click HERE.

In the upcoming days, I am also going to extend the iPad giveaway to a few other children that are on my heart – waiting for the forever families. I hope you fall in love with them like I have.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Veritas

I have neglected poor Kai shamefully the past couple of weeks!  That precious, wonderful sweet little boy.  I have nothing but excuses – our internet was out for five days, I was busy getting ready to go back to the states, I returned to the states, and now Isla is having another bout of laryngitis...

BUT GUESS WHAT??? It isn’t about me or by my doing that Kai’s ransom will be raised and he will come home!  Its all about God and His Glory.  Have you seen how his fund to the left of my blog has slowly been tick, tick, ticking upwards?  Thank you Lord.  You are more than enough to cover my inadequacies.  Nick and I have not donated a single penny to Kai’s fund, other than the giveaway prizes.  I have sat down a thousand times to do it, to take matters into my own hands, but each time I feel God telling me “no”, sit back, watch what I will do!

If it were your precious child chained to a crib, lying cold in their own mess, wouldn’t you sell everything to the point of madness to bring them home?  I keep asking, how precious are these children to the Father?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

He knows every hair on their heads too.

This is not a fundraising post that I plan to post on Facebook.  I do not like posting my blog on Facebook status and “advertising” it.  I don’t want it my blog to be a famous blog, I just want it to be out there for friends and family who love me and mine.  It’s a very vulnerable thing to be out there like this and I suffer from a terrible “fear of man”, so maybe I will the next one..

But oh my goodness??? How can I do nothing?

Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act.

Thank you so much to any friends and family (and friends I haven’t met) who have donated. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know there are many of you who have donated and have not told me because you want to remain anonymous and have not entered to win the iPad. 

I still have one month to raise money for Kai and his ransom.  There is so much more to share, and I am going to share it!

If you want to help raise the ransom for Kai’s forever family and maybe win an iPad 2, please click on this link HERE.  Or you can donate directly from the link on the left of my blog if you do not want to win the iPad 2, but you really should!  I am the worst about anonymous donations, but now that I am the one asking for money, I am dying to know and to thank each and every one of you!  Bless your hearts.

A Perfect Hamlet

Ok, first off – how cute is my niece???  She’s a keeper! Remember her outfit?

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We originally wanted to go and see Balmoral our last day, but it was closed.  This is actually a very good thing because given that we are all slowwww movers, there’s no way we would have made it there and back and to the airport on time.

Thankfully Dunnotter castle was less than 30 minutes away and also the place where my favorite movie version of Hamlet was filmed! The 1993 Mel Gibson Hamlet was hands down the best Hamlet. I have seen TWO different versions after all, so I consider myself an expert.

Its pretty breathtaking.

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I think Isla looks so cute in this outfit!

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I love this picture!

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Dark and dreary!  Just like a castle should be.

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I just like pictures where Isla looks small since she’s getting so big lately.

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She’s happy because she’s cute!

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Family shot.

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Isla started to get really possessive about other people’s hats… see how intently she is staring at Hallie’s hat?

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Uh oh, there she goes!

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And she eventually got Aunt Tiffy’s too!

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We all thought that it would be the coolest thing if Hallie took her first steps in Scotland…

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Can she do it???

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Uh oh!  Not just yet.

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I guess she’ll just to have take her first steps in the great state of Texas!

We loved the castle, but eventually we had to leave.  Boo.

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That was the end of our trip in Scotland.  We left straight for the airport from there, but we cannot wait to get back!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving

Isla and I are safe and sound in Texas! Whoo hoo. We love the Lone Star State :). And I am sipping Cookie's hot chocolatey heaven right now, all is right with the world.

We had the worst trip over, EVER. Thank goodness I can laugh about it now. I was already feeling pretty discouraged before we got on the plane because Isla was being so busy amongst other things that I wont get into (DME is the least kid friendly airport in the world - I may start looking for different routes home for that reason) and within an hour I started feeling something funny in my tummy... I am sure you know the feeling, the feeling that very soon, something will be coming... UP that is!

Of course being the Godly young woman that I am I immediately start blaming God - ugh, God, I asked you to prepare the way for me? Didn't I pray and ask you to make this trip easy for me? Couldn't you make Isla into a calm child for ONCE? Why does she have to have so much energy? Why won't she sit still and watch TV? And now on top of everything I am SICK! Lord, please don't let me get sick! You are awful for doing this to me!!!

And then like any righteous martyr I started to compare myself to Job because just like Job, everything external was going wrong, and NOW even my health was being taken from me. But then I snapped back to reality, and I quickly realized that I am nothing like Job. He went through far more than I ever have and never once sinned or lashed out at God in anger. I mean, I was upset because I had to corral a busy toddler on a 12 hour flight while sick... Thank goodness I had a busy toddler to corral, Job lost every single one of his precious children!

And then I prayed a different prayer, that I would have patience. That I would lean on God for the next several hours. That I would suck it up, die to myself, and watch over my baby girl patiently. That I would be joyful always and give thanks no matter what my circumstances. And the next several hours were the hardest of my life, but I got through it somehow, and was able to relay the story to my husband with a laugh.

I told him all about how Isla kept running into business class and all over the plane while I chased her down aching with fever, how I hit the bathroom and up-chucked during the worst turbulence of my life and thankfully managed to get it all in the toilet and not on myself since I didn't have a change of clothes on me, how Singapore Airlines - famous for their service - had the least helpful flight attendants on that flight, and somehow they had lost the reservation for a child's meal for Isla so she had nothing to eat but the snacks I had brought and the ONE jar of baby food that the flight attendants could scrounge up, how we had a head wind the ENTIRE time that turned it into a FOURTEEN hour flight, how Isla broke a glass on the floor that took forever to get cleaned up so I had to hold her squirmy, fighting little body on my lap, and finally at T-minus 2 hours Little Isla Frances vomited all over herself, the chair, the floor, leaving us only one seat to sit on that was untouched.

It was a tough trip! But we survived by the Grace of God. Nick got sick too, so there must have a bug that hit our family. And I have to be honest, once I got to my mom's house, I couldn't believe that I had done it.

Anyway, I didn't do a Thanksgiving post on the day, but I want to do one now because I am very thankful right now.

I am thankful for the following things-

My God - he made the heavens and the earth, and yet He loved me enough to become human and die on the cross in atonement for my sins so that I could be right with Him and spend eternity worshipping Him.

My trip is OVER and that I am at my parents, and I don't have to do that flight by myself again until Isla is much older because Nick will be with me on my way home to Russia.

My husband. I love him so much, and he loves me too.

My baby girl, we prayed for so long for her and she is the most blessed, funny thing in our lives.

Our parents, both mine and Nick's, we are so lucky to have TWO sets of amazing parents.

An extra one for my mom, she was waiting for me when Isla and I got up at 5 am, ready to snatch Isla up and feed us breakfast!

My family. They know me best and still love me.

My friends, the new ones in Russia and the old ones in the states, I have been blessed with the BEST friends.

Nick's job, we have everything we need plus a little extra, and we get to live in and travel to some amazing places.

Our health - we are all pretty healthy and that is awesome.

For technology that allows me to keep in touch with people from all over the world, and get home in two short days.

For my new warm winter jacket, I've really been needing one and the one I ordered from Land's End is perfect.

That it, there are probably a million and one small things that I am thankful for but those are the ones that come to mind right now!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Serendipity

Isla is a Scottish name – it’s a river in Scotland (and I also just found out – a famous whiskey).  The Scottishness of Isla’s name had nothing to do with the why of why we named her.  Its just an extra little tidbit of trivia that I have never really thought that much about it.

When I told people that we were going to Scotland, they all said that we should go and see the River Isla, but I just blew them off.  I didn’t even bother to look up where it was, even though I wanted to do it.  I figured that one of two things would happen 1) it would be too far away and I would be disappointed because we couldn’t see it or 2) it would be close enough, but inconvenient so I would do everything I could do cram it into our already limited free time.

So what happened when we were driving back from Loch Ness was pure magic.  We took a different way back from Loch Ness than the way we had earlier and it was getting dark, and right at twilight as we were crossing a bride, I saw a sign for…

THE RIVER ISLA!

Of course we had to stop.  We had to.

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The setting on the banks of the river was so picturesque.  There was a beautiful stone bridge across a shallow, rocky, babbling river.  There was even an old cemetery to the left that you cannot see.947 (640x425)

Standing over the River Isla.

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Papa and his girl.

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Me and my baby.

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This was the BEST part of our trip, for me anyway.

I love my little Scottish lass. Smile

I’m a Believer!

We only had one full day where Nick was not working in Scotland and even though it was kind of far (3ish hours) and we had two little babies, we knew that we had to at least try to visit Scotland’s most well known tourist attraction and get a glimpse of a certain prehistoric creatures that lives in the depths of the famed Loch Ness.

We went to Inverness first and ate at the just-fancy-enough-to-make-my-husband uncomfortable Mustard Seed restaurant, which of course turned out to be not even that fancy, and also remarkably kid friendly and inexpensive. Seriously, the kids menus in the UK were out of this world!  No macaroni and chicken fingers for those British kids, they get full kids menus filled with all kinds of neat and fancy foods – USA, take note!  Then from there, we went onward to Urquhart Castle, which is said to be the best castle from which one can view Nessie.

Our biggest goal for the day was to try to get good pictures of these cute little baby princesses in their matching dresses.  An even more impossible goal – I think – than spotting Nessie, yes they are cute and incredibly photogenic, but they are ultimately also very squirmy. Isla did at least get the gist of what we were doing and did her best to smother Hallie with her hugs, which was cute, but we didn’t get too many face and smiling shots.Hallie and Isla 4 (640x402)Isla and Hallie (640x416)Isla and Hallie 2 (640x414)Isla and Hallie 3 (640x425)Isla and Hallie 5 (640x425)

This one looks a little treacherous!  The girls were perfectly safe, I can assure you.

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Isla, giving Hallie the lay o’ the land.

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Kissing cousins.

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Brother and sister.

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I love this one!

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How green is this valley?

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I know people say that Ireland is supposed to be really green, but I have been to Ireland in the middle of the summer and Scotland in October, and Ireland has got NOTHING on Scotland.  Nick kept asking everywhere we went what the grass was called (yes, he is like Hank Hill when it comes to grass-care), and all he got was blank stares because no one thinks anything about how amazingly green and soft their grass is!

The beautiful Highlands.

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Four girls.

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The family.

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The highlands again.

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In spite of the fact that Nessie decided not to reveal herself – it was a pretty awesome day… and coming next! The BEST part of our Scotland trip!

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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