BRAT - (noun)

Brat- (noun)

1.A child, especially a spoiled or ill-mannered one.

2.A child of a career military person.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The kids finally finished with school today! Yippee! So, to celebrate, we all loaded into the car and headed to the movie theatre. The girls went to see Tangled. I have to say, I loved it! So sweet, so romantic, probably one of the best Disney movies I've seen in a long time. And, best part of all, Michelle sat through the whole thing. (OK, she did get up a couple of times, but she didn't ask to leave, which is a huge accomplishment for her!) If you have a girl in your life, do yourself a favor and take her to see this movie.
The boys put on their 3-D glasses and headed to the theatre across the hall to see Tron. The report was a big thumbs up from the boys! Our teens go to the movie quite often, but we rarely go as a family. It's nice when you spend that kind of money to have everyone come away with a happy report. A good time was had by all.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Last week Michelle's preschool did a Christmas program. They acted out the nativity scene, and asked each child to dress like a part of the story. Of course, Michelle wanted to be an angel. The halo started out on top of her head, but I think by this point in the day it was a little lopsided. Mommy is not Martha Stewart, or even Suzy Crafty! But, I did manage to scrape together some gold pipe cleaners. (thanks to my neighbor & friend Julie!) Put together with a head band and Mommy's white blouse, and it worked for a 4 year old angel costume.
For a couple of weeks, Michelle has been bugging me to sing the "Olay" song. I knew they sang it at preschool, and I knew it was the song that the angels sang, but I could not figure out what the Olay song might be, and Michelle refused to sing it for me. She has Spanish class once a week, so I thought perhaps it was something she had learned in Spanish.
Finally, this week we were reading a new Christmas book. In the back they had some printed Christmas carols, so I sang them with her. She got very excited when I started singing "Away in a Manger" and started singing along, "Olay in a manger..." Now, we finally know what the Olay song is - silly me for not figuring that one out! (Ha!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gotcha Day - Part 2

We have tried to come up with some special things to do each year as we celebrate Michelle's Gotcha Day. In this season of party's & presents, it's kind of hard to top Christmas. But we also realize Christmas is the time of year we brought Michelle home, so it's o.k. if some of our celebration centers around that as well.
We started with Chinese food. Michelle still eats with gusto - she grew 11 inches the first year she was home, and she has grown over 7 this year. It's hard to believe she is truly almost twice the size she was on the day we met her! Of all the foods she has tried and loved, I would say, hands down, her favorite is still noodles. She will eat the spaghetti kind, the chicken noodle kind, but the ones that thrill her heart are still the Chinese kind. So, of course our celebration included Chinese food. And lots of memories.

Michelle had asked this morning if we could have balloons at the party. We found the perfect one at the store that said, "Joy!" What a season to celebrate - the joy we have in Jesus at Christmas, and the joy Michelle brings to our lives every day.

As we brought out the red velvet cake with 2 candles (for being home 2 years) we sang "Michelle" from the Beatles. I think she got a little teary - I was surprised by that. But they were happy tears. I think she knows how much she is loved.

We finished off our celebration by decorating our Christmas tree. We wanted to wait until big sister "La-La" (as Michelle still calls her) was home from college. She arrived home last night, and I couldn't think of a more perfect way to end a perfect day than by putting the ornaments on our tree.
What a sweet day!

Happy Family/Gotcha Day Michelle!

2 years ago today we first met our precious daughter Michelle, and completed our family. Sometimes it seems like yesterday - sometimes it seems like forever ago!
I will never forget those first few minutes in that dark hallway of the municiple building. Such a strange, wonderful way to get a child! She had on about 10 layers of clothes, had a diaper wedged in her split pants (which later caused all kinds of fun back in our hotel room!), had dried blood in her hair which was never really explained, had dry little cheeks from lack of nutrition, and she was the most beautiful thing in the world.

These are the 11 other wonderful families we traveled with on our great adventure. Happy Gotcha Day to all of them as well, especially the Altermatt's, McClintocks, Mongolds, Swansons and Smiths. They are such a part of our story, and I am glad we have been able to stay in touch. I hope to see your children grow through the years.

This is what I remember most about our trip - just walking up and down the hallway in our hotel.

Tonight we plan to celebrate with Chinese food from our favorite restaurant, cake and balloons. And of course, we will sing "Michelle" from the Beatles in honor of our Michelle. I will try to post pictures of our celebration later tonight, so you can see how much a child can change with some good food, and a lot of love.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Christmas is all about!

I know I'm probably the only person in the world that feels this way, but sometimes by the time I get to Christmas morning, the only thing I really want under that tree is a huge bottle of bubble bath, and my family telling me to go spend the day in the bathtub relaxing! Don't get me wrong - I love the music, the decorations, the excitement in my kids eyes just as much as the next person. But my life is already really busy, and when I look at all the extra "stuff" on my calendar, and think of all the extra "stuff" that's not on my calendar but will have to happen on my part to make this "the most wonderful time of the year", well, it makes me kind of stressed!

Several years ago someone shared this little poem with me. I can't honestly even remember where I found it, but I dust it off every year and share it with all my mom friends. I mostly bring it out again to remind myself what this time of year is truly about - celebrating the greatest gift that ever came to mankind, my Lord and Savior, Jesus! And blessing my family, even more importantly, ENJOYING my family as we go through this Christmas season.

So, I hope this will encourage all you busy mom's today. Take off your running shoes for a while, pour yourself a little cup of tea, and take some time today or over the next few days to remember and relax.

By Sharon Jaynes

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls but do not show love to my family, I am just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but I do not show love to my family, I am just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of Christmas parties, and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug a child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let the Beast (I mean Feast) begin!

Today, Michelle's preschool had a Thanksgiving feast. One of the mom's donated a turkey, and the kids made the other dishes, including Michelle's class making the corn bread.

Michelle was a little confused by all this talk beforehand about a feast. She finally asked me this morning, "Are we going to eat a beast?" I laughed, and told her to make her "mad-cat" sound. That is what her speech therapist calls the "Ffffff" sound - like a mad cat. Once she was able to put the Ffffff sound to the word, she seemed much more excited about the Feast. (instead of eating a beast.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Fall Ya'll!

I haven't had much time to take pictures lately, or to blog for that matter. But, I wanted to share a couple of pictures of Michelle outside her school with this beautiful tree and this beautiful smile.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wacky Wednesday - Climbing the Walls

A lot of my blog friends do a "Wacky Wednesday" picture. I haven't done these in the past, but this picture was too good not to share.

All of my kid have climbed the walls. I don't know why, they just do. Michelle is following in all her big siblings footsteps.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Steppin' out with my man!

Last week was the AUSA convention here in D.C. It is a busy week, filled with dinners, balls, meetings, the Army 10-Miler race, and lots of activities. For me, it's kind of like "homecoming". It's a fun time to see people we haven't seen in years. Above is a picture of me with Bill at the Army Acquisition Ball. Isn't he handsome?
I saw several friends we haven't seen in years! Here I am with my dear friend Dianne. We don't live that far apart, but our busy lives keep us from seeing each other as often as we would like. It was fun to catch up on our children and each other's lives. We saw several friends we haven't seen since before our children were born. That's a LONG time!

We finished with the week with the AUSA dinner. It was a fun week, and it renewed my sense of pride in what my husband does for a living. It truly is a noble calling to serve in our nation's military.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Michelle went trick-or-treating with her best friend, Luke. Luke is a year younger than Michelle, lives 2 houses up from us, and when Michelle is listing family members, Luke often makes the list. Of course, she describes him as her best friend, but he is still included in the family list.
Last week Michelle's preschool had their annual parade of costumes. We never did get a good class photo, but here you can see some of the girls.Michelle is not the oldest in her class, but she is the tallest. She is even taller than the boys. Who knew we adopted a basketball player ? At her last physical, the Dr. told us she was in the 70% for height and weight. That is not the chart used only for Asian children, that's the standard American chart.
On Saturday one of Michelle's classmates had a fun celebration at a local park. The kids wore their costumes, played games and had fun running around the park. Michelle was trying to "fly" here.

Michelle was Princess Presto from the PBS show Super Why. Her friend Luke was Wyatt from Super Why. I love that her favorite show is about reading and spelling - she thinks she has magical spelling powers when she uses her Princess Presto wand.

You can see that the costume was already looking a little "weathered" even before we got started. With my first child I never let them wear their costume before the big day, but by the time the 4th comes along you realize it's not a big deal if they break them in a little beforehand.

Michelle with all her loot! She was a happy, happy girl.
You might be wondering where Josh is in all these pictures. Joshua wasn't here for Halloween. He was in ...

My parents planned a trip to Disney World with my brother and his family. Josh only has 2 cousins, Walker & Abbey. They are very close in age, and so Joshua was invited along to enjoy the fun. He flew down last Friday afternoon as an unaccompanied minor and met them all in Atlanta to continue the journey down to Orlando. I can't tell you how proud I was of my brave 9 year old, flying alone. He told me on the way to the airport, "Today I become a man."
He had 4 days of the "happiest place on earth" with some of the "happiest people on earth". There is something so special about cousins! I'm so happy he had the chance to be with them for such a fun weekend.
On Halloween, Josh and his cousin Walker dressed up like Thing 1 and Thing 2 from the Cat-in-the-Hat Story. Later that evening they added their blue hair and my Dad dressed up as the Cat in the Hat.
Bill Jr. spent the evening with some friends, doing a little trick-or-treating and watching scary movies. I heard from Lizzy that she had lots of fun at college with her first big holiday - I think there was some dancing and costumes involved. Sounds like fun.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pearls for Christmas?

I don't normally post things about fundraisers or other blogs, but in this case I want to make an exception. I don't really even know if I am reaching many people - I don't think many people follow our blog these days. But here is the scoop for anyone interested.

If you would like to purchase a pair of "Mei-Mei" pearls for your daughter, niece, anyone for approximately $25, let me know. Kay Bratt, who wrote the book "Silent Tears" is planning to sell these to help raise funds for Xiao Gou and perhaps those in her orphanage. If you read the book, you remember she tried without success to adopt this little girl, and now she is planning a trip back to China soon to visit her and see what she can do to help this little girl. The pearl order will be dependant upon how many orders she can have promised - you won't pay for the pearls until she is in China and can make sure she can order them. The price is based on what pearls cost 2 years ago.

Let me know if you are interested, and I will pass along the info to Kay.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Freshman Parents Weekend

This weekend we traveled to Pittsburgh to visit Lizzy for Freshman Parent Weekend. Yes, she is back to Lizzy now, after deciding it was too hard to make the switch to Elizabeth after high school. The younger kids had never been to Duquesne, so we took them along to see where their big sister lived. Michelle was so excited to "go to college". She asked me the day before we left if we would stay there forever. I told her no, we would just go and visit for a few days, then come back home. She said,"So, we just go play and then come home, right?" Yes, Michelle, we played for a while. It was fun.

We arrived Friday evening and took Lizzy out to a vegetarian restaurant she had been wanting to visit. It was a little quirky, located in the back of an antique store, but the food was good and the atmosphere was fun, especially for Michelle and Josh to look around after being stuck in the car for almost 5 hours.
Saturday we took a little tour of campus, and then went to the football game. Michelle didn't want to pose for the picture, but she had a lot of fun running around and playing. Duquesne won ~ 37-17~ against Holy Cross.

Later in the afternoon we went on a "Ducky Tour". They have tours of Pittsburgh that take you through town on the truck, then the old WWII vehicles turn into boats and continue the last half of the tour by boat. It's a fun way to see the city. We "quacked" our way through Pittsburgh, literally. They make you quack every time the bus stops. The little kids thought this was great fun!

I love this picture of my big kids. They both look great!
I will admit, Pittsburgh didn't impress me much the first time I saw it. My initial impression was it was dirty (it is a steel mill town) and it was very difficult to drive and navigate. I still think those things, but after several visits I am seeing much of the charm of Pittsburgh, especially to a college student. It is a fun town for an 18 year old - lots for college students to see and do, lots to offer. It was fun to see it through Lizzy's eyes.

Josh & Michelle both took turns "driving" the duck boat in the water. Yikes!

Our water tour took us by the famous Heinz stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Included this picture just for the Green's!) The next day as we were driving around town, you could see the stadium filled with black & gold. (never could stop to get a good picture) Wow! Steeler fans are devoted and unique in supporting their team. I have never seen so much black & gold in my life - our hotel was full Sunday morning of Steeler sweatshirts, jersey's, etc., and it apparantly doesn't matter if you are going to the game or not. If it's game day, you are wearing your stuff.
It's hard to describe why I included this picture. Let's just say, the tour guide told us to take a picture to our right, I obviously didn't understand that there was really nothing on our left, but decided to photograph this lovely store anyway. I mostly included this pic so my children can have a good laugh at their goofy mom.
Saturday night we experienced a true Pittsburgh tradition - a Primanti's sandwich. It is messy, stacked high with cole slaw and french fries, but something everyone should experience.
We ate a LOT this weekend - back to diet time for me! (but it sure was fun while it lasted.)
Sunday, after church and brunch, we took Lizzy to the grocery store to get a few supplies and then headed home. It was great to see her. She obviously loves college, and it agrees with her. She was walking a little taller, seems very confidant in herself and her choice of school. It is a joy to see her thriving!
When we left her in August for orientation week, we fell in love with Duquesne. The school said all the right things and helped us confirm that this was the perfect choice for our daughter. This weekend, we began to fall in love with Pittsburgh, for all the fun,charm and experience it has to offer.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Couch Potato

I wish I had some exciting pictures and adventure to share, but this was pretty much our weekend in a nutshell. We had a Daddy "under the weather", a Mommy who has been burning the candle at both ends, and some kiddo's with busy schedules, so a weekend of R&R was perfect for us.

Bill's work schedule has been even busier than usual - he rarely gets home before 8:30 p.m., and works at least a little on weekends. I am teaching 21 students this year, and this year I made a committment to my family to cook more. (Last year I had Domino's on speed dial.) So, I am busy, needless to say! Homework is plentiful this year, just because it is the year for it.

We slept, we watched a little television, I finished the book I was reading, I cooked a little, and did about 20 loads of laundry. Sorry, that's as exciting as it got around here.

As for this new week, I'm ready. Bring it!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Couple of Creampuffs

Last week Josh checked out a kids cookbook from the school library. He and his good friend, Daniel, spent a lot of time at school pouring over the yummy recipes. Daniel came home with Josh after school and they decided to make cream puffs. The conversation on the ride home from school was priceless. We carpool with a couple of other neighborhood kids, and one of the other boys asked why they were going home together to cook. Josh replied, " I really like to cook." Daniel replied, "I really like to eat!" Aren't boys wonderful?!
I will admit, it was a little difficult to step back and let the boys do it themselves. The mom in me wants to jump in and "do it right". But, except for an occasional stir or a demonstration of how to do something, I only supervised and took pictures.

I was afraid cream puffs would not be a good choice because I didn't think they would turn out well. Surprisingly, they turned out light and fluffy, just like the pictures. They tasted good too.

Here is a picture of Daniel demonstrating his superior eating abilities. Believe me, these boys are anything but cream puffs. They are all boy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Being a chick

This morning we were doing a little before-school shopping. The weather is turning cooler here in Northern Virginia, and while I have enough fall clothes for Michelle, I realized her summer shoes probably aren't going to work much longer. So, as we were cruising through Target, my sweet little 4 year old looks at me and says,"Mommy, I'm a chick." I was kind of surprised to hear this innocent child refer to herself in such terms, so I asked her what she said, and again she said she was a chick.

I asked her who told her she was a chick, thinking she was learning such terminology at preschool, or perhaps from her older brother. She said someone at school, and I am thinking of the discussion I am going to have with her teacher at drop off time.

Then, she looks in the basket I am pushing around the store, and she says,"I'm a chick. And in here is my nest."

I need to remember when I am with the 4 year old, think like a 4 year old.