BRAT - (noun)

Brat- (noun)

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

2.A child of a career military person.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A little "Mo" Christmas!

We have been looking for a new dog for about 4 weeks. Our sweet Clark passed away in October at the age of 14, and it took my heart a little while to grieve for him. But, after we returned from my parents house for Thanksgiving, I knew it was time. I missed hearing the pitter patter of doggie feet in our house, so we started looking at the rescues and shelters.

On December 17 we found our little cutie! His name was Larry - really?!!! So, we decided we had to rename him. He is a 5 months old Terrier mix - we think he might have some kind of retriever mix as well... maybe Lab or Golden. He is VERY SWEET! When we went to the shelter, he played with us for about 5 minutes, and then he went over and gave Josh a big lick on the ear. That was when I knew he was the dog for us.

We came up with 3 names we liked, and after much deliberation and a lot of input from our Facebook friends, we settled on Mozart. We are such a musical family, it just seemed like the right fit for us. We decided to call him Mo for short... keeping life simple for now, but letting him know he can aspire to greatness!

We brought him home last Thursday. He is doing great, but oh my, he is such a puppy! Not fully housebroken, jumps on everyone and everything, chews... yep! He is keeping us busy. But, we have laughed more in the last 5 days than in the last 5 months. He is so fun and so funny! He pulled all the bows off our Christmas packages, played in the tissue paper, stole toys from the kids, and mostly stole our hearts.

Having a puppy on Christmas morning is kind of like running a marathon... thrilling, fun and exhausting!

Merry Christmas and best wishes to you all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Family Day

3 years ago today we met Michelle for the first time! It's hard to imagine life without her. Yet, when I think about that day it still amazes me how much I remember - how I felt, everything we did. I am still in awe of how easy Michelle was, from day one. (She was saving it up for kindergarten! Just kidding.)

When we met Michelle, all I really knew about her was that she had a cleft palate in need of repair, and that supposedly she liked to sing and dance. Of course, we didn't discover that for ourselves until about 6 months later. She did great from day one, but it really did take her about 8 months to "settle in". I didn't even realize it those first months, but I could tell a difference when she finally relaxed, finally settled in, finally gave us every part of herself.

Today, 3 years later, I know so much more about this precious girl. Pink is her favorite color. She lives to be outside and play. She adores her big brother Josh. She can read about 50 sight words, say anything she wants... this, from a girl who could say nothing intelligible when we brought her home. And we were told might never speak clearly - boy, were the Doc's wrong on that one! She has a sweet tooth, but her favorite food is still noodles. She hates to have her hair brushed. She has a great sense of humor.

She completes our family! I can't imagine my life without her, and I thank God every day for the miracle of adoption!

We had to celebrate a day early - tonight Bill Jr. has a guitar concert at school. We celebrated in what has become our tradition - ordering Chinese food from our favorite take out place, red velvet cake, and singing "Michelle" - the Beatles version. (of course, we didn't put quite enough red dye in the cake, so it was more like a pink velvet cake. Michelle loved it - she told me she hoped she turned into Pinkalicious!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Update from the World's Worst Blogger - or in other words, "Fall"!

These pictures should probably be divided into several different blog posts, but at the rate I am going, I think we better just get them out there and be glad to have anything blogged at this point! I thought I would have all this time this year - Michelle is in school all day, I had images in my head of an immaculate house, time to catch up on scrapbooks (which are now 3 years overdue), lunches with friends and time to read books.
I have no idea why I thought all this would happen! I am busier than ever! I am teaching music at Michelle's old preschool 2 days a week, I have almost as many private students as last year, and I took on several homeschool kids during the day. Bill and I sat down one day recently and figured out how many hours I put in each week, and it was significantly more than a part time job. I'm not quite "working" 40 hours a week, but if you put in my other job - being a mom, then I am way into the overtime department.
So, forgive me if I haven't blogged much lately.
Hope you feel a little caught up after this.

I did get the chance to chaperone Michelle's Kindergarten field trip to the farm a few weeks ago. We had fun on the hayride, visiting the farm animals, and riding a couple of slides. Michelle's BFF is Caitlin - she is a cutie-pa-tootie! She sends Michelle little notes in her backpack. They play together all the time. I love Kindergarten!

I did get the chance to attend the Army Acquisition Ball with my good looking husband. I think I might have already blogged about this, but I really liked this picture so I included it again! I have been to many of these type of formal events over the years, and to be honest, they aren't usually that much fun. Normally, they are kind of stressful, and I hardly get to talk to my husband. I would rather put on a pair of jeans and go out to PF Changs with Bill and have a meaningful conversation over some honey crispy chicken. (This is sooooo not real Chinese food, but we love it anyway! Sorry... I digress....) But, I actually enjoy the Acquisition ball. I think it's because "we" have been in the Army for a long time, and this area is kind of different from living on a military post. We don't see our Army friends on a daily basis, and it's fun to catch up with friends we only see once a year.

Recently we went to see Lizzy sing at school. This is the first time she has performed that we have been able to attend, the first time she has had any solo/just her/ time on stage. It was really neat to see how she is blossoming and developing as a singer! Wow! She is really a young woman now, and it's fun to see. She did a beautiful job with her opera scenes.

We had some fun exploring Pittsburgh - it really is a fun city! We all went to the Science Museum.

This week Michelle's class put on a Thanksgiving play and "feast" with her class. They sang some cute songs, reenacted the Pilgrims coming to America and being welcomed by the Native Americans, and had some turkey and pumpkin pie.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chasing China

I just finished the newest book by Kay Bratt - Chasing China. If you are looking for something to put on your Christmas list, this would be a great choice! I read this book with such mixed feelings. It is a beautifully written story, and I was immediately captivated by the characters and places Kay describes. It was also emotionally charged - it deals with all the "hard places" in adoption, but still very much worth it.

It's the story of a young woman, Mia, who goes to China looking for her birth family. It's got a little bit of everything - romance, adventure, and such detailed descriptions of the people and places in China.

It's a "must read" for those of us whose lives are touched by International Adoption, but I would buy this book for anyone.

Here's the link-

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Every once in a while, we have to leave the "brats" at home and have a little grown up fun! Each October we have the chance to go to the Army Acquisition Ball. We are so fortunate that it is held right here in the D.C. area. It's kind of like homecoming week for us - we see so many old friends. This year Bill was nominated for an award. He didn't win, but it was an honor for him to be nominated. It was a fun night.

And, I get to hang out with this good looking man. Hubba-hubba!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to School!

Everyone had a good first day of school. Bill Jr. seems happy with his teachers and schedule. He said he had a friend in each class - that's a first for him! I think last year he didn't have any friends in any classes. Hard to believe he's a Senior!

Josh said he was happy to be going to school today. I almost fell in the floor! That's a huge statement for my non-school child.

Michelle was happy and ready to go to Kindergarten. I walked her to her classroom, helped her find a place to hang up her backpack, located the bathroom (very important for 5 year olds!) and found her seat. She started coloring a paper, and told me "bye mom". All the other parents were taking pictures, standing around, waiting. So, I started talking to another mom I knew, and after a minute or two, Michelle looked up from her coloring and said, "Bye mom! I will see you after school." So, I took the hint and left. Yep, I was the first mom out of the room. Guess she's ready for kindergarten!

Everyone was happy when they returned at the end of the day. Happy kids make a happy mom.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy Birthday - Part 2

Yesterday, we started Michelle's birthday with a few presents. Then, we went to her school to meet her Kindergarten teacher. Mrs. Busch is new to our school, but not new to teaching. She and her aide have taught together at a different school (which recently closed) for 11 years. And that is a good thing, because Michelle has 29 kids in her class. Yikes! I better add Mrs. Busch and her aide to my prayer list. She seems very nice, and we saw a few familiar names on the class list. I think it will be a good year. Josh met his teacher too - we have heard 5th grade has tons of homework, but mom is trying to have a positive attitude. I'm a firm believer that is mom approaches things with a positive attitude, it rubs off to the kids. (at least for a while.) Bill Jr. went over to get his locker assignment - he got to report a little early since he is a Senior this year. Wow! It's going to be a busy, crazy, fun kind of year.

We all regrouped at home and then headed over to a local park. We started off with a ride on the little train...

...followed by a little putt-putt. Michelle took about 5 strokes per hole, and she jumped around with such enthusiasm as she said, "5!" each time. I think she is having fun being 5!

We then headed out to one of our favorite places to eat and celebrate, PF Changs. She, of course, had the noodles. This child would eat noodles at every meal if we let her.

She ended the evening with a mini-birthday-dessert. We will do her party next month with her best friend Luke, and hopefully by then we will have some new friends from Kindergarten to invite. It was a wonderful day!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy Birthday 5 year old!

We had an early riser at our house today! "Michelle, why are you up so early?" Oh, that's right - it's your Birthday!!!

"And how old are you?"

Five! That's hard to believe!

We let her open a couple of presents this morning. Every little princess needs her own Disney Princess collection. I love playing Princess with Michelle, because she always calls me "Queen Mommy". I LOVE having a Princess Michelle, and I will admit, I LOVE to be called Queen Mommy!
We are going to meet our teachers today at school. It's hard to believe Michelle will be in Kindergarten this year. She is excited - I am too, for the most part. I think mixed emotions for Mom just goes with the territory.
After the school open house, we are hoping Daddy can come home early. We are planning to go play putt-putt, and then go out to eat somewhere special for Michelle's birthday. We will let her choose - I'm hoping for PF Changs!
Today will be a family day - we will have a party a little later, after we have made some new friends in Kindergarten.
Happy Birthday big girl! I love you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yes Virginia, that really was an earthquake!

This picture made me smile! Too good not to share.

Yesterday afternoon I took the kids out for a little shopping and lunch. As we pulled back into our garage, Josh jumped out first and said he was going to see if a friend was home. Bill Jr. was helping me unload the car, and I was helping Michelle out of the car. Suddenly I heard our garage door start shaking. It got louder and louder but there was a low, rumbling roar going along with it. At first I thought Josh was kicking the door or hitting it, but then I realized we were in the middle of an earthquake. I could hardly believe it - we lived in California for a year and a half, and that was my biggest fear the whole time we lived there. We never felt so much as a tiny rumble our whole time there. This one was centered about 30 miles south of my house. And believe me, we felt this one.

We walked out of our garage and talked with our neighbors for a few minutes. The teenage girl across the street was home alone, and she seemed quite shaken up, in every way. During the actual earthquake I wasn't afraid, just kind of amazed, but I felt a little sick to my stomach afterwards as I realized what had just happened.

We went inside to survey the damage. A scared doggie, a couple of cans that fell out of cabinets, and a few books off our overcrowded book shelf. Other than that, no real damage done to our home.

Everywhere we went, for the rest of the day, we overheard people telling their part of the story. One of my good friends told me she had just left her chair in her office to go get some water, and when she returned after the quake she saw a huge mirror had fallen and shattered right where she was sitting.

When something like this happens, you can't help but become a bit reflective. (O.K., I can't speak for everyone, but things like this always make me stop and think!) One minute we were literally enjoying a perfect day - the sun was shining, the weather was not too hot, not too cold, I was having fun and enjoying my kids, and then the next the ground is shaking under my feet. I will tell you this - I certainly hope that is the worst earthquake I ever experience. I can't even imagine what people in Japan or California must go through.

As I was contemplating this yesterday, I was reminded at how quickly life can change. It only takes a single minute! And I was reminded that my hope is not in this world - I am blessed beyond measure! I have a husband that I love more than words can say, 4 beautiful healthy children, a nice home in a nice neighborhood, great supportive family and a lot of good friends, and even with all it's problems, I still live in what I believe is the greatest country in the world. And yet, my hope is not in any of these things. My hope is in God and His Son Jesus. I know someday my life on this earth will vanish. I believe there is so much more waiting for me - the things of this earth will someday all pass away. No matter how hard I might try, I know I won't live here forever. But I believe, with every fiber of my being, that I will live forever with my Lord and Savior Jesus. That gives me great hope! And, it gives me comfort in this world, when I feel the world shaking under my feet. (literally and figuratively!)

Last night I had a unique privilege. Our church is building a new stage, and our music minister invited everyone on the worship team to come and sign the concrete part of the stage, before it is overlaid with hard wood and carpet. He invited us to sign with a verse or prayer. I choose to sign with the words of a hymn - one that seemed meaningful. After yesterday's events, it seemed even more appropriate. Every week, as I stand on stage to sing praises to my God, I will know under my feet are these words.

"My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand."

I pray that everyone who reads this post will have that same hope. If not, I pray that this will be the day that you look for it - it's found in the person of Jesus Christ! He is my Hope!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bits and Pieces of Summer

Someone asked me yesterday what I had done over the summer. It was an innocent enough question, but it made me feel a little sad, as if she was saying that summer was over, time to move on. I love summer time! Relaxed schedules, sleeping late, time with family, leisurely afternoons at the pool, good food. Sigh!

But, my friend is right - summer is coming to a close. And, I will admit, I have not been the best blogger this summer. So, here is a quick recap of a few things that didn't make it into the blog.

After Lizzy returned from Italy, she got a job at a local pizza restaurant. I think she enjoyed the experience, even if it meant very little sleep for her. She worked the late shift 2 or 3 nights a week, which meant she didn't even go to work until 10:00 p.m., returning home in the wee hours of the morning. Then, she slept most of the next day. It was a good experience, and I know she was grateful to get any job in this tough economy. But, I think we both hope next summer she can have a job with more normal hours.

Josh & Michelle had a great time at Vacation Bible School. The theme was Main Street USA. They are both still singing the songs. I lead the worship team. I love working with these young people, most of them having never played in front of an audience. I love teaching them how to not only lead worship, but to be lead worshippers. There is something really wonderful about seeing 500 kids in front of you, singing and jumping and praising God!

Bill and I managed a quick overnight trip away in late July to celebrate our 22 anniversary. Lizzy offered to watch the younger kids, so we checked into a local spa/resort and had 24 hours all to ourselves. It was wonderful!

Bill Jr. got to spend a week at the beach with one of his good friends, Chris. He also had his wisdom teeth out last week - not fun, but necessary. Hard to believe he will be a Senior this year. We have already done several college visits, and we would like to squeeze in a couple more early this fall before he starts the application process. He wants to be a teacher, and he wants to go to college in Virginia. I'm excited to see what the future holds for him!

In 2 more days we drive Lizzy back to school to begin her Sophomore year. Sigh! I guess that means summer really is winding down. Today Michelle has her Kindergarten physical, the last thing we have to do before she heads off to school. So, we will return next week to buy shoes, backpacks, school supplies... and hopefully squeeze in a few more afternoons at the pool.

Still trying to enjoy those last few days of summer!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our Week at the Cape

Last week we went to visit Grammy Cole at Cape Cod. It was a great week - the traffic was light (I would dare say, it was the easiest travel we have ever had going to Grammy's! Maybe high gas prices kept more people at home?) The weather was nice, especially after such a hot summer here in NOVA. And, this was the first time Bill has joined us for the whole week in a while. We had a really nice week.

We have lots of annual traditions when we visit the Cape. It's wonderful to return to the same place year after year. We visited some of our favorite beaches (although I didn't take many pic's on the beach this year), ate at some of our favorite places (you will notice, most of these pic's are of us eating. Hmmm?!!!) and of course, my kids think no trip to the Cape is complete without a visit to the Brewster General Store. They have lots of "penny" candy ~ I say that with caution, because this year I spent a "pretty penny" on candy! You might notice a few new faces added to the Cole clan - we brought along some cousins who were visiting for the day, Emon and Ethan. We also had Lizzy's boyfriend, Kit, vacation with us for most of the week.

Time with Grammy - the BEST part of our week!

Ice cream smiles!

We actually did pretty well this year - I think we only went out for ice cream twice this visit, including a family favorite, the Sundae School.

Michelle was a little freaked out by the lobster at the Lobster Boat Restaurant. I don't think Daddy helped much. (;

We always take a pic outside the Lobster Boat. This year it was raining when we arrived, so we did an after-dinner picture.

One of my favorite things to do at the Cape is play games. Bill Jr. is usually the most competitive one in our family, but this year Josh won most of the rounds of Clue.

Mini-golf at Pirate's Cove.

Josh & Dad went deep-sea fishing one morning and brought home some yummy Sea-bass.
I love time in the sun and sand with my family!

Monday, August 8, 2011


I will never forget August 8, 2008! We were spending the day together, going to an Army picnic and fishing tournament with Bill's work. I remember being late and almost getting a speeding ticket. I remember being really hot as we ate hotdogs & burgers. I remember the kids not catching much at the fishing tournament, and being kind of cranky about that.

Everyone was hot and tired, so we came home and decided to rest/nap. We had already made plans to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics and order chinese food takeout from our favorite restaurant.

And then the phone rang... and I knew!

It was CCAI, calling to tell us there was a beautiful little girl, who needed a family. They asked if we would take a look at her file and get back to us as soon as possible. We knew our referral had to be getting close, but God was so good to let it be on that special day! My husband is very rarely home on a Friday afternoon at 3:00, but he was that day. As the world celebrated the beauty and awe of the opening ceremony, we celebrated the beauty and awe of our daughter!

For years I had dreamed of this child, prayed for her, and hoped! Now, I finally had a face, a person to put with all those dreams and prayers.

It's hard to believe it's only been 3 years - I can hardly remember a time before I knew this sweet face! We love you Michelle.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shreddin' It Up!

Yea, that's skater lingo. Because I'm cool like that! Actually, I know NOTHING about the skater lingo, but I happen to live with a 10 year old who is an expert. Josh thinks he has gone to heaven this week - he is in Skateboard camp. For 3 and a half hours each day he gets to do quarter pikes, grind, ollie's, and basically, just shred it up. (that's short for, what my generation would say, means have a really awesome time)

I don't know exactly why I can't upload this video - we will try to fix it. Come back later to see the skater dude in action!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hamster balls

We would like to introduce you to 2 of the newest members of our family, Lulu and Lilah. Josh had a hamster a couple of years ago, and he was so happy to get 2 new hamsters at the end of school. I am NOT a hamster/rodent kind of person, but I have to admit, they are awfully cute rolling around in their balls. Josh has done a good job of caring for them. Like a lot of siblings, after a few weeks, we realized they could not share a room, I mean cage. There was some biting, hamster screeching, etc., so we let Bill Jr. take Lilah downstairs in a separate cage to live with him, and Lulu stayed upstairs with Josh. Everyone is happy now!

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, we bought our own people version of the hamster ball for the kids. We were literally stopping traffic as the kids rolled around the front yard in their very own hamster ball.

The hamster ball made it's debut at a neighborhood kids party. We have a great neighborhood, with lots of nice kids for my children to play with. A couple of the families are military, like us, and they were moving at the beginning of the summer. So, we pulled out the slip-and-slides, blew up the hamster ball, and threw some hot dogs on the grill for one last night of fun!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yes! We are still here.

One of my very funny friends (Sara McClintock!) asked me if "The Brats" had tied me up or something. I guess she assumed I had to have a good reason for not blogging lately. We have been busy having fun! I am trying to spend as much time as I can at our community pool, and I am leading the worship team this week for Vacation Bible School. It's a lot of fun, but a lot of work. After next week, I should have a little more time for things like blogging. (and sleeping, and housework, etc...)

Here are a couple of pictures for now - we recently had a little brother bonding time. I knew this would be one of those moments that would bring the boys closer, for better or for worse! Bill Jr. cuts his own hair, and he offered to give his brother Josh a buzz cut to start off the summer.

Turned out o.k. No tears (or blood) was shed!