Friday, August 29, 2014


 noun \ˈzest\
: lively excitement : a feeling of enjoyment and enthusiasm
: a lively quality that increases enjoyment, excitement, or energy
: small pieces of the skin of a lemon, orange, or lime that are used to flavor food

Yes! That's it. That describes our boy perfectly! He lives his life with enjoyment and enthusiasm and he certainly does increase our enjoyment of life 100 fold!

Samuel Tobias is 4 years old now and I can't even put into words how very, very thankful I am to have been hand-picked by God to be this boys' mom! Just look at that amazing smile! 

My oldest and my youngest..... 

Our Sammy T is a fighter. He isn't going to let labels hold him down. Although he is delayed quite a bit in speech and other areas he IS making progress! 
Praise God! 
He is constantly amazing me with new things he can do!
Riding his bike with training wheels and actually pedaling it. 
Potty training.
Trying very hard to dress himself.
Able to say some words that we understand so he doesn't have to point and grunt. 
Can pick out some letters of the alphabet and numbers.
Knows his name.
Loves to help do chores each day.
So funny....he loves to make others laugh. 
He does this crazy monkey dance that is THE cutest thing EVER! :)
Can pick out parts of the body.
Brings zest to everyone he comes in contact with!!

When we learned about Samuel T. over 4 years ago we were not in a position financially to adopt again. We knew we'd be adopting again but we thought it would be a year or more down the road. Then we heard about this little baby and the odds stacked against him and we prayed God would bring him the perfect family. Never thinking it would be us! How God worked it all out so beautifully and quickly still brings tears to my eyes. Samuel's "theme song" is "Mighty to Save" because God did move all the mountains. Then to make his adoption that much more stellar was the fact that we got to meet and love on his precious birthmom. Oh my heart. One of the BEST days of my life, hands down! 

Samuel loves his siblings. It's good he has a large family to thrive in.
 He loves being in the mix of it all and if you are feeling down he's quick to pat your arm and say his version of a prayer. :) 

He loves cookies and if you can't find him just look in the closet that holds the cookies. I've had to resort to putting the cookies in tupperware so he can't get into them. He's been successful with the crackers though and I can just follow the trail of crumbs to locate him. LOL! 

I thought this was cute, the speech therapist told me this week that when she has him practice a sound and he is having a hard time with it she will go to model it and he will put up his little hand, as if to say "I got this", and then try until he gets it. Now that's what I'm talking about. He is trying so very hard and I couldn't be prouder of him! 

Oh yeah. 
My boy with zest...God has BIG plans for you! 
And you know of those plans was to teach me what strength, determination and zest looks like!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Sunshine....

Nolan Elijah....
oh my, words fail me....
this little guy is a pocketful of joy!
 He exemplifies it! 
I am so, so thankful God chose me to be his momma! 
Truthfully, he helps keep me sane most days. :) 

 There is not a day goes by that isn't filled with his laughter,
 his smile and his exuberant life! Thank you Lord!

He is all about family. He loves, loves, loves his family and loves having  fun with his family.

Nolan is 6 years old. He has this adorable New England accent which we've no clue how he acquired but trust's A.DOR.A.BLE :)
He loves trucks, playing board games and riding his bike. In fact, just recently he has begun ramping his bike and doing mini-wheelies. OYE! Reminds me of his biggest brothers and their crazy, skateboarding tricks. :) 
He is an awesome brother always looking out for Sammy T! He's also been our "resident translator" when we can't figure out what Sam is trying to say. He is kind, compassionate, giving and very athletic. 
However, he also likes to win and can be quite dramatic when he doesn't come in first place. He has quite an engineering mind and is constantly building or coming up with ideas to make the world a better place. :)
He doesn't really like school. Wait, that's not quite right, he likes school but "only the fun parts". LOL! He loves crafts, art, music, writing in his journal, and Bible time but the rest he could gladly do without.  He is very good at math and already an excellent reader but the having to sit still and do it part is the part he doesn't like. :) 
Nolan also loves banging the drums, strumming the guitar and singing. I think he may possibly be a future worship leader.......time will tell. :)
Love my lil' sunshine so very much!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

My lil' Diva....

 Miss G.....  :)

Our little Gabriella came home at 18 months. She had lived most of her life in the hospital due to her "complicated health". The doctors had changed her diagnoses several times but just weren't able to nail it down completely while in Korea but had started her on medicine that was helping her. Enter us....medically naive....! Of course we had done our homework and had researched and talked to doctors, specialists and even a doctor who specialized in internationally adopted children with major health concerns. For the most part, across the board, they all agreed that her health would improve upon getting the medication and medical care provided here in the states. (But for the record, I believe Korea's health system is very good and I believe they were on the right path).  So we brought this cherub home and immediately her pediatrician took her off all her medication so he could see if her diagnosis was correct. Ack! Word to the not a good idea! It was such a hard transition for her and us. She literally screamed....not cried....SCREAMED! for the first 6 months here. The dr. performed lots of tests as quickly as he could and found that yes she did need medicine and so she was started back on slowly. It took months for her body to adjust and hence all the screaming. It was a very long 6 months.  BUT it was on a short vacation to the beach that all of a sudden she woke up and didn't scream. We held our breath, was this real?! But yes it was. Our girl finally was feeling good enough she didn't need to scream. Of course, I believe everything is better at the beach and apparently she felt the same way too. LOL! 

Her health has been a series of highs and lows. She's been hospitalized several times. She's had back to back to back seizures that scared me senseless. She's had periods where her fingers and toes lock up and it looks like rigormortis. (Sp?)  She's had several operations. She has to get bloodwork done monthly. She has to take lots of  "yucky medicine" a couple times a day. She sees many specialists. However, through all of it, she has been such a brave trooper. Certainly braver than I would be! We have great doctors, specialists and a hospital that goes the extra mile for her which I am so, so thankful for. 

Now let me tell you the good stuff about this precious diva. She is ALL about the bling. LOL! She loves jewelry, dressing up and anything glittery, sparkly or light-up. Especially if it's PINK! :) She is such a hard worker and excellent helper. She loves to cook and bake and be in the kitchen. In fact, she spends hours playing outside making mud pies, dirt cakes, and her newest creation, larva fish sticks. Mmmm, yummy? LOL! She loves tea parties, fingernail polish, and having her hair in piggy tales. She loves dresses of all shapes, sizes and colors. She prefers to wear dresses but will resort to shorts or pants if no dresses are clean. She loves to read and math is one of her favorite subjects in school. Although, she likes "all of them". She is my Bible whiz and is so good at grasping biblical concepts even at this young age of 9. She is always the first one to step in to carry something, help someone, or do the work that's needs done. Truthfully, sometimes I have to stop her so others can learn the concept of hard work. :) 

She is an amazing little girl. She giggles easily and always has something to say. LOL! I'm so very thankful God chose us, as naive and green as we were, to get to spend our days loving this beautiful daughter!

Monday, August 4, 2014

If you give kids shaving cream....

they will have a GREAT time! 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Knee Mail....

This is Connor, age 11. He came home at 2 1/2 years old from Korea. Many longtime readers know our story about how naive we were. Ha! That's an understatement! On paper, Connor had some big issues but we thought he would come home and our love and devotion would "fix" all of it. Whew! Were we in for a ride! LOL!  
Connor has come a long way from where he started and truthfully, so have I! He has been the impetus to grow my faith and knee mail (praying) is a moment by moment occurrence for me as I learn to deal with the issues that continue to surface day after day after day.
I have no idea what God has planned for his life but I believe with all I am it will be good! Gods' word promises it and that's what I cling to. The HOPE that what God has begun He will finish. Hallelujah! 

Connor loves to read and sing. He also loves to do school and math is his favorite subject. He is a big help with Samuel, playing ball with him, or putting his shoes on for me if I am busy doing something else. He and Samuel have just made up a new handshake and love to show it to everybody. He also gets so excited if Samuel can approximate a new word and will try to have Samuel repeat it to me. :)

 Connor is an excellent encourager. Always cheering his siblings on and building them up.  He also has the best reactions when he is excited and will thank us repeatedly for even simple things like "thanks mom for the haircut" or "thanks for planning school".  He is trying really hard to be all God has created him to be and we are praying that he feels the love and devotion of all of us as he continues each day to take the forward steps and most importantly, those backward ones as well.

As Connor would say, "you're doing a great job" and I pray that's exactly what Christ will say to me someday.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Korean Dollbaby....

So I said months and months ago I would begin updating on how each child is growing and becoming the beautiful people God created them to be. I've decided to go oldest to youngest so up first it Miss Kyalynn. :) 
My precious much like her momma! Very independent and capable (Sean says stubborn!) and doesn't let grass grow under her feet. LOL! 
When Kyalynn came home at 15 1/2 months she stole everyone's heart! Such a tiny, irresistible bundle of joy.  Although she's finally growing and is wearing size 8's she is still my irresistible bundle of joy! You will notice immediately that Kyalynn sings all the time. This girl can belt out Mandisa like nobody's business and not miss one word. I call her our resident DJ because she knows every song and who the singer is. She LOVES music. I believe it flows in her veins! She loves any instrument but prefers her little keyboard most of the time. She is also our reader. She LOVES books! Any book, any size, any content she will inhale. :) She usually has a stack of about 10 books with her at all times. She is a good multitasker, reading her books, listening to the radio and keeping a close eye on the going-ons of her siblings. LOL!  Just recently she's really taken an interest in writing stories. She writes pages and then brings them to me so I can read them. Usually I tell her to read them to me because although she is finally able to write legibly her writing isn't fluid. Hmm, let's see if I can explain it.....her communication and her writing are the same. She doesn't use full, flowing sentences. So if she wanted to tell me about finding the lost treasure she'd say "mommy, find it, lost treasure." Or "mommy, can I tea party?" or one more, "mommy, ouch, knee, hurts." So that's how her stories read. Of course, I think they and most importantly, she, is practically perfect in every way! :) Now, sometimes she will surprise us with a very good, fluid sentence but I've learned to understand and read between the missing words. :) She is my animal lover and whenever I can't find her I just look at the chicken coop and there she will be feeding those blasted chickens bugs and worms. LOL! Spoiled chickens!! Kyalynn is quite content playing on her own mostly but when she does play with the others she is the one in charge. She comes up with the scenario and what each person is going to do and say and they'd better follow it to a T or she will let them know. LOL! She LOVES to swim. She could spend hours and hours in the pool happily swimming around . Today she was pretending she was Turtlegirl rescuing us from the crocodiles and octopus. :) My baby is growing up so fast. It's hard to believe she will be 12 this year! I am SO PROUD of how far she has come. To think back to her not even being able to talk (except echo) until she was almost 5 and the screaming fits we endured.....although we still have alot to work on and through she has come so very far, thank you Lord! I love my girl. She says to me tonight, "I love you", "You beautiful". Awww....I've told her that and used sign language to speak it so many, many times all these years it's wonderful to hear her say it back to me. My precious, precious honored to be her momma!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Another "Gotcha Day" under our belt...

Today marks Connor's 8th "Gotcha Day". 
 (The day we met him for the first time and he became one of us).  
As I went back through my pictures my heart bounced between joy and sorrow.  I always try to be as real and open as I can be so I won't sugarcoat things today.  As I look through my pictures Connor looks happy, content, joyful even. 
He has always been photogenic and my older son, Ryan, a budding photographer, loved dressing Connor up and taking his picture to practice and hone his skills with photography. :) 
Those two were best buds until Ryan left for the Army. :( 

Ryan and Zack are such great big brothers and when they lived here at home were HUGE helps to me in dealing with Connor and his behaviors. 
Unfortunately, what most people do not see behind that charming smile are behaviors that rock our world....daily. 
It's been a LONG 8 years. LOL! 
In fact, I had to double check how long he'd been home because it feels alot longer than 8 years!

BUT.....I do have to share the positives of Connor and why we are still fighting hard to win this battle for him even when it feels like we can' 

Connor is eager to learn academics and he really does well with math and science. He loves to read and will read anything he gets his hands on. He, out of all the littles, will seek out Kyalynn and ask her to play a game or will willingly join into her make-believe world and play Jake and the Neverland Pirates with her. :)
 He always says "good morning Kyalynn" to her first thing and if he is a tad bit late in saying it she will remind him to say it. LOL!  
On one hand he could care less about his family but then on the other hand he seems to care deeply for his family. It's hard to understand and explain! 

In todays world people say "I love you" too easily. I have been to the other side (many times!) and love is NOT a feeling, it's not warm and fuzzy, it's not easily given or taken away. Love, true love, is deep. It's persistent. It's committed. It's tough. It's hopeful. It's a warrior. It's willing to go into battle over and over and over again for someone. 

Parenting Connor has taught me what desperation feels like.
 I desperately need Christ to show up each day in a big way! 
It's also taught me how to cling, really cling to His promises 'cuz sometimes that's all I have to go on.
 I am learning, albeit slowly, how to truly, deeply love in spite of the behaviors. 
After all, in hindsight, I'm not much different than Connor. 
Sadly, I continue to repeat the same sins of anger, doubt, fear, lashing out with my words, and wanting to give up daily.
 Just as Connor continues to repeat behaviors and sins that consume our days and cause me to feel validated in my anger am I not doing the same thing with my Father, God?!

 But yet, He doesn't get angry with me or feel like giving up on me....EVER! 
This then is what I am striving for not only for Connor's sake but my own. To be a better mom to my boy with larger than life issues/behaviors so that he can see Jesus in me and want to know HIM more!! 

Please Lord, help.....