January 16, 2014

Still finding FIRSTS (and lots of pics!)

Today was a snow day in our blizzardy little part of the world, and snow days are good for many things. Getting random things finished up, giving the kids some down-time, lounging around in sweatpants (my personal favorite), making cookies, etc. Blogging has been on my to-do list for a LONG time, but I actually got a chance to sit down today and make some progress. I realized I haven't posted since November 2!

I have good intentions...and when I miss the mark for my personally set blogging goals, I'll be honest, it makes me feel like a huge, stinkin' failure! But I'm going to suck it up and just start from scratch. And try to console myself by thinking about the awesome (but exhausting) events that led to my lack of posts.

Picking up where we left off in November:
Jon and I finished our second juice fast. He ended up going 10 (or was it 11?) days while I stopped at 5. I didn't even write a concluding post because there wasn't much to conclude. We felt great, but didn't notice the HUGE effects we did from our first one. We think our Paleo(ish) diet was the reason.

Meili LOVES juicing. For a while, this was a GREAT way for us to get much-needed nutrients into her. While she still loves to make the juice, her fascination with drinking it has significantly diminished!

She's finally grown enough hair for some piggies!

Next up was Thanksgiving, and I just have to put a plug in for my amazing husband. My (three older) kids were lucky enough to get to go see Buddy Valastro from Cake Boss when he was in South Dakota. He taught everyone how to make a turkey cake for Thanksgiving. The kids were dying to try it, so Jon - on his own - gathered enough supplies for three turkey cakes and took on the project with the kids one night while I was gone.

Have you ever made three cakes at the same time with three kids?
Me neither.
And there's a reason for that!

Jon is a brave man.

They turned out surprisingly well considering his limited cooking abilities ;)

It ended up being a two-night project. Baking one night, decorating the next.
Ever decorated three cakes with three kids?
Yeah, me neither. But I did help with this part, just a little.
Jon has many talents, but piping frosting isn't one of them.

Three happy kids and three pretty cute turkey cakes! We had turkey cake coming out our ears by the time Thanksgiving was over! One would have been enough.....but what fun would that be!?

I think the main reason I didn't get much accomplished in November was because of December. My parents had been planning to take our entire family on a cruise for their 35th anniversary & Christmas. Being the type who can't do anything without a plan, I spent massive amounts of time figuring out the best way to manage a family of 6 while getting on and off a cruise ship, exploring 5 different islands, taking tours, finding beaches, evaluating dining options, planning kids club time, and still hoping to squeeze in a little bit of rest and relaxation for mom and dad.

I spent most of my November nights with TripAdvisor and CruiseCritic. But I think it paid off. We had a fabulous time, aside from one island where the stars just didn't seem to align for us.

We were a little unsure what to expect traveling with Meili. The last time we'd done a big trip, it was to take her from China and bring her to home. This was her first big trip with us, as a family.

She pretty much handled it like a champ :)

We sailed from San Juan, so were able to spend a day there before we left.

All the kids with their newest Aunt. Kayla married my brother in May.
Meili had never experienced the ocean before, or even sand (outside of the sandbox).

She was pretty apprehensive at first.

Once she was brave enough to let us put her down, the waves terrified her!

Fortunately, it didn't take long before she was running around like she'd lived there her whole life.

No beach trip would be complete without burying Dad in the sand.

The Elf on the Shelf came with us and managed to get into a lot of trouble. Our stateroom attendant (who made some sweet towel animals) even played along!

Our favorite island was Barbados, where we found the perfect beach. It was calm on one end and had perfect boogie boarding waves on the other end. The kids got to try it for the first time.

They LOVED it!

We didn't even make them eat healthy the whole trip. Tyler was in seventh-heaven.

And we got to spend some quality time with family. It was a perfect trip! (The 80+ degree temps didn't hurt either!)

Another big first: CHRISTMAS!

We arrived home just two days before Christmas. We'd been so busy up until we left that we hadn't even prepared for the holiday. So while most adoptive families have an entire blog post dedicated to the excitement of their adopted child experiencing their first Christmas in the US, we have almost nothing. We were so tired and worn out (in a good way!) that we didn't even put up a tree. Nor did we have any gifts to open on my side of the family since the trip was our gift.

Meili did enjoy spending time at Grandma and Grandpa's house and lots of playtime with her cousins. She opened some presents but didn't exactly "get it" and just seemed mostly overwhelmed by all the paper and boxes.

All-in-all, it was just a little much for our tiny Christmas elf....

So this is about the best we can do for memories of our first Christmas with Meili:

Oh well, we are all happy and together (and tan!) so it could be worse! Maybe next year will be a little more "traditional" for all of us.

2013 was pretty eventful for our family. While we wouldn't want it any other way, we're hoping 2014 brings a little relief from 'crazy' and a little more 'normal' - whatever that is!


  1. Found your family's story while searching for information about Bountiful Baskets, but fell in love with your adoption story. I had momentary thoughts about bringing a little Chinese girl into our home years ago, but it just wasn't possible. Thank you for sharing your story, your faith, and for sharing your family with such a precious little one - God's blessings!

    1. Thanks for your kind words! These kinds of comments are what make me glad we've shared our story :)