You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2007.

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(A few days ago as the sun was setting, it cast such a beautiful glow on my best friend’s house across the field — kind of off topic, but it was so pretty, I had to share this picture.)

We had a great Christmas — I really, really love this time of year.  We didn’t celebrate Christmas when I was a kid and I am grateful for the memories I am making now with my family.  I love watching Jo’s face as we read the Christmas story and as she plays with her nativity… it’s so real to her.  I also love the precious time we get to spend with our dear friends and family — even though we live near most of them and see them often, it’s special getting to continue family traditions (and start new ones!)  I love traditions.  Plus, it’s just plain fun getting to celebrate Christmas with my kids!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of Christmas Eve with Peter’s family…  Shame on me!  I was too busy laughing and playing with my nieces and nephews.  I promise you some next year.  We always spend Christmas Eve with Peter’s family and have fondue and play games — They are a crazy, fun crew!  Our families are very different.  My sister and I are the only kids in my quiet family, so I didn’t grow up experiencing large-family-craziness!  I feel blessed to have married into a large family, and wouldn’t trade it for the world even though it does get quite loud and chaotic with all the little cousins running around (laughing and arguing!) and ten different conversations around the table and multiple games going and lots of teasing among Peter’s siblings…  It seems we always have some new mishap to laugh at as well — one year it was the tablecloth catching on fire from the fondue fuel!  🙂  

Henry loved all the noise and joined right in.  I can’t even begin to describe how deeply thankful I am to have him home for Christmas… it’s literally a dream come true.  I get choked up when I think about how richly the Lord has blessed us with the gifts of our children.  I ache for those of you that have been waiting so long to bring your kids home and hoped they would be here by the holidays.   

Here are some of my favorite pictures from Christmas Day.  We were at home in the morning and then later at my parents.  (*Note: the traditional opening of our stockings in bed first-thing-in-the-morning-photos are omitted.  I love you guys, but not enough to reveal those pictures!! Ha!)

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Henry’s wearing his Christmas gift from Dotty.  Thanks again, Dot!!

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I think this stuffed monkey was Henry’s favorite gift…

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He kept kissing it and then he wanted to kiss Daddy, too!  🙂

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I know this next one is sad — but I had to include it because he is cute even when he is crying!  (The tears are because he wanted one of Jo’s toys — it has begun!)

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Despite the overwhelming odds against getting a picture where all four of us are looking (and smiling!) at the camera — we actually got a decent photo at my parent’s house Christmas evening.  (What you don’t see is my dad in the background doing acrobatics to get the kid’s attention turned in that general direction! 🙂 )

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Joanna was captivated by the dancing ballerina in the jewelry box! Ahh, timeless gifts!

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Henry loved the little red chair my parent’s have in their living room because it was just his size! He kept climbing in and out of it — looking so proud of himsefl!

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The bow he wasn’t so sure about… (Peter’s doing, of course! 🙂 )

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The highlight of the night for the kids was racing around the house — Jo pulling a doll in her little wagon and Peter chasing her with Henry riding in Jo’s doll stroller.  (Yes, he’s that small! 🙂 ) I wish I’d had the video camera — the giggles and shrieks and squeals were priceless!  These are memories in the making…

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Jo got some special “Poppy and Nonny” time — this always fills her tank up!

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And of course, more empty box fun back at home before bed.  (Peter’s mom made the flannel nightgown for Joanna as a Christmas gift and Jo loved it so much that she ended up wearing it all day yesterday, too!  I figured it’s only Boxing Day once a year, so she might as well celebrate it by wearing her nightgown all day!  Who knows?  It might just become a new tradition!)

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Merry Christmas to all my wonderful blogging buddies and faithful blog-stalkers (you know who you are!)  I am richer this Christmas because of the friendships I have made through this blog.  Love you all! 

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We usually tromp out back into the woods and argue about which tree will fit in our living room (I swear they look ten times smaller out in the forest! 🙂 ) and chop it down and drag it back — but not this year…  This year we wimped out and actually BOUGHT a Christmas tree!  And now I know why people buy Christmas trees — because they look beautiful and can actually hold ornaments!!  Our poor wild fir trees around here are sadly lacking in the strong limb department… and our Christmas ornaments are usually sagging on flimsy branches… Not so this year!  I may be sold on this new tradition — drive to town and strap the tree on the car!  We stayed dry and didn’t argue at all!  🙂  Plus, it’s a Blue Spruce and smells sooooo good!

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Henry helped me wrap presents one afternoon last week while his sissy was napping.  The next morning I came downstairs to find several presents opened already and a triumphant Joanna gloating over her loot.  Arrghhh!  So much for surprising her Christmas morning!  She now knows what most of the presents are.  She’s not quite old enough to just tear a little wrapping paper off to take a peek — she went all the way and I had to re-wrap everything (not for her sake, but for mine — the tree looks kind of lonely without anything under it!)

Although I have to confess that I am “The World’s Worst Gift-Wrapper!”  Really.  If there was a bad-wrapper award, I would win.  I have tried to improve, but I am physically impaired when it comes to wrapping presents.  They always end up looking wrinkled and pieced together…  My mom always shows me down with gorgeously wrapped presents — complete with coordinating ribbons!  🙂  My sister got the wrapping gene, because hers are works of art as well…  You can tell which presents are from me!  This year I decided to let Jo help wrap the gifts for the rest of the family — that way I can blame it on the three year old!  🙂

… is an empty box to play in!!”

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Wow — did they ever have fun with this box tonight!  Jo pushed Henry for a while and then she climbed in and Peter pulled them around.  Lots of giggles!

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Here are a few pictures from our trip to Liberia.  Like I said earlier, I didn’t actually take very many photos while we were there.  We only ended up being in Liberia for three days, so we stayed constantly busy — plus, it was difficult to be snapping pictures knowing that I was going to be leaving and didn’t have anything more to give this time.  The need in Liberia is so great.  We’ve been hearing about it for months from Ahmad, and were somewhat prepared — but there is nothing like seeing it first-hand.  We were deeply impacted… and our desire to go back and spend some more time was confirmed.  This trip was more than a journey to bring our son home — it was a confirmation of  things that have been stirring in our hearts for a long time.  

If you want to see more pictures, my dear friend and travel companion, Jamie, has some wonderful ones on her blog.  She and her husband arrived a few days before we did, so she had more opportunity with her camera than I did with mine.  

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(above: the road that took us to the Embassy)

(below: a typical house like the one Ahmad and his wife rent a room in… many families under one roof.  This is one of the nicer ones we saw.)

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The traffic was insane.  Like nothing I’ve ever seen.  No stop signs or stop lights… no turn lanes or center lines — but somehow everyone knew the “rules” and it actually worked!  (Car horns being crucial to the flow of traffic!)

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The market outside the Embassy.  (That’s Sydney with her arms full…)

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Peter bought a bag of water from a little girl… You just bite off the corner to drink it.

(*added note: after so many worried comments, I figured I had better add that the Guest House host, Rick, assured Peter that as long as he bought the bag with writing on it, it was perfectly safe… I was dubious — but of course, he HAD to try it! …and so far, so good! 🙂 )

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The road back to the airport.  It was by far the nicest road we traveled.  I wish I had gotten a picture of some of the other roads.  Geesh!  The potholes were big enough to swallow a car!

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So they weren’t kidding when they said to expect “more snow” all week!  Whew!  It has been snowing furiously all day.  It is so, so pretty.  As long as I don’t have to go anywhere, I really enjoy days like today.  I feel like I am in a snow globe and someone just shook it really hard! 

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I am totally disappointed in these photos.  I am going to have to experiment a little.  You can hardly even tell it was snowing.  And, boy, was it ever snowing! — great big flakes that piled up quickly…  Thousands of flakes filling the sky, turning everything white and muffling all sounds except snow-sounds.  They were coming down so quickly, I got dizzy just looking out the window!

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I had an interesting day — I was completely disconnected from the world by no choice of my own.  Ahhh, the joys of rural living!  Our phone line has been down for days, and today our satellite internet connection wasn’t working due to the storm… AND my cell phone broke!  I literally had no way to contact anyone other than my neighbor with a red flag out my front door (and where were you, Sarah???)  We don’t have TV (yes, shocking, I know!)  So the whole world could have gone up in flames and I would have been blissfully unaware…

At first I was a little panicky!  What if someone needed to get a hold of me???  Then I started to realize what a gift it was… Aha! people couldn’t get a hold of me!  (Although I am truly sorry to those of you that tried!) I had the whole day to be unplugged (well, thank God, unplugged from the rest of the world WITH my blessed electricity!!!)  And I really, really, enjoyed it.  Guess what I did?  (besides cleaning up the entire bag of cat food that Joanna  spread all over the living room floor — more on the “Meow Mix Incident” later!)  … I wrote Christmas cards.  By hand.  🙂

It made me contemplate once again, how much much simpler life must have been a hundred and fifty years ago. For the record, I am certainly not volunteering to give up my cell phone and laptop for good! — But I live where I do partly because there is a side of me that longs for the simplicity of life without wires… without artifical connections… I love living where I can watch the seasons pass, marking the years, lending a natural rhythm to life — reminding me to slow down and savor the moments because this season will soon be over…

So much of my life over the last few years has become woven into the world wide web — education, business, shopping, entertainment, communication, (journaling!)…  It’s becoming increasingly harder to separate the virtual from the actual.  I don’t have a negative view toward it.  I appreciate the convenience of the internet!  I appreciate the information available (thank God for Google!!)  I appreciate the relationships I have because of it.  I get to interact with wonderful people and peek into their lives — I get to laugh and cry sympathetically with friends from hundreds of miles away…   I can’t imagine life without it.  But on the other hand, I don’t want to become so intertwined with virtual reality that my actual reality suffers.  I don’t want my real-life relationships to get less than my e-relationships.  Or become so dependent on Amazon.com that I walk past the little book store on the corner.  Or use up my time blogging and have none left over to journal privately!   Hmmmmmm…..  Finding the balance.  Seems like a theme of mine lately. 

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It’s finally starting to look more like a typical December around here — it’s been snowing off and on for the last few days and the latest weather report forecasts “snow every day for the next week.  I am glad.  I love a fresh covering of white for Christmas.  It really is a beautiful time of year, even if it is cold. 

The back meadow looks so pretty.  I love sitting on the couch (with the warmth of a fire and a hot cup of tea, of course!) watching out the window as the snow falls on the field and trees. 

We took the kids out sledding this morning.  Henry wasn’t sure what to think at the top of the hill…

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…but by the bottom he decided that sledding is his kind of activity!!  He LOVED the thrill of it and laughed the whole way down! 

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Jo preferred to sit and eat snow at the top of the hill.

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Yes, I was there too.  (I have to document myself in these family outings, so the kids don’t wonder someday where Mom was during all the fun! 🙂 )

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Lest these photos mislead you into thinking this particular sledding hill is grander than it actually is…  I have to confess that it is only a meager snow-covered pile of dirt from the water reservoir we put in the ground this fall.  It’s a true beginner’s hill — just tall enough for a two-second ride! (We are saving the more advanced hills for our next sledding adventure!)

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After the sledding, we went for a nice walk.  Jo was SUCH a wonderful big sister and held her brother tightly on the sled in front of her!  Henry obviously enjoyed this arrangement and loved being pulled down the driveway…

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…and up the road.  We love living on this little County road.  The State roads are usually well-plowed, but the County roads aren’t kept as clear and we are able to take long walks with the sled (plus they’re great for riding on tubes and snowboards towed behind a truck!!)

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…And home again for some hot chocolate!  Wish you were here.  🙂

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I am afraid I am in danger of becoming a “once-a-week blogger”!!  But at least it’ll be a long post each week with lots of pictures to keep you demanding readers at bay!  🙂

Actually, the truth is, it has been a loooonnng week… I spoke too soon with my last glowing post about how easy it’s been — I should have known better!  This week has been a bit harder.  Joanna’s behavior has gotten so much worse in the last week.  I am starting to wonder if we need to talk to a therapist… Seriously! I know that sounds extreme — but it’s beyond me. We are trying so hard to be loving and affirming — but still consistent with boundaries and her behavior — but she is really being very difficult. She is starting to show signs of aggression toward him (yes, I know… this is my sweet little girl here!) Anyway, it’s a hard one because I know how difficult this is for her, but I get so frustrated by her behavior!  ANY advice would be appreciated!  Actually, I think I just need to hear that this is normal.  Is this normal??? I am reading as much as I can about helping her transition, but so far it has been an uphill battle with only a little progress.  It probably doesn’t help that there have been a lot of other things going on this week…

Peter was away on a business trip and he had meetings in the evenings before he went out of town, so I’ve been flying solo off and on — wondering how in the world I would do it alone all the time!  Wow, I have so much admiration for single moms and so much gratitude for my hubby’s help! 

But the primary challenge this week has been sick, sick kids and a sick husband (thankfully I am holding out with only a minor head cold so far!)  Henry developed a high fever Sunday afternoon that continued for several days.  We were able to keep it down with Tylenol and Motrin — but we were still worried…  not enough time has passed since we arrived home from Africa to rule out Malaria (or something equally lovely)… so we were in contact with our clinic (we sounded like first-timers again!  Even though I am sooo much more laid back in general this time around!)  Plus he was obviously not feeling well and its always hard to hold a crying baby and not really know what to do to make things better.  Then Jo started throwing up Monday night and they were both sick and crying for days.  And to make things even MORE fun, Tuesday afternoon the power went out and was out most of the night — which is usually not such a big deal, but is darn inconvenient with sick kids.  To top it off, the generator we use to power our pellet stove wouldn’t start (something about the spark plug…) and after ten hours of no heat, it got rather cold in our house.  Around midnight Henry started crying SO loudly and was obviously in a lot of pain from what seemed to be constipation (Jo used to have the same symptoms as a baby) so we gave him an enema in the middle of the night by candlelight in our cold house… (And I’m just praying he doesn’t hold it against us for the rest of his life!)  He seemed to feel better after that and fell asleep shortly before the power came back on around two.  Thankfully both kids woke up feeling better yesterday morning, and today they seem to be almost back to their usual selves (although the crabbiness levels are definitely heightened!)   Henry finally had a good poop yesterday morning (I got pretty excited about that poopy diaper!) and he has been regular since then.  

Despite being sick, the kids did enjoy snuggling in bed with flashlights the night the power was out (what else were we going to do in a dark, cold house?? 🙂  We read books and played little games and they really liked the strobe flash on my camera (it looks like there was light in this picture — but trust me, it was really dark!  🙂 )

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Thankfully they were feeling better yesterday because I had to take them to town for Henry’s appointment with our doctor.  This appointment was just an initial exam by our family MD — a “well-baby” checkup.  He then referred us to the nearest Shriners in Spokane to follow up with the CP symptoms.  Henry weighs 18 lbs and is 28″ long — very small for his age (not enough in either category to even make it on the percentile charts!) but the doctor didn’t seem to be worried.  He found a cataract in Henry’s left eye, but other than that, there was nothing that concerned him.  He did say that Henry’s arm was dislocated from the shoulder, but that it was simply because he doesn’t have sufficient muscle in his arm to keep it in place.  He said that there wasn’t much else that he could tell us, so I am really looking forward to getting him to Shriners for an evaluation.   We will have to take him back to the clinic for his bloodwork soon.  I thought they were going to run those tests yesterday, but we will have to schedule another appointment.

Dr. Shannon looked in Henry’s mouth and said “You do realize he’s teething, right?”  Oh my, I felt like such an idiot.  OF COURSE!  That explains a great deal of the crankiness and crying and maybe even some of the fever (although he was definitely sick as well)  And, its not just any ol’ tooth — this is an ENORMOUS molar trying to break through!  It looks so swollen and painful.  Poor baby!  I am going to have to get out my books to refresh other things I should be watching for at this age.  I guess having had one already obviously doesn’t make me an expert on what to expect… He is feeling much better with something cold to chew on and some Ora-gel. 

So between sick kids, absent husband, no electricity and doctor’s appointments, my chances to jump online and write a post have been severely limited…  my humblest apologies!

Here’s a fun Henry picture to make up for my lack of posts!

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My mom came up last night to visit and she ended up staying the night because she locked her keys in the car.  (Which Jo and I were secretly over-joyed about!!)  She slept downstairs on the couch and Joanna thought it was the coolest thing ever to have a “slumber party” with Nonnie!

That reminds me — Ahmad left last week.  (Hence the room on our couch for my mom!)  We took him to the airport to catch a flight to Philadelphia where he will be visiting friends for a couple weeks before flying back to Liberia.  He has called us almost every day since he left.  I think he misses us… and we certainly have missed him (even though it is nice to spend the time alone as a family — especially with Henry.)   Mamieyan also has been calling us fairly often from Liberia — usually in the middle of the night!  She knows its the middle of the night here, but I guess it doesn’t matter to her, she still calls and wants to talk!)  We may have to arrange a better time for her to call!  🙂

I have Christmas tree stories and pics to share — but I’ll have to do that in another post… I think I still have a few more minutes of nap-time left to start writing Christmas cards.  (I can NOT believe it’s that time of the year already!!)

I’ll leave you with this picture of Henry — I love the way it turned out.  He is such a cutie.  I can’t make it down a single aisle at the grocery store without someone telling me how adorable he is — and I completely agree!

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Well, today marks one week since we’ve been home with Henry!!  Wahoo!  In some ways, I can hardly believe it’s been a week already — and yet in other ways it feels like it has been much, much longer than seven short days.  Henry is adjusting SO well.  We are really enjoying this time getting to know him.  He is just about the easiest kiddo I have ever been around.  He is so happy and playful and loves to cuddle… He scoots around on his bottom really well and has such a good attention span.  He plays on his own contentedly and is very methodical about stacking blocks and putting things away (my kind of kid!! 🙂 )  He LOVES to be swung around and twirled — he laughs sooo hard!  It is very contagious and we all laugh with him!  He is sleeping so well at night — straight through most of the time — and he is taking a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon.  He is eating like crazy and seems to like trying new tastes.  He does gag sometimes unexpectedly while eating and we aren’t sure what the cause is… Hopefully our doctor will be able to give us an idea about it.  

Overall, Henry is just so amiable and doesn’t really fuss (unless he is tired or hungry)… And he travels like a champ!  He LOVES his carseat!  We were a little worried about how he would respond to being restrained in the car — but he really doesn’t seem to mind and he obviously likes driving around.  In fact, every time we put him in his carseat, he starts laughing!  We have a long drive to the nearest town (about an hour round-trip) and he just babbles and sings to himself the whole way. 

Henry seems to be very aware that we are his Mama and Daddy.  He is starting to warm up to our extended family and close friends, but he always keeps an eye on us.  He likes Joanna and we can tell he is watching what she does intently.  He would be copying her every move if he could!  He is definitely a talker like his report said.  He babbles all the time and is starting to say words.  He studies what we are saying and can repeat sounds.  He says “thank you” consistently when we hand him things.  He can say “Jo-Jo” and “Mama” and “Dada” and seems to knows who is who.  He also says the name “Martha” (she helped care for him at the Sheppards.)  It took us a few days to realize that was what he was saying — but now that we know, it is really very clear… It’s so cute to hear his tiny little voice saying, “Marrr-taaa!”  

So all in all, this first week has far-surpassed our hopes… We are adjusting well to being a family of four; we are learning to communicate; and we are all sleeping well!!  (Praise God!!)  And it’s only the beginning!   Henry really is a sweetheart — an absolute sweetheart.  He is super-affectionate.  He will take his little hand and pull my face to his and give me kiss after kiss.  Talk about melting my heart!!  🙂 

The hardest part of this week has actually been Joanna.  She has been having a harder time than I anticipated.  It’s not that she doesn’t love her new little brother — she is very sweet to him for the most part — but she doesn’t like being replaced as the “baby” of the family.  Three years is a long time to have held that position!  We didn’t realize how much we still her viewed and treated her as our “baby” until we got home with Henry and realized how big Jo actually is!  I should have been transitioning her to more “big girl” responsibilites and privileges for months!  It’s hard for her to adjust to being the big sister suddenly.  We are really playing up all the privileges that come with it — but she doesn’t seem to care.  She would much rather stay the baby.   Thankfully we haven’t seen any resentment in her toward Henry.  She does take his toys away from him and hides them… but I’ve been told that is a common three year-old trait.   Poor Henry.  I will set him down with all kinds of toys to entertain him, and when I turn my back for a second, they’re all gone — hidden under the couch or in a drawer! 

Here are a few pictures from Henry’s first week at home:

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Henry likes to feed himself — and he does a good job at it too!  He is a remarkably tidy eater.

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He LOVES the sit and spin — although he can’t quite do it himself and he gets pretty frustrated when I stop spinning him!   

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He is not quite sure what to think about the snow.  The sledding part is fun, though!  We are having an unusually warm winter, so our snow level is too low to really sled yet.  Hopefully we will get some more before Christmas! 

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Jo is wearing her hat from “Auntie Denise” (She was trying to give a “thumbs up” in the picture 🙂 )  Henry has a hat from Denise as well, but I accidently left it at my parent’s, so I will have to get a picture of him wearing it later.  Thanks, Denise! 

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Last Sunday we had our community’s annual “Winter Ball”  — Every year we get dressed up and dance for hours…  It was an unexpected surprise to be home for it, since we hadn’t planned on being back from Liberia yet.  I was so glad we were able to keep with tradition and take our family.  Henry seemed to really enjoy the dancing after he warmed up to everyone! 

This is a picture of all the kids at the ball.  If you look closely you can see my two in the lower left corner.  🙂

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Just look at this adorable profile!! 

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This is a proud Daddy!

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This picture is just too funny, I had to include it.  What is that look, anyway, Honey?

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I love this picture because of Henry’s expression — He is very inquisitive when it comes to the camera!  🙂

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And, finally… a parting pajama shot!  G’night!

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Peter and I are so grateful that Henry was able to be in foster care in Liberia.  The Sheppards are a very special family and Henry was incredibly blessed to get to live with them for four months.  He was very well-cared for and it is evident to us that he felt loved and secure with them because he has made the transition so well. 

We really can’t thank them enough.  What a tremendous ministry — selflessly caring for children and loving them as their own for the short time they have them in their home.  The Sheppards have touched a lot of adoptive parent’s hearts through their foster care ministry and have deeply impacted many little lives!   

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Henry loved being tossed in the air by his foster Dad!

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And he obviously really loved his foster mom.  It was hard for him to say good-bye.  I am so glad we got these pictures to share with him when he gets older.  They were a very special part of his life in Liberia.

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Henry was in foster care with my friend Denise’s little girl, Ellie.  She will be going home VERY soon, too!!  Ellie was such a sweet big sister to Henry.

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This is Softly.  I want one, too!  🙂 

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Thank you.

A little about me…

Wife. Mother. Friend. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Student. Adventure-lover. Photo-taker. Book-reader. Organic gardener. Granola-maker. Green smoothie drinker. Snowboarder. Soccer-player. Aspiring rock-climber. Sometime health nut. Passionate about justice and mercy. Adoption advocate. Business owner and jewelry designer. Wild at heart. Crazy-blessed to live out in the country with my awesome family.

Photography Website:

Contact Me:

sunfreckled@gmail.com
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do." {Helen Keller}

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