Tuesday, January 29, 2013

100th Day of School

100th Day of School ... Woo Hoo!! We counted the days with 100 Hershey Kisses.  Don't worry we didn't eat them.  We did eat cupcakes from Gigi's cupcakes. 100 days down ... only 80 to go.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January Blahs ...

The dreaded January blahs ... every year they set in. I can feel them creeping in as December rolls to a close and we welcome the start of a new year. This year it seemed they were delayed slightly by having a sweet Latvian girl here until January 13th but, as soon as she left, they set in with a vengeance. 

It didn't help that for a solid week after Miranda left we had rain. When the sun finally shone one January morning my kids did not know what to think ... the house was so bright once again. 

I did get a chance to get away for a homeschool retreat at the beginning of the month which was absolutely wonderful! For a weekend I was able to take in the beautiful sites of my favorite retreat facility - Winshape. It was such a restful and spiritual weekend. I made peace with a hard decision through prayer and the support of friends.

January can be hard ... back to school with a long time before another fun break {no February vacation to look forward to this year due to a ballet performance both girls are in at the end of the month}, short days, cold and many times gloomy days. But, in all of that, I need to remember to just look around even in these cold gloomy winter months God gives us such beauty. Just looking at the pictures I have snapped over the past month with my iPhone makes me want to smile.  

God gives us beauty and peace in the everyday!

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Monday, January 14, 2013

Four Weeks with Miranda {time for good-bye's}

Twenty-eight days ... our time with Miranda has come to an end. The last week seemed to be a blur ... there was so much to do. On top of school and extra-curricular activities starting back we had just seven days to fit everything we had left to do and saying good-bye to all of Miranda's new friends.

Miranda had stated in her bio listing that she really wanted to learn ballet. We were so happy that our ballet director agreed to have her join Ava Mae's per-invitational level class. Miranda was a natural. I wish we could have done more than a week but, our school was on holiday break for most of the time Miranda was here.

Last of the required appointments while Miranda was here ... a trip to the eye doctor. Thankfully, Miranda's eyes have not changed since her last appointment in Latvia and she only needs her glasses for reading.

Our sweet friends, The Hanback's, had us over for brunch the Friday before Miranda left.

There were also lots of playdates with friends ... Miranda did not want to spend a second at home during her last week. We were out and about every day.

But, before we knew it we were at the end ... we attended the Farewell Party hosted by New Horizons for Children at a jumpy place in Atlanta. Miranda and our kids had a blast! It was good to see Dace, Miranda's chaperone who we spent a day with, at the party. It began preparing us all for the good-bye.

On Saturday night, we hosted a Good Bye Party for all of Miranda's new friends she had made here in the States. I allowed her to write up the guest list herself and we also invited our Sunday School class who has walked this journey with us from the beginning and been so supportive.

The party was so much fun ... all the kids had a blast. The end was hard ... three families whom she had grown extremely close to were the last to leave and there were lots of tears. Miranda sobbed for another ten minutes after everyone left and we consoled her the best we could. I was so glad I had everyone complete a page in a small scrapbook for her return trip. We finished up the evening adding cards and letters written to her. {Loved the sweet heart of my friend Tammy's son ... he wrote Miranda a page long letter in her native language sharing how much he had enjoyed meeting her and his favorite bible scriptures. I snapped a photo of her reading the letter.} Everyone also brought Miranda small items for her backpack ... gum, candy, stickers, an art journal and pencils, bracelets. We had a feeling the journey home would be filled with sweet memories when she would pull out these items and remembered her friends.

Miranda flew out early Sunday morning - I am not posting pictures from the airport ... it really was just too sad. I don't want to remember Miranda that way. I don't want those memories to steal the joy we felt over the last 4 weeks. I am not sure what God's plan was for Miranda while she was here ... I explained to our kids sometimes God does not reveal that to us. We followed his command to get her here and that was our part in this journey. Miranda left behind so many lives she has touched in those short 28 days we spent with her. Lives like ours, that will be changed forever. {I will blog more soon about our decision not to adopt ... right now it is too heartbreaking to share.} The good news is that so many of us love Miranda and are praying for her each and every day. I wrote on the last page of her scrapbook that no matter what we are always here for her and will be praying God's protection over her.

This morning I was blessed from my first message from Miranda {we have set up an account on a social media site in Latvia that allows us to communicate} "I had a good trip home, I am sad. My friends all loved the gifts. I love you." We are sad too Miranda ... we are sad too.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Three Weeks with Miranda

Three weeks are now behind us ... 21 days, why must time always move so fast. Not to say those days have all been fun and easy. We have dealt with some very hard issues. Issues my husband and dear friends have helped me walk through. Issues I wish had never touched this child. I am thankful for a clear answer from God on how we were to proceed ... an answer that after lots of prayer and some time away has given me peace. "Peace" my word for the year ... and while I feel peace, it is not without heartbreak. I will say again, hosting is not for the faint of heart.

This past week Miranda experienced our New Year's Eve party, horseback riding for the first time {she was a natural}, and an art class. {Thank you Bonnie for the wonderful lesson and the photographs.}

In all of this, Miranda's English has blossomed. She now tries so hard to speak English before asking for the translator. For the most part, I can understand completely what she is talking about. It is wonderful and I remember those early days when I thought she would never speak her own language around us let alone English.

We have now begun our last week with Miranda ... there is still so much wisdom I want to impart on her. I also want to continue to encourage her walk with God. Miranda has begun to ask us not to send her back ... it is not an option to keep her. Thankfully, I think Miranda is finally understanding she must go back - we are trying to get her excited about seeing her friends and sharing what all she has done here and passing out all the gifts we are sending back. It has also helped that we are planning a "Going Away" party for her and she is loving that she can help plan all the details. We sat yesterday and put lots of tools in place for us to contact each other.

For all those still following our journey ... prayers please for these last days together. Pray for Miranda as she heads back to Latvia - for her 20+ hour travel, prayer for our children as they let her go - there are tears already, prayers for all the families in this program as important decisions are made.

I am so thankful to Jesus for this life altering experience He has given me!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello 2013!

Such a wonderful night ... we had a fun family friendly party! {complete with Midnight toast using ginger ale.} Lots of friends and food ... tons of crazy silliness. Only one or two injuries during the after dark game of tag.

You know it is a good party when the last guest departs around 2am. {love you Susan!!}

{even Maggie made it to Midnight}

{the fire pit and smores bar was a huge hit!}

{writing with sparklers is always fun}