Together at Last

I'm not sure who missed who more....


The Wedding

Our whirlwind week has finally ended, and boy will I sleep good tonight!!! We just returned from Ohio after attending my cousin's wedding. And it was FABULOUS!!!!

Though Alex suffered from severe sleep deprivation, she was a trooper. She was quite proud of her role as Flower Girl and took her job of petal tossing very seriously. And what a great time she had at the reception dancing the night away.

Everything was gorgeous! Truly magnificent. Brittany's attention to detail was evident throughout the entire ceremony and reception. Everything was gorgeous. From the decorations, to the dresses, to the song and vow choices and again with everything at the reception. They are a remarkable couple and I am so happy to call them family. I love you, Jason and Brittany!

Actually this week was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with the whole family. Picture the show "Newhart" and that is pretty much where we stayed. In a 20 room Inn, in a quaint little town. We reserved the majority of the rooms and so enjoyed the time together. We took over the lobby and lounge in the mornings and late nights with sprawling spreads of pizza, salads and dessert. Nothing like 4 generations all hanging out in their jammies in front of a fire. Kids palying. Adults laughing. Love being shared by all. I am so blessed to be part of such a special family. Here a some photos of the big day...


Merry Christmas...

...we'll be back next weekend!




....and let the festivities begin!

Today marks the official kickoff of our whirlwind week of celebrations. This afternoon we celebrate at the cabin with Shawn's mom's side of the family. Special visitors, Mr and Mrs Claus, also make an appearance.

Tonight we (us, Shawn's siblings and our kids) all sleep at my inlaws and will wake up to their version of Christmas morning. All year we look forward to the danishes and mom's egg and sausage casserole. And if you know my inlaws you can imagine the sea of presents that await. My mil starts shopping the day after Christmas for the next year. Where will we ever find homes for all that stuff!

Later that evening we'll be off to my Aunt Nancy's to have Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family.

And for the first year EVER....we will wake up Christmas morning at our own house!!!! Santa usually visits us a day early so we can do the "Christmas morning" thing at my inlaws. Hopefully this year will be nice and calm and relaxing....as opposed to last year when we carted EVERYTHING to the nursing home after my father-in-law's fall. What an ordeal that was!

So once we finish our Christmas celebrations at home, we'll be off to (my grandmother) Nanie's house where the whole family attends on my dad's side. Though this will mark the second year in a row that my cousin, Rickie, has been deployed and unable to join us. Prayers for a safe and speedy return go out to him!!!

Hopefully we'll then be able to call it an early night...as all of the same people will be leaving the next morning for Ohio for my cousin Jason's wedding. So Wednesday we'll be traveling, Thursday is the rehearsal and dinner, Friday is the wedding, and Saturday we'll be headed back home.

Let the games begin!!!!


Christmas at Home

Well, it looks like we will be spending Christmas at home this year. Home being Rochester. For a few weeks it looked like we may be spending Christmas in Bethlehem, but that no longer seems likely.

In mid November, we were put in touch with an expectant woman in PA. For several weeks we spoke on the phone. We talked about her, us, her kids, Alex, the baby and her current situation. Things continued to proceed forward and she was well into making an adoption plan for her baby. So we started to prepare and get some things in order. Notified work. The whole deal. But it never seemed right. I couldn't help but thinking that deep down she really wanted to keep her baby. She was already parenting two children and seemd to be doing a wonderful job. We knew all along that, although he wasn't going to fight it, the father was not in agreement with the adoption plan. And last week she indicated to the agency that she too was unsure at times as well.

My greatest fear as an adoptive parent is that my children's birthparents will come to regret their decisions. That, given a "do-over", they would have chosen to parent. And I would hate to think of anyone being in that place. I have seen it too many times already. And all through this situation, I kept hearing the voices of the many birthmothers I have met over the past five years. So many echo the sentiment that they wished someone would have told them "they could do it" and that their situations were temporary and that things would get better.

So I sent "L" a letter last Friday. I told her what an amazing mother I thought she was and that she would no doubt make a wonderful mother to this newest child as well if that is the route she chose. And that although Shawn and I would be over the moon at the possibility of adopting this baby, we totally understood if she had changed her mind and decided to parent. We have heard nothing in return and assume that means she has made her choice. And that is ok. Actually, it is more than ok. It's great.

Of course I am sad for myself. But for her and this baby I am so very happy. I wish them only the best. And I am honored to have been part of their lives, if only for a short while.


Snowed In

Well, we weren't quite snowed in, but the storm they'd been predicting forced us to get all our errands done yesterday. So today we enjoyed a lazy day at home. We had fun decorating a gingerbread house (though I think more candy ended up in Alex's mouth or on the kitchen floor than on the house.)

Later, Alex played out in the snow with Hemmingway as Daddy shoveled for the 3rd time in twice as many hours. Next year we are sooooo hiring a plow service! But she had a good time rolling around in the snow and sledding on the snowbanks.

And afterwards, we all warmed up with some hot cocoa. And extra whipped cream, of course.


Visiting Daddy

This will be Shawn's 4th week in a row away from home. He has been working in Niagara Falls Monday thru Friday and home on weekends. It is just far enough away (between the hours and the weather) to make commuting unrealistic. So last week Alex and I went up for the night. Of course she was thrilled to see her dad. But she was even more excited to swim. The lifegaurd was strict though and wouldn't let Alex in the hot tub which she was slightly perturbed over.

So I asked her before bed where she wanted me to take her in the morning for breakfast. She suggested room service! I didn't even know she knew what room service was, since we never order it. She thought it would be a good idea to have breakfast in the room where she could eat while watching cartoons in her jammies. I guess life doesn't get much better than that for a kid!


Jason & Brittany

My cousin, Jason, asked me if I would take some photos of him and Brittany while they were in town. So we went to Durand Eastman Park on Saturday. It was super cold and we were in somewhat of a hurry, but we still managed to get some great pics. Here are a few of my favorites!


Happy Black Friday

So this is the first year since Shawn and I have been together that we did not go shopping on Black Friday. Between me still fighting this respitory thing, having most of my shopping completed and not knowing how much damage our most recent vet bill will be...it didn't seem to be in the cards today. But we had a great day none the less.

This morning we slept in a bit and then played in the snow. Alex had so much fun. She was running around the backyard screeching.

Then, this evening we went to Aunt Sue's to visit with Jason and Brittany who are in town for the holidays. Jason is my cousin. The one getting married. And the wedding in which Alex will be flower girl. Alex just adores them and loves spending time with them. So tonight we went over for pizza. We all had such a nice time. Alex always loves going up to their music room and "jamming". They all play instruments and really get into their music. So Uncle Terry led with his monstocity of a drum set, while Brittany played the violin and Jason played the gutiar. The rest of us less musically inclined were in charge of the tamborine, maracas and African drum. This, I wish I had a picture of. What fun we had just being loud and silly!


Happy Thanksgiving

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know many of you have a lot to be thankful for this year!!! Here's to the "kick off" of a fabulous holiday season.

K, off to roast my turkey now. Family will be here in a few hours!


She passed!

Today, Alex was awarded her yellow belt.


My Baby Did It!!!!!

Thursday was yellow belt testing at Taekwondo. Alex has been working really hard at her blocks, attacks and counting in Korean. Her only problem is that she is so self critical. If she doesn't get a move on the first or second attempt, she just shuts down. She has come so far in just the couple of months she has been taking classes, but still...she is only four. And she is so incredibly stubborn. Well last week they told us that she would be eligible to test for her yellow belt.

It is funny how mothers and fathers parent in such different, and often opposite, ways. A mother tends to protect and often hold a child back for fear of failure. A father, on the other hand, will push a child out of their comfort zone and challenge them to try. So of course I didn't think Alex was ready to test yet, and Shawn just kept saying to "let her try". But I didn't want her to shut down or freeze. I didn't want her to fail. This is all still relatively new to her and I thought she should gain a bit more confidence first. Still, he wanted to at least give her the chance.

So last night I sent my baby, alone, out into a group of over 90 testers. She looked terrified. I was completely sick to my stomach. I was never a nervous test taker. But being a mother is so different. All of my hopes and desires reside with this little person. For 45 minutes, Alex sat in her group and watched the others testers test. She kept looking over at us with those pleading eyes, as to say "please just take me home". But she was brave and waited her turn. And when it was time, my little girl got up in front of 90 other participants, 8 judges and nearly 150 spectators.

Master Lim started to bark out commands and my baby did it! Being the littlest tester, she kept up with the rest of her group. She may have had the wrong hand/leg at times....but she had the techniques correct. She had good timing and did each move with pride and determination. I could even hear her yelling her hi-ya's over the other 7 kids. She was amazing. She wasn't perfect, but I think she nailed it. I still can't believe how well she did! Shawn and I went crazy. It was the proudest moment of my life!!!!

We won't know if she passed and got her yellow belt until class on Saturday. I am not sure the exact criteria. Like I said, she did miss a few steps...but I don't know how critical they are with the white belts? It doesn't matter though...we thought she was FANTASTIC...and even better...she thought she was FANTASTIC!!!

Here are a few pictures...


Ahhhh Chooo!

It seems my sweet girl has acquired a nasty cold. Poor thing. This weekend, upon request, Alex got breakfast in bed and was able to spend all week in her jammies (her equivalent of winning the lottery). And in keeping with tradition, Daddy had to go out and buy a "feel better soon" present. Can I just say that my husband is the very best Daddy ever! I just loved watching him snuggle with her all weekend and lay low with movies and and coloring princesses. So very sweet.

Here is Alex with one of her prizes. A new doll.

And not only is Shawn the best Daddy, but the best husband too. Because today he came home with a dozen pink roses for me! Be still my heart. Life is very, very good.


"Trick or Treating"

Alex thoroughly enjoyed Halloween this year. She couldn't wait to get out there! She went through our neighborhood with cousins Kaitlin and Trey. A complete photo ablum can be found at Shutterfly.


Happy Hallowen

It has been a whole month of Fall and Halloween fun. From parties to farms, October has seen Alex as multiple princesses, Dorothy, a cheerleader and now the grande finale as Little Red Riding Hood. She is so in her element!

Tonight we'll attend a party at Taekwondo and then it will be off to trick-or-treat.

Happy and Safe Halloween wishes to all!


I love my MUMMY

Daddy dressed in a bed sheet like a ghost to scare Alex the other night. So she decided she wanted to dress as a Mummy and scare her Dad.


Jordan-My Latest Muse

I had the distinct honor of being asked to take my nephew Jordan's Senior Portraits. So today we visited some local parks and I think we were able to get quite a few nice shots. And it was so much fun! Here are a few of my faves.


Fun Filled Weekend

What a great weekend! After the Halloween Party on Saturday afternoon, we met friends for dinner. The kids loved the experience. We took them for Hibachi at The Tokyo. Alex even did pretty well eating shrimp using chop sticks. So much fun!!!
After church on Sunday, we met Grandma and Grandpa at The Garden Factory for their Fall activites. They had rides, games, crafts and more. It too was a great time!!! Of course additional pictures can be found on Shutterfly.


Gro-Moore Farms

Today we had our annual Halloween Bash. This year it was held at Gro Moore Farms. All the attendants are adoptive families. It is so neat to see the families expand from year to year. We had many new additions in 2007!!!
Alex is saving her Little Red Riding Hood costume for Halloween, so instead she decided to go as a cheerleader. A pink one of course.
The rest of the pictures are hyperlinked above if you just click on "Halloween Bash".


Thanks Mom!

So I've had a bit of a rough weekend/week. Let's just say that one of my dogs is likley moving out of our home. No she is not sick, but her needs/behaviors have surpassed what we can provide and tolerate. It was such a difficult decision to make. She has been with us for almost seven years. Our dogs were our lives before Alex came along. It is just so very sad. At the same time, I am looking forward to this change providing both of the dogs with a better quality of life.

We are now working with the Golden Retriever Rescue to find a home that would be more suitable for Chloe. Two nights ago I had the difficult task of compiling photos of her to send. It was terribly hard. So many pictures of the wonderful years we spent together.

So my mom sent me this beautiful bouquet to help cheer me up. Jodie, Teri, Lisa and Sue...you guys have been great too. Thanks so much! It does help.


Congrats Jen, Jeff, Nick and baby Jacob!!!

I am so thrilled to announce the birth of Jacob Jeffrey!!!

My friend Jen is currently in Indiana preparing to bring home her new son. We all celebrate with Jen and her family. They have waited so very long!



Eating my words already

Well I was prepared to wait patiently until the first of the year before taking another step forward, but it appears I am not all that good at waiting afterall. Go figure. I received our official homestudy approval in the mail this past weekend. Although it was exciting in one sense, it also seems hard to believe we have been officially waiting over a month already. One month come and gone and not even a single call. Sigh.

So last week I decided to take the plunge and post our profile online through Adoption STAR. I don't know if many matches happen as a result of the internet, but I know it was an important tool Alex's birthparents utilized in selecting Adoption STAR and ultimately us as parents. So we'll see where it leads!

In addition, I have also decided to compile a video profile. Problem being that our MAC (which housed about 7000 photos) died, and I mean died, about 3 months ago. So we took it into the Geniuses (yes that is what they call themselves) at the Apple store and begged for help. Wouldn't you know that within 30 minutes the darn thing was up and running and all my precious photos and videos are once again at my fingertips. All hail the Genius Bar!!! Boy that was too close of a call though.

So as I type this on my PC, the MAC is currently being back-up on a seperate hard drive. And then I will begin the task of putting together this video. As I look back on all the photos I will no doubt be taken back in time to four years ago when our amazing little girl was first placed in our arms. I am always flooded with memeories and emotions of that special time. And hopefully one day soon we will once again know the feeling of being entrusted with the most special blessing.


The Beach

When it comes to weeknights, I am neither ambitious nor spontaneous. But when you live in Rochester, it is the end of September, and you are blessed with 90 degree day...you take advantage of it! So I picked Alex up this afternoon and we headed home for our swimsuits and bottled water and then it was off to the beach. We had a great time splashing around in the water and enjoying this extra bit of summer! Who knew I had it in me to throw caution to the wind like that.


Apple Picking

One of our favorite Fall traditions is picking our own apples. We love to visit Green Acres and of course sample the selection as we fill our bags. Once home, the apples get peeled and a pot of applesauce simmers all day long and the smell of baked apple and cinnamon soon fills the house. This year was no exception, and in addition we added a quick trip to Kelly's for the world's best crumble top apple pie. Oh how I love Fall!!! I hope one day many years from now, the smell of apples will bring Alex back in time and that she remembers these special moments we have shared.


Congrat to Kris and Claudio

After eight...yes eight...years together our friends Kris and Claudio finally tied the knot. Poor Joe looked like he was walking his daughter down death row rather then down the aisle to her new husband! It is not that he doesn't love Claudio, but is a father ever really ready to let his baby girl go. I know Shawn would answer with an emphatic, "No way"!

Unfortunately when you arrive at 2:59 to a 3:00 wedding, it doesn't afford you the best seat in the house, so I wasn't able to get very good pics. But Kris was a beautiful bride and Claudio a dashing and beaming groom. Congratulations to the both of you and may love and hapiness follow you all the days of your lives. That, and good luck with the twins by Christmas thing too!

I was able to at least get a few good shots of my fam...

This is Shawn and I with my sister and brother-in-law (Tim and Kris)

And my mother, Doreen, and Stepfather, Steve

And thanks to our dear friends, Howie and Teri, for taking such superb care of Alex for the night. From all the picture messages we received, it was obvious she had a great time!!!


Headed Out

I'll be away in Richmond, VA for a few days. I have a conference for work and will be traveling. I will secretly, or not so secretly, admit that I am really looking forward to a few days to myself. As much as I love my family it will be nice to get away ALL ALONE. The evenings will be filled with fine dining and on Thursday I'll be treated to a massage and pedicure....all while being "on the clock". I may even squeeze in some time for uninterrupted shopping!

I feel baby news in the air though...so make sure someone calls me if something big comes up!


Hiey Yah

Alex was insistant this Fall on taking karate. You can imagine how surprised we were that she chose Martial Arts over a pretty little pink tu-tu, but once she makes up her mind there is no changing it. So she is now enrolled in Master Kim's Taekwondo. Today was her fourth class and by golly is she ever cute! Though she doesn't understand why she is cursed with the white belt when all she wants is a red belt. But I guess that gives her something to work for. Master Kim is very strict and Alex is learning a great deal of respect and self discipline. I just LOVE this class and think it is so great for her.