This blog chronicles the miracles and struggles of our daughters, Emily and Olivia. Emily was born 15 weeks early and had many complications, but she continues to amaze us! Olivia, born in China with heart complications, is also beating the odds. She joined her forever family (us!) when she was four years old and has been doing wonderfully! UPDATE: We started homeschooling August 2009 :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Florida bound :)

We're celebrating Christmas morning here with our girls and then celebrating again at noon at Andy's parents with the cousins eight miles away :)  Then, later Christmas day or bright and early the next morning we're starting our long (20+ hour) drive to Orlando!  

My side of the family is so spread out from coast to coast that family get togethers require some major traveling no matter where we meet, so we decided we might as well go somewhere warm!  In 2006 we all met in Orlando and rented a big rental house for a week.  It worked so well that we're doing it again!  Only last time we flew.  Aside from our long China flights, this will be our longest trek with children.  Thank goodness for the invention of the portable dvd player!  Actually, we intend to limit their movie watching so they don't turn into zombies, but it's nice to know we have options.  This summer the high fuel cost made flights so expensive that we reluctantly decided to drive.  Who knew how cheap gas was going to get, so at least the driving isn't going to be as expensive as we first thought!  

I will NOT miss all the snow and cold one bit!!  Every day that it's cold, Emily wants to know why we don't just move to Florida.  Some days I wonder that myself!  

Somebody's getting new front teeth for Christmas!

Yesterday I noticed that my tiny little girl (I mean, Cinderella!) has two big new teeth coming in on the bottom!  The only problem is that she hasn't lost any baby teeth yet!  The ones in front are loose though, so hopefully these new teeth will push the old ones out.  I guess this confirms that she really is almost six years old even though she is often mistaken for three!  Emily was almost eight before she lost her first tooth, so this took me by surprise!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Child, Old Child

Lately Olivia's been on a kick of calling herself our "NEW child" and Emily our "OLD child."  I'm still not sure if she really means younger and older, or if she's implying that Emily's old news who should be kicked to the curb!  She's also been calling us her "new" parents.  At least we're still her favorite parents--along with just about every thing and every one else that she states emphatically as her "FAVORITE in the whole world!" But that begged the question of whether or not she remembered having "old" parents...she was in foster care her last six months but she's never mentioned it.  I'm still not sure what she remembers because now when I ask her if she had "old" parents, she causually says, "ya, Jimmy and Anna."  Ummm...those don't sound much like Chinese names!  I'm not sure where she gets these names--see last night's post about her brother, also named Jimmy!   It's hard discern if it's all betend or if these stories contain any remnants of her former life.  

She'll also spread her arms as she declares how much she loves her new (favorite) house...and has lately mentioned that her old house was tiny and broken.  And something about having a big butterfly on the wall at her old house.  Not sure if this would have been in her foster parents' home or in the orphanage.  I know the orphanage walls had big painted cartoon-like murals...  

The only other reference to her past has been when she's talked about how they go potty differently in China--she giggles as she demonstrates squatting down on the floor and gets wide eyed as she shares the ludicrousness of them going potty outside.   Specifically, outside on a sidewalk that was cracked and broken.  Now she thinks it's just the silliest thing ever, but I suspect that part probably is an accurate memory.  Many toddlers in China wear split pants with no underwear or diapers.  The pants are literally split, as in no seam in the crotch/back side so that they can relieve themselves whenever the mood strikes.  If they're too young to squat, parents will hold the child spread eagle in front of them waist high to let them do their thing on the sidewalk, over a garbage can, or in the street.  It's a very strange thing to see!  What memories we have :)  Now, if only we could help her to remember and preserve more bits and pieces of her first four years...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Introducing Jimmy

The girls go to Pioneer Club every Wednesday night and tonight they came home loaded with all kinds of Christmas goodies. It sounds like the highlight of their night was when they got to go "shopping" for Christmas presents for family members with their Bible Bucks earned from memorizing bible verses. When we picked them up they could hardly contain their excitement--or their secrets! Olivia kept shouting, "Mom and Dad, I got you a BOOK! I got you a BOOK!"

Once home, the girls were discussing where they were going to hide the presents, but we suggested putting them under the tree before they got lost (or forgotten) in their super secret hiding places. As we began pulling out the gifts, we had to do a double take when we got to one labeled, "To Jimmy, from Olivia." Ummm...we don't know a Jimmy. Olivia then very matter of factly informed us that the gift is for her brother Jimmy. Her "betend" brother Jimmy. Oh, of course. Good 'ole Jimmy who we'd never heard of before. We were a bit surprised and couldn't help but chuckle as we thought of the adult helper who surely thought they were wrapping for a real child.

But, apparently to Olivia, Jimmy is real and she did not appreciate our laughter one bit! She takes these things very seriously and did not see any humor in it at all! Although we didn't know about Jimmy, we are acquainted with another "brother" of hers who happens to be an orange stuffed animal. She even brought a journal page home from school one day that mentioned (translated in adult handwriting) something that she and her "brother" had done over that weekend.

Emily, on the other hand, thought the whole thing was pretty funny, but was very concerned about figuring out just who will get to open Jimmy's present on Christmas day! She pointed out that she only had one gift under the tree and didn't want to go to bed until we "got this sorted out." I'd start campaigning for it myself if only I hadn't overheard that it was a spider man something-or-other that I think only Jimmy will appreciate.

Santa's Sock

...and another short video clip of our youngest cutie pie :)

My little Hula girl

This is actually more than a month old, but I realized that I haven't posted any home videos lately and thought this short clip was kind of cute.  I happen to keep my camera in my purse so that I've got it handy should a cute Kodak moment arise, so I whipped it out here in the middle of a store to capture Olivia Hula hooping :)  It's only about 23 seconds long.  Enjoy :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Olivia's second Christmas home :)

Watching this music video makes me so grateful for our second Christmas with Olivia! Last year when we put up the tree, I realized that we needed to go ornament shopping for her--Olivia was quite disappointed when Emily pulled out all kinds of memories from the box and there were none for her.  This year, she was hesitant to help decorate until she realized she actually DOES have some of her own ornaments now. She gets very excited every time she sees and "O" marking hers!!  It was amazing how quickly her mood changed and she then had a great time putting them on the tree, trying to claim every ornament for herself! This Christmas she knows what to expect and can't wait!


Merry Christmas

I didn't end up making the girls suffer through an attempt to get a good dressed up Christmas photo this year because I lucked out by getting a good (casual) one with Santa at the school when this one from Aunt Ruthie's Christmas party this weekend turned out well it was a bonus!  It was too late to make it  on the card (which I still have to post) but I still wanted to share it.  Aren't they cute?!  

Monday, December 08, 2008


I can hardly believe our tiny little baby is now a big NINE-year old!!  Where oh where has the time gone??  We had a wonderful weekend celebrating with family and friends.  When I remember her scary birth nine years ago and all the health scares in her first year of life, I can't help but marvel at how healthy and strong she is now.  Such a miracle :)  Such a beautiful girl :)  

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Thank you to those of you who took the time to post a comment or email! I really appreciate the encouragement! It was especially helpful to hear from such an articulate grown-up preemie! I wish I knew who you were to thank you, Anonymous :) You can email me directly from my profile here. It is always encouraging to know that in spite of--or because of--struggles, people can be quite resilient and thrive. You have helped to bolster my hope in Emily's future :)

Anonymous, it sounds like you've described some classic symptoms of APD (Auditory Processing Disorder)--difficulty with comprehending/processing fast paced speech, word finding, discerning the difference between similar sounding words (and thus spelling), difficulty following speech (or a plot line) when there are competing sounds, etc. We're pretty sure Emily has APD, but one thing that confounds me is that she can sound out words very well and combined with good visual memory, is great at spelling which does not fit the APD profile at all. Makes me sometimes wonder if we're really on the right track...

I've just started reading a book by Karen Foli, called Like Sound Through Water, a Mother's Journey Through Auditory Processing Disorder. I'm curious to see how well it will parallels our story. I also want to read, When the Brain Can't Hear: Unraveling the mystery of Auditory Processing Disorder by Dr. Teri James Bellis (who I think began suffering from APD after being in a car accident and Don't You Get It? Living with Auditory Learning Disabilities, by Harvey Edell, Dr. Jay Lucker and Dr. Loraine Alderman (all of whom had/have ADP, I believe).

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Letting it go

Following up yesterday's post...I belong to an online forum for parents of kids with APD (Auditory Processing Disorder) and found this post written to another concerned parent which confirmed what I believe also applies to Emily.  After all, if the results were really accurate of her abilities, she probably wouldn't be able to do all the things she can (read at grade level, etc.).  I believe that her language disorders prevented her from demonstrating her true abilities, rendering the test inaccurate (especially if the test had oral instructions).  If the purpose of the test was to flag kids who need special services, she's already been flagged, so I'm going to try to just file this away and move on.  We're already intervening, so the results serve us no purpose except to be a discouragement that we don't need.  Instead, I'm choosing to believe that she has defied the odds and will continue to do so.  She survived for a reason and our job is to recognize that she is on her own path and to help her be the best that she can be.  

If your daughter’s scores on a particular standardized test are what you
and/or others are basing her cognitive abilities on, you need to determine
if the scores she received are a true reflection of her ability at the time
the test was administered or a result of other factors, for example, her
language disorder. Often times, for example, the WISC is administered to
children with language-based disorders and they score low because the WISC
is heavily language-loaded. A good examiner would be able to discern this
through the administration of various testing instruments and observations,

Another thing that keeps coming to mind is that God doesn't always choose to remove our obstacles or "thorns in our side." He sees the bigger picture and may have a different, better plan than we can even imagine.  Sure, I can (and do) ask for her learning disabilities to go away, but He may have a different plan.  Perhaps she (&/or we) will use our experiences to impact others in a way that will someday all make sense.  Who knows, but I just need to remember that no matter what, God is in control and worrying does no good.  Easier said than done because as I mom I want to fix my kids' problems, but in reality I can't.  I can feel helpless and hopeless or I can choose to put it in God's hands and trust Him.  I know the second choice is better, but some days I need a reminder!  

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Needing some encouragement today

On most days I can see the glass half full, but today I'm having a hard time.  Emily IS a walking, talking miracle who will be turning nine years old this week, and we have had so many blessings,  but my heart still occasionally aches for her and I can't help but wonder what her life might have been like if only she hadn't been born so early.  We've long been aware that she has academic struggles, but this morning when I opened her 2nd grade OLSAT test results I was overcome with sadness and fear.  I didn't expect the results to be great--and they weren't--but what got to me was the test description: "OLSAT measures those reasoning skills that are related to school-learning ability."  If this is really an accurate predictor of her ability to learn in school then we're going to have a very tough row to hoe.  

School will be her/our life for the next several years and I am concerned about the impact of it all.  Will her strengths be able to sustain her or will her struggles crush her?  She can read and write and recite her addition facts, has a great vocabulary (tested at 4th or 5th grade?) and is a great speller with good attention to (visual) detail...but math concepts, reasoning, and listening comprehension are such a struggle.  Also, as she gets older, school will be less visual and hands on and more oral.  As a child with an auditory processing disorder, keeping up with and comprehending lectures is probably going to be very challenging.  

Academic abilities shouldn't define the value of a person, but when life revolves around academics/school, it's probably difficult to define yourself in any other way.  We are always looking for other areas where she can be successful to help bolster her spirits and at this point she does not seem to be crushed or defeated.  I hope she never does, but it'll be hard to make it through unscathed.  I guess none of us do make it unscathed and that's part of building character...  My hope and prayer is that she/we won't let test scores define her or crush her.  She may never test well and I hope we can all learn how to live with that without it crushing us.  At this age, she is unaware of the test scores, so right now it's more MY problem, but she won't be shielded from harsh realities forever.

I need to go birthday shopping for her today, but my heart is heavy.  I could really use some encouragement from anyone who's survived the struggle of learning disabilities. 

Monday, December 01, 2008

Note to Dee F.

Dee, you left a comment that you, too, are adopting a four year old from China...and that you also live in the Chicago area.  I don't know too many other "older" adoptees that live nearby, so I'd love to stay in touch and maybe even get our girls together when yours comes home.  According to your profile, you're only about 25 miles from us!  The only problem is I'm not sure how to contact you since your blog doesn't seem to accept comments, but you can contact me directly via my Blogger profile.  Hope to hear from you soon!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Halloween Pictures

Halloween pictures at last! As you can see, the girls were cheerleaders and they went trick-or-treating with the cute captain of the basketball team! No, he didn't collect candy in that giant gym bag, but the girls did dump their candy in there when their little pumpkins got too full or heavy.

After collecting candy for a while the girls had fun handing out candy--you can see Olivia looking official as she attempted to take over my tally marks. Around 7:00 we ended up abandoning our bucket on the front porch with a sign that said "take two" while we went to our neighbors for pizza and playing. We figured some kid might take all the candy, but we were surprised to find some left when we came home! Everyone had great time. It was especially nice to have such warm weather and to be on a Friday night with no school the next day! A week later, we still have a LOT of candy left! It helps that Daddy hides it from us and only brings it out after dinner!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Best sister ever

Our girls are true sisters with sibling rivalry and all. If I scold Emily for something, Olivia is often quick to point out how good her own current behavior is. "Look, Mom," she'll say with a proud smile, "see, I'm not doing ______." And, if Olivia gets attention for an injury, suddenly Emily will insist that she has the very same affliction. Also, if Olivia fusses or cries about something, it'll often send Emily through the roof with annoyance, telling her to "stop, it, Olivia!!" But last night at dinner, Andy and I were pleasantly surprised by a different reaction.

I had dinner on the table, but I was enjoying hearing how nicely and quietly the girls were playing beauty shop in the bathroom WITHOUT getting annoyed with each other (you see, we have a big sister who sometimes likes to BE the big sister, and a little sister with a big personality who often likes to be in charge). Even after Andy came home, neither of us wanted to interrupt a good thing so we let them play a little longer.

Once they emerged and we were eating dinner, Olivia stuck a serving spoon in her mouth for the umpteenth I was all too quick to correct her. Not appreciating the scolding, she started wailing. At this point I fully expected Emily to snap at her for crying, but instead, the nurturer in her rose to the occasion and she walked over to comfort her little sister. In soft sweet tones she calmed her and then asked if she wanted to come sit by her. Andy and I were a captive audience as she then proceeded to move Olivia's plate and chair right next to hers. Once they got re-situated, Emily put her arm around her sister and Olivia reciprocated with her arm as she declared, "Emily, you're my best sister ever."

Parenting can be challenging, but I'm so glad for the little moments like this that make it all worth while and remind me how great it is to be a mom.

Andy just came home early and now we're off to school to watch the costume parade...I'll post pix of our little cheerleaders later :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wish come true

Giddy, smiling and clasping hands excitedly, Olivia just came running to announce something special to me, "I love my wish come true. I love my mom and I love my dad, and I love my Chelsea (dog), and I love my Emily. I love my family. I love my wish come true."

Wow. How sweet is that?!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Playing Tag


I've been tagged again which means I'm supposed to list share seven things about myself and then tag seven other bloggers so they too can reveal their deep dark secrets. My first thought was to just link to my old post here where I already listed seven things about myself, but I suppose that'd be cheating. Surely I can think of seven more, right? Ummmm...hopefully.

Okay, here goes:

1. I am the middle child of five kids and married to the youngest of five kids.

2. I am not planning to have five kids. When we got married, we said we wanted 2-3 kids, so I always joked that we were going to have 2.5. If you count our dog as half a person, we're on target!

3. Andy and I have been together since we were 16--dated for seven years, and are still going strong after 16 years of marriage. This past year we've been going out for a date every Wednesday night while the girls go to Pioneer Club (kind of a cross between scouts and Sunday school).

4. Unlike Julie who tagged me, I started turning gray in my teens, way before kids :( At least my kids will have one less thing to feel guilty about.

5. My favorite TV channel is HGTV and my favorite show there is probably Designed to Sell. No, we're not planning to sell, but I love seeing what changes they can make in one week with only $2,000.

6. Waaaaay back when, I was into gymnastics and tumbling. I can still do a cartwheel, but I'm afraid back bends and back flips are a thing of the past.

7. Oprah's CFO lives across the street from us. Okay, I know that's not really about me, but I couldn't come up with #7 and thought some might find it an interesting tidbit ;)

Here are the next victims that have now been tagged. They're all adoptive moms, most from our agency, LifeLink. If you want to check out some other cute kids from China, then check out their blogs :)


Thursday, October 23, 2008

home-made "school" pictures

You can't see what Emily was looking at, but she was actually looking adoringly at her sister :)

I'm not usually in love with the results of prepaid school pictures, so yesterday after the girls posed for their year book/class pictures at school, they got to come home and pose some more! I was going for school type mug shots and kept trying to get Olivia to keep her hands away from her face, but my little model had her own ideas. In the end, I was happy with the results :)

Once I got some good individual shots I had them pose together and Emily, my little stager, had her own ideas. Instead of sitting on the step stool, she thought it'd be cute to have Olivia in it (up side down)!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Last night Emily went roller skating with Brownies and within a few minutes I heard Olivia say, "I miss Emily already! " I was surprised because her sister was only going to be gone for a few hours, not unlike she does twice every week when she goes to educational therapy. But there it was: "I miss my sister. She's my friend." How sweet is that?!

When they were reunited a few hours later, Olivia told her sister that she had missed her and Emily just beamed. The two then enjoyed a little love fest and happily went off to bed. Ahhhh. If only my angels were always so angelic :)

When I went to bed, there was a little love note from Emily on my pillow. Ahhh. Makes a mom's heart melt! I don't know if any of this lovey-doveyness had anything to do with the fact that I tucked little love notes in their lunches yesterday (for the first time), but you can bet I put some in again today :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

scrapbook pages

...just printed these out to add to the scrapbook :)

My little model

Emily is a little more self conscious and doesn't much like to have her picture taken, but Olivia is another story! In China she HATED the camera, but it didn't take long before she changed her attitude! Olivia's got a lot of dramatic flare and is not afraid to strut her stuff or pose for pictures. Here she is sporting her new, shorter "do." Her hair was getting a little long, thin and shapeless so we cut some length off to go for a bob. I think it makes her hair look thicker than it is and I like the way it frame her cute little face. Isn't she cute?!

Tomorrow I'm going to attempt to take both girls' school pictures at home again. I got tired of prepaying $$$ for unflattering pictures and figured I'd have better results on my own with a homemade backdrop (sheet or blanket). I was pleased with our little photo shoot last year (I ordered prints to hand out at Walgreens for just a few bucks) that I'll attempt it again. Wish me luck. Hopefully I'll post some more cute pix tomorrow of BOTH of our girls :)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

New look, new features

I was playing around with some blog gadgets tonight and thought I'd change things up a bit. Now, in the right margin you can scroll through and click on our most recent video clips.

I've also added a new BLOG FOLLOWERS gadget that's kind of neat because YOU can add your mugshot to our blog if you'd like :)

Not sure that I'm loving the black background. Let me know if it's too hard to read. I think the blog design is due for an overhaul!

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Pledge

Here's Olivia's version of The Pledge that she's learning in kindergarten. I like her version, mistakes and all :) After you see it you'll might know what I mean.

I'm still getting used to my new Mac's iVideo, and need to figure out how to improve the compressed version without making the file size too big--the original video looks so much better than this too-compressed YouTube version :(

iMovie dancing clip

Here's my first iMovie, a short video clip (32 sec.) that goes along with some of the pix I posted earlier from a recent wedding. You can see the girls--and Daddy--had fun on the dance floor!

Tonight Olivia was sharing her version of the Pledge of Allegiance. I didn't catch it on film, but I'm going to have the camera ready tomorrow in case she shares again! It was pretty cute.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I think summer is over

I think summer is over, but all is well here.  The girls seem to like school, and I've adjusted to my empty nest.  I had visions of accomplishing all sorts of things with so much time to myself.  However, the reality has been that now that I think I have all the time in the world, I've been much LESS efficient with my time.  Sad, but true.  Maybe once the newness wears off, I'll start cracking the whip to get more accomplished, but for right now, I'm kind of enjoying this new found free time!  I've gotten a little (more) lazy, but one good thing has come out of my free time.  I have been exercising every morning for the last several weeks.  Hey, at least I've made one positive change :)

Speaking of change...we recently made the switch from PCs to Macs so I'm having to relearn how I do things.  I'm going to have to learn a new program for digital scrapbooking because my program isn't Mac friendly, and I also have to figure out simple things like loading pix off the camera and uploading pix to update this blog!  If you see any new photos here, you'll know I was successful.  If not, well...then I wasn't!
Our dog, Chelsea, just turned 14 and Emily and her friend wanted to throw her a birthday party!  Chelsea still looks and acts pretty good, but her hearing is not what it once was and she now has a harder time jumping up on the furniture (not all bad).  At her check up last week the vet said she looked pretty good for a dog of her age, but unfortunately her labwork indicated that she may be in the very early stages of kidney failure.  She may still have another year or two, but he said that'll probably be what takes her.  I knew she couldn't really live forever, but I was kind of hoping she would.  I can't help wonder how many more birthday parties she'll have.  Okay, gotta go touch up my smeared makeup now. 
Olivia and her daddy were dancing up a storm at a recent wedding in Wisconsin.  Check out the socks that were once white!
(above)Olivia and her cousin, Rachel, having fun at the wedding...and (below) the girls dancing with their cousin, Katie (both daughters of my sister, Angie).
Emily has been saving money to buy another Webkinz and lucked out with a 50% off sale so she got TWO for the price of one!
In the midst of the Emily's Webkinz excitement, Olivia decided to take this picture.  Another photographer in the family!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

An orphanage friend :)

Last week we got to meet up again with one of Olivia's orphanage friends, BeiLee(3), who happened to be visiting Chicago :) We met at Navy Pier where the kids enjoyed playing at the Chicago Children's Museum before eating at Bubba Gump Shrimp. I'm so glad we're able to keep some ties to Olivia's past :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Olivia's reaction to all day kindergarten

After school I tried to capture Olivia's reaction to her first full day of kindergarten. In the first video she didn't mention school, but was just hamming it up for the camera with silly names for herself--first Sully (from Monster's Inc.??) and then Sharla, the mom (from ???)...chattering about getting big and little. I'm not exactly sure what her point was, but it's a 29 second snapshot of her silliness :)

Then, in her second video, I was actually surprised by what she said about school.

First day of kindergarten & 2nd grade!

Yesterday Emily started second grade, but Olivia was very disappointed that she only got to go for 30 minutes. TODAY, they BOTH are in class ALL day long. It feels kind of strange to be home alone, but I've got a long To Do list that's keeping me preoccupied.

Olivia was very excited about going off to school and Emily was very intent on helping her little sister. Often times Olivia doesn't need or want all the help from her mother hen sister, but today she happily accepted it when Emily eagerly offered to help her tie her gym shoes so we could walk to school. Then, when we got out the door, I couldn't keep up with them! Last year when we walked to school, Olivia was always dawdling and as slow as molasses. Today, in her excitement, she was almost a block ahead of me!

For months now, Emily has talked about walking her little sister into class, but when we got to school, Olivia left Emily and me in the dust as she joyfully bolted for her classroom! So much for needing Emily's helping hand! Emily took off after her and neither one even turned around to say goodbye. I was surprised by their quick departure and had planned to give them a proper send off with a kiss and a reminder about our after school pick up plans, but I'm sure they'll figure it out. I thought I might be sad, but their excitement was so contagious that I couldn't help but smile. Both my babies are now in school and we'll all be okay :)
These pix were taken last Wednesday when we went to Meet the Teacher.

And these are from this morning when they BOTH left for school ALL day!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chance meeting...and vacation pix part 2 of 2

In my last post I said I wanted to tell you about some people we met in Branson. It was a chance meeting that ended up with quite a surprise...

We met a really nice family of five at the resort where we were staying and then ran into them again both days we went to the the theme park, Silver Dollar City. There the we went on rides together, shared strollers and snacks, went to shows together, and ate together. Our girls enjoyed playing with their three-year old, but also enjoyed borrowing her 12 and 15-year old big sisters, especially when some rides required older chaperons! Andy also enjoyed having someone to go with him on the water rides and the hour-long cave tour while the moms and little girls did other stuff. Back at the resort, we also hung out at the pool, keeping cool together. Our girls just couldn't get enough of them and we didn't mind because we enjoyed hanging out with our new friend, too! We had a great time together and meeting them was a highlight of our vacation that our kids still talk about!

As we talked, I recognized the dad's home town in Iowa as a place in my dad's family history and, in an email after we got home, I asked if they happened to know anyone with my grandma's maiden name. I was floored when I got an email back saying yes, that was his mother's maiden name! My dad did some delving into the family tree and it turns out we're related! We're actually third cousins in two different ways, making us "double cousins," with two different sets of common great, great grandparents! What a small world! The kids got quite a kick out of the fact that their new friends are actually long lost cousins!

Below are some more vacation pix that include our new friends that ended up being our new-found cousins.

School starts tomorrow!! My next post will have back-to-school pix :)

(click to enlarge)

We really enjoyed Silver Dollar City! They offer quite a variety with kiddie and big kid rides, a spray area to keep cool, lots of live shows (Veggie Tales, magic, ice skating, singing & dancing, etc.), and also a big cave to tour. I especially like how short the lines were and how the girls could go on their favorite rides over and over again while we kept cool under a misting fan!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vacation pix, part I

My posting this summer has been feast or famine--I seem to go for long stretches with no posts and then play catch up with an avalanche of photos! That may change next week when my two little charges go off to school all day long, leaving me with plenty of time to myself. {Sniff, sniff.}

Below are some vacation pictures. We were a little hesitant that Branson was only for retired country music lovers, but we were pleasantly surprised by how many things there are to see and do for young families. I was especially impressed with how family friendly and clean ALL the entertainment is and how much of a Christian influence there is everywhere you look :). We all had a great time!

In my next post I'll share an interesting story about some people we met in Branson.

(Click to enlarge)

No, Branson doesn't have a Chinatown...but I tacked on this page from before vacation. Chicago's Chinatown Summerfest :)