Get Out of Town!

Standard

**The following is another article I wrote for Southeast Texas Family Magazine in October 2018.  It was written about travelling in the fall, but I am typing this up now, realizing that my impulse to travel is apparently pretty high in the spring, too!

 

cold trip

One of the perks of living in SETX is having an extended period of beautiful weather.  Travel and exploration doesn’t have to come to a screeching halt just because school is in session.  Families can enjoy this season, and the benefits of traveling in autumn.  This time of year, my wanderlust kicks into high gear, and I conjure up excursions for my family.
I tend to keep our fall family trips short and easy.  Small road trips are easier to pull off with several kiddos who also need to get back to learning (bonus points if they can learn on the trip!) and are perfect for a weekend getaway.  Just because the vacations are shorter and closer to home, doesn’t mean they have to be less exciting.  With a little creativity and effort, you can turn even the drive itself into a fun adventure.
My favorite time to embark on a journey is late afternoon.  By doing this, I give my kids time to peruse and sample the crate I pack full of entertaining activities such as: extreme dot-to-dot, interest-oriented magazines, window clings, sticker-by-numbers, face-making sticker books, word searches, travel games, and more.  Just about the time their interest starts to wane, the sun is setting, and the party really ampls up.  I pass out glow sticks, bracelets, and necklaces.  My children wear some, using the majority to create a glowing chain to stretch around the perimeter of the back seats, hanging from the clothes hanger hooks.  We recently discovered glow balloons for the floor as well.  This is also the perfect time to introduce a fun new album or podcast.  We have rocked out to “Teen Beach Movie”, belted out with Toby Mac, as well as been enthralled by the “Adventures of Finn Caspian” podcast.


My kiddos have always been good travelers, but they particularly enjoy these mobile parties, complete with individually packed snack bags they can partake in at their leisure.  I choose foods that are easy to clean up after, and can replace a sit-down or fast food dinner.  Offerings along the lines of pepperonis, cheese sticks, chips, grapes, nuts, and trail mix keep them happy and full  It’s especially exciting to surprise them with treats that they rarely get to indulge in.
Inevitable, even the best of travelers do grow weary of deriving, and since it is night, they all snuggle into their blankets and pillows, and drift off to sleep to the sound of peaceful instrumental music, surrounded by the soft light of their glowing creations, leaving my husband and me quiet time to talk and enjoy each other’s company until we reach our destination.

hats for trippin
We always have a blast on our short vacations, taking advantage of cooler weather, smaller crowds, and cheaper prices, but I absolutely love cruising with my family, and having the journey be just as fun as the destination.

Advertisements

Simple as Dirt

Standard
In an age bombarding us with promises of entertainment, we often feel that bigger, more complex, and more expensive ways to make our kids happy are best.  However, I have realized this is exhausting, and there comes a time when slowing down and enjoying the simple pleasures in life is much more appealing.
dirt 1
     Spring has definitely sprung in Southeast Texas, and we have begun to venture out, looking for fun after the long, cold winter.  Creation is all around us is teeming with new life, and it seems the whole world breathes a collective sigh of relief at the freshness of the arrival of the season.
I keep losing my kids throughout the day, only to find them reveling in the outdoors in our backyard.  To them, there is nothing better than playing in the dirt.  Their imaginations run wild as they dig child-sized holes under the cypress tree, bury each other’s legs, make and hide time capsules (I’ve lost most of my Mason jars this way!), and create the ever-popular mud pie.  They have also developed a love for digging up a various assortment of crawly creatures.  They’ve unearthed beetles, millipedes, earthworms, and massive grub worms.  To my delight as their mom and teacher, these findings have resulted in impromptu science lessons and more exploration.
grub worm
My husband, too, couldn’t wait to get his hands in the soil this spring.  He has tilled and composted to his heart’s content, and planted fruits and vegetables with the kids, that we are anticipating harvesting later this summer.


Most of all, the backyard activities have been a great way for us to connect and interact with each other.  We don’t have to get dressed up, loaded up, and headed off to Somewhere Else.  We don’t have to fret about how much money the day will cost.  We can just be laid back, enjoying each other in the midst of the chaos surrounding us.  It has been restorative to be still and contentedly soak in the happiness of these moments with the sun on our faces.
Years down the road, we may not remember the bowling score, the video game, or what movies we saw, but we will always have the memory of  living in the little moments as we played in the earth together.

     Happiness can be dependent on many complex things, but sometimes it is as simple as dirt.
Ru and Lill

A Special Kind of Love–Raising a Special Needs Child

Standard
By Mehgan Drake

Raising children is always worth it.  But let’s face it–parenting is hard.  Being a special needs parent takes that up a level.  We are often tired, lonely, and battling things you could hardly fathom.  I purposefully entered the world of special needs parenting five and a half years ago with the adoption of our son, Boden, who has Down Syndrome, low functioning autism, among other diagnoses.  When I met him, I’ll admit I wasn’t just daunted, I was absolutely terrified.  Flash forward to today, and everything I was scared of is just our normal now.

Ball Pit Attitude
I’ve learned countless lessons over these years: patience, unconditional love, and my own personal sort-comings to name a few.  However the thing that stands out the most to me is how lonely this road of special needs parenting actually is.  We understand and accept that we are different and a minority.  As a whole, people with developmental, physical, or neurological differences and those with physical limitations are not seen as much as typical people in every day society, leading to a lack of understanding and education in public settings, and this is what I want to address.
As such a parent let me just say–please do not teach your kids not to stare at people with differences.  Teach them to say hello! By teaching your children to look away, you are essentially perpetuating a standard of unacceptable, and making a whole people group to live a life ignored.  I get that seeing physical deformities and hearing strange, autistic noises can be unnerving and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.  The more you learn, the more comfortable you will be in these social situations.  The old adage of people being afraid of what they don’t understand is totally true and applicable in this scenario.
Our children, however are more alike than different.  Boden is capable of a full range of emotions and behaviors, encompassing everything from joy and teasing, to anger and mischief.  It should be said here that you should not feel obligated to dismiss or condone behaviors that our children are exhibiting towards you.  They are also able to have expectations.  Giving grace is nice, but you do not have to tell us “It’s OK” if we correct or reprimand our child for doing something they know they shouldn’t be doing.  For instance, my son will sit in anyone’s lap or pinch someone every once in a while.  That’s not alright.  It wouldn’t be ok for a typical child to do that.  He knows better, and I will fuss at him for it.

40161828_10216256313427880_5685538218791927808_n
Boden makes noises, he does not speak, but he does understand when we speak to him, and he loves to play in his own way.  Many people with physical limitations are neurologically fully functional, and would love to be acknowledged.  It is not only possible, but so much fun to interact and play with these special children.  While appropriate boundaries are always a must, hand-shakes, high-fives, and conversation are always welcomed.  You may not know correct terminology, or exactly what the politically correct thing to say is (special needs mamas, this is when you need to give grace), but I assure you, families with special children would love to answer appropriate questions (please keep in mind we are all humans, made in the image of God with dignity, and some things are personal), educate you on conditions, and even brag or tell funny stories about our kiddos.  Feel free to say ” I noticed your beautiful family and wanted to say hello,” or, “You’re rocking it today, Mama,” or how about, “Is there anything I can help you with while I’m here?”  I had an  employee of my grocery store bring me forgotten turkey pepperonis one time while I was already in the check out, and it blessed my heart, and my tired feet were so relieved.
Introduce your child, and encourage them to say hi.  As a conversation ensues, and you get to know these people, you get the chance to learn about individual personalities and diagnoses, and each time, things are becoming more normalized to you and your children.

Boden Crab smile
Encourage a family walking this road.  Learn more about a diagnosis a family at school or church is living with.  Don’t miss a golden opportunity to get to know some amazing humans, and the chance for your kid to establish wonderful friendships.
Don’t look away.  Don’t be afraid.  Give a great big smile and “hello” to help foster understanding, acceptance, and friendship from which all walks of life and generations can benefit.

I have found that a wonderful FB Page to learn about differences is Special Books by Special Kids

IMG_0011

 

Between the Then and Now

Standard

30520132428-232x300

A lot has happened since I blogged last February.  Please forgive my absence.

I am coming to realize that spring time is a hard time of year for me.  Sure it is beautiful, and the weather is amazing, but in March of 2008 I miscarried my baby (who I feel was a boy), and last May (2015) I lost another child.  No one died, but I am grieving a tremendous loss nonetheless.

Ukrainian Lilac.jpgSpring in Ukraine is absolutely breathtaking–chestnut trees, canola fields, fragrant lilac trees, and poppies…….
airport.jpg
May 2, 2015 we packed up our family and started the journey to Ukraine so we could meet, have court for, and bring home “Pearson”.  Finally, after months of working so hard on fundraisers and paperwork, it was time to take our little man from the institution where we had adopted Boden 18 months before.  These boys were “Lost Boys”, living in a poor and rural village, shut away from the outside world.  We arrived, exhausted and exhilarated, in Kiev and met our wonderful driver and friend Max, who immediately became our lifeline in country.  He was great with the kids, and he was so helpful and smart! We were in Kiev for a few days as we had our DAP appointment to request and review “Pearon’s” file.  We were able to get his referral later that afternoon. It included one or two baby pictures, and we were able to find out very little about him.      The next day we rode with Jed Johnson (from Wide Awake ministries…They are a wonderful family from the US who have moved to Ukraine to work with sweet boys in an orphanage there) to Zhytomer, where they kept the kids so we could travel to “Pearson’s” village to meet, visit, and have court over the course of the next week or so.  The Johnson family was such a blessing during this time, loving on all of babies while we went about the work trying to break their new brother free.  Caleb and I rode a bus back to the capital city, excited to meet “Pearson” the next day.
Early the next morning, we met our wonderful facilitator, and began the 5 hour car ride to the small village.  I think we slept much of the way, but when we turned off the highway onto the small country road that led into the town, we were so excited! It felt like coming home.  We immediately went to the orphanage to speak with the director, and after what felt like an eternity, we were told that they were bringing in Pearson.  A few minutes later, a short, cautious, freckle-faced little boy was led in by the hand by a nanny.  In our meager knowledge of Russian, we told him hello, how sweet he was, etc.  He had the most incredible smile!  We gave him a spiky bouncy ball that lit up, and after showing him once or twice, he figured out if he hit it, the light would start flashing.  The THRILL on his face that ball brought to him I will never ever forget.  I have hidden it in my heart, and I ponder it often.  We did notice that he was nonverbal, and very excitable, and “busy”.  He was different than we remembered him being, and nothing like what was described in his profile.  But we told the facilitator to proceed with his paperwork, and we accepted his referral.


Over the course of the next two days, we were able to visit him twice a day.  The visits began getting harder and harder, his needs and institutional behaviors were becoming very obvious.  Still, we stayed the course.  We brought little toys like a travel magnadoodle, some twisty colors, his spiky ball, etc.


When we briefly saw Pearson when we adopted Boden, he was a different child.  We believe now that he must have been heavily sedated, or in the 18 months that it took us to go back, he drastically deteriorated.  We were no strangers to institutional behaviors.  Boden had been home a little while then, and although we didn’t know it all, we had experience.  Pearson’s behaviors manifested differently than Boden’s.  He loved the toys (Boden didn’t even notice them), but was soon so overstimulated by them, due to never having played with toys before, that he would quickly become very hard to handle.  He would break the toys, pick up potted plants and throw them, run away, spit, hurt himself, and head butt us.  We could hold him still for a few minutes, sing, and try joint compressions, and he would be ok for a few minutes, and then the same behaviors resumed.
During this time our facilitator had noticed the dramatic change from the last time we were there, and repeatedly asked us if we were sure we wanted to move forward.  We were brave and assured her that we were good to go.  Only the thing is….we were lying to ourselves.  Both of us, separately, had been thinking “how are we going to do this?”
Aloud, though we would encourage each other, and continued on.  It was after our last visit however, that we reached critical mass.  Pearson had been very aggressive, and we ended up just holding him in a safe hold, singing to him, as he tried to spit and pull our hair while he maniacally laughed.  We looked at each other over his head…and I  knew we had to talk.  On the walk home, we opened  up to each other about our reservations and fears.

International adoption is no easy thing.  Every factor needs to be seriously considered and weighed.  Like marriage, it should not be entered into lightly.  We knew this, I mean, we were experienced pros now, right?  We knew what to expect, but by all accounts, even what we had briefly seen of Pearson, his needs weren’t nearly as “severe” as Boden’s, he could walk, talk, was possibly potty trained, was sweet and compliant, and had a mild mental delay.  It sounded like we could handle it.
When we adopted Boden, we had no children at home with special needs.  Boden turned our world upside down.  We have been stretched and challenged more than we ever thought was possible.  It has been one of the hardest but most rewarding experiences of our lives.  Our family dynamic certainly changed.  We now had 4 kids, one with Down Syndrome and autism, who will not use the potty, who doesn’t walk very well (not at all by himself when we adopted him), with institutional behaviors and self harming tendencies, and our 3 biological kids who were still pretty little, and were adapting to our family change.(They have been doing fantastic, by the way, but change is always hard, and they’re kids, and we were really trying hard to home school them, love them fiercely, and make sure they were OK and not lost in the challenges.)  As we walked down the warped sidewalks, past mounds of garbage and packs of stray dogs, we had to consider all of those things.  We weren’t adopting in a bubble.  It hit us that one of us would always need to be helping Boden with walking, diapers, spoon feeding….and one would be with Pearson helping to keep him from breaking things, hurting himself, hurting other people.   What would be left for the other kids?  We agreed that this was not Pearson’s fault, or anything that he had done. Sadly this is what the “system” does to these kids. This is why adoption is so important.  So that kids are not turned into this.
We got “home” and cried and talked for a very long time, wondering if we were doing the right thing…..How would it affect the kids….could I do it all alone with Caleb at work….would Boden get lost….would the bio kids get left behind…..We agonized….we prayed….we cried….we called our pastor.  And he gave us a bit of advice….I’ll never forget it. Actually he used the same advice during his sermon this morning while preaching on Matthew 19.  It hit me in the gut, and I couldn’t help but tear up.  The advice was a question he poses to premarital couples during counseling…..”If the situation as it is now will never change–it will ALWAYS be like it is now, and possibly even get worse–can you live with that the rest of your life.”  Our counseling session was hard because the connection was so weak, but to have our pastor issue that question, pray for us, agonize, and grieve with us was such a blessing in one of the hardest moments of our lives.  There was no way that we could sustain our family if we brought Pearson home.  There was not enough of us. He could hurt our small children.  We would forsake everything that God had already given us to be stewards over.  And that’s the moment we lost our child.  We were devastated….utterly destroyed. In my heart, he was mine. But everything we knew about him, and everything that was to be…just wasn’t anymore.

The next two days were accompanied by many tears, grief, sobbing, questions, prayer, devastation…you know that point where you can’t cry anymore…you just lay there, wrapped up in a blanket just staring into nothing….or sitting on the kitchen floor, and you can’t eat anything, you can’t speak, you can’t hardly think. The feeling you get when you know there is cannonball sized hole in your chest, and you know it will never close up.
We left him there.  We couldn’t do it.  I am trying to let go of the guilt of that. But the fact of the matter is this.  He wasn’t ours.  God gave us wisdom to make sound decisions, and he gave us 4 kids at home that we needed to think of and protect.  And so we did.  I mourn Pearson. My heart loves him.  I want to hold him in my arms.  I hate what that place did to him.  That institution makes wild animals out of precious boys…it chews them up and spits them out.  He is still there.

We couldn’t handle it because of what was going on in our family already.  But I am praying there is a family out there that is equipped and in a place in life where they realize that Pearson is their son, and they are able to save him from that place, and give him the attention that we wouldn’t have been able to give him. The help he needs to come to life. Things that we couldn’t provide for him.  We are committed to advocating for him.  Praying and hoping to find a family for him.  But we can’t yell for him yet.  You see Pearson had a grant from RR of $9225.  It was given to us to bring him home.  We have been diligently working to repay that grant, so that a family can use that money to rescue him. We have been diligently repaying the grant, and have even had a very generous anonymous donation, and so we have $2798 left to repay.  If you would like to give a tax deductible donation to help rebuild his grant so that we can advocate and yell for him, you can do so here.

I will say that after much prayer and consideration, we continued on to adopt another boy in Ukraine.  He was not a replacement, but he also desperately needed a family, and had his own little set of needs.  We wrapped up our adoption of Alex in July, and brought him home on July 15.  He is so smart, funny, sweet, and helpful.  It still has not been easy.  There have been many growing pains, miscommunication, language barriers, culture differences, boundaries pushed, etc.  We are in love with Alex, and are so grateful that God brought us to him.  He has the most incredible laugh, blue eyes, and cowlick!  It definitely has been bittersweet, but God knew what he was doing when he knit our family together.  We are cramped into our house, have had so many doctors appointments (Boden was even hospitalized with pneumonia for a few days), ups and down, failures and victories.  But we are surviving, and we hope that we glorify God through it all.


Please join us in prayer that a family will step up for Pearson.  If you want to help us get the repayment of his grant out of the way, so we can advocate, you can click here.
Pray for our family as we continue to grow through another big change.  God is so good….even through the hardest of times.

Finish Line in Sight!

Standard

We have been working hard since October to bring our son home from Eastern Europe.  Things have been great, hard, exhausting, taxing, amazing, stressful, and an absolute joy.
We are still short on funds.  But that’s OK.  I am to the point where I know that God is providing for this adoption.  He has provided me with talent and ability to work hard for my son, and he has also provided many people who were interested in buying food, desserts, and various handmade gifts.  God has also provided a few friends who have offered to help in different ways.
I take joy in working for Pearson.  Nobody has cared enough for him to do that before.  Soon he will know what a mama is, and that his mama loves him very much.

So here is an adoption update.  I was done with my dossier.  I had everything signed and notorized just so, had it checked, and sent it off to Austin to be apostilled….where about 85% of it was rejected.  My funny, crazy, sweet notory was given the wrong stamp from her job when they ordered her supplies when she was commissioned as a notory.  There is no state seal on the stamp…therefore it is void.  And so were all my papers.  So, I cried for a while, and then got it together and redid 85% of my dossier. I am so thankful that it was only things that had to be signed, and not things that I had to gather, pay for, or get an exam for!  So…my dossier is done.  I am waiting for my immigration update and my FBI clearances to arrive in the mail, and I have to send my dossier to Austin.  And then we’re done.  I hope to be submitted in the next week or so.

Even though we are so close to traveling to meet Pearson, we are still not financially ready to go.  I have been gathering TONS of garage sale stuff since November (I think), and I haven’t had a chance to actually hold the garage sale, so that’s coming up.  Also my mom has offered to help me hold a link sale (Did I ever tell you my family started a sausage company?).  A sweet woman from our town has offered to hold a community bunko game.  And our town’s annual festival is the second Saturday in March.  I’m thinking a bake sale is in order for that weekend, and I am hoping to ask some friends and  church family to donate some homemade baked goods.

I am finished with my Valentine’s Day gifts.  I made really cute canvases. Remind me to show you a picture one of these days.

RIGHT NOW–
Right now we have an auction going on. IT IS HUGE…over 350 items.  This auction is being held here. We are holding the auction until Valentine’s Day.  It is to benefit three Reece’s Rainbow families…all three have something in common.  We all adopted previously from the Lost Boys’ institution where Boden is from.  And now we are all adopting again. Two of us are returning for our precious Lost Boys, while one family is working hard for their sweet girl! We will all split the money from the auction.  We aren’t far from traveling, and we need support. There are so many things to bid on….antiques, decor, books, movies, Signing Time, homeschool curriculum, Gymboree clothing, a NEW Micheal Kors bag, Vera Bradley, jewelry, art, quilts, knitted/crotched items, and one really awesome rag quilt that looks like a panda!  There is also two giveaways going on! You can enter to win a working train set and/or a tablet!  Please share our auction link! Spread the word!

Also…Here is our Amazon affiliate link. Simply shop Amazon through this link as you normally would, and Amazon will give us a percentage that we will use for our adoption.  The more items sold through this link, the bigger percentage we get. http://www.amazon.com/?_encoding=UTF8&tag=mybadu-20

I am to the point now where I need to buy him a mattress and a quilt….I am starting to get so excited about getting ready for him.  I can’t wait to see him!  I am so ready to be his mama!

Thank you all for your prayers and support…though the finish line is in sight, please continue to remember us.

If you would like to simply make a tax-deductible donation to our family through Reece’s Rainbow, you can do so here.

Still moving forward!

Standard

Hey guys!

I hope you are all having a great new year so far.  We had a great, low-key Christmas (isn’t that the best kind?) and we did absolutely nothing on New Year’s Eve….watch out! We’re wild! haha!
We have been working hard trying to get to Pearson.  From before Thanksgiving through Christmas, I cooked and cooked. It was very beneficial towards our adoption. I am now working on homemade body scrubs and bath salts, some Valentine’s Day canvases, and some various frames.  I will try to post pictures here, and let you guys know how you can order from my blog, if you want.  We are still needing to raise $8500 before we can go get our son from that awful place that he is in.  We are going to apply for a few different grants soon, as our homestudy is finished now!!  Yesterday, a friend of ours came over and notorized a BAJILLION different documents.  We now only need 3 documents for our dossier, and need to send them to the state capital to be apostilled.  We are so close!  Please pray that everything will get lined up.  I am trusting God’s timing, but I will admit that I struggle with stressing over it.  We have wonderful missionary friends in Ukraine that are going to help us with our children when we go (we can’t really take them on long days of paper chasing when there are no toilets available and we won’t eat all day long), but their summer is full of wonderful missionary things, and so we need to travel sooner rather than later so that we have the help we need for our kids. Please pray about that!
Homeschool is going great.   We took 3 weeks off for the holidays, and it was just what I needed to be gung-ho again =)
We are starting a reptiles/amphibians unit.  We have a bearded dragon named Fluff that we can use as a specimen!  And we are also hatching tad poles that we caught on one of our nature walks earlier in the Fall. They still haven’t sprouted legs yet. It feels like it’s taking forever!
I am also adding Horizons phonics to the babies’ phonics curriculum.  Right now they are just doing 100 Easy Lessons to Teach Your Child to Read. It is a great book, and they are both reading now.  I just feel like they need a little extra now.  Andi is doing so great writing in cursive, and she just learned square roots.  Her multiplication is going well, too, and we use Mondays to practice addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts.  She is moving on to the 4th Narnia book tomorrow.
The kids are all so excited to go to Ukraine.  I am very much looking forward to them going with us this time.  I think it will be a great time with our family growing again for us to all be a part of it.  It’s good they will know where their brothers come from.  I am hoping to take them to just a few historical places around Kiev so they can learn a little while we are there. Most of what we do will be free, and can be done walking around, but I would like to take them to (and now I’m drawing a blank on the name) a small village outside of Kiev that is kind of like a heritage museum village.  I would also like to take them to the presidential estate or the zoo.  We were very frugal in Ukraine last time, and fully intend to be this time as well.  We are not there as tourists. We will be there as parents, fighting to get our child.  But there will be two weeks of just waiting, and being in Ukraine is super cheap, so hopefully we will be able to explore some of this beautiful, historically rich culture.  We also hope to volunteer at our friends’ orphanage they help at during the two weeks off.  I will elaborate more on that later, too.  I always sit down to blog when I have just a spare minute or two, and I don’t have time to hunt down links and insert pictures.
Also, we have a very exciting auction coming up soon.  It will benefit us and two other adopting families.  It will be on a blog, so you won’t have to be on FB to be a part of it.  If you make or sell anything and you don’t mind shipping, and you  would like to donate any items, please feel free!  You can leave a comment here, but it is probably best to email mehgandrake@yahoo.com with information and pics
On another note, my computer is so messed up.  I tried to download a free version of Picassa…DON’T DO IT.  So many things were downloaded along with it, and now my computer is very slow even though I have gotten rid of everything, bought McAffee, and there are no other malicious things on my computer.  We do not need a proxy server for the type of internet connection that we have.  But every few minutes, my computer switches over to a proxy server. So every few minutes I have to go to the Start menu>Control Panel>Internet Options>Connections>LAN Connection> and disable the proxy server button….It is so frustrating. Any advice? HELP!
ALSO>>>> I signed up as an Amazon affiliate.  You can shop through this link, and we will get a percentage that we will use towards our adoption. Feel free to copy, paste, and spread the link around.  It is normal Amazon shopping for you….a free way to help us out!  Please shop through it and share it with your friends and family in real life and on social media. The more that is sold through our link, the bigger percentage we get.  Thanks!  http://www.amazon.com/?_encoding=UTF8&tag=mybadu-20
Alright Life is calling…

Finally!

Standard

Hi! Here I am! I didn’t disappear from the face of the Earth…I may have wanted to a few minutes this past month, though.
God’s provision has been overwhelming.  I have been completely overwhelmed this past month picking up, pricing, sorting, and storing garage sale items; and baking and cooking.  I have had orders for fudge, cheesecake, turkey, ham, gumbo, dressing, brownies, and pie.  Can’t find me? Check the kitchen.
We are slowly working on the amount of money that we need to complete our adoption. Also this past month, our home study update was complete, and we had our medical appointments.
Boden has still been going to school, and is doing so very well!  Last Friday we finished up the semester here at Drake Academy, and are now enjoying the Christmas season.  We have made cinnamon ornaments, cookies, and have a few painted crafts planned.  There have been hot chocolate consumed and Christmas movies watched!
We try to use our Christmas money for something big for the whole family each year.  Last year, we were able to buy annual family passes to Moody Gardens in Galveston.  They expired on December 14, so on the 13th (Andi’s 9th birthday!!!!) we used them for one last trip.  It was so nice to be out and about again.  We have not been doing anything extra lately.  We could justify this though because it was free!  We even brought our own snacks and meals!  We had such a fantastic day at the aquarium, rainforest, Ice Land, Festival of Lights, and The Polar Express in 4D.  We even found a park to eat lunch at!
The kids all especially liked seeing the dolphins on the ferry.  Caleb even saw one jump completely out of the water.
Sorry I haven’t been around much.  Things are crazy busy around here as we try to work to bring home Pearson, homeschool, run a house hold etc.  Keep us in your prayers!