Thursday, August 14, 2014

Happy Birthday JoJo

OK, happy belated birthday.  It has been a couple of weeks since your birthday, but it's been such a whirlwind summer of travel and fun that I haven't had much time to sit down and write.

You are now 4 years old.  Oh my goodness, I can't believe it!  It feels like just 10 minutes ago we were getting on that airplane in Kinshasa with you and Manny in our arms.

Peanut, you are such a sweet boy.  We call you Peanut because you a little bit shorter than the average bear. The doctor said you're in the 38th percentile in height.  But what you lack in height you make up in pure brute strength.  You are in the 75th percentile in weight and it is all muscle.  Clearly, your little body was created to climb!

You are such a fun and funny little person.  You love to play jokes and have massive tickle fights.  You love Spiderman and Thomas the Train.  You love swimming and swinging and riding your bike.  You LOVE your sister Louise  (even when you're fighting like cats and dogs) probably because she is a little female version of you. But the one thing you love more than anything in the world is your Daddy.  You are his constant shadow and companion.  If he leaves the house without you it is a complete catastrophe!

You do not like sitting still, watching cartoons or taking naps.  You are an all action--all the time kind of kid. If you're not moving, doing, building, fixing then you are not happy!  But you are also super affectionate and so full of love and cuddles and laughter.


For about a month leading up to your birthday you sang yourself the Happy Birthday song at least once a day.  It made me laugh every time.


JoJo you are growing up too quickly for this mama's heart.  Please stay my little peanut just a little bit longer!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Family Reunions--From Congo to China

So all the camping we have done this summer was for one purpose: to get us to the Our Family in Africa Reunion in Indiana.  Every summer since we brought Haven home we have had the extraordinary pleasure of spending a week with one of the kindest, most generous families I will ever know in one of the most beautiful, tranquil, fun-filled homes you could ever hope to visit.

Louise LOVES Jamey! And I think he's a bit smitten, too.
This summer was the best summer EVER!  Thank you so much Jamey and Stori.  We may not be related by blood, but you and your kids are some of my dearest family members! And Jenny and Devin Baker, you guys, too!!!

And thank you to all of the other OFA families who came for this wonderful weekend.  I got to know some of you better and laughed with some old friends. I had so many lovely conversations and shared so much laughter! It is always especially wonderful to spend time with Amy and Kelly, two amazing mamas that traveled with us to Congo and helped me survive!

This is the best house ever!!!

I can get my hair done and ride a scooter.

Oh boy am I HAPPY!!!

No mom. It's not funny.

But this one sort of is...


And best brothers forever!

Prettiest girl at the reunion.

Jamie, the baby whisperer.

Grace and Nic.  He and Manny came home together from Congo.  

It's a good thing he doesn't live closer to me because he would have me wrapped around his little finger!!!

Monsters, Inc.

Everyone was making their best scary monster face.

Grace and Janie became fast friends!

Wonderful Kelly and Amy.  Cute dress!

We let off lanterns in honor of those not with us.

Beautiful and moving.

I said a special prayer for our Lizette and my dear friend Chelese who is still waiting for her boys to come home.

We played so hard that our kids just collapsed from all the fun!!!

My special girlfriends!!!

A boy and his tractor is a beautiful thing!
After our Congo reunion we headed home for a week and then headed out again for our China Sisters Reunion.  We have been so blessed to join a group of families that have been meeting for the past 10 years. Two of the girls in the group were in the same orphanage with Grace.  We traveled all over China with these two families and have stayed close ever since.  In fact, we have been extra blessed to have the Solberg family living just down the road from us and they have been become some of our dearest friends!  A big thank you to Deb Apgar for being the best party planner ever!  Each summer she finds the perfect destination for all of us to come together from around the country and celebrate our beautiful and diverse families.
A couple more of my favorite people--my "cousin" Ruthie and her sweet daughter Kailin. This wonderful family has sort of adopted mine.  We missed her big boys so much this summer.

We got to take a boat ride to do some dolphin watching. Jeff Solberg helped make sure that none of mine fell overboard!

The ride was very long, but the dolphins were amazing!!!

My pretty wind blown girl.

Manny was a little nervous.

Beach time!

My water babies LOVE the beach.

Watch out for those waves.

Manny had lots of girlfriends.
Our original 3 China Sisters
Our extended family :)
As those you who have adopted understand, the bonds of our adoption journey are strong and special.  No one understands our struggles and triumphs, our worries and celebrations, like another adoptive parent.  I am so so so very blessed to have all of you loving me and my family from all around the country.

I can't wait for next summer!!!

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