When my mom came out earlier this year, she brought me a most wonderful gift! This picture that was taken of my dad when he was in the Army in Japan. He's the one on the right. My dad passed away back in '93, which was before Brian & I married and I still miss him as much today as I did when he first passed away. This picture just makes me smile for some reason, I think mainly because it shows the twinkle in his eye that I so well remember. He loved life and his family and watching him succumb to cancer was probably the hardest thing I've ever been through in my life.
We weren't initially planning on going to the fair this year but we were offered free tickets and free parking and just couldn't pass up such a good offer. So on Sunday it was off to the fair for us! Emma is exactly 36" tall and that is the exact minimum height requirement for most of the rides so it was a perfect fit and boy oh boy did she have fun. Ryan had a great time too and was the sweetest big brother by riding most of the smaller rides with her. We had to laugh though because we would hand her the tickets for her ride, Ryan would try to take charge and get them from her and she would clickly clasp that little hand of tickets behind her back as if to say "those are mine and I'm paying myself". How can one so little be so confounded independent? Regardless, it was funny watching the exchange between the two of them.
We rented a pontoon boat on Sunday & spent a few hours on the lake before we headed back to the 'ville. It reminded me so much of our parents buying a small ski boat when my sister and I were in high school. We lived relatively close to a lake and would take it out in the evenings sometimes when the lake wasn't busy. The lake we were on (Dewey Lake) reminded me a lot of Arbuckle Lake back in Oklahoma.
There were a few HUGE houseboats but the marina really wasn't that big. How fun would it be to rent one of those things for a week! The kids had fun, but I think Emma enjoyed the cookies we had taken more than she did the actual boat ride. There was one point where the wind was blowing her hair back and she was licking the icing off of her cookie and she had pure contentment written all over her little face. We stopped several times & just enjoyed the peaceful scenery. She & I sat at the back of the boat for a little while & I would dip her down in the water and let her splash her little feet in it. She thought that was quite fun, but neither of the kids wanted to actually get in the water.
Brian let both of the kids take a turn driving the boat although Emma had to sit in his lap to be able to see over the wheel. Brian started laughing and told me to look ... she was steering with her feet! Hopefully she will not try that when she gets her license!
We celebrated Brian's birthday this past weekend by going out in eastern Kentucky to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park. The park was named after an early settler that was abducted by indians and witnessed most of her family being scalped and killed, she was held as a slave and then later she escaped and found her way back to her husband (who was gone the night of the attack). Anyway, it is an absolutely beautiful area and we had all kinds of fun with the kiddos. The lodge rooms were very "woodsy" looking and we had a great view of the woods and the pool from our balcony. We went hiking and swimming on Saturday and then rented a pontoon boat on Sunday.
These pictures are from Saturday, I still need to go through the Sunday ones.
I was going to scan in the Dennis the Menace comic from yesterdays paper, but didn't get around to it. For some reason it really tickled my funny bone ... and hit really close to home. Mr. Wilson is shown talking to Martha while wiping water from his face, Dennis is shown with a water hose in hand:
"You're right, Martha. He is a small wonder. I wonder how anyone that small can be so irritating".
For the most part, Emma is a little sweetheart and has the cutest sense of humor ... but boy, there are times she can irritate the snot out of us, especially when she's trying to push Ryan's buttons!
Well, while it's technically not fall yet ... summer has basically been here and gone, or so it feels like, since Ryan is back in school. We had a few weeks of not being on the run so much but now we're back to busy again. Practice has started for fall baseball and their games start up on Monday. Emma is still loving gymnastics but has a couple of weeks off between sessions. There are several ministry meetings for the various ministry teams that Brian & I serve on. All of that to say, it seems as though we are gone basically every night of the week. This coming weekend we are taking a much needed break out to a state park in eastern Kentucky. I think we all need some time away to just unwind and be still.
The Children's Center has a weekly "Water Play Day" during the summer months. It couldn't come at a better time this week with the record breaking heat wave we've had here in Kentucky. Emma LOVES the water, and from the few minutes I caught down there earlier today - she loves spraying water on her little buddies too!
The Crane House http://www.cranehouse.org invited the local China Adoptive families to an Asian Community picnic this past weekend. Their invitation was titled "In Celebration of Friendship Amongst the East & the West". There were quite a few Asian families but sadly enough, only two adoptive families. We're not quite sure why the turnout was so low but we had a wonderful time. Each family was asked to bring a side dish and the Crane House supplied the drinks and meat. The food was incredibly, incredibly good! YUM!
It's an odd feeling to be the minority in a group setting in the middle of the good ol' USA, especially when most of the attendees were speaking in their native tongue. Even the announcements were made mainly in Mandarin. Anyway, it was a great opportunity for Emma to be around people who share her heritage and reminds me that I do need to get her enrolled in the local Chinese school for language and heritage classes. We've held off because the classes are held on Sunday and that's about the only day of the week we have as family time. Emma and I were talking to the little girl that is shown pushing Emma on the swingset and she told us that she was from China and I told her that Emma was too. She asked me why then could Emma not speak Chinese!
My hand is large and hers is small, And there is nothing on earth at all
More important than the task That lies ahead of me, I ask
For wisdom, Lord, that I may lead This child aright; her every need
Depends on me. Be Thou my guide That I, in walking by her side,
May choose the right paths for her feet. The days are swift, the years are fleet,
Mark me alert in deed and word As we go forward, blessed Lord:
Her precious clinging hand in mine, With always, Lord, my hand in Thine.
Some may think this picture was an odd request for a photographer, but my goal was to capture some of the real life moments of our children. Some of my favorite memories are not necessarily some of the things we've done, but moments I can picture in my mind. It seems like those "stay with you moments" are those tender times between us. I've tried capturing some of those on film, but I'm just no where near being as creative as Elizabeth. Is there anything more touching than a father holding the hand of his daughter? Or a father walking along a path with his son?
My next project is to capture a portion of Brian & Emma's morning ritual as we are getting ready to leave for work. Brian picks her up and sits her on the table in front of him and Emma gets right in front of him, nose to nose and then gives him the most tender kiss I've ever seen in my life.
Ryan started back to school today, he's in the 4th grade! Oh my goodness how quickly these past few years have gone. He was all excited though and had laid his clothes out last night and got up this a.m. as soon as I turned his light on. When I asked him what was he most excited about, he replied that they will finally be getting letter grades! WOOHOO!
Ryan & I attended the school "meet & greet" last night where we toured a few of the classes, met his new teacher and dropped off his supplies. I've made mention of this before, but we're so happy to live in an area where we know so many of the people in the community and in an area where everyone is so confounded friendly and genuinely nice. As we walked the halls last night we ran into friends from church and it hit me how different we feel like it is here vs how it would have been had we stayed in Dallas. And maybe Dallas would have been different after Ryan had started school. Regardless, it was fun seeing everyone, getting to visit with people and Ryan so enjoyed hearing time and time again how much he had grown over the summer, how tall he is getting, etc. Many of the kids in his grade are ones that they have all been together since their preschool days and it's so cute to see how much they have grown up.
On another blessing note, the community is also fairly diverse. Off the top of my head, I know of four other families that have adopted children from China and at least one of the little girls will be starting school the same year that Emma does. Even our principal has two daughters from China.
In respect to the little ones ... life is good right now.
I'm not really sure why we continue this tradition, but when Ryan was getting ready to start kindergarten we gathered up his school supplies and took a picture of him with them. Somehow or another, 5 years later we're still doing that. Along those lines, somehow I had the misguided notion that the school supply list would get shorter each year, not longer!
I still can't believe my little guy will be going into the 4th grade. One day his little foot wasn't even as long as the palm of my hand and before you know it, he's starting 4th grade and past my shoulders. He starts school on Monday and every day he tells me that he can't wait for school to start! If I'm allowed to brag for a minute, he was accepted into the gifted and talented program this year. My sweet baby boy ...