Alas, how many moments have I let fade away in the deep recesses of my mind because I didn’t take the time to write them down? I cannot do them all justice, but I can give an attempt to touch the big ones, however briefly:
v Last spring we all volunteered for Disney’s “Give a Day, Get a Day” and we took advantage of our free tickets to the Magic Kingdom! It was only a day in the park, but it was a day at Disney—something Hope had anticipated since we were in Hong Kong last year. Even though we had great fun as a family, the next day was just as good if not better! We took a drive to Cocoa Beach to play in the surf. It was the Hope’s, Amanda’s and Hannah’s first trip to the ocean, and each one learned that when momma says to keep your mouth closed in the water, she means it!!! Everyone took lots of time finding fantastic shells and rocks and all the kids romped in the waves for a long time. Bless his heart, Dave even decided it would be a good idea to stop at a souvenir shop for everyone to get one treasure to bring home (that wasn’t covered in salt water or sand…those were in our luggage!)
v Our FIRST Christmas together!!! It was SO wonderful to be together! As the season approached, we would talk about all the Christmas shows on TV, watched A Christmas Story, and read some Christmas books. Hope was mystified when the storyline didn’t mirror the first Christmas of the Bible. It really highlighted how jaded I have become, how much junk I have let replace the sacred places of my heart. We all participated in family traditions: an afternoon was devoted in finding the *perfect* Christmas tree, another for decorating the tree with all the ornaments we have gathered over the years, multiple kinds of Christmas cookies, complete with cutter cookies, made and decorated by each child. We also thoroughly enjoyed the company of my sister and her family for the holiday. At first I was concerned that the extra commotion could cause undue stress to the new girls, but true to form, the value of family far outweighed the uncertainty of the unknown. We loved going places in our big white van…it looked like a clown car when 4 adults and 8 children disembarked! I am sure that Christmas Eve and Day were overwhelming for the new girls, but we all enjoyed each other—and spent a lot of time in our pj’s, even when Grammie and Grandpa came for Christmas dinner.
v Celebrating our FIRST YEAR—Gotcha days, first day in America, First day trying pizza, all of those firsts!
v Celebrating Hope’s birthday—she turned the big 1-5 this year! Surprisingly, she was very disturbed by this. She even cried when people talked about it and repeated that she wanted to stay 14. I tried to tell her that I have been trying to say 32 for a decade, but it wasn’t working. We even tried to tell her she was 14 plus 1, but she didn’t buy the logic. She had her first sleepover with two friends for her birthday too. It started out well, but we decided that little sleep and an extended visit the next day doesn’t work out well for a tired teen…next time, guests will go home right after breakfast! That way Hope can still get a nap…for someone who will stay up all night studying for school or watching Chinese movies, she certainly needs sleep when being social!
v Hope and Andrew were in a play together in January! Andrew was a lead role and Hope had no lines, but they were in it together and had a blast! We will be having the cast party here next week!
v Mandy has been diligently studying her AWANA book and has officially finished it and is ready to start reviewing it! AMAZING for a girl that knew NO English a year ago!
v Hannah turned 8—we officially have two eight year old virtual twins! She had friends over for a sledding party—it was low-key, but better than no party last year (due to Mom and Dad being in China!)
v CHINATOWN in Chicago—only a day trip, but one that was so much fun for all of us! The girls kept saying “Are we in China?” Of course they knew full well that we were still here, but had fun being surrounded by people that looked like them, talked like them, by smells and writing that were familiar. It will be a trip that we will repeat soon!
v MINNIE IS HERE!!! Our former exchange student is visiting for her CNY. It feels good to have our “family” together again! J
v CNY—nothing close to China but we went out to a local Chinese restaurant that also had lion dancing, gave the red envelopes, and Dave set off some fireworks in the front yard (sorry, neighbors!). It was easy to see on Hope’s face that she was remembering years past, but she seemed thankful that we tried.
I have forgotten many important things, but lest another memory fade, I wanted to write while I had a moment.
I thank God for all the blessings He has shared with us in the past year alone. I pray that I will be a good steward with what (and whom) He has given!
All my best,